Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Beauty of the Object: Megan Barron’s wrack line

The grains shall be collected
from the thousand shores
to which they found their way

--Kay Ryan, from “All Shall Be Restored

Sometime in her early twenties, Megan Barron took some slides, one of which “was intriguing but sadly underexposed.”
It occurred to me to remedy the mistake by trying to make a painting of the image, which I did by peering through the slide held between my fingers.  . . . While I probably gave myself a headache, I was surprised at its turning out well & thought, “Maybe I can do this—paint.”
In her current project, wrack line:  one year of beach finds, illustrated, Barron demonstrates her considerable artistic talent every single day.  The wrack line project, as described by Barron, is “a daily visual journal of what washes ashore.  Every day for a year I will post a new painting or drawing of treasures found during beach walks.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nature's Museum at the Ringling

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota presents a wonderful blend of art and story. From its birth in the "roaring twenties", the dream child of John Ringling - circus magnate, art collector, investor, financier - through the Florida land boom and the Great Depression, to Ringling’s bequest of the property to the State of Florida on his death in 1936; the history of this place contains enough drama, romance, and intrigue to fill an epic novel.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wondrous Strange: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves at the Morgan Library

Horatio:  O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

Hamlet:  And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

--Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene V

When contemplating the flaying of St. Bartholomew, one can be forgiven if pretzels don’t come immediately to mind.  Yet in the Morgan Library’s spectacular exhibit, “Demons and Devotion: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves,” the artist’s depiction of St. Bartholomew sports a border of interlinked pretzels with a line of crackers down one side.  We’ll never know why:  what the artist intended is lost to time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

This is New York: Upper Broadway, Valentine's Day 2010

Valentine's Day, and a break in the wintry weather brought everyone out.  Hoshi Coupe's window sported hearts for the occasion, and even the lady in the pocket park was bedecked.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Food For Thought

The latest book by Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food) is so simple, so concise, it could be read, indeed should be read, by elementary and middle school aged children. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual is not much more than a pamphlet; Pollan designed this book to cut through the cacophony of food and nutrition noise that fills the virtual air of today’s media.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Social Suicide

“Get your actual life back by deleting all of your energy-sucking social network profiles, kill your fake virtual friends and completely do away with your Web 2.0 alter ego,” reads the blurb on a new website that has just popped up, on that "Magic Carpet Ride" that is the internet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In Defense of Difficulty -- the Music Edition

I was hoping to say that I’m relieved to be done with my thoughts about difficulty—and I am, kinda. But my notes about difficulty, like my thoughts about literary influence, boil down to the way(s) we process stimuli, or in some cases the way we don’t or refuse to process those stimuli. And since I’ve long had a lay interest in neuroscience, stumbling across this paper by researchers at the University of London has me threading a new strand of information into my thinking.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Riding the Magic Carpet: Daily Painting on the Internet

“Elizabeth says the internet is like a magic carpet,” our artist-friend Barbara reported.  That took me aback.  I’m on the computer all day, every day, for work.  So when it comes to time behind a screen, magic carpet isn’t the phrase that comes to mind.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Photographing Birds in Winter

The winter season calls for modifications to how you dress, how you handle your equipment and how you approach the picture-making process itself.  -Tim Fitzharris, National Audubon Society Guide to Nature Photography

In winter, even birds that don’t migrate can be hard to find.  On these cold and snowy days, we see little on our walks:  a junco pecking at frozen ground, a crow settled on a high tree limb.  We thrill to spot what turns out to be a mockingbird, hunkered down in branches to escape the wind.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why Less is Sometimes Waaaaaay Too Much, or This is Just to Say

For a long time I’ve been interested in setting William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” alongside Eliot’s “Mr. Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service” to raise questions about not only these two writers’ poetics but poetics in general. Chief among these questions is, How does one arrive at X poetics at the expense of Y poetics? The essay I’ve been writing on literary influence (nearly finished, I hope) and these two entries here have given me a chance to work out some of my thoughts.