A Piece of the World

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I’ve just ordered this long awaited book and can’t wait to read it not just because it’s by an author whose works I enjoy but because it’s about people and place quite familiar to me.

Olson HouseThe piece of the world the title refers to is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine.  It is a place I’ve visited many times and am intrigued by its stories.

christinas_world-e1380208783741The main character of Kline’s novel is Christina Olson who shared the house with her brother Alvaro.  She was a simple woman crippled by a then undiagnosed disease.  She was made famous by her friend Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World which hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  It was her many viewings of this painting and her visits to the Olson House that inspired Kline to write A Piece of the World.

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Christina Olson painted by Andrew Wyeth

Last summer I had the privilege of hearing the author talk about the inspiration for her novel which is not just about place but about a woman’s perseverance, independence and strength.  At the same time Christina Olson possessed these qualities, there was a vulnerability about her.  Inspired by the painting, Kline spent several years researching the Olsons and their 30 year relationship with Wyeth.  As history unfolded, she began to appreciate that it was likely Wyeth found something of himself in Christina.  

As I listened to Kline discuss the underlying mystery  and the influence of the rural landscape found in Wyeth’s painting, I began thinking about the power of visual art and how many ways it gives birth to another art form.  Certainly, this is true for the author whose name she shares with her subject.  I suspect that if one knew Christina Baker Kline, one would find, like with Wyeth, something shared with Christina.

What I would really like to know is how Christina felt when she saw herself as portrayed by Wyeth and how she would respond to being subject of Kline’s book.  That is the part of her story we may never know.

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Have (he)ART

IMG_5636Meet Greta Van Campen, a young Maine artist who just happens to have a show in Houston this month.  Greta travels the U.S. recording what she sees and interpreting it in her unique style.  

IMG_5635Wherever she shows, her work is reflective of the region and has resulted in quite a following throughout the country.

Afternoon12:31:15I like her meticulously done creations, but what I like even better is Greta’s desire to make a difference.  She feels very blessed to have enjoyed success at her young age, and while she doesn’t feel she yet has the resources for significant philanthropic giving she has found an alternative.

1452521794976This year Greta plans to auction a small painting each week that interprets the ever changing view outside her window in Tenants Harbor, Maine.  The successful bidder donates the bid amount to a charity of his/her choice, sends the receipt to Greta and receives a jewel of a painting in return.  Can you think of a better win/win?

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Mine!

I plan on bidding frequently in hope of acquiring several of Greta’s little gems, at the same time donating to a few of my favorite charities.  I am touched by her desire to give back and excited at the prospect of having my own collection of her small pieces.

I hope you will join me in supporting Greta’s generous heart.  For more information, take a look here.  Then follow along until you find your favorite painting and bid, bid, bid.  I’ll try real hard not to outbid you!

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High On Art

Japan InspirationOver the years I’ve looked at lots of art.  I always enjoy what I see, but from time to time an exhibit sets my heart to racing.  So it was with Japan Inspiration at Kunsthaus in Zurich because it opened my eyes to a new way of seeing.

Japonisme was an unfamiliar term to me.  What it refers to is the period from 1860 to 1910  when Japan, after 200 years of isolation, opened to the world. The aesthetic and formal language of Japan and Japanese influences inspired the creativity of many European artists, and this exhibit shows how they impacted Gauguin, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and other Impressionists.  I was astonished to see the links between these artists and their Japanese counterparts.  Thankfully, I was able to take photos so you, too, can see the connection.

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt is one of my favorites, and her work depicting mother and child always steals my heart.

Japan Inspiration

How surprising it was to see a similar Japanese piece, the likes of which are said to have inspired Cassatt’s future work.Japan InspirationJapanese art often depicted women doing everyday things,

Degas

Degas

thus women doing the ordinary became subject for many favorite paintings by Degas.

Japan InspirationJapanese art was not modest when it came to showing intimate relations,

Picasso

Picasso

and a series of Picasso prints are equally as graphic.

Cezanne

Cezanne

Repeating landscapes was a habit of many Japanese artists and likely provide explanation for Cezanne’s recurring renderings of Mount Sainte Victoire.

Monet

Monet

Studying Japanese masters inspired Monet’s in-depth contemplation of nature. His water lily paintings are among his most familiar, but did you know the last years of his life were spent focusing totally on them and the reflective surface of his pond?

Toulouse Lautrec

Toulouse Lautrec

Japanese objects, such as the instrument in this Toulouse Lautrec painting, began appearing in Impressionist work.  I don’t know about you, but I never gave thought to the source of such images.

Gauguin

Gauguin

While I would not object to owning a piece by any one of the Impressionist masters, my preference would be one of Gauguin’s whose work did not escape the Japanese influence.

There is much more than shown, but this is enough to help you see the correlation between Japanese art and the work of many of the Impressionist artists whose paintings we so admire.  I hope it will help you identify Japanese influences when you next take a look at an Impressionist exhibit.

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Winslow Homer in Maine

Winslow HomerSince the 1800’s, the magnetism of Maine’s natural beauty has drawn many an American artist.

Winslow HomerAmong the best known and most popular is Winslow Homer whose home and studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine is now open to the public as part of the offerings of the Portland Museum of Art.  From 1883 until his death in 1910, Homer spent much of his time here painting many of his best known works.   Until 2006, the property remained in the hands of his heirs who, becoming concerned that it would be lost to future generations, sold it to the museum.

Winslow HomerThe studio is meticulously renovated, however, little of the original furnishings is there. 

Winslow HomerSome of what is left struck me as reflecting both Homer’s sense of whimsy and his personal taste.

Winslow HomerThe second floor porch looks out upon a broad expanse of sea.  I could imagine Homer standing there smelling the salty air,

Winslow Homer watching waves crashing against craggy rocks

Winslow Homerand observing places where worn gray was broken by clusters of color.

Winslow HomerHow could these images not be among the very ones interpreted on canvas?

Winslow HomerIn the distance, a small craft cavorted among the waves

Winslow Homerreminding me of Homer’s paintings reflecting the struggle of man against nature. How different today’s scene is from one that inspired this painting.

Yes, Maine has influenced the work of painters from Homer to Hopper to Bellows to Indiana to Katz to Estes and I wonder how different their work would have been without their having experienced the magic of place.

Note: The images of the two paintings are borrowed from Wikipedia

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House of Twigs

Patrick Dougherty installation in Minnesota

Patrick Dougherty installation in Minnesota

Now, who would’ve thought of art made from saplings with the help of hundreds of helping hands?  Patrick Dougherty, an artist who has combined his carpentry skills with his love of nature to create installations from Maine to California as well as in many foreign countries.  Because of the volunteer effort required, his work truly becomes a community project that is the source of much delight.

Linda_  032When a friend told me of a project being done in Houston’s Hermann Park, it dawned on me I had just seen the same artist’s work at a winery in Napa Valley and was fascinated by it.

Patrick Dougherty in HoustonAll finished, the Houston installation is drawing big crowds

Patrick Doughertythat marvel over the construction

Patrick Doughertythat seems to be a natural part of the landscape.  The three little pigs would have done well to have such a sturdy house!

Patrick DoughertyWhether or not children appreciate the work for its artistry, they love to wander through the space

Patrick Daughertyand delight in discovering the magic of what probably seems to them a great big playhouse!

Isn’t it wonderful that art takes so many forms and enriches our life on a variety of levels?

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Sunday Afternoon Delight

The Bayou City Art Festival is one of my favorite spring events in Houston.  It is one of the country’s largest outdoor art shows and features art in all mediums by more than 400 artists from all over the country.

Daniel Ng

Daniel Ng

This year’s featured artist is Daniel Ng who is said to paint with imagination but not from imagination.  As this painting interpreting the approach to Houston’s downtown shows, he is definitely a colorist.

As much as I like paintings, prints and photographs, my heart sings when I see beautifully crafted art of wood, fiber, metal, glass and clay.  It’s hard to pick favorites from so many wonderful pieces, but these represent some of the artists who caught my eye.

Amber Marshall

Amber Marshall

Amber Marshall hails from Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and her glass creations are wonderful for their color and delicate shape.

Gregg Rasmusson

Gregg Rasmusson

Interestingly, many of the clay creations were done by men, and it was exciting to see their use of color and design.  I particularly liked the energy of Gregg Rasmusson’s work.

Sally J Bright

Sally J Bright

Every time I see Sally Bright’s work my heart beats a little faster.  Her sculptural fiber pieces are graceful and show a wonderful sensitivity to color.

Eric Ober

Eric Ober

Two Houston artists got my attention.  Eric Ober’s sculpture is perfect for outdoor installation, and I could easily imagine one in my yard.

Thomas Irven

Thomas Irven

Thomas Irven is a wood worker whose craftsmanship shows a real sensitivity to his material.

Carlos Montanaro

Carlos Montanaro

Of course, I can’t resist looking at jewelry and am particularly drawn to unusual upcycled pieces such at that of Carlos Montanaro.

I wish you had been here with me today.  It would have been fun to share the excitement and see what caught your eye. 

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

PS  All the photos shown here are from the artists’ websites.  I hope you will take a look to see other examples from their talented hands.

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Cuba: The Arts

When it comes to the arts in Cuba, there is real energy.  It’s hard to go anywhere without hearing the sound of music.

CubaSome musicians are university trained and play professionally in chamber ensembles or orchestras or entertain in clubs and hotels.

CubaOthers  seem just to have music in their bones and use their talent on the street or tourist venues to earn a few extra pesos.

CubaCubaCubaCubaMusic is a shared language that makes hearts sing and feet tap to its rhythms.  In Cuba, you might be inspired to dance the cha cha or salsa or become part of a cafe performance.  You have to be ready for any surprise!

CubaVisual art is as colorful and energetic as the music.   Classic cars and Che are popular subject for paintings

Cubaand amazing constructions are made from found objects.

CubaCubaCubaCubaNo material goes to waste and is used in most  creative ways.

CubaCubaCubaCubaOne artist, Jose Fuster, has transformed his home and entire neighborhood into an artistic landscape filled with unique mosaics and sculptures that are amazing and remind of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona.

CubaCubaCubaCubaPeople create with their hands  in a variety of mediums, and it’s wonderful to see them working so openly at every turn.

Yes, Cuba is a map of color and texture which are a joyful expression of the local culture.

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