Art and Craft

Monday Morning Musings:

“It will be as if we never existed if our history cannot be read.”

― Minette Walters, The Last Hours

Ask about time–

or the night–

the woman of then

the woman of now

listen and remember

the voice of the universe calls.

***

 

In the book,

many people die.

They wonder why–

what they’ve done,

so many gone

from this new plague.

They question

their narrow existence,

wonder about resistance

and the distance

between people

and place.

And then the rats–

so many, except

where there are cats.

 

It’s a new world,

the crash of the feudal,

for rebuilding, crucial

to have the art and craft

survival skills and more–

and even serfs may leave

the manor, to soar

 

like the clouds that come

with thunder and rain

then blow away again

to reveal blue skies

and days that surprise

one with their beauty.

We visit the fountain,

the water spouting

in wind-blown sprays,

and children laughing

in all the ways

they can,

making sculptures

and eating free ice cream

(like a dream!).

A man tells me

about the turtle

he holds

over fifty years old,

he says,

points to her shell

and what it tells

of her age.

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Not as old as the fountain,

dedicated nearly one hundred years ago,

public art and public show,

the craft and skill creating

a place for people

for waiting, hesitating,

lingering, as the water gleams

over allegories of history and streams,

and water showers,

but we walk on

admire the colorful bowers

of flowers.

 

We visit my mother

sit outside, the air

is pleasant with a breeze

and birds sing in bushes

and trees.

We go inside to see some art

a show and reception–

she has some connection

to the club, if not the artists,

and she can’t see their art

but still she charts

a course around the room.

Later we talk about the paintings

she’s painted

the work she’s created,

and when she and my father dated,

the clothes she wore

in that time before.

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Painting by Sylvia Schreiber

One of my mom’s paintings

 

We leave her before dinner

to walk some more

this glorious day

stop to say

hello to Rodin, and stay

for a drink in the statue garden,

the view a delight,

and we linger

but leave before night.

I see my daughters and their friend

almost like when they spent

all their time together

–birds of a feather—

all creative,

two artists, two who also write,

all who see the darkness and the light.

Soon all will be married

with husbands and wife.

These three—I wish them all

a happy life.

We binge on Netflix

eat nachos, and dream

of what the world might bring,

and I delight

to hear the birds sing

in morning chorus and in the night.

Sweet Potato Nachos with Mango Salsa

Sleepy cats lie

in peace, as I wish we could all–

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the art and craft of living

and dying,

history told in statues and stories

past, present, future fold

the moon hums and sighs

while time flies by.

Morning Moon, June 2019, Merril D. Smith

Here is some history on the Swann Memorial Fountain.

I read  The Last Hours by Minette Walters. She is known for her crime fiction. This is her first historical novel. It’s set during the “Black Death” plague of the fourteenth-century. The lady of the manor seems somewhat too enlightened, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Content with My Delusions,” I Wait

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Content With My Delusions, Jacqueline Hurlbert, 

Only I could see him,

my dark friend, slim

with rabbit ears

and glowing eyes—

so kind, so wise.

 

He comforted me

I spoke to him alone–see

no one else believed in him,

but friends we were and are–

and from me he never strayed far.

 

I gave him a gift, a striped shirt,

and he said, sorry, don’t be hurt–

but I’ve got to go away for now.

somehow, remember us, don’t fuss–

this is only a phase, it’s ever thus.

 

(Count the days. Discuss.)

 

Today is my ninetieth birthday,

and I think I feel his glowing gaze

from somewhere in the night.

He’s come for me, my old dark friend—

Hello, good-bye, this is my end.

 

(We begin again.)

 

Today on dVerse, Linda has asked us to write poems based on the work of artist Jackie Hurlbert.  Her Web site can be found here.

 

 

 

 

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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Well—onward

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

IMG_1643

 

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.

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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

IMG_1685

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: https://www.instagram.com/freelibrarypix/

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.

 

 

Universal Truths, Some Ice Doesn’t Melt

Monday Morning Musings:

“Poverty made a sound like a wet cough in the shadows of the room.”

–Ray Bradbury  (Referenced here.)

There’s ice on the river,
but it will melt,

Ice on the Delaware seen from Patco Train
not so some hearts

that stay ever frozen,

 

no warm current flows

there to thaw,

 

the cold. No way

to resuscitate the lifeless

 

zombies

feeding on the living.

 

Yet they proclaim

their love of life

 

when it’s cells

they pretend to care about–

 

but not the ones

into which people are thrown

 

not the children taken

and lost

 

and not their parents–

only the cells that might be,

 

not the violence

that affects them,

 

not the guns or poverty.

Power and money

 

their gods

though they pay lip-service

 

to a deity

twisted to defend

 

their beliefs.

It’s an age-old tale,

 

a universal truth that

the mighty can tumble,

 

but those just getting by

fall over the edge

and into a ravine

often unseen,

 

there to remain,

but it can happen

 

to almost anyone

without influence

 

or connections.

Perhaps—

 

connection

is the key,

 

if only to one

lock

 

of the many–

the librarian

 

who makes the homeless child

feel special,

 

the immigration officer,

who learns that

 

that law and morality

and not always the same thing.

 

We walk through city streets

where murals bring beauty–

 

and truth,

and a museum opens its doors

and galleries

to new works among the old–

social and economic inequality

consumption of people and goods

 

the movement of people and goods

across the globe–

 

a complex interaction

of thought, art, and words.

I amuse myself in imagining

my father and older daughter

 

walking though these rooms–

he, who wrote a dissertation

 

on Charles Willson Peale,

and she, an artist with a passion

 

for justice. What fun they would

have had here.What a discussion

they might have had—

perhaps in some alternative world,

 

but here, we are

and we go to a movie

 

immersed in a world that does exist–

It is fiction, but tells a truth

 

of poverty, chaos

that most of us cannot imagine.

 

Through it a young boy navigates

with defiance, bravery, spirit—and kindness

 

rising above it all

despite the example

 

of his parents, and many

around him blind to what is before them.

 

A story again of immigrants, too,

because this another universal truth

 

that people move and come legally and illegally

to Ethiopia, Lebanon, Iceland, the U.S.

 

to which my grandparents came.

And your ancestors were immigrants too

 

if you look back far enough.

And were they helped by someone?

 

Most likely.

 

We each walk our own paths

with tenuous connections

 

that sometimes mesh

or interact.

Late Afternoon, Washington Square, Philadelphia

 

The meteorologist says

there’s freezing fog today

IMG_1347

but the temperatures will rise,

and the ice will melt

 

But some hearts will stay cold

and some minds will remain frozen

 

screens where the cursor never moves

to write new thoughts.

 

We saw And Breath Normally. It’s on Netflix, trailer here.  It’s a quiet movie (no music, Dale!), but well done, about a immigration officer in Iceland and the African refugee who helps her. Though it’s set in Iceland, it could have taken place in many different nations. And we saw Capernaum (trailer here), which will just rip your insides outs. That little boy AND that toddler, and the horrible parents, and the surroundings. . .yeah, just see it.

We went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where Rina Bannerjee’s work is on display until March  31. (Free on Sundays during the exhibition). You can see and read more about her work here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandmothers, both immigrants

 

 

I amuse myself by imagining my father and my older daughter walking through the gallery discussing his view of the Peales and her views on art and feminism. They would have had so much fun.

Art

 

Resistence spices peel  never imagine without inheritance  I see revealed

Sun disguises well the feather we see while home

 

Stop these storms

 

She sings of summer

While the wind urges elaborate dreams

Heaving enormous fluff

 

When

Her heart healed

He looked long

Letting it be less

Herself

Him

The perfume of need and want

Melting

In embrace

Timeless as the ocean

Exploring the night

 

 

December Comes with Cold and Light

Monday Morning Musings:

“Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.”

–From William Carlos Williams, “Winter Trees”

The first of December is mostly grey,

but not so cold—winter held at bay

 

for a while, but we smile to see the glow–

the sun on remaining leaves of trees slow

Philadelphia Parkway, December 2018

to sleep in winter’s arms,

and we walk to see the city’s charms

 

even in the bleakness of late fall—

almost winter—some magic calls

 

there, Diana shines atop the stairs

gilded anew, she seems aware

Diana, Philadelphia Museum of Art

of her strength, though she charms–

with arrow frozen in her arms

 

goddess of the hunt,

a moment, centered, upfront

 

there, I greet her like a friend

each time I visit, happy to see her send

 

(not the arrow), no never,

but she seems much too clever

 

to harm–such determination in her face–

perhaps she could send us hope and grace

 

we see dolls reflecting the passion

for both play and fashion

 

the bisque baby catches my eye

or the phrase captures my ear, why?

it sounds funny to me,

and so, we wander and see

 

a sibyl and monuments and Eve

through museum and streets, we weave

our way, and see the sights,

some Christmas lights,

 

drink mulled wine

feeling fine—then laugh to see that sign

we walk back and down the hill

where no joggers jog, all is still

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except the duck, who with quack and flap

jumps into the river—a slight slap—

 

against the surface, he swims

the sound, a chorus, a winter hymn

 

before the start of winter rain

with sun gone, shadows come again

 

bringing a misty afternoon twilight,

yes, this is December’s light.

 

Then Hanukkah comes with candle light

to bring us wonder and delight

 

I fry latkes in a pan

listening to a man

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discuss his life

some of the strife

 

escaping the Holocaust

in Kindertransport, crossed

 

to Sweden, his stuffed monkey with him*

the object now brings some joy, an era dimmed

 

by tragedy and time—family reunited

evil not forgotten or righted

 

exactly, but comforting to know

that helpers were there, not so long ago

 

and still, that there are people who did good

and do it still, do what they can, should and could

 

and so, we light the candles on this first night

eat latkes and smile at the sight

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Latkes!

of them burning till the flames die,

watch them belie

 

the darkness of night and soul

as believing in miracles makes us whole

 

more perhaps than what we seem–

the sum of what we hope and dream.

 

First Night of Hanukkah, December 2018

 

Hanukkah seems both more poignant and more important to celebrate this year.

I think I shared this story before from a previous All Things Considered segment, but Michel Martin interviewed Uri and Gert Beliner again last night.

We visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the members’ weekend and the Christmas Village.

Time and Timeless

Monday Morning Musings:

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”

–Milan Kundera

Art and music travel through our genes, stopping at some destinations longer than at others, like the train our older daughter takes from Washington, D.C. after visiting archives at the Smithsonian. She takes hundreds of photos of sketch books, correspondence, diaries, and newspaper clippings of our artist ancestor, Abraham Hankins. She shows me newspaper articles—how his mapmaking skills saved his life in France during WWI because he was left behind to draw maps when the rest of his unit was sent into battle and killed. He also trained as a singer, until gassed during the war, and apparently, he wrote some poetry, too. But my daughter becomes even more fascinated by his French wife Estelle, called Esther by my family. After Abe’s death, Estelle makes it her mission to get her late husband’s work into major museums. There is still much to learn, and most of the people who lived then are gone. It is my mom’s ninety-sixth birthday.

 

skipping stones hit pond

concentric circles ripple

spring turns to summer

Abraham P. Hankins,
Pocket Full of Dreams,
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Bequest of Mrs. Abraham Peter Hankins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate my mom’s birthday in sunshine with shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

munch on snacks, laughter cascades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as we discuss pets and art and politics

with eyes rolling—intermixed–

as my niece describes her “other family,” with their alternate truth—

if only we could blame it on the folly of youth—

but salacious tales about the Clinton’s gleaned from right-wing memes,

treasure troves of garbage carried by the false fact streams

they insist it’s true,

what does one do?

We move on to sandwiches and cake

blow out the candles, make

each moment count, and we laugh, dance, and sing—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it’s in our genes, so let’s bring

it on in celebration of familial love

rock the ghosts from rafters above

and around, perhaps they watch from some place–

that shadow there, across your face.

 

The weekend is full with movies, puppies, and wine

we dance, laugh, eat, drink—feeling fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mom tells us that Abe asked her mother to sing with him at a family gathering. She says her mother had a beautiful voice, but that my uncle, my mom’s baby brother, cried when their mother sang, so she stopped singing. I had forgotten, she says, but now I remember some of those songs she taught me. Songs of the shtetl that crossed the ocean. We, the grandchildren never learned the songs. I like to think though that no song is ever lost. Each note rises. Birds carry some, and others float high into the sky filling the clouds. I think that is why I hear music in the rain, and why rainbows sing, and the moon hums. We are filled with star music, and it returns again and again to us. Music flits like spindrift from the waves of time.

 

Stars sail ink-black seas,

cat against me softly snores,

dreams dance to moon song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Shards and Shatters, Magic Comes

Monday Morning Musings:

Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”

–Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden 

“When you look at a piece of delicately spun glass you think of two things: how beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken.”

–Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

I dream about time

and death

and mothers mad with a thousand aches

whose cries shatter the skies

like glass

yet never disturb the shadow figures

or the thunder clouds of war and destruction.

The manufacturers of death never go out of business

and the rain only washes the surface blood away

 

We go searching for magic

in the break between storms

when the sky is blue

May in Old City Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the world around us is green

on what were abandoned lots

filled with trash,

we find magic, human made

from glass and stone,

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sparkling, glittering, honed

with skill, passion, artistic vision–

whimsy combined with social justice

and a creative spirit

 

We walk down South Street

(“Where do all the hippies meet?”)

“You must know where all the bodies are buried,”

says one man to another at a café table.

He agrees he does,

and while I want to know more,

we keep walking, till

a police officer stops us,

on the sidewalk,

not to ask us about bodies,

but instead, to talk up a restaurant,

“They make the best gyros, full of meat.

I eat there all the time.”

Do we look hungry, I wonder?

We thank him,

keep walking,

observing magic all around,

sometimes you just have to look up.

South Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wander through shady green–

Hoping these souls are at rest—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and seeing magic all around us,

in the sparrows flitting and chirping in the bushes

and in the flowers glowing in the sunlight.

Christ Church Garden, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between storms,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when lightning flashes

and rain, first pounds

then tinkles delicately—

like glass chimes–

we look for Earth’s magic

reborn

in plants and vegetables,

strawberries,

tasting of sunlight and summer heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so, we recall,

that life is luscious still

look through glass darkly

see what is half empty,

half full,

mend the broken shatters

into a thing of beauty.

And on this cloudy day

while people mourn and celebrate

the fragility of life

I will think of magic,

baking a pie that tastes

of sunlight and summer heat

and life, tart and sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S.

We visited Philadelphia Magic Gardens a few days ago and then walked around Old City.

We went to Joan’s Farm Stand, in Mickleton, NJ.

 

 

Alan Bean, Apollo Astronaut: Tanka

Space time rushes pass

in moments gone, but endless

choices of the heart

travel from Earth to the stars,

then answer the muse’s call

 

I’m catching up on challenges. This is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge, using synonyms for hurry and last. I honestly didn’t know anything about Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, who died today. He was one of the fourth man to walk on the moon, but he left NASA to become a painter.You can see examples of his work here.

“Every artist has the earth or their imaginations to inspire their paintings.. .I’ve got the earth and my imagination, and I’m the first to have the moon, too.” The New York Times

Everything is Made of Magic

Monday Morning Musings:

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

–Eden Phillpotts (often incorrectly attributed to W.B. Yeats, according to Quote Investigator)

“Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden–in all the places. “

–Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

In dreams I flit through walls,

through time and space

dream worlds,

where things are and are not what they seem

full of wonders taken as ordinary

magical and real

 

We go on an outing to see an exhibition,

wander through a gallery on Pennsylvania Impressionism

then on to see Magical and Real.

Henriette Wyeth painted family and flowers,

She survived polio that weakened her right arm,

learned to draw with her left hand,

and paint with her right.

She lied about her age to enter the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

before she was sixteen.

A self-portrait hangs on the wall between two paintings

the main men of her life–

N.C.Wyeth, her father, posed before one of his landscapes

her husband, Peter Hurd,

in front of one of his western landscapes–

father, husband

east and west,

conflicts and tensions in her life and art.

Before marriage the couple had separated–

she feared that marriage would be the end of her artistic career,

he assured it would not,

she also feared being separated from her family.

During their separation,

she turned to fantasy

painting ghostly figures,

a dead girl,

and three women picnicking under the moon.

(And the story of how that painting was rediscovered

and restored is a bit of magic, too.)

The couple reunited and married,

and eventually, unexpectedly,

Wyeth found beauty in the stark landscapes of the west

and in the people who lived and worked there

She paints a final portrait of her husband,

before his mind succumbs to Alzheimer’s

he  is still ruggedly handsome, distinguished,

He had painted pilots, western landscapes,

advertisements, magazine covers, and presidential portraits

and was better-known that she was,

as her Chaddsford studio went to her brother Andrew

who became the better known Wyeth.

Yet she may have been more talented than brother or husband,

she was an artist,

magical and real

 

Over time,

a jail becomes a museum

Michener Museum jail doors looking out to Fonthill Castle

 

beside it, a public library

Do the ghosts of the inmates wander there,

through galleries where once there were cells?

A place where bodies were imprisoned

becomes a place where minds are freed

to imagine and express themselves,

another man builds a castle filled with tiles,

crazy whimsy?

glorious fantasy?

 

 

It all flows together like time and space,

sometimes crashing

birthing stars,

ending worlds

But in this world,

we create magic

in art, music, poetry, literature, theater–

real buildings

filled with magic

 

Artists come and go,

but their works live on

feelings put on canvas

carved in bronze, marble, plastic, steel

brush strokes that echo–

Can’t you feel the wind?

Hear the child laugh?

Feel the sea and taste the salt in the air?

Art–

magical and real

 

And our shadows

real and magical

stand side by side

us, but not us,

I see flowers blooming in the snow–

time flowing, circling–

everything is made of magic,

magical and real

 

 

We went to the Michener Art Museum, in Doylestown, PA.

The exhibition was Magical and Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, A Retrospective.

I took some photos, but then I wasn’t certain I was allowed to, so I’m not posting them.

There are also some photos of the paintings in this article.

 

She Dreamt of Flowers

She dreamt of flowers in her head

instead of winter’s gloomy tune

she heard brightness, gently tread

on blossoms silver, underneath the moon,

of a bird in hand, to him, she crooned

(humming sweetly).

 

She started when the sun arose–

happiest with a starry sky

when she could then repose

after eating—feeling time fleeting–

every second, she felt her heart beating–

(questioning what was seen)

if this was life, or a dream?

 

This is for dVerse. Lillian has asked us to use one of Catrin Weiz-Stein’s images.

catrin-welz-stein-german-surrealist-graphic-designer-tuttart-24.jpg

Image by artist Catrin Welz-Stein