Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thought for the Day

Poems . . . see the cracks in what we agree to believe
is smooth, and drop in to tell us about those cracks.
A poem may tell you a great deal worth hearing by
inviting you out of yourself and into somebody else's 
world, some other mind. Such a poem may lead you
back into your own life and show you a new self by placing
you in that unfamiliar spot and asking you to be, to think, or
feel something new. It may also show you something about your
old familiar self you had not discovered — or faced — before. 


Her Place in These Designs (Truman State University Press, 2008)

Playing at Stillness (Truman State University Press, 2005) 

Rehearsing Absence: Poems (University of Evansville Press, 2001)

The Shadow I Dress In (WordTech Communications, 2004)

Where Horizons Go: Poems (Truman State University Press, 1998)

Rhina P. Espaillat Site at North Shore Community College (Text and audio for several of Espaillat's poems are found here.)

Rhina P. Espaillat Page at PoemTree (More than 20 of Espaillat's poems are available here.)

Rhina P. Espaillat Page at Poetry Foundation 

Rhina P. Espaillat Page at Powow River Poets

Rhina P. Espaillat Poems at David Robert Books

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Facts, New or Not: Halloween Edition

This edition of Facts, New or Not celebrates all things Halloween.

✦ Halloween's origins date to the Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in).

✦ The history of the jack-o-lantern is told in the story of "Stingy Jack". In Ireland, where pumpkins are not native, turnips have long been carved to ward off evil spirits.

✦ According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the largest gathering of zombies took place in Ledbury, Herefordshire, United Kingdom, on August 6, 2009, when 4,026 individuals participated in "The Big Chill Festival". 

✦ The Cutting Edge Haunted House, in Fort Worth, Texas, holds the record for longest walk through a horror house: 2,261.08 feet.

✦ Salem, Massachusetts, scene of the Witch Trials of 1692, boasts both a Witch Dungeon Museum and a Witch History Museum. The town celebrates the "Festival of the Dead" throughout October. 

✦ While you're out a-haunting, beware of black cats crossing your path. Some maintain that black cats are themselves witches, not just witches' protectors, and that there's only one remedy for them. Learn "How to Kill a Witch" by consulting What They Say in New England: A Book of Signs, Sayings, and Superstitions.

✦ The werewolf is the stuff of legends the world over. Everything you could possibly want to know about the beast you'll find at Werewolf Page.

✦ Fruitcake isn't limited to Christmas, especially in Ireland. On Halloween, a type known as barnbrack contains a treat that is wrapped in muslin and said to foretell the eater's future. You'll find a recipe here. Do let me know how it tastes.

✦ No Halloween party would be complete without bobbing for apples. It's a practice believed to have originated somewhere in the British Isles, as this historic timeline indicates.

✦ Our nation's revered Arlington National Cemetery has its own share of ghosts. According to this history of ghosts, ancient Rome's Pliny the Younger recorded one of the first ghost stories.

✦ Philadelphia's Wunderle Candy Company was the first to create candy corn, in the 1880s.

✦ The top costumes of 2010: Buzz Lightyear and Alice in Wonderland, according to the National Retail Federation. Go here for Halloween costume inspiration and ideas and then get busy.

✦ Yes, Virginia, there really is a Haunted House Association.

And just to everything straight, here's a visual history of Halloween to enjoy.

Saturday Sharing will be back next week!

Friday, October 29, 2010

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Focus on Virginia Artists: Great Falls Studios

Founded in 2003, Great Falls Studios is a network of more than 90 artists who live and work in Great Falls, Virginia. With the express objective of promoting the artistic efforts of all the member artists, GFS arranges group exhibitions in such venues as the local library, animal shelter, and realty offices, and during local community-wide events, such as "Great Falls Day" and "Taste of Great Falls"; maintains a membership in the Arts Council of Fairfax County to ensure members have access  to that organization's resources; and, through sales at GFS-sponsored events, like the one at historic Colvin Run Schoolhouse, supports the work of local charities. The consortium also sponsors an annual Great Falls Studios Studio Tour, which this year was held October 16-17 and involved nearly 50 painters, sculptors, photographers, potters, designers, quilters, and artists working in other media. Like other such tours, the GFS event is a wonderful opportunity to visit artists at their workplaces (in the case of GFS artists, these include historic homes and old barns), learn about art-making, add to an art collection, and enjoy a drive through Great Falls' back roads.

For images and information about the consorium's member, who include fiber artist Dorry Emmer, photographer Christin Boggs, calligrapher Jill Norvell, lithographer W.R. Tuthill, and potter Barbara Gatterdam, go here.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center presents, in an exhibition opening November 3, 16th Century Italian chiaroscuro woodcuts.

On view through February 27, 2011, the show includes more than 20 works primarily from Kirk Edward Long's collection — all promised gifts to the museum — that exemplify the first 100 years of the chiaroscuro technique, a labor-intensive way of reproducing images in color. Bartolomeo Coriolano's "Fall of the Giants" is featured, as are important works by Ugo da Carpi (according to Vasari, the inventor of the technique), Parmigianino, Antonio da Trento, and Giuseppe Niccolo Rossigliano a.k.a. Vicentino. The museum is open Wednesday - Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and Thursday until 8:00 p.m.

Image above at left: Bartolomeo Coriolano, Fall of the Giants, 1638; Chiaroscuro Woodcut from Three Blocks, Printed on Four Sheets, Sheet 34-7/16 x 24-9/16 in. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Giorgio Vassari, The Lives of the Artists (Oxford World's Classics)

✭ In New York City, "Think Again: New Latin American Jewelry" at the Museum of Arts & Design brings together the work of more than 50 Latin American jewelry artists and designers known for their innovative techniques and nontraditional materials. Included in the show, which runs through January 9, 2011, are works by Mirla Fernandes and Claudia Cucchi of Brazil, Valentina Rosenthal of Chile, Elisa Gulminelli and Francisca Kweitel of Argentina, Jorge Manilla and Alcides Fortes of Mexico, and Miguel Luciano of Puerto Rico. 

Mirla Fernandes, Necklace: Heranca I, 2006
Latex, Paint, Synthetics, and Rubber
21-5/8 x 7-1/16 in.
Collection of the Artist © Mirla Fernandes

Bijou Contemporain Jewelry Article on the Exhibition

✭ The 11th Biennial Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair and Conference, "The Book (R)evolution", opens its three-day run beginning November 5, and includes for the first time a contemporary print component that examines print independently and in relation to books, as well as a Marketplace offering specialty tools and hard-to-find materials. More than 40 exhibitors from around the world will be present. In addition, the event includes lectures, demonstrations, and film showings, including the wonderful Who Does She Think She Is? and Between the Folds. The Book Arts Fair will be in the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza (800 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland). The Book Arts Fair blog is here.

✭ Cuban sculptor and painter Yoan Capote is showing at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City through November 13. The show, "Mental States", is inspired by Capote's initial experience with American culture.

Video of Creation of Yoan Capote's Installation for 10th Havana Biennial
Images from Jack Shainman Gallery
Cuban Art News Interview with Yoan Capote, October 14, 2010

Video Preview of Capote Discussing Show at Jack Shainman Gallery:

YOAN CAPOTE - MENTAL STATES from Queen of Mango on Vimeo.

✭ At The Grand Hand Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota, "from the fire" honors 30 years of ceramic work at Saint John's Pottery at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The show, running through November 14, features the superb work at artist-in-residence Richard Bresnahan and four of his   apprentices: Stephen Earp, Kevin Flicker, Sam Johnson, and Anne Meyer. Furniture by Willie Willette also is on view.

The gallery, established in 2004, showcases some very fine artists working in clay, wood, fiber, glass, metal, stone, jewelry, and mixed media. The majority are from Minnesota and Midwest region.

The Grand Hand on FaceBook 

Prospect New Orleans Updates

I've been following Prospect New Orleans since first featuring the nonprofit here in July. Much is in the works. The planners for Prospect 1.5 have created a two-page guide offering information about all the planned exhibitions and events for the 15-week arts initiative scheduled for November 6, 2010, through February 19, 2011; launched a weekly blog series featuring artists participating in Prospect 1.5; and arranged for the Prospect New Orleans Art Auction & Throwdown, to be held in New York City on November 19. On the stellar list of contributing artists are Cai Guo-Qiang, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Holzer, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, John Waters, and Lisa Yuskavage. The event, which honors founding benefactor Toby Devan Lewis, will take place at Jack Shainman Gallery. Ticket information is available here.

Art-Related Blogs of Note

Act: Artist Career Training


✓ Art Licensing Blog


Hrag Vartanian: A Brooklyn Art Critic's Notebook

Modern Art Notes (ArtInfo)

Now at the Met 

The Flat File

Touching Harms the Art 

Unframed (LACMA)

'Will Sing for Food' Benefit

Just a reminder: Tonight is the opening of the Vienna (Virginia) Choral Society's "Will Sing for Food: A Concert for the Hungry and Homeless". The two-day art and music event begins with a VCS-Sponsored Haitian art show and sale from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tomorrow, beginning at 7:30 p.m., VCS presents its "Will Sing for Food" concert and a silent auction. The venue is the Church of the Holy Comforter, 543 Beulah Road, N.E., Vienna, Virginia 22180; 703-255-5508. Admission to the art sale is free. Concert tickets range from $35 for families, to $20 for adults, to $15 for seniors and students.

Proceeds from the art sale benefit The Friends of Hopital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti.

Go here or here for details.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Vision of History-Making Music-Making

No one can say what a beautiful piece of music
means but we know it's beautiful.
~ Composer Norman Dello Joio

If you were asked to name the world's top orchestras in the late 1940s and early 1950s, would Louisville Orchestra come to mind?

In 1948, Louisville Orchestra was small, semi-professional, virtually financially destitute. What it had going for it — what many  orchestras even today lack — was the support of local politicians and civic leaders. The Kentucky city's future-oriented, arts-loving mayor, Charles Farnsley, said to be never at a loss for ideas, decided the way the orchestra would make it, and leave a lasting mark on the cultural landscape over which he presided, was by commissioning work from contemporary composers. Indefatigable orchestra conductor Robert Whitney couldn't say no. Thus was the Commissioning Project born. It became more than the visionary mayor or anyone else in Louisville at the time might have thought possible. The city became the "home of new music" and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

In 1953, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Louisville Orchestra a $400,000 grant to commission a composition a week — 52 a year! — for three years, with each new work to be performed in weekly concerts and also recorded and sold by subscription (First Edition Records became the orchestra's label). With that kind of money, Whitney set about commissioning pieces from the likes of Virgil Thomson, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, Ned Rorem, Norman Dello Joio, and other extraordinary composers. Twice, he commissioned the great Martha Graham to perform solo with the orchestra to music of composers of her choice.

The rather unlikely but wholly inspirational story of how a city mayor, a conductor, a single orchestra, and some of the world's greatest composers came to share a vision of history-making music-making is told in the feature-length (90-minute) documentary Music Makes a City, produced by Louisville filmmaker Owsley Brown III and Robin Burke and directed by Brown and Jerome Hiler. Immediately below is a trailer for the film, which took six years to make.

Music Makes A City Trailer from Jason Weinberger on Vimeo.


21C Media Group Video on FaceBook: Owsley Brown III and Jerome Hiler Discuss Music Makes a City

WFPL Radio Show on Music Makes a City

"After the Flood" in Listen: Life with Classical Music, Fall 2010

Art of the States: Louisville Orchestra, Hyperlinked List of Works by Henry Cowell, Ned Rorem, and Other Composers Performed by the Orchestra

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Introducing Heather Truett's Felicities

It's appropriate that Heather Truett has titled her new collection of poems Felicities. Dedicated to her late friend Natalie Rose York, whose own blog was called Friday Felicities, Truett's newly published book of poetry celebrates the things, large and small, that bring her happiness: friendship, her sons at play, the colors of umbrellas on a beach in summer, a card that sparks laughter that cannot be mimicked in words, the taste of honey, the way butter melts on cornbread, a childhood memory that connects her to her mother's love of Elvis Presley.

Though she describes herself as "Wordy Girl", Truett writes compactly, most of her poems barely filling half a page and some no more than five or six or seven lines long. Her verse is largely unadorned, her imagery rendered in straightforward yet effective similes, as in "Needs", where she writes that "The purple in the glass / is like a plum. / . . . Green panes, / like an olive grove. . . ." 

Truett's felicities find their anchor in comfortable and familiar domestic scenes: at home "where / mom keeps 'cut-knife' cheese in the fridge / and makes fried cornbread" and "you can snatch shoes / from your sister's closet / and eat vanilla custard pies / baked from scratch" ("Home Is Where"); at the local coffee shop with its "free magazines" and "painted tables / suede chair cushions / against dark wood" ("Espresso Cafe"); and in the abiding sense of homecoming, as in her poem "Homecoming", in which Truett describes how, after being away a week, "my whole world shifted" on seeing how her loved one "turned slightly / to face me / as I came inside":

His eyes and skin and smell
were just as I remembered them
and also 
brand new.

My heart split in two
and made room

to love him even more.

Although Truett at times tends toward explaining instead of letting imagery carry her meaning, her poems are nonetheless appealing in their abiding appreciation for what can be taken from "each moment that  we're living" ("Each Brilliant Moment"). She threads time — past, present, and future — throughout her poems. For Truett, it's the moment that contains the felicity she's determined to isolate and celebrate.  On some days, it's enough that "the sunshine is softer / and the wind is somewhat sweeter" ("Enough"); on others, there's bittersweet recognition of time going too fast, that "this little boy [her son] / will be gone", married, with a family, and "three states away" ("A Few More Days"). 

There is also in Truett's poems the felicity of faith, of strong belief in "how things [are] meant to be" ("Warmth"). She recognizes and honors the  value of "[s]trong roots" and "[s]olitary acceptance" that precludes the need of "expectations for your life" ("Tree"). And, at the end, she's content to take her measure not in "waiting for tomorrow" through "[d]ark night" but "in the quiet", with eyes closed and feeling God ("We Are Home").

Truett's first poetry collection, Pencil Drawn and Paper Grown, which she describes as "poetry on faith, hope, love, and life through the eyes of a young woman in the South", is available through Lulu. Her new book is available at Amazon.

Heather Truett's Website

Heather Truett on Twitter

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Got Choice?

Choice is the only tool we have that enables us to go 
from who we are today to who we want to be tomorrow.
~ Sheena S. Iyengar

We in the United States like having choices. Having the right to choose, we might even say, is essential to our native narrative. Not so people elsewhere in the world.

Fascinated by the literal business of choice, its complexities, and its cultural and geographic underpinnings, Columbia University professor Sheena Iyengar and her team at the university's business school travel the world to study how people make choices.

In the first video below, Iyengar discusses The Art of Choosing (Twelve, March 2010), her well-received book on the topic. (An excerpt from the book is here.)

In the second video, Iyengar presents in an 18-minute talk some of her research on how choices are made and what choices can tell us about our assumptions, motivations, biases, and influences.

Iyengar's multi-part presentation at the Third Annual Conference on Law and Mind Sciences (March 2009), which includes the results of her now famous "jam study", also is available on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Also worth your time is Iyengar's very interesting radio interview. Other radio interviews are found here (scroll to bottom of page).

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Meaning of Being Haitian (Poem)

The Meaning of Being Haitian

If I should die,
think only this of me:

a shadow in memory
I understand I be

no more and one more
a count in breaking news

named and claimed
but stilled

in paradise.

You who culled our grief
absorbed in earth revolting

on a January afternoon
take now the measure

of single breaths
striked in chaos controlled

beneath tarps flapping
wind-caught and undone

your mouths re-masked
against the fault line

of recovery.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas


I wrote this poem for Carry on Tuesday, which each week provides a prompt that participants are to use wholly or partly in an original poem or prose piece.

The prompt for Tuesday, October 26, consists of the opening line of Rupert Brooke's poem "The Soldier": If I should die, think only this of me: . . .  Brooke wrote the poem in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I.

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #76, go here.

Note: Although it is indicated at Carry on Tuesday that one need not produce something somber in response to Brooke's poem, I had to use the prompt as I have after coming across a CNN post in which the writer described being at a dinner party at which a guest asked, "Is Haiti worth saving?"

* * * * *
I also offer this poem for One Stop Poetry's weekly "One Shot Wednesday" event. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' "one shot" poems.

Monday Muse: Alaska's State Writer Laureate

Peggy Shumaker has succeeded Nancy Lord as Alaska's State Writer Laureate. (I wrote about Lord and the position in July; go here for that post.) She began her two-term term in the honorary, unpaid position on October 1.

* * * * * 
We find our ways to transform—
we transform what we cannot make better.
And we transform it into art if we're lucky....
~ Peggy Shumaker*

Peggy Shumaker, a resident of Fairbanks, Alaska, has published a half-dozen collections of poetry, including, most recently, Gnawed Bones (Red Hen Press, 2010), Blaze (Red Hen Press, 2005), which features paintings by Kesler Woodward, and Underground Rivers (Red Hen Press, 2002). She also is the author of two chapbooks, Braided River (Limner Press, 1993) and Greatest Hits (Pudding House Press, 2006), and a memoir, Just Breathe Normally (University of Nebraska Press, 2007; Bison Books, 2009), which describes her recovery from a freak bicycle accident that almost claimed her life. 

Nature figures prominently in Shumaker's work, but it is not the nature of sylvan glens, pastoral woodlands, and sprites. Nature caught in Shumaker's lens is made up of "rivers inside the ice / heaving splits" ("Exit Glacier"), "skulls of pack rats / crushed into owl pellets" ("Gnawed Bones"), "the crackling shock / of tumbling ice" ("Constellations"), the redtail's / open season, hawk/grace/hunger / on the wing" ("Hunger on on the Wing"), "Corrugated hailstorms" and "the dead sure / bite of all we fear" ("Calls of Birds We Cannot See"). Shumaker maps the terrain of her poems by populating them with horny toads, howler monkeys, stoats, otters, moose, snakes, bats, and cranes that "graze, pace, graze, then / flap scuttle jabber scold" ("What Will Remain"); we find them (and ourselves) in places where "the sky  turns / gray angora" ("Autumn") and "blue-white sun / barely lifts above the ridge", leaving one "breathing hard rare frosted light" ("Long Before We Got Here, Long After We're Gone"). 

Shumaker writes short, tight, precise, and elegant lines. She creates striking imagery, as in "In Praise, Ephemera" (". . . ice dams hold tight / jostled swathes of half-lace ice. / Knife-edged narrow / leads open, sliced river swollen."). Often, she uses alliteration to wonderful effect, as in "Winter" from Blaze ("Hip deep in heaped snow / birches sway. . . ",  "Sun on the birches' / broken places. . . ", "Winter sun showing us / our shadows"). And she is clear-eyed about our place in the universe:

. . .
What will remain
has always remained—

water seized
by ice-driven air,

faith through hard cold
that the languages

of marsh, sky,
sandhill crane

will keep on
with us or without.
~ From "What Will Remain" in Underground Rivers 

A contributing editor of Alaska Quarterly Review, Shumaker is also on the advisory board for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize series and Red Hen Press and has been a poet-in-residence at Bucknell University's Stadler Center for Poetry, as well as writer-in-residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts; in the latter capacity, she worked with school children, the elderly, deaf adults, prison inmates, and gang members.

Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Shumaker has published poems in many literary magazines, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Verse Daily, The Salt River Review, and Blackbird, as well as in an array of anthologies, including The Poets Guide to the Birds (Anhinga, 2009) and Women's Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English (Seren, 2009). (Go here for a selected list of anthologies in which Shumaker has published.)

In 2008, Shumaker founded Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, through which she publishes the work of Alaska writers. Professor emerita at University of Alaska/Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.


All Poetry Excerpts © Peggy Shumaker

Interview (Video and Text) at Arizona State University's Books & Co., April 2009 (Shumaker earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at ASU.)

Interview (Podcast of Episode 15) at A River & Sound Review (Available via iTunes)

Michele Poulos, Review of Just Breathe Normally in Blackbird, Fall 2008

Alaska State Council on the Arts, Literary Arts

Alaska Writers Announcement, October 5, 2010 (pdf)

49 Alaska Writing Center and 49 Writers Blog

Peggy Shumaker's "Oatmeal" at Poetry Daily

Peggy Shumaker's "What to Count On" and "The Story of Light" at Poetry Foundation

Poetic Dialogue Project: Poet Peggy Shumaker ("In Praise, Ephemera") and Artist Laura Ann Cloud (Mixed Media Installation, "Ephemera: A Conversation")

Peggy Shumaker on FaceBook

YouTube Video of Peggy Shumaker Reading Her Work:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thought for the Day

Questions are always a little more trustworthy
than answers. And even if what is said does not take
the rhetorical form of a question, the best descriptions
contain room for that which must remain indeterminate;
they somehow manage to acknowledge the fact of limit....
~ From "Uncertainty" in The Art of Description by Mark Doty


Poet Mark Doty, who teaches at Rutgers University, has published eight poetry collections, including his National Book Award winning Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008); and prose nonfiction, including Dog Years: A Memoir (Harper Perennial, 2008), Firebird: A Memoir (Harper Perennial, 2000), Open House: Writers Redefine Home (Graywolf Press, 2003), and Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (Beacon Press, 2002).

Mark Doty's Blog

Mark Doty's Rutgers University Faculty Profile (Also see "Poetry Justice" in Rutgers Magazine, Winter 2010.)

Mark Doty Interview with the Seattlest (February 2010)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

This edition of Saturday Sharing dabbles in lists, banned authors and their books, Cincinnati murals, roadside haiku in Atlanta, gorgeous artwork to "mend the world", and the art of electronic poetry generation that is based on the I Ching and a bit out of this world.

✭ The City of Cincinnati now boasts 28 murals in 24 different neighborhoods. Through MuralWorks, artists young and old work with communities' residents to create murals that inform, transform, and instill pride. A map to completed murals is here.

✭ List-making is nothing new. We all need, make, and use lists. Still, the lists at the twice-monthly online List Magazine are anything but prosaic. Want to know how to say a few words in 10 languages about to go extinct? List has the answer; it even footnotes it. Stay up to date with List on Twitter.

✭ Banned Books Week has passed but a list of censored, challenged, or banned authors lives on. Some of my favorite authors are on it. Writers' names are entered alphabetically for ease of reference, and the list is updated as need arises. You may cross-reference as well to an alphabetized list of banned books. The top censors and bookbanners in the United States are also collected into a handy list. After a few minutes with these lists, you'll be left wondering if maybe we'd be better off listing who is NOT censored, challenged, or banned.

✭ Working off prompts can yield some unexpected and delightful results. Poets who happen to be familiar with the I Ching or Book of Changes ought to experience at least once the I Ching Poetry Engine, which generates "visual poetry. . . narrated in an object-oriented graphic environment": five lines and approximately 30 words. Rather than try to describe this "6-bit state machine" in my own words, I urge you to visit the site and try it on your own. But first take a look at the explanation and examples of visual poems generated through the site and shown here. Go here to view some additional exhibitions. (My thanks go to Poets Online for highlighting this most unusual site. A compilation of online resources about the ancient Chinese text and its symbolism is found here.)

✭ The site Quilt will leave you exclaiming over the work of Kate Ransohoff, an artist who seeks to create Art to Mend the World™. This pdf contains the verses for the beautiful 36-page artwork "Sign of the Ribbons". Other artworks, including "A Letter to Artists", may be viewed as slideshows. 

✭ Atlanta artist John Morse has been accused of creating "litter on a stick", a rather unkind description of his "bandit haiku". Go here for a description of Morse's roadside poems and then take a peek at the brief video below.  Even The New Yorker had a little piece about the Morse dust-up.

Flux Film 001 | Morse from Proper Medium on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Frida Kahlo: Face to Face

If you are in Washington, D.C., this weekend, take time for "A Conversation with Judy Chicago ~ Frida Kahlo: Face to Face" on Sunday, October 24, 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It is the only personal appearance by Chicago in the D.C. area. Chicago will discuss her new book on Kahlo, published last month by Prestel; she also will be available to sign copies.

The talk is free and open to the public; no reservations are required. The NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., at the corner of 13th and H Streets. The nearest Metro station is Metro Center.

Kahlo's book will be available at the Museum Shop and also is sold through Amazon.

A schedule of Chicago's book-related appearances elsewhere, including Chicago, Santa Fe, and San Diego, is here.

ACA Galleries in New York City is showing through November 27 "Surveying Judy Chicago 1970-2010" (26 exhibition images are available on the same page).

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ New York's Eleanor Ettinger Gallery is presenting a two-person exhibition, Gregory Calibey and Mark English, through the end of this month.

Exhibition works by Calibey, who shows frequently in New York as well as Boston and London, may be viewed here. The lyrical and beautifully realized paintings by English, who was elected to the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame and has created 13 stamps for the United States Postal Service, are here.

✭ In Washington, D.C., the Renwick Gallery has mounted a gorgeous show of turned and carved wood by such esteemed artists as Mark Lindquist and the late Melvin Lindquist, David Ellsworth, the late Rude Osolnik, and Mark Sfirri. The exhibition, "A Revolution in Wood", on view through January 30, 2011, celebrates Fleur and Charles Bresler's gift of the 66-piece collection to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Go here for a slideshow of images. A podcast with collector Fleur Bresler, former curator Kenneth Trapp, and artists Mark Sfirri and David Ellsworth is available on the exhibition page.

Information about the Bresler Collection of American quilts is here. A profile of Fleur Bresler, "Fleur Bresler: A Woman of Vision", was published in Turning Points in 2004 (scroll down to page 6 in the pdf).

David Ellsworth, Patan from "Solstice Series"
Ash and Metallic Fabric Paint
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler

✭ Ceramist Warren Mather's unique silk-screened photographic images on glazed ceramic are on view in "Photo Clay: In the Picture with Warren Mather" at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. The show continues through January 23, 2011. To view images on Mather's site, go here and here. Mather, who created sodium carbonate spray as a substitute for salt glaze firing, explains his process here. His "Musings on My Work" is worth your time.

Also at the Fuller, through March 27, 2011: "Caravan: An Installation by John Garrett". Garrett is a New Mexico-based textile artist whose complex fiber works incorporate materials that are both familiar and unexpected. His large, site-specific installation for the Fuller consists of modular sections inspired by nomadic people of the Middle East and West Africa. Go here, here, and here, for additional images of Garrett's marvelous work. Garrett is in the permanent collections of the Renwick Gallery and New York's Museum of Art and Design.

✭ In its new space in London's Savile Row, Hauser & Wirth is presenting the solo exhibition "Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works". On view through December 18 are more than 70 fabric drawings and four large sculptures. Images of the works are here. Accompanying the show is a 352-page catalogue, Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works, with 474 color illustrations. (To be released April 26, 2011, the book is available through Amazon as a pre-order. It also may be ordered directly through Hauser & Wirth.) Biographical information may be found here; a downloadable obituary, here. Also see Art21, where you'll find a number of videos and slideshows about the artist and her work.

Artist Health and Safety

As a recent ARTNews article discussed, not all artists are familiar with the health risks of the paints and other products or processes they use in making their art. I've compiled a number of links related to the topic, a few culled from the article for easy reference and others identified in my own research. I've included articles and books.

Arts, Crafts &Theater Safety, New York City — Among other services ACTS provides data sheets on more than 60 technical subjects related to health and safety. Also see its newsletter, ACTS Facts.

Arts and Creative Materials Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 

Art Materials Information and Education Network

✓ California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, "Guidelines for the Safe Use of Art and Craft Materials", October 2009 

College Art Association, New York City — The 2011 CAA Annual Conference will include a session on environmental and health consequences of art studio practice. (Anita Cooney and Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman of the Pratt Institute will lead a studio art open session titled "Green and Sustainable Art". Program sessions are listed here.) Studio health and safety is one of the areas specific to the work of the Professional Practices Committee.

✓ Gamblin Artists Colors Co., "Studio Safety and Solvents" in Gamblin Studio Notes, July 2009 (This is a 43-page document from the Portland, Oregon-based company.)

GLOB, Berkeley, California — The company sells "botanically crafted color paints made from fruits, vegetables, flowers, and spices".

✓ Daniel Grant, "The Materials Artists Use" from The Business of Being an Artist (Allworth Press, 2010)

Green Art  — This site, which emphasizes the use of alternative, non-toxic methods, techniques, and materials, comprises Green Prints, Green Work, and the Green Art Guide, which is described as "a selective guide to websites which  the work of creative artists concerned with ecology, environmental art and social issues in their themes or in the techniques they use." A new section, Green Houses, is in development.

Handbook of Non-Toxic Intaglio, Review

✓  Health and the Arts Program, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, Illinois — See the comprehensive Online Health and Safety in the Arts Library.

✓ "Hidden Hazards: Health Impacts of Toxins in Polymer Clays", U.S. Public Interest Research Group, 2002 (A link to the complete report is available.) 

✓ Michael McCann, Health Hazards Manual for Artists (Lyons Press, 2008)

NontoxicPrint — See the Health + Safety page for a list of informative articles, as well as an annotated list of hyperlinked art-specific resources on health and safety and related safe printmaking publications.

✓ "Not Dying for Their Art: UK Printmakers Create Nontoxic Techniques" in University of Kentucky's Odyssey magazine.

✓ Siegfried Rempel, Health Hazards for Photographers (The Lyons Press, 1992)

✓ Monona Rossol, The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide (Allworth Press, 2001)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

'Will Sing for Food': Concert and Haitian Art

Our local Vienna Choral Society, a nonprofit musical organization based in Vienna, Virginia, is sponsoring a concert to aid the hungry and the homeless in our area and a two-day Haitian art show and sale, on October 29 and 30, proceeds from which  will benefit The Friends of Hopital Albert Schweitzer, which designs and implements projects to support the hospital and the Haitian populace in the Artibonite valley. The hospital, in central Haiti, serves more than 300,000 improverished Haitians and is a model for health care delivery in the country. 

The VCS-sponsored art show and sale (in the form of a silent auction) is scheduled for Friday, October 29, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., and Saturday, October 30, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. (and during intermission and following the Saturday benefit concert). Admission is free.

The Haitian artists represented in the art exhibition and sale are Castera Bazile, Wilson Bigaud, Etienne Chavannes, Jacques-Richard Chery, Levoy Exil, and Dieuseul Paul. Both large and small paintings will be offered, as well as sculpture, metalwork, beaded ceremonial flags, vases, and other decorative and boutique pieces.

Painting by Saincilus Ismael*
(1940 - 2000)

The first event of the VCS 2010-2011 concert season, the musical event, "Will Sing for Food: A Concert for the Hungry and Homeless", will take place on Saturday, October 30, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door or may be purchased in advance through the VCS or its members. (Go here to purchase tickets online.)

The venue for the two-day event is the Church of the Holy Comforter, 543 Beulah Road, N.E., Vienna, Virginia 22180; 703-255-5508. (Directions are available on the VCS Website.)

Local community partners for the event are Homestretch, FACETS, and Food for Others.

* The painter also is sometimes listed as Ismael Saincilus. Additional information about him and other images of his work can be found here, here, here, and here.

Vienna Choral Society on FaceBook

Vienna Choral Society on Twitter

Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti on FaceBook

The Friends of HAS Haiti Online Gallery

Facts, New or Not

Don't think you can't have a scintillating dinner conversation tonight. This mix of facts, new or not, will help you get somebody's ear.

✦ Israeli archaeologists have uncovered recently a private box in the upper level of the theatre at King Herod's winter palace in the Judean desert. Enclosing its back and sides are elaborate wall paintings in a style believed to date to approximately 15 BCE.

✦ Some of us like traditional story ballets; others, the abstractions of modern dance. In Sweden, an entirely new form may find favor with those with open minds. Researchers assisted by a professional dancer-choreographer, have created a robotic swan that dances ballet. It's been said that its performance to Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake has moved viewers to tears (you be the judge). A press release about the dancing swan, which is one meter tall and has 19 joints, is here.

✦ Guinness World Records has bestowed upon Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle the honor of three entries: Fastest Selling Album by a Female (UK), Most Successful First Week UK Debut Album Sale, and Oldest Artist to Reach No. 1 with a Debut Album (US and UK). For those who want them, the details are here.

✦ India has the only one of its kind: a public karaoke-for-literacy program carried on the country's national television network.

✦ Cambridge, Massachusetts, has more than its fair share of big thinkers. One of them is artist Matthew Mazzotta. His "Park Spark" invention casts a new, if literal, light on how not to waste waste.

✦ At last! Someone has come up with a creative way to turn an ugly oil-drilling rig into. . . a hotel for scuba divers and snorklers. Sited in the Celebes Sea, with Sipadan Island nearby, the Seaventures Dive Resort draws visitors from Japan, Hong Kong, China, England, and, on occasion, the United States. The guest accommodations are a bit cramped, perhaps, but the diving — and marine life down below — promise an experience you're unlikely to ever have at your local water park.

✦ The Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, located off England's southeast coast, is the largest such operation in  the world. Owned by Vattenfall, the fifth largest energy producer is Europe, the wind farm's 100 turbines are expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 200,000 homes. A video about the wind farm is here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Into Books

In June, I posted my summer reading Hit List, which, I'm pleased to say, I completed with one exception (I put aside temporarily Anne Lamott's Imperfect Birds). A number of books on my list were poetry collections. I've read all of them, several more than once — I can't say I'm "done" with them, however; poetry books are always beside me. I added several other poetry collections that I also recommend:Dawn Potter's How the Crimes Happened and Mark Doty's Fire to Fire. Of the other books I read, I urge you to find time for Anne Carson's Nox, Diane Ackerman's Dawn Light, Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence, and the extraordinary novel by Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Over the last several weeks, I've replenished my stacks. Here's what you'll find now on my reading tables (yes, I have more than one, plus the proverbial bed-side stand) for fall:


The Bomb, Howard Zinn (City Lights Books, 2010) ~ Completed a month before Zinn died, this book is a personal philosophical inquiry into moral and ethical issues of war.

The Art of Description: Word Into Word, Mark Doty (Graywolf Press, 2010) ~ I was impelled to order this book on the craft of writing, part of the Art of series edited by Charles Baxter, after reading a quotation from it on a friend's blog. It does not disappoint.


Room: A Novel, Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown, 2010) ~ I'm seldom drawn to the overly hyped but friends' recommendations of this widely praised (short-listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize), best-selling novel prompted an order. 

Here's a trailer for Room:


Mentor: A Memoir, Tom Grimes (Tin House Books, 2010)  ~ I've just finished this highly readable, insider's view of the famous Iowa Writers' Workshop. It's about more than that experience, however; it also draws a sensitive and telling portrait of the workshop's director, writer Frank Conroy, author of Stop-Time: A Memoir, published in 1967 and still in print. Conroy was a huge presence in Grimes' life.


The Least of These: Poems, Todd Davis (Michigan State University Press, 2009) ~ Peggy Rosenthal's Image Journal post about this collection caught my eye. Davis is, Rosenthal says, "in the tradition of Thoreau-Emerson-Dillard, but with his own special contemporary re-thinking of what Creation can be for a Christian." The collection is deeply compelling, and I plan to order Davis' other work.

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room, Kelli Russell Agodon (White Pine Press, 2010) ~ I recall first learning about Agodon's poetry from her friend, poet Susan Rich, whose blog The Alchemist's Kitchen I follow (Agodon's own blog, Book of Kells, I now follow, too). I've only just begun to dip into Letters but think I'm safe in saying, this is a wonderful collection. (To hear one of Agodon's poems, "Sometimes I still dream about their pink bodies", go here.)

✭ Harvesting Fog: PoemsLuci Shaw (Pinyon Publishing, 2010) ~ This is Shaw's 10th poetry collection and 30th book. Her "a fore word" to the collection might be reason enough to buy the book, so taken was I with her description of fog as hope-giving, "all those damp little particles waiting to be collected into water for cleansing, for thirst."

On my to-order list or awaiting delivery:

Snow Day: A Novel, Billy Coffey (FaithWords, October 2010)

In the Sanctuary of Women, Jan Richardson (Upper Room Books, October 2010)

I Wonder, Marian Bantjes (The Monacelli Press, October 2010)

What are you reading this fall?