The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Ursula”

poem by Robert Peake
film by Robert Peake and Valerie Kampmeier

Ursula reminds me of a time when the world was adjusting to the aftermath of World War II. This videopoem has the feeling of the Beat era. I love the grainy black-and-white imagery, the car and street video played in reverse.

I love the bear metaphor. Women aren’t usually referred to as bears, at least to my knowledge. I suppose bear is a term for a woman whose ethics are questionable. However, I feel the images of the bear and woman at the end could work better if they were interwoven from the beginning rather than left at the end. It’s almost as if the artist is making sure we understand the symbolism. I think he should give his audience more credit. I’m sure we would get the meaning without having to be told. It’s nice footage and should be utilized throughout the video. This would give the visual a stronger presence. Sometimes this particular medium gets choppy. I would rather see the artist perceive the work more like a painting rather than a puzzle.

Black and white, a car video in reverse, Ursula is a real “dame.” She is the quintessential babe who travels through a Kerouac novel—And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks comes to mind. (That’s the book he co-wrote with Burroughs.) She is a tough-cussing, cigarette smoking, hard-drinking, die-young broad. Ursula is the meat and potatoes of a generation that rejected the post-WW II suburban Americana to live the subterranean lifestyle. Ursula is nostalgia at its best.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl Gross (website, blog) is an illustrator, painter, writer, and motion graphic artist living and working in the New York/Jersey City area. She is a professor at Pratt Institute (where she received her MFA) and Bloomfield College.

Her work has appeared in numerous festivals and publications as well as gracing the walls of many galleries, corporate and museum collections.

“I equate my work with creating and building an environment, transforming my inner thoughts into reality. Beginning with the physical process, I work in layers. I am involved in solving visual and verbal complexities such as design and narrative. My urban influence has indeed added an ‘edge’ to my work.”

Cheryl has often been compared to “Dr. Seuss on crack.”

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