Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On the Street: The Faces of Women

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is an artist and, like too many of us, a woman who has been subjected to gender-based street harassment. Her ongoing public art project is Stop Telling Women to Smile. In the video below, Fazlalizadeh describes her project to give women back a voice that addresses their harassers. Additional posters can be seen on Fazlalizadeh's Website.

The video, filmed and edited by Dean Peterson of Brooklyn, New York, was a winner in Smithsonian Magazine's 2014 In Motion Video Contest.

Read Tasbeeh Herwees's article for Good (October 15, 2014), "A Street Art Festival that Puts Women on Walls". Other articles about the art series have appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Gothamist.

Stop Telling Women to Smile on Tumblr

(My thanks to Good, where I learned of Fazlalizadeh's project.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Water Sign (Poem)

Water Sign

I look for the hidden
river, watch for some sign
it is quickening in the unknown
place, meaning to feed the roots,
soften the ground. Let us dig.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Muse: Invitation to 'The Mischief Cafe'

Mischief : noun : playful misbehavior

Cover Art for The Mischief Cafe

Have you ever been afraid to write a poem? Do your English students complain that they just don't "get" poetry? Have your poetry-writing workshop participants tired of the same time-worn approaches to sharing and revising their work? Are you dreading that writers' retreat for which you've been tagged leader of entertainment? Do you want to start a poetry group in your community (at the library, in your home, for kids at a homeless shelter, for seniors at your church) but haven't a clue how to do it? 

You need an invitation to The Mischief Cafe! Its menu is long, its seating potentially unlimited and geographically diverse, and one local visit will never be enough, because the menu changes along with the cafe owners.

The Mischief Cafe is conceptbook, and initiative. The concept is the inspiration of TweetSpeak Poetry regulars who have enlivened Webspace by creating a hugely welcoming destination for anyone curious about or already seriously involved in all things poetry. It's fully adaptable, the way all good ideas are, turning on the notion that if you take poetry out of its ivy-covered ivory towers, you'll find new readers and create poetry lovers for life. . . so long as you promise to serve teas (or coffee), cinnamon toast (with and without raisins), and generous helpings of fun with words.

The book, a newly released T.S. Poetry Press title, describes the idea, includes poems* by T.S. Poetry Press authors, and has pages that are blank except for possible titles at their tops. (How those blank pages get used — to illustrate a poem, to keep track of writing tips and prompts, to make poem stacks — are up to the book's readers and your cafe's regulars.) Best of all, the book provides some how-guidance for cafe start-ups. (You won't need Kickstarter or Indiegogo, though we'd like to think either could be tapped successfully for our next innovation in poetry.)

The initiative is open to anyone anywhere in the world who's willing to make toast, pour tea, and tie on a poetry barista's apron. But beware: This is not a job but a passion. . . for thinking, listening to, talking about and writing, sharing, teaching, and reading poetry. You'll want an open mind to visualize how you, your friends, and TweetSpeak Poetry together can create a successful gathering in-home for live readings, poetry journaling, ekphrastic exercises, and video closeups.

* * * * *

Where, when, and how?

Beginning this month, The Mischief Cafe, the initiative, is going on the road with a member of the TweetSpeak Poetry team, who will be bringing real tea and toast to a poetry barista's home. The mischief and merry-making will be up to the attendees (poetry in motion, anyone?). 

But don't think you have to wait for that team member to bring the traveling cafe to your part of the country, or that you have to go to the trouble of hitching a ride east to New Jersey, west to Seattle (shaping up as the second stop for the traveling cafe), or some yet-to-be-Googled place in the middle with Ted Kooser. The Mischief Cafe is about poetry in place: your place, their place, and mine. The book itself is one tool to help you launch your own version of the cafe. Just in case, however, another toolkit is available to help you make the most of a grand opening, and a few well-considered playlists have been assembled for your juke box fans (keep a supply of quarters on hand).

Below you'll find a few more ideas.

Decor? Perhaps some Image-ine place mats or napkins will do (print up a dozen or so). Theme? Consider how many slices of Emily Dickinson's Black Cake you'll need or, if the weather's chilly, whether a thick word soup, heated to perfection, will suit everyone's tastes. Greet newcomers with a tray of top 10 poetic picks, perhaps baskets of poetry fortune cookies (if hungry guests are inclined to be poetry futurists or just feel lucky), a box of haiku for the minimalists or story cubes for prose poems, or a mixed bag of ingredients for list-form poems. A bowl of poetry salad might be needed for those vegans in the group, and a supply of recipes, school lunch menus, and weekly newspaper sections could be kept at the ready to create erasure or found poems. Always finish the evening off with chocolate or WordCandy.  Whether you serve spam on arrival or boxed to go, concoct a sampler of the sweet and savory, or send your guests out the door with a poetry postcard or your cafe's pre-printed calling card (It's time to take poetry home—for life!), your offerings are bound to appeal so long as you don't limit your creativity. Keep it simple or go whole hog. Just don't stress, and have fun!

To help others who might be struggling during their cafe's pre-construction phase, record experiences in your cafe's kitchen and at your tables (remember, there are blank pages in The Mischief Cafe) and then share the experiences online (perhaps on a dedicated FaceBook group page?); that way, we all will learn from each other. Everybody is going to want to taste what you've made, so long as it's not always served from the same spoons. 

* Disclosure: Several poems from my collection Neruda's Memoirs are included in The Mischief Cafe.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thought for the Day

And what is empty turns its face to us /
and whispers:
"I am not empty, I am open."
~ Tomas Transtromer

Quoted from "Vermeer" in The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Transtromer, Selected and Translated from the Swedish by Robert Bly (Graywolf Press, 2001)

Tomas Transtromer, Swedish Poet, Writer, Translator, Winner of 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short introduces ongoing research in Howard Weiner's' laboratory at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, into the role of the immune system in aging and development of Alzheimer's disease. The short, one among video competition winners uploaded to the NIH Director's Blog, features some of the researchers working to treat and prevent the disease. The song about the research is set to "Cups Song" from the film Pitch Perfect.

Other "Cool Videos" on the site (and on YouTube) include shorts about heart attack, discoveries to improve health, metabolomics, and myotonic dystrophy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Specializing in contemporary Latin American artists, All We Art Cultural exChange comprises an art studio and gallery in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. Launched this past summer with an exhibition of Venezuelan contemporary art, the multidisciplinary arts venue also features a Venezuelan craft store. The business owners plan to open a cafe so that the spaces become "a place of encounter" and discovery (in addition to art/design exhibition, shopping, and "encounter" spaces, All We Art aims to provide cultural services and programs.) All We Art participated in the international art fair (e)merge and currently is showing, through November 9, the work of Anrika Rupp, who works both in Caracas and Miami. Exhibitions are monthly.

✦ I shared last month on social media this online image gallery for "Life: Magnified", an exhibition that continues through November at the Gateway Gallery at Washington Dulles International Airport. It is too good not to include here. See the 46 photos in person or do the next best thing and go online. The images are remarkable, and include a relapsing fever bacterium on red blood cells, the cerebellum, a human liver cell, a mammalian eye, a brain with Alzheimer's disease, gecko toe hairs, skin cancer cells from a mouse, HIV, and the mouth parts of a lone star tick (pictured below). The exhibition is a joint effort involving the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, American Society for Cell Biology, and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's Arts Program

Mouth Parts of Lone Star Tick
Igor Siwanowicz, Janelia Farm Research Campus
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia
Courtesy "Life: Magnified" Exhibition

✦ Her oils on Metrocards are just 2-1/8" x 3-1/4" but are surprisingly detailed. Painter Maud Taber-Thomas of Washington, D.C., and New York City, began making the tiny works in 2011, while living in the latter city. A graduate of the New York Academy of Art, where she studied classical painting, Taber-Thomas is drawn to the historic and the literary, as demonstrated by her lovely "Orlando Project", inspired by Virginia Woolf's novel, and specializes in portrait-painting. Browse her Website for inspiration. See Taber-Thomas's work at Susan Calloway Fine Arts in Washington, D.C.

✦ It's no wonder Joan ("Joe-on") Belmar is the recipient of arts grants and fellowships. Chile-born and now a citizen of the United States, Belmar is an immensely talented painter who works with such materials as mylar, acetate, vinyl, plywood, and plastic to "play with light, transparencies and the sculptural qualities of these elements" to explore and reference memories, perceptions, and changes over time and distance. It's clear from looking at images in his online gallery and at images of his various series that Belmar likes to experiment, and he does so to wonderful effect. His works on paper, so full of abstracted narrative, are worth a long look. Washingtonians can see his solo exhibition "Chords" at Addison/Ripley Fine Art through October 25. A slideshow of Belmar's intriguing work is available online at Adah Rose Gallery.

✦ It's true that everything has a purpose, and sometimes more than one, as these wonderful collages and drawings by Steve Greene prove. Greene likes to use old supply catalogues in his work, which he says are full of "random poetry". (My thanks to Paris Review Daily for the introduction.)

✦ In the brief video below, issued in September as part of the Art21 Exclusive series, the remarkable photographer Sally Mann, who lives in Virginia, talks about her relationship to Virginia Franklin Carter (1894-1994), the African-American who helped raise her and her siblings. Mann describes Carter as possibly "the single most important person in my life." The video includes images from Mann's Deep South series. The images are available in Deep South, published in 2005. Mann will be releasing next year a memoir, Hold Still (Little, Brown & Co./Hachette Book Group, May 12, 2015), which will include photographs and be available as an e-book and audiobook.

Art21 Profile of Sally Mann

Gagosian Gallery Profile of Sally Mann

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ "Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art" continues through December 6 at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia. The exhibition features beautiful examples of the artistry of women of the African Diaspora. Work by Xenobia Bailey, Sonya Clark, Januwa Moja, Senga Nengudi, Nnenna Okore, Joyce J. Scott, Adejoke Tugbiyele, and Saya Woolfalk is featured. The fiber media include yarn paper, glass, metal, synthetics, and textiles. (Take some time and browse the artists' Websites.)

SCMFA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ In Huntsville, Alabama, Huntsville Museum of Art continues through January 18, 2015, "Ginny Ruffner: Aesthetic Engineering", a exhibition of large mixed-media works by the glass artist, who is based in Seattle, Washington. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Ruffner is the subject of the feature-length documentary Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life. (See my post "Ginney Ruffner: Not So Still" for a sneak peek and other information about the documentary.)

Catalogue Cover

HSV Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, is presenting "The Lyrical Line: Prints by Jacques Villon and Stanley William Hayter" through December 21. The exhibition features prints by the French and British printmakers, respectively, which were donated to UVA by T. Catesby Jones. 

Short Biography of Jacque Villon

Short Biography of Stanley William Hayter

Fralin Museum of Art on FaceBook and Twitter

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, also part of UVA but off-campus, is showing work by Ricardo Idagi (Meriam) of Melbourne. Titled "Gurari - Saltwater Drinker", the exhibition includes nine sculptures, made of such materials as raffia, feathers, beer cans, and wrought iron. The exhibition concludes December 21.

Kluge-Ruhe on FaceBook

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is devoting the next several months to "Stephen Hayes's Cash Crop". On view through January 5, 2015, the exhibition includes a life-size installation of 15 chained forms representing 15 million men, women, and children who endured the "Middle Passage" (see the image at the exhibition link; the sculptures are inspired by the Brookes slave ship, a diagram of which is in the British Library); historic slave dockets loaned to the museum by the Delaware County Bar Association; and objects from Lest We Forget Black Holocaust Museum of Slavery. A video of Dario Moore's series of vignettes, "Sacred Slave Stories", told in dance also will be available for viewing. 

Diagram of Brookes Slave Ship (1789)

African American Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Page Turner, Cloak & Dagger, Assemblage, 10" x 4" x 4", 2012

Please join me today for my new Artist Watch feature at the online arts magazine Escape Into Life. I'm especially pleased to present Page Turner, whose wonderful assemblages under bell jars I first saw at an art show curated by Judith HeartSong.

Page's constructions are entirely hand-made. Her choice of materials, which reflect a background steeped in the domestic arts, are inspired and sometimes quite delicate. At the exhibition I attended, I spent considerable time just looking at her tiny works, which are so evocative as to be unforgettable. Their social commentary can be profound.

At EIL today, you'll find images of eight of Page's sculptures, Page's insightful Artist Statement, a detailed biography, and links to a museum and arts center where Page will be exhibiting next year. Page has been enjoying a considerable amount of well-deserved attention since last year. Please watch for her forthcoming catalogue. It promises to be a keepsake.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Wonder: The 'Earthscapist'

Once I've created a piece, I feel like it's moved
through me and I can let it go. I don't feel
an attachment. I feel complete.
~ Artist Andres Amador

His tools may be simple and his medium a creation of nature but his ephemeral artworks rely on geometry and fractals. Self-described "earthscape artist" Andres Amador, who understands the art of letting go, says his creations are all a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Listen and watch as he talks with a KQED Arts interviewer about creating his wonders in the sand, which Amador calls "playa paintings".

Additional videos are available on Amador's Website.

Andres Amador's Playa Painting Workshops

Andres Amador Arts on FaceBook 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Columbus was discovered (Cento)

Columbus was discovered

The night I burn my novel
Smoke polkas above the pines
Because a fire was in my head
And someone called me by my name
By what he found
Strewn by hands:

Treasures, gone missing

I went out to the hazel wood
Up the lift shaft of the air
Without branches or roots
Or even a sky to hold on to

Our lit cage rising weightless
With lights
That touched all of her

Every intersection is a promise, fabulous
Redden and ripen and burst and come down

Though I am old with wandering
Would ransom the fading hours
I had a latecomer's
Right, to live life out

I crept home to sweet common flowers
Cupped hands lighthouses of flight
The road a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor

This is a revision of a cento I wrote and left in the somments section of the TweetSpeak Poetry post "Top Ten 'Dip Into Poetry' Lines". Capitalization and punctuation is my own.

Here are the sources of the lines, in order:

Title "Imagination" by James Baldwin

1 "Nature's Gold" by Dave Malone
2 "Nature's Gold" by Dave Malone
3 "The Song of the Wandering Aengus" by W.B. Yeats
4 "The Song of the Wandering Aengus" by W.B. Yeats
5 "Imagination" by James Baldwin
6 "Taken" by LW Lindquist
7 "Taken" by LW Lindquist
8 "The Song of  the Wandering Aengus" by W.B. Yeats
9 "Opera Bouffe" by Philip Gross
10 "Gathering Leaves in Grade School" by Judith Harris
11 "Gathering Leaves in Grade School" by Judith Harris
12 "Opera Bouffe" by Philip Gross
13 "Traffic in Phoenix" by Claire McQuerry
14 "Taken" by LW Lindquist
15 "Traffic in Phoenix" by Claire McQuerry
16 "Late Summer" by Jennifer Grotz
17 "Late Summer" by Jennifer Grotz
18 "The Song of the Wandering Aengus" by W.B. Yeats
19 "That the mistle thrush" by John Daniel Thieme
20 "Raisins for Being" by Roald Hoffman
21 "Raisins for Being" by Roald Hoffman
22 "Raisins for Being" by Road Hoffman
23 "Across the Border" by Sophie Jewett
24 "Constellations" by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
25 "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes

The TweetSpeak Poetry post contains the links to text of all the poems.

Although I included in the comments cento Sara Teasdale's "I ween the knights forgot their words / Or else  they ceased to care", from "A Ballad of the Two Knights", I elected not to include them in the cento here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Muse: Documentary on NYRB

Our only truth is narrative truth,
the stories we tell each other and ourselves.
~ Opening Narration of The 50 Year Argument

Poster for The 50 Year Argument

A new documentary about The New York Review of Books, titled The 50 Year Argument (HBO, 2014), premiered in the United States at the end of September on HBO. The documentary about the storied periodical, co-directed by Martin Scorcese and David Tedeschi, examines — via archival and original verite footage, contemporary interviews, personal anecdote, and excerpts from published long essays and poems — how NYRB came to occupy a special place among thinkers, the well-read, and the curious. 

Among the writers, musicians, critics, historians, and politicians who appear in the film are Joan Didion, Colm Toibin, Norman Mailer, Derek Walcott, Susan Sontag, Vaclav Havel, James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, and NYRB's founding editor Robert Silvers.

Here's the trailer.

HBO Docs on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Read an interview with Robert Silvers in The Guardian (June 7, 2014). Silvers has been NYRB's editor since 1963, its launch year.