Monday, December 26, 2005

Almost Blue

It is December 26, 2005, and I am full of the sensations of Life of the last few days. This afternoon, as we flew on a “small jet” from Houston, landing at the airport in Raleigh, the wind was gusting and the pilot, after dropping low enough to know, decided to ascend again, make another circle and land, since the wind “exceeded our limits.” In the plane we could feel the wind of course in a different way than when we are in a car, on a boat, walking on a sidewalk, in an open field. The sky was clear, and the scene below us was lovely and pleasant and filled with shades of green and gold, with patterns of white and dark roofs that looked like scattered bark. The airports, as always during holidays, were full of “themselves,” and the air, smells, sounds, and all sensations have their own Airport Life. The family Christmas time at my sisters’ family in Houston was good, and has its own familiar fun. Houston was warm and clear, with a breeze that got a bit chilly after sunset as we sat on the rockers on the front porch and watched Ellen ride her scooter down the street and her dog Maggie run beside her.

Other Art Bits to Add:I was reading Rebecca Solnit’s Field Guide again on the airplane and read about Yves Klein. Here is one quote for the day:
“’Klein used color,’ writes art historian Nan Rosenthal, ‘as though it could be an explicit and overtly political tool for ending wars.’” Klein seemed to think a lot about death, dying, and disappearing. And the color blue. He patented his own blue pigment (IKB, International Klein Blue), and initiated his own “Blue Age.” The ritual of disappearance and letting go was an image of the creative act and art of life. I have been thinking about Klein, blue, disappearing, our perceptions of loss, life, leaping, colors a lot since this afternoon. Reading this has also brought back to my mind a book I bought years ago called The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light. Also Elvis Costello’s version of Almost Blue. And my own fascination with leaping and falling. Since I was a child, I have had certain images in my mind, familiar sensations within me, of leaping and falling, and Klein’s Leaping into the Void image fits perfectly into my “archives of memory.”
Check out the Art of Artistic Restoration, where I found this Klein image

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Almost Christmas and Cecilia Beaux

Almost-almost Christmas Eve.

One of my Art pleasures of the week was a quick flip through a new book about Cecilia Beaux, whose portraits are familiar and now happily brought back to my mind.  I read about her years ago.  An often-repeated quote is from William Merritt Chase, who called Cecilia, “The greatest woman painter of modern times.” Here’s hoping one more mention will add to her rediscovery.

Here is some bio. info.:
Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) was a Philadelphia-born painter who enjoyed great success while grand manner portraits were fashionable. Her reputation (like that of Sargent and many other 19th-century painters) went into a steep decline in the first half of this century, and her work has never really been rediscovered.
I'd show you a few images, but I'm having trouble uploading them. Plenty of images in NetWorld to see if you decide to look her up.

CECILIA BEAUX'S SOPHISTICATED conception of the enterprise of a portrait painter acknowledged the multiple interactions between creator, subject, and medium. For a lecture she presented at Simmons College she wrote, "In this collaboration between personality, artist and material, there must be exercised infinite reconciliations, shiftings, compromises -- exchanges between the absolute -- (that is, the weight and momentum of the personality) and the flexible power of line, modelling and color. But to go into the intricacies and interdependencies of the interchange between spirit and matter . . . all of this would be an endless story."[1] Were she to look from our contemporary vantage she might also endorse it as an apt characterization of the complex and long-lived relationship that she enjoyed with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. - Jeanette Toohey

Since I haven't succeeded in showing you one of Cecilia's images, I added another of local interest, for now.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tradition and an Impeccable Eye


My tribute to Art this moment is to say I had the pleasure of happening into the owner(?) of Market Street Books & Maps in Southern Village the other night, when I stopped in Weaver Street Market for groceries. She and I have talked a few times, and when she saw me she eagerly said, Oh, are you here for the Mark Hewitt event? I had read about it and, as I often do, said to myself, That would be a great thing to go to, then promptly dismissed it.  I’d forgotten what night the event was. I asked her, upon her prompt, and found out that Mark Hewitt was getting ready to begin his presentation at the book store a few doors up. I hurried with my shopping, dropped everything in my cold car, and went up to the bookstore. Their projector bulb blew out so his slides remained silent, but Mark gamely continued and told some fascinating stories about the collection of pots, the exhibit at the Raleigh Museum, the privilege of a craftsman being able to also curate an exhibit.  The book is beautiful, and fun to read:  the potter’s eye:  Art and Tradition in North Carolina Pottery by Mark Hewitt & Nancy Sweezy.

“Tradition remains wholly in the hands of its practitioners.  It is theirs to remember, change, or forget.”  Folklorist Henry Glassie.

I had met Mark’s wife Carol when she came to one of Kathy’s seminars a while back, but had not met Mark. It was nice to see her again, and I enjoyed talking with him. He traveled in Nigeria for a while years ago, and studied with British potter Michael Cardew, who made stoneware in West Africa for several decades (1940s, 50s,60s). I told him about some of Dad’s slides from the 1950s and 60s, in which he captured some of the pots being made and dyed in villages he and Mom visited. I’m having some prints made of these slides, so….you’ll see them. (

Check out Mark Hewitt’s web site.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Getting Lost

I’ve been reading Rebecca Solnit’s new book. One reviewer wrote that when reading this, at times the reader gets lost in ways that Solnit never intended. Well, I like the quote Solnit uses from Daniel Boone. When asked if he had ever been lost, he answered, No, but I was confused once for three days.

Memphis, Cezanne's Garden, and Rerevival

I went to Memphis for our traditional Thanksgiving Holiday gathering, and got back late last night. I had a flight layover in St. Louis this time, and lingered there for awhile. While there, I read Architectural Digest, which I savor, and came upon this article about "Cezanne's garden." Actually the article is called, "Cezanne's Vision." There are pictures of the plantings of ivy, fig, and rosemary that "encroach" upon the entrance of what was Cezanne's studio. He preferred, the article says, "a labor-saving garden filled with more permanent elements of nature that he encountered during his walks around his cherished mountain - woody plants such as juniper and linden and fragrant herbs such as rosemary and thyme - along with limestone blocks that serve as pedestals...." "Art must make nature eternal in our imagination," he is said to have said.

The curator of the place now says that the garden today is an interpretation of Cezanne's garden philosophy rather than a strict interpretation.

His garden is a tapestry of greens.

I read this as I sat in the hustle and bustle of late-night Thanksgiving holiday finish, in the airport in St. Louis; although this holiday hustle-and-bustle was really quite calm, relatively speaking, compared to other holidays. I think people are spreading out the holidays, because of the experience of hustle and bustle in the past.

Reading and savoring the pictures and thoughts of Cezanne and his gardens - what a rough exterior can reveal as we think further to experience the internal - is wonderful, and all the more so as I sit here, in this highly charged atmosphere of neon, slick surfaces, and loud noise. There is no real sense of quiet contemplation and the savoring of greens.

I am all the more moved by this slick experience, on the page, of opulence, the fabric and texture of works of art, as creators create with absolute intention, to create a whole - in a house, an estate, an experience. Each thought and creation can be a work of art, all the more, with absolute intention and the joy of creating. The joy of creating with absolute intention.

Visit Rerevival, where the seahorses image lives.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This blog is a way for me to indulge my experience of Art. :) On Sunday afternoon, I visited Brookgreen Gardens, the sculpture garden just south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which was created by Archer and Anna Huntington. I have a lot to say about how much I enjoyed my visit there. Here is a beginning thought, from the book I bought about the couple:
"Anna was discovering that puppies and sculpture do not mix." The "remarkable Huntingtons" are indeed a study within themselves, of the art of creation, and how they created together. Here is another: "When elated and feeling his oats, Archer's knee-jerk reaction was to found a museum or plan a trip."

Take a trip, if only virtual, for now. This creation is a tribute to the art of nature, and the nature of art.