Thursday, April 29, 2021

Colors

 The greens on the trees in my neighborhood this week really lift my heart.



Ah, Green--spring green, sea green, pea green, olive green, jade, celadon, celery, lime, turquoise, chartreuse, teal, Nile, Kelly, moss, emerald, mint, British racing green, you're all so beautiful.

When I was looking for a dress for Jessie's wedding this dress called to me from across the floor at Saks.  


I've worn it to five weddings since Jessie and Lee's. Now it hangs in my closet, complementing the pink wallpaper, reminding me of happy days, waiting for the next wedding. 



Green is not my only love; look at this  unusual combination in a tree pit on Bleecker Street. It's the purple and orange that caught my eye.



This reminds me of a story my brother, Alan, told me.  They're all sitting around the dining room table; Alan, Donna, their son, Allie, and granddaughter, Arya, age 3 1/2, all just hanging out.  Donna and Arya are coloring.

Donna says, "Arya, do you know what colors we mix to get orange?"

Arya rolls her eyes and says, "Grammy.  I know my secondary colors." 

Do you know your secondary colors?  Purple, orange and green. 

Here, in a nod to Arya, I made the three Wise Men resplendent in their cloaks of secondary colors.


Then we have the primary colors--do you know them?  I once asked my first graders to name them and one hand shot up, 

"Green and gold!" she said with utter confidence.

"What? NO!" I was appalled.  

Then I realized that outside the door she entered every day was a sign that said "Primary School" in the school colors which, of course, were green and gold. So I forgave her, but we had to have a little lesson.  

If you watched the Howdy Doody Show, sponsored by Wonder Bread, you heard Buffalo Bob say repeatedly,

"Look for the bread with the red, yellow and blue balloons, printed on the wrapper!"


My family is looking askance at this--rest assured, I'm not telling you to buy Wonder Bread--just look at the colors. Those are the primaries.

Then there are the complementary colors--the opposites on the color wheel. 



Put the complementary colors next to each other and they pop.  Red and green? Think of a Christmas wreath. Yellow and purple? A bouquet of sunflowers with some purple heather tucked in. 

Orange and blue?  This reminds me of a moment in my painting class at the League; a tiny old lady did an abstract of several shades of blue; it was very pretty, but what made it absolutely sing was one stroke of brilliant orange like a bird soaring across the upper left hand corner. The whole class stood around admiring her. When I say she was tiny I'm not exaggerating-she was about 4 foot 9.  She said, "I'm the joy of the family!"  It seems she was a milestone for the grandchildren-the first grown-up to surpass as they grew taller. 

As I free associated on color and what it means to me, I googled a quote from Alice Walker and up popped, "State of Texas bans the color purple."  

What?  Now I've really had it with Texas.  Actually the prison system banned The Color Purple because of 

"graphic sexual content and situations of violence and abuse." 

I'm not in favor of banning books but at least they didn't try to ban the color itself, although I wouldn't put it past them to try.  The quote I was looking for is, 

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see God is always trying to please us back.”

"Color was made for the perpetual comfort and delight of the human heart."  John Ruskin said it, and I believe it. Here's some comfort and delight from my neighborhood to yours.





Thursday, April 22, 2021

A Special Treat

 

I spotted this painting by my friend, Elaine Forrest, on Facebook and it stopped me dead in my scrolling.


Proust was right; these may not be madeleines, but the memory they invoked was vivid.

My Dad, whose birthday is next Tuesday, adored Mallomars.  There were a lot of things he adored and when he loved something he loved with his whole heart.

Like Mom.  


One of the last times I was with both of them I overheard him say to her, "I appreciate everything you do for me and I love you very much."

And his Mom.  


She loved him back with a full heart and a clear eye.

When he bragged to her that my brother, Larry, had made the honor roll he said,

"You know, Mom, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree."

She gave him a long look and said,

"Unless there's a big wind blowing."

But let's get back to the Mallomars and this beautiful little painting.  


                                       "Mallomars", Elaine Forrest, Oil on Canvas,  12” x 16”

                                                                 

Elaine is a wonderful artist who paints little things, like shoes and bowties, and big things, like people she loves. You can see more of her work at

                                                                    elaineforrest.net

When I asked her if I could write about "Mallomars" I wondered if she had made a mistake in cropping, as it looks a bit off center.  Here's what she said,

 If I recall, I was interested in the front and then decided to add the open side. Ha! Do you think I had to sneak a cookie while painting? That’s why it looks a little strangely cropped! Enjoy!

Well, who could resist? Certainly not Dad, who knew how to take pleasure in small things.  I can see him pull one out of the box, take a deep whiff to savor its aroma, pop the whole thing in his mouth and kiss his fingertips like a French chef.  

After Dad's memorial service the whole family gathered for dinner.  Jessie and her cousin, Shelagh, brought several boxes of Mallomars and passed them out, one to each of us.  We shared them in a very personal form of communion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Special Event Today at 5

 


We have a special Fragile Earth / Earth Day event planned!

Please join us TOMORROW Thursday April 22nd 5-6pm ET


Meeting ID: 814 9722 7922
Passcode: NYAC

A panel of participating artists will present their artwork, discuss their responses to the climate crisis, and speak about their relationship to environmental issues.

Ellen Alt • Pamela Casper • Jaynie Crimmins • Kristin Reed 
         Ann R. Shapiro • Sandra Taggart • Lucy Wilner

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!
Fran and Barbara

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Another Wonderful Artist

 


I’ve admired Linda Stillman's art since January, 2007 when her work appeared in the first Art at First Exhibit.


                                                    "
Daily Paintings: (10/16/05-10/23/05)"
                                    acrylic on panels; 9 3/4 x 19 3/4  x 3/4 inches; 2005/2006

I loved the piece and I was inspired by Linda’s daily practice. Here’s what she says about her work.

"In my “Daily Skies” project, I paint, draw or photograph a small portion of the sky each day in an ongoing series, started in August 2005, and continuing indefinitely.  The section of the sky is based on one pane of my studio window, so no matter where I am, I picture the same shape and angle. Each year I arrange the work in different ways using just a few days or a whole year."


“Daily Paintings: 2007;” acrylic on panels; 44 x 77 x 3/8 inches; 2007


I told myself that since these sky paintings had stayed in my mind for so long they really meant something to me and I should do something about that. So I reached out to Linda and visited her website.

                                                                www.lindastillman.com

I really wanted something of hers but what?  And do I really need to buy myself a present?  But I never know what to give Arthur for either Christmas or his birthday.  He likes to pick out his own clothes and books and he doesn't collect stuff--but maybe art?  I asked Linda what we could do and how about an image of the sky on his birthday?  Perfect.

So Linda designed and printed this for us:

               

         
                   “Daily Sky 2020: Feb.15 focus;” archival ink jet print; 19 x 13 inches; 2021

Linda goes on to say,

"It is based on the grid of sky photos from my Instagram project @dailysky2020. I took a photo of the sky everyday at noon facing north and posted them on Instagram. I make prints of the grids using different days as the focal point. I did this one built around the photo of the sky on Arthur’s birthday, Feb. 15 — it's the clear blue sky in the middle of the third row from the top."


My framer, Peter, who rarely cracks a smile, actually made a joke!
He said, “Huh, here’s a picture of the sky and I’m asking which way is up!”  Well, a little joke.

Arthur LOVES his present. Here it is in our kitchen-well, our kitchen is open to the whole apartment so this is a prominent spot. At first I hung it over a scene of orange groves I bought from a street artist in Seville and a view across the Hudson River by my friend, Susan Cohen.


 Arthur is a man of strict habits.  He has breakfast everyday at 5 as the sun comes up, sitting in the same spot at this counter. So that he could gaze at Daily Sky 2020 he has moved from the north side, on the right of this picture, to the east side.  This may not sound like a big deal unless you know Arthur. Then I had to lower it, so that he could gaze directly at it. 
Now, no matter what the weather, he can start the day with a blue sky.



I don't often have success with gifts for my husband and this was a home run.
So thank you, Linda Stillman!


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Thoughts on Color and an Update on a Work in Progress

 I recently read that the joy we feel at the coming of spring has a lot to do with the re-emergence of color,  and that's what I've been celebrating this week. These tulips sit right outside my front door.


Further down the block in Abingdon Square Park...rhododendrons in mauve.


And further on-in the Aids Memorial Park magnolias. It's been  a long winter and we really have needed this.  




In the midst of celebrating color I saw in the Times that Gianluigi Colalucci has died at 91.  Who?  He's the "conservator whose painstaking labor changed art history."  




He restored the Sistine Chapel ceiling by removing 500 years of soot, smoke and dust, not to mention the drapery painted over the private parts, against Michelangelo's orders, revealing astonishing colors--"apple greens, startling blues, rosy peaches."  Not every one was thrilled--some called it a desecration and I remember at the League the students of Frank Mason, a revered teacher, tiptoed around the subject, knowing that just to mention the word restore or improve could invoke another tirade.  I think by now it's agreed that the glory of Michelangelo has been revealed. Rest In Peace, Gianluigi Colalucci, you did a great thing for the world.

You can still read about him--it was on page A24 of yesterday's NY Times.


But enough about Michelangelo, what have I been up to? I've been working in GREEN, and as I said last week, I"m having a blast.  the home of the Irish American Society on Fifth Avenue is currently the scene of much conflict, so I've thrown cold water on all the fuss.

Here are some details.  I"m drawing the house as undersea scene--with water inside and out.  Here are the first floor windows and yes, there's a whale in the living room.


A Great Blue Heron, thanks to John James Audubon.


A White Heron,


A goldfish on either side



These fish need eyes; don't worry, they're coming.  I'm close to finishing-I want to put an octopus in the upstairs windows and  decide what to put in the attic.  So stay tuned.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

 

Today is good Friday and we're in the midst of Passover. 
This will be our second Easter and Passover in quarantine, and even though there is reason for hope that the end is near I really miss gathering in church, and then having a big crowd for dinner.  Two years ago we had a Seder/Easter dinner. Here's what I wrote then.




Today is good Friday and we're in the midst of Passover. When these two holy feasts come together I think back to my daughter, Jessie’s, first year.  I hadn’t given much thought to her religious education; I was just trying to sleep through the night. 

But it was a big question. Jessie had a Jewish father, Arthur, and a Christian mother, me.  Arthur had very little religious upbringing and I had taken some time off from church wrestle with some  issues in my evangelical background. Up ’til that point our biggest conflict had been what to say at our wedding; so—no Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but we did say the Lord’s Prayer.  Arthur said later he loved hearing all our friends speaking aloud for us.

So it wasn’t exactly a conflict, but I wanted to know more. I needed to learn something about Judaism. Where to start?

My friend, Linda, invited me to visit her parents in Florida to celebrate Passover, a holiday I didn’t know much about. 

Her mother taught me to make gefilte fish and motzoh balls and how to set the table with the seder plate, and glasses of wine and a place set for Elijah. We had fun cooking together.
                                                                            



Then we all sat down and began.  We opened the Haggadah;

(The Haggadah is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to each Jew to "tell your children" the story from the Book of Exodus about Yahweh bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egyptwith a strong hand and an outstretched arm. As it is written in the Torah, ("And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the LORD did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.").


When we began to read the old Sunday School stories came back to me. 

You see, Pharaoh, a wicked king, had a dream that a great leader was about to be born of his slaves, the Israelites,  who would  lead his people out of captivity.  So Pharaoh commanded that all first born sons of Jewish families should be killed.  

One mother, named, Yocheved, saved her baby by putting him in a basket and floating him down the river.  Miriam, the baby's big sister, watched the basket, and when Pharaoh’s daughter, bathing in the river, found the baby in the bulrushes, she spoke up.  "I know someone who can take care of him for you." And so the little boy grew up under the protection of Pharaoh’s daughter, who took him as her son and named him Moses.

Let’s hear it for the big sister.

When Moses grew up he noticed how cruelly the Egyptians treated their slaves, so he went to live with his own people, the Israelites.

One day when he was out walking he saw a bush that was on fire but it didn’t burn up, and the Angel of the Lord appeared out of the flames and then God told Moses that he must save his people and lead them out of Egypt into Canaan, a land of milk and honey.

There’s a great song about this;“Go down Moses, way down in Egypt Land, Tell old Pharaoh, Let my people go.”

Moses said, “Who, me?  I can’t do that,”  and God said, “Sure you can, I’ll help you.” 

It took some convincing, because Moses, who had a stutter, was not confident about his speaking skills but God told him to take his brother Aaron with him.

Moses said. “Okay I'll do it.” So he went to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go.”

Pharaoh said no.  God had showed Moses how to turn a staff into a snake and back again and  Pharaoh was impressed but his heart was hardened and he still said no so God sent the plagues. Locusts, blood, boils, drought, frogs, hail. The worst was that every first born son would die.
God told the Israelites to make a sacrifice of a lamb and put the blood on their door frame, and the Angel of Death would pass over their house.  And that’s Passover.

Then Pharaoh said, “Okay, go,” and Moses and his people got up and left, taking only unleavened bread; That's why weavoid leavened bread for the time of Passover and only eat Motzoh. 

Pharaoh changed his mind and sent an army after them but God parted the Red Sea, the Israelites crossed in safety and then the water came back and drowned Pharaoh’s army.

Then the people spent forty years in the desert, and Moses went up on a mountaintop and God gave him the Ten Commandments and eventually they got to the Jordan River. 

It’s an awesome story and it belongs to all of us.  For me it resonates with the American Revolution, the Civil War, the civil rights movement. It’s all about the quest for freedom and the rights of all people to be free.

And then I realized that Jesus was celebrating Passover at the Last Supper, when he told his friends, this is my body…do this in remembrance of me,” the beginning our own ritual of communion.
I was overwhelmed.
Linda’s Mom said, “So, you gonna convert?”
Before I had an answer Linda’s father said, "You don’t need to convert, or even join Jews for Jesus. You just want a wider view of the world and where you fit in it."
Well, Exactly.

So I’m not choosing between the two faiths of my family.  I’m clinging to the things that bring us together.

Let us rejoice together in the miracles of Rebirth and Renewal, and of the search for freedom for everyone.

What are my grandchildren learning?  They have a menorah and a Christmas tree.
Molly said to Jessie, “I have a father who’s Jewish, right?”
“Right.”
“And my mother is…Manhattan-ish?”
Well, it's a start.



Speaking of rebirth and renewal, yesterday was opening day for the Yankees, and the Mets will have to wait a few more days because their planned opponents, the Nats, had a case of exposure to Covid, but we're all excited about welcoming Baseball back.  And speaking of not choosing between two faiths, or two beloved entities, can't we all get along?  I once heard a young woman proudly state that she hated the Yankees--and she was in church!  I still haven't gotten over it.
I am a New York Fan.  
Until the bottom of the ninth, seventh game of the World Series, with a tie score, I will not choose between the Mets and the Yanks, but rather cheer for both of my teams and wish them all well.
In 2009 when Jessie married Lee, a Boston boy, I even opened my heart to the Red Sox.






Let's not pass up any chance to celebrate!

Still in the GREEN

I'm still swimming in green, although the lilacs appeared in the green market this week so I'm also enjoying a little purple.  There...