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.