Our Birds Besieged

What the hell. Have I left my little blog idle for almost a week? This is outrageous! Bad blogger. Bad bad blogger :lol:

Much badder than me is the Port Authority of New York, which has enlisted contractors to gun down over 18 species of migratory birds and waterfowl in the area of JFK Airport. Many of these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. But they’re being shot anyway. The rationale behind this program is to prevent bird strikes on planes and nesting activities too close to runways. Didn’t the waterfowl get the memo? They cannot conduct their flying, migrating, mating, and nesting along the Atlantic coast or around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge unless they stay safely away from planes. That’s the rule. Because jet airliners own the skies now. Those foolish ospreys and herons and egrets have to understand that they must accommodate the needs of modern man, and the millions of years of instinctual behavior embedded in their DNA cannot be acted upon, their natural primordial impulses to survive and breed must be squashed. And those snowy owls that were nesting on top of a taxiway sign at JFK? Those dummies should have known better. Now they’re on the kill list too.

Herons, by Christian Rohlfs, 1936:

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I apologize for the sarcasm, as I don’t mean to minimize the issues with regard to bird strikes and airplane safety. But this wanton killing of our coastal feathered friends upsets me a great deal. Among the birds being targeted are herons, egrets, plovers, ravens, and the gorgeous American kestrel. And redwing blackbirds! They’re shooting redwing blackbirds for heaven’s sake. There must be a better way. Surely we can find a solution more humane than just blasting innocent birds out of the sky?

Winslow Homer, watercolor, Redwing Blackbirds:

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It was disturbing enough to learn recently that our magnificent North American eagles – hundreds of thousands per year – are being sliced up in the blades of wind turbines at wind farms throughout the country. Our government has now granted the wind energy companies permission to allow these deaths without fear of penalty, for the next 30 years. Ain’t that grand?

Geese In Flight Before A Full Moon, Ohara Koson:

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I love birds so much. I honestly don’t understand how anyone could not love them. They warble and sing outside my bedroom window every morning. They hop across my front lawn. They cheerfully perch in rows across telephone wires. They soar in the skies above my neighborhood. Eradicate all their colors, movements, and sounds from daily life and the absence would be sadly felt. And the observation of bird comings and goings inspires much of my other blog, The Salt Marsh. At this very moment as I’m typing on my laptop, one of those little downy woodpeckers is inching his way up the tree outside my kitchen. What a cutie :-)

Paper Animals

Last Friday night my niece and I spent “A Night at the Museum”, a popular children’s event at the American Museum of Natural History. With sleeping bags and flashlights in tow, city kids and their adult chaperones had free reign to explore the museum to their hearts’ content, or until they passed out in their pajamas at midnight! Throw in an iMax film, storytelling, and a captivating visit to the Butterfly Conservatory, (one of my favorites) and a super fun time was had by all.

While there is certainly no shortage of fascinating displays at the Natural History museum, I was blown away by the museum Christmas tree which was still up in the main lobby, and the subject of many a camera click. Adorned completely in origami animals, the tree was one of the most enchanting things I’ve ever seen. I don’t think my photos fully capture the charms of this tree as they appeared live, but you can definitely get the idea.

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Origami, as everyone knows, is the art of paper folding. A Japanese tradition dating back almost 2000 years, origami, in its more skilled and advanced forms, is much more elaborate than the common origami cranes many of us learned to make as children. In fact, I asked my niece if she ever attempted origami and she responded, “Yes. It was a big fail!”. Ha, I know what she means. Anyone who’s ever struggled with the crane can feel only awe at the sight of origami giraffes, eagles, horses, dinosaurs, kangaroos, buffalos, geese, rabbits, alligators … the incredible range of diversity to be found in the animal kingdom. The origami artists who decorated the museum tree did it all.

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Check out the cobra at the bottom of this picture. Love it!

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Besides the sheer variety of animals to be found on the tree, the colors were also dazzling to the eye. What is it about colored paper that makes you want to play with it and create with it? Brings out our inner 2nd grader perhaps. The paper collage I made for the Museworthy Art Show makes even more sense now :-)

One more photo. Notice the red cardinal on the right side. So cute.

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For the Elephants

Heyyyy everyone. The heat wave returned this week and it returned with a vengeance. I won’t bore you all with another whiny “it’s so hot” blog post. Nor can I offer anything in depth on our usual topics of art history, modeling, music, etc. My brain feels too fried to produce thoughtful writing or analysis. Reading comes more easily, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading these past couple of days. I thought I’d share an article I read recently about a subject close to my heart – elephant poaching in Africa and the ivory trade which drives it. The piece is titled “Inside the Global Industry That’s Slaughtering Africa’s Elephants” and it was written by Matthew Scully. Scully is the author of a magnificent book about animal welfare called Dominion which I consider to be a true masterpiece on the subject of animals, and I’ve read almost all of them. The elephant article is very long and it’s not my intention to give a homework assignment to my readers. There won’t be a quiz! But the piece is extraordinarily well-written and thorough. It addresses all aspects of this cruel, ruthless practice and the politics involved. China is largely the villain but certainly not the only one.

Two Elephants by Amrita Sher-Gil:

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I have loved elephants ever since I was child. Accounts of baby elephants witnessing their parents getting murdered by poachers and having their tusks ripped out, often when the animal is still alive, are extremely hard to take. And when we consider the emotional bonds these  highly intelligent creatures share with each other and their habitats, this operation becomes nothing less than a vicious, barbaric, epic crime. The elephants, being such intuitive animals, literally live in fear. Frankly, it makes my blood boil. This excerpt reveals the callous mentality behind elephant poaching:

Scientists tell us that elephants have death rituals. They will, for instance, cluster around a dead individual and touch the carcass with their trunks, and then return much later to caress the bones. Mkanga, the first poacher, is asked if he knows that elephants mourn their dead. He shifts in his chair, adjusts his Safari Beer cap, and smirks. “Sometimes when they have a funeral, it’s like a party for me,” he says. “You shoot one, and before he dies the others come to mourn for the one who is injured. And so I kill another one, and kill another one.”

Appalling. Scully goes on to write, “rarely will you find so much depravity converging on such innocence. After ages in our midst, the most powerful of creatures and among the most gentle, so completely unoffending and yet so endlessly persecuted”,  butchered just so people can eat their noodles with ivory chopsticks. One need not be a lifelong animal welfare supporter like me to recognize that what’s happening to the African elephants is an obscenity that must be stopped.

An elephant sketch in black chalk by Franc Marc:

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Try to keep cool my friends. If I don’t see you sooner, I’ll see you here on Monday for my birthday. Be well.

Happy New Year Wishes From the Muse

So 21013 is almost here folks. Woo hoo!!!! 2012 was very good to me, and I have reason to believe 2013 will be even better :-)

What can I say about Museworthy except that we had a terrific year of blogging. Art, music, modeling tales, stories, laughs, poetry. All the usual goodies. And it’s going to continue, you can count on that. The support and enthusiasm of my readers keeps me motivated and inspired. It truly is a privilege to blog for all of you.

A New Year’s Nocturne, New York, 1892, Childe Hassam.

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And I haven’t forgotten that today is Monday. So the last day of 2012 brings the last Music Monday of the year. What song is more fitting than the classic “Auld Lang Syne”? Here is a memorable version of it :lol:

A happy, happy New Year to everyone! Be safe. Be joyous. Enjoy your evening. I’ll see you on the other side.

Halcyon

The noise, the noise. Must block out the noise. The voices. The incoherent words and tortured logic. Dipshit talking heads on television, opportunistic politicians, and an assortment of shrieking jackasses. Oh, you have all the answers? Forgive me, I must have forgotten that I’m supposed to capitulate to your unfailing wisdom. Because I love being lectured. LOVE IT!!!

As the human race continues its descent into soullessness and depravity, earth’s last uncorrupted souls remain in god’s other creatures – the animals. For a bit of sweet serenity during a tragic, painful time, this is Jessie and Calvin having a cat nap in my garden.

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I’ll be back very soon, friends.

First Snow and the Critters

At first it was an annoyance. An early November snowstorm in New York City that caused treacherous conditions and added insult to injury after the still-fresh destruction of hurricane Sandy. But when I woke up this morning I experienced a childlike enchantment when I looked out the window and saw the winter wonderland of white covered twigs and branches bent over from the weight of snow. Even an avowed summer person like myself thought it was pretty cool.

What made the morning even more enjoyable was the presence of  critters in the garden. I love the word “critters”. Birds swarmed the birdfeeder oblivious to the fact that it was half-covered in snow. I love how birds don’t give a shit. They flit around, they eat, they chirp, weather conditions be dammed. Then the cats emerged, hungry, mildly irritated that they had to navigate around hills of snow and puddles of slush to get to the food bowl. And then a manic squirrel scampered across my roof, and in doing so sent a bit of snow down to the ground which landed in my driveway. And I also spotted some critter tracks in the snow. Not cat paws, not bird feet, but likely those of a raccoon who must have braved the blizzard last night in search of food and mischief. A nocturnal critter who, like the others, doesn’t give a shit about weather.

The Snow Maiden, by Mikhail Vrubel, 1895. Check out the squirrel in the lower right :-)

I am consumed in my personal life these days, friends. More so than my professional life. But it’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing in fact. Given how easy it is to succumb to stress and anxiety, and worry about the troubling developments taking place in our nation, our culture, and the world, I am positively grateful that I can immerse myself in some happiness and savor the affection being bestowed upon me. It warms my heart and soothes my soul. And I don’t take it for granted. We can turn to love, if we are lucky, or we can turn to music and art, or books, or friendships and family. And of course we can always turn to nature and the critters. CRITTERS!! :lol:

Deer in the Snow, Franz Marc, 1911:

Horsing Around

“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

- Richard III, Act 5, Scene 4

Richard is in dire circumstances when he speaks those words. Knocked off his horse during the Battle of Bosworth Field, his fate is soon sealed. A cry of desperation, Richard is suddenly vulnerable and at the mercy of his enemies, all because he is without his horse.

Before I continue I should share the reason for this horse-inspired post. Tonight my Mom’s Mother’s Day gift will finally take place. I’m taking her to see the Tony Award winning play “War Horse” at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. She’s excited, I’m excited, excitement all over the place :-)

Man and horse have an intimate relationship that dates back for many millennia. In battle, in work, in history and literature, horses have provided faithful companionship and been there for us through thick and thin. Don Quixote’s fictional horse was the skinny, emaciated Rocinante, whose fidelity and temperament made up for his lack of beauty and athleticism. In real history, Alexander the Great had an extremely close bond with his horse Bucephalus, a true “war horse” of ancient times. Alexander fell into a profound state of grief over the horse’s passing and even named a city in his honor, Bucephala. The mad Emperor Caligula treated his white stallion Incitatus as if he were a human of equal legal and social stature. Caligula had the horse attended by a team of 18 personal servants, threw birthday parties for him, and allegedly planned to make him a member of the Roman senate. But of course Caligula, notoriously, was not of sound mind. And that’s putting it mildly.

Beautiful, strong, elegant animals, horses are loved by almost everyone, and Edgar Degas was no exception. It’s even more perfect that my Mom is crazy about horses AND Degas. So this post is pretty awesome for her.

In this lovely horse study we can see that Degas is working it out, trying to get the anatomy, forms, and appearance of the horse just right. Horses have a very distinct bearing and artists should focus on capturing the horse’s posture and comportment if they want to depict the animal well:

Horse and Rider:

Degas was not a horseman himself. So why would he be so attracted to the subject artistically? The answer is clear when we consider Degas’ consistent pattern in his subject choices. Think about it. He liked movement. Ballet dancers, stage performers, nudes in active situations like taking baths, combing hair, toweling off, etc. With a few exceptions, like portraits, the vast majority of Degas’ work is focused on the gestural. It was his wheelhouse, so to speak. So the horse, with its majestic gait, agility, and strong movements, was a natural fit for Degas’ repertoire.

I love this one from the Thaw Collection at The Morgan Library. Racehorse, charcoal on brown paper, 1878:

This painting, Horses in a Meadow from 1871, looks less like a “typical” Degas. Still a beautiful scene though:

The horse is also in the news a lot lately. The racehorse “I’ll Have Another” has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, which means he has a shot at the Triple Crown on June 9th at Belmont.

Degas’ pencil sketch Jockeys:

I found this excellent article Degas at the Races for anyone who is interested. A very informative, interesting read about Degas’ experiences and evolution in painting and drawing horses.

Have a great weekend everyone! See you soon.

Jessie and the Moon

Ehhh . . . grrr . . . moods. Perturbation. Agitation. Disquietude. Anxiety. Unease. Confusion. Bewilderment. Angst. Yes, it’s been a bothersome 36 hours. Mind cluttered, thoughts preoccupied, a little tense, a little sad, worries that are both real and (possibly) imagined. In other words, I don’t know what the fuck is going on. That pretty much sums it up in a nutshell.

But we pass through these things. Always. It’s important to know that. And the passing process can be facilitated by some strategically made choices. In my case, those choices usually involve receding in some way. I am a Cancer, which means we are crabs who will retreat into our shells if circumstances require it. We hide, and we like it dammit!

So on Tuesday I had only a morning job at FIT and promptly left Manhattan right afterwards. No shopping, no lunch, no walking around, no museum visits. I just hightailed it back to Queens, fleeing the noise, the chaos, the throngs of people, and the infernal police/fire sirens of midtown. Sure I still moped when I got home but at least I was moping in peace, and in private.

In the early evening I stepped outside to get some air, looked up and noticed the moon – a white half pearl nestled in the blue sky, underlined with a wisp of clouds. Pretty! So I went back inside, got my camera and took a picture with my Canon Powershot:

A short while later I checked on the moon again as the night started to fall. This time I had my good camera. The serious camera. My big Nikon. As I stood on the steps outside my kitchen door and prepped my settings for the picture, I suddenly felt warm, affectionate rubbing on my legs. It was my girl, the goddess, Jessie the cat, trying to divert my attention. And it worked. I knelt down and snapped her picture:

Yes, I’m wearing grey sweatpants, the official uniform of a depressed, leave-me-alone mood. Not very attractive or stylish. But at least we have beautiful Jessie. Here she’s thinking, “Can we go inside? I’m hungry. Open the door.”:

So because I have a Dr. Dolittle complex I spoke to Jessie and told her, “Just a minute, baby. Let me photograph the moon then we’ll give you food.” The clouds had long drifted away, the blue had gotten deeper, the moon was a lonely dot:

Jessie wouldn’t leave me alone for a minute. She kept purring and pacing, slinking, and rubbing all over me. This picture, well, just had to be posted :-)

“Come on, man, I’m hungry! Where’s the food?”.

I’m sure many of you know what it’s like to deal with a hungry cat. They are tenacious. But I just needed one last shot of the moon. Why? I mentioned earlier about my zodiac sign of Cancer and how we are prone to moodiness. Well, most astrological signs have a planet as a ruling force. Cancers don’t. We are ruled by the moon. The moody moon. We are moonchildren. No wonder I was so drawn to it at that moment.

Golden Jam

For today’s Music Monday, I am posting a video that I have fallen so in love with I can’t even estimate how many times I’ve watched it. With over five million views on YouTube, this is musician Drew Arcoleo jamming with his friend’s dog, a golden retriever who clearly digs the music.

If this video doesn’t make you smile, then you must have a defect or deficiency in your personality. So watch and enjoy as an adorable Golden Retriever gets its groove on :-) Thanks to Jonah Goldberg of the National Review for posting this on his Twitter.

Birdseed, and the Birth of Christ

So I thought I had planned my pre-Christmas 48 hours thoroughly and methodically. The goal was to have ALL shopping and errands done so I wouldn’t have to leave the house today. I wanted to avoid the stores, the streets, the crowds and just stay home so I could wrap presents, prepare food to bring to my Mom’s house tomorrow, call friends, and generally chill out listening to Christmas music on the radio. But like all best laid plans, something unexpected came up.

In mid-afternoon I noticed that my backyard birdfeeder was empty. NOOOOO!!!!! I hate that. My normally crowded, chaotic birdfeeder, frequented by cardinals, blue jays, finches and a host of feathered friends, was now empty and abandoned. And of course, I was all out of birdseed. This was unacceptable. The birds won’t have anything to eat on Christmas morning!! <—– yes, I’m a wacko. So I got in my my car and drove to one of the two garden centers in my neighborhood, hoping that it would still be open at 4:30 on the day before Christmas. When I got there, they started making hand gestures shooing me out the door the minuted I walked in. “We’re closed, ma’am! Sorry.” Yeah I bet you are, you evil bird-hater. So I jumped back in my car and drove like a lunatic to the next garden center. I walked in there and all signs indicated “closing”- gates coming down, lights turning off. But I asked anyway, “Are you officially closed?”. A really cute guy who works there responded, “Why? What do you need?”. So I asked, in my best coquettish flirt-voice, “How about a ten pound bag of birdseed??”. And then, like music to my ears, he smiled and said, “Sure. Ok. Make it quick.” YAAAAYYYY!!!!

You all think I’m weird, don’t you? Well, maybe I am, but I’m a weirdo who will wake up Christmas morning to the sounds of happy feasting birds chirping outside my bedroom window. It is one of life’s wonderful, simple joys. It comforts me.

Have a warm and blessed Christmas, dear friends. Rejoice in the spirit of the season. Peace unto you and all God’s creatures . . . especially the birds :-)

From the fresco of Scrovengi Chapel in Padua, this is the nativity scene by Giotto:

Birdwatching

A strutting peacock. A waddling duck. A swooping hawk. Those are some of the “poses” that my model partner Andrea and I tried to create for Wednesday night’s drawing session at Spring Studio. Minerva Durham, art instructor and director of Spring Studio, had the idea to explore bird anatomy, compare and contrast with human anatomy, and encourage the artists in attendance to produce interesting drawings of model-as-bird. Fun theme! When I first walked into Spring and Minerva told me that Andrea and I were to do bird poses, I was enthusiastic but knew it would also be challenging.

When asked to assume roles, artist’s models have to really be creative, as we have no benefit of costumes, props, sound effects, etc. We have, at our disposal, only our nude bodies, our movements and gestures, and our theatrical talents, and can hopefully convey an imaginary creature or action to good effect. I enjoyed it!

During her first lecture of the night, Minerva distributed printouts of a bird skeletal structure and then made her own sketch using charcoal and colored pastels:

Some distinguishing traits of avian anatomy are commonly known, namely the thin, hollow, lightweight bones adpated for flying. (It should be noted that flightless birds, such as penguins and ostriches, have solid bones.) Another distinguishing feature is the bird’s collarbone. Unlike in other vertebrates, it is fused together. The fused collarbone of the bird constitutes what we call the “wishbone”. A bird’s sternum (breastbone) must be solidly constructed to handle the attached muscles and bones of the wings and stressful, repetitive flapping action. In fact, the entire bird skeleton is full of ossified fused bones that are not found in other vertebrates, hence birds have fewer bones overall. If I remember Minerva’s lecture correctly, I think she said that the tibia and tarsal and metatarsal bones in the bird’s three-part leg structure are all fused pieces. Also, in the pelvic girdle region, bird skeletons have even more fused bones, functionally to handle the impact of takeoff and landing. So birds’ bodies are not particularly pliant and flexible. They can’t rotate, twist, and extend the way, say, cats and humans can. The only part of a bird’s anatomy that allows for some flexibility is the neck. Birds have more neck vertebrae than most other animals. Watch a bird move its head around to preen its feathers and notice how it is able to reach some difficult spots with ease.

Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a bird in flight:

So no matter how adept and imaginative an art model may be, anatomy cannot be altered, assumed, or emulated in any realistic way. Not that Minerva or the artists at Spring Studio were expecting “realism” from me and Andrea. In all living creatures, anatomy is fixed, and that anatomy lends itself to unique postures, shapes, and movements, singular to those creatures. Visualize for a moment the amazing variety of shapes, skeletons, and musculature of different beasts: elephant, shark, bear, iguana, falcon. But we humans – whether in drama class, children’s game, or life drawing session – can always pretend. We can impersonate. We can engage in make-believe. And that’s exactly what Andrea and I did Wednesday night.

A gorgeous illustration of Audubon Birds:

As I was doing my duck, my pigeon, my soaring eagle, my balancing-on-one-leg flamingo, I kept wondering if the artists, with only my naked body and gestures to work from, were seeing exactly what I wanted them to see. Part of me wished I could make an announcement before each pose, describing what I was about to do, but that would have ruined all the fun. Then, when I looked at the drawings on breaks it was clear that they did see it. Artists always see it. They always get it. One of them, Liza, even said to me, “I liked your duck!”. That made me so happy. I had used my hand to make tush feathers and shook it around the way ducks do when they come out of the water. I love that Liza totally got it :-)

When Minerva asked for a ten minute bird pose, I actually stole from her bird sketch, the one I posted above. She had left it right at the base of the modeling platform. So I took a quick glance and copied it as best I could. Now check this out. Here is what comic book artist Carl Sciacchitano  created. I am bird lady. Awesome!

And here is Carl’s bird Andrea:

Many thanks to Carl for letting me post his drawings here. To conclude, I’ll post this John William Waterhouse work from 1891, Ulysses and the Sirens. Now if only Andrea and I could have recreated this! We’d need bird suits, feathers, and harnesses. And a big boat.

Art Modeling Cats

So I had a little modeling company the other night while posing for my friend Bruce in his studio – his adorable smoky grey cat Ika :-) When Bruce has a model over, Ika (pronouned “EE-ka”) wanders into the studio seeking attention. She meows, jumps up, and investigates the naked person on the platform. It’s really funny. I even Tweeted about it. Cats are curious by nature, of course, and Ika wasn’t holding back on Thursday night. She treated me to some luxurious rubbing, nuzzling, and inquisitive staring. It was a very sweet display of affection and I enjoyed it even though I was trying to hold still for Bruce. I generally kept my composure, although a noticeable smile formed on my face as I felt the gentle nudges on my back, soft cat hair against my bare skin, and soothing purring vibrations. By the way, Ika and I are now having a torrid love affair :lol:

Cats make wonderful art subjects mainly because they are fairly easy to draw due to their characteristic lines and shapes: small head, triangle ears, curvy spine, big eyes. Heck even a non-artist like me can capture the basic look of a cat. In terms of color, cats offer an amazing variety: red tabbies, calicos, touches of white, patches of black, light grey, charcoal grey, golds, browns, solids, stripes, you name it. Artists throughout history have depicted cats for their visual appeal and it’s easy to see why.

What I love most about cats is their charisma. Cats are seductive. They possess a kind of magnetism you don’t see in many other animals. They move elegantly, balance effortlessly, and have a palpable sense of self. They also have lightning-fast reflexes which are very impressive. Cats walk into a room like they own the place, assert their territory, and fully expect to be worshipped. At the same time, they expect boundaries to be respected. Have you ever had a cat engage with you for play and then you go too far? They give you a confrontational look like, “Whoa, whoa, easy there. Back off, buddy. Remember, I call the shots here!”. And they will saunter away once they’ve had enough of you. Just try to mess with a cat’s tail and you will be promptly admonished. But when a cat has its guard down, as Ika did the other night, they are warm, lovable, and responsive. Few things in life feel as nice as a cat affectionately nuzzling you.

In this painting The Bridge by Carl Larsson he brings together elements of landscape, perspective, and a figure. And yet the black cat, looking back into the distance, seems to stand out as the star. Its presence almost upstages the woman in orange. A beautiful painting overall.

Renoir has never been one of my favorite painters, but he did a fine job in this portrait of Julie Manet with a cat. Julie Manet was the daughter of Berthe Morisot and Eugene Manet, brother of Edouard Manet. Renoir seems to have given more expression to the cat’s face than to Julie’s:

Another young girl with a cat, this one by Antoine Jean Bail. Good action and personality in this one, although the cat seems less than amused by the feather teasing. He looks pissed!

German Expressionist Franz Marc appreciated the artistic appeal of cats. He gave feline-like attributes to the figure here in Girl With a Cat II from 1912:

A large, roughneck cat grabs for the fish in The Cook and the Cat, by Theodule Augustine Ribot, 19th century French painter. That cat is clearly a ruffian and even the cook won’t mess with it:

Giovanni Boldini used watercolor for this loose, effective piece A Lady with a Cat. I like the strokes and the color scheme:

I’ve noticed that women are more often posed with cats than men. I wonder why? Maybe because cats prefer to sit on our laps ;-) This black cat looks nice and cozy on this ballerina’s tutu. The painting, by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, is appropriately titled Ballerina with a Black Cat:

There are few female painters of note from the 17th century Dutch period, unfortunately. Judith Leyster was one. In this painting by her, A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and Eel, the expression of the cat is pretty hilarious. It’s thinking, “What the hell am I doing here with these wackos?”.

For this post I used only works of cats with people, rather than cats alone. But cat imagery is abundant in the art world, and they can be found both as main subjects and supporting players. Bruce did not include Ika in his drawings the other night, as he is exclusively a figure man. But I didn’t mind one bit having her companionship on the modeling platform, whisker tickles and all :-)

Water’s Edge

Some visitors on the north shore of Queens this afternoon. It’s always nice when these swan pairs stop by :-)

I love the reflections in this one:

My heart goes out to the people of Joplin, Missouri and all the surrounding areas that were ravaged by the tornadoes. I saw the pictures on TV and the devastation is absolutely unreal. Those folks are terribly traumatized and I feel for them. Between the missing loved ones and the loss of homes, property, I hope they find the strength to cope and recover from an ordeal of such magnitude. I had my own experience with a tornado last September, but it hardly compares to what’s happened in the American south and midwest in recent weeks.

Prince and the Birds

I came home from work this afternoon to find that a huge flock of migratory blackbirds had invaded my property. What a commotion. They were squawking and yapping, flying and flitting, poking and scavenging, strutting on the ground and perching up in the treetops, flaunting their shiny black feathers, and effectively taking over my garden like a gang of pillagers and plunderers. It seemed like there were hundreds of them. They were everywhere! It was something out of a Hitchcock movie. Naturally I wanted to take a picture of the noisy, marauding band of birds. But the second I opened the window they took off – every last one of them, in unison, flying away in the direction of the park. Boo hoo :sad:

Disappointed, I started to put the lens cap on my camera when I noticed my cat Prince nestled in his favorite spot by the flowerpots. He’s really camouflaged in that corner, and he must have been there the whole time during the bird flock craziness. “Prince! I see you there, baby!” Off came the lens cap. I figured if I couldn’t get the picture of the birds I could at least take pictures of another living creature who was a regular garden resident. But I don’t think Prince was in the mood for a photo session. I can read this cat’s mind. So here are his thoughts accompanied by my pictures:

“I’m trying to chill out here. First those crazy birds were making all kinds of racket, and now you’re pointing a camera at me from the house. Can I be left alone please?”

“Oh, so now you’ve moved over to the bedroom window, is that it? Trying to get closer and disturb my quiet time even more. Can’t I get a moment’s peace?”

“I’m not liking this one bit. You’re literally hanging out the window taking pictures of me! Not cool. Not cool at all.”

“I’m stretching my legs and then I’m outta here. Fuck you.”

Snowpocalypse

Ok, with a show of hands, who’s snowed in? :raises hand: It was a doozy, wasn’t it? I am super lucky in that I don’t have to work today, which means I don’t have to make the difficult trek into Manhattan. Instead, I can stay holed up in my house in Queens, toasty, cozy, and warm :-)

Georgia O’Keeffe, Bare Tree Trunks With Snow, 1946:

Since this morning, I have seen neither hide nor hair of my two cats (they’re ferals) and I’m worried. I know what you’re all thinking – don’t worry about cats. They’re smart, resourceful, and blessed with exceptional survival skills. Yet even though I”m aware of all that, I still worry. I was outside earlier shoveling out little paths, calling out “Prince? Jackson? Come on out babies!”. But no sign of them yet. The issue with this blizzard is the intense drift. The blustery wind is blowing wildly and forming huge dunes of snow. But a cat can’t get buried, right? Is that even possible? They know to seek higher ground, I hope. Where are my little boys? What if they’re trapped!! :cry:

This dove has been chillin’ out on the telephone wire behind my house. Maybe he knows where Prince and Jackson are? Speak bird!

I have to pull myself out of this missing cat panic mode. How about “Music Monday”? We’re all familiar with Antonio Vivaldi’s famous composition “The Four Seasons”. The “Spring” section, or “La Primavera”, is probably the most recognizable. But the “Winter” section is wonderful too. So for the snowpocalypse of 2010, here’s Vivaldi’s “L’inverno”, Concerto for Violin and Strings in F minor. WINTER has officially arrived . . .