Lydster: creating another Jesus

collage

JesusI was quite unclear what my daughter’s specific motivation was. Suddenly, she needed to cut up magazines, and sort the pieces by color. Bye bye, old, unread copies of Vanity Fair.

Then she did a couple of drawings on 8.5″ by 11″ paper, one in green, the other in blue. She added digits as though she were creating a paint-by-numbers. And she was, of a sort. She was creating a code for the different colors, and the gradation within the hues. Using the copier, she made the primary image larger.

Our church had disposed of some old hymnals a couple of years ago, and we had three or four copies. One of them died for her art, as she arranged the pages as her background. There was no musical theme involved, BTW.

The living room was quite a mess as she glued pieces on the image she had hand-drawn. Here’s the result of her collage of another Jesus portrayal. It is roughly 30″ by 40″.

Is heaven segregated?

I found an interesting interview from NPR in June 2020. The Rev. Lenny Duncan is a black preacher in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. his 2019 book is Dear Church: A Love Letter From a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US.

A couple quotes: “One of the things I talk about in the book is [the symbolism of Advent] — painting blackness as always in darkness, always as evil and bad, further away from the light of God and all that kind of language we use in our worship.”

And: “I believe that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wants to be better. They just don’t know how. One of the things that we often underestimate with the power of white supremacy is that the people who are the sickest from it, often do not know that they are infected with it.”

The philosophers of the 18th and 19th century codified that notion. In Philosophy of History (Chapter 2), Voltaire argued that blacks were a separate, lesser species. Europeans felt the need to justify their discriminatory treatment of non-Europeans. So-called “empirical methods” readily allowed them to conclude that Indians and Africans were inferior people.

At some level, my daughter, who was in her confirmation class only last year, must be intuitively aware of all of this. We haven’t had specific conversations about what Jesus looked like. Her rendering of another Jesus is her truth.

Books, brooks, a sudden savant

Books and Brooks by Melanie

Diana de Avila.Uranium Glass
Uranium Glass. Copyright 2020, Diana de Avila. Used by permission.
Because I’m so old-fashioned, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I updated my blogroll. I mean, what else does one do with a foot cramp at 2 a.m.?

I started with adding some folks who were on my previous blogroll. Some, I discovered, were defunct or inactive.

And I’ve added a new one, Books and Brooks. The title comes from As You Like It: Act II, Scene 1 by Billy Shakes. “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

This blog is by Melanie, whose previous blog I had discovered quite by accident and followed regularly. Unfortunately, it came down, not by her doing.

Melanie was crucial in helping me discover my biological grandfather and has provided me in additional genealogical tips. We’ve never met in person, but she’s has been a great friend.

Synesthesia

Someone I HAVE met in person is Diana de Avila. When I first saw her one New Year’s Eve, she was playing Celtic Snare with Albany Police Pipes and Drums. She became a friend of a friend. Her other relationship went by the boards, but Diana and I kept in touch.

She was/is a fascinating person, a military veteran and a former nun. We’d drink tea or coffee in some hangout on Lark Street in Albany and solve the problems of the world. Briefly, we were even neighbors.

When she moved away, we kept in touch sporadically. Among other things, she was an early tester of Google Glass, which I found fascinating.

And now, I’ve just discovered Diana has Acquired Savant Syndrome. She is one of only 319 people “added to a registry.” She notes, “There are a few things that make my case even rarer: 1) I am a female, 2) mine is accompanied by Synesthesia. 3) I don’t have Autism and am not on the spectrum – mine arose from brain injury.”

The Synesthesia somehow makes sense to me. Many years ago, she and another friend were in the house of my soon-to-be wife reading auras and seeing colors the rest of us were not connected to. It’s not the same thing, of course, but it resonates similarly to me.

You should read this article about Diana, which touches on other aspects of her life including her health. And check out her website.

I’m lucky to have Melanie and Diana in my life.

Renoir: “a hedonist’s dreamland”

Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow

Renoir.Clark ArtMy wife and I went to the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, MA. We’d surely been there at least a couple times before, though I don’t seem to have mentioned it in ye olde blogge.

The featured display was Renoir: The Body, The Senses. As the description notes: “From the late 1860s and early 1870s when he attempted to find fame at the Salon, through his Impressionist phase, and until his final years working steadfastly in the south of France, Renoir returned repeatedly, almost obsessively, to the subject of the body—clothed, certainly, but especially nude.”

And it wasn’t just his work, but that of his contemporaries such as Manet and Monet. While I wasn’t formally part of the tour, I listened in to one of the guides. She gave me a greater appreciation of the techniques used in the paintings, some of which are deteriorating somewhat. The display will be up until September 22.

We also viewed Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow. Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe (1889–1961) had some talent. More interesting, though, were the relationships. Georgia actively discouraged the artistic ambitions of Ida and their sister Catherine. Catherine abided by Georgia’s wishes; Ida did not.

Earlier, Ida often visited Georgia and Georgia’s husband Alfred Stieglitz. He took several photos of Ida, and it is thought that Alfred had a non-reciprocated flirtation with his sister-in-law. Ida once noted that she too could have been more famous if she had “a Stieglitz,” someone to promote her. The Ida O’Keeffe show is up through October 14.

My friend David Brickman discussed both of these displays HERE.

Then we did what we had never done. We went on a tour of the original building from the 1950s with two young women as our guides, one who just graduated from Williams College, and the other an incoming junior. It is an eclectic mix that reflected the taste of art collector Robert Sterling Clark and his wife, Francine.

The docents noted that during the Cold War, the Clarks worried about the safety of their artworks. Anticipating a possible attack on New York City, where they lived, they started looking at sites in rural New York and Massachusetts in order to found a museum for their art in a less vulnerable location.

Admission to the Clark Art Institute is $20, but free to students and those under 18. Since we have a card that reflects a reciprocal arrangement with a library in Albany, the visit was free. Last time, I bought some books; maybe I will next trip as well.

The title of this piece is from a Wall Street Journal review.

Annie Lennox: ‘Now I Let You Go…’

Who will remember us — and for how long?

mass moca.annie lennoxThe family, including all of my immediate in-laws, spent nearly a week in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts There’s a lot of cultural landmarks there, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, which I’ve been to at least thrice.

This year, my wife and I attended three other museums/galleries. First up, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, generally referred to as MASS MoCA.

One of the first things we saw was Annie Lennox’s ‘Now I Let You Go…’. This link will tell you most of what you need to know. A docent pointed out one thing I DIDN’T notice, that a piano on top of the pile shows up in shadow on a far wall, and it’s quite affecting. The musician had a vision for the piece, and contacted MASS MoCA, according to a radio interview. She writes:

We interact with an infinity of objects from birth to the grave.

Over time our ‘belongings’ become more steeped and resonant with memory and nostalgia.
In many ways, personal objects express aspects of who we are — our identity: our values: our statements and choices.

The passages of time through which we exist become defined by the objects with which we interact.

The artifacts contained within the earthen mound — partially buried — partially excavated — have all played a part in my life.

I have had a special connection to each item presented — a connection that has been hard to relinquish.

In time, we will all disappear from this earth.

This is our destiny.

What will we leave behind? Who will remember us — and for how long?

I heard music in the background that sounded like Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made of This, yet not exactly. It was the song played backward, it turns out.

Coincidentally, two other female musicians also had displays at the museum, but I saw neither. Unfortunately, the paintings of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders leave at the end of August 2019. The work of Laurie Anderson will be there through 2020, but one has to make an appointment in advance.

Things we did see included Still I Rise (through May 2020), the ceiling lights of Spencer Finch’s Cosmic Latte, and the most impressive Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States, a new wall drawing by Joe Caldwell (the latter two through 2020 at least).

Admission is $20, but you can come back the next day for free. If our schedule had permitted, we would most certainly have done that. Since the last time we went – could it have been in 2007? – it had taken over far more repurposed old factory buildings than the handful where the museum once existed.

Gallery of the Louvre: gallery of my office

“Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!”

gallery of the louvreAt work, I’ve got an office for the first time in 12 years. I’ve been in cubicles, and for more than two years in a part of a storage space; long story.

*The only thing on the wall in the latter location was a picture of John Lennon c 1972 which my friend Rocco of FantaCo gave me decades ago.

My wife and my daughter decided to rectify that situation. Most of the items were in the attic, not getting the love they needed.

*The largest item is a print my wife had of Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33 by Samuel Finley Breese Morse. Yeah, the guy who invented the telegraph was also an artist.

It appeals to me, a picture of pictures in a picture. But I also appreciate that one can be an artist and an inventor too.

*My friend, the late Raoul Vezina, did a pencil drawing of me as the duck and had it framed. The large word balloon reads “SURPRISE, ROGER!” The thought balloon was of me thinking, “Is it time for Agronsky and Company already?” That referred to a news talk show I watched regularly.

The duck is reading a New York Times Magazine, which featured the actual content of the issue dated Sunday, March 7, 1982, SELF-SEARCHING IN ISRAEL by Michael Elkins. I think Raoul gave it to me the next day. The picture reminds me of Raoul, of course, who died in November 1983, but also FantaCo, and my birthday.

*A little picture of a pear in the foreground. The caption: “‘Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!’ exclaimed Red Ball.” My wife tells me it’s suggestive. Whatever.

In a WTEN (Channel 10, Albany) interview of me before I appeared on JEOPARDY! in 1998, I noted that passing the test doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be on the show. The interviewer said what makes the difference between appearing and not. I said, cheekily, “I don’t know, charisma?” And for about five years after that, one of my work colleagues noted that I had CHARISMA.

*There’s a tiny photo of the top of Binghamton (NY) City Hall, which my friend, and ex-girlfriend, gave me. My hometown.

*The last piece is abstract so difficult to describe. I expect from the color scheme it was from Central America. We got it as a wedding present, I believe.