Which Came First?

Photo by Don Holtz

Topanga Canyon Gallery’s August show is about the influence of language on art, and art on language. Each work of art exhibited is accompanied by a poem or verse. Much like the chicken and the egg, the current exhibit asks, “Which Came First?” 

Was the poet Rumi looking at a scene like this when he penned this poem?

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.


What work of art would you imagine compliments this poem?

The way my dog curls up with me

when I sit down to read

The summer that arrives

every year

My blue hand-blown plates used

every night at dinner

The salt shaker that was in

my mother’s kitchen

The dent left in your pillow when you’ve

gone off to work early

without waking me

The sticky kiss of my grandson

The quilt my grandmother made

for my crib

My children taking care of their


Who is sending me these love letters?

~Lois York

Visual art often evokes emotions within us, both for the creator and the viewer. Would we react differently if we didn’t have language to express these emotions? If the artist provides language intended to enhance the emotional reaction to the art – does it? Or might it evoke a different emotion? Does language enhance or detract from the visual? It is up to you, the art lover, to decide if the language enhances the art or if the art enriches the poetry. 

View the art and the language at Topanga Canyon Gallery at the artists’ reception on August 10, 5 – 7 p.m. The show runs through August 25th.


Topanga Canyon Gallery, founded in Topanga in 1989, is an artist-owned mutual benefit corporation. It is located at 120 N Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA 90290. For more information: (310) 455-7909; TopangaCanyonGallery.com. Gallery Hours: Wednesday 2-6pm, Thursday and Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday 12–8 p.m; Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.


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