Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Muse: Poet-to-Poet Project

2014 NPM Poster*
Designer Chip Kidd

Tomorrow is April 1 and the start of National Poetry Month. This year, the Academy of American Poets has created for youths in grades 3-12 the educational Poet-to-Poet Project

For the project, poets who have served or currently serve on AAP's Board of Chancellors —  Juan Felipe Herrera, Edward Hirsh, Jane Hirshfield, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ron Padgett, Arthur Sze, and Anne Waldman — have recorded and talk about a poem to which students are invited to respond with a poem of their own. Students will have until April 30 to send in their work, which will be considered for online publication at in May. If you are an instructor, please read and share with your students the details to participate.

The project also includes a series of lesson plans for teachers.

Below are two video recordings from the project. In the first, Jane Hirshfield reads and discusses the poem "My Skeleton". 

In this second video,  Naomi Shihab Nye reads and talks about "Valentine for Ernest Mann".

What will you be doing to celebrate National Poetry Month?

* The 2014 National Poetry Month poster features these lines from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass: "Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, / Missing me one place search another, / I stop somewhere waiting for you."

National Poetry Month Sponsors: Academy of American Poets, American Booksellers Association, American Libraries, National Council of Teachers of English, National Endowment for the Arts (Art Works), Poetry Foundation, Random House, Scholastic, T.S. Poetry Press (TweetSpeakPoetry), and 826 National (a network of writing and tutoring centers).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thought for the Day

. . . the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. . . .
~ Marge Piercy

Quoted from Piercy's wonderful poem "To Be of Use"

Marge Piercy (b. 1936), Poet, Novelist, Memoirist

Poetry Collections by Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy on FaceBook

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short is a brief video of English poet and playwright Roger McGough reading, at the 2012 Bath Autumn Book Festival, from his collection As Far As I Know (Viking, 2012). Notice how he reads that last poem, "To Sentimentality". McGough — dubbed "a trickster you can trust"  — also writes poetry for children. In 1997, McGough was awarded the O.B.E. for "services to poetry". Scottish Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy describes him as "the patron saint of poetry".

Roger McGough Website

Presenter of the program Poetry Please on Radio 4 on BBC, McCough has written an autobiography: Said and Done (Arrow, 2006).

You'll find a video interview with McGough on the page with his BBC biography.

Friday, March 28, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ New York-based Samantha Keely Smith paints a fluid, sweeping line that contrasts with the soft and ethereal qualities of her abstracts. See her recent work. I especially like Alibi, Hearken, and the gorgeous Loom.

✦ Recently I came across the work of Lorser Feitelson who, with Helen Lundeberg, founded the movement known as Post Surrealism (or Subjective Classicism). Louis Stern Fine Arts of Los Angeles is the exclusive representative of Feitelson's and Lundeberg's estates (they were husband and wife) and is preparing a catalogue raisonne of Feitelson's work. I am most taken with the artists' abstract and minimalist compositions. Lundberg's paintings are beautiful. An exhibition "Helen Lundeberg / Lorser Feitelson and the Synergy of Geometric Abstraction" runs through May 10. This spring Louis Stern will publish former LA Times arts reporter Suzanne Muchnic's Helen Lundeberg - Poetry Space Silence and Diane Moran's Lorser Feitelson - Eternal Recurrence.

Helen Lundeberg: The Beginning of Post Surrealism (Video Excerpts from Documentary)

✦ These sculptural objects by Terry Border, a witty collection of which he titles "Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs, comprise paperback books, wire, and various materials; he bends the wire into posed positions that enable the pieces to become "living characters" that "tell a story". One of my favorites is Border's depiction of Bram Stoker's Dracula. (My thanks to Open Letters Monthly blog for the link to Border's Website.)

Terry Border on FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Vimeo

✦ Mara Light's oil paintings are studies of beauty.

✦ Today's video is the trailer for Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here (2013), produced and directed by Amei Wallach. The documentary premiered last November at the Film Forum in New York City. The Kabakovs, now American citizens, are two of the most celebrated of Russia's artists.

Enter Here on FaceBook

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Prints and transfer drawings of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) are on view through June 8 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. The exhibition, "Gauguin: Metamorphoses" brings together an estimated 160 works, including 130 works on paper (wood reliefs, watercolor monotypes, transfer drawings) and approximately 30 related paintings and sculpture. Many are rare and lesser-known than Gauguin's famous paintings of the South Pacific. The show is the first major monographic exhibition on Gauguin at MoMa and the first major exhibition focused on the prints and drawings and their relationship to Gauguin's paintings and sculptures.

MoMA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, Ohio, is presenting paintings, collages, and sculptures of Swiss artist H.A. Sigg in "Meditations: The Abstract Nature of H.A. Sigg". The exhibition, running through May 17. View the Exhibition Guide online.

MU Art Museum on FaceBook

✭ The first major American museum exhibition of Michelle Stuart since 1998 is on view through May 4 at Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature" is focused on Stuart's drawings and related works, approximately five dozen of which are being shown. The work dates from the late 1960s to today. A catalogue including an essay by Nancy Princethal and an interview with the artist accompanies the exhibition.

Catalogue Cover

SBMA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Work by sculptor Tony Matelli is on view at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. "Tony Matelli: New Gravity" is the first solo exhibition of Matelli at a U.S. museum. Presented on two floors and outdoors, the show features work from the last five years and new work created especially for the museum. One of the sculptures, which attracted a lot of attention, is a realistic figure clad only in underwear and sleepwalking. (Read Jaclyn Reiss's article "Q&A with Tony Matelli, Artist Behind Wellesley College's Scantily-clad Sleepwalking Statue",, February 6, 2014.)

A catalogue accompanies the show, which runs on one floor through May 11 and on another through July 20. Watch a lecture by Matelli, given on February 6, 2014.

Tony Matelli at The Green Gallery and Marlborough Chelsea

Tony Matelli on FaceBook

Davis Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo

✭ In Lowell, Massachusetts, the American Textile History Museum is presenting two exhibitions simultaneously under the umbrella name "Mill Works": "Flowers in the Factory" and "Inventing Lowell". Both continue through June 22. The former showcases the beautiful large-scale, translucent scrims of artist Deborah Baronas, who has studied and documented the cultural history and lives of textile mill workers and mill sites as depicted in paintings, textiles, archival materials, and installations.  The goal, says Baronas of "Flowers in the Factory" is to "bring life to these pictures [of mill workers] to tell the story of the experience and life in the mills." The latter, "Inventing Lowell", celebrates the factory town that Lowell was in the 19th Century, a planned manufacturing center for textiles that has continuously reinvented itself to accommodate a post-industrial economy. The curator of both exhibitions is Dave Unger.

Deborah Baronas, Scrim for "Flowers in the Factory" 

Deborah Baronas's The Mill Project

Lowell and Lawrence Textile Mills, Open Collections Program, Harvard University Library

Life in Lowell 1820-1880, Center for Lowell History, University of Massachusetts Lowell Library

ATHM on FaceBook and Twitter

Museum Blog

Notable Exhibitions Abroad

✭ More than 70 works by sculptor and video and installation artist Mona Hatoum have gone on view at Mathaf: the Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar. Described as the largest solo exhibition of the artist's work to date in the Arab World, covering three decades, "Mona Hatoum: Turbulence" features large room installations, kinetic installations, small works on paper, sculptural objects, photographs, and project documentation of early performance art. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which concludes May 18.

Mona Hatoum, Turbulence (Detail), 2012
Clear Glass Marbles, 4 x 400 x 400 cm
Photo: Stefan Rohner Courtesy Kunstmuseum St. Gallen

Mona Hatoum at ICAMoMATate, and White Cube

"Domestic Insecurities - Mona Hatoum" at ArtAsiaPacific Magazine (2008)

The Mathaf on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday's Three on Digital Content

Today's spotlight is on three extraordinary collections of images that anyone may download and use at no cost. (I've shared these on social media but they may be unknown to some of my readers.)

The Getty's Open Content Program ~ All images of public domain artworks in The Getty's collections, numbering an estimated 4,600 images, comprise the launch portion of the Open Content Program. Plans are to release many additional images, as indicated in "Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come", an article in The Getty's iris, an online magazine. The digital content is available without charge and permission is not needed to download or use the images, which viewers may access via Getty Search Gateway or museum collection webpages. When browsing, look for the "Download" link denoting Open Content images.

Earlier this month, Getty Publications launched a Virtual Library, with free online access to more than 250 titles published by J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Conservation Institute, and Getty Research Institute

The Getty on FaceBookTwitter, Tumblr, and YouTube

Wellcome Collection's Wellcome Images ~ All of the more than 100,000 digitized images in the fascinating Wellcome Images are available on demand, under a Creative Commons Attribution license, for personal or commercial use, provided credit is given to "Wellcome Library, London". Viewers may download the images at no cost and freely copy, distribute, edit, or otherwise manipulate them. Drawn from the massive and deservedly renowned Wellcome Library holdings, the galleries encompass high-resolution images of paintings, prints, illustrations, photographs, posters, and other media, all related to medical and social history. Among the wide-ranging subjects are AIDS, tattoo designs, advertising, olympic sports, illness and wellness, nature, war, and witchcraft.

Wellcome Images on FaceBook and Flickr

Wellcome Library Website

The British Library ~ At the end of 2013, The British Library uploaded to Flickr more than one million images from 65,000 digitized books from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; information accompanying each image includes source, year of publication, and author (if known). All the content, which ranges from maps to illuminated letters, is released as "public domain" and may be used, remixed, or repurposed as desired. The Library has plans for a "crowdsourcing application" that will allow viewers to describe image content. For additional information, see "A Million First Steps" at the library's Digital Scholarship blog.

The British Library on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Wonder: 'Ruby'

Today's Wednesday Wonder is the short, stop-motion animation Ruby by British artist Emma Allen. It took Allen five 17-hour days and more than 750 photographs to create the video. Allen works in everything from sewing to makeup and face- and body-painting. She runs a charity in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Card Project, that provides arts workshops for disadvantaged children. Don't miss her gallery. (My thanks to The Guardian for the link.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

After (Poem)

Patrick William Doallas
March 25, 1950 - May 5, 2009


she put away her best dress
and buried the Schipperke left

behind. Five years, and another
section in the cemetery fills. I stand

where our father lies and say good-
bye again. Who could

sleep the morning after.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Muse: New Interview with Billy Coffey

. . . And there among the dead, I returned to the living.
~ Conclusion of The Devil Walks in Mattingly

The last sentence of The Devil Walks in Mattingly (Thomas Nelson, March 2014), the latest novel from the marvelous Virginia writer Billy Coffey, could not be more apt in this Lenten season that will culminate at Easter in Christ's resurrection. Reflecting, I see throughout the novel a number of signs that lead me to make that bold statement: the long and lonely wilderness experience of the character Taylor Hathcock, the deep and painful self-examination by Mattingly sheriff Jake Barnett and his wife, the do-gooder Kate; sin and witness and death, confession and penance and absolution, the "sacrifice" of Lucy Seekins, the mystery of the Hole, the themes of grace and redemption. 

Don't make the mistake, however, of thinking that this book is overtly "Christian fiction". Above all else, The Devil Walks in Mattingly — Coffey's most sophisticated, most mature novel to date — is a stunningly well-conceived, suspenseful, and fully realized story that makes use of such contemporary issues as bullying, abuse, and dysfunctional familial relationships, and incorporates both magical and darkly cinematic effects that keep one reading, as do the chapter endings, many of which serve as cliff-hangers. The theological aspects are handled subtly and deftly, serving to propel the narrative rather than preach and teach; moreover, they are appropriate to Coffey's often-complex, real-to-live characters, who are born and live and die in small southern towns where nothing is quite so simple as we in the cities might like to believe and where intervention from forces both without and within carries a load of consequences.

I have been following Coffey's career since he published his first novel in 2010, and it has been my great privilege to interview him on several occasions. The publication of this latest work gave me one more excuse for getting in touch and sending a dozen questions Coffey's way. Thank you for reading and sharing your own thoughts in the Comments section.

Interview with Billy Coffey About The Devil Walks in Mattingly

Author Billy Coffey
Photo Credit: Joanne Coffey

Maureen Doallas: Your new novel tells more than one story at a time, though all the stories are related and beautifully cohere. The voices alternate in the first and third persons. What particular challenges, if any, did this storytelling approach present? Did you write the chapters in the order in which they appear or use other techniques to keep straight the complications of the narratives?

Billy Coffey: I really thought it was a gamble to use multiple points of view. It's been done [by other writers] but it hasn't been done often. Initially, I had written the entire novel in first person — from Jake's point of view — but as Kate, Taylor, and Lucy began to grow on the page, I became really drawn to them. I wanted to know who they were, what made them tick. [Using] the multiple points of view felt like the best option for that.

As for the writing itself, I went straight through in the order in which the chapters appear. After the second draft, I went back and pulled together the chapters that focused on each of the main characters and read them straight through to make sure their arcs were solid.

MD: This book, in my opinion, represents your most mature and sophisticated writing to date. In what ways has your handling of story and especially characterization changed since your first novel Snow Day (FaithWords, 2010)?

BC: I like to say that every book I write is the best I could [write] at the time. Snow Day was no different. I was so green back then when it came to fiction. That book was actually written as memoir. The publisher asked me to turn it into a novel, so, [writing it] was basically a trial-by-fire. I've learned a great deal about the craft since, and I think that shows in each of my successive works. [Coffey's other novels are Paper Angels (FaithWords, 2011) and When Mockingbirds Sing (Thomas Nelson, 2013).] I'm growing more comfortable with the form and I'm having a great deal of fun with it.

MD: The number of thematic lines in The Devil Walks in Mattingly is astonishing: good vs. evil, truth vs. lie, choice or free will vs. fate, honesty vs. guilt, openness and trust vs. secretiveness, pride vs. humility, wrong vs. right, failure vs. mastery, fear vs. fate, forgiveness vs. bitterness, shame vs. honor, dreaming vs. reality, past vs. future, and more. Your primary characters all struggle, to one or another degree, with all of these. One possible exception is the tragic figure Lucy Seekins. Is Lucy a kind of ransom sacrifice, her loss to the Hole necessary to achieve atonement?

BC: I think, in a way, Lucy serves as a warning to everyone, at least in the sense that what happened to her would have been the inevitable result for Taylor, Jake, and Kate had things not happened the way they did. [The latter] were all lost, they were all suffering from a hopeless despair, and they were all slipping into an abyss that existed within themselves. Lucy is involved deeply with Taylor, less so with Kate; yet, much of Lucy's story lies in the wavering between those two people — of trying to find out which person possessed what was not necessarily the truth but what could help Lucy heal her despair. In the end, Lucy decided neither of them could [help her]. What Lucy Seekins represents to me is that deep human need to always search for our answers, no matter where those answers might lead. I look forward to meeting her on the page again. . . I think that'll happen.

MD: Another subject you handle in this book relates to appearances, the lengths we go to present ourselves a certain way to the world; specifically, what we do to seem "alive" when we're "dead" inside. Who among your characters do you consider to be the most authentic, and why?

BC: As strange as it might sound, I have to choose Taylor. I wouldn't think Jake was authentic at all through much of the story. He basically is living two lives and being two people, and much of the suffering he endures is due to the fact that the mask he's worn for 20 years is now fraying. As for Kate, everyone in town knows what she did to Phillip McBride on the day he disappeared. There's no hiding from that. Yet the work she does for the town's poor is itself nearly a lie; she's not doing it so much to help the underprivileged as she is to try and make amends.

There's no doubt Taylor is insane and that he's based his life since that day in high school on a lie. [This revelation is not revealed until nearly the end of the novel.] But at the same time, he fully knows who he is. He makes no pretense. He's been trapped in the wilderness for 20 years and yet he possesses a real sense of freedom that has eluded everyone else.

MD: Once again you draw distinctions between country and city, between Mattingly, Virginia, and Away, which serves as more than small-town opposite. Why is place so important a character in this novel?

BC: I suppose it's a southern thing in general and a small-town thing in particular. We are linked intrinsically to the land where we are born. My little town has grown bigger over the years due to people moving [here] from the city. A lot of us call it "The Second Yankee Invasion". [For those who have forgotten their Civil War history, Virginia was part of the Confederacy. As a Virginia native, I can attest there are indeed small towns in Virginia where the Civil War continues to be "fought", so to speak.] By and large, however, most of the people here have kin stretching back generations, even hundreds of years. We are bound to this valley and these mountains. It's home to me, and it always will be. The people of [fictional] Mattingly feel much the same. They know what they've built as far as community and they're equally proud of it, and determined not to let it change.

MD: When life-long residents Jake and Kate Barnett talk of having to leave Mattingly — in fact, the town calls for a vote to oust Jake as sheriff — it occurred to me that you might be recalling the story of the casting out of Adam and Eve, which is more overtly raised in the novel when Zach (the Barnett's son) thinks about the pleasure the Biblical couple must have felt while eating the apple. Is it fair to say that your novels are contemporary retellings of stories from the Bible?

BC:  I don't consider myself a Christian novelist so much as a novelist who is a Christian. Given that, there will always be theological elements to my stories, however hidden they might sometimes be. The great thing about the stories of the Bible (particularly the ones covered in Genesis) is that they speak to us all, regardless of faith. They're intrinsic. They strike a deep chord inside us that nothing else can quite reach. I don't set out to retell Biblical stories so much as I try to explore what it means to be human. Thankfully, I believe those two are the same.

MD: Taylor Hathcock seems to exists in a place of profound isolation and loneliness. He is, like some others in the novel, a misfit but one endowed with aspects the others do not share. Considering how Taylor meets his end, do you consider him among the redeemed?

BC: I certainly do! While the story contains some question as to Taylor's end, there is no doubt in my mind: Phillip came for them all but, I think, for Taylor Hathcock especially.

MD: Many reviewers have cited the supernatural and sinister touches in the novel — the characters Taylor Hathcock and Phillip McBride, the Hole, Happy Hollow, the old bear that communicates silently, the butterflies that light the way through the forest. What makes these darker elements essential — and I think they are — to your storytelling?

BC: I never set out to write stories containing supernatural touches, especially not sinister ones. Things just kind of drift there. Again, I give that over as a product of where I live. Faith here isn't angel wings and an endless chorus of "Jesus Loves Me". It's a hard thing, earthy. I grew up with a mother who was raised Amish and a father who came straight out of the hills. It was always interesting to me how compatible both of [their] ways of looking at the world were, and both have influenced me a great deal. To them — and to me — there is always much more happening around us than we would believe. There is a great deal of what the people of Mattingly would call "magic". There is a great deal of darkness, too. Life is a tough thing, and this world is a hard place. Things are never easy. I think it's important that [artists who are Christian] not only accept this but portray it as well through a lens of hope and redemption. Sadly, that doesn't happen a lot.

MD: Is the Holler (Happy Hollow) a place you know personally?

BC: Outside my front door are 30,000 acres of wilderness known to everyone around here as "The Coal Road". It's a beautiful place, largely ignored, except during hunting season. And, of course, it's full of stories. People have seen everything from ghosts to Bigfoot in those woods. You can take that as you will but I'll say, in all honesty, that there are places there I won't go walking through.

MD: You wrote for The Good Men Project an essay, "A Father's Long Shadow", about your relationship with your father. In the novel, several of your characters share the similar "shadows" of their fathers. How, if at all, did your relationship with and understanding of your own father color or inform your depiction of the paternal relationships in the novel?

BC: My relationship with my father played a great deal in the writing of Jake's relationship with [his father] Justus. My father is the best man I've ever known. He's a hard man, in many ways the product of another time. He's always been the one person I measure myself against, sometimes to my own detriment because, deep down, I know I'll always come up short.

MD: One of your reviewers wrote, "Every last character in this book holds a mirror back at the reader." While writing this story, what of yourself did you see reflected in the mirror?

BC: I certainly have my share of regrets and remorse. I think we all do, and that's one of those common human traits that I like to explore. Taylor, Jake, and Kate all suffer because of what happened to Phillip but they each have tried to overcome that suffering in three different ways. Personally, I've tried all three.

MD: If you had to cite only one thing that you wish readers to take away from The Devil Walks in Mattingly, what would it be?

BC: That the burdens we all carry from our yesterdays into our todays can be laid down but only by grace and forgiveness.

* * * * *

I thank Billy Coffey once again for taking time to be interviewed. As I told him, I could have asked many more questions but needed to keep the interview manageable to run it as a single post. My dream would be to have a radio program and sit with him in person one day to talk about the stories he spins and the truths he discovers and shares.

Since its publication earlier this month, The Devil Walks in Mattingly has received much deserved praise. For a roundup with links, see "Devil makes the rounds: Release week". Also see the many posts on FaceBook for the Devil Walks in Mattingly Launch Team (a special word of thanks to Kathy Richards aka Katdish Dishman-Richards for coordinating the considerable publicity coverage).

Billy Coffey Website

Billy Coffey on FaceBook and Twitter

The Devil Walks in Mattingly Page at Thomas Nelson (You'll find a preview of the novel there.)

My other interviews with Billy Coffey:

Monday Muse Interviews Novelist Billy Coffey (When Mockingbirds Sing), June 10, 2013

Monday Muse Interviews Billy Coffey (Paper Angels), November 7, 2011

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thought for the Day

History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
~ Wislawa Szymborska

Quoted from Szymborska's poem "The Hunger Camp at Jaslo"

Wislawa Szymborska, 1923-2012, Poet, Recipient of Nobel Prize in Literature (1996)

Five Poems by Wislawa Szymborska, Nobel Library

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short is a reading by writer Neil Gaiman of Dr. Seuss's much-loved Green Eggs and Ham. Gaiman's reading honored Worldbuilders in surpassing its $500,000 fundraising goal. The charity raised $677,400.

Worldbuilders on FaceBook

Friday, March 21, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ The "Small Works" fundraising auction featuring work by artist-members of International Arts Movement takes place in New York City on Wednesday, April 23. The event will be held during the "Ruby Garden Dreams" event with T.S. Poetry Press. Proceeds from the auction, which represents an opportunity to add quality, affordable small artworks to your collection, benefit IAM programming. Details.

IAM on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Francine Mary Netter has published Medicine's Michelangelo: The Life and Art of Frank H. Netter (Quinnipiac University Press, 2013), the famous medical education illustrator who was the author's father. The biography draws on Netter's own autobiographical notes, personal correspondence, and private files; published work and work in public archives; and more than 100 interviews. The Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine is in North Haven, Connecticut.

Frank H. Netter Profile

Netter Images

Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations (The CIBA Collection or "Green Book"): Video

Medicine's Michelangelo on FaceBook

✦ This archive of 14,000 free images should go a long way toward satisfying any Francophile's interest in the French Revolution. (My thanks to Open Culture for the link.)

✦ I first came across the sculpted figures of Virgile Ittah in a slideshow in the British newspaper The Telegraph. Her work, which "explores the notion of isolation, nostalgia and the impossibility of return" from exile, is haunting. Ittah is part of an exhibition. "New Order II: British Art Today", at London's Saatchi Gallery; the show concludes March 23. Ittah will be exhibiting in "La Selection 2014" at Salon de Montrouge April 30 - May 28.

✦ This 9-minute video spotlights the Society of Illustrators in New York City.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ From April 4 to May 16, the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C., will present "Alchemical Vessels". The 2014 event will showcase more than 100 artists, including Victor Ekpuk, Sean Hennessey, Laurel Lukaszewski, Erwin Timmers, Novie Trump, and Ellyn Weiss — all well-known in the D.C. area — selected by 20 curators, among them Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Michael O'Sulllivan of The Washington Post, Adah Rose, and Tim Tate. A ticketed benefit will be held May 2, at which time each ticket holder will select an artwork in the order he or she purchased a ticket online. Previews of 2014 vessels in process may be found on the gallery's FaceBook page.

Here's a brief introduction:

Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery on Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr

✭ Paintings, mixed media, and photographs by artists Katherine Ace, David Kroll, Bruno Surdo, and Sergio Fasola are featured in "Modern Metaphors", running through May 4 at Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, Illinois. Though the artworks' content is contemporary, the techniques are Old World. A series of education programs for children is scheduled.

RAM on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ The installation "At World's End —The Story of a Shipwreck: Works by Diane KW" continues through April 27 at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Diane KW is a ceramist who carves her own hand-built pieces, creating designs that she envisions as objects one might see "in a garden, in a shop, on the street — fragments of memories reinterpreted"; she uses no drawings, pre-plans, or templates, instead spontaneously etching and then carving her clay. Before becoming a full-time artist, she was a neurologist and epidemiologist. This museum show, which traveled from Groninger Museum, features her ceramic transfers (texts and images) on procelain shards recovered from the shipwreck of the Geldermalsen in 1752. See the link Installed at Diane KW's Website. Additional information is available at "Diane KW: Pushing the Ceramics Envelope with Spam and Shards" on the museum's blog. Diane KW's work is beautifully realized.

Diane KW at Hawaii Craftsmen and Na Pua Gallery

The Geldermalsen Wreck at National Museum of Australia (Collections) and Wreck 

Honolulu Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

Honolulu Museum Blog

✭ Wisconsin glass sculptor Beth Lipman is featuring her extraordinary Sideboard with Blue China in the exhibition "Beth Lipman: Precarious Possessions", on view through April 13 at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Heralded as one of America's most important glass artists, Lipman's work is being shown for the first time in Wisconsin and subsequently will go on a national tour.

Beth Lipman, Sideboard with Blue China, 2013
Glass, Wood, Paint, Glue, and Light
© Beth Lipman

Beth Lipman Profiles at ArtBabbleCraft in America, Corning Museum of Glass, Claire Oliver Gallery, PBS, Museum of Glass and Kansas City Public Media (You'll find videos at some of these links.)

MoWA on FaceBook and Twitter

Notable Exhibitions Abroad

✭ On March 31, Tate Britain will place on view its 2014 commission by sculptor Phyllida Barlow. The work will be shown through October 19.

Also see the item about Virgile Ittah in the Spotlights above.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Haiku (Poem)

Pink Cherry Blossoms
Public Domain Image

Winter has been long.
The cherry blossoms are late.
We freshen the vase.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

Artist Watch at Escape Into Life

Installation View of "Connecting the Parts:
Paintings by Carol Lukitsch"
McLean Project for the Arts
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Please join me today at Escape Into Life, where I'm showcasing the work of Carol Lukitsch in my Artist Watch column.

Shown above is an installation view of Lukitsch's exhibition "Connecting the Parts" earlier this year at McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, Virginia. The show comprised a series of triptychs, each of which focused on a specific energy center — chakra — of the body. Lukistch's inspiration for the paintings came from her reading of Vedic teachings and Hindu mythology, as well as psychology, physics, and microbiology. Several images of paintings from the exhibition, the opening of which I attended, are included in my Artist Watch feature.

I'm delighted to present Lukitsch's work via Artist Watch.

Carol Lukitsch on FaceBook

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Benoit Mandelbrot: 'Father of Fractal Geometry'

Sometimes, declaring a problem impossible
is a great advance.
~ Benoit B. Mandelbrot

Heralded as the "Father of Fractal Geometry", Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010) was interviewed about his work by Errol Morris. This wonderful and touching video of Morris's profile introduces us to the extraordinary mathematician, who relates his gift for math and his fascinating discovery of fractals. That discovery has produced enormous benefits for science, medicine, telecommunications, and many other disciplines.

Benoit Mandebrot, The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick (Pantheon, 2012)

Obituary, The New York Times

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Road Breaker (Poem)

Road Breaker

      after Rockwell Kent's The Road Roller

The boss rides his crew late
into the deep freeze

of a wintry January afternoon
in 1909 New Hampshire.

In sledging season, he's got
no time for slip-shod clearing

of snow. Road-breaking takes
ground over gravity, muscled

men harnessed for the pull-
strength of a half-dozen horses

drafted to drag the monstrous
wood-planked barrel drums

that pack the road surface solid
for the sleighs and pungs.

This New England town intends
to marry every other before

spring thaw. Un-minding bone-
chilling wind, the men lumber

twenty-five miles over the roller
roads, smoothing the beds high.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

Rockwell Kent, 1882-1971, American Painter, Printmaker, Illustrator, and Writer

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Muse: Louisiana's French-Language Poet

. . . without the language, we cannot conceive
of the culture; so that if we lose the language
we won't be able to retain our link to the culture.*
~ Zachary Richard

Zachary Richard is Louisiana's first Poete laureat de la Louisiane francaise (French-language Poet Laureate). The announcement of his two-year (2014-2016) appointment, representing the French- and Creole-speaking citizens of the state, was issued jointly the week of March 10 by the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. The committee that selected Richard was unanimous in its choice.

Each appointee to the honorary position, which will be announced in even years, is to complement the work of the English-language incumbent, who currently is Ava Leavell Haymon (2013-2015). Haymon is profiled in my Monday Muse post of July 29, 2013.

In addition to poetry readings, Richard will be promoting poetry within and outside the state. He has long been a presence on the music scene throughout North America, especially in Canada, and in Europe. A schedule of Richard's appearances (he does some 50 music shows a year) is available at his Website.

* * * * *

Internationally known as a singer-songwriter and musician, Zachary Richard has published three poetry collections: Feu (Les Editions des Intouchables, 2001), awarded Romania's 2003 Prix Roland Gasparic; Faire recolte (Les Editions Perce-Neige, 1998), winner of Canada's Prix Litteraire Champlain (for North American literature); and Voyage de nuit: Cahier de poesie 1975-1979 (Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1987; Editions de la Nouvelle Acadie, 1987; Reissue, Les Editions des Intouchables, 2001). (Copies of Feu and Voyage de nuit are available through Richard's Website and resellers.)

In addition, Richard has written several books for children, including the fable Conte Cajun, which includes illustrations by his daughter. He is the co-editor, with Cajun folklorist and music expert Barry Jean Ancelet, of the anthology of contemporary French Louisiana poetry Cris sur le bayou (1980). (Dianne Guenin-Lelle has written an analysis of the book, "The Birth of Cajun Poetry", The French Review, Vol. 70, No. 3, February 1997. It is available in English.)

Richard also has published Histoire des Acadiennes et Acadiens de la Louisiane (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, September 2012), a text on Acadian heritage in Louisiana that is intended for French-immersion students in grade 8. His English-language version of the text is The History of the Acadians of Louisiana, published in November 2013 by University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Listed among the poets of the Louisiana Poetry Project, Richard has not published any of the poetry he has written in English. (I have included links below, in Resources, to some of those poems, which are found on Richard's Website.) He has included on his Website the original French texts of a selection of poems from all three of his collections (see paroles & poesie), in addition to a number of audio recordings. As is true of his music, Richard crafts poems that address Acadian identity, nature, Louisiana as place, and political activism and resistance. Attention to sound and rhythm are hallmarks of his poetry.

Richard's work has been published in the anthology The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume IV (available at Amazon).

The recipient of the James William Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies (2013), Richard's various awards include the Cercle Richelieu Senghor du Paris (2013), an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa (2011), an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the University of Louisiana (2008), and an honorary doctorate from Ste Anne's University, Nova Scotia. The French government has awarded Richard the title of Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres; Quebec's government has recognized him as a member of l'Ordre des Francophones d'Amerique. He has received worldwide recognition and honors for his music; a number of his recordings have gone gold and platinum. Themes of identity, separation or dislocation, loss, and political resistance, as well as the deep roots of place, figure largely in Richard's musical work (see the album-by-album list of the French and select English versions of his lyrics online). 

An activist and environmentalist, Richard is the founder of the nonprofit Action Cadienne, which promotes Acadian culture, and Gulf Aid Acadiana, which was dedicated to recovery from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. One of Richard's song's, "Le Fou" ("The Madman") references the environmental disaster and is named for a bird pulled from the oil-covered water. (The album "Le Fou", Richard's twentieth, was nominated for a 2014 Grammy in the "Best Regional Roots Music Album" category.)

With Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Cajun filmmaker Pat Mire, Richard produced, narrated, and scored the documentary Against the Tide: The Story of the Cajun People of Louisiana (2000). He has collaborated on, narrated, scored, or performed in other films and television documentaries. 


Photo of Zachary Richard Courtesy LEH News

* Quoted from Kevin Allman's "C'est Zach! An Interview with Zachary Richard", Where New Orleans, May 1999

LEH News, "Interview: Dana Kress on French-Language Poet Laureate Zachary Richard", March 11, 2014 (This post discusses the source of the idea for the position, the composition of the selection committee, and Richard's background and selection.)

Zachary Richard Poems Online: "Evening Vision", "Fever Patrol", "Mississippi River", "Cloud Signs", "Dream of a Woman", and "Drunk Indians", All at Zachary Richard Website (All Unpublished in English); "Big River" at The Wondering Minstrels

Translations of an excerpt from Zachary Richard's poem "1er aout, Section III" ("August 1st, Section III) are found at the Literary Translators Association of Canada Website.

Chelsea Brasted, "Zachary Richard Pulls Double-Duty a Performer, Author This Weekend in Baton Rouge", The Times-Picayune, October 29, 2013

Michalis Limnios, "Interview with Cultural Activist, Poet and Musician Zachary Richard, His Songs Go Beyond the Limitations", Blues.Gr, November 13, 2013

Ken Kelley, "Singing Is Like Breathing for Zachary Richard", The MusicNerd Chronicles, August 15, 2013

Angelie Alciatore, "Zachary Richard", Interview, OffBeat, February 1, 1998

"Zachary Richard Honored in Paris for Contributions to French Language", The Advertiser, March 7, 2014

"Zachary Richard Awarded the James William Rivers Prize", March 26, 2013

"Richard Honored for Music with Degree", The Eunice News, October 27, 2008

Michael D. Bierschenk's Zachary Richard's 'Faire Recolte': A Translation from the French (A Thesis), 2006 (pdf), a translation of Richard's poetry collection, includes a Translator's Note about the broad themes of Richard's poems and the techniques or methods Bierschenk used to translate the poems.

Faire recolte on GoogleBooks

Feu on GoogleBooks

Voyage de nuit on GoogleBooks

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities News (Blog)

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities on FaceBook and Twitter

Order of Canada Investiture Ceremony (2010)

Zachary Richard on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Zachary Richard Blog (French and English) The March 6, 2014, post is a translation of Richard's acceptance of the Prix Leopold Senghor.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Thought for the Day

. . .  dreaming is forgetting
and remembering at once and losing the difference. . . .
~ Allan Peterson

Quoted from "Pantheon" in Fragile Acts (McSweeney's Poetry Series, 2012)

Allan Peterson, Visual Artist and Poet

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short features Oliver Jeffers, an award-winning children's book writer and illustrator (This Moose Belongs to Me, How to Catch a Star, The Day the Crayons Quit, It Wasn't Me (2014), and others). Here Jeffers explains how he writes and creates the artwork for his books.

Neither Here Nor There: The Art of Oliver Jeffers (Gestalten, 2012) is a monograph featuring Jeffers's paintings, collages, installations, and collaborative artwork.

Friday, March 14, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Sarah Lewis, a curator, art historian, and member of the faculty of Yale University's School of Art, has just published her debut book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Simon & Schuster). It is described as a "story-driven investigation of how innovation, discovery, and the creative process are all spurred on by advantages gleaned from the improbable, the unlikely, even failure." I've ordered a copy and look forward to sharing some of its insights.

Sarah Lewis on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ In January and February at Lori Bookstein Fine Art in New York City, the writer and collage artist Janet Malcolm, author, most recently, of Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers, showed a series of artworks titled "The Emily Dickinson Series". See the online exhibition here.

✦ If you're the type who likes to cook and draw, you'll enjoy They Draw & Cook. Thought up by a brother-and-sister design-and-illustration team, They Draw & Cook features "the biggest and best collection" of recipes illustrated by artists from around the world. The site allows you to find thousands of recipes by meal type, ingredients, and even illustration styles. It's a lot of fun and useful, too. For submission of artwork, see the guidelines at Submit a Recipe. (My thanks to artist Allison Long Hardy for the link.) 

They Draw & Cook on FaceBook and Twitter

FIELD, which creates artworks for digital platforms, has released an interactive app, Energy Flow, described as a "non-linear film experience". Produced by The Creators Project, the app has an algorithmic system that remixes 10 films into new narratives each time Energy Flow is played. See the trailer (also on YouTube) and then try it yourself.

Energy Flow at The Creators Project

✦ Today's video is the trailer for Tim's Vermeer, a Penn & Teller film about a Texas inventor who tries to figure out how Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) painted so photo-realistically. You'll have to watch the film, which premiered in Los Angeles and New York on January 31 and was released to theatres in February, to find out if and how the mystery is solved. The soundtrack's available on iTunes.

Tim's Vermeer on FaceBook

Exhibitions Here and There

Open Society Foundations' annual documentary photography exhibition "Moving Walls 21" is up until October 3 and is not to be missed if you are in New York City. Included is work by Shannon Jensen, Diana Markosian, Mark Leong, Nikos Pilos, and Joao Pina. Particularly moving is Jensen's "A Long Walk", which documents through photographs of worn-out shoes the extraordinary journeys of civilians fleeing to South Sudan refugee camps.

OSF on FaceBookTwitter, and Google+

✭ In Cambridge, Massachusetts, work by painter Sonia Almeida is on view at MIT's List Visual Arts Center through April 6. The artist's book Sonia Almeida, with an essay by the exhibition's curator, accompanies "Forward/Play/Pause".

Sonia Almeida, Silver Screen, 2013
The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art,
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College

Also on view through April 6 are the quadraphonic sound installation Hourly directional sound recording, Mata Atlantica, Brazil (2012), by Helen Mirra and Ernst Karel; and "Hans Op de Beeck: Staging Silence".

List Visual Arts Center on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Baltimore's Walters Art Museum opened "Designed for Flowers: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics" February 23. Running through May 11, the exhibition, tracing the history of Japan's major schools of ikebana, features a variety of contemporary ceramic vessels drawn primarily from the Betsy and Robert Feinberg Collection, which includes work by some of Japan's greatest ceramic artists. See images. A  "walk-in tour" of the exhibition, a ceramics workshop, and a demonstration of the art of flower arranging are upcoming; see related events for dates and information.

The Walters on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ The Anchorage Museum in Alaska is presenting "Proximity", a solo exhibition of work by Margo Klass, a ceramist, bookmaker, and art historian from Fairbanks. The show includes approximately 40 pieces, including examples of Klass's "architectural books" that look like altarpieces, temples, and reliquaries and comprise a mix of found, natural, and fabricated objects. The constructions reference Klass's observations of Arctic landscape as well as flora and fauna. The show continues through April 20. Klass's Website features a number of her wonderful sculptural box constructions. See her collaboration with fiction writer and essayist Frank Soos, Double Moon: Constructions & Conversations (Boreal Books).

Anchorage Museum on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Notable Exhibits Abroad

Tate Britain has mounted a show of the work of Richard Deacon, a marvelous sculptor and winner in 1987 of the Turner Prize, as well as numerous other prestigious awards. On view through April 27, the solo exhibition spans 40 years of Deacon's career, highlighting both his materials (wood, steel, ceramics, plastics) and his artistic methods. Included among 34 pieces on display are works from his series Art for Other People (1982—); early drawings from the suite It's Orpheus When There's Singing (1978), and Fold (2012).  A book on the artist accompanies the show.

Here's a talk with Deacon during his 2012 exhibition at Lisson Gallery:

Interviews with Richard Deacon at The Telegraph, January 18, 2014; and at  The Talks, January 21, 2014

Tate Britain on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube