Then she brought it down.
Smith delivered the annual Deborah and Martin Hale Visiting Artists Lecture to a packed Remis Auditorium Wednesday night, except it wasn’t so much a lecture as a seminar/songfest.
All the better.
The onetime Princess of Piss, now 64, was everything you’d expect her to be: Offbeat. Engaging. Musical.
And one thing you might not expect her to be: Funny.
Truth to tell, the Missus and I didn’t know all that much about Patti Smith going into the MFA event. But we’d seen Land 250 several years ago at The Fondation Cartier in Paris, which described the exhibit this way:
The Fondation Cartier is hosting a major solo exhibition of the visual work of American artist and performer Patti Smith. Drawn from pieces created between 1967 and 2007, it strives to provide an insight into her lyrical, spiritual and poetic universe. Her expressive voice serves to magnify the installations created specifically for the exhibition: a synthesis of photographs, drawings and films.
The exhibit was a knockout – a swirl of prose, poetry, photos and film footage.
So we went to the MFA to see Patti Smith in the flesh. She didn’t disappoint.
Smith read from her National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids, in which “the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.”
Smith at the MFA:
Art sings of God and ultimately belongs to him.
The goal of the artist is to magnify one’s vision, make one’s vision flesh.
The ultimate goal – do great work.
Fun facts to know and tell about Patti Smith:
1) She’s a coat freak: “At a book signing today, I coveted two people’s coats.”
Namely, a camel hair coat just like Franny’s in Franny and Zooey, and a perfect Goodwill tweed coat.
2) She once shoplifted a copy of Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations.
Smith also told a great story about Allen Ginsberg buying her a sandwich at Horn & Hardart thinking she was a beautiful boy; talked about always carrying walking-around money since she grown up in pre-credit days; and recalled wanting to replace Johnny Carson as her childhood dream.
And much more, which the hardworking staff will fill in tomorrow.