Monday, October 31, 2011

Mary Shelley Writes in Her Bedroom ~ A Sestina

Lynd Ward, Hand of Creator, Creature, Woodcut
Illustration for Preface of 1934 Edition of Frankenstein*

Mary Shelley Writes in Her Bedroom ~ A Sestina for Halloween

      A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine
      [. . .] To one on his back in the dark [. . . .]
         ~ Samuel Beckett, Company

Mary Shelley with her shut eyes conjured
past the midnight witching hour
a gothic tale, full out and stretched,
its signs the life that heart's dark engine sparked,
a monster set free from waking dream
and born by light of waning moon.

On a June night a bright and gibbous moon
so strange did shine on villa Diodati, and she who conjured
fiction before its face had no small waking dream
but large it was, and glimpsed in dreary early hour,
mind bestirring what sleeplessness sparked,
imagination challenging what Mary must have stretched

beyond her young-girl bounds. Through shutters closed a skein of light
taut. From shadows was phantasm birthed, deformed as moon
on this pre-Hallow's Eve. Her monster on a night indoors was
by tales not told before on sailing trips nor quickly conjured
'round lake's shores but rose as bid to rival they who whiled the hour
during nights shut in. The nightmare Mary herself would dream

awake no Byron nor a Polidori penned. Her dream
took time in coming, its outline shaped and molded and stretched
by her alone in a womb-dark room. Uneasy were the hours
Mary spent on tortured vision of a student pale as light of moon
and kneeling at the thing he put together, half-vital, conjured
as supremely frightful, urging what little life its engine sparked.

Mary awakened thus in unhallowed arts, her new-begun novel sparked
a Victor Frankenstein and his fiend. A year it took her, her dream
to gel and write, a modern fable of an artificial Adam, well-
a first for science fiction, too, but mostly just fantastic hopes
long into inhuman frame, so large and hideous to the eyes no moon
was sought to shed its light on face unnatural. And so in that hour

that such quiet reigned was a monster born, and hour following hour
shaped into a story every after-generation reads. What lived sparked
fear and grief and self-reproach, felt love, as if by spell of moon,
and in its loneliness despaired. A Lucifer cast clear of Mary's
        November dream
revealed us to ourselves in chilling tale writ well, its end, long
        coming, stretched
into remorse and mourning keen, its darkness known and conjured.

Her imagination sparked in waning light Mary boldly stretched
her tale beyond mere horror, galvanizing in her hideous dream what
        by moon
and stars no man had conjured: that monster forever famous in ghost-
        story hour.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

* This is one of the marvelous woodcuts of Lynd Ward, 1905 -1985, American artist, that illustrated the 1934 edition of Frankenstein published by Harrison Smith and Robert Haas in New York. (Copies of that edition are available through AbeBooks and other rare book dealers.) To see more of the illustrations, go here or see the video below. Also of interest: Art Spiegelman, "The Woodcuts of Lynd Ward", Paris Review, October 13, 2010.

Sestina explained here.

Also see: Tim Radford, "Frankenstein's Hour of Creation Identified by Astronomers", The Guardian, September 25, 2011.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thought for the Day

Don't settle for what the old masters found,
seek what they sought.
~  Kukai


Kukai (774-835CE), Founder of Shingon, Japanese Poet, Artist, Philosopher, Religion Scholar, Teacher

Profile on Wikipedia

Also of interest: Ron's Green's "Kukai, Founder of Japanese Shington Buddhism

In addition, see: Hiroyuki Kachi, "Tokyo Show Gathers Kukai Buddhist Art Treasures", The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2011. This exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum, closed September 25, 2011.

Kukai on FaceBook

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dehairing (Poem)


Fibers of prayer rugs
unrolling at the call

of the muezzin remind
us the wool is coarse,

the Mughal unyielding
in push to sort and scour.

We look for the boteh
in what we can not see,

both card and comb
below the guard hairs,

beat out the dirt to claim
the virgin yield we spin

to insulate ourselves in
underdown. Our shawls —

our veils before the light
beckoning from minaret —

drop as we fall in Kashmir,
chanting our incantations

of many-patterned sorrows
we let shed naturally in His

name, woven in closeness
of skin over red, raw heart.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is a response to L.L. Barkat's call for poetry about cashmere. You'll find a post about that call on the T.S. Poetry Press Wall on FaceBook.

Dehairing is a step in the production of cashmere.

Boteh (or buta) means flower and refers to the principal motif associated with Kashmir shawls, the repetitive curvilinear shape called paisley, taken up in the Mughal period and thereafter increasingly stylized. Its different forms correspond to different periods in shawls' creation.

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Halloween in nearing but don't let today's edition scare you. Still, I hope something here jumps out at you. If you're game, surely you can find your way through the interactive hyperromance, listen to a video about doodling's benefits, watch a real-time data dump, select your choice of free stock video and stock footage for your next project, listen to a Book of Voices from e-Poets Network, or sit on the edge of your seat through a showing of the animated short Balance.

✭ If you're in the mood for an interactive hyperromance, take your turn with Paul La Farge's Luminous Airplanes. But first check out the About section of the site; it will help you understand your about-to-be immersive journey outside of time and space. La Farge's experimental fiction has been getting starred reviews. (Nods to the Paris Review Daily for the link to the stand-alone Website.)

✭ Next time your child is reprimanded for doodling in class, send the teacher the link to Sunni Brown's TED Talk. Sketching and doodling, Brown makes clear from neuroscience research, can improve both comprehension and creative thinking. Known for large-scale live content visualizations Brown is the author of Gamestorming: A Playbook for Rule-breakers, Innovators, and Changemakers.

Sunni Brown on Twitter

✭ Ever wonder what a real-time data dump looks like? Take a look at this video documentation by Christopher Baker, part of his Waste Not outdoor video projection project, about the garbage that accumulates every day in Minneapolis. (My thanks to Walker Art Center blog for the link to Baker's work.)

Waste Not from Christopher Baker on Vimeo.

Also take a moment to view Baker's HPVA (Human Phantom Vibration Syndrome), Murmur Study, American ToysMy Map (A Self-Portrait), and other projects you can access here.

Christopher Baker's Blog

✭ Unlimited downloads of hundreds of high-definition stock video and stock footage are permitted at XStockVideo. Free, the videos may be used in projects for personal or commercial use, although some restrictions do apply. The footage is shot at 25 frames-per-second and is available in different file formats. Check out the links section for other sites that offer free stock footage, stock audio, and stock images.

X Stock Video on FaceBook

✭ The e-Poets Network describes itself as the place "where spoken word lives on the Web". The site offers an impressive collection organized broadly into a library, an aural Book of Voices that includes spoken word, performance, and text and a Videotheque comprising poetry videos and clips of poets in performance. Readings are from poets in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Also offered: news of interest to poets and an information neighborhood that provides links to publishers, workshops, broadcast language arts, educational programs, and more.

✭ This film, which won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, is titled Balance and is the work of Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein of Germany. It is impossible not to watch the full 7:32 minutes to see how it ends. And, oh, the questions it raises! (My thanks to Curator magazine for the link.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Harold L. 'Doc' Humes (1926 - 1992) — "scientist, novelist, activist, inventor, filmmaker, architect, prophet, healer, and madman" — is the subject of his daughter Immy Humes's documentary Doc. At The Doc Humes Institute, you'll find information about the film, including a preview and reviews.

✦ Phenomenal photographer Joel Meyerowitz, the only photographer given unlimited access  to Ground Zero following the September 11 attack in New York City, has created The World Trade Center Archive, an historical survey of the Aftermath. The archive contains more than 8,000 of Meyerowitz's color images taken over eight months and is available for research, exhibition, and publication at museums in New York City and Washington, D.C. All of Meyerowitz's 9/11 images are being digitized, and each eventually will be catalogued with time, date, location, and description. Funding is needed for the effort. A partial gallery of images is available on Meyerowitz's site. Prints are available for purchase.

✦ The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), a research institute at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., promotes the study of the history, theory, and criticism of art, architecture, and urbanism. Descriptions of three long-term projects are here. Browse the center's available titles here; they include Romare Bearden, American Modernist.

✦ Today's video is an overview of the exhibition "Edvard Munch, L'Oeil Moderne 1900-1944" ["Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye"] at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The exhibition opened September 21 and runs through January 9, 2012.

Edvard Munch, L'Oeil moderne by centrepompidou

Centre Pompidou on FaceBook

Munch Museum in Norway

Of interest: Elaine Sciolino, "A Different View of Munch at Paris Exhibition", The New York Times, September 21, 2011

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ The Joplin, Missouri, George A. Spiva Center for the Arts has mounted "On the Other Side", two- and three-dimensional artworks by professional and non-professional artists created in response to the May 22, 2011, tornado that devastated a third of the city. An Area Artists Challenge, the exhibition is on view through November 6.

PBS NewsHour ArtBeat broadcast a program about how the arts are being used to help residents as they try to rebuild their lives and recover from their losses. One arts project involves creation of a community mural depicting Joplin before and after the massive tornado. The mural project is sponsored by Dave Loewenstein and  Mid-America Arts Alliance. The Joplin Community Art Project blog chronicles work on the mural.

Spiva Center for the Arts on FaceBook

✭ "Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper" continues at Milwaukee Art Museum through January 8, 2012.  Mounted in collaboration with the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the exhibition is the first devoted exclusively to the significance of drawing to the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements and to the development of modern art. The show presents more than 100 drawings, watercolors, and pastels by Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Seurat, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and other great artists of the period. Visit the online image gallery.

Vincent van Gogh, Window in the Studio at Saint-Remy, 1889
Brush and Oils, Black Chalk Sheet
24-7/16" x 18-3/4"
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

MAM on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ Prints, drawings, and photographs of 10 Philadelphia artists are on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibition, "Here and Now", which runs through December 4, includes representative work by Astrid Bowlby, the brothers Steven and Billy Blaise Dufala, Vincent Feldman, Daniel Heyman (his work on view includes his 2006 Amman Portfolio, a series of eight prints whose subject matter is about the victims of torture in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq), Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Virgil Marti, Joshua Mosely, Serena Perrone, Hannah Price, and Mia Rosenthal. All the artists are between the ages of 25 and 50 and all create works on paper. Be sure to click through to their sites to view images of their work.

PMA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ In Portland, Maine, the Portland Museum of Art just opened "Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection". The exhibit, on view until February 5, 2012, comprises more than 200 objects from the Shaker art collection of Faith and Edward Deming Andrews. From the 1920s through 1960s, the Andrews assembled one of the most comprehensive holdings of Shaker art, including furniture, printed works, visual art, tools (e.g., mitten and stocking forms, a spool rack textiles, herbal preparation labels), and small craft works. The exhibition is organized by Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. View image gallery

Oval Boxes, Mount Lebanon, NY, and Canterbury, NH
Circa 1840
Dimensions Variable
Andrews Shaker Collection, Hancock Shaker Village
Photo Credit: Michael Fredericks

Of interest: Shaker Crafts from the Index of American Design, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.;  Shaker Life, Art, and Architecture (pdf); and The Shakers, a Ken Burns documentary.

Portland Museum of Art on FaceBook and Twitter

PMA Blog

✭ In Atlanta, the High Museum of Art is showing "The Sculpture of Grainger McKoy" through January 8, 2012. The exhibition highlights more than 30 sculptures and drawings of McKoy, who carves, burns, and manipulates wood. Birds, created of wood, metal, and paint, are his principal subject. The show is McKoy's four major exhibition in the past 25 years. (See McKoy's site for an audio slideshow in which he talks about his life and work.) Tickets are required to attend the show.

Grainger McKoy, Recovery Stroke, 2010
Stainless Steel
Collection of City of Sumter, SC

In this 5-minute video, McKoy talks about creating Recovery Stroke. Representing a single wing of a Pintail Duck, the commissioned sculpture weighs approximately 1,500 pounds and whose wing measures 14 feet high (additional information about the sculpture is here; additional images are here).

A 30-minute documentary about Recovery Stroke is available through the Swan Lake Visitors Center.

High Museum on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sotheby's Launches 'Your Art World'

It changes you, the best art.
~ Collector James Frey

Ever wonder what it takes to make, buy, and sell art? Sotheby's, international art cataloguer and auction house, has created an online series Your Art World that currently comprises four short films intended to demystify or at least offer some insights into the creative process and collecting, buying, and selling art. While undoubtedly serving Sotheby's own promotional and marketing needs, the series is worth a look (it's received its fair share of press, too, most recently a write-up in The Washington Post): 

The Artist ~ The creative process is discussed by the internationally known artists Jeff Koons, Ronald Ventura, Cai Guo-Qiang, and Amy Granat.

The Collector ~ Art collectors Guiseppe and Daniel Eskenazi of Eskenazi Limited, a Chinese art dealer based in London, Kip Forbes of Forbes Publishing, writer James Frey, Adam Lindemann, and Budiardjo Tek, president/director of Sierad, a poultry-based food company in Indonesia, speak about their passion for art, what motivates them to collect, and what they've learned in competing with others for the art treasures they want.

The Rostrum ~ Sotheby's own "masters of the gavel", including principal auctioneer Tobias Meyer, chairman Henry Wyndham, Lisa Hubbard, and Chin Yeow Quek, offer their insights and observations about the mechanics of auctions, understanding bidders' mentality, and being part of the bidding at highly competitive art auctions.

The House ~ Staff talk about the excitement of being on the floor of the house and helping bring in a work of art that's come up for sale.

In addition to the film shorts, the site includes an online gallery that correlates to each of the segments. Information about the contributors to the series can be found here.

Sotheby's on FaceBook, Twitter, and You Tube

Of Related Interest

Richard Polsky, The Art Prophets: The Artists, Dealers, and Tastemakers Who Shook the Art World (Other Press, October 2011)

Charles Saatchi, My Name Is Charles Saatchi and I Am an Artoholic (Phaidon Press, 2009)

James Stourton, Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (Scala Publishers, 2008)

Don Thompson, The $12 Million Stufed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (Palgrave Macmillian, 2008)

Sarah Thornton, Seven Days in the Art World (W.W. Norton, 2009)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Wonder: Shea Hembrey's 100 Artists

Today's Wednesday Wonder, artist Shea Hembrey, knows how to push the creative envelope, stretching it beyond what it can contain. After one too many visits to art biennials around the world, Hembrey says he found himself "longing for several things that I wasn't getting, or not getting enough of", including "more work that was appealing to a broad public, that was accessible" and "more exquisite craftsmanship and technique." 

Hembrey's initial response to fulfilling these longings was to stage his own international art show (no small undertaking), organizer and director both, using as his criteria for curation two questions: Can the artwork be explained in five minutes? Does the artwork satisfy the "three Hs", which comprise head, heart, and hand? "Great art," according to Hembrey, "would have head: it would have interesting intellectual ideas and concepts. It would have heart, in that it would have passion and heart and soul. And it would have hand, in that it would be greatly crafted." (Those criteria, by the way, are as sound as any I've seen applied.)

After some consideration, Hembrey scratched his initial idea in favor of an altogether different approach, what he calls the "easier solution": creating — and also becoming — his own 100 international artists (plus two curators). (Think of Hembrey's project as the art world's answer to literature's Frankenstein; or perhaps, a more highly refined version of schizophrenia, a la Sybil.)

Hembrey assigned each of his fictions a gender, gave all the artists appropriate names, figured out their styles, wrote their bios and artist statements, and made all their artworks, which range from oil paintings to large-scale installations to photography to performance art and more. Realizing this was "the kind of project that I could spend my whole life doing", Hembrey gave himself to two years to turn concept into reality. 

As you'll see in his TED Talk below, Hembrey, a self-described "hick" from rural Arkansas who was in his twenties before he ever visited an art museum, is a talented, determined guy with a great sense of humor, a lot of energy, and no little insight into the contemporary art world. His project raises some fascinating questions not only about what passes for art, how we discern the authentic from the inauthentic, the acquired from the inspired, and what it means to live under the pressure to create, but also about the mind's exquisite ability to juggle multiple tasks while wearing many different masks.

Of related interest: Essayist, memoirist, poet, and short story writer Philip Graham has written an excellent post on Hembrey and his project, titled "How Many Selves Hide Inside Us?"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Bad Cook (Poem)

The Bad Cook

She tried to

carefully, broke
the last wish

bone cleanly
in two, even

kept the stuffing
from erupting

between the legs,

the heart secure
inside. Knowing

she was no cavity
of emptiness, she

weighed the his
and hers proportions —

of salt to pepper,
rosemary to thyme,

garlic to red wine
vinegar — thinking

to let red juices run
a bit before dipping

and raising
the silver spoon

full of drippings,
coating the body,

and tender before

his serrated knife
and three-tined fork

could cut into
the too-common

pattern of tasting,
then seasoning

more. She watched
fate's slender finger

point as caress
of mouth on skin

barely managed
what the nose

already knew:
the garnish never

enough to mask
the stench of toast

burnt black for
morning's repast;

she, no longer
loving and wanting

out, recalling again
how silence

always follows
the hissing maple

honey bacon frying
in the pan she

stirred his eggs too
easy. Over words,

repeated daily
like an incantation,

often enough
to not be

heard, she
simmered long,

a turned down
flame, dismissing

what was needed
to apply more heat.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Muse: New Chinese Poetry Anthology

Copper Canyon Press, the prestigious nonprofit independent publisher, released earlier this month a bilingual anthology, Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, featuring more than 100 poems by 49 poets born after 1945. Chinese editor Qingping Wang, editor of poetry and fiction at the People's Republic of China Literature Publishing House, made the selections and wrote the Editor's Introduction. In the United States, Chinese literature scholars and award-winning translators Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin assisted the publishing project and contribute the Preface. According to the publisher, many of the poems in the anthology are appearing in English for the first time. 

Among the poets whose work is represented in the collection are Shu Cai, Gu Cheng, Bai Hua, Mang KeYu Jian, Zhang Shuguang, Zhai Yongming, Shu Ting, Wang Xiaoni,  Xi Chuan, and Zhou Zan. Biographical sketches are included for all.

The poets' work, arranged chronologically in the anthology (beginning with Shi Zhi, born in 1948, and ending with Wang Ao, born in 1976), was translated into English by more than 40 preeminent translators from around the world, including Joseph R. Allen, John Balcom, Shelley Wing Chan, Nick Kaldis, Richard King, Steve Riep, and Michelle Yeh. A brief collection of translators' notes is included.

Forrest Gander, recipient of the 14th annual Witter Bynner Poetry Fellowship*, contributed the Foreword, "Open Wide". He describes the anthology as "a thrilling slice of Chinese poetry in the Age of Globalization." The featured poets, he writes, "are making Chinese poetry new."

The publication has a number of sponsors, including International Literary Exchanges of the National Endowment for the Arts, which supports U.S.-based presses in publishing and promoting contemporary anthologies in translation, and the General Administration of Press and Publication, People's Republic of China, which concurrently published the anthology.

To celebrate the anthology's publication, poets Xi Chuan, founder of the literary magazine Qingxiang (Tendency) and editor of Dangdai Gouji Shitan (Contemporary Poetry International), and Zhou Zan, editor of Wings, a journal on contemporary Chinese poetry by women, embarked on a six-city reading tour that began September 29 in Seattle, Washington, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum and ended at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on October 12. The stops in-between were Port Townsend, Washington; Chicago, Illinois, where Li-Young Lee and Maurice Kilwein Guevara joined the reading; Iowa City, Iowa; and New York City, where Marilyn Chin and Li-Young Lee also read at the event hosted at the Unterberg Poetry Center at 92nd Street Y by Forrest Gander.

Here is the English translation by Steve Riep of an excerpt of Zhou Zan's poem "Wings":

[. . .] When wings are full, the bodies will feel
a kind of ease and freedom, like a ball-shaped buoy
that comes from within and swells outward;
thus, the fins of a swimming fish
are by no means retrogressive ornaments, but merely imply that
the heart's freedom must be symmetrical to the flow of the water.

Following are the first five lines of Xi Chuan's marvelous "Ode to Skin", translated by Lucas Klein:

The creases of the pillow press into the skin. The claws of
the insect leave their mark on the skin. Acupressure
cupping glasses cup up blood spots from beneath the skin.
Poisonous blood spots.

Skin. My silent surface. [. . .]

This excerpt from "Sky" by Mang Ke, translated by Yibing Huang and Jonathan Stalling, shows how diverse the voices and poetic sensibilities are:


The sun rises
The sky is blood-soaked
Like a shield


Bring your warmth
Bring your love
And use your green boat
To carry me far away

The anthology is available through Copper Canyon, Amazon, SPD Books, and other booksellers. I'm delighted to own a copy!

* The Witter Bynner Fellowship is provided by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry in conjunction with the Library of Congress. In 2011, Gander, whose collections include Core Samples from the World and Science & Steepleflower, and Robert Bringhurst, a poet, book designer, typographer, historian, and linguist, received $7,500 awards. They were chosen by former United States Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin.

Copper Canyon Press on FaceBook

Chinese Poets Visit Six U.S. Cities on Reading Tour, FaceBook

Of Interest

"Art Talk with Chinese Poet Zhou Zan", NEA Art Works Blog, October 12, 2011

Free Verse - Poems from Push Open the Window (Included here are brief bios of both poets and translators. The anthology includes sketches and profiles of both poets and translators.)

Lucas Klein, "Xi Chuan: Poetry of the Anti-lyric", Cerise Press, Vol. 3, No. 7, Summer 2011

Asian Division, Library of Congress, which holds more than 2.8 million books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, an electronic media from Asia

Poetry and Literature Center, Library of Congress

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thought for the Day

You will find poetry nowhere,
unless you bring some with you.*
~ Joseph Joubert

* Cited at Wikiquote (Another translation is: "He who has no poetry in himself will find poetry in nothing.")

Joseph Joubert (1754 - 1824), French Philosopher and Essayist

Pensees of Joseph Joubert on GoogleBooks (A French edition is available at Amazon.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

If nippy temperatures are keeping you indoors, take heart and explore today's edition of Saturday Sharing. You'll find links to the first computer-written book, a site dedicated to J.D. Salinger, the Woody Guthrie Archives, blogs of the Library of Congress, a site for teaching American history, and some Edison Companies' downloadable films. 

✦ Described on its cover as "The First Book Ever Written by a Computer", The Policeman's Beard Is Half Constructed: Computer Prose and Poetry by Racter (short for raconteur) may be viewed in pdf via UbuWeb. The fascinating 66-page document, published in 1984, was programmed by William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter; the programming took five years. Joan Hall created the marvelous illustrations (the document also is viewable here at Hall's site). 

Selections from The Policeman's Beard

✦ This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey and the 60th birthday of the classic The Catcher in the Rye. If you're an admirer, be sure to check out the site dedicated to Salinger and his work: dead caulfields, created in 2004 by Kenneth Slawenski. Slawenski recently penned a guest post about Franny and Zooey for the Reader's Almanac blog.

✦ From artwork to books, from manuscripts to notebooks and personal papers, from song titles to  lyrics, from periodicals to scrapbooks, you'll find it all in the Woody Guthrie Archives. Materials in the collection are being digitized and made accessible to researchers. (My thanks for this link to The Bigger Picture blog of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.)

Woody Guthrie Archives Blog

Woody Guthrie 2012 Centennial Celebration (Follow Woody100 on FaceBook.)

✦ I'd be willing to bet the Library of Congress has at least one blog you'll find interesting and want to follow. Here's a list to help get you started on your knowledge expansion.

✦ If you teach, you'll want to know about Teaching American History.

✦ At Inventing Entertainment: The Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies, you'll find 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and a range of related materials, including information about Thomas Edison's inventions, all searchable by keyword and subject. You may view and download some of the films, which were made between 1891 and 1918.

See Reel Culture's "Where to Find Old Films Online, Streamed Legally and for Free" for other sites of interest.

Friday, October 21, 2011

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ A new investment model that makes arts a generator for economic development, ArtPlace was announced September 15 by director Carol Coletta. In a post at ArtWorks, the blog of the National Endowment for the Arts, Coletta describes how the consortium of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions plans to use ArtPlace to revitalize our towns and cities. Take some time to browse the site to get an idea of some of the creative projects that have received grants to provide economic opportunity throughout the country. 

ArtPlace on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ The Radev Collection of 800 artworks, including a Modigliani portrait of Soutine and works by Duncan Grant, Ben Nicholson, and Graham Sutherland, is being catalogued and added to a dedicated Website. The collection, amassed by picture framer Mattei Radev (1927-2009), was bequeathed to artist Eardley Knollys who, in turn, left the artworks to Edward Sackville-West. Through the efforts of curator Julian Machin, the artworks are coming into public view.

Radev Collection on FaceBook

Of related interest: Mark Brown, "Radev Collection: Tale of Three Art Lovers to be Told in New Touring Exhibition", The Guardian, September 18, 2011

✦ Below is the trailer for Corinna Belz's documentary Gerhard Richter Painting:

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ A solo exhibition of the marvelous paper art of Ronnie Jolles opens October 30 at Katie's Coffee House in Great Falls, Virginia. The show, running through November 30, will include Jolles's newest work. Jolles uses paper from all over the world and acrylics, achieving a masterful painterly effect that delights with its layered textures. See selected images of her work here.

Jolles most recently showed her work at the McLean ArtFest and also participated earlier this month in the Great Falls Studios Tour, which is where I first met her last year. She's also scheduled for the American Craft Council show in Baltimore, Maryland, in February 2012.

Ronnie Jolles, Peaceful Reflections
Layered Paper and Acrylics, 20" x 30"
Used With Permission of the Artist

✭ Anyone for a few hoops? If you in New York City, head  to the Bronx Museum of the Arts to see Orange Tree, Alexandre Arrechea's 20-foot steel sculpture with "branches" of basketball hoops intended to represent fallen fruit. On view through January 2, the sculpture offers just one comment on the role of streets sports in urban culture. 

Interview with Arrechea on Havana Cultura (Spanish)

The Bronx Museum is the administrator of the smARTpower℠ project of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United Sates Department of State. Under the auspices of smARTpower℠, 15 U.S. artists are sent abroad to work with local artists and youths to create community-based art projects.

Bronx Museum on FaceBook

✭ In Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts continues through December 4 "Xu Bing: Tobacco Project". Xu Bing, considered one of China's most innovative contemporary artists, looks at the production and culture of tobacco, drawing on his visits to tobacco farms and warehouses, as well as cigarette factories in Virginia. In addition to new work, the exhibition includes work from two earlier projects, one at Duke University, where Xu Bing was an artist-in-residence in 2000 and created his first "Tobacco Project", involving his study of the history of the Duke family, and the other, "Xu Bing Tobacco Project: Shanghai",  at the Shanghai Gallery of Art, for which he created in 2004 "Traveling Down the River", a  30-foot-long cigarette over a reproduction of a hand-scroll of a celebrated Chinese painting; burning, the cigarette scorched the image, thus "inscribing time as a serpentine scar and the journey as a residue of ash." Fascinating work!

This video details Xu Bing's project:

Of related interest: Lilly Wei, "Puff Piece", ARTnews, September 15, 2011

VMFA on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

✭ Jane Hammond's haunting monumental installation "Fallen", which I first noted in this post (an installation shot is included), when her work appeared at the VMFA, is on view through December 17 at Flag Art Foundation in New York City. For this appearance, the installation began with 4,455 unique, hand-made leaves, each inscribed with the name of a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq. (In its first showing in New York in 2005, it had more than 1,500 leaves.) The artist has been working on the installation, which has been acquired by the Whitney Museum of Art, for seven years; she continues to add leaves as more soldiers die.

This is an especially moving work, so if you're in the City, don't miss it. The exhibition is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Flag Art Foundation on FaceBook and YouTube

✭ Also in New York City, at the Heller Gallery, is "Mutable Materiality", presenting the contemporary glass artistry of Josepha Gasch-Muche (images of work available currently at Heller is here). The exhibition is on view through November 12. 

From November 12 to December 24, the gallery will be showing the beautiful work of third-generation wood turner Matt Moulthrop (images here) and second-generation wood turner Philip Moulthrop (images here).

✭ The Sitka Center on the northern Oregon coast is holdings its 18th Annual Sitka Art Invitational, "The Ecology of Art: Collaboration and Connection", in Portland, Oregon, November 5-6.  Each of the 120 invited artists was asked to invite another artist of choice and then encouraged to collaborate in creating a new work or works. The result is an anticipated 450 artworks for the benefit show and sale. I'm delighted to note that my friend the painter Randall David Tipton is among the invited artists. He collaborated with David Trowbridge.

Tipton also is appearing with painter Molly Reeves through November 29 at The Narthex Gallery at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Wilsonville, Oregon. The exhibition, "The Inner Landscape of Beauty", is inspired by the writings of the late Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue.

(Click to enlarge poster.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Linn Meyers at the Hammer

. . . I am totally enamored of the simplicity of the line. 
We are all familiar with the line. 
We all use it. We all write. It's built into us.
~ Linn Meyers*

Known for her use of massed intricate lines, award-winning artist Linn Meyers (b. 1968) makes large-scale, labor-intensive, site-specific wall drawings, each one as different as possible from the last and each temporary. Her beautiful wall drawings are full of motion and energy, a series of thin, repetitive lines, none perfect, that when completed respond to their space as if always meant to be there. Most recently, I saw Meyers's work at the time being (2010; artist's statement and video) at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (Collectors, take note: To celebrate its 90th anniversary, the museum commissioned two limited-edition prints by Meyers: a lithograph, printed at The Tamarind Institute in New Mexico, and a serigraph, to be printed at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. Check Meyers's Website for details.)

A solo exhibition of Meyers's Every now. And again., is at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles until November 6. The creation of the wall drawing, which took Meyers twelve 14-hour days, was filmed for Hammer Projects, a series of exhibitions about the work of emerging artists. In the video below, Meyers talks about her process and techniques while showing us how she created the wall drawing on the lobby wall of the museum. 

Additional videos with Meyers are available at the Hammer's page at Art Babble.

On November 16 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Meyers will be participating with other Washington, D.C., area printmakers in a free public program that complements the museum's exhibition "Multiplicity" opening November 11.

* Quoted in the Anne Ellegood essay on The Hammer Museum site, from Ellegood's interview with the artist on March 27, 2011.

Images of Meyers's Drawings, Prints, Site-Specific Work

Linn Meyers's Etching in the Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Also Of Interest

"Linn Meyers: A Very Particular Moment" at American University's The Katzen Arts Center, January 25 - March 13, 2011

"Linn Meyers | the adjacent possible" at G Fine Art Gallery, Washington, D.C., February 19 - March 26, 2011

"Exploring Space With a Mandala", Profile of Linn Meyers at Writing Without Paper, December 31, 2009

Brent Hallard, "In Stillness, and in Motion — Linn Meyers", Visual Discrepancies, December 11, 2008

Glenn McNatt, "Contemporary Drawing Values Meticulous Mark-Making", The Baltimore Sun, January 24, 2007

Video of Linn Meyers at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peggy Rosenthal's 'Knit One, Purl a Prayer'

Little did I know what an enrichment knitting would become
for my own life: how it would help me in sickness and in heath,
in times of tranquility and times of stress—how knitting would
become a means of prayer.
~ Peggy Rosenthal

It is not often that I read a book straight through, and even rarer that I read straight through a book with a word like "knit" in its title. Still, when I picked up a copy of Peggy Rosenthal's Knit One, Purl a Prayer: A Spirituality of Knitting (Paraclete Press, November 2011), I read it in its entirety, in a single sitting, and came away thinking I should take up knitting. 

Rosenthal's is a lovely, well-researched, and personal book, from its appealing cover design of a pile of warm-colored knitwear to its beautifully composed writing and organization. Set in well-spaced, easy-on-the-eyes type, the book comprises just six chapters, each turning on the well-known phrase "knit one, purl two". In the Preface we first learn how Rosenthal came to regard knitting "as something like praying with prayer beads" but then, as she got more involved with the craft, came to see how "my spirit engaged in a new way." We  are shown over the course of the book that it is possible not only to knit a prayer but also to purl pain.

In Knit One we learn how the rhythmic movement of needles and yarn through the hands can be "an aid to settling the mind and spirit into deep repose"; how, wherever it's done, knitting invariably creates community, even as each individual knitter necessarily follows a pattern unique to the picture in her own mind; how the working of yarn into loops and stitches is a series of steps that can be model or guide, followed or broken, a metaphor for the steps, and missteps, we take in daily life; how, when life is filled with pain and grief, knitting, as both singular and communal act of creation, can be healing, requiring no words. By the concluding chapter, when we come full circle, we are able to link appreciation of the handcraft taken up by so many people the world over with understanding that what happens after those first intentional stitches and rows are made opens us up to something spiritually nourishing and sustaining. As Rosenthal relates in a final and moving personal story of how she came to own a blue prayer shawl, there is much more to knitting than can be imagined from browsing through a craft book or stepping into a store to purchase the simple tools of needles and yarns. 

Noteworthy are Rosenthal's inclusion in each chapter of one or more meditations that reinforce discoveries about the practice of knitting — as means of prayer, as meditative tool, as stress reliever, as problem-solver, as creative act — suggested activities, and a particularly generous helping of other knitters' voices. It is through the latter, these expressive, articulate, insightful, and often witty voices, that Rosenthal gives credence to her own narrative and meaning to a second definition of the word "purl". For purl is not only the knitting stitch that we create and can see; it embodies, through its definitional sense of motion and sound, a force that is invisible and works upon us. And, to our benefit, it is articulated again and again in the pages of Knit One. In sharing the many voices she has collected in her book, Rosenthal makes it possible to visualize the power of many knitting needles moving together with intention, sometimes at odds, sometimes in silence, but always with what Rosenthal describes as "astonished gratitude as a beautiful and useful object is created" through the work of the hands. "Making," the author repeatedly affirms, "is part of the essence of our humanity."

A bonus that should not be overlooked: At the end of each chapter Rosenthal includes a knitting pattern (with supply list and instructions) that addresses that chapter's theme.

And one suggestion: While reading, you might want to keep a highlighter ready to underline or star the numerous knitting-related Websites that Rosenthal mentions and the names of poets, professional writers, and bloggers whose wonderful stories and quotes about knitting she shares. 

Daily knitter Peggy Rosenthal, Ph.D., is the director of Poetry Retreats and the author of The Poets' Jesus (Oxford University Press), Praying the Gospels Through Poetry: Lent to Easter (St. Anthony Messenger Press), and Praying Through Poetry: Hope for Violent Times (St. Anthony Messenger Press), among other books. She blogs on spirituality and the arts at Image Journal's Good Letters blog.

Paraclete Press Page on Knit One, Purl a Prayer (Book discussion and knitters' groups should note that Paraclete Press offers quantity pricing for multiple-copy orders. I can imagine many wonderful discussions centered around this book.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Snow and Ice (Poem)

Snow and Ice

We speak,
you bracing

your words
of snow

against my slivers
of ice.

Picture steles

the sound
of loss

the wanting.

What breaks

becomes two

floes stilled,

their chance
to collide

below water.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Muse: Hyperactive E.E. Cummings

Award-winning artist Alison Clifford, currently studying for a doctorate in Glasgow, Scotland, has created or collaborated in creating a number of interactive new media projects in which literature, including poetry, combines with sound to highly imaginative, often engrossing visual effect.

Having first learned about some of Clifford's work from the SFMOMA blog, Open Space, I sought out Clifford's  "The Sweet Old Etcetera" (2006) project, which Clifford bases on the poetry of E.E. Cummings (1894-1962), an unconventional poet who delighted in breaking up words and lines and structures and brilliantly did so without sacrificing meaning to form. Clifford's work is best understood at the project's site, which invites personal interaction with Cummings's poetry. 

For the project, Clifford reinterprets a Cummings poem by putting individual letters or characters and symbols into playful motion, beginning with the symbol ( ). Clicking on that symbol begins the first step in filling the visual landscape with Cummings's words, which, with every successive click, begin to branch out, sway, and tumble or cascade, allowing the user to rebuild the poem, both its form and content, graphically. Sound accompanies each click (imagine initially a musician tuning, for example, or simply plucking). Where you may click can be a matter of trial and error, heightening the interactivity and making you pay more attention. I found the site irresistible. 

Another 2006 project is "Silhouette: A Dance", created for Born Magazine, in which Clifford interprets Addie Tsai's poem of the same name through its structure, different sequences of which present themselves with each replay or virtual reading of the poem. Again, to best grasp the concept of the project, it's necessary to engage with it directly. 

More recently, Clifford has been investigating "the space between sound and image" by using such technology as 3D software and interpreting photographic light paintings—images in which exposures, motions, and gestures have been improvised. Conceptually, what's captured in the imagery is both real and not. Here's Clifford's Palimpsest (2011), a collaboration with composer Graeme Truslove that displays the "journey" of recorded audio loops around a computer-created virtual light sculpture:

Palimpsest from Alison Clifford on Vimeo.

Interestingly, Clifford's use of photographic light paintings links back to Picasso.

Another of Clifford's collaborations with Truslove produced "Substratum" (2010), which required development of computer algorithms to "'translate' samples from still photographic lighting paintings into animated fragments [which were sculpted] into multi-layered moving image works that interpret the deep textures of the audio, creating an immersive audiovisual experience." Take a look:

Substratum from Alison Clifford on Vimeo.

Not everyone may find this kind of experimental art-making to their liking, and that's okay; nonetheless, to my mind, Clifford and her collaborators are to be applauded for venturing so creatively into the medium of interactive Web-based art and digital literature. What they produce is conceptually brilliant, often gorgeous to behold, and sometimes just great fun and play. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thought for the Day

You write a poem. You are alive. . .
I think that when you write poems you aspire
to something whole that's bigger than simply lament.
In poetry I think you try to reconstruct what's humanity.
Humanity is always a mix of crying and laughing.
~ Adam Zagajewski*

* Quoted in "The Poet of Sept. 11", The Daily Beast, September 5, 2011 (This article appeared in Newsweek Magazine. The poem "Try to praise the mutilated world" is here.)

Profile of Adam Zagajewski (b. 1945) at The Poetry Foundation

Profile of Adam Zagajewski at infopoland (Fifteen of Zagajewski's poems can be found here.)

Zagajewski's most recent collection of poems is Unseen Hand (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011). His other volumes include Eternal Enemies (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) and Without End: New and Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003). Many of his poems can be found in The New Yorker, including "Try to praise the mutilated world", hyperlinked above.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

In this edition of Saturday Sharing, learn where at least some thrown-out objects get a second, if virtual, life; experience the engrossing Pine Point Revisited site; check out a new e-magazine about all things collage; browse the new online journal Poecology; and view a wonderful animation of John Siddique's poem "Vine Moon - Fire".

✦ Ever wonder where obsolete objects go? Try the interactive Museum of Obsolete Objects, a wonderful resource for answers to the question "What ever happened to... ?" Suggestions of objects to add to the museum are welcomed. (My thanks to the Smithsonian's The Bigger Picture blog for this link.)

Mooo on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ One of the most engrossing sites I've been on is Richard Cloutier's interactive Pine Point Revisited. Pine Point was a mining town, in fact a "planned community", now surrounded by industrial pits described as "otherworldly", and this "documentary" site, through oral histories and film, stills, video, music, and other media, resurrects it or, rather, the memories of it. It's a fascinating exercise about nostalgia and remembrance of a place that no longer exists, even its name removed from maps. Today, it exists only online. (My thanks to Paris Review Daily blog for sharing the link to this fascinating stop.)

Welcome to Pine Point Blog

✦ The nonprofit Fractured Atlas has launched (in private beta) — secure, cloud-based events ticketing and relationship management for artists and arts organizations. Learn more about it here.

Fractured Atlas on FaceBook and Twitter

Fractured Atlas Blog

✦ Artist Seth Apter at the altered page recently spotlighted a new eMag, Collage in Color, that deserves being shared far and wide. Fully interactive, the virtual magazine highlights, through embedded slideshows and videos, tutorials, interviews, and images (you can pan and zoom), work of emerging and well-known artists, who offer their tips, tricks, and favorite techniques for creating collage. From Cloth Paper Scissors, the downloadable magazine for PC costs under $10.00 and can be enjoyed on- and offline. Learn more about it via these FAQs (additional installation FAQs are here) and then take a look at this preview

✦ The environment, ecology, and place as reflected in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction come together in Poecology, an e-journal that launched its first issue, with wonderful cover art by Nikki Rosato, in August. The editors plan to add to the site essays, news, events, and other content related to the environment. The journal has no subscription fees but does welcome donations to defray costs for the site and administration. (My thanks to NewPages for the link.)

Poecology on Twitter

Poecology Blog

✦ It's been a delight to share the marvelous animations of John Siddique's poems from Recital. Here is his "Vine Moon - Fire" as videopoem:

Vine Moon from John Siddique on Vimeo.

My Reviews of John Siddique's Recital and Full Blood

John Siddique's Blog