About Deirdre Powell

Deirdre Powell

Deirdre Powell, from a very early age thirst for the written word. Her first publication was a prose featured in Lanigan School book at the mere age of seven. Her parents moved to Co. Claire Ireland when she was ten, giving her opportunity to embrace her Irish culture.

While there, she engulfed herself learning Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Joyce, McCourt and Mythology from ancient Ireland. Whilst in Ireland she attended college for film and television production and then studied in London in 1999 before moving back to the United States to further her studies in Creative Writing, Journalism and Photography earning certificates and credits towards her Masters Degree.

Deirdre is Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Undergroundwriter, a diverse cultural webzine promoting writers, photographers and artists worldwide. Deirdre has articles, poetry and short stories featured in various publications. When Deirdre is not writing, she is an enthusiastic amateur photographer. Some of her photographs appeared in local Florida newspapers. Coming from an Artisan lineage Deirdre heartily believes that the arts change the polarity of thought and thus she is always supporting the local arts.


Latest Posts by Deirdre Powell

Diving Into The Dionysian Apostle By Scott Maxwell

March 14, 2013 by  

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Pablo Neruda the great Chilean poet stated in an interview, “Robert Frost says in one of his essays that poetry ought to have sorrow as its only orientation: ‘Leave sorrow alone with poetry.’ But I don’t know what Robert Frost would have thought if a young man had committed suicide and left one of his books stained with blood.”[1]

The book Neruda refers to in this quote is often called The Residencia Cycle but specifically part one of his Residencia en la tierra.  It was with this book that Neruda became internationally known and respected as a great new poet in the Spanish language.

Looking at this book of poetry and the Italian literary movement Hermeticism (Ermetismo), we will determine if it is adequate to place Neruda within this context.  Our answer to this question will also move us towards a ‘Dionysius Materialism’ within the Neruda oeuvre.

Ermetismo was coined by the Italian critic Francesco Flora as a conception that pointed to the mystical element of the origin of poetry.  This mystical element is related to the author of the Hermetic Corpus—Hermes Trismegistus.

As Frances A. Yates writes regarding this writer, “Hermes Trismegistrus, a mythical name associated with a certain class of Gnostic philosophical revelations or with magical treatises and recipes, was, for the Renaissance, a real person, an Egyptian priest who had lived in times of great antiquity and who had himself written all these works.”

This belief in the word of Hermes Trismegistrus was an alternate belief system in which epistemology was governed by feeling and intuition instead of Greek dialectics.  The belief in a hidden magic and divine illumination where the cosmos could impart knowledge directly to the seeker after being provided with the secret to opening the self up to it; this was the hermetic belief system so prevalent in the second century.

The Hermetic movement in poetry which began in the 1920’s in Italy shared some of the ideas revealed in the Hermetic Corpus.  It was a Giuseppe Ungaretti’s Life of a Man which gave the movement a manifesto of sorts.  The invention of Hermeticism (poetry) was established in order to oppose common speech and what Martin Heidegger would call everydayness.  Ungaretti would write that, “The poetic word has a sacred value derived from technical difficulty itself.”

Using only essential words, often a lack of punctuation, and symbols (borrowed from the French Symbolist) in order to construct meaning the hermeticist would “turn language back upon itself”.

Ungaretti much like Neruda (as we will see) in his manifesto wrote about “an extreme isolation”, and a “familiarity with death”.  However, very different than Neruda, Ungaretti still maintained his ties with Catholicism; Ungaretti’s Catholicism was a Gnostic variety, which played out the cosmic battle between the forces of light and darkness or even between the idea of being and non-being.  Providing the groundwork for Neruda and in particular his hermetic period we now will look at the poet himself.

Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was born on July 12th 1904 and later changed his name legally to Pablo Neruda.  This pen name was chosen after the Czech poet Jan Neruda.  As Costa writes, “Neruda was a poet of many styles and many voices, one whose multitudinous work is central to almost every important development in twentieth-century Spanish and Spanish American poetry.” (Costa, 1979).

His most famous body of poems to date is his Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair).  Written between 1923 and 1924 this body of work placed Neruda on the map.  Neruda describes his method for this book, “I’ve put a song to my life and to the love of several dear women I’ve known.” The feeling or mood in the book of 96 pages can be felt in his most famous lines of the poems, “I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.”

This line written in the poem shows the struggle between the fickleness of love and the sheer power it has to wreak havoc on our rationality.  However, as Neruda wrote in 1939, “The world has changed, and my poetry with it.”  This brings us to the main body of work this article will address: Residencia en la tierra (Residence on Earth). 

Residencia en la tierra I was written between 1925 and 1931 when Neruda was living abroad in Ceylon, Singapore and Java.  Neruda wrote in his memoirs describing this book, “a dark and gloomy but essential book within my work.”  In his second poem titled Alliance we read the first strophe:

Of dusty glances fallen to the ground

or of soundless leaves burying themselves.

Of metals without light, with the emptiness,

with the absence of the suddenly dead day.

At the tip of the hands the dazzlement of butterflies,

the upflight of butterflies whose light has no end

This strophe gives us a vivid picture of two diverse images.  It is here within the language of Neruda we affirm why Julio Cortazar called Neruda the “traveler”; Neruda is here showing us the fragility of temporality.  He uses “dusty glances” and leaves “burying themselves” as in the process of decomposition.  The last two lines are different than the first three because they are juxtaposed against the darkness of the first three.

The hermetic feeling of this poem is undeniable in the sense that much like Ungaretti’s Life of a Man Neruda is providing us a life bereft of ultimate meaning; he is discovering his new and very isolated surroundings as an introspective seeker of what it means to exist.  As noted previously however the differences are stark in that Ungaretti moved toward the religious and Neruda wrote at this time, “the street became my religion”.  Neruda found the beautiful not in heavenly things but in earthly things.

The third strophe in his poem Alliance makes it quite clear that the poem falls in line with his belief that the poem is a communication from lover to beloved; as Jason Wilson writes, “In 1965 he told Mario Vargas Llosa that his advice to a young poet was to ‘continue writing poems to his lover’, for poetry begins as communication between lovers.”  Here is the entire strophe:

The spying days cross in secret

But they fall within your voice of light.

Oh mistress of love, in your rest

I established my dream, my silent attitude.

With your body of timid number, suddenly extended

to the quantities that define the earth,

behind the struggle of the days white with space

and cold with slow deaths and withered stimuli,

I feel your lap burn and your kisses travel

shaping fresh swallows in my sleep.

The first line is announcing a historical event that Neruda wrote about in his memoirs.  We are now introduced to his “Burmese love, the tempestuous Josie Bliss”.  Here Neruda writes in his memoirs the corresponding historical antecedent of this “spying” we see in this first line, “Without warning, my Burmese love, the tempestuous Josie Bliss, pitched camp in front of my house.”

In line number eight he is making us feel the loneliness he feels without her and not only a “lack of stimuli” but he is experiencing a death without his beloved.  Throughout our lives we experience numerous virtual deaths, deaths that only belong to us, and are only shared as a loss of an idea—an ideality that surrenders to not only a bleakness but a negation or emptiness.  Neruda in an interview wrote that he was opposed to theory—so in this poem he is telling us that this love defined the earth for him.  Again, Neruda is using earthly metaphors instead of heavenly or supernatural ones.

Neruda begins the process Freidrich Nietzsche alluded to when writing about staring in to the abyss as he comments in his memoir here:

 Until now, the critics who have scrutinized my work have not detected this secret influence I am confessing here.  For I wrote a large part of Residencia en la tierra there, in Wellawatte.  Although my poetry is not ‘fragrant or aerial’ but sadly earthbound, I think those qualities so often clad in mourning, have something to do with my deep feelings for this music that lived within me.

 It is this music where Nietzsche and Neruda share in the Dionysian mode of being.  The influence they both share of course is Richard Wagner’s music, and Wagner’s idea that through music we reach the “category of the sublime”.

The sublime in this context is a particular greatness that is not assimilated within established categories, but instead moves beyond them.  This is exactly what Neruda did with his poetry; he stared deep into the abyss of the darkness and reached a dark sublimity.

In Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy he explains that music provides some insight into the “Dionysian ‘truth’ of existence” but it is here where the possession of Dionysius takes over and we see the destruction of the individual.  Neruda wrote about death because he felt the dissolution of the ego where the god of intoxication—Dionysius was showing him the dark abyss.  Nietzsche wrote much like Neruda would explain to us many times in different words, “to long for something beyond seeing” is why both of them wrote and thought.  This something was glimpsed in poetry and music, the hermeticism of Neruda was his move beyond conceptual analysis that wallowed within an intoxicated depression that created a beautiful darkness.

 

Nietzsche wrote in his Birth of Tragedy, “Existence and the world appear justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon” (Nietzsche, 2006).  This was very much the question Neruda answered, by always stating he writes because without writing there is nothing else.  Neruda embraced this pain much later and affirms much like Nietzsche that tragedy is an affirmation of creation, “The eternal joy of creation cannot exist without ‘The torment of the woman in labor’.  There is no better affirmation in our post-Death-of-God time than to embrace tragedy as a moment of sublimity.  Being is nothingness because as Heraclitus makes clear there is only becoming not being—impermanence and immanence are the only narratives to understand from the apostles of aesthetics.

 

It was this dissolution of the self within his hermetic poems (Nietzsche, 2006) that Neruda denounced by affirming becoming.  His poetry within the time frame of Residencia en la tierra risked the complete dissolution of the self and the annihilation of ego—the goal of Dionysius.  This is exactly why Nietzsche explains at length:

 

Apollo stands before me as the transfiguring genius of the principium individuationis, through which alone true redemption in appearance can be attained, while under the mystical cry of exultation of Dionysus the spell of individuation is burst apart and the path to the mothers of Being (Nietzsche, 2006)

After this period of Dionysian darkness Pablo Neruda would unite once again with Apollo the god of light and form the union between the Apollonian and the Dionysian that makes his later love poetry so sublime.  He takes joy in this earthly sublimity of individual bodies and sexuality.  His politics at this period are simply a matter of this merger between Apollo and Dionysius where he sees the light in the people and darkness of the world and exactly why his poetry provides us with a path against simple nihilism.

Works Cited:

Costa, R. d. (1979). The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Neruda, P. (2003). The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Nietzsche, F. (2006). The Birth of Tragedy. In K. A. Person, The Nietzsche Reader (pp. 42-86). Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Pablo, N. (1977). Memoirs. New York: Farrar, Staus and Giroux.

Wilson, J. (2008). A companion to Pablo Neruda. Rochester: Tamesis.

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4091/the-art-of-poetry-no-14-pablo-neruda

[1] http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4091/the-art-of-poetry-no-14-pablo-neruda

Photo credit: The Underground Writer.

The Return of the Inner Child and the Feminine

February 16, 2013 by  

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On December 12th 2012, I had the privilege to lead a group of five adults, in an activity focusing on the needs and gifts of the inner child. At nearly mid-day we clustered around a fallen stone inside the ruins of the Khnemu temple in Aswan Egypt, and colored like school children on a field trip.

I choose butterflies as our objects, and colored pencils as our tools. Each of us, rubbed, scratched and glided about the page. Turing a blank outline into a truly embodied symbol of rebirth, as an offering to Khnemu the god of rebirth. On December 21st 2012 the stars aligned and our entire planet was reborn. As we take our first steps into this new paradigm. We are asked to face one final challenge. We are called towards being child-like without being childish.
Imagine a world not devoid of conflict but devoid of criticism. A world not flattened by homogeneity, but textured by infinite diversity. Where everyone has a specific and special place, where simply by being rooted in our best selves, we effortlessly serve the grater whole.

This world already exists in nature. Having separated ourselves from it for many generations, we has human being have recently been invited to rejoin the continuum.

We are all valid in our individual experience. We are all expert authorities in our own lives. No one else’s life experience can translate into, or define our own. What each of us has to offer is exquisite beyond measure, and only our inner interpretation of life can guide us.
As we begin to observe and participate in the larger scheme of things, we see that the continuum of existence here on earth is much more than the sum of it’s parts. To translate it’s elements into societal terms. Every job, project, venture and creative endeavor is a living entity in which the parts themselves become better due to the formation of the whole.

Foreign as it may seem to us after centuries of saturation and envelopment, in a continually degrading hierarchical system based on distorted masculine principles. This is not a new concept. The knowledge of it runs through us like blood and water. We may not have recent memories that we can chew on. But comfort food for the soul, is quite different from comfort food for the mind. The nurturing we receive from a life lived with the incorporation of the feminine element, is a system based on synergy.

Synergy makes what we have come to accept as “normal life” shine. It is the long forgotten grace and magic in all things. Synergy is powered by faith, and actualized through conscious awareness of ones divine propose. It’s what happens when a connection is made between desire and freedom. Synergy begets synchronicity; allowing one thought dream or feeling to empower everything it touches. Cascading slowly yet suddenly into people, lives, and a world filled with wonder and adventure. When we do what we love, and let everything else fall into place. All of the components needed for a majestic existence will draw together. Ultimately unifying with a little less will, and a little more power.

Released from a hierarchal control model. We are able to flow into a value system that centralizes around variety and quality. When we cease to withhold and repress the genuine skills and talents of the individual, we cease to choke out our own supply. Consequently the demand on our resources levels out, and finds a natural equilibrium. When we focus only on what we love we are eager to share the fruits of that love, and the benefits of open source energetic abundance abounds.

No longer micro managed because we are no longer managed, working with others is now devoid of burden and risk. We have complete confidence in the abilities of our peers because their skills are in complete alignment with that persons innate talents. When we no longer have to worry about another’s part of the equation, we are free to focus all of our energy on our own.

It’s officially time for life to get easy. Instead of forcing ourselves to get mediocre at tasks and skills we were originally horrible at; the principle of synergy encourages us to focus only on our strengths. She wants us to take our sharpest talents and sharpen them further. Then proudly share them, with appreciative and respectful others. This brings fulfillment to all involved, eliminating the need for guilt, fear, and self doubt. Not good at something? Who says you need to be? No longer do we have to make ourselves fit into standardized molds to survive.

Now our only responsibility is to cultivate our gifts. Polishing ourselves until we shine like the stars, remembering that the only thing we need acquiesce to is the circle of life. Primarily living as we are meant to, in harmony with ourselves, each-other and our planet. So long as we allow for the energy of synergy.

The Renegade Craft Fair: Advocate for Buying Local

December 24, 2012 by  

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The Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles was so beautifully inspiring not to mention I am a big advocate for buying locally.

The Renegade Craft Fair (RCF) is a large scale marketplace event, showcasing the work of contemporary indie-craft artists. Featuring hundreds of artists at a time, vendors travel from all over to sell their handmade goods and original artwork. RCF is held in urban epicenters of creative indie-entrepreneurship throughout the US and abroad – including Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, and London (UK).

What makes RCF unique?

The Renegade Craft Fair differs from traditional arts and craft fairs by focusing on DIY and indie-craft culture. Each individual fair is juried from hundreds of applications to purposefully feature a curated, eclectic array of young and emergent designers producing original and handmade goods in a wide variety of media. We feature artists with a Do It Yourself spirit – creating innovative work using traditional craft methods, but not based on preexisting patterns or products. Each event features paper goods, housewares, ceramics, bath products, jewelry, craft kits, accessories, clothing, comics, knits, curios, collectibles, artwork, and so much more!

What kinds of things does Renegade have to offer?

All of our Fairs are juried separately and each fair features a unique line-up of artists.  While we have some returning vendors and some artists who travel to participate in each and every event, we always welcome new applicants!  RCF draws thousands upon thousands of attendees – shoppers, arts and crafts enthusiasts, media scouts, bloggers and tastemakers all make a point of turning out to see what’s new and to stock up on unique artist created goods.


Halloween: Dark Harvest

October 31, 2012 by  

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Dark Harvest Lunation
Celebrate this Celtic Ritual.
Drapes in Orange and Black.

Burning foliage of the old.
Intoxication of sulfur and mulled wine
Reading a prophecy awaiting a sign.

Howling moon chants
As white drapes dance
Hypnotic state a witch’s trance.

This veil a thin web
Raised
Walks the living and the dead.

Candle burn on my window sill
The Queen Banshee passes with a Screeching Shill
Underworld passes on the grave misty hill.

Celebrating Halloween By Way of Samhain, an Ancient Celtic Tradition

October 30, 2012 by  

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Samhain (pronounced differently Samain, Samuin or Samfuin) is an ancient old tradition dating back thousands of years.

Samhain was celebrated by the Celts (in Ireland, Wales and Scotland) as the Feast Of The Dead and for the final harvest of the year. It has been adopted into Catholic religion as All Saints Day. The Celts divided the year into two parts on their calendar. The dark half known as Samhain fell on the eve of October 31st and the other half began with Beltane May 1st. The Gaulish calendar used by the Celts marked the dates of these festivities.

Samhain was a three-day festival gathering Celtic clans at the Royal Court of Tara. A bonfire was lit on the hill of Tara marking the three day event and to signal the rest of the Celts to light fires if they did not attend. The sacred colors of the rituals were orange and black, associated with human death and the Crone Deity.

According to belief, the veil between the living and the dead was raised resulting in the dead walking amongst the living. Believing the dead could return home the Celts would leave food and wine in the window and keep the all door open.

Oracles and prophesies were made on the night. High priestesses believed the dead provided a link to the future. Traditionally, costumes of animal skins and bore heads were used and dances around bonfires burning foliage and paying homage to Deities for the long winter ahead. 

Today many of these traditional rituals play a role in modern day Halloween. Costumes and colors associated with paganism have infiltrated into our western culture. Bonfires are burned; parties and get-togethers are common to celebrate the night. In Ireland modern-day Irish pagans honor these traditions into their daily lives.

Fortune telling and food such as Barmbrack are a great example of this. A sweet bread with raisins and sultanas, it’s backed with pieces of trinkets. If found these items represent possible future events. Such as a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a piece

of silver and a ring. A pea could mean not getting married. A stick, maybe you’ll be beaten in your marriage or endure constant arguing. A piece of cloth is a bad omen for poverty. A piece of silver represents good fortune or money. A ring, you’ll be married by years end.

Another tradition is placing a lighted candle in the window so the dead can find their way home. So no matter how you celebrate Halloween, remember there is a spiritual connotation with this holiday. Put your mask on, light a bonfire, put a candle in your window and let the harvest begin.

The Resurrection of the Divine Feminine

October 10, 2012 by  

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This month holds the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It is a time when the veils are thinnest between the worlds. It is a time of purification and reawakening. It is also a New Years festival. A time to make offerings to Cerridwen the goddess of knowledge and inspiration, and the keeper of the cauldron. It’s a time when walking with the divine comes with ease.

The passage of the divine feminine body is being held in our field of observation. Women have been noticing the unfair balances of power for a while now. The response has been rebellion. Wave after wave of feminism, we’ve said no to patriarchy, and the voice has been loud, “I am too going to that party dad!” but it has not been clear, “And I’m taking my tatted-up wanna-be rock-star boyfriend with me.”  What we have seen over and over is women transferring their power from one male dominated venue (traditional family life), to another (traditional working life).  As we climb up the latter, all the way to almost being president… it is clear that women are shedding layers of their femininity during assent.

As with most rebellions, revolutions rarely revolutionize. We substitute one master for another. We shift the hierarchical balance of power from someone, to someone else else. We allow ourselves to inadvertently transform into the exact thing we are fighting. and as intoxicating as insurrection can be. We need not rebel against, what we need  is freedom from.

In a return to nature, In the resurrection of the feminine aspect of Divinity, we are all liberated.

Looking at Earth’s cycles we, see history repeating it’s self, but in a way that isn’t imbued with disappointment. Fall, winter, spring, summer, and fall again. Wax on wax off The tide comes in, the tide goes out. Instead of pushing for change and receiving more of the same. We are now in a rhythm that assumes the same, and yet allows for variety within the comfort of the expected. The lesson of the larger cycles of nature is that they work with each other, not for each other. This is the basis for the return of the feminine element.

Hierarchy takes all the power and places it at the top, as such it places all of the responsibility on those at the top. Dismantling that structure would mean, no longer having someone to look up to. It would also means no longer having someone to blame.

The divine feminine restores the power and the responsibility to the individual. She brings us the fruit of knowledge. The full realization that ones behaviors and actions lie squarely on ones own shoulders. With this understanding, we can come to see that what we do and how we do it affects others. Which conversely means that others are always affecting us. Their is no way to tame it, contain it, or control it.  We are all working together, whether we’re aware of it or not. We are all working together whether we like it or not. And none of us are innocent children with parents to carry the weight of our choices for us.

In our lopsided understanding of the world we have created one full of  people who’s fault it’s not. The Divine Feminine teaches us that the consequences of our actions good and bad are each and every one of our own.

Hierarchy may have savaged the world we know, but Synergy will heal it.  In the eyes of nature we are, and have always been peers; sibling beings living on earth as equals. The only thing we ever really hurt in denial of this is ourselves, and It is only through reclaiming this knowledge that we can ever truly come home. Cerridwen returns this Samhain to show us how to be whole.

Samhain aka Halloween: A Celt Celebration

October 31, 2011 by  

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Samhain (pronounced differently Samain, Samuin or Samfuin) is an ancient old tradition dating back thousands of years. Samhain was celebrated by the Celts (in Ireland, Wales and Scotland) as the Feast Of The Dead and for the final harvest of the year. It has been adopted into Catholic religion as All Saints Day. The Celts divided the year into two parts on their calendar. The dark half known as Samhain fell on the eve of October 31st and the other half began with Beltane May 1st. The Gaulish calendar used by the Celts marked the dates of these festivities.
Samhain was a three-day festival gathering Celtic clans at the Royal Court of Tara. A bonfire was lit on the hill of Tara marking the three day event and to signal the rest of the Celts to light fires if they did not attend. The sacred colors of the rituals were orange and black, associated with human death and the Crone Deity.

According to belief, the veil between the living and the dead was raised resulting in the dead walking amongst the living. Believing the dead could return home the Celts would leave food and wine in the window and keep the all door open.

Oracles and prophesies were made on the night. High priestesses believed the dead provided a link to the future. Traditionally, costumes of animal skins and bore heads were used and dances around bonfires burning foliage and paying homage to Deities for the long winter ahead.

Today many of these traditional rituals play a role in modern day Halloween. Costumes and colors associated with paganism have infiltrated into our western culture. Bonfires are burned; parties and get-togethers are common to celebrate the night. In Ireland modern-day Irish pagans honor these traditions into their daily lives.

Fortune telling and food such as Barmbrack are a great example of this. A sweet bread with raisins and sultanas, it’s backed with pieces of trinkets. If found these items represent possible future events. Such as a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a piece

of silver and a ring. A pea could mean not getting married. A stick, maybe you’ll be beaten in your marriage or endure constant arguing. A piece of cloth is a bad omen for poverty. A piece of silver represents good fortune or money. A ring, you’ll be married by years end.

Another tradition is placing a lighted candle in the window so the dead can find their way home. So no matter how you celebrate Halloween, remember there is a spiritual connotation with this holiday. Put your mask on, light a bonfire, put a candle in your window and let the harvest begin.

Book Signing: Tim Burton Saturday, May 28 | 12:00 pm

May 16, 2011 by  

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A rare opportunity to have Tim Burton sign your exhibition catalogue (seen here) and Art of Tim Burton purchased at one of our LACMA’s stores. Tim Burton opens to the public on May 29.
Pavilion for Japanese Art | Free, no reservations | Signing limited to 2 books per person | Signing will end promptly at 2 pm.

Visit LACMA.ORG for more information

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