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Posts Tagged ‘Art’

April showers are nourishing all the perennials we just planted, but if you are a migratory bird looking to nest in Florida, you’d be plain out of luck. Wading birds like egrets and herons depend on fresh, clean water from rivers meeting the sea in estuaries on our coasts for their food supply, and scientists have been putting on waders to count their nests this time of year. Considering Mr T’s deep cuts to the EPA, this Audubon report is troubling:

The latest South Florida Wading Bird Report, which was published last week, offers signs of trouble for the birds and the places they live. During this nesting season, which ran from December 2015 to July 2016, surveyors were disappointed to find 26,676 nests total. That’s just one-third the number of nests tallied during 2009, one of the best nesting years in decades, and the lowest nest census since the 2007-2008 season. Of the indicator species, only two (Great Egrets and White Ibises) met their nest recovery goals. The only bird to show an above-average nesting season last year was the Roseate Spoonbill. http://www.audubon.org/news/floridas-wading-birds-had-terrible-breeding-season-last-year

We had a Great Blue Heron swoop over our Rumson garage every morning to fish in the Shrewsbury River. When you live so close to the ocean, you begin to notice the rise and fall of tidewater by the line of black silt on your Corgis’ short legs, which would sometimes cover their bellies. “Swamp Dogs” was our affectionate term for Toots and Blaze. My sister Kay was kind enough to immortalize that mother/son duo in a 1993 watercolor.

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But it’s the long, stilt-like legs of Great Egrets that are helping them navigate the rising seawater levels due to Climate Change.

And now we have a circus/barker/climate/denier as the Leader of the Free World who would like to dismantle and disrupt the federal government, and return power to “the states.” I’ve always wondered why Republicans even pursue public service when they hate it so much! If any of you are still wondering about the loss of Arctic ice or if keeping that house your aunt left you on the Jersey Shore is a good idea, take a look at Leonardo diCaprio’s interactive global temperature map. It looks like there may be a quarter of Rumson left after the flood. Seriously.

“Every fraction of a degree of global warming sets in motion sea level rise that will profoundly threaten coastal cities across the world,” explains Dr. Benjamin Strauss from Climate Central. “[Our map] shows the incredible stakes and urgency of our climate choices.”

https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-crisis/sea-level-rise/

Now that you’ve put in your city, and the visual has sunk in and maybe you’ve “woke up” think about these cuts to the federal budget. Keep calling your legislators people, dig out your Wellies (English for waders or rain boots), and start looking for higher ground while planning your retirement

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The photographs I have left of my Father, who died when I was a baby, are in black and white. As are my baby pictures, stuffed into a bag in an album that has lost its binding. The Flapper gave me to her friends, my foster parents, after her automobile accident because her only other choice would have been an orphanage. My sister Kay was already taking care of my two brothers, and they had to go back to school, so who else would take care of me?

Nell only had one child, and her daughter was in nursing school when I arrived in Victory Gardens after the War in 1949. And so I was raised by a grandmother figure, as Nell was already in her 50s. And she catalogued my childhood lovingly, pasting black and white pictures with tiny black paper edges onto every page. Only my memories conjure up the white and pink explosion of the dogwood tree outside our kitchen window, the red and white tile in the one bathroom, the green grass under my feet with the white sheets billowing above.

Our TV was in black and white, and after school I would walk home from the bus in my maroon plaid Sacred Heart School uniform, to catch Nell watching Art Linkletter on Kids Say the Darndest Things. A small piano stood in a corner with brass feet and hard white teeth. Our first dog was black and brown, I remember sitting on Daddy Jim’s feet while he read the black and white newspaper, and smoked his pipe after work. I would lean back on his knees and stroke the dog’s fur, listening to his critique of the day’s news. Maybe this is when I thought I might have something to say about world events? clr-on-tricycle-20170127

When we view history through a black and white lens, we lose something of the nuance. The tone is off, and it becomes harder to relate to something that happened so long ago. It creates the distance we need to survive certain tragedies, like my Year of Living Dangerously – my psychologist brother Jim’s description of 1949. Which is why finding this photographer, Marina Amaral, is like finding a jewel in the coal dustbin of time.

Amaral’s passion is restoring and colorizing old black and white pictures. And I found a picture she posted online of a child, a Czechoslovakian girl who was the same age as my sister Kay in 1949, when she died at Auschwitz in 1943. Her name was Czeslawa Kwoka; and I remembered Nell’s given name was Kosty, which was probably changed at Ellis Island. On Amaral’s webpage, you can move a line back and forth over the child’s face, and bring color to her cheeks and blood to the cut on her lip.

“Color has the power to bring life back to the most important moments,” http://www.marinamaral.com

Today more than ever, on Holocaust Memorial Day, we must remember that the Holocaust started with the rhetoric of hate, and the silence and indifference of the rest of Europe and America. And we must vow to resist in any way we can, and we must say her name, Czeslawa Kwoka.

Photograph courtesy of Marina Amaral.

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What does the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York have to do with politics? Let me make the case.

The words indecent, and traitorous are being thrown around all of a sudden regarding the intel pointing at Russia’s attempt, successful by all accounts, to influence our elections. The “Comey Effect” – the last supper letter he sent out simply to enflame our fears of HRC’s emails, and now his apparent inaction regarding Russian hackers – will haunt our history books forever. But amid all the Sturm and Drang (German for storm and stress), the most fascinating word of all to come across my desk is “Emolument!”

mid-15c., from Middle French émolument and directly from Latin emolumentum “profit, gain,” perhaps originally “payment to a miller for grinding corn,” from emolere “grind out,” from ex- “out” (see ex- ) + molere “to grind” (see mallet ). 

The Emolument Clause in our Constitution was intended to prevent anybody in the government who is holding an “Office of Profit or Trust” to accept any titles or gifts from any foreign government. Ever. So even if your great great grandfather once removed happened to own a parcel of hundreds of thousands of acres in Pennsylvania (yes, I admit mine did and he wasn’t once removed) and you were just elected to Congress, the Queen of England could not bestow upon you a Knighthood! Jolly good right?

screen_shot_2016_11_22_at_1-14-57_pmWrong.

Because once Mr T takes office, even IF he puts all his many global businesses into a blind trust, like Reagan, Clinton and Jimmy Carter did before him, IF his children are in charge of said companies this whole set-up by the founding fathers will be moot. And our newly elected President will be in violation of our Constitution on January 20, 2017. http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/23/13715150/donald-trump-emoluments-clause-constitution

We already know Ivanka will be taking over Michelle’s office in the White House, so after some redecorating, how is it possible that every seductive picture seen of her on social media will not mention her designers…in fact she already made a slight faux pas in that regard during their campaign, and how is it possible her clothing and design company and in fact that “blind trust” of the TRUMP name that she and her brothers will be running, how will it not profit from all that free advertising? I mean Daddy T won the highest office in the land, the greatest reality show on earth, with all his Tweeting and free advertising didn’t he? Oh and a little help from Comey and Putin. And then there’s the obvious co-mingling of private, for-profit and government:

“As with the defense industry and the financial industry, success on a large scale in real estate often depends on government connections. Tax incentives, licenses, and inspections come more easily that way. As Trump has said, explaining his contributions to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns, ‘I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.'” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/ivanka-trump-and-jared-kushners-power-play

We have floors in Trump tower rented out to some very wealthy people in the world. Our Secret Service may have to rent out some more floors too just to protect Melania and the heir apparent. That’s you and me folks, paying protection money ie tax dollars for a constant penthouse presence. Forget our border, Mr T wants to build a sea wall in Ireland to protect one of his golf courses, but it will also eliminate a certain snail the Irish hold dear. His family ties to the most powerful political brokers in India and the Philippines run strong and deep.

In fact, the conflicts of interest on such a global scale are so vast and intertwined one has to think that Mr T really didn’t think this through; he never in a million years thought he would be elected! He’s got a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and now the gym behind the police station opened up and Jimmy the Greek and Slim from Scranton walked in with billions of dollars!

It’s a rather new predicament for our young country, and may demand the Congress vote all of this is just fine with them?! Otherwise I can see years ahead of all my fine Dems on the Hill trying to impeach the guy until it reaches the Supremes, who will most likely be veering to the right by that time. But at least it’s a fight over the very fabric of our country, and not a sexual peccadillo in the Oval. Oh the humanity!  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/us/politics/donald-trump-international-business.html

Tonight I’ll be heading out to dinner and a show with some friends. Naturally we’ll discuss the above and hope for a Hail Mary by the Electoral College on Monday because who could think having Putin meddle in our election is a good thing? You may have guessed already that Live Arts in Cville is doing Guys and Dolls. Democracy itself is one big messy crap shoot that Hamilton tried his best to salvage. I’m going to bet that Mindy’s sells more cheesecake, and Mr T has sold us out for 30 pieces of silver.

Take back your mink Mr T   5d87403da1fb0b5be31e86a0fc817033

 

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Alright folks, it’s been a week and a half. According to President Obama it’s time to stop all our belly aching and get back to work. At least that’s what he told his White House staff after the election – moping shall cease and desist, like they’ve been on one long, communal shiva call with the rest of the country. Even though Hillary will win almost 2 Million MORE votes than the comb-over, it’s not a Popular Vote contest, is it?

“We probably have about 7 million votes left to count,” said David Wasserman, an editor at Cook Political Report who is tracking turnout. “A majority of them are on the coasts, in New York, California, and Washington. She should be able to win those votes, probably 2-1.” By mid-December, when the Electoral College officially casts its ballots, Wasserman estimates that Clinton could be ahead by 2 percentage points in the popular vote. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/clintons-popular-vote-lead-will-grow-and-grow/507455/

So what’s a girl to do, besides sign up for the Million Women’s March on January 21? Watch a little Turner Classic? Walk your dog? Meditate to a new mantra; #LoveTrumpsHate? Find things for your newly retired hubby to do, like throw out half the spice cabinet? Cook up some comfort food? Well, sure all of the above, plus I’m reading a good book of historical fiction to take me back in time, way back, to the island of St Thomas in the 1800s.

“The Marriage of Opposites” seemed like a good title, since Bob and I have always said no modern day algorithm would ever make us a match. And I love Alice Hoffman! Because it’s now in paperback, this book has been a perfect traveling companion, from NJ to Nashville and back again. What I didn’t know is that she is telling the story of a certain French Impressionist painter, a real life Sephardic Jewish man born on St Thomas who was destined to take over his family’s business but wanted instead to paint.

He was born Jacob Abraham, but instead used his French name “Camille” Pizzarro; perhaps Hoffman has changed the spelling from Pissarro to keep this a fictional tale? I was well into the book before I realized who this last child of Rachel Pomie would become, the “Father of Impressionism,” the man who married his mother’s maid and began painting outside. The friend of Degas and Monet, he preferred living in the French countryside and was influenced by Gustave Courbet. His paintings “…dignify the labor of peasants in communal villages, reflecting the socialist-anarchist political leanings that the two artists shared.”

And in synchrony with my rebellious mood of the moment, it seems Pissarro is one of many early Colonial artists currently on exhibit at the New York Historical Society: “The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World” opened November 1st and runs through February 26. The first Jewish settlement of the New World was in New Amsterdam in 1654, when Brazil expelled 23 Jews to this early Dutch Colony of New York. http://observer.com/2016/11/colonial-jews-who-knew/

The curator said that during this time, Jews were not seen as “invisible outsiders.” They had certain freedoms in our new country, to worship as they wished and to flaunt society’s norms. It seems unimaginable that almost 4 centuries later, a man has won an election by preaching about discriminating against our current invisible outsiders of the moment…Mexicans and Muslims. He even dreamed of punishing women who would seek an abortion. Is this the America we all learned to love in grade school?

Once I was stung by a bee under a clothesline of billowing sheets. It is my earliest memory, the first time I felt as if I didn’t belong. Nell was not my mother, my name was different.   Today the feeling remains.

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Woman Hanging up the Washing, Camille Pissarro 1887

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Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Beatrix Ost, http://www.beatrixost.com, a surrealist artist, theatre producer, designer and fashion icon. It was like meeting a haiku, elusive yet familiar. One cannot help being drawn to her. Wrapped in a long silk, printed sheath, her hair in a turban, she wore pointy toed yellow boots from another century. It seems she divides her time between a farm in Cville and an apartment in NYC.

Ost told the group at her book signing that she had wanted to interview several interesting people – such as the war photographer who lost three limbs in an IED explosion – and she asked each person one question:

“What is the marrow in your bones?”

And so she began to tell us all what drives her to continue creating art. She grew up after the war in Germany, with very little. Hardship is a fine anvil when coming of age. She remembered an aunt who lived outside the city, on a farm. This woman had taken an American officer as a lover, and so she would drive into the city to visit Ost and her mother in a Jeep. Cars were also very rare at the time. Out of the Jeep stepped a magnificent  creature; her aunt was wearing the officer’s jacket, belted tightly around her waist, epaulets at the sleeves, and cork espadrilles. She was stunning.

A sense of style and the meaning of adornment, of creating beauty in the midst of chaos was born. And just recently she met Camille Hautefort, a young woman who was making jewelry out of salvaged bombs from Laos. The woman handed her a weightless spoon one night, it was made from the ordnance found in the highlands of Xieng Khuang province, in the village of Ban Naphia , and Ost said she was so moved she nearly cried holding it in her hand. She knew she wanted to collaborate on jewelry design.

Now this company, Article 22, is helping artisans in Laos and clearing unexploded bombs from fields. Ethical jewelry. And I thought of all the bombs our country has dropped, all over the world. Of how women and children suffer in war-torn countries because men like to play at war. Of how our local candidate for Congress, Jane Dittmar, recently tweeted:

There is an armed man outside of our Fluvanna office intimidating volunteers – if you feel uncomfortable please contact 911 immediately.

Here is a film of Ost’s “Wild, incredible paradise” in the Virginia countryside: https://www.nowness.com/story/no-sour-meadows And you will find her book ,“The Philosopher’s Style,” along with this transformative jewelry at Lynne Goldman Elements, downtown Cville. img_5437

 

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It was a constellation of events. The Bride and Groom had a wedding to attend this past weekend in NJ, very close to Great Grandma Ada and Great Grandpa Hudson’s home. And even though we were just in Nashville for the Love Bug’s pirate birthday, we wanted to continue the love, so we drove north. At one point I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, driving on 81 and 287, I forgot how many cars and trucks drive so close and so fast. Guess I’ve become a VA driver. Good for Bob, he still loves to hustle on the road!

The Bride wanted to introduce the Bug to the Big Apple. Taylor Swift is her number one crush of the moment, and she knows the singer moved from Nashville to NYC. She was hoping for a celebrity spotting, and so we ventured over the George Washington Bridge and down the East River. The same route that was embedded in my memory, when my family would take the bridge to visit my sister, Kay, on the Upper East Side.

What we hadn’t factored into the weekend’s equation was our only free day for New York was Sunday, September 11th.

I did not sit and listen to the names, because I know one of the names.

I did not write about 9/11, because I lived through that day. Waiting for the Bride to call me from DC. Wondering where the Rocker was since he had left his high school, along with his friends. Worrying about Bob, who was helping to coordinate disaster relief at a marina.

I did not play a video about boat rescues, because my friend was on a ferry that returned with ash covered people.

Since we only had a short time on Sunday, we decided to stay uptown. Men in saffron colored robes approached me, and I waved them off like a true New Yorker, but said “Sorry” like a Virginian. Pigeons fluttered in the glorious sunlight that streamed through the buildings. I asked my Bug if there were more pigeons or people in NY, and she smiled and said, “People.”

But actually the city was strangely quiet. Reverent. And it wasn’t until I recapped our day for Bob – at the Metropolitan Museum and visiting Aunt Kay – that tears filled my eyes. Because we went straight to the museum’s rooftop, where I was intrigued by the Roof Garden’s “PsychoBarn.” http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/cornelia-parker

A facade, the Queen Ann farmhouse looked as if it had dropped out of a Kansas tornado into this spectacular setting. Like a stage setting, It is “Simultaneously authentic and illusory.” The artist was alluding to a child’s fascination with transitional objects; something that helps to “…negotiate their self-identity as separate from their parents.” I told the Bride if only it were yellow, instead of red, it would have looked like my NJ home.

And as we gazed across the trees of Central Park, at the skyline of NY, I felt a certain nostalgia. But also an overwhelming sense of calm, a serenity usually reserved for my mountain view. I told Bob it was only right for us to be there, on top of a tall building in the center of one of our most beautiful cities, on this sacred day.   img_5189

 

 

 

 

 

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The Rocker is engaged! In a week of nothing but bad news from Texas to Nice, I thought it best to lighten the mood and announce our good news. Ms Cait, aka Aunt KiKi, said “Yes” and we couldn’t be happier.

She was young when I first met her, barely 18, but I could tell they were mad about each other. All I knew was that she had graduated Red Bank Catholic, and attended college in PA. But then the Rocker told me she had traveled the world with her Jersey Shore Irish Dance Troupe, and I was smitten. She’s one of MY people!

Over the years our family has vacationed together, spent holidays together, and the happy couple even spent a month with the Bride and Groom in Nashville after Hurricane Sandy swept them out of Asbury Park. “What can I do?” Cait would always ask me in the kitchen, and together we would make culinary tasks fun and creative. Her Mama, Ellen, raised her right.

But of course you know all of this if you’ve been reading along since I started this blog to try and make sense out of another wedding six years ago! I was planning a destination wedding in Cville while two extremely busy Vandy residents were doctoring in Nashville. Today it’s a different story. Plus, it’s like the second child, I’ve been through the Willy Wonka wilderness of venues and cakes, I know what to do.

Cait is a proud feminist, a Millennial who is not afraid of the term. She keeps me up to date on the latest challenge to young, female artists; it seems she hates censorship just as much as her betrothed. And she keeps Bob up to date on the latest video games to challenge the mind. She is an excellent artist herself, with a wide ranging, multimedia portfolio. And she knows how to get things done; she created and helped organize the first Asbury music and art festival years ago.

When they told us they were moving to LA, I admit I was worried. Once a Jersey Girl, always a Jersey Girl. Cait has a posse of very loyal girlfriends, and her whole family lives on the East Coast. But they are an amazing team, and one by one – a sister here, a friend there – their coterie of new and old Left Coast friends has expanded. She landed an exciting job at the new contemporary art museum, the Broad, and settled right in.

The first time we visited them in LA, we walked down the block to their neighborhood farmers market and Cait knew almost every vendor by name. She has an easy charm, and a quick wit. Sometimes I catch my son looking at her, as if he can’t believe his luck. Her beauty is breathtaking.

And so the beat goes on. Great Grandma Ada is always reminding the happy couple she no longer buys green bananas (hint hint). And I am more relaxed now, after all the Mother of the Groom doesn’t have quite the same level of responsibility as the MOB. Ellen is still living in NJ and we get along like long lost sisters. Knowing these two creative spirits of ours, their wedding will be magical on any Coast they choose!

This was Thanksgiving on a beach years ago when the Love Bug was a baby. See how Ms Cait leans in! Welcome to our family, we love you like a daughter already!   IMG_3557

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