TRADITION

I have had trouble finding a dermatologist.  For a while, living between SC and MO, the fabulous Sam SaMIMI in St. Louis helped me.  That transitional time ended and the local crop had to be explored.  Now my insurance company dictates some choice, but I found a lady that is great.

We live in a majority minority county and my new dermatologist is a black woman about my age.  She comes to Orangeburg only once a week.  She is very busy.  In her office yesterday, I counted 25 chairs in the waiting room, and all were full. Two patients were standing.  Her office manager has an interesting way of organization, and patients are liable to wait for hours.  I take at least two books and my smart phone, reframing the problem as a way to get some reading done.  Then the wait is OK.

black-people-standing-in-line

Black people, unfortunately have always had to wait.  It is their history.  They do not complain.  It shouldn’t be this way, but it has been, and is.  When you are a client of a black business, you must understand this.  Yesterday, and I have experienced this before, a new patient, upon entering the waiting room,  door opening from the outside to 25 pairs of eyes looking up, said “GOOD MORNING!” to all.  Most everybody said “Good Morning” back.  It was such a humane interaction.

Glenn thinks it comes from the black church.  Maybe like a “call and answer” thing.  I wonder if it comes from strong black mamas and their directives.

Another interesting thing that happened in that waiting room was that two women were having a conversation across the entire room.  It was kind of like white noise to me while reading; I could not understand what they were saying.  Looking around I thought, would I have asked someone to move so conversation with my friend would be easier?  Think so.  But that did not happen in this case.

At the end of my stint (as it turned out to be) in the waiting room, a very tall and elegant black man came in.  “GOOD MORNING!” he bellowed and just as loud, all 25 of us responded.  I expected him next to say “You may rise and sing Number 112 from our hymnal”.  Loved it:  we need to speak to each other much more.

The Waffle House restaurant chain in Winston-Salem, North Ca

Have you been to Waffle House?  They do this too when you enter the restaurant.

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ENOUGH WITH THE BIG FRUIT HEADS

 

Perfect for the Botanical Gardens in Atlanta, this giant head made of things from the garden.  Only this one is in the Dulwich Picture Gallery Gardens in London.

jux_philip_hass2

This one is in Atlanta.  They have also been displayed in NYC and in the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.

flowe head

1-spring-giuseppe-arcimboldo

 

four seasons, original and source

Any self-respecting art historian must stop in their tracks in seeing  this.  Great idea, but it has been done!  Good thing the source is mentioned in his artist’s statement.  Some are not.  The image above shows Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 16th century paintings at the bottom, and Philip Haas’ huge sculptural copies in several locations in this country.

botanical artist statement

 

The following discussion is from Wikipedia:

“At a distance, his portraits looked like normal human portraits. However, individual objects in each portrait were actually overlapped together to make various anatomical shapes of a human. They were carefully constructed by his imagination. Besides, when he assembled objects in one portrait, he never used random objects. Each object was related by characterization.[2] In the portrait now represented by several copies called The Librarian, Arcimboldo used objects that signified the book culture at that time, such as the curtain that created individual study rooms in a library. The animal tails, which became the beard of the portrait, were used as dusters. By using everyday objects, the portraits were decoration and still-life paintings at the same time.[3] His works showed not only nature and human beings, but also how closely they were related.[4]

After a portrait was released to the public, some scholars, who had a close relationship with the book culture at that time, argued that the portrait ridiculed their scholarship.[citation needed] In fact, Arcimboldo criticized rich people’s misbehavior and showed others what happened at that time through his art. In The Librarian, although the painting looked ridiculous, it criticized some wealthy people who collected books in order to own them, instead of to read them.[3]

another librarian

So, nineteenth century painter Georges Seurat must have know about Arcimboldo’s work while creating his visual language of pointillism.  What is important to note about both of these painters is that they, whether fruit or dots, disappear when viewed at a distance.  That is the magic part.  And even further with Arcimboldo’s work, there was “content” as discussed above with “The Librarian”.

seurat

Look at the precision in this portrait made with fish.

water-1566(1)

These are painted images, not constructed.  They represent a whole different ball game than simply pulling three dimensional masses together.

fraud-fruit-alessandro-della-pietra

Now this is just another kind of clever.

 

 

TRANSFORMATION

We met the black boy when Katy descended into her first “heat” after she was spayed.  He was one of the clues.  We did not recognize all the wriggling and vocalizing.  Had we an unfixed female in the last 40 years?  No.

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And Katy WAS fixed.  What could she be thinking of?  Her new friend the black one could not stay away.  Katy’s fertile parts were blasting notifications all over the neighborhood.  After the second spaying, the doc said she may have had three ovaries.  She had a more complicated surgery this time with a large incision and a hunt for swollen things inside.

This second operation was very difficult all around.  Katy being a rescue, the longer we live with her the more I know that she had to be a feral kitten when brought to Pets, Inc.  She can tolerate just so much.  She stresses easily, and senses things deeply.

When the second heat came along, we knew she had to be worked in for surgery the next day.  Pets, Inc. , as good as the intentions are,  casts their net in disorganization.  We did not get the OK to bring her in until late in the morning.  By then, Katy knew something was up.

I have used the term “bouncing off the walls”  loosely before, but I had never seen it.  It took 45 minutes for us to contain the feral Katy.  And we were both bloody from the job.  I feared all our work with her to understand love was lost in fear and flight.

We came home with antibiotics because of the large incision.  We both knew there was no way we could administer them to her.  Luckily, she has not needed them.  She spent the first night after surgery inside, and the next morning was just gone, all day.  We both thought she would never come back, but she did.

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Now she is feeling better and playing soccer.  And as in the first picture above, the black boy comes around just to talk.

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Sister does not care to.

MODERN MATH

This is what they called it about the time the Cardinals won their first World Series of which I was aware.  The “smart” kids were corralled and marched down to the cafeteria in an off hour.  At first it was an honor, and then it became a sickness.  I began to get nauseated as that time of the day came along.

1-BioProj-book-1964Cardinals

I remember the cafeteria being all beige with eight foot long tables rearranged from lunch.  Using graphite on one of those tables made interesting bold marks.  And you could rub them away with your finger.  Even the eraser made great marks if you tracked it through a smudge of graphite.  Of course, I was just interested in the marks; they were not answers to anything.  I had no idea what the answers were.

A year later, Glenn had a similar experience in Catholic school.  They brought in a “lay” teacher to instruct in the new math.  She was all red.  Glenn remembers a redhead, deep red lipstick and a red skirt she sometimes wore.  It is all imagery for Glenn.

1-Joan

In different little worlds, and both of us being in what is now called the “creative class”, neither of us understood what was happening.  We could not figure up and down anymore, we had to go side to side.  We could not use regular numbers anymore, we had to use only ones and zeros.  Why?  They said it was for a switch being turned on or off.  What switch?  Why a switch?  A switch to what?

My mind could not complete the change in longitude and latitude.  And what about cancelling out things on either side of the “equal” sign?  Why?  It was all just a nightmare.

I did not have the confidence to ask an authority about these changes.   All I knew was that everybody else understood it, and I did not.

On NPR some months ago, a man discussed that research has discovered that some learners cannot understand until they are told what the calculations were for.  Well, YEAH.  Wish I had been part of that research: they forgot about the vomiting part.

OCARINA?

What the heck?  My dad, a hard working government administrator, upright, publicly non-political,  fedora-wearing, came in the front door every day after work.  Just to the left of the entry of our moderately upscale tract house was the front closet.  It was mostly for the winter stuff and the vacuum cleaner.  He stowed his fedora in there on the top shelf, closed the door, and entered the family room.

There was other stuff up there; the hats that completed our brownie uniforms for example, and  there was much similar in the basement in the fiber drums we brought home from Japan.  We girls were pretty much low circulating hurricanes as we destroyed all that stuff.  My mother’s old dolls. The “Little Big Books”, whatever.

Looking for mittens or a scarf, one day I found an amazing plastic thing.  I got used to it being in there, in a little box, but don’t think there was any discussion about it.  It was just there.

ocarina

Why did dad save this?  He was not musical in any way.  He did not sing in church; he just stood there.  And why did  we not destroy this as we did everything else?  Well, it was kind of out of reach on the shelf, and who would know how to play with this thing?

Turns out every soldier during WWII was issued one on their way to Europe.  My dad was only old enough for the occupation, and it seems then that the administration should be most worried about the men.  Not enough to do, when you simply “occupy”.  The Army must have had a great musical notion.  Dreams of an ocarina band of 25,000!  Can you imagine?  How about the ocarina salesman who got THAT order from the US Army!  Art goes mainstream, for sure!

Well I know that my father was not playing his ocarina ALL the time.  He had a French girlfriend over there.  I think the ocarinas were given to counteract the French girlfriends;  such a pure time in which to have lived!

Our book group went to see  my friend Janet Kozachek  to look around her studio.  Aside from being a brilliant painter, she has fun making mosaics, Chinese (it would be sumi-e if Japanese) pen and ink drawings of tango couples, books, wonderful pattern on pattern pencil drawings.  And ocarinas from local clay.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/kozachekart?ref=search_shop_redirect

janets ocarina

Janet sent me the above image, and describes its features:

“This ocarina is a classic ten hole ocarina in the sweet potato shape.  Another fun fact about ocarinas is that the name comes from the Italian man who standardized the shape and scale – ocarina is Italian for “Little Goose.”  The ocarina pictured here is stoneware clay burnished with a rose colored terra sigillata glaze then pit fired.”
The ocarinas are like little personal sculptures.  And the one above is rather conservative in design, although a piece of art that is also a musical instrument has design limitations.  My favorite one was a face with imbedded pearls.  Emotional me wanted to buy that one, but I had the find the one where the aesthetics of the sculpture and the aesthetics of the sound were the best mix.  Mine is in the shape of a whale’s tooth.
1-my ocarina
The belly of the ocarina is the same color as the belly of my kitten, Pastel.  I love it!
1-underside of ocarina
The choice and range of animals in which Janet makes these instruments is amazing.  And she can play them!

SOMEBODY’S OTHER MOTHER

Marta had something to spill, you could tell that.  She walked up to me fairly bursting.  She lately has been doing lots of renovation on her fine two story log house.  They love wood, all kinds.  Inside and out, the contrasting grains of wall, old furniture and objects creates a frenzy of lemoned earthiness.  Thought she wanted to tell me about her latest wood project.

I found a painting, Marta said.  In my mother’s attic.  It’s going in the bedroom; the finishing touch for the area after adding the new (woody) bath in there.

It is of a nude, she said.  Stretched out, you know, in the “Titanic position” .  And it is my MOTHER, in her twenties, no doubt about it.  Nobody even knew it existed.  We recently found it in her attic.  Marta’s mom has been gone for a while now.

I was blown away.  What a story.  Jealous. Realized that better writers than I could take this gem of a little experience and run like a marathoner with it.  It is a perfect notion around which one could build a classic read.  German war bride comes to the US, later mother of twin girls, with an unknown history.

It could teach a lesson.  Mothers are not just mothers.  They are people.  Children can be selfish enough not to want to know that.  What a bind for a whole person, being a mother.  Or perhaps the best ones are the best jugglers, until, you know, the old painting in the “Titanic position” shows up.

la grande odilesque

As an artist and teacher, I was equally thrilled about Marta’s story in the way she described her newly found painting.

olympia

Both of the images above are what we call “odalisque”.  A reclining nude.  And this is what Marta meant in her description of her mother.  I was so interested in this.  As a teacher of art history, and always collecting contemporary facts or events which highlight  the old stuff I asked my students to learn, that iconic scene in the movie presented a teachable moment.   “Titanic”, was a pop culture moment of the time for sure.  Everybody had seen it, and knowing this, suddenly and for a short time, art history was contemporary pop culture.  Loved that connection for my students.

gauguin

Viewing the three above, you can see what the tradition of this kind of image is.  Ingres, Manet, Gauguin:  all created in this old art motif.  Stretched out lady, on a bed, countered by something in the far corner, a maid servant, a curtain, a voo-doo figure.  That is the compositional history.

The history of painting the image of a nude lady is far more complex.  It simply wasn’t done for a while.  Did the Greeks, Romans sculpt nude women?   No.  The nude male was the symbol of perfection, and that was used all the time.  No unclothed women were done.

Always pushing the envelope, artists DID want to depict the female figure.  How did they bully into this idea?  They painted harlots, concubines, prostitutes.  Women of low morals.  You could not see a naked lady in those days without a moral judgement attached.  Oh women have suffered so throughout history!  This idea makes me almost nauseous:  men have the sexual response, but we will blame it on the women.

The public was appalled when Manet painted his odalisque, the middle image above.  It shocked all of Paris when shown in the salon of  1865 (it was finished in 1863).  Think of this as our civil war time.  A prostitute stares out at the viewer, showing no shame, and in her work venue as well.  The john who just left sends flowers back with the maid.  The public was shocked, but the breech had been crossed.  That is how we move forward.  The public and art critics of the time were equally shocked at the way the odalisque was rendered.  The paint was flat and the planes of the body merged into description only as you moved away from the image, mounted on the wall.  The critics were wrong about their “take” here as well.

Beware, beware if the old fogies of art  like your work too much.