Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap With the French, 'Reframed'

Winter can be dreary but thanks to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., we have the French, newly "reframed", to cheer us up on Leap Day.

Two years ago, the NGA undertook to renovate and restore its galleries of prized Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gaugin. (The permanent collection numbers nearly 400 paintings, including major holdings from the Joseph Widener bequest of 1942 and the Chester Dale Collection given to the museum in 1962.) In late January, the museum announced the reopening of those galleries, celebrating the weekend of January 28 with a festival of French music from the 1870s, a screening of French CanCan (Jean Renoir, 1954), and a lecture about the "new look" with Mary Morton, curator and head of the department of French paintings. The museum plans a two-day public symposium on the reinstallation for April 27 and April 28. (For other related events, go here.)

In the NGA's reconceived design for the galleries in its West Building, the masters' paintings have been reinstalled in thematic, monographic, and art historical groups. One installation, for example, features avant-garde Paris circa 1900, as represented in the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, and Henri Rousseau, while another combines Cezanne's landscapes, still lifes, and figure paintings. 

As part of the initiative, the NGA restored 13 artworks, including Renoir's well-known and popular A Girl with a Watering Can (1876) and Monet's The Bridge at Argenteuil (1874). And on view for the first time is Gustave Courbet's The Black Rocks at Trouville (1865-1866). 

If you can't get to D.C. to see the renovated galleries, do the next best thing and explore some of the links above and below. Even virtually, the paintings will inspire and delight, no matter the day's temperature.

Checklist of Paintings, Gallery by Gallery 

National Gallery of Art on FaceBook and Twitter

Don't-Miss Online Resources

The Collection: French Painting of the 19th Century ~ Beginning with a brief overview, this resource includes a selection of online "tours", in some cases with audio: Manet and His Influence, The Beginnings of Impressionist Landscape, Impressionism, Postimpressionism, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gaugin, Mary Cassatt: Selected Paintings, Mary Cassatt, August Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Romantics and Realists. Also available are several in-depth examinations of the work of Edgar Degas (The Dance Lesson) and Edouard Manet (The Railway, The Dead Toreador and The Bullfight, small French paintings from the Ailsa Mellon Bruce and Paul Mellon collections), and a virtual Van Gogh exhibition, "Van Gogh's Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam").

Picturing France, 1830-1900 ~ Created for NGA Classroom, this is a downloadable educational resource about 19th Century painting in France, organized by region and showcasing more than 50 works of art.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Many Years Married (Poem)

Many Years Married


She always used waxed paper,
and he — his thick, calloused fingers

thumbing the folds at noon— would lift
to his hunger-timed mouth each wedge

of cheddar her blue-vesseled hands
slipped between slices of honeyed ham

resting in two crusted pockets of bread
she'd spread with a knife's point of mustard.


Once, to show how much he loved
her, he gave her a Shaker's nest

of boxes — large secreting small, one
measured to accept the other, in form

and pattern perfectly sized — and watched
her eyes dart to the last, its red and green

confetti filling her lap, hiding nothing but
what was the emptiness she found there.


The afternoon he died he was doing
what she wanted, ignoring all the signs

his body was sending, waiting for
the one moment he could say the words

and put his right hand there, on his heart
that had been broken.

© 2011, 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Muse: Naomi Long Madgett

Poetry is a universal means of expression and is open
to so many interpretations. It makes me very happy
to leave a legacy of words that other people can relate to.
~ Poet Naomi Long Madgett*

An award-winning 82-minute documentary about the life and work of Detroit Poet Laureate Naomi Long Madgett (b. 1923), STARbySTAR: Naomi Long Madgett, Poet & Publisher introduces us to an extraordinary woman: the "Godmother of African American poetry".

Madgett, professor  emeritus of English at Eastern Michigan University, has published 10 poetry collections, including One and the Many (1956), Star by Star (Harlo Press, 1965), Pink Ladies in the Afternoon (1972), Exits and Entrances (Lotus Press, 1978; via resellers), Remembrances of Spring: Collected Early Poems (Michigan State University Press, 1993), Octavia: Guthrie and Beyond (1988; Lotus Press, 2002; also available through Wayne State University Press), and Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems (Lotus Press, 2004). In addition, she has published several textbooks, including A Student's Guide to Creative Writing (Michigan State University Press, 1980), and an autobiography, Pilgrim Journey (Lotus Press, 2006).

The founder of Lotus Press, Madgett also is the editor of two anthologies, one of which, Adam of Ife: Poetry in Praise of Black Men (Lotus Press, 1992), presents the poetry of 55 African-American women. Earlier this year, Madgett became the recipient of the Kresge Foundation's $50,000 2012 Eminent Artist Award. That prize follows a long list of citations, including an American Book Award, a Governor of Michigan Artist Award, a College Language Association Creative Achievement Award, a Black Scholar Magazine Award of Excellence, induction in The Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, and several honorary degrees. A national competition open to African-American poets is named for her. Widely published, the Virginia-born Madgett was just 13 when her first poem appeared in a local newspaper, 15 when she met Langston Hughes, who autographed one of his poetry books for her, and 17 when her first collection, Songs to a Phantom Nightingale, debuted. 

Using historical photographs and documents, interviews, and footage of poetry readings, filmmaker David B. Schock traces Madgett's cultivation of her poetic voice, her years as a teacher, and her commitment to Detroit, where she has been a tireless activist, arts supporter, and literary influence.

Here's the trailer for STARbySTAR:

The film is available as a DVD.

This 15:12-minute interview also is worth your listening time:



* Quoted from "Detroit's Poet Laureate Naomi Long Madgett Named 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist", Press Release, January 27, 2012

"Congratulations, Naomi Long Madgett", Huffington Post, January 30, 2012 

Interviews with Naomi Long Madgett Online: KGB Bar Lit MagazineBlogTalkRadio (2011); Art on Air, Cave Canem Legacy Conversation Series (2006); CastTV Videos

Poems of Naomi Long Madgett Online: "On Corcovado Mountain", "Packrat", and "Renewal" at Naomi Long Madgett; "Alabama Centennial" and "Midway" at Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement; "Phillis" at  Wheatley Biography; "Morality" and "Quest" at African American Registry; "Woman with Flower" at The Writer's Almanac; "Alabama Centennial", Video, at Poets&Writers; "Black Woman" at Bookaddict4real; "Woman with Flower" at defining parent (same poem is also at Painted Path); "New Day", Video, at DetNews; "Midway" at We Can Fly; "Life"

2011 Outstanding Documentary Award (Media), Historical Society of Michigan

A Poet's Voice at Vander Films (The 27-minute short includes a reading by Madgett. An excerpt is available at the link.)

Four Sisters (x2, +1) (This is a 12:53-minute excerpt from a documentary about a 2010 event featuring appearances by Madgett and poets Melba Joyce Boyd, Marilynn Rashid, and Hilda Vest at the Virgil Carr Center, Michigan Arts League.)

Naomi Long Madgett/Lotus Press Papers:  University of Michigan Special Collections Library and Fisk University Special Collections Library; Library of Congress Catalog Record (Correspondence, James A. Emanuel Papers, 1922-1995)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thought for the Day

. . . If lucky, love will distract us more than suffering.
If blessed, we are broken of everyone's plans and regrets
and thrown like a hooded bird into a sea of light.
If trusting the fall, we find our wings. . . .
~ Mark Nepo 

Quoted from "Mark Nepo: The One Conversation", January 19, 2012

Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo at Three Intentions

Also see the Writing Without Paper post for February 14, 2010.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Today's edition of Saturday Sharing will take you to a site addressing all things Iranian; show you around artist Trong G. Nguyen's library, where all the "books" are made with rice grains; introduce you to Britain's first Children's Laureate Quentin Blake, who is the subject of a new iTunes app; spotlight an online literary magazine for writers who are women; celebrate Charles Dickens with Cambridge University Press, which recently published a facsimile edition of Great Expectations; and leave you moved by an animation of a Charles Bukowski poem.

✦ If you're a writer, you'll want to take stock of Women Writers, Women Books, an online literary magazine launched in 2011 for, by, and about contemporary writers who are women. The reviews, writing advice, publishing how-to, and marketing and promotion tips come from women around the world who write in English. The magazine welcomes guest blog posts; submission guidelines are here.

Women Writers on Facebook and Twitter

✦ Though ad-heavy, the site Payvand carries some interesting and informative features related to art, books, dance, fashion, film, music, photography, and poetry by Iranians and Iranian-Americans. Self-described as "a window into Iran through which we can promote understanding, dialogue, and peace", Payvand also addresses human rights, the environment, technology, and other subjects of importance.

✦ Known for his wonderful illustrations for Roald Dahl stories, Britain's first Children's Laureate Quentin Blake is the subject of a recently released iTunes app: Quentin Blake: As Large as Life. Included are a gallery of high-resolutions images of work that Blake created for hospitals in the United Kingdom and France, an artist interview in which Blake talks about his work methods, and information about two limited-edition prints available for purchase. The material derives from an exhibition in London at The Foundling Museum on view through April 15.

✦ Celebrating the great writer's 200th birthday, Cambridge University Press has published a fascimile edition of Charles Dicken's Great Expectations titled The Manuscript of Great Expectations (December 2011), complete with corrections and alterations in the author's hand. (Some close-ups of pages from the manuscript at here.) Dickens gave the manuscript to a close friend, Chauncy Hare Townshend, who bequeathed it to the Wisbech and Fenland Museum in 1868. For the facsimile, CUP newly photographed the manuscript and reproduced it at size in color. 

✦ Vietnamese-born and New York-based artist and curator Trong G. Nguyen has created an unusual library. Each of his "books" is made of rice kernels, each grain of which carries a single word in ink, all combined comprising either the complete text or an individual "chapter"; the title of the book, which carries due dates stamped in black or red, is written on gold-painted rice grains. Among  Nguyen's re-creations in rice are all of Roland Barthes's La chambre claire (Camera Lucida), a collection of 48 mylar packets of rice kernels; Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper; and Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, all shown here. Additional projects are described here.

✦ Today's feature video is the gorgeous "Bluebird" animation by Monika Umba of a Charles Bukowski poem published in the 1992 anthology The Last Night of the Earth Poems. The animation does not include the poem's text. To hear Bukowski (1920-1994) read his own poem, go here (the text is provided with the audio).

My thanks to Moving PoemsBrain Pickings, and The Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog, where the video has been highlighted. 

A selection of poems by Bukowski can be found here and here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Congratulations to Marilyn Henrion whose Disturbances, comprising hand-quilted pieced silks, was acquired recently by the Newark Museum for its permanent collection. Henrion's Disturbance series may be seen here. Don't miss Henrion's online gallery. Also see my post of September 15, 2011, "Marilyn Henrion's 'Soft City'".

✦ If you can't travel to see the splendors of stained glass in the world's great churches, do the next best thing: download Art of Stained Glass, for iPhone and iPad. The app, released last summer, offers images by well-known photographers; any image from the slideshow may be used as wallpaper. 

✦ Chicago's nonprofit Woman Made Gallery, which aims to "ensure the equal placement of women's art in the world", is the subject of a NEA Art Works post, "Art Talk with Beate Minkovski of Woman Made Gallery". Founded in 1992, the WMG has shown the work of more than 7,000 artists who are women. In addition to exhibitions, it offers programs that seek to educate and enrich the community about the contributions of women to contemporary culture. Take time to browse the site, read the artist calls, view the artisan and many member galleries, and consider the workshops scheduled for this year.

✦ More than 100 guilds around the world, including the United States, make up the Modern Quilt Guild, whose blog The Modern Quilt Guild showcases quilts and quilting techniques. Currently showing are 100 days of block quilts.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In Newark, New Jersey, the Newark Museum is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the birth of the studio glass movement in America with "Studio Glass 1962-2012", a survey of work, drawn from the museum's own holdings. Most of the more than dozen pieces on display are recent acquisitions; several are being shown for the first time. Among the important American and European glass artists represented are Dale Chihuly (Permanent Blue Macchia with Cadmium Orange Lip Wrap, 1986), the Czech duo Libensky and Brychtova (cast sculpture), and Toots Zynsky (see image).

Toots Zynsky, Tierra del Fuego, 1989
Glass, 5" x 11" x 7"
Purchase 1990, Thomas L. Raymond Bequest Fund
Newark Museum

Newark Museum on FaceBookTwitterYouTube, and iTunes

Newark Museum Blog

✭ Through April 8, you'll find on view at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art "Illuminations: Rediscovering the Art of Dale Chihuly". Drawn from the museum's collection, the glass is in newly installed galleries that allow some objects, including Float Boat and Ikebana Boat, to be viewed from all sides. Complementing the show is "Chihuly: Northwest", which includes glass sculptures inspired by Native American baskets, Chihuly's own collection of Native textiles, and pieces from Chihuly's White series, shown recently at Pismo Fine Art Glass.

Dale Chihuly, White Soft Cylinder, 2010
21" x 16" x 15"
Photo: Scott Mitchell Leen

OKCMOA on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Note: The Chihuly Garden and Glass, in Seattle, Washington, opens this spring.

✭ Paper as art form is the subject of an exhibition of Rockford, Illinois, artist Roland Poska, "Pulp and Pigment: The Realms of Roland Poska", on view through May 6 at Rockford Art Museum. Considered a pioneer in the use of handmade paper, the artist (b. 1938 in Scotland) combines pulverized rag fibers with ground raw pigments to construct beautiful abstract paintings that take on the qualities of sculpture; he calls them "papestries". Poska founded Fishy Whale Press in the 1960s and has long worked with leading printmakers. His artwork is in numerous public and private collections.

Roland Poska
Handmade Paper and Ground Raw Pigments
© Roland Poska

Images of some of Poska's work can be seen herehere, and here.

Roland Poska on FaceBook 

The Great Human Race - Fishy Whale on FaceBook

Profile of Roland Poska at Lituanus, Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences

Rockford Art Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ In New York City, The Jewish Museum is presenting through March 25 "The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951". The exhibition includes the documentary photography of Jack Manning, Jerome Liebling, and Sid Grossman, among the work of more than 80 featured artists who photographed New York City's most ordinary inhabitants. 

In this short, one of three videos related to the exhibition, Erika Stone, Vivian Cherry, Ida Wyman and Sonia Handelman-Meyer talk about their Photo League experience and work as photographers:

The Jewish Museum on FaceBookTwitter, Flickr, YouTube, and ArtBabble

The Jewish Museum Blog (You'll find here highlights from the exhibition until its conclusion.)

✭ The Flomenhaft Gallery, also in New York City, is exhibiting a selection of works from its collection of African American artists, including Romare Bearden's collage Up at Minton's, Jacob Lawrence's Chess on Broadway (ink on paper), Faith Ringgold's Double Dutch on the Golden Gate Bridge (acrylic on canvas, tie-dyed, pieced fabric border quilt), and Carrie Mae Weems's four-part suite from Sea Island Series (photographs). The work is on view until March 3. More information about the show is here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

3-Dimensional Printing

. . . you can download product data from the Web,
perhaps tweak it and personalize it to your own preference
and your own taste, and have that information sent to a desktop
machine that will fabricate it for you on the spot. . . .

How does a thirty-year-old technology finally become commonplace? In this TED Talk, Lisa Harouni, co-founder and CEO of Digital Forming, describes "the extraordinary idea" of 3-D printing, or "additive" manufacturing, and explains why, as many barriers to use have broken down, 2012 may be the year this fascinating technology comes into its own, allowing architects, product designers, and others to create intricate, and often beautiful, bespoke structures, from prototypes of buildings, to once-obsolete spare parts, to personalized merchandise, to medical prostheses that can be constructed no other way. The technology, Harouni emphasizes, is "revolutionary."

Direct Link

Also Of Interest:

3D Printing at Explaining The Future

The World's Smallest 3D Printer

"Could 3D Printing End Our Throwaway Culture?", The Guardian, November 17, 2011

"Catastrophe Becomes Art with 3D Printing", PCWorld, November 1, 2011 (See the video here of the beautiful Japanese earthquake sculpture created with 3D printing.)

"3D Printer Art in Belgium", Singularity Hub, February 5, 2010 (Be sure to watch the video included with the article.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Wonder: Sekko Daigo

Today's Wednesday Wonder is Sekko Daigo, a shodo master, or master of calligraphy. She is recognized throughout Japan and has received much acclaim for her work. Lucky students in Portland have the opportunity to study with her.

In this video, filmed in Oregon during Japanese New Year ("Oshogatsu") celebrations at Portland Japanese Garden, Daigo demonstrates kakizome, the first writing of the new year, which takes place on January 2:

(This video is also available on YouTube. Still photos of Daigo at Portland Japanese Garden may be seen here.)

Daigo creates exquisite Kindaishi (modern style) and Tensho tai (seal script).

Also Of Interest

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Looking for Meaning in Red (Poem)

Looking for Meaning in Red

Fourteen days into February
we pucker lips for scarlet-hued kisses

thick and candied into love's own shapes,
pop sweet nothings off rued tongues,

melt down the chocolate-covered I
-dos before they can clot at the back

of our honking, hoar-frosted throats.
By the first of December, we're looking

for the meaning of color in another twist
on red. I finger that satiny strand

I pinned to my coat's rolled collar,
the longer end of ribbon fraying

like my short-circuiting memory. I'd wear
this emblem on my sleeve but then I

couldn't feel my heart pushing, pressing,
breaking against my thin chest wall.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

I offer this poem for this month's Random Acts of Poetry prompt, "Red". What's your take on the color? Go here to read the post, then leave your poem or a link to it on the FaceBook Wall for T.S. Poetry Press by tomorrow, February 22. Your contribution could be featured at The High Calling or TweetSpeakPoetry, or in Every Day Poems.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Muse: New Washington Poet Laureate

Kathleen Flenniken was appointed Washington's new State Poet Laureate earlier this month. Only the state's second Poet Laureate, Flenniken will serve a two-year term ending in February 2014. 

Samuel Green was Washington's first official state poet, serving from 2007 to 2009, after which the Poet Laureate program was suspended for budgetary reasons. In 2011, agreement was reached to resume the program but without state funds. The $10,000 stipend that Flenniken has received to help cover her activities on behalf of poetry, including public readings, workshops, and lectures, comes from the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Washington; support for the program also comes from private donations. For Flenniken's current schedule of poetry-related events, go here.

Background on the law that established the Poet Laureate program and articles and other laureate-related resources are found in this February 2011 post.

* * * * *
I started writing poetry in my thirties. I learned what I learned
over pots of spaghetti, a child or two tugging on my pant leg,
and in my precious night class that saved my sanity . . .
It's a joyful way to enter poetry. . . .
~ Kathleen Flenniken*

Award-winning Seattle poet Kathleen Flenniken published Famous (University of Nebraska Press), a debut collection of 51 poems, in 2006; that book received the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, was a finalist for a Washington State Book Award, and was named a Notable Book by American Library Association. Flenniken published this year her second collection, Plume (University of Washington Press; Pacific Northwest Poetry Series), about the nuclear waste dump Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where the poet, a civil engineer and hydrologist, worked there three years. (See the book trailer at the end of this post.) On her Website, Flenniken describes Plume as "part memoir, part history lesson, part cautionary tale, part quest... at its heart a search for identity...."**

Here's a favorite poem of mine from Famous:

The Nuns' Remains

On the eighth day of rain,
the nuns—
stacked in twos
in their Calvary graves—
washed down the hill
to our own back garden,
where each found
a bed of her own.
Mostly they favored
golden rays of early daffodils
or the pheasant eye narcissus
with its delicate crown.
But one chose
the tender white blossoms
of a freesia
which we brought inside.
It smelled like black pepper
and illumined the dark.

What I particularly like about this poem is the depth it acquires as it shifts us from the stunning visual of the graves "washed down the hill" to the garden, which, fed by the remains, blooms. The details ("golden rays" of daffodils with their connotation of rebirth; the "delicate crown" of the pheasant eye narcissus, also known as the poet's narcissus; the flowering of white freesia, symbolizing purity and innocence, which "illumined the dark") take on religious significance but are not in the least heavy-handed. And the wonderful addition of "It smelled like black pepper", keeps the poem grounded and accessible. Like many of Flenniken's poems, this one yields more with a second or third reading.

Flenniken's poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, DMQ ReviewThe Iowa Review, Mid-American ReviewPoetry Daily, Poetry NorthwestPrairie SchoonerSouthern Poetry Review, Verse Daily, Willow Springs, and other literary periodicals and anthologies.

In addition to a Pushcart Prize (2012) and an Artist Trust grant, Flenniken has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship (2005). President of the nonprofit Floating Bridge Press, which publishes and promotes the work of Washington poets, Flenniken teaches poetry writing through Seattle's Writers in the Schools and other arts programs. 


Poetry © Kathleen Flenniken

* Quoted from Author's Statement at NEA Writer's Corner

** Quoted from Background and Interests Section at Kathleen Flenniken Bio

Mary Ann Gwinn, "Poet Kathleen Flenniken Nabs 'Dream Job'", The Seattle Times, February 9, 2012

Kathleen Flenniken Profiles at Poetry FoundationPrairie Schooner, and Poets&Writers

Kathleen Flenniken Poems Online: "The League of Minor Characters" and "Gil's Story" at The Writer's Almanac (Audio Available); "Graphology" at SLOG/Seattle Poetry Chain 25; "What I Learn Weeding" at Verse Daily; "The Man Who Played Too Much Tetris" at Reimagining Place; "Richland Dock, 1956" at Washington State Magazine; "Coyote", "Reading Wells", and "Museum of Doubt", All at DMQ Review; "You only get this haircut", "Matinee", and "Coconut", All at Word Riot; "Elisabeth Reads Poetry" at Clackamas Literary Review; "The Nun's Remains" and "What I Saw" at Crab Creek Review;  "Old Woman With Protea Flowers, Kahalui Airport" at American Life in Poetry (also at Poetry Foundation); "Sea Monster" and "The Sound of a Train" at Verse Daily; "Mosquito Truck" at Willow Springs;  "It's Not You, It's Me" at Bark; "Sotto Voce" at NEA Writers' Corner; "The Inventors" and "The League of Minor Characters" at In Posse Review; "Out of Cupid's Range",  "For Solange", and "The Five Senses", All at Literary Salt; "Lost coat, Pls Call" at The News Tribune; "Horse Latitudes" at Kathleen Flenniken Poems and Orcas Issues (Also see the section "Hear the Poems" at Kathleen Flenniken Poems.)

Video at Story/Stereo 5, March 2010 Reading

Excerpt from Famous (This 13-page pdf is made available through University of Nebraska Press.)

Jeremy Hatch, "A Review of Kathleen Flenniken's Famous", 42opus, Vol. 6, No. 3, November 29, 2006 (Review)

Diane Lockward, "Kathleen Flenniken: 'Famous'", Valparaiso Poetry Review (Review)

Humanities Washington State Poet Laureate Page

Washington State Arts Commission Page for Samuel Green

Here's the book trailer for Plume:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thought for the Day

. . . Each of our lives is a sentence in its story. 
Loving is the art of putting down our want to be the hero.
Listening is the art of threading all the stories. Once threaded
 the light in all of us is opened. It is the light of all that matters. 
Drinking of that light brings us back to life.
~ Mark Nepo, "A Spiritual Problem"*

Mark Nepo's January 9, 2012, meditation, "A Spiritual Problem" is available here in its entirety.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Come in from the cold and sample today's selections at Saturday Sharing, which travels to the British Library for the written word; the National Film Board of Canada's Main Street; Chile, where you'll see the most amazing fingerpainting; and the virtual and wall-less Monasteries of the Heart. When you feel like sitting down for a spell of reading, make a choice from Storycuts.

✦ The Random House Group series Storycuts has more than 250 digital short stories from a range of writers across genres. 

✦ Anyone who enjoys and wants to know more about the preservation of our library heritage should follow the Library History Buff Blog, written by Larry Nix, a former director of public library development at Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction who also is a stamp collector. See Nix's online resource on bibliophilately. (My thanks to Fine Books blog for the heads-up.)

✦ If you've been to the British Library or even visited it online, you know what an extraordinary resource it is. Complementing a recent BBC series on the written word, the library presented online related holdings in its collections, among them oracle bones (c. 1600-1060 BC) from its Chinese language collections; the Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist scroll made in 868, the world's "earliest complete survival of a dated printed book"; and Beowulf, the 3,000-line epic poem in Old English. You may explore these invaluable texts and many other now virtual treasures using the library's Turning the Pages™ system. There are apps for them, too.

✦ Spend some time on Main Street by Danny Singer, an interactive National Film Board of Canada project that will take you off the main highways into small prairie towns. The site comprises hundreds of Singer's "stitched together" individual exposures of towns to create composites that let us zoom in and explore up-close the communities' social, cultural, and commercial centers. It's a remarkable project that Singer says is about a real place. Another marvelous project is Aaron Vincent Elkaim's Fire. (My thanks to the New York Times Lens blog for spotlighting these NFB interactive projects.)

✦ Crowdsourcing is producing some fine collaborations on the collection and use of historical manuscripts. Here's one such project: Crowdsourcing History. (My thanks to The Bigger Picture blog at the Smithsonian for this link.)

✦ I'm delighted to pass on this link to Monasteries of the Heart from my friend Peggy Rosenthal at Image Journal (see her post here). A virtual "monastery without walls", the organization describes itself as "a movement of seekers interested in becoming part of a community of seekers. . . to support one another in shaping their spiritual lives around Benedictine values and priorities." You'll find some wonderful resources here, including excerpts from Joan Chittister's book The Monastery of the Heart, selections of prayers, audio for experiencing lectio divina, poems of Christian mystics, and an interactive book, Awakening the Mystic in You.

✦ Fingerpainting can be a lot of fun but as Chilean artist Fabian Gaete Maureira's "fingerscapes" on glass show, a talented hand can use it to produce incredible results. (My thanks to Teia Peterson for the tweet that led me to the video and this Huffington Post article about the artist.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ An art-and-the-law blog worth following: Art and Artifice.

✦ You'll want to spend more than a moment at the Website of French paper artist Nathalie Boutte (b. 1967). Images of her marvelous collages, which resemble mosaics, especially her portraits, are here. (My thanks to my friend Ann at All Things Paper for bringing Boutte to my attention.)

✦ My friends at the Smithsonian Institution Archives have uncovered a remarkable trove of images from the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, comprising 543 photographs taken in Istanbul and five archeological sites in western Turkey by Nicholas Victor Artamonoff (1908-1989). Browsing the collection, maintained by Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., is a delight.

✦ This short, The Art of Time by Martina Chamrad, takes us to the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a behind-the-scenes look at lithography. Now in its fifty-second year of printmaking, Tamarind has worked with a stellar group of artists, among them Elaine de Kooning, Jim Dine, and Kiki Smith.

The Art Of Time from Martina Chamrad on Vimeo.

Chamrad's blog Between East and West is worth a look. Her other videos are accessible here; her Les Ottinger short is noteworthy.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In Turlock, California, Carnegie Arts Center is exhibiting through March 14 the textile artistry of Yvonne Porcella. The show, "Yvonne Porcella: A Retrospective", honors Porcella's textiles, which are in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Museum of Arts and Design (see her Snow on Mount Fuji there), and other notable arts institutions. Her quilts, as the image below shows, are  imaginative and beautifully made narrative collages, exceptionally rich in color and full of intriguing symbols, figures, and forms.

Yvonne Porcella, Answering the Riddle, 1990
© Yvonne Porcella

An informative six-page press release on Porcella's retrospective that includes images is here. Also see Lisa Millegan Renner's feature article, "Yvonne Procella's Fabric Art Next for Turlock's Carnegie Arts Center", Merced Sun-Star, January 13, 2012.

Porcella is among the quilters profiled in the PBS documentary America Quilts.

Yvonne Porcella Blog

Yvonne Porcella Profiled at Quilters Hall of Fame, Alliance for American Quilts, Bernina (five-page pdf showing Porcella's wonderful pieced wearables and applique blocks), and Planet Patchwork

Preview of Porcella's Six-Color World: Color, Cloth, Quilts & Wearables (C&T Publishing, 1997) at GoogleBooks

The video below was produced by the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (currently holding a Quilt National) while hosting a 25-year retrospective of Porcella's work:

✭ Washington, D.C.'s Phillips Collection, one of our finest local art venues, is showing through May 27 Brooklyn-based Alyson Shotz's Ecliptic, a series of three interrelated monumental drawings of yarn and nails. The work was commissioned as part of the museum's popular "Intersections" series.

Phillips Collection on FaceBook and Twitter

Experiment Station, Phillips Collection Blog

Free Phillips App for iPad or Android

Selected Images of Alyson Shotz Artwork at Derek Eller Gallery

✭ In New York City, one of my favorite museums, Museum of Arts and Design, has opened "Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design", on view through August 12. All of the artists represented use such materials as dust, ashes, dirt, and sand to address in their work issues of ephemerality, impermanence, memory, loss, fragility, and disintegration. Featured are Zhang Huan's haunting ash sculptures (see his ash, steel, and wood Jesus of 2011), James Croak's extraordinary life-size sculptures of unfired dirt (see one series of process photos here), and Kim Abeles's work using city smog (see The Smog Collectors at her site). From March 6 to May 14, a series of "live" installations, Swept Away Projects, are scheduled and will include Catherine Bertola, who creates artworks from dust, which she describes as "a mechanism for storytelling". Video interviews with participating artists and an exhibition catalogue complement the exhibition.

Phoebe Cummings, Flora, 2010
Unfired Clay
Photo: Sylvain Deleu Courtesy of Artist

Cummings, who works in raw clay, was last year's recipient of the prestigious Spode Award (see this feature about the award). See some of her other work here.

MadMuseum on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

✭ The Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, is presenting "Nancy Chunn: Chicken Little and the Culture of Fear" through April 15. Comprising a series of paintings in which Chunn uses the allegory of the folk fable Chicken Little to show how fear and panic enveloped American culture and politics after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, the show includes six of Chunn's 11 "scene cycles" for which she has appropriated found images from different decades that she has grouped on different-size canvases to mimic frame-by-frame views of 24-hour news broadcasts; she organizes the canvases over what she calls "amoeba" shapes painted directly on the wall. In the scenes she portrays environmental disaster, road rage, poverty, crime, and the "nightmares" of healthcare and medical research. A selection of images may be viewed here.

Nancy Chunn, Chicken Little and the Culture of Fear
Scene VI: The Road (Detail), 2006-2007
© Nancy Chunn
Photo: Bill Orcutt Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts New York 

Nancy Chunn Artist Page at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (Here you'll find Chunn's biography, a list of selected publications, press coverage, an interesting discussion of her work, and images of Chunn's work.) This 10-minute YouTube video of Chunn's "Nancy Chunn: Media Madness" exhibition features the artist talking about her fascination with American history, culture, media, and politics, and her technique, imagery, and artistic intent. She also discusses her use of the Chicken Little story and how she employs humor to uncover serious issues.

Notable Exhibitions Abroad

✭ At Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria, United Kingdom, the art of "Turner and His Contemporaries" is on view through April 14. The exhibition of more than 40 works from the Sir Hickman Bacon Watercolour Collection presents not only J.M.W. Turner's sublime watercolors but also those of Thomas Girtin, John Robert Cozens, and John Sell Cotman. An exceptional show of 18th and 19th Century watercolors. 

John Sell Cotman, A Windmill (Detail), c 1828
© Sir Nicholas Bacon

A color catalogue of the show is available. A selection of exhibition images may be downloaded here.

AHAG on FaceBook and Twitter 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Water's Edge

On February 7 in Minneapolis, Open to Interpretation launched Water's Edge, the first of a planned series of themed books resulting from an international juried competition of photography, poetry, and prose. The competition involved a call for photographic entries that generated more than 1,500 submissions resulting in 31 finalists, and a call for written entries to which 203 writers responded. Publisher Claire O'Neill notes in the Introduction to Water's Edge that entries came from 25 countries and 40 states.

The 92-page custom-printed hardcover features the work of 89 photographers, poets, and prose writers. Image selections were made by Douglas Beasley, founder and director of Vision Quest Photo Workshops, and the poems and stories inspired by them were chosen by Anastasia Faunce, a writer, editor, educator, and arts administrator. Each of the 32 fine art images, which appear either in color or black-and-white, is paired with two written "interpretations". For a preview, go here.

I'm delighted to announce that my poem "Illustrating Cell Division", inspired by Mequon, Wisconsin, photographer Ron Horbinski's image, is included in Water's Edge. A complete list of the photographers and writers, as well as thumbnails of each of the featured images, can be found here. A $300 Judge's Choice Award went to writer James Harms of Morgantown, West Virginia, and photographer Marc Ullom of Niles, Michigan. Purchasing information for Water's Edge is here

Open to Interpretation currently is accepting photographic entries for "Fading Light" (the deadline is March 15; the judge is curator, historian of photography, and writer George Slade) and poems and prose for "Intimate Landscape" (the deadline is March 29; the writing judge is Patrick Thomas, an editor and program manager at Milkweed Editions). The online gallery of images selected for the latter competition by photography judge Karen Irvine, curator and manager of publications at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, is here

Open to Interpretation on FaceBook and Twitter

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Wonder: Pfeifer Makes an 'Elphabet'

You don't have to be a kid to delight in artist and author Hilary Pfeifer's Elephabet, a recently published alphabet book that will challenge you to say as fast as you can the charming creatures' names, each of which is a portmanteau, a combination of some word beginning with a letter from the alphabet and the word "elephant". You do have to smile, however, when you hear or say the names aloud.

Elephabet from Hilary Pfeifer on Vimeo.

Marketed through Bunny with a Toolbelt and ETSY, the Portland, Oregon, artist's sculptures are crafted from recycled wood and other materials. In this Oregon Public Broadcasting feature, Pfeifer shows us how she makes her humorously named herd:

Pfeifer, whose family tree of creatives includes the painter Mary Cassatt, has a more serious artistic side that has brought her a number of grants and residencies, speaking engagements, teaching experiences, write-ups in publications, and many solo and group shows. An installation artist, she describes her work as an exploration of "the ways that humans attempt to control nature [that] in turn finds a way to adapt or reassert itself." Visit Pfeifer's Website to view her installations Natural Selection, a greenhouse of bonsai, and The Beauty of Life, which was inspired by wallpaper and fabric patterns of Arts and Crafts designer William Morris. Also noteworthy are Pfeifer's works on paper inspired by a residency in Costa Rica, works on cloth that were produced during a residency in Finland, Liminal Space, an installation created during a residency at Philadelphia's Wood Turning Center, and Chandellear, a sound installation on which she collaborated with Christian Bannister.

As the portfolio on Pfeifer's site shows, this successful artist is not content to go with the safe and the tried. Nothing she does resembles what she just did. She pushes to the edge to explore what she can do with physical objects, and draws inspiration from forms she finds in whatever environment she's working. She's also an artist whose curiosity and humor produce work that's great fun. 

Bunny with a Toolbelt Blog

Hilary Pfeifer on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo

Hilary Pfeifer's Do-It-Your-Selfabet (Templates)

Pfeifer is represented by San Francisco's Velvet da Vinci Gallery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Gloaming (Poem)



Let's put down
blue sheets and plan

that blue night
for late April, before

the forsythia break
out, towheaded. Write it

out in French first —
l'heure bleue.

Blur into it slowly,
then get in the mood.


I'll wear Chantilly
silks, and we'll rehearse

how you'll weigh
three round red plums

pre-sliced for breakfast,
how I'll drip honey

the color of champagne
into pockets of toast points

you'll nibble while reciting
Rilke's Book of Hours.


Not just any kind
of cerulean will do.

The sun must be
glimmery, let light slip

our day's ending, drawing
into shadows India's

azure bleed through
spider's lace, reminding

us again of blueberries'
taste in winter.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Muse: New Mississippi Poet Laureate

. . . I can get lost in writing a poem
 and forget what time it is. . . .
~ Natasha Trethewey*

Natasha Tretheway recently was appointed Mississippi's Poet Laureate. She fills the position vacated on the death in November 2010 of Winifred Farrar

My post on Farrar (click link above) contains information about the selection, appointment, and duties of the Poet Laureate, who serves a four-year term.

* * * * *
What interests me most about poetry is the elegant envelope of form
and the kind of density and compression that a poem demands. 
Because of those demands, I think I get to work more with silences
 than if I were writing prose. The silences are as big a part
 in my poems as what is being said . . . my poems do a lot
 of work with what is implicit. . . .
~ Natasha Tretheway, Interview at Waccamaw**

Gulfport, Mississippi, native Natasha Trethewey is the author of Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), Bellocq's Ophelia (Graywolf Press, 2002), and Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000). Her new collection, Thrall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), will be published this fall.

Tretheway also is the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010), a book of creative nonfiction that Trethewey has described in her poem "Liturgy" as "my pilgrimage to the Coast, my memory, my reckoning. . . ." In addition, she is the editor, with Jeb Livingood, of Best New Poets 2007: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers (University of Virginia Press, 2007).

I do feel that poets should take on the responsibility of recording
or re-recording the cultural memory of a people. . . I walk around
through the world thinking always of what has come before, that
it's still present, and I think it's my job as a poet to tend to that.
~ Natasha Trethewey, Interview at Waccamaw**

Birthplace and heritage, childhood and family life, death and loss and hope, race and racism, historical erasure (what gets made invisible or buried, left out of history books) and the impulse to recover story, place (the geography and metaphor that are the South) and exile, and the role of memory and remembrance and what it means to "go home" are all themes or subjects explored or celebrated in the poetry of Trethewey, the daughter of a white professor and black social worker who were divorced when the poet was six. Trethewey was just 19 when her abusive stepfather shot and killed her mother. Out of such a past Trethewey has produced often astonishing poems, for which she uses traditional forms that, she told a Bookslut interviewer, serve as "a tool of restraint" in writing about "experiences that are pretty difficult for me."

Trethewey's poems are rich in unfussy, taken-from-life detail, build evocatively line to line, are controlled in tone but not without emotion, and make especially effective use of repetition, so that restatement becomes a means to restore or bring back to memory those stories and relationships that are both described and not, that are personal yet belong to others, too. Two strong examples:

In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;
they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong — mis in Mississippi.

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same
as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving

Faulkner's Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given him
for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.
I was born near Easter, in 1966, in Mississippi.

When I turned 33 my father said, It's your Jesus year — you're the
age he was when he died. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

I know more than Joe Christmas did. Natasha is a Russian name —
though I'm not; it means Christmas child, even in Mississippi.
~ "Miscegenation"

Not the fleeting bruises she'd cover
with makeup, a dark patch as if imprint
of a scope she'd pressed her eye too close to,
looking for a way out, nor the quiver
in the voice she'd steady, leaning
into a pot of bones on the stove. Not
the teeth she wore in place of her own, or
the official document — its seal
and smeared signature — fading already,
the edges wearing. Not the tiny marker
with its dates, her name, abstract as history.
Only the landscape of her body — splintered
clavicle, pierced temporal — her thin bones
settling a bit each day, the way all things do.
~ "What Is Evidence"

Trethewey's poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and periodicals, including Agni, American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, North American Review, Poetry DailyPoetry NorthwestThe Southern Review, and storySouth.

The Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, Trethewey is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize (2007), for Native Guard; a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts (2008), a Lillian Smith Award for Poetry (2001), Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters prizes (2001, 2003), and a Cave Canem award (1999), for her debut collection, Domestic Work. Trethewey also has been a fellow at Beinecke Library at Yale University, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and The Rockefeller Foundation. She was named Georgia Woman of the Year in 2008 and inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 2009 and the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2011.


All poetry excerpts © Natasha Trethewey

* Quoted at "The Shelf: Natasha Trethewey", Teresa Weaver on Georgia Writers, Atlanta Magazine, September 1, 2010

"Trethewey Named State Poet Laureate", SunHerald, January 17, 2012

Natasha Trethewey Poems Online: "Letter Home", "Monument" (Audio), "Pilgrimage", "Providence", "Theories of Time and Space" (Audio), and "Vespertina Cognitio", All at Academy of American Poets; "Flounder" and "History Lesson" at Poetry Foundation; "Myth" (Audio), Poetry Foundation; "My Mother Dreams Another Country" (Audio) at NPR; "Myth", "Miscegenation", and "Providence", All at PBS NewsHour Poetry Series; "Miscengenation", "What Is Evidence", and "Pastoral", All at Swampland; "Mexico" at Poetry Northwest; "At the Owl Club" and "His Hands" at African American Review via JSTOR; "Miscegenation" at Poetry Daily; "Flounder" and History Lesson" at Poetry Out Loud; "Domestic Work, 1937" at American Poems; "Monument" at Poetry Everyday; "Blue Book - June 1911" at The Alchemist's Kitchen; "Elegy", "Flounder", "Pilgrimage", "Providence", "Letter Home", "Miscegenation", "History Lesson", "Southern History", "Domestic Work, 1937", and "Theories of Time and Space", All at AfroPoets; "At Dusk" at Scribd; "Naming", "Father", "Belloq", "Blue Book", "Portrait #1", "Portrait #2", "Photography", "Disclosure", "Spectrum", "(Self) Portrait", All at storySouth

Natasha Trethewey, "Congregation", The Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2009 (A series of poems is available to subscribers of VQR. A podcast at Studio 360 is available here.)

Articles by Natasha Trethewey at First Things

      Noteworthy Features and Interviews

"Mississippi Meditation: A Poet Looks 'Beyond Katrina'", NPR, August 18, 2010
Terry Gross, "Natasha Trethewey: If My Mom Could See Us Now", Fresh Air at NPR, January 20, 2009

March McKee, "A Conversation with Natasha Trethewey", The Missouri Review, March 2010

Ange Mlinko, "More Than Meets the I", Poetry Magazine Article 

** Quoted from Daniel Cross Turner, "Southern Crossings: An Interview with Natasha Trethewey", Waccamaw, Fall 2011, No. 8

Jake Adam York, "Jake Adam York Interviews Natasha Trethewey", Southern Spaces, June 25, 2010 (Video)

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