Friday, April 23, 2010

Longing for Shakespeare's Spring.

It's snowing, and the tulips on Pearl street haven't any wool coats to keep them warm.
Being absolutely opposed to venturing outside, I have curled up beneath some down, and will instead take comfort in the dream
of true Spring.

"O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day;
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away."
-The Bard, Two Gentlemen of Verona
I found these images over at Dustjacket Attic. This one puts me in the mind of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and all that wandering about in the gardens, overhearing things.
"If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stelaing and giving odour!
-Twelfth Night

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trafficking Yourself.

The wonderful world of job-searching requires an oxymoronic cultivation of hubris and humility. As a prospective employee, you must be charming. As a 20-something, you must not be too charming (you must show you have room to grow and are not an upstart). As a creative person, you must think outside the box. As a creative person looking to pay the landlord and Safeway, you must be able to communicate with people who are well and truly inside the box. (Don't be a box-hater, be a box-re-communicator). Most of all, despite the fact that you have no idea what you should be "doing with your life," you must show a willingness to jump in with two feet, both hands, and the family dog right into the deep end of the adult pool...without looking too eager.
Meanwhile, inside your carefully cultivated multi-faceted demeanor, you have clenched hands, raised face, and a giant nebulous ball of hope that pulsates in your heart. And you feel like this:

And after each day of the seemingly endless "not right now"s and "maybe"s and "you were one of 2o phone calls I made out of 107 applicants for a job that was posted for about a week... so... that's a good consolation prize"s, you turn to the private things you know and you love (for me: art history, liturgical history, and the immensity of Beauty that extends so far outside of Kant's grasp... which I share with a handful of people who are, unfortunately, a few thousand miles away), and you fervently and fiercely channel Kurt Vonnegut.
photos: hedge maze by bob morrow from flickr, independent ... free - the last in a period, bunny from, kurt vonnegut quote.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Art History.

Okay. So I'm starting a little project. I'll talk more about it in future posts.
This project involves diving back into the art books of my past.

And I remember, quite vividly, why I love Art History so much.
So much.

Because of quotes that rise out of my mother's college textbook, the 5th edition of Gardner's Art through the Ages, alongside that musty old-book smell (Why I have my mother's textbook in Colorado with me, while the 11th edition that accompanied me through college is in the attic in Atlanta, I have no idea); words from a column that is almost entirely underlined in my mother's precise hand (you can tell she uses a straight-edge in some parts... something that never dawned on me when I was marking up my texts), with her tight cursive making notes above the images, and this paragraph, where she gave up underlining and simply drew a line down the margin and starred it (I do the same thing when I find a whole section of literary gold.)
"Rembrandt found that by manipulating light and shadow in terms of direction intensity, distance and texture of surface, he was able to render the most subtle nuances of character and mood, whether of persons or of whole scenes. Rembrandt discovered for the modern world that differences of light and shade, subtly modulated, can be read as emotional differences.
In the visible world light, dark, and the wide spectrum of values between them have a charge of meaning and feeling sometimes independent of the shapes and figures they modify. The lighted stage and the photographic arts have long accepted this as the first assumption behind all their productions. What Masaccio and Leonardo had begun, the age of Rembrandt completes."

Poor editing and non-commital use of the Oxford comma aside, THAT is a paragraph.
I love how "Gardner" speaks about the artists like he knew them, and sat beside them, and talked with them. In a way, he did. That's what the visual arts are all about. Expression.

Then I came across a quote in my Italian Masters book. You must understand that I adore Raphael. I'm pretty sure I adore him because Professor McNamara of my Renaissance and Baroque art class adored him. She waxed about the leg of the rejected suitor in Marriage of the Virgin for about 5 minutes, and I imbibed every word. I mean, look at that leg. That's just art.
Anyway...the quote, by the poet Pietro Bembo, inscribed above Raphael's sarcophagus in the Pantheon in Rome:

This is that Raphael, by whom in life
our mighty mother nature feared defeat
and in whose death did fear herself to die.

Because, you see, Raphael saw nature for what she was, and he replicated her in a way that characterized the High Renaissance, taking the methods and successes of his predecessors and making them his own in a transcendent fashion.

Okay. I apologize for the Art History lesson. But I hope you like Raphael's red leg as much as I do.

images: Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son (1662) Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin (1504).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Bit Mary, A Little Bit Rock & Roll.

Oh, Mother Nature. You are a TEASE.
Here I am, all wrapped up in pillows and blankets on the Living Room Floor, ready to relish a real old-fashioned Thunderstorm, and all you do is sprinkle a few drops? When, oh WHEN will the rains of summer commence? I'm waiting.
In the meantime, I have surrounded myself with art text books and art catalogues and art coffee-table books and art notebooks, and begun researching Mary. Like Queen of Heaven, Theotokos, Divine Receptacle (that one makes me laugh), Virgin Mary. I've spat in the eye of lurking inconsequence (wretched beast that he is), and begun to let the things I love and the things I know coalesce. Which is to say: I'm throwing together a presentation on the iconography and representation of Mary.
Like I'm Jackson Pollock,
and Church History is my blue, and Church Tradition is my green, and Art History is my red (which I LOVE), and Symbolism is my white (which really makes all the other colors pop), and Eloquence is my black (inky...), and I'm throwing them together in fits and starts to make something that will mean something to someone, somewhere, some day. I hope.
(or perhaps they'll just call me crazy...).

The accompanying soundtrack for this Saturday of research and writing which ranged from St. Augustine's Mariology (St. A is the man. Trust me.) to Byzantine iconography, to Leonardo's first works, to Henry Tanner's time as an apprentice to Thomas Eakins... was good old Rock & Roll.
Because though Martini's Mary might not have appreciated Styx, Queen, Bowie, Evenescence, Live, DMB, and Our Lady Peace (well...maybe that last one...) I can almost guarantee that the scottish-plaid-wearing Gabriel who's just alighted from heavenly heights would totally know all the lyrics.
photos: Mardi Gras 4 by Michel from Flickr, There's No Such Thing as Too Many Books from Izabel4you, detail of Leonardo Da Vinci's Annunciation (1472-1475), Jackson Pollock at work, Blue Poles: Number II by Jackson Pollock, Love Rock & Roll from hismajestytheblog.wordpress, Simone Martini's Annunciation (1313-1342).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Seeing Wonderland.

"YOu UseD tO Be MuCh mORe... muchier. yOu'VE loST YouR MuCHnESS."
I finally saw Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last night. After some considerable delay due to conflicting schedules and an absolute resolution not to see the movie with people who are obsessed with reality (to the detriment of their movie enjoyment), I finally ventured forth, solo. Much like Alice.
What I found was simply, well, WONDERful.

Life parallels notwithstanding (Alice, too, is searching for herself), I thought it was brilliant. What a magnificent re-introduction into Lewis Carroll's flash-bang, winder-wonder-world.

The costumes certainly didn't hurt.
Colleen Atwood is nothing short of genius, and after costuming movies like Edward Scissorhands, Nine, Public Enemy, Sweeney Todd, Big Fish, and Memoirs of a Geisha, she's certainly continued flaunting her understanding of period clothes, haute couture, and the fine line between the two. (I want all of Alice's dresses. It's impossible to choose. Perhaps one day when I'm rich and famous, I'll throw a costume party and have 7 costume changes...I wonder if someone makes Jabberwocky-repellant armor on commission...?)

The settings didn't hurt, either.
Simply sublime. And the post-destruction world provided the perfect tinge of dark and sad that makes Tim Burton's work really shine.
But what I really loved about this movie (and most Burton projects) is that when you emerge,
you carry a conviction that to be a little cock-eyed, a little different, a little... mad... is the only way to be.
Because reality, really, is entirely too unchallenging.
"You're mad. Bonkers. Off your head. But I'll tell you a secret: All the best people are."

What's more, if you're unable to see the wonder around you, you're incomplete in Wonderland. While Alice tries to convince herself she's dreaming, the other denizens tell her she's got it all wrong. And to lose your eyes in Wonderland is a travesty. The Doormouse steals the Bandersnatch's eye, and he loses his strength, turning in on himself in a brooding anger. When Alice restores his eye, she makes a friend.
The Hatter pricks the already one-eyed Knave of Hearts in the eye with his hat pin, and the Knave is undone. The Knave's joy in the wonder of Wonderland has already been compromised by having only one eye. Losing the other would separate him from the wonder altogether. There's an importance equated with the eyes, with being able to see the Wonder-ful things around you, to see the world as recognizable and also perpetually unrecognizable. Therein lies the magic.
So, life isn't always easy.
Sometimes you have to find who you are.
Sometimes you need to look again before you can see what something really is.
Sometimes you have to convince others, and sometimes you have to trust them.
And sometimes, you just have to suit up and slay the Jabberwocky.

"This is impossible."
"Only if you believe it is..."

photos: stills from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, sketches by Colleen Atwood. Fashion photos from movie publicity and Vanity Fair shoot.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tonight, tonight!

Glee returns. GLEE!

photos: Dianna Agron candid, Dianna Agron, Gemma Mays, Lea Michele, and Matthew Morrison from the Golden Globes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Channelling Eleanor.

Not from Aquitaine. The Rooseveltian incarnation of a woman with political power and a mind of her own. Wasn't it Mrs. Roosevelt who said something to the effect of: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"?
And then there's Victor Hugo, who never disappoints:
I'm brewing something, friends.

quote image from:

Thursday, April 8, 2010


"In the Spring, I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."
-Mark Twain
My friendlings, if Spring in Philadelphia is an old miser grumbling all the way to the mailbox in slippers and in slush, who happens to spot an unassuming crocus growing rogue upon his lawn and takes a brief moment to smile before surrendering to his overcast disposition once more,
if Spring in Atlanta is the aftermath of a giant pinata, smashed with thunderous storm blows, dispelling a stifling powdery yellow coating upon everything in its vicinity, to the screaming and joyeous delight of the bees and the angst of my watery-eyed mother,
then Spring in Boulder is a schizophrenic puppy dog, bounding with great enthusiasm through various elements and atmospheres, utterly unable to decide which toy is best to play with.
There was snow on the ground yesterday morning. Today the wind blows freezing, but the sun shines warm. The trees are budding outside my bedroom window.
(This is a good sign, seeing as everyone knows that the trees know best when Spring is truly to come. Damn the camera-shy groundhog. When was the last time he didn't see his shadow?) The magic MacWeatherButton promises rising highs through the weekend, with a grand culmination around the brilliant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. O blessed, blessed promise.
This is the time of year that I remember that though I've strayed far from the Old Red Hills, inside my chest beats the heart of Southern Belle and a Steel Magnolia. After March is over, the coldest thing I want in my life is a mint julep.
My blood tells me it's time to start finding a derby hat that would do Eliza proud,
start frying up the green tomatoes,
start sitting on the deck at every possible moment and stock up on Vitamin D, start siphoning heroine novellas into my "Best Novels Ever Written" reading list (one cannot be expected to read Under the Volcano while basking in the sun. That sort of atmosphere is made for guilty pleasures).
And then there are the inclinations that pulse deeper than just the blood. The grand promise of Spring. I'm ready.
"Out with the cold, in with the woo."
-E. Marshall, "Spring Thought"

photos: by Snowflakeskiss from tumblr, Gloriosity LCT Delaware Valley 2008, by Lonely Pierot from Deviantart, from Bedifferentactnormal.blogspot, Puppy from tumblr, by Chrrristine from flickr, Girl in Window from, mint julep from urbzen.files.wordpress, My Fair Lady image from, fried green tomato tower from, What, no machine guns? from, Always by _kittysyellowjacket from deviantART.