The Magic of Art

July 9, 2018 – A while back, I received a post card from a friend that completely brightened my day. She was visiting Santa Fe, N.M., more specifically the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. It’s one of my favorite places on earth, the post card brought back a lot of pleasant memories.

I remember visiting the museum several years back in the early days, when it first opened. It’s nothing like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, my local museum, which is incredible in its own right, but on a much grander scale. Rather, it resembles an adobe style home in the middle of a residential neighborhood, giving it a straightforward appeal.

While there I took in two of my favorite paintings, Red Poppy and Black and Purple Petunias, prints of which hang in my dining room. It was incredible to see the actual work and brush strokes on the canvas.

 georgia-okeeffe-black-and-purple-petunia-1925

A few years later, in 2000, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC offered an O’Keeffe exhibit, and when I read that my painting would be displayed, the three-hour ride seemed minimal. Ladder to the Moon is a simple painting, but it makes me feel full of possibilities when I look at it.

The technical aspect of art is lost on me; I’ve never taken a fine arts class and don’t know how to correctly interpret the paintings I admire. And that’s OK. I much prefer the way a painting makes me feel, anyway. The magic of art is like that sometimes.

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Are You Ready for Bloomsday?

June 16, 2018 – “How can you call yourself a writer if you’ve never read Ulysses?”

This is not a question that keeps me awake at night, but rather one that my son asks me from time to time when he feels I’m not living up to my potential, which is about the same time, I suppose, he feels he’s not living up to his potential. The question is meant to inspire me to read the classics and push myself to achieve a similar feat. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do for him.

I’ve never actually answered his question, but I did head over to my local Barnes and Noble to page through a copy of the James Joyce classic. With a cup of tea in hand, I sat in the café to read a few pages before I purchased a copy.

This week marks is the 114th anniversary of Joyce’s first date with his wife-to-be Nora Barnacle. Their relationship was the inspiration for Ulysses, a story that takes place all in one day on … you guessed it … June 16. Seems Joyce was not only a serious writer but also a serious romantic. In Ireland, June 16 is known as Bloomsday, named for the character of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses.

And to all the writers who have read Ulysses, I commend you. It may be considered a 265,000-word work of art written in a stream of consciousness style, but I wasn’t able to get past the first few pages.

The Test of Time

August 21, 2107 – This week marks the 77th anniversary of the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

As a classic movie fan, it’s one of my favorites, and I love finding opportunities to watch it on the big screen. Unlike some older movies, it is as relevant and popular today as it was back then; perhaps even more so, since it wasn’t a box office hit when it was released. However, after 77 years, families still gather to watch the story of Dorothy and her three friends finding their hearts’ desire.

It has me wondering what other entertainment icons can stand the test of time?

For movies, “Casablanca” springs to mind, along with “Citizen Kane”, although the latter is not one of my favorites. I have to give honorable mention to anything by Alfred Hitchcock, and to the wonderful family movies made in the 1960s and 1970s such “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins” and “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.

When it comes to music, you have to include Frank Sinatra on the list, or anyone in the Rat Pack for that matter. They are still wildly popular today. You could also include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan in the mix because their music still has a strong audience, even though many of the songs are 50 years old. How many people do you think will still listen to Katie Perry or Justin Bieber 50 years from now?

As for literature, you can always include “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Bell Jar”. Classics will always be pushed on students, although they probably won’t appreciate them until they are adults. For popular literature, the first book that comes to mind is “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret”. Young girls will surely continue to read that wonderful story in future, and as shown above, only the cover will modernize. In addition, something tells me the Harry Potter books will stick around for a long time, too.

What else do you think will continue to be popular years from now?

Grounds for Sculpture

July 17, 2017 – Just outside of Trenton, N.J., about 50 minutes from Philadelphia, sits a gem known as Grounds for Sculpture. The 42 acre property is unique art museum that features indoor and outdoor exhibits, a mixture of nature and modern sculpture and 3D characters from classic paintings. Yesterday’s sunny sky and lower humidity provided the perfect weather for a Sunday morning stroll through the grounds.

Grounds for Sculpture is the perfect venue for families looking for a little exercise and something different to do. The grounds change with the seasons, so anytime is perfect for a visit.

Here’s a sneak peak of what to expect if you go:

Monet’s Bridge
The Water Lilies beneath Monet’s Bridge

 

Couple with boat
More water lilies in bloom because I can’t get enough

 

One of the indoor exhibits; a cartoon room

Best Beach Reads for Summer 2017

July 10, 2017 – Summer vacation season is in full swing, and whether you’re headed to the beach, the lake or the mountains, there’s nothing better than sitting in the sun and reading a good book.

If you’re looking for suggestions, here is a list of 30 of this summer’s hottest reads.

And if you’re really adventurous, here are the best beach reads of all time according to NPR’s audience.

 

The Test of Time

hourglassAugust 19, 2016 – This month marks the 77th anniversary of the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” As a fan of old movies, it is one of my favorites. I can quote from it and sing along with its upbeat tunes as if I were performing it myself.

A true classic appeals to all generations. Here are a few other entertainment vehicles stands the test of time.

Movies:
There is abundant of movies to choose from, but the first two that pop into my mind is “Casablanca” and  “Citizen Kane”, although the latter isn’t one of my favorites. And, of course, “The Wizard of Oz”. Honorable mention goes out to anything by Alfred Hitchcock, and to the wonderful family movies made in the 1960s, such as “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, to name a few. My own personal favorite, “So I Married an Ax Murderer”, makes me stop flipping through the channels immediately.

Television Shows:
Classic TV shows are readily available to new generations now that so many cable channels broadcast them. However, classic and stand the test of time do not always go hand in hand. “Seinfeld”, for example, is relatively new, but it can stand against any classic now and probably in years to come. Others include “Bewitched”,  my personal fave from childhood, “MASH”, “Cheers” and “I Love Lucy”. They are examples from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. I’m not sure any television show beyond that (at least so far) qualifies.

Singers/Bands:
How about Frank Sinatra, or anyone in the Rat Pack to start? They are still wildly popular today. You could also include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Bob Dylan in the mix because all of their music still has a strong audience, even though many of the songs were recorded 50 years ago. I wonder how many people will listen to Kanye West or Justin Bieber in 50 years. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say not many.

Songs:
Funny how Led Zeplin didn’t cross my mind as a band, but their song “Stairway to Heaven” certainly makes the cut for songs that stand the test of time. At least it continuously makes top five of every classic rock list. “Hey Jude”, “Let it Be” or anything by the Beatles is also a qualifier, and it’s the same for any hits by the Stones or The Who. Let’s reach back a little further and consider those romantic ditties from crooners past, such as “The Way You Look Tonight” or “Fly Me to the Moon”? They are still making present generations swoon. Or,  how about the most popular song ever—“Happy Birthday”?

Books:
This is probably the easiest category because schools will always push the classics on students, although they probably won’t really appreciate them until they are adults. So, what books stand out? How about “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Anna Karenina”, and “The Bell Jar”, to name a few? I would be remiss not to mention Judy Blume because I know that young girls in the future will still likely be captivated with “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?”. And something tells me the Harry Potter books will stick around for a long time, too.

I could add more, but this post might end up as long as a Marcel Proust novel, and I’ve been working on knowing my limits.

 

Bloomsday is coming!

Bloomsday-On-BondiJune 10, 2016 – “How can you call yourself a writer if you’ve never read Ulysses?”

It’s a question my son asks me on occasion as if there is a law against putting pen to paper without first succumbing to the words of James Joyce.

The question is meant to inspire me to read the classic novel and push myself to achieve a similar feat. I’m certain I’ll never write another Ulysses, but I visited my local Barnes and Noble anyway to page through a copy. With a cup of tea in hand, I sat in the café and began to read.

Next week, we commemorate the 112th anniversary of Joyce’s first date with his wife-to-be Nora Barnacle. Their relationship was the inspiration for Ulysses, a story that takes place all in one day on June 16, a day that will be forever known as Bloomsday in literary circles, named for the character of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses. It seems Joyce was not only a serious writer but also a serious romantic.

To honor James Joyce and his beloved Nora, Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library at 2008 Delancey Place will host their 24th annual Bloomsday celebration. Events will be scheduled at the museum, the Free Library of Philadelphia at 1901 Vine Street (on the Parkway), in Rittenhouse Square and other locations. Visit the website for dates and times.

To all the serious writers out there who have read Ulysses, I commend you. It may be considered a 265,000-word work of art written in a stream of consciousness style that was used by several writers in the early 20th century, but I wasn’t able to do it.