Art Through Time and Space

Monday Morning Musings:

“I think the life of my community and most communities depends on the storytellers. We only know anything about the Roman Empire or about the lives of the people within the Greek polis from the plays that exist. We can find out from historical archives what laws were in place, but who they affected and how they affected those folks and those people – we only know from the stories and from the storytellers of that culture.”

–Tarell Alvin McCraney, playwright, from an interview on All Things Considered, March 2, 2019



We see, hear, feel art,

the stories of people and places

through many times, in many spaces. . .

Here–in a building of beaux-arts design

an enthusiastic staff helps us find

our relative’s work–mostly signed–

they pull boxes and boxes, and we’re delighted,

excited to see so many sketches and prints,

a box from his WPA tenure, hints

of the world around him,

and then some of tropical splendor–

realism and abstract and in-between–

perhaps a Chagall influence can be seen?

I like to think they knew each other

from their Belarus and French connections

though these are merely my fantasy, projections

I send out into to space

to find a place

in a story I tell. . .

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to another place,

we traipse a bit north

to a university

to see–

and listen

to our daughter talk of art

(be still my heart)

and therapy—

and I’m aware

of all the tales that could be told

young, old, sad, bold–

hers and mine

and those around us,

we capture moments, capture time,

art, part of our stories,

part of our hearts



Arriving in the mail,

these little bowls,

not great art, but

that wasn’t the goal

instead, when we look at them

we’ll remember part of our story—

a date—a day

to work with clay.


Then comes another night

another artist

takes his place

with tales and music

we embrace


Bruce Springsteen’s show

he says it’s magic

and so, we’re caught in his spell

as he tells us about his life

his parents, his mentors

his friends, his wife,

we learn about the boyhood beech tree

he climbed, but now it’s ceased to be,

moving tales of his father

then his mother

and all the others,

people who influenced him

to tell his stories in music,

the songs of generations come

and gone.


Another day,

there’s rhythm and swing,

and it does mean a thing

telling a story of people and place

strings, horn, and bass,

blues chords and a riff–

there, a glimpse of what if?

Ella and Count Basie,

nothing too racy, just jazz with a pop

a trumpet note that might never stop,

and we’re clapping for the tapping

but when we go outside

the rain has turned to snow.

The mood? Let’s call it indigo


Watching the Snow

Watching the snow. Mood Indigo, or perhaps Kind of Blue.


And so, it goes–

we walk to the train

and it’s home again

to think of stories in music,

and rhyme

that have inspired us,

traveled through time

from place to place

and made homes

in our hearts and minds.

This urge to create,

we’re fated to generate

and express our feelings,

our truth, our passion–

whatever the fashion,

the stories find their way

even when we go,

they stay–

a testament to what was,

or what could be,

a world that maybe

only the artist can see.


My daughter made this Web site about Abraham Hankins. It’s a work-in-progress

The staff at the print department at the Free Library in Philadelphia were so helpful and enthusiastic. What a pleasure to visit there! You can follow them on Instagram:

We watched Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix. Trailer here.

Friends very kindly offered us their tickets for a Philly Pops concert when they couldn’t use them. It was a fun concert, though we cancelled our plans to go out afterward because of the weather.



26 thoughts on “Art Through Time and Space

  1. Your post feels like genuine armchair anthropology, blending as you do art, history, and other insights. On Megan’s website I noticed there is a grandmother Fannie in your lineage. Interesting!

    • Thank you. I like to find connections. They may not be valid to anyone, but me. 🙂
      Yes, I’m sure my grandmother was not born “Fannie,” but I don’t know what her name was.

    • Thank you so much, Derrick. That’s a lovely comment.
      It wasn’t even an exhibition–just what the prints department had stored. My daughter had called ahead for an appointment, and they pulled out all the boxes and displayed some of his work on the tables.

  2. I love the McCraney quote so much I’m stealing it for my collection of memorable quotes! Thank you so much for posting….
    What a moment to be able to hear your daughter speak – who even cares what she said!! You helped her say it.

  3. What fun! I do see the influence of Chagall, but also Kandinsky and Klee. I’ve bookmarked the website and will explore further. Kudos to your daughter.
    And yes, that quote is so wonderful and true.
    You always make me smile, even when, indeed, the weather is making us Kind of Blue. (K)

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Kerfe.
      We’re trying to find out more about Hankins and his wife, too.
      I was listening to the interview, and I thought I have to remember this remark.

  4. I love how you thread storytelling through this poem. I will have to visit the website later. We saw Springsteen on Broadway too. I have a real soft spot for him. I’ve been a fan since the mid-70s when I saw him at an open air concert in Massachusetts. I know he’s only human but he’s my last idol (please, Bruce, no scandals!!!).

    • Thank you very much, Marie.
      I like Bruce Springsteen, but I’ve never been to a concert or even followed him that much. But this theater production was wonderful. It must have been amazing to see in person, but it was also nice to lay back in my living room and just listen.

      • I’ve been fortunate to see him in concert twice. The second time was south of San Francisco. Greg bought tickets as a birthday surprise for me. We sat on the grass and shared our binoculars with a young girl and her mom. It was the best concert ever …

  5. “The urge to create…” Human instinct? I’ll have to look for Springsteen on Netflix. He’s such a great storyteller (and singer-songwriter, but I’m obliged to say that, being from New Jersey and all). I love your bowls and the art and your musings. 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Robin.
      I’ve never been to a Springsteen concert or even owned any of his albums, but this show was so good. It came out on Netflix in December. I think they filmed his final or one of his final performances.

  6. Pingback: Art Through Time and Space — Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings – EverydayVibes

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