Sunday, October 29, 2006

Life Celebrations

I would not have taken the time to drive through the countryside yesterday. I might have poked around the studio wondering when I would find the courage to pick up a brush again. I might have sorted some papers and wondered which artist's birthday might be on the calendar for next week. I might have raked the leaves in the yard.

Instead, daughter and I drove through the autumn afternoon of breathtaking country roads under blue skies past farms and tiny streams and landscapes of color. We took tiny roads with few markings to reach an old church by an older cemetery to attend the unexpected funeral of a favorite cousin. There were hymns played on an old piano, arrangements of flowers, and prayers and words to comfort. But we missed her bubbling, wicked laughter which always punctuated family gatherings.

From there, we drove a couple of hours through more scenes which rivaled our "take that back road" tours in France. We joined a birthday dinner for the high school classmate who had been my matron of honor and best friend. It was not an anniversary but the presence of the classmate who had been by her side for more than 40 years made her celebration complete. After much great food and good laughter, we drove another 3 hours through the cool fall night with stars and moon and clouds to keep us company.

It was a complete day.

Friday, October 27, 2006

No Evil

In today's Arts Journal, Modern Art Notes returns to the question of the school children, their fired teacher and nudes. Author Tyler Greene includes a link to photos of possible nudes which the Texas children may have seen and from there you will find a link to a NYTimes article. He will address the role of museum directors in their communities in future articles. Stay tuned for his comments.

In case you are yawning by now. Art tells something about who people are - their history, their culture, their beliefs. Who makes a decision about what cannot be part of the story? What will you do when a museum cannot show your work because of content?

Hear no Evil.
See no evil.
Speak no evil.

Just at Halloween -- scary stuff.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Red Sun

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Will Happen to the Big Green Nude?

Last month references to an article in a Texas newspaper made the rounds of art newsletters and there was a little commentary. But I have been waiting for responses from friends about the 28 year fifth-grade teacher who lost her job because her students saw a nude sculpture during a museum visit. Not a big deal, they think! (Note: the children were on a school approved trip.)

Perhaps they dismiss this as the complaint of one overly zealous mother. Perhaps they do not know of the "warning: nudity" disclaimer in a newspaper article on religion which was accompanied a photo of Michelangelo's Creation which shows a nude Adam. Perhaps they think it doesn't affect them -- all of it does.

Perhaps they've not been the subject of front page stories and student demonstrations about exhibitions of nudes in public places. Or perhaps they have not been chastised for making a "politically incorrect statement"about appropriate exhibition venues in a watercolor class on a college campus. I have and I do not take this lightly.

In our regional museum, there is the seven foot "Figure Dedicated to Peace." She is moved from place to place as exhibitions change, but her green presence is an important one and she is always somewhere in the museum. In the future, will this big green nude have to be removed or draped when there are children present?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Enlightening Conversation

For months, my mailbox and my inbox had been filled with information about this "extraordinary partnership" between the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Brochures and newsletters mentioned the rare opportunities for "the exchange of cultural expertise and educational programs" which this three year alliance offers. I was eagerly anticipating the first exhibition "Kings as Collectors" which was described as "a breathtaking exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and antiquities from the collections formed by King Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI." For more about this Collaboration, visit (requires Flash 8)

Our visit coincided with a members preview day which was filled with mimes, activities for the children, live entertainment and photo opportunities with the "King of France" and his Queen. Everyone was in a festival mood as they stood in long lines, squeezed through galleries filled with interested viewers and browsed at the gift shop. It was a pleasant day, and everyone seemed to 'get it' but me!

As we drove home from Louvre-Atlanta,
I began to comment about what we had seen. My daughter and I agreed that the Marble busts - a group of about 30 - were exquisite. But when I said that I was disappointed in the drawings and half-finished sketches and some of the paintings which seemed to be minor works of minor artists, she was quiet. Finally, I asked what she thought. She disagreed with me!

She loved the progression from unfinished sketch to completed painting which she said that most people don't get to see. She was intriqued by the tiny bronzes and she didn't care if the painters were majors or minors. She had not read the glorious descriptions which I had, so she did not go with preconceived notions of breath-taking, overwhelming works. She simply enjoyed.

Two points of view. An enlightening conversation.
I think my second visit will be with fresher eyes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Some Days You Get Caught in the Traffic

-- sometimes it lasts for a week!

I had great hopes of getting regular blogging done this past week. There were some things I wanted to think about in my writing. Suddenly, I got caught in the traffic and blogging came to a stand-still.

I have been behind a big truck called "Computer Crash." You know it. The one labeled "Use us and you will lose everything you have stored here."

Just ahead of that was an emergency vehicle which is still flashing its lights: My mother, who is never ill except for an occasional bout of vertigo, has suffered from a earache for more than a week now. Although she drove herself to the hospital when having a heart attack, this time has been different. I have driven her to two doctors to discover that there is no infection -- just a tiny ulcer in the ear passage "which should clear up in two days, but come back next Wednesday." The earache has not cleared up and a sinus infection has joined it, so I am doing odd chores like arranging flowers from natural materials for a program she planned, delivering refreshments for her church group and driving her to appointments.

A tiny, but never-the-less important, part of the traffic this week was a sad one. Beautiful Maggie, the deaf kitty, sped across the street into the wheels of a passing car. We buried her under the hydrangea bush where she liked to sleep.

Finally, in this traffic jam were a family vehicle filled with luggage, food and weekend gear which blocked my way for three days and on Monday a sporty little model named Lucy caught my attention. Oh, what the heck, I probably wouldn't haven't blogged on those days anyway!

So the computer is back up (thanks to Susan) and the traffic has cleared for a bit. I am back at the keyboard and I'll try to get some regular words strung out this week. After today's doctor trip . . . and . . . a training session for next month's election . . . and . . . the big reunion BBQ which has my painting and words on the inside back cover of the souvenir brochure . . . and . . . .

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Power of Place

Somewhere on the winding roads of West Georgia near Pine Mountain, there is a small drive along the top of a ridge which comes out at Dowdell's Knob and an edge-of-the-world view across a wide valley. Tucked on a protected ledge is a historic marker which declares "This Was His Georgia." As the realization hits that the sloped sidewalk had been a President's wheelchair ramp and that he had come here to make decisions for His Country, the place takes on new meaning. It was not lost on the fellows in the sketch I made that day.

I was reminded of the power of this place when reading my latest issue of Cezanne-2006 -- a newsletter which covers the celebration of Cezanne in Provence. I made the connection through this explanation of an exhibition of photographs and videos by Julien Oppenheim which explores Cezanne's fascination for the Sainte-Victoire Mountain.
"Exploring what links us to places, to a place, to a key place.
Displaying the physical link to the place, the link with the land, the stone and the trees.
Feeling how your breathing changes when in contact with the place,
feeling your body enter into the place and touch it.
To be within, inside the place and capture its power. The power of the place that I come from."

I wondered about the places which make my breathing change. I wondered about whether I can give to those places some sense of their power in my life in the way that Cezanne did with his mountain. It's something to ponder.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rooted in the Past, but Growing

The annual Homecoming weekend was one of those which is sometimes special; sometimes just short of the mark. A portion of the drive, through a country landscape of pastures and small town football which was lit by a full harvest moon, was the high point. Then, we found that our usual hotel was lacking some amenities. The restaurant presented lovely food with many apologies for the much too long delay. And, with this year's focus on football, some old alumni traditions were discarded while new ones were created. The weekend never quite met our expectations. It was simply 'off.'

This year, there was a formal Convocation
for the presentation of classes in reunion -- it tugs the heart-strings to see the joyous faces in classes who have come back to their alma mater for their 50th, 55th and 60th years. The Convocation also recognized this year's group of Outstanding Alumni: an economic developer who has contributed to the growth of his state; a former pastor of the Church-of-the-Year who now works in healthcare; an artist who has co-founded a contemporary art museum; a musician from the Class of '44 who accepted her award in a fabulous pair of red shoes; an educator who emphasizes volunteerisim with his students; and a founding partner of a major Atlanta law firm. This school has a 175 year history of sending students of this caliber into the world. But this year the focus was FOOTBALL!

So I thought back to last year's Homecoming. All of my family was with me as I was named to the Wall of Outstanding Alumni. It was a very special weekend. When I came home I reread the presentation which was made to me by President Gulley last year. (You wil find it here: I realized that although I haven't started a museum or a law-firm, written a best seller or discovered some scientific marvel, I can be pleased to be in the list and can be satisfied with the words. I realized that every year is not a banner year, but my Alma Mater and I go back a long way and we both have a long way to go. . . . I won't be playng football, but I will be trying new things.

The photo: Smith Hall was my dorm in 1961. It stood on this spot in 1861 and overlooked a continually changing Quadrangle. It's precious window which was scratched with initials to check for 'real diamonds' is on display in the alumni house and it's drafty old dorm rooms are now sleek and functional offices and meeting rooms. It's formal parlor hasn't changed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Random Acts of Seasons Changing

It has been a while since I have posted. I really meant to write some things down. I have some pretty cool notes, a few odd sketches, a photo or two, but it has been the last of summer and the first of autumn. . . . Here are a few observations.
1. The last of the summer concerts brought good crowds to the outdoors just as the evenings became comfortable for listening. Now, the new schedules fill the mailbox with lovely formal programs or funky combinations of styles promising longer selections, better paid guest artists and, sometimes, tables for eight. No more dogs under the chairs, blankets spread for picnicking or mosquitoes adding their own brand of music to the evening. Perhaps a new outfit or two is in order.

2. As the days grow cooler, the cats who slept stetched out long and skinny during the dog days of summer, make cat commas throughout the house and begin to scout out spots for winter naps. Fred likes a lap or Lucy's pillow; Greene loves a box, Vinnie nestles in a dining room chair just under the table cloth, Boomie likes the cushion in the chair at the top of the stairs and Maggie the deaf kitty hids in spots where she will feel safe. They are getting ready and they don't have a calendar or a weatherman.

3. The big yellow school bus blows its horn each morning and empties the neighborhood of children's voices, mammas' scolding and teenagers booming music. Some days it is almost too quiet -- until the afternoon when the bus lumbers down the street to return its cargo.

4. In the bird bath, there are red seeds from the magnolia pods at the Widow's Home down the street and the Asian ladies are watching the ripening fruits on the soon-to-be brilliant golden Gingko trees -- hints that it is time to prepare a Celebration of Moon Viewing.

5. Homecoming and Reunion weekends are planned for Alums to return to their Alma Maters to see old friends and professors. This year, we will -- for the first time in 175 years -- have a football game on the schedule.

Random Acts of Seasons Changing. . . .

Like Fred, I have just enjoyed without really paying attention and I don't think I'm ready.