Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Poetry, painting, book arts, TED courses, and California are the subjects of today's finds.

✦ Anyone interested in California will find Calisphere a go-to resource for primary sources on state and local history, culture, politics, and more. Among the rewarding collections you'll find here are the letters of John Muir and the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives, which include photographs, letters and diaries, oral histories, art, and more. Calisphere comprises more than 200,000 digitized items, many of which have been organized into themed collections for use as teaching materials. Of related interest is the Online Archive of California, a free, publicly accessible resource comprising some 20,000 collection guides and more than 220,000 digital images and documents. 

✦ The Historical Book Arts Collection that is part of the digital (and primarily pictorial) collections of the University of Washington Libraries includes images of papermaking, printing, and binding, as well as illustrations from medieval manuscript collections and essays about techniques. I particularly enjoyed browsing the Decorated and Decorative Paper section of the Website.

✦ An hour-long audio documentary on painter Edward Hopper and poet Anne Sexton is available online from Third Coast Library. (My thanks to the Poetry Foundation, where I first learned about the program.)

✦ What's the latest on iTunesU? Subject-organized TEDTalks, including courses on creative problem-solving, climate change, understanding Islam, and understanding happiness. Be sure to check often as new courses come online.

✦ Though it's been around since 2008, textsound, an online audio publication is new to me and, according to the About page, images and "moving pictures" are being added to the Website. You'll find ghazals, sestinas, pantoums, and other traditional and not so traditional forms recorded by poets such as  Leslie Scalapino, Annie Finch, and Anne Waldman.

✦ Here's a soothing animated visualization by Petros Vrellis of Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night:

Starry Night (interactive animation) from Petros Vrellis on Vimeo.

Friday, March 30, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Tomorrow, March 31, is Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day. Help celebrate it!

✦ An extraordinary resource of 14,500 Kodachrome color slides is housed in the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection at Indiana University. Thanks to digital technology, the collection is available to view online by year (1938-1969), geographic location, subject, and genre, or via Cushman's notebooks. See this slideshow of 120 images for highlights from the collection, which documents a cross-section of everyday urban America, including inner-city storefronts and industrial landscapes, as well as Cushman's travels in Western Europe and the Middle East.

✦ Lucy R. Lippard, author of 21 books on contemporary art and cultural criticism will lecture April 9 at the Center for Creative Photography, School of Art, University of Arizona, Tucson. Lippard is part of this year's lecture series, "Present as Future: Science, Technology and the Visual Arts", which has also included Helen and Newton Harrison, Matthew Coolidge, and Josiah McElheny.

✦ The UK-based Art Barter, launched in 2009 by curators Lauren Jones and Alix Janta, encourages the trading of art for goods and services and serves as a platform for exchange between artists and the public.

Art Barter on FaceBook and Twitter

Closer to home in New York City, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Tony and Grammy award-winner, hip-hop artist Roxanne Shante, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and other artists and arts and philanthropic groups are partnering with Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx on "Lincoln Art Exchange", a program that allows artists in any discipline to exchange their creative services for medical care, including doctor visits, prescription drug coverage, and diagnostic screening and testing. Artists who enroll in the program receive 40 credits, the equivalent of $40, for each hour of artistic activity performed at a hospital event or for a department within the hospital; the credits are exchangeable for an equal value in health care services.

Playbill Article About Lincoln Art Exchange

✦ Looking for contemporary art? The online Artspace might be one place to start. Launched in March 2011, Artspace users have the opportunity to purchase contemporary artists' work directly from artists' studios, commercial galleries, and various cultural institutions (list of partners). Private sales are made available to members only.

Artspace Blog

✦ American woodcut artist Lynd Ward (1905-1985) is the subject of a new documentary O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward, from Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton of 217Films. Here's the 10:22-minute trailer for the film, which premiered March 8 at Connecticut's New Britain Museum of American Art. (My thanks to the Library of America's Reader's Alamanac blog, where I first saw the trailer.)

Lynd Ward, Six Novels in Woodcuts, The Library of America

Lynd Ward: A Centennial Appreciation (This includes images from Georgetown University's Ward collection. Also see Lynd Ward as Illustrator.)

217Films Press Release

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Mixed media artist and photographer Seth Apter is exhibiting at The Gallery Link in Ellenville, New York, in the Hudson Valley, through April 23. His "The Pulse of Mixed Media" is Apter's first solo exhibition and includes more than 20 new works. If you're in the area, don't miss the show; Apter's a wonderful artist. He's also just published The Pulse of Mixed Media (North Light Books) in which he profiles more than 100 artists, uncovering their secrets and passions. Learn more about Apter from this enjoyable interview at Art and Soul Radio. Apter has planned a series of book-related online events, including an 11-day blog tour (see Apter's blog or FaceBook page for details), and will be traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada to promote his book. His stops include an April appearance at This Way Up Arts Salon, hosted by Judith HeartSong at her gallery/studio space in Glen Echo, Maryland.

Seth Apter's The Altered Page (Blog)

Seth Apter Art & Photography on Tumblr

Seth Apter on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Opening tomorrow at Richmond's Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is "Making History: 20th Century African American Art". A collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University's Museum Studies graduate program, the exhibition showcases paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from artists associated with Barnett Aden Gallery (1943 to 1969). Works by Elizabeth Catlett are prominent in the show, which will be up through June 10.

✭ Continuing until June 10 is "Jacob Lawrence: The Legend of John Brown", comprising 22 narrative silkscreen prints based on Lawrence's gouache paintings from 1941, now found at Detroit Institute of Arts. The screenprints, created in 1977, were acquired in 1995 by the Washington State Arts Commission for its State Art Collection. Go here to view images of all 22 of these marvelous artworks.

✭ More than 100 famous artworks from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City are on view through April 29 in "Picasso to Warhol" at Atlanta's High Museum of Art. Highlighting 14 modern masters, the show includes work by Louise Bourgeois, Romare Bearden, Jasper Johns, Constantin Brancusi, and Giorgio de Chirico. An ArtClix app is available to explore the exhibition by smartphone. (Note: Tickets are required to see the exhibition.) Here's the preview video:

High Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ In Miami, an exhibition of recent acquisitions of the Miami Art Museum collection are on view through May 6. Among the featured artists in "Restless" are Morris Louis, Fred Wilson, Robin Rhode, Nicolas Lobo, and George Sanchez-Calderon

MAM also has mounted "The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl", exploring how visual art and music intersect and influence one another. Among the sculptures, installations, drawings, paintings, photography, video, sound work, and performance pieces are works by Ed Ruscha, Carrie Mae Weems, William Cordova, and Dario Robleto. (Bios and other resources for all the artists exhibited are available; go here.) The mixed media group exhibition continues through June 10. Thereafter, it travels to Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington, where it opens July 14.

The Record Website

MAM on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brene Brown on Understanding Vulnerability

. . . Connection is why we're here. . . it's what gives
purpose and meaning to our lives. . . .

. . . Shame is the fear of disconnection. . . What underpins
shame . . . is excruciating vulnerability, this idea that in order
for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves
to be seen, really seen. . . .

. . . The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging
believe they're worthy of love and belonging. . . .

Brene Brown, Ph.D., researches human connection and, in particular, the struggles we have with being vulnerable. In her often funny and fully engaging TED talk (see the timeless 2010 video below), she shares her insights about the many years she has spent trying to understand what gives us "the courage to be imperfect" so that we can be who we are. 

Her research, Brown says, indicates that we struggle with vulnerability because:

✦ "We numb vulnerability. We live in a vulnerable world. One of the ways we deal with it is we numb it. You cannot selectively numb emotion. When we numb [hard feelings], we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and we feel vulnerable. . . One of the things we need to think about is why and how we numb."

✦ "We make everything that's uncertain certain. . . The more afraid we are the more afraid we are."

✦ "We perfect. But [seeking perfection] doesn't work."

✦ "We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people."

Vulnerability, Brown explains, is "the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness" but "it appears [that] it is also the birthplace of joy and creativity, of belonging, of love" that encompasses "our whole hearts." Those who embrace their vulnerability believe that "what [makes] them vulnerable [makes] them beautiful." They find connection, without worrying about whether their relationships will work out, "as a result of authenticity." Vulnerability, she emphasizes, allows us to be "deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even when there's no guarantee; to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror; to be believe that we're enough . . . ."


Brene Brown's Blog, Ordinary Courage

Brene Brown on FaceBook and Twitter

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change: Brene Brown at TED2012", TED Blog, March 2, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Wonder: Sculptor Reuben Margolin

Renowned kinetic sculptor Reuben Heday Margolin, of Berkeley, California, makes art that moves. His work ranges from mechanical butterflies made from rickshaws and bamboo, to digital and cam-driven caterpillars, to a soda fountain of 400 recycled aluminum cans and pulleys, to a pedal-powered park. Even Margolin's drawings show figures in movement. 

Among Margolin's most recent and intriguing installations are his series titled Waves, which encompass everything from "simple" suspended rings that move up and down and from side to side (Yellow Rings) to a system of 500 pulleys and cable (Double Raindrop) that elegantly portrays "the interference caused by two raindrops landing near each other in water".

Margolin's installations are not only brilliantly conceived and realized; they're breathtaking to behold, and often they'll leave you in awe as you watch them twist, turn, sway, rise and fall. Below are videos of two of Margolin's complex creations. The first, Neko's Nebula (2009) is made of 8,000 plastic beads, wire, string, wood, and an electric motor. Margolin describes the 14-foot-tall sculpture as his "first experiment with a wave traveling in a Yin Yang pattern, as well as my first try at a hollow multi-tiered structure."  (Images are here.) The second video depicts Magic Wave (2008), which Margolin and collaborators at Technorama structured from an aluminum grid suspended by 256 cables and overhead mechanics requiring 3,000 pulleys, 5 kilometers of steel cable, and 9 motors. (Images are here.) The sculpture illustrates three characteristics of waves: wavelength, amplitude, and frequency. 

Take the few minutes necessary to view these videos and you'll understand why I've selected Margolin as today's Wednesday Wonder.

Margolin's Helix Wave has been installed in the Great Hall of the recently opened Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Arkansas. (See the Permanent Exhibits page for more information.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stand Your Ground (Poem)

Stand Your Ground

     for Trayvon Martin

If you wear a hoodie, are 17,
are black, are male in America,

know the bullet is meant for you,
even if all you're carrying is iced

tea and Skittles. In imminent danger,
your life asserts no clearer claim

to matter more than the time
it takes the other guy to put himself

up to no good. You hear your girlfriend
insist you run; you tell her you will

walk fast, you're heading home,
anyway, but what do the police know,

except how hard it is to act
against the use of deadly force

once suspicion leaves your voice
stilled on that wet road in Sanford.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

The more I learn about the fatal shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, the greater my sense of outrage. For those needing background, go here.

The poem's title refers to Florida's despicable "Stand Your Ground" law. Unfortunately, that law is only one among those of 21 other states.

Also of interest: "The Deaths of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin: Meaningful or Misleading?", Reader's Alamanac, March 26, 2012; and "On Trayvon Martin", The Learning Network, The New York Times, March 26, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Muse: New California Poet Laureate

This award is for all the young writers who want
to put kindness inside every word throughout the state,
because kindness is the heart of creativity.
~ Juan Felipe Herrera to UCR Today*

California's new Poet Laureate is Juan Felipe Herrera. His two-year appointment, requiring confirmation by the state senate, follows the term (2008-2011) served by Carol Muske-Dukes, profiled here.

In discussing his selection, Herrera indicated that he would like to initiate a writing project on bullying, describing it as "a big, painful issue [for which] poetry is suited just perfectly. . . ."**

Information about the California Poet Laureate position is included in my post of August 16, 2010; that post also includes Resources specific to California poets.

* * * * *
A poem [offers] a way to attain a life without boundaries.
~ Juan Felipe Herrera

California's first Hispanic writer to serve as Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera (b. 1948) has published more than two dozen books — not only poetry collections but also plays, short stories, novels for young adults, and children's books. Among his most recent collections of poetry are 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007  (City Lights Publishers, 2007) and Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2008), winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. His novel-in-verse Crashboomlove (University of New Mexico, 1999) received an Americas Award.

In addition to being a poet and translator, Herrera is a visual artist, photographer, videographer, and performance artist, and he actively and compassionately advocates on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

Singled out for his use of the anaphora, a literary device that allows many lines of a poem to begin with the same word(s) or phrase (as in Herrera's title poem in 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border, which uses "Because" at the start of every line); for his gift at creating imagery carrying multiple associations and meanings; for his dense mixture of details (names, places, histories, things with which to construct complex, sometimes sprawling poems) and voices; for his style, energetic pacing, versatility and willingness to experiment; and for his unapologetic narratives about the difficulties and contributions of Mexican Americans, Herrera draws inspiration from his own past. He did not, he says, "start out to be a speaker, or a writer or much less, a poet or professor. Quite the contrary, my beginnings were at the margins of society, where promise-stuff is elusive and rarely reaches fruition — in the fields of California, as a campesino child of farm workers."*** Herrera, whose voice is never more authentic than when it declaims the personal, is the son of migrant farm workers.

As he notes on his Website, Herrera is an avid experimenter. Among the forms he has worked are sonnets, sestinas, free verse, Floricanto chants, "Jazzoetry", and spoken word and performance, video, choreo-, and sound poems.

One of Herrera's most oft-quoted poems is "Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings", included in Half of the World in Light. From the outset, in the most matter-of-fact voice, Herrera seeks to de-mystify the mystery that is poetry:

Before you go further,
let me tell you what a poem brings,
first, you must know the secret, there is no poem
to speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries,
yes, it is that easy, a poem, [. . .]

Note the punctuation use. With one exception in the next-to-last line, where a long dash appears, Herrera uses only commas until he concludes with a period the final 17th line, all the while pushing us along an arc of connections that speak both to what a poem is not and, ultimately, what a poem is:

[. . .] a poem, of course,
is always open for business too, except, as you can see,
it isn't exactly business that pulls your spirit into
the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you can play,
you can even join in on the gossip—the mist, that is,
the mist becomes central to your existence.

There's a wonderful sense in this poem of wandering around, and of finding oneself through the drifting, and by risking.

Herrera's poems, often unpunctuated and presented in lower case letters, detail stacked upon detail, are striking for their imagery. Consider these lines, for example:

[. . .]
His eyeteeth clap like his family
for an encore of southwest earth [. . . .]
~ "A Certain Man"

[. . .]
Armanda, my aunt whose hair has always look like
gold dust,
a fleece, [. . . .]
~ "Crescent Moon a Cat's Collar"

across the desert rushing
the geraniums conference with crows
speak about giant exiles fox-trot
from Alabama poultry plants in festival aprons [. . . .]
~ "Busman"

Herrera's poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Beltway Poetry QuarterlyBOMB Magazine, The Cortland Review, Granta, Platte Valley Review, and other literary publications, and has contributed to such anthologies as Poetry of the American West (Columbia University Press, 1999), Sing (University of Arizona Press, 2011), Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia: Conversations with Writers and Artists (University of Texas Press), and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007).

Currently holder of the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair, Department of Creative Writing, University of California/Riverside, Herrera is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Montalvo Society, University of California/Berkeley, Breadloaf Writers' Conference, and Stanford's Chicano Fellows. Other honors include PEN's 2009 Beyond Margins Award (for Half of the World in Light), Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and PEN West PoetryAward, and election to the Board of Chancellors, Academy of American Poets (2011).


All Poetry Quotations © Juan Felipe Herrera

Photo Credit: University of California/Riverside

* Quoted in "Juan Felipe Herrera Is California's First Latino Poet Laureate", Huffington Post, March 22, 2012

*** "Living the Promise", Speech at University of California/Riverside, 2009

"Governor Brown Appoints California Poet Laureate", Office of the Governor, March 21, 2012

"Juan Felipe Herrera Appointed California Poet Laureate", Los Angeles Times/Books, March 22, 2012

Juan Felipe Herrera Selected Poetry Collections: SkateFate (Rayo, 2011), Loteria Cards and Fortune Poems: A Book of Lives (City Lights Publishers, 2001), Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler (University of Arizona Press, 2002), Giraffe on Fire (University of Arizona Press, 2000),  Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (University of Arizona Press, 1998) Note: Half of the World in Light on GoogleBooks

Juan Felipe Herrera Poetry Online: "Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings", "Grafik", "I Am Merely Posing for a Photograph", "Iowa Blues Bar Spiritual",  "Punk Half Panther", "War Voyeurs", and "[Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way]"All at Poetry Foundation; "Everyday We Get More Illegal" (Audio Clip), "tomorrow I leave to El Paso, Texas", and "You & I Belong in This Kitchen", All at Academy of American Poets; "La Muerte (Death)" at Woodland Pattern Book Center; "She Wants the Ring Like He Wants the Suit of Scars/But" at PEN American Center (Audio); Selections from Half of the World in Light at PEN American Center; "El Angel de la Guarda (The Guardian Angel)" at J's Theater; "Luz" at The Cortland Review (Audio Included); "Canada in English" and "A Capella" at Democratic Underground; "Fuselage Installation" at The American Poetry Review; "Everyday We Get More Illegal" at Platte Valley Review; "Half-Mexican" at Granta; "Busman" at Beltway Poetry Quarterly; "In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul"and "Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings" at Traditional Mexican Culture; "Arizona Green (Manifesto #1070)" on FaceBook (Poets Responding to Arizona SB 1070); "Mission Street Manifesto" in Poetry of the American West on GoogleBooks; "A Certain Man" and "The Poetry of America" at Xican@ Poetry Daily

"Apartment Heritage", Essay by Juan Felipe Herrera at Paper Tigers

Stephen Burt, "Punk Half Panther", The New York Times, August 10, 2008 (Book Review)

Jerard Fagerberg, SkateFate (Review), City Paper, March 2, 2011

Lisa Alvarado, Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera at La Bloga

Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera at Here on Earth | Radio Without Borders, April 8, 2008

Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera at Words on a Wire, October 2, 2011 (Radio Interview)

2008 NBCC Awards Ceremony with Juan Felipe Herrera and August Kleinzahler (A 2009 video interview appears at GalleyCat.)

Papers of Juan Felipe Herrera c. 1970-1998 at Stanford University

Below is a performance and lecture by Juan Felipe Herrera:

Additional Selected Videos: Juan Felipe Herrera at the Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles (2007); Juan Felipe Herrera Reads from Half of the World in Light (2009); Juan Felipe Herrera Interview, University of California/Riverside (UCR Scenes from a Classroom Series); Juan Felipe Herrera Reads from SkateFate

Juan Felipe Herrera on FaceBook and LinkedIn

Poet Laureate Blog

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thought for the Day

You can't step twice in the same river,
for the water into which you first stepped has flowed on.
~ Heraclitus

This statement has been translated variously, as the Fragments of Heraclitus quoted here indicate. Another variant, found here, is, "You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." Also see Heraclitus: The Complete Fragments, comprising translations and commentary, with Greek text, from William Harris, professor emeritus, Middlebury College; specifically see the section "This Paradoxical Universe".

Heraclitus (c. 535 - c. 475 BCE), Greek Philosopher

Heraclitus at Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

With today's new edition of Saturday Sharing, you get to take your chance on authors when you spin the Waccamaw Interview Wheel, learn about our body's internal molecular structures, visit the World Carrot Museum, check out the marvelous resource that is The Modernist Journals Project, see examples of projects that give discarded books new life, and browse a guide to literary Tumblrs.

✦ Brown University and the University of Tulsa are behind The Modernist Journals Project, which comprises digital editions of English-language periodicals from 1890 to 1922, as well as databases of related modernist books, essays, and biographies. This is a tremendous resource. A directory of modern magazines of literary or artistic importance is here, and resources for using the materials in scholarship or the classroom are here. (My thanks to the Paris Review Daily for the link.)

✦ Spin The Waccamaw Interview Wheel and come up a winner! You'll be able to read a number of interesting author interviews, no matter where the arrow points. (My thanks to Hayden's Ferry Review blog for this link.)

✦ Check out The Millions' guide to literary Tumblrs. Each entry receives a pithy summary.

✦ Who knew carrots have their own museum? At the World Carrot Museum, you'll find posts on the history and evolution of carrots, carrot colors, and ancient manuscripts featuring illustrations of carrots. (My thanks to The New Yorker's The Book Bench blog for this out-of-the-ordinary contribution to links to love.)

✦ Brooklyn's Reanimation Library comprises a collection of non-circulating, outdated, discarded books, especially books with visually rich content, that have been acquired from a variety of sources and made available to artists, writers, musicians, and others to inspire new, often collaborative work. The library is particularly interested in artists who use libraries in their work. Go here to take a look at some of the creative projects this library's books have engendered. Also of interest is the Word Processor.

✦ Here are nine minutes of wonder from scientist Drew Berry, who uses computer graphics to help us understand the fascinating molecular structures inside us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ If you're a Washington, D.C.-area artist or artistic venue, be sure to check out DC Space Finder. Part of a collaboration between Art Space Solutions Network, a partner of the nonprofit New York City-based Fractured Atlas, and Cultural Development Corporation in the District, DC Space Finder lists spaces for art classes, workshops, auditions, rehearsals, exhibitions, film shoots, literary readings, performances, special events, and more. Registration is required but space listings are free. (A sidenote: Fractured Atlas has redesigned its Website and also given a new look to, its online system for managing ticket sales, donations, and contacts.)

✦ Venezuela-born, Miami-based Gerry Stecca has created an impressive Wooden Clothespins series, giving new meaning to recycling and re-purposing objects. Each of his sculptures requires use of many hundreds, in some pieces thousands, of clothespins, which Stecca hand-drills and connects with wire to create sinuous, usually free-standing, abstracted forms and installations (see, for example, his 2010 "Simple Complexity" installation at the University of Maine Museum of Art and his "Site 9", a tree "wrap" at the Heaven and Earth Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition). Stecca also is a muralist and painter. Here's a video of Stecca's "Optimum Multiplicity" opening last year at Alliance for the Arts Gallery in Ft. Myers, Florida:

You'll find additional videos of Stecca's work on YouTube.

Gerry Stecca on FaceBook and Saatchi Online

✦ While she has not pioneered the use of human hair in art, installation artist Jenine Shereos's series Leaf will leave you marveling over the realistic, seemingly delicate, and intricate pieces she has crafted by wrapping, stitching, and knotting many individual strands of this unconventional material. I also like her Lacework and Breath(e).

✦ If, as I do, you enjoy book art, you're in for a treat. This is a collection of beautiful sculptural forms crafted from discarded books (click on the image to proceed from one to the next).

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In conjunction with "Orchestrated Vision: The Theater of Contemporary Photography" at the St. Louis Museum of Art, on view through May 13, the St. Louis Museum of Art is presenting "The First Act: Staged Photography Before 1980". On view through April 29, the latter features 12 photographs spanning the 120 years between Julia Margaret Cameron and Cindy Sherman.

✭ In Washington, D.C., the Jerusalem Fund Gallery is presenting "Thoughts on the Spring", a solo exhibition of new work in new media by Arab-American Helen Zughaib, known for her work in gouache. Work by Zughaib, a resident of the District, is in  The show, running through April 13, includes paintings and collages that communicate the artist's reflections on Arab Spring and her recent experiences in Palestine. 

Helen Zughaib, Arab Spring 2
Part of Changing Perceptions Series
© Helen Zughaib

Zughaib was the featured artist in last year's "We the People" project of Empowered Women International. Images from that exhibition are here.

This video (in Arabic) shows and discusses some of Zughaib's work, and profiles several other artists inspired by Arab Spring.

Images of Selected Work by Helen Zughaib

Helen Zughaib's "Stories My Father Told Me"

✭ The Amon Carter Museum has mounted "Romance Maker: The Watercolors of Charles M. Russell", a special exhibition of more than 100 of Russell's finest and best-preserved watercolors depicting the Old West. (Selected images may be viewed at the link.) The show is up through May 13.

Charles M. Russell Profile at Charles M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana

The museum also recently opened "Ruth Asawa: Organic Meditations"; the exhibition, on view through September 16, features a series of nature-themed prints by Asawa, who is celebrated for her hand-crocheted wire sculptures.

Amon Carter Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo

✭ On April 15, New York City's June Kelly Gallery opens a solo exhibition of the work of gallery artist Claudia DeMonte, "Abundance: Sculpture/Installation". (Additional images of DeMonte's work are at the link.)

Claudia DeMonte, Abundance: Shoes, 2011
Cast Bronze
8-1/2" x 6" x 5-1/4"
Edition of 3

DeMonte is included in the Vogel 50x50 initiative.

✭ At Atlanta's Jackson Fine Art, which specializes in very fine 20th Century and contemporary photography, presents the work of Todd Murphy in "The Narrow Road to the Far South". The exhibition, which remains on view through April 7, features Murphy's gorgeous series of images of massive icebergs, which the artist, who is also a painter and sculptor, captured in elegant black and white shots while visiting Antarctica.

Todd Murphy, Narrow Road to the Far South #14, 2011
© Todd Murphy

More of Murphy's stunning work may be viewed here on his Website.

Jackson Fine Arts opens its show of William Christenberry on April 10.

Jackson Fine Art on FaceBook and Twitter

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

It's so hard to believe it happened in real life.

. . . the flower's life is so short.

There is always beauty and terror in nature,
but we forgot the terror.

March 11, 2012, marked the one-year anniversary of the devastating tsunami in Japan. So much was lost a year ago, yet this spring, the cherry tree (sakura), symbolizing life, endures and blooms in a place where grief mingles with grace and hope.

In her beautiful and moving 38-minute film The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, the trailer for which is below, Lucy Walker contrasts, through the words of survivors, what was lost and what remains, how "beauty and terror always exist in nature." In showing us how a delicate and transient flower embodies meaning for a culture, Walker reveals the depth of human beings' own resilience.  

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom Trailer from Boon Shin Ng on Vimeo.

The documentary was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award (Short Subject); it won both a 2012 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Nonfiction prize and the 2012 Polly Krakora Award at the Environmental Film Festival

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Also Of Interest


Japan's Tsunami: How It Happened in 2011 (14:55-minute video)

Pray for Japan (Feature-Length Documentary on Tohoku) on FaceBook

BBC Horizon Special 2011 Japan Part 1 and Part 2

Japan Society

2012 Centennial: National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 - April 27, Washington, D.C.)

Profile of Lucy Walker

Interview with Lucy Walker at Cinema Without Borders

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Wonder: Crayon Artist Herb Williams

It's not everyday you run across a classically trained sculptor who has a personal account with crayon-maker Crayola but when you use as many crayons as artist Herb Williams, having a direct connection to a supplier is a must.* 

Born in Alabama in 1973 and now a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, Williams uses crayons to create extraordinary sculptures and public installations, which have been on view in museums, hospitals, and even the White House. The internationally known and award-winning artist's work is found in Crayola's own private art collection, as well as the collection of the Tennessee State Museum and the Green Art Trust in Dallas, Texas. It has been featured in WIRED magazine and other periodicals, on CBS (2008 video) and NPR, and on numerous blogs. 

One of Williams's recent and impressive works is Unwanted Visitor, Portrait of Wildfire, an outdoor installation designed to educate the public about the causes of wildfire, wildfire's consequences for the environment and humans, and prevention. The artwork, which was displayed last October, November, and December at the National Ranching Heritage Center, Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, comprises five free-standing, 3-dimensional, flame-shaped sculptures, each crafted with 60,000-70,000 Crayola crayons and several standing as high as 8 feet. The material used melts and changes shape, depending on weather conditions.

Herb Williams, Unwanted Visitor, Portrait of Wildfire
Installation View, National Ranching Heritage Center, Lubbock, Texas
Photo Credit: Ashton Thornhill

Additional images of Unwanted Visitor may be seen here. Also see the FaceBook link below. Funding for the installation came through a Kickstarter campaign, described here, and a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.

The Nashville Arts magazine, which featured Williams in this informative article, also filmed the artist in his studio, where we're shown the tools Williams uses and have an opportunity to see how he makes his fabulous art (the video is just over 9 minutes):

In this 5-minute video, Williams shows and describes some other, much smaller artworks. Images of a selection of five crayon sculptures, including a bull's head, a dress, and a rabbit, are here. Also see the image gallery on Williams's Website.

* The crayons come 3,000 to a 50-pound case, individually packed in the color desired. Some of Williams's sculptures require hundreds of thousands of crayons; for Plunderland (2009), for example, Williams used a quarter-of-a-million crayons.

Herb Williams on FaceBook, Flickr, and Twitter

Unwanted Visitor, Portrait of Wildfire on FaceBook

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kitty Genovese (Poem)

Kitty Genovese

Stalked and stabbed not
once but more

than twice, her Please help
me! heard in Queens,

and interrupted,
the lights going

on off on as she was
seen to stumble

before the next strike,
when the one call

made came too late
to make a difference.

Who in Kew Gardens
might have held out

in doubt turned
a blind eye, afraid

to get involved.
She was their neighbor,

just 28, and dying a year
after she'd moved

in, her bad luck
to catch the look

of Winston Moseley,
the guy from Ozone Park

cruising down Austin after
hours in a white Corvair.

What's said to have taken
place, what might have

occurred, who saw it all
and acted, or didn't, how

the story made it
to The New York Times

and went viral, never was
exactly what anyone claimed

the night of March 13,
when Kitty smiled —

she had a great smile
for the very last time.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

Last week marked the 48th anniversary of the infamous March 13, 1964, murder of Catherine "Kitty" Genovese. What might have been remarked upon as just another grisly killing in Queens met with extraordinary public outrage and armchair-psychology when it was reported that at least 38 people had heard or seen something and done nothing the night the 28-year-old was stabbed repeatedly. Not yet 12 at the time, I well remember the news stories and still get a chill reading about it. When The Learning Network at The New York Times ran a feature on March 13, 2012 (see link below), I had to piece the story, some of the facts of which remain in dispute, into the poem I've posted here.

If you weren't around when this case hit the newspapers, read "March 13, 1964 | New York Woman Killed While Witnesses Do Nothing", The New York Times, March 13, 2012; "Kitty, 40 Years Later", The New York Times, February 8, 2004; and "37 Who Saw Murder Didn't Call the Police; Apathy at Stabbing of Queens Woman Shocks Inspector 37 SAW MURDER BUT DIDN'T CALL path of Victim: Stabbler's Third Attack Was Fatal", The New York Times, March 27, 1964.

Also Of Interest

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Muse: The Stanza Stones Project

It's one thing writing poems for yourself. . .
And it's another thing to write poetry. . . to be
carved into rocks in public places, where they might
last for centuries and catch the attention of passers-by
 who might . . . possibly have  no interest in verse.
~ Simon Armitage

As part of the 21-month "Stanza Stones" project of the Ilkley Literature Festival, in West Yorkshire; imove, Yorkshire's cultural program for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad; and Pennine Prospects, Britain's Simon Armitage was commissioned to write a sequence of poems, inspired by the landscape of the Pennine uplands, that are being carved into stones that then are set in place along what is to become a permanent "Poetry Trail" extending from Armitage's birthplace, Marsden, to the festival's home base in Ilkley. 

Armitage originally intended to write a sestina for the project but abandoned his plan, he writes here, when it finally occurred to him, after many visits to the watershed, that water offered the inspiration he needed and that various forms of water — rain, snow, stream, and so on — could be the subjects for the seven poems he eventually would write for the Stanza Stones. He titled his series In Memory of Water, thereby, he says, "connecting the often commemorative act of monumental masonry and engraving with our most vital but often neglected necessity, our common gold, our shaping force, our local vintage — water." (Armitage speaks briefly here about the verses.)

The project, which requires the cooperation of numerous private landowners, utility companies, and local and national government agencies, including the National Trust, is well underway. Three of the seven intended Stanza Stones have been erected. The first, completed last July, is located above Marsden on Pule Hill (each of the 360 characters in the verses took seven minutes to 10 minutes to carve); the second, finished last October, is on Nab Hill near Oxenhope; and the third, erected in December, is at Cow's Mouth Quarry, a spot known to mountain climbers. Each of the stones (for Armitage's poems "Snow", "Rain", and "Mist") was incised on site. At least two others (for Armitage's poems "Dew" and "Puddle") will be carved elsewhere, because of the stones' size and weight, and transported to their sites.

Pule Quarry, Marsden
Photo Credit: Tom Lonsdale, Stanza Stones Landscape Architect

The stone carver is Pip Hall, who runs a letter-carving studio in Cumbria and collaborates often with poets and writers on "environment-interpretation" projects, including Art on the Wall in Carlisle, comprising enameled tiles designed into panels for flood defenses and containing words from poet Jacob Polley, and Discover Eden, for which Hall created linoprints that illustrate a book related to etched bronzed panels erected along the walking routes of the river Eden. (Be sure to browse Hall's site to look at her extraordinary work.) 

The final four stones are to be in place in time for a celebration of the launch of the completed Poetry Trail, as well as on-site performances and readings, in May and June. A Stanza Stones Trail Guide is to be published online in May.

In conjunction with the project, groups of writers ages 12 to 26, from both cities and rural areas of Yorkshire, are visiting the watershed and participating in workshops and studying in masterclasses with Armitage. The groups' goal is to write poems inspired by the Pennine landscape that will be collected for an anthology to be issued this summer, presented in readings at festival events, and interpreted by dancers and filmmakers during the festival.

I can think of no effort on a similar scale anywhere in the United States (an online search of the project reveals that not everyone in the UK believes the project should have been undertaken). Can you imagine, for example, a poetry trail along our famous Rt. 66?

I have been itching to go back to England for a visit. This project gives me reason to want to travel there to walk the Poetry Trail and become inspired myself.

Stanza Stones Project Updates

Flickr Image of Stanza Stone "Snow"

Simon Armitage's Poem "Snow" (This post includes a photo of the incised stone and the text of the poem.)

Ilkley Literature Festival on FaceBook and Twitter

Pip Hall and the People of Cairnhead at Striding Arches

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Measure of Your Progress (Poem)

Photo Credit: Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
Courtesy of Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales

The Measure of Your Progress

All things want for adjustment,
demand the tightest grip

at the one precise moment
you're most likely to lose

it. Hold on! they always urge,
as if letting go were an option

you had not already considered.
You imagine how shifting gears,

loosening what you've held in
the dark recess of your throat

gone dry in the last week's tumble
of words, could become the measure

of your progress on any given day.
You open your mouth only to wait

for the cue — the wrench of the cap
from pen, notebook poised to take

down whatever's likely to end
this with advice you can live with.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is my response to today's photo prompt at Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales. Join in by writing your own poem or flash fiction, using as inspiration the photo provided,  then go here to add your link and to read the other participating writers' contributions.

Thought for the Day

All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy; for what we leave
behind us is a part of ourselves; we must
die to one life before we can enter another.
~ Anatole France*

* Quoted from The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1881), Part II, Chapter 4

Anatole France (1844-1924), French Poet, Novelist, and Journalist; Winner of 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Going Your Own Way (Poem)

© Christine Valters Paintner, In Praise of Detours
Used With Permission

Going Your Own Way

Imagine every rock
set down a burden

lifted, every stone
a counter-weight

to what's denied.
Expect no straight

and narrow path
where you might

veer, no steps clear
-cut to urge you 

fast along some way
where light leaves

no thing to its chance.
What gap is there

is yours to find and fill.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

This is my response to Christine Valters Paintner's Invitation to Poetry: In Praise of Detours for which the image above was offered as a prompt. 

If you're inclined to accept today's Invitation to Poetry at Abbey of the Arts, go here to read the instructions and submit your poem or a link. On March 25, a random drawing will be held and a lucky participant will have the opportunity to select one of Christine's many wonderful books.

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Today's new edition of Saturday Sharing lets you play with a Stereogranimator, get behind the Tumblr images compiled by the Academy of American Poets, check out how you can give a HOOT for literature's sake, and share your favorite book excerpts via Findings. Take your pick of video selections, too: a 15-minute concert from guitarist Glenn Jones or a song that will enlighten you about the controversial and complex subject of fracking.

✦ I've shared before the fabulous resource that is the New York Public Library. Recently, I learned about NYPL LabsStereogranimator, an online tool you can use to create and share animated GIFs and anaglyphs in 3D Web formats using the NYPL's collection of more than 40,000 historical stereographs. All the images in the collection are in the NYPL's open-access repository. The tool's creators welcome public participation and experimentation. Go have yourself some fun!

New York Public Library on FaceBook

Stereogranimator on Twitter

✦ The Academy of American Poets has launched its own image-based Tumblr site that brings together in one place videopoems, archival images of manuscripts, poetry lectures, audio recordings, and other poetry-related ephemera from the many programs you might already be following. Just click on an image and enjoy the offering. And if you haven't browsed the site recently, take a look at what you might have been missing, including the interview and notable books sections.

✦ Want to receive a monthly offering of literature via postcard? Subscribe to HOOT, which in 150 or fewer words brings you poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and even reviews of independent and small press books, all on a postcard you can display or share. Browse current and past issues online. (My thanks for this link goes to NewPages.) Individual postcards sell for $0.75 to $2.00; a year's subscription (up to four postcards a month) is $14.00. Go ahead; give a HOOT!

HOOT on FaceBook, Twitter, and Tumblr

✦ Take 15 minutes to enjoy this Tiny Desk Concert with Glenn Jones.

✦ Members of the online community Findings share excerpts from books and great reads on the Web. Poets & Writers gave the site this shout-out. Here's a quick clip to show you how Findings works:

✦ If you pay attention to the news, you know fracking. What you might not have seen yet is My Water's on Fire Tonight, a collaboration from Studio 20 NYU and the nonprofit, independent ProPublica, which produces investigative journalism in the public interest. The lyrics, by David Holmes and Niel Bekker, are based on ProPublica's major investigation into hydraulic fractured gas drilling and its consequences, which include contamination of drinking water and many documented ill-health effects. The video is an interesting reduction of this serious and complex subject. (My thanks for the link go to the blog of the online journal The film Gasland by Josh Fox remains one of the very best explorations of the subject. This New York Times article from last May underscores some of the many sides of the issue.