Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bill Moyers Interviews Louise Erdrich

I have to get as close to the bare truth [of experience] as I can.
. . . I love writing because . . . I'm able to live in a world
where I can be expressive and I can be truthful
about emotion and about human nature. . . .
~ Louise Erdrich

If you haven't watched this Bill Moyers interview* with award-winning writer Louise Erdrich, you owe yourself the approximately 33 minutes the discussion takes. In addition to talking about her artistic life and her books, most of which I have read with much pleasure, Erdrich eloquently speaks about her sense of identity and her Native American (Ojibwe) heritage and its importance in her life and the lives of her children. She has some profound and moving things to say. She also reads from some of her works.

Erdrich is the author of the novels The Round House, The Antelope Wife, and Shadow Tag, as well as 10 other novels and numerous children's books, volumes of short stories, a memoir, and poetry collections, among the latter Baptism of Desire.

Erdrich lives in Minnesota and owns the independent Minneapolis bookstore Birchbark Books.

Bill Moyers Journal: Louise Erdrich from on Vimeo.

* November 2012

Louise Erdrich Profiles at Faces of AmericaHarperCollins PublishersModern American Poetry, National Book Foundation (Erdrich received the 2012 NBF Award in Fiction for The Round House) , NPRThe Poetry Foundation

Bill Moyers on FaceBook

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

James Lavadour - 'Turner of the Northwest'

. . . I began to look at paint as an organic event, 
as an event of nature itself. . .  I'm not representing anything.
 What I'm doing is causing these little organic circumstances
 to happen in paint over a certain type of structure. . . .
~ James Lavadour, Artist

Self-described Expressionist James Lavadour, a Walla Walla with a deep understanding of art's value as a transformative tool, co-founded the nonprofit Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton in eastern Oregon (see my post about Crow's Shadow here). He currently is president of the institute's board, having returned after a period away to concentrate on his career.

Lavadour, who has been called "the J.M.W. Turner of the Northwest",* is an exceptional painter of abstract landscapes and a masterful printmaker. He recently was selected to participate in a group show, "Personal Structures", at the 55th Venice Biennale that will begin this coming June and extend into November. Taking place at Palazzo Bembo and devoted to work focused on concepts of time, space, and existence, the group exhibition will feature recent studio and site-specific art in diverse media, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos, and installations.**

In addition to vivid landscapes, Lavadour has worked for many years on series of monochromatic abstract paintings ("interiors"); most recently, he has brought the two together, dripping or scrapping the paint and layering it in ways that seem both to build and take away. His brushstroke is beautifully fluid and gestural, yet also textured and nuanced, I would say even spiritual in how it appears to effect a perception of time and its passage.

Well-known especially in the Pacific Northwest (he exhibits often in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, but also has had shows at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and in New York City), the down-to-earth Lavadour was the subject in 2000 of an introductory Oregon Art Beat profile (see below); in addition to talking about his artistic process, Lavadour addresses the question of what a painting is for him and how place and nature inform his vision.

Watch Painter James Lavadour on PBS.  See more from KOPB.

In 2009, Oregon Art Beat revisited Lavadour, who, in this video, addresses his engagement with the land and how it inspires him. Art, he says, "is nothing more than the transfiguration of nature". He is a passionate art-maker who becomes delightedly excited about what he discovers from his own work.

In this short video from 2012, Lavadour talks about why he paints and about his sculpture Ruby Lift, a collaboration with Walla Wall Foundry:

Also see the informative 2008 video James Lavadour: The Properties of Paint, about his exhibition at Halie Ford Museum at Williamette University.

Work by Lavadour is in numerous corporate, private, and public collections, including those of Boise Art Museum, Heard Museum, Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Microsoft Corp., Hilton Corp., Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Arts and Crafts Board. He work also has been presented in the U.S. Department of State's Art in Embassies program. His beautiful prints are available at Crow's Shadow and his paintings may be obtained through the galleries that represent him (several are noted below).

Lavadour, who received no formal art training or education, is a recipient of an Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art, a Joan Mitchell Award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and numerous other honors.  

* Jen Graves, The Stranger Suggests

** See Aaron Scott, "James Lavadour Chosen for the Venice Biennale", Portland Monthly, January 21, 2013

James Lavadour at PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, Oregon; Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee; Grover/Thurston Gallery, Seattle, Washington 

Anastasia Mejia, Phone Interview with James Lavadour, Spring 2011

Michael Upchurch, "The Desert Blooms with Color, Feeling in James Lavadour's Work", The Seattle Times, June 16, 2011

James Lavadour Talks about Max Beckmann (Video), Portland Art Museum

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Native Growth (Poem)

Native Growth

I looked for the roses
in December, put

nose so low to hard
ground, as if smelling

what was cold and dead
already could be enough

to satisfy the hunger to
bloom in unfiltered light.

You always said the color
red doesn't please once

it dries a weak brown hue.
Too quickly we were

caught on stubby thorns,
green as the fibrous stem

serving its double duty —
channel both from and to

source of nourishment.
To dig deeper does not protect

against the tear in skin thin
as the paper you'll sign

to stop my planting in this
climate zone so far north.

Native growth, you remind
me, wants nothing to survive.

What it needs it claims its own.

© 2013 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Muse: Kentucky's New Poet Laureate

I hope I will have opportunities to be visible,
to serve as a role model for kids who come
from humble beginnings like I did.*
~ Frank X Walker, Kentucky Poet Laureate

Frank X Walker was appointed in February to be Kentucky's Poet Laureate for 2013-2104, the first African-American to be named to the state's two-year post and, at 51, the youngest. He will be inducted formally on Kentucky Writers' Day on April 24, 2013.

A co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets collective, the highly accomplished poet, who travels widely giving lectures, leading workshops, reading poetry, and exhibiting, succeeds Maureen Morehead (see my post about Morehead here). Commenting on his prospective plans as Poet Laureate, Walker indicates that in addition to promoting poetry and other literary arts generally, giving readings, and taking part in various arts-related conferences, he will be advocating on behalf of required coursework on Kentucky writers, beginning in elementary school and extending to college.

Information about Kentucky's Poet Laureate position is included in my post about Gurney Norman, who served in 2009-2010. (An aside: Walker took a class with Gurney at the University of Kentucky and says Gurney influenced his decision to become a writer.) Go here for a list of Kentucky's past Poets Laureate.

* * * **
. . . [T]he highest quality of life is full of art and creative expression
and . . . all people deserve it. I believe in a broad definition of what
art is and who artists are: Barbers, cooks, auto detailers, janitors 
and gardeners have as much right to claims of artistry as designers,
architects, painters and sculptors. Every day, our streets and school
buses become art galleries in the form of perfectly spiked hair,
zigzagging cornrows and dizzying shoelace artistry. . . .**

Frank X Walker will publish this May his sixth collection of poetry, Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers (University of Georgia Press, 2013). He is the author of Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride (Old Cove Press, 2010), about African-American jockey Isaac Burns Murphy (1861-1896), who was the first to win the Kentucky Derby three times; When Winter Come: the Ascension of York (University Press of Kentucky, 2008), a re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the sequel to Buffalo DanceBlack Box: Poems (Old Cove Press, 2005), which tells about Walker's childhood and home; Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York: Poems (Kentucky Voices, University Press of Kentucky, 2003), about York, an African-American slave and the personal servant to explorer William Clark; and Affrilachia: Poems (Old Cove Press, 2000; now in at least its eighth printing), 68 poems about Walker's experience growing up as African-American in the Appalachian south. His Buffalo Dance won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004; Affrilachia was nominated for a Kentucky Public Librarians' Choice Award.

Walker, who is also a playwright, visual and performance artist, and activist, is the editor and publisher of PLUCK! the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. (The term "Affrilachian", whose coining is credited to Walker, is defined here. Also see the Coal Black Voices site.) Publications Walker has edited include America! What's My Name? The "Other Poets" Unfurl the Flag (Wind Publications, 2007) and Eclipsing a Nappy New Millennium (Haraka Press, 1998; available through resellers).

In an Artist Statement on his Website, Walker describes the subjects of his poetry this way: "I choose to focus on social justice issues as well as multiple themes of family, identity and place." Indeed, even a cursory glance at the titles of Walker's collections gives definition to his work, which is remarkable for its narrative potency, clarity of voice, vividness of imagery, accessibility, political astuteness, and profound insights into racial discrimination and injustice. His richly cultural poems are very much about making visible in his frank and honest words his life experience and that of other African-Americans of the past and present; as he's said, they're about "writ[ing] ourselves into the history of this region": 

. . . what I choose to talk about as an artist, and what I represent,
is as important to people who don't look like me as to those
 who do. It challenges stereotypes; it offers another image
 that's not out there.***

Walker has a particular talent for persona poems. His York series (Buffalo Dance and its sequel When Winter Come) are notable for how beautifully Walker captures York's and other narrators' voices, those of both men and women he writes about. Similarly, in Isaac Murphy, Walker takes on multiple voices (Isaac Murphy, his wife Lucy, his mentor, his parents) to advance his story and help us understand how the son of a slave could achieve international fame in thoroughbred racing. His forthcoming collection about Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers (1925-1963) includes poems told in the voices of Byron de la Beckwith, Evers's murderer; de la Beckwith's wife Thelma; Evers's widow Myrlie; and even the bullet that felled Evers. Walker's extraordinary poems also are marked by sharp characterization, an eye for apt historical detail, and a deep feeling and appreciation especially for the black experience throughout American history and the want both of and for forgiveness and reconciliation.

Here's a lyrical excerpt from a poem in Buffalo Dance, in the voice of York, Clark's personal slave:

If I could make my words dress
they naked selves in blackberry juice
and lay down on a piece a bark, sheep
or onion skin, the way Massa do.
If I could send a story home to my wife
float it in the wind, on wings or water
I'd tell her about Katonka, the buffalo
and all the big wide and high places
this side a the big river.

[. . .]

As I watched black fish as big as cabins take to the air
and splash back in the water like children playing
I though about you, us and if we gone ever be free,
then I close my eyes and pray
that I don't live long enough to see
Massa make this ugly too.
~ from "Wind Talker"

This excerpt exemplifies Walker's marvelous descriptive powers:

granddaddy's hands, like tree limbs
with the bark peeled off
were not dry and brittle
but strong and supple
polished mahogany when
chopping and hauling wood for mamma e's kitchen stove

quick and decisive
when wringing a chicken's neck
to feed his family. . . .
~ from "Handmade" in Black Box

Walker's poems can be deeply moving, as here:

When I was able to see beauty
in a world with so many scars,
when I discovered stores of memories
that a bullet couldn't quit.

When I watched a son
grow into his father's face,
his laugh, his walk,
I saw how faith could be restored
and I finally understood
trouble don't last always.
~ "A Gift of Time" (See transcription; also listed below.)

Read as many poems by Walker as you can. His is an important and eloquent voice.

Poems by Walker have appeared in numerous literary magazines and periodicals, including Appalachian Heritage, Indiana ReviewKudzu, Louisville Review, MiPOesiasRattleThe Shooting Star Review, and Verse Wisconsin. Walker's work has been anthologized in, among other publications, The Appalachian Journal, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (University of Georgia Press, 2009), Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South (University of North Carolina Press, 2008), Mischief, Caprice & Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press, 2004), The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass (University Press of Kentucky, 2005), A Kentucky Christmas (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art (Third World Press, 2002; available through resellers), The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press, 2007), Spirit and Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets (Syracuse University Press, 1997; available through resellers), and What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Poets (University Press of Kentucky, 2009).

Walker established the Faith A. Smith Poetry Prize in honor of his mother. 

Associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky and also director of African American and Africana Studies, Walker is the recipient of an Appalachian Heritage Literary Award from West Virginia Humanities Council (2013), a Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry (2005), a Thomas D. Clark Literary Award for Excellence (2006), a Cave Canem Fellowship, and an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. He was named in 2011 to the Oxford American's list of "The Most Creative Teachers in the South". He holds an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Kentucky (2001) and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Transylvania University (2002). In addition, Walker has been honored with the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice - Lauren K. Weinberg Humanitarian Award (2011; video here).


Photo Credit: Tracy A. Hawkins

All Poetry Quotations © Frank X Walker

* Quoted from "Frank X Walker New Ky. Poet Laureate", Associated Press at WHAS11 Louisville, and Kentucky Arts Council Press Release

** Quoted from "Creative Solutions to Life's Challenges", This I Believe for NPR, March 27, 2006

*** Quoted from "This Year's Model: 1999: Frank X Walker", ACE Weekly, December 20, 1999 (This is a particularly good feature about Walker.)

Kentucky Arts Council, Press Release on Appointment of Frank X Walker as Poet Laureate, February 14, 2013

"Frank X Walker Is Kentucky's Poet Laureate", ACE, February 14, 2013

"Frank X Walker Named Kentucky's First African-American Laureate", The Courier-Journal, February 14, 2013

Josh James, "Frank X Walker Named Kentucky's First African-American Poet Laureate", WUKY, Feburary 14, 2013 (Audio Included)

Mary Meehan, "Lexington Writer Frank X Walker Named Kentucky Poet Laureate", Kentucky Online, February 14, 2013

Frank X Walker Poems Online: "Elves" and "View Finder" from Black Box, "Wind Talker" and "God's House" from Buffalo Dance, "Statues of Liberty" and "Li'l Kings" from Affrilachia, All at Books Page at Frank X Walker Website; "Buring Albatross" at Poetry Society of America; "Real Costs", "Queer Behavior", Sorority Meeting", "After Birth",  and "Affrilachia" at Verse Wisconsin; "Affrilachia" and "Kentucke" at Coal Black Voices Website; "Elves" at Woodland Pattern Book Center; "Death by Basketball" at African American Registry; "True Black", "Step(Fathering) on Eggshells", "Protection", "Spell #13: Spell  to Eradicate Racism", "Til Death Due Us Part", "Ex-Men",  "April Fools", "Talking in Tongues", "The Right to Bear Arms", "Nyctophobia", All Excerpts Only, at Project Muse (Poems Published in Appalachian Heritage); "Homeopathic", at Siah Salma Bangai's Open Salon; "Promises" at Genuine Kentucky; "Wind Talker". "God's House", "Big Medicine", "Primer", "Sundays and Christmas", "Her Current", "Wasicum Sapa", "Swap Meet", "Promises", "The River Speaks", "Like a Virgin", "Like Raven from Head to Toe", "Art of Seduction", Lovers' Moon", "Midnight Ride", "Say My Name", "A Love Supreme", "Unwelcome Guest", "The Sunflower Seed Oil Conjure", "To Have and To Hold", "Real Costs", "After Birth", "Homecoming", "Fire Proof", "Sorority Meeting", "One-Third of 180 Grams of Lead", "Listening to Music", "A Gift of Time", "Heavy Wait for Mississippi", "Death by Basketball", All in Transcription of 2010 Frank X Walker Reading at University of North Dakota Writers Conference; "Mothers Day" at Blog This Rock: Poem of the Week; "Ornithologists" in "Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York by Frank X. Walker" at The Poetry Place; "I Dedicate This Ride", "After Birth", "One-Third of 180 Grams of Lead", "Come Sunday Its Derby", "I Thought Slavery Was a Song", "Oh Weep No More Today", "Fire Proof", All at From the Fishouse (Audio and Text); "Affrilachia" at What's Cookin' Now!; Introduction to "Fire Proof" and Introduction to "One-Third of 180 Grams of Lead" at From the Fishouse; "Canning Memories" at Nantahala Review

Frank X Walker Interviews at The Progressive (Audio); Pittsburgh City Paper (Text)

Frank X Walker Podcast, "Exploring Affrilachia", with Cheyenne Hohman; Podcast with Tom Godell for WUKY's "UK Perspectives" Program; Podcast with Lezell Lowe, Andrea James, and Dr. Sonja Fiest-Price for 1580AM Lexington (Audio); Podcast, "Race and Appalachian Poetry", at UK African American and African Studies Page; Audio of Walker Q&A on Historical Poetry at From the Fishouse; Audio of Walker Q&A on Medgar Evers Series at From the Fishouse

Frank X Walker for "This I Believe", PRX (Audio); and "Creative Solutions to Life's Challenges" (Audio and Text), NPR, March 27, 2006

Frank X Walker Columns for ACE Magazine: "I Dare You to Dream", "Love and (UK) Baseball", "Kentucky's 'Criminal Mischief'", "Luxury Items", MY Old Kentucky Home"

Affrilachia: Poems on GoogleBooks

Black Box: Poems on GoogleBooks

Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York on GoogleBooks

When Winter Come: The Ascension of York on GoogleBooks

What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets on Googlebooks

Review of Affrilachia at Southern Scribe

Review of Issac Murphy at Fogged Clarity

Review of When Winter Come at JPpoetryreader: poetry reviews and discussion

"Affrilachia in Words and Images", Series at Georgia Appalachian Studies Center, University of North Georgia (Walker provided the keynote and took part in other activities.)

Coal Black Voices, Documentary by Fred Johnson and Jean Donohue (The film, which Walker co-produced, features Walker and poets Nikky Finney, Kelly Norman Ellis, Mitchell C. Douglass, and others. A preview is here.)

Frank X Walker on FaceBook

PLUCK! on FaceBook

Videos Features with Frank X Walker: "Frank X Walker at MSU", "Affrilachian Poet Frank X Walker", "Direction: Northeast - Frank X Walker, Part 1 and Part 2", "Frank X Walker at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art", "Frank X Walker Reading from Buffalo Dance", "Kentucky Muse: Frank X Walker: I Dedicate This Ride" (Also available online are a series of Walker's poetry readings in various departments at the University of Kentucky.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thought for the Day

Collecting pebbles for a new mosaic of a world that I could love.
~ Anna Kamienska

Quoted from In That Great River: A Notebook (To read additional prose excerpts, which originally appeared in Poetry magazine in June 2010, go here.)

Anna Kamienska (1920-1986), Polish Poet, Translator, Critic, Essayist, Editor

Friday, February 22, 2013

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Yale University Press has published The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. Newly revised by Peter Barnet and Nancy Wu, with an expanded guide to the collection, the book traces the history of The Cloisters, offering a detailed story of how the museum's collection came came to be housed within Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan.

"Building the Cloisters", Yale Press Log, December 21, 2012

Yale University Press on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ A show of paintings on paper by New York City-based Sharon Horvath concluded last month at The Drawing Room in East Hampton. Images of some of the artist's more recent work are here and here. A 12-page catalogue of the 2012-13 exhibition is here (pdf). Take a look! Horvath's use of powdered pigments, ink, and polymer on paper mounted on canvas produces vivid, saturated colors that give her work an exotic feel that is at once beautiful and distinctive. You'll find here a 2011 video interview (20:19 minutes) with Horvath, who is an associate professor at Purchase College/SUNY.

✦ New York-based artist Marilyn Henrion last July founded The Soho Bookie to facilitate the publishing of exhibition catalogues and art-related books. Henrion's services include designing and formatting. To date, she has helped published single-show publications as well as a 190-page book of drawings and poems.

✦ Earlier this winter, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, posted on its blog Framework, which documents a dance-art collaboration between artist Mark Bradford of Los Angeles and choreographer Benjamin Millepied. The collaboration, comprising two 30-minute site-specific duets, was performed in MOCA galleries last summer. Watch Framework here.

James Turrell's site-specific Twilight Epiphany Skyspace opened to the public last June on the Rice University campus. The video below highlights the extraordinary experiential work of art, which was five years in the making. A press release described it thus: "Towering above a 12-foot-high grass berm just east of Rice's Shepherd School of Music, the pyramid-like work of art will provide two light shows each day — one at sunrise and one at sunset  — in conjunction with the arc of the sun. Visitors seated on the skyspace's lower and upper viewing areas will gaze up at the 72-by-72-foot white roof, which offers a view of the sky through a 14-by-14-foot opening. Lights projected on the ceiling will change colors as the sun rises and sets, and  these will impact the color of the sky as seen by visitors." Reservations are required for the sunset light sequences; visitor information is here.

This summer, Turrell will have his first show in a New York museum since 1980; his exhibition opens June 21 at the Guggenheim and will run through September 25.

James Turrell on Art21

James Turrell on FaceBook

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Maine's Portland Museum of Art opened "Voices of Design: 25 Years of Architalx" on February 2. The interactive exhibition, which continues through May 19, celebrates voice, text, and images from talks presented by leading architects and designers as part of Architalx's lecture series. Featured is a 17-foot-high tower, Voices of Design (installation views), displaying three levels of images alternately appearing and disappearing. Architectural themes ecompass nature, place, expression, material, process, responsibility, light, structure, space, craft, optimism, and culture. More about the exhibition is here.

Architalx is a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides educational programs in architecture and design to Greater Portland and throughout Maine.

PMA on FaceBook and Twitter

Architalx on FaceBook

Architalx Blog

✭ Four dozen masterpieces, including portraits and landscapes, from the collection of Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927), 1st Earl of Iveagh — known as the Iveagh Bequest to Great Britain — are on view in "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" at Seattle Art Museum (the artworks already have been on view at Museum of Fine Arts/Houston and Milwaukee Art Museum; the last U.S. venue will be Arkansas Arts Center in June). The exhibition, continuing through May 19, includes Rembrandt's late Portrait of the Artist (c. 1665), which, according to SAM, has never before left Europe. A catalogue accompanies the show, which also includes works by Frans Hals, Joshua Reynolds, and J.M.W. Turner.  

SAM on FaceBook and Twitter


✭ Work by the "mindful minimalist" fine art photographer Suzanne Rose, who is known for her black-and-white images, is on view through April 10 in "Suzanne Rose - A Deepening Vision" at the Museum of Wisconsin Art on the Lake at Saint John's. Featured are selections from her recent portfolios; the primary focus of the show is Rose's transition to digital photography.

MWA on FaceBook 

✭ Continuing through April 28 at Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin/Madison is "1934: A New Deal for Artists", comprising 56 paintings from the federal Public Works of Art Project in the collections of Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian American Art Museum. The touring exhibition celebrates the 75th anniversary of the PWAP. For numerous resources, including an exhibition slide show, visit SAAM's Website.

Exhibition Schedule (The exhibition travels to Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, in September.)

Chazen Museum of Art on FaceBook

✭ On view at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art are 23 images selected from more than 500 photographs in Jason Schmidt's ongoing project Artists. Continuing through March 18, the exhibition "Some Los Angeles Artists" represents artists working in the fields of painting, video, sculpture, performance, and installation. Schmidt has photographed each in his or her studio or gallery, or in another context significant to the artist's work. Among the LA artists are John Baldessari, Liz Larner, Raymond Pettibon, Jason Rhodes, and Ed Ruscha. See a half-dozen of the images here.

Jason Schmidt's Artists 2000-2006 (Edition 7L, 2007) is available through resellers.

MOCA/LA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

The Curve, MOCA Blog

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Triumph of Winfred Rembert

It's my dream to go back to my hometown
and give a show as somebody. . . as an artist.
~ Winfred Rembert

Self-taught African-American artist Winfred Rembert, born in 1945 in southwestern Georgia and given away at birth, is the subject of director Vivian Ducat's first feature-length documentary All Me: The Life & Times of Winfred Rembert. Tracing the remarkable story of how one man overcame racial discrimination and injustice in the segregated Deep South to, as Rembert says, "be somebody", the film, released in 2011, unveils Rembert's memories through the art he used to transform his pain and share his joy.

Rembert's is an unlikely artistic career path. As a child, he labored in the peanut and cotton fields of Georgia and he grew up largely unschooled. He took part at age 19 in a civil rights demonstration in Cuthbert, Georgia, and subsequently was arrested and imprisoned, though he was never charged formally with a crime and was never given a trial. He managed by some "amazing grace" to survive an attempted lynching before being jailed, his seven-year prison term including time on a chain gang. 

In 1995, some years after being released from prison, where he had been introduced to leather crafts, Rembert set up a studio in his home and began to carve, tool, and dye images on the leather he hand-prepared. His wonderfully colorful artwork took as its subjects his experiences of African-American life, not only the harshness of field work in Cuthbert and the brutality meted out to men on chain gangs, but also singing in church and dancing in juke joints, listening to jazz and playing pool. 

In 2000, work by Rembert, who resides in New Haven, Connecticut, was paired with linocuts by Hale Woodruff in an exhibit, "Southern Exposure: Works by Winfred Rembert", at Yale University Art Gallery, and one of Rembert's works, a triptych of a lynching, entered Yale's permanent collection. (His work can be found in other public and private collections as well, including that of the Richard M. Ross Art Museum at Ohio Wesleyan University.) Ten years later, New York City's Adelson Galleries, in association with Peter Tillou Works of Art, Litchfield, Connecticut, gave Rembert a solo show (information about Winfred Rembert: Memories of My Youth, show catalogue, here and here). 

Last year, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York, put together a major museum retrospective of Rembert's work. The exhibition has traveled to Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, and Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan; it will open at Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, on September 14 and continue there until January 5, 2014 (information here). A catalogue from the show (see image above to left) is available. (At the link for the retrospective at HRM, you'll find a selection of images that I encourage you to browse.)

Below is a 2:23-minute preview of Ducat's important documentary, which is available on DVD (it can be found on Amazon, iTunes, and xBox):

Three clips from the film may be viewed here.

The moving, award-winning film continues to be screened around the country; this year, it has been seen at such venues as The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan; and Adelson Galleries Boston. Since 2011, the documentary has been shown at numerous film festivals, including Hamptons International Film Festival, where it premiered, Chicago International Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Women's International Film & Arts Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, and Newark Black Film Festival. In addition, it has been screened at the Albany Civil Rights Institute's 50th anniversary celebration of the civil rights movement in Albany, Georgia; and at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, California, Yale University Art Gallery, Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center in New York City, and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art at the Outsider Art Fair held earlier this year in New York City. 

All Me on FaceBook and Pinterest


Martha Schwendener, "Odyssey Through Jim Crow Era, Carved in Leather", The New York Times, March 16, 2012 (This is a review of Rembert's exhibition "Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace" at Hudson River Museum. Photos of some of the more than 50 paintings from the show are included.)

Terence Clarke, "The Art of Winfred Rembert", HuffPost Arts & Culture, July 15, 2011

Winfred Rembert, Don't Hold Me Back: My Life and Art (Children's Book)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Wonder: House as Mosaic

Today's Wednesday Wonder is artist Norma Gatto. In the "Chicago Tonight" video below, Gatto talks about the creation of her "glass mosaic masterpiece", which happens to be her amazing home.

Below is a slideshow of Gatto's artwork, which also is featured in Handmade Blooms: The Floral Art of Norma Gatto.

My thanks to PBS NewsHour Art Beat, where I first learned about Gatto.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lips, Red Like Poppies (Poem)

Lips, Red Like Poppies

Only with kisses
can we learn

each other's imperfect

our lips, red
like poppies,

urging us two
steps forward,

not once looking

© 2013 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem was inspired by the line "Only with kisses and red poppies can I love you" from Pablo Neruda's "Ode With a Lament" in The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (Bilingual Edition), edited by Mark Eisner (City Lights Books, 2004). The line is among others of Neruda's quoted in Word Candy, a quotation- and photo-based app from T.S. Poetry Press.

Online, the poem is found here and here, among other sites. For an interesting interview with Neruda, go here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Muse: New Oklahoma Poet Laureate

I write a poem every day. . . I've done this for eleven years
. . . 365 poems a year. . . [T]his has . . . served as the single
most powerful tool to overcoming any fears I might have 
about my creative work. . . .
~ Nathan Brown*

The position of Oklahoma State Poet Laureate is filled by Nathan Brown, who succeeded Eddie Wilcoxen and will serve through December 31, 2014.

Brown, who, in addition to being an award-winning poet, is a singer-songwriter and photographer, currently maintains a full schedule of poetry readings, musical performances, writing and creativity workshops, speaking engagements, and teaching seminars (see the Events section of his Website), judges writing competitions, participates in photography exhibitions, and makes public appearances around the state. As Poet Laureate, he intends to meet and reconnect with the "vibrant community" of artists throughout the state.

Information about the state position and related resources may be found in my post about Wilcoxen and my earlier post about James Barnes, who preceded him.

* * * * *
What makes a good poem?
. . . I am after a good story. . . .
~ Nathan Brown**

Award-winning, widely traveled narrative poet Nathan Brown, Ph.D., is the author of more than a half-dozen books (available, along with his CDs, on his Website). His most recent collections are Karma Crisis: New and Selected Poems (Mezcalita Press, 2012), which gathers a selection from three of Brown's earlier books, Ashes Over the Southwest (2005), Suffer the Little Voices (Greystone Press, 2005), and the out-of-print Hobson's Choice (Greystone Press, 2002), and includes nearly two dozen new poems, and My Sideways Heart (Mongrel Empire Press, 2010). 

Several of Brown's collections have received honors, including Suffer the Little Voices and Two Tables Over (Village Books Press, 2008); the former was a finalist for the Oklahoma Center for the Book's Oklahoma Book Award in 2006; the latter won the award in  2009. His Not Exactly Job (Mongrel Empire Press, 2008), a 2008 Oklahoma Book Award finalist, contains poetry, photographs, and scripture. Brown's memoir, a combination of poetry and prose that pays homage to a close friend lost to cancer, is Letters to the One-Armed Poet: A Memoir of Friendship, Loss, and Buttered Squash Ravioli (Village Books Press, 2011). 

Everyday life treated with understanding and, where appropriate, a sense of humor finds prominence in Brown's precise, clearly written poetry — what Brown describes on his Website as "poems unafraid of making sense. . . poems that carry us  to better places." (He is a critic of "impenetrable" poetry and "bad" academic poetry that "means absolutely nothing. . . even to the authors.") Reviewers and readers alike cite his "emotional honesty" and direct, unpretentious voice.

Thematically, Brown's typically short poems range over the subjects of family, love, friendship, innocence, experience and self-understanding, mortality, loss, religion (his father was pastor of First Baptist Church of Norman while Brown was a child), faith and doubt, redemption, and place. His imagery is distinctive and always integral to the story he's trying to tell. Here's one example:

I drop the wet ashes
of that last relationship
on one end of the big,
brass scales.

And now, I carefully place
the sad pearls of loneliness
on the other side

in order for science
to have its say.
~ "Weights and Measures" from My Sideways Heart

Brown has published poems in a variety of literary publications, including Art Review, Blood and Thunder, The Blue Rock Review, Christian Ethics Today, Concho River Review, Oklahoma Today magazine, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, and World Literature Today. His work also appears in the bi-lingual anthology Two Southwests (Virtual Artists Collective, 2008), representing 27 poets from the southwestern United States and southwestern China, and 8 Voices: Contemporary Poetry from the American Southwest (Baskerville Publishers, 2012).

In addition to writing awards, including a Pushcart nomination for his poem "Little Jerusalems" (from My Sideways Heart), Brown has served as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma.

When he is not traveling or conducting workshops in poetry and creative writing in middle and high schools, universities, and community organizations of all kinds, Brown teaches professional writing at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. 


Photo Credit: Oklahoma Humanities Council/Ashley Brown

All Poetry Excerpts © Nathan Brown

* Quoted from 2011 Interview with Carla McElhaney

** Quoted from Living Juicy Interview

Order of Appointment by Governor Mary Fallin (pdf), December 11, 2012

Oklahoma Humanities Council Press Release on Brown's Appointment, December 18, 2012

"Gov. Mary Fallin Appoints Nathan Brown as Oklahoma Poet Laureate", The Daily Oklahoman, December 23, 2012 

Nathan Brown Interview with Carla McElhaney, "Thoughts from the Wild Side: Nathan L. Brown", October 30, 2011

Nathan Brown Interview with Rhea Goodman at Living Juicy (mp3 Audio; 29:35 minutes), August 3, 2010. Brown talks about and draws a clear distinction between poetry writing and songwriting but says that in both instances he thinks about connection (with reader, with listener); with respect to poetry, he says what he's interested in is the "huge audience" that has "walked away" from poetry for whatever reason. His teaching, he explains, also is about making connections by "piecing together the right words so that they mean something to someone else." In the interview he performs several songs (from his CD Gypsy Moon) and also reads his poetry ("Leap Year", "Three of a Kind", "Threading Needles" from My Sideways Heart). He's an articulate singer and expressive reader.

Nathan Brown's Poems Online: "Too Far", "Alibi", "Burn", "Entropy", and "Beating the System", All at Nathan Brown Website; "Existential Solstice" at Sooner Magazine; "Death of a Metaphor", "What to Do", "Brief Ode to a Chocolate Mint Cookie", "Left", "Elemental", and "At Least", All at The Blue Rock Review; "Lyle's Big Hair" at Alan Bereck's Favorite Poems; "Verb Play" at Mainstream Baptist; "Biblical Proportions" at Sugar Mule Literary Magazine; "Natural Flavors", "Cotton-Picker", and "Southern Concern", All at Sugar Mule; "This... Thing" and "Broken" at Valerie R. Lawson's Barbies on Fire

My Sideways Heart at GoogleBooks

Edgar L. Frost, "Keeping Poetry Alive", Sooner Magazine, Winter 2012

Valerie R. Lawson, "Asking the Big Questions - A Closer Look at One Oklahoman Poet", June 25, 2012

Benjamin Myers, "Karma Crisis, Nathan Brown", Review, World Literature Today, September 2012

Erica Smith, "Norman Author's 'Letters' Offers a Poignant Look at Friendship That Lives On", Review, The Daily Oklahoman, March 28, 2011

TwitterBard - Open Salon, "Review: Ashes Over the Southwest by Nathan Brown", June 13, 2009

Video of Nathan Brown Reading from My Sideways Heart (Go here for a list of other videos with Nathan Brown.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thought for the Day

How is it far if you think of it?
~ Ezra Pound, from Cantos LXXIX*

* Also Canto LXXVII (and elsewhere)

Ezra Pound (1885-1972), American Expatriate Poet, Translator, and Critic

The Cantos of Ezra Pound, New Directions, 1996

Ezra Pound Interview at The Paris Review, Summer-Fall 1962

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sylvia (Poem)


The crawl space
held the curl
of her

in her own cellar
as her mother watched

"A Queen Is Crowned"
in Boston.
Two nights after

she'd gone
to sleep
they found her,

the forty pills not
enough, this
attempt of intent

denied her.
It would take more
life, more time

— and a gas-lit oven,
rags and towels
tucked below the door

and two mugs
of milk laid out
for the children —

for the pretty Smith girl
to get a way
to end her way.

By then
she was well-
known as his

American wife
also a writer

the two ids
defined but not
always connected.

Ted sent news
via telegram:
Sylvia died yesterday.

Just that:
a fact
the day of

and forever

He re-visioned
the darkness
of her own

she hanging

on, line to line,
line after line
thrusting her i

into her black spring
binder, and nineteen
more poems

She might have
turned her last page
to bees and spring

and going on
living —
not concluding

her pre-dawn clarity
in air
trapped blue —

but to be
in London in '63

was to be left

and it was cold
the urge

she had,
and the time
to make it final.

© 2013 Maureen E. Doallas

Friday, February 15, 2013

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Renee Phillips introduced through her Healing Power of ART site (see feature article here) the work of New York City-based Nancy Azara, who shows her evocative sculpture (carved and painted wood with gold and silver leaf and encaustic) and lyrical collages throughout the United States and abroad. Such wonderful work merits more than a quick browse! In Minneapolis, Katherine Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota is exhibiting Nash through February 23 in "The House We Built: Feminist Art Then and Now".

In this video, Azara talks about her creative process:

Nancy Azara's Spirit Taking Form (Red Wheel Weiser, 2002)

Nancy Azara on Twitter

Nancy Azara Blog

✦  Tim Knowles of the United Kingdom has produced a series of unique Tree Drawings by attaching drawing tools to tips of tree branches and recording on paper the wind's effects on the trees. Also notable are his Nightwalks and Full Moon Reflections.

✦ Drawing on the Japanese art forms of bonsai and suiseki (stone appreciation), Takanori Aiba creates elaborate fantastical sculptures of craft paper, plastic, plaster, acrylic resin, paint, and other materials. 

✦ The Prison Arts Coalition, founded in 2008, is a national network providing information and resources about prison arts programs in the United States. The PAC represents a consortium of artists and arts organizations devoted to promoting arts in prisons and sharing information and resources about prison arts. Visual art, writing, audio, and video are featured in the Gallery section of the Website.

PAC on FaceBook and Twitter

PAC Blog

✦ In December and January, internationally known visual artist Ann Hamilton, a professor of art at The Ohio State University, installed at the Park Avenue Armory, New York City, the event of a thread (Roberta Smith's review here) which combines "readings, sound, and live events within a field of swings that together invite visitors to connect to the action of each other and the work itself, illuminating the experience of the singular and collective body." In the video interview below, taped on December 8, 2012, the artist speaks about her work with the Armory's artistic director Kristy Edmunds. Be sure to read Hamilton's own description of the installation at her Website.

In this video, the artist is shown working with her crew to set up the installation:

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In New York City, Alexandre Gallery opens "Tom Uttech: New Paintings" on February 21. The exhibition of the contemporary landscape artist, who maintains that the "best response" to his work is to "go straight to the wildest piece of land you can find and sit down and let it wash over you and tell you secrets", will run through March 30. Images of Uttech's evocative, even mystical paintings (available through the gallery) may be viewed here. See additional work by the Wisconsin native at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee. Uttech also is a photographer; see images here of his digital inkjet prints.

✭ An exhibition of new work by Polish sculptor Monika Sosnowska opens today at Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado, and continues through April 21. In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum is publishing an illustrated book documenting some 10 years of exhibitions and including essays by curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson and Joseph Pulitzer Jr., professor of modern art at Harvard University. A conversation with the curator is planned for April 4.

A 40-foot-tall steel sculpture, Fir Tree, by Sosnowska is on view for two more days in Manhattan.

AAM on FaceBook

✭ The Art Institute of Chicago continues through April 7 "We The People", its show of five sculptures by Vietnam-born and currently Berlin-based Danh Vo, part of the artist's project to reconstruct on a 1:1 scale individual elements of the Statue of Liberty that then will be shown at museums and other art venues around the world. Fragments by Vo also are installed at the Oriental Institute, Booth School of Business, and University of Chicago Law School.

Danh Vo Artist Talk on Vimeo (Vo talks about his solo exhibition last fall at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.)

ARTIC on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ In Washington, D.C., the National Museum of Women in the Arts today opens "A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony", which will continue through May 12. This is a comprehensive exhibition of the Danish painter's work, featuring more than 60 paintings by Ancher (1859-1935) and artists in her circle, part of the Impressionist movement at Skagen, a seaside community in northern Denmark that is home to numerous lighthouses dating to the 1600s.

Anna Ancher, Sunlight in the Blue Room*, 1891
Oil on Canvas, 65.2 cm x 58.5 cm
Skagens Museum Acquisition, 1926

* Also translated at "Sunshine in the Blue Living Room"

Anna Ancher at Skagens Museum

56 Artworks by Anna Ancher at The Athenaeum

Profile at Viden Information

NMWA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ "Chagall: Beyond Color" puts paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and collage of the master on view at Dallas Museum of Art from February 17 to May 26. The exhibition also includes a display of costumes that Chagall made for the ballet Aleko, choreographed by Leonide Massine to music by Tchaikovsky. This is the first time since the ballet's inaugural performances that the costumes have been placed on exhibit in the United States. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the show, which is co-organized by La Piscine Museum, Roubaix, France (the exhibition was on view there from October 13, 2012, until January 13, 2013).

DMA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube