Saturday, January 27, 2007

Irving Penn

Pace Macgill

Look at these, will you? If I were in New York, I might just have to stroll in. Still, the virtual view is really a treat. I found this through a link on David Byrne's site, which I like to visit now and again. "Furnishing the Self - Upholstering the Soul" indeed. It is fun to be able to venture into artists' worlds this way, secondary to in person. Today I was reading an upcoming book by Kathy Oddenino which is nearly ready for publication, and I am infused with appreciation and awe for who we are as creators in every way. These visits add to it.

"Photographing a cake can be art," Irving Penn asserted when he opened his studio in 1953. Before long he was backing up his statement with a series of advertising illustrations that created a new high standard in the field and established a reputation that has kept him in the top bracket ever since.

Penn has won renown as much in editorial photography as in advertising illustration, and his innovations especially in portraiture and still life have set him apart stylistically. In later years he turned to television commercials as a outlet for his unique talent. One of the most imitated among contemporary photographers, his work has been widely recognized and extolled.


"In addition to his work for Vogue magazine (the American, British, and French editions) Penn has been represented in many important photographic collections, including those of the Museum of Modem Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Addison Gallery of American Art, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

In 1958 Irving Penn was named one of "The World’s 10 Greatest Photographers" in an international poll conducted by Popular Photography Magazine. Penn’s statement at the time is a remarkable summation of purpose and idealism: "I am a professional photographer because it is the best way I know to earn the money I require to take care of my wife and children."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I watched this Neil Gaiman (and many more talents) creation at last. Helena, a fifteen-year-old girl who wants to escape her family circus and join "real life," is the main character who walks from fear and confusion into the shadowy land of her dreams which has all the crystal clarity of the maze of the mind seeking to know itself. There are some funny, witty, clever, and endearing bits here, as well as amazing graphics. Thanks for the adventure, which I'll add to mine.......

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Eva was born one February day in 1960. It was a beautiful blue day, with the sun surprisingly warm, and lots of geese making noise in their congregation. She felt like she knew this, even though she was only being born, and the adults, including her mother and father, were occupied with her birth or with the world as they knew it. From her first breath Eva began to think about love, what it means to be in the world. Before she knew words, the energies of them were there with her, forming in her mind and in her mouth. She sucked her thumb and other fingers while inside her mother’s soft sac, so when she emerged into air and felt the dryness and the warmth of cloth she reached out. Nestled against her mother, she felt for the buds of her breasts and burrowed as close as she could, nudging until her mouth closed over the nipples and she could suck there, feeding and knowing the skin like her fingers being part of her too.

Eva remembers the first time she saw her father’s eyes. He looked into hers as he held her, newly born, and his blue eyes were like crystal shores of somewhere she knew, ice capped and surrounded by clear blue, deep ocean like endless sky depths when she was mesmerized by the lights and tight sensations while inside and growing. His face was forming before her, those eyes crystallizing into tunnels she knew. She moved her mouth, and his mouth moved too, changing his face, lighting up more.

The word "support" she probably first heard in school much later, maybe on a spelling list. An adult now, she thinks of the word as its own brick, its own cushion, a blanket, a bulwark, a bridge over troubled water, a knowing that all has meaning in life, specific and unique to each one born.

She has dreamed of death, and of how blood and tears and laughter are the flavors of our human joy and sorrow. A man she knows was born captured by his sense of smell. His nose appears normal, but his sense of smell, he says, is titanic. At one time he walked with a mask over his nose and mouth, a cloth, so he could easily breath and speak. This gave him some protection, he said, even though it was more illusion than real. It is like a veil made to conceal, but all the while knowing what is behind it, he said. He could hardly enter stores to buy products, he walked like a zombie on the streets. He went to parks and mountains, where he could breathe deeply and take in the sharp scent of leaf, bark, and snow. Most of the time he felt he was being poisoned, he said. Then he smiled, which eased the intensity of his remark in her ears.

Eva thinks of all of this in this January because she has heard that her friend’s older sister has died. Her death was imminent, after a lingering and growing cancer in her chest, and the news, the event, is like the puncturing of a balloon with a pin – the pop, the sound, the loss, the skin disappearing to a tiny torn piece of matter until disposed of, to change again. This friend brings to mind the man with the nose that smells such a range because her friend has eyes that crinkle and twinkle and show so much of her joy and sorrow, the intensity of her experiences. Eva relates first always to the ways human senses work and feel, what they bring to mind. She begins with the physical senses as they were taught to her and talked about – those five, of touch, taste, smell, seeing, and hearing – and always they open to umbrellas, parachutes, tents, clouds, canopies of tree leaves, stars, just as roots burrowing and snaking into the earth.

Eva remembers, too, that another friend’s older sister died a few months ago, also with a lingering illness. That sister, Elsie, was one who brought to mind rainbows, her younger sister said. She loved rainbows, and had the delight of a child always.

Eva sits in her house and feels the energy that makes her pulse and change with every breath. Her hair is straight and black, her fingers thin. Her voice is high and not so strong. Her body is thick and strong, and within her lungs, her throat, within her hips she feels the flow and sway of life, of the way life goes. There is always more. She hears the geese again, and the roosters crow, the cars whiz by, away at the road. Appliances hum and send their own pulsing. The voices of friends over the telephone carry alphabets of love and all we long for, as well as the joys that living brings. The simplicity and power of a squirt of water, a swallow of fruit juice, and the laughter that seems to leap within her in a moment, lets sorrow leave gracefully, exiting the room, the building, the sky, and turning somersaults like a pinwheel lighting its way.

She is dancing, twirling, and making herself known to her growing mind as she did in her mother’s space, sucking fingers, every cell alive and pulsing. The bizarre scenes of skin, sacrifice, nooses, loud voices that reverberate like engines and fresh wounds or scars are seen for what they are – grotesque salutations to a monster world with no poetry or beauty of any kind. To "support" the birth of a child, the death of a sister, the change of a mind, is to love them as though they were one. Her spirit, like the wind, leaves dust in its wake, and the scent of roses, honeysuckle vines. Eva’s mind savors the change, and lets love in, grow.