Peace, Art, and Fun in the City

Hellooo, helloooooo!!! I’m here everyone! Where have I been all week? I know you’ve all been terribly depressed and losing sleep over Museworthy’s inactivity 😆 I’m kidding, of course. I’ve just been busy with various things. Getting my house in order has been the most time consuming, and exhausting! But it’s going well, and  I realize how satisfying it feels to be organized. What a concept!

I wanted to get this post up today since I probably won’t have time to post over the weekend. Tonight, my brother, my sister-in-law, and I are taking my Mom to see Come Fly Away on Broadway. Music by Frank Sinatra, choreography by Twyla Tharp, you can’t go wrong. My Mom, a huge Sinatra fan, is really looking forward to it.

Then on Saturday I’m attending the reception and artist’s talk of my dear friend Fred Hatt at the Center for Remembering and Sharing. So excited for Fred! See you there, friend 🙂

Wait there’s more. On Sunday I’ll be attending, along with my fellow peaceniks, the International Day of Action here in New York City. A rally and march for peace and nuclear disarmament. There will be many speakers from around the world, followed by a music festival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside the United Nations. I’m bringing my camera and will hopefully take some good pictures.

Pablo Picasso’s World Without Weapons:

I’m grateful that I am partaking in such wonderful, positive events because they will occupy me enough and help me contain my anger, my sheer RAGE, over this horror. Don’t get me started. I am boiling.

But anyway, love, hugs, and smiles for all of you 🙂 Have a joyous spring weekend! Hope you find time to plant, play, paint, walk, laugh and appreciate every moment on this earth.

See you soon . . .

Claudia

The Story of Orpheus

Greetings darling readers! I do believe it’s “Music Monday” 🙂

His mother was Calliope, the muse of epic poetry and inspiration for Homer’s The Iliad. His father was Apollo, the god of all Greek gods. The product of that impressive gene pool turned out to be a gifted musician who sang and played his lyre so with such magical beauty and tenderness that he tamed wild beasts, charmed evil forces, conciliated disputes, and spread happiness and goodwill with his heavenly music. He was Orpheus, the embodiment of music in Greek mythology.

Orpheus by Franz von Stuck, 1891:

A kind and sensitive troubador, Orpheus travelled around with his lyre performing for the world. In the forest, on the beach, along mountain trails, everywhere he went, Orpheus enchanted, soothed, and delighted all living things. Trees swayed gently toward him, wild animals eased their aggression, humans gathered and sat to listen to his beautiful notes and sweet singing voice. So pleasing was his music that he was invited to join the journey of Jason and the Argonauts, during which he protected the ship’s crew from the lure of the Sirens.

When he returned to Greece, Orpheus met and fell in love with a lovely nymph, Eurydice. They married, but were doomed right away. As Eurydice danced joyously at their wedding celebration, she accidentally stepped into a nest of poisonous snakes. She was bitten on the foot and died. Married and widowed on the same day, Orpheus would not let her go. Determined to get her back, he crossed the river Styx and bravely ventured down into the underworld, to Hades, hoping to rescue Eurydice.

With his lyre in tow, Orpheus played his music and met with Pluto and Persephone, the King and Queen of Hades. He pleaded and played, working his musical charms, trying to appeal to the hard-hearted gods of the underworld. He told them he would do absolutely anything they asked to be reunited with his love.

I like this painting a lot. The artist is Jules Machard, who I had never heard of until I researched this post. We see Orpheus down in the murky darkness of the underworld, holding his lyre, pleading for his wife, asking permission to bring her back. Orpheus in Hades, 1865:

And it worked. Pluto and Persephone agreed, but under one condition: that Orpheus NOT look at Eurydice – not one glance – until they had fully reached the land of the living. Sounds like an easy deal, right?

In this gorgeous painting by Camille Corot, we see Orpheus and Eurydice making their way back as he leads her along the path through the forest. He is holding her hand in his right, and his lyre in his left. Seeing this scene really makes you root for the couple:

But then, Orpheus made a terrible, tragic mistake. So overjoyed and excited to have rescued his wife, he turned back, just for a moment, to look at her beautiful face. It was too soon. Carelessly, Orpheus broke the one condition of the agreement and Eurydice, in an instant, went poof! Disintegrated. Sucked back into underworld. Trapped in Hades, this time for eternity.

Orpheus blew it big time. He was inconsolable. Heartbroken. Consumed with sorrow. He had lost Eurydice not once, but twice. Life held no meaning for him anymore and he fell into a deep, painful depression.

This is Orpheus Laments from French Symbolist painter Alexandre Seon:

For three years, Orpheus hung out in the region of Thrace where he continued to play his music and serenade the animals, although his heart was still heavy and broken from the loss of his beloved Eurydice. His sadness didn’t stop the women of Thrace from pursuing the handsome musician. But Orpheus was not interested. He had vowed to only love Eurydice. So he spurned all the other women, and this continual rejection made them very, very angry. There would be hell to pay. The women plotted their revenge.

First they started throwing sticks and stones. Orpheus tried to ignore the hurling objects and kept on playing his lyre in the forest. Then the women kicked it up a notch and basically beat the shit out of him.

The brutal attack against Orpheus is depicted in this painting by Emile Levy. I’ve got to say those are some pretty pissed off broads! They are ruthless. From 1866, this is Levy’s The Death of Orpheus. Check out that one on the left holding his arm. She wants to whip his ass so bad she can taste it. Damn girl! We all get blown off sometimes. Deal with it!

The same scene in an engraving by Albrecht Durer. Again, we see the lyre lying on the ground before him:

The angry mob of Thracian women tore Orpheus from limb to limb, ripping his head off in the process which they  then callously threw into the river along with his lyre. This is a horrible story isn’t it?!! Poor guy.

Orpheus’ decapitated head, floating on his lyre down the river, was discovered later by two woodland nymphs. Apparently, Orpheus was still singing beautifully! Here’s the scene depicted by John Williams Waterhouse in Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus from 1900:

Such a sad story 😥 But since this is a Music Monday post, we have to lift the spirits somewhat and honor the legacy of this tragic mythological figure. Remember that through all of Orpheus’ personal trials, mistakes, and harrowing experiences, his beautiful music endured – like beautiful music always does.

It’s very fitting that Orpheus is the namesake of one of the finest orchestral groups around. This is the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performing Mozart’s Serenade in E Flat, K. 375. A very pretty, lilting piece:

Just . . . hi

Posting late on Saturday night. Pretty tired from a combination of work and a massive spring cleaning, so massive it has to be done in gradual installments. Sorting, organizing, what to keep, what to throw away. I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

I’m not mentally sharp enough right now to post anything of substance. And my feet hurt. But I just wanted to stop by my blog and say a simple hello 🙂 My calendar is filled with many wonderful things in the upcoming weeks; art events, social events, volunteer projects, activist causes, photography ideas. So there will be much to share! But right now I’m in a drowsy daze, a soothing herbal tea flowing through me, and a vocally-gifted bird singing an exquisite evening song in a tree outside my window. He’s amazing! Calling for a girlfriend I presume 😉

I’ll see you all on Monday. Until then, here is Modigliani’s Reclining Nude, from 1917. Peace friends . . .

Don’t Touch the “Art”

I’ve been resisting posting this story for days now, but I’ve finally relented, seeing that it refuses to go away. The New York art scene has made the headlines once again. The equation goes like this: contemporary art installation + nudity + the public = controversy. There you have it.

Currently on display at  MoMA is the Marina Abramovic exhibit, a retrospective which features photographs, videos, installations, and performances. In one part of the show, two nude models stand face to face in a gallery entrance requiring museum visitors to pass through the narrow space between them. By design, some tangential physical contact happens. But recently, things went too far, and an incident of actual groping took place. Read the full story in the NY Times and at our local news. Providing those links is as far as I’ll go with this story because frankly I’m a little tired of it, of MoMA, and of  “performance art” in general. UNLESS it’s David Livingston and his “Big Dick” series. Forget Marina Abramovic, this guy is a performance artist I can get behind!  The New Museum actually had the nerve to kick David out, which is ironic since his dick is far better than most of the art in that place. See all the Big Dick’s adventures in the city on Vimeo. In contrast to the MoMA nudes, people in the streets and subways are totally oblivious and just go about their business. Only in New York, kids 🙂

Pianoforte

Helloo, helloooo! I do believe it is “Music Monday”! Sorry for the late post. I worked all weekend then had work this morning and forgot to proofread the post last night before I fell asleep  exhausted and had no time to publish before I left the house, etc, etc, and who cares anyway?! Let’s blog!

One of my biggest regrets in life is giving up the piano. I studied for many years in my youth and managed to do quite well even though, admittedly, I could have practiced more. Still, I enjoyed it a lot. My father was especially proud of me. So why did I quit? My beloved teacher, Bette Renzulli, moved away to Connecticut 😥 and I just couldn’t fathom studying with anyone else. Dad didn’t consider this a valid excuse and assured me he could easily find another piano teacher. He was, after all, a professional musician who knew a lot of people. But I was stubborn and resistant. If I couldn’t learn from Mrs. Renzulli then I refused to continue my practice. I loved her so much and was heartbroken that she was leaving. Although he appreciated my attachment to Mrs. Renzulli, my father was still very disappointed that I chose to quit.

Fortunately, some life regrets can be redeemed, and I’ve always hated that I let my father down. That’s why I have decided to return to the piano!!! Yaaaayyy!! What do you think? Good idea? But, um, I have to buy a piano first. That would help, right? 😆 As soon as I can find an upright in good condition and in my price range, I’m ready to relive my glory days. What’s weird is that I’m feeling both enthusiastic and apprehensive. I guess I’m just afraid that I’ll suck. It’s been sooo long since I played, and I have a daunting feeling that piano playing does not fall into the “riding a bike” category. You can’t just pick up where you left off, which means I foresee many hours of scales in my future!

Though I’m sure I will be terribly rusty, I’m hoping that I can ease right into the joy shown by the woman in this painting. She seems to be having a grand old time at the keys, really playing with gusto at her fabulously cluttered piano. This is Giovanni Boldini’s Woman at a Piano, 1871:

A neater, more serious and sedate pianist here in Vilhelm Hammershoi’s Interior With Woman at Piano, 1901:

In this 1916 Matisse work, The Piano Lesson, Matisse’s son Pierre is the young boy at the piano. A heavily abstracted scene, it is deceptively stark. The folks over at Smarthistory have an enjoyable and informative analysis of this painting. See it at this link.

Here is a piano work I once mastered, but only after much blood, sweat, and tears. It was tough. I remember struggling mightily with the left hand, but overcame my fumbling thanks to Mrs. Renzulli’s unflinching patience. The piece is Chopin’s Prelude in F Sharp minor, performed by Vladimir Ahskenazy. When I get my piano I’m determined to play this baby once again. I’m ready for you Frederic!

Trust the Model

This isn’t a rant. More like a vent. I’m not upset. I just need to share an art modeling anecdote that addresses one of my relatively few grievances with this profession. A “pet peeve”, as they say.

Yesterday at FIT, I was posing for a large life drawing class. Before we began drawing, the instructor took a few minutes to explain that day’s assignment to the students. I always pay attention to those lectures because it’s also important for me, as the model, to understand the assignment, as it influences my posing. She also showed some sample drawings to illustrate what she was looking for, and those were very helpful as well.

So I listened attentively and decided that an active reclining pose would be best. The students were asked to divide their paper into several sections and draw a different body part in each one of those sections. Could be any body parts – a foot, a hand, the torso, an ear, a thigh, a shoulder, etc. With an active reclining pose, the anatomy of the figure is well-displayed. I can outstretch one arm, bend one leg, arch the back to reveal the breasts and the rib cage, twist a little, and hold my gaze up toward the ceiling so facial features can still be seen. I was going to make everything as pronounced and as interesting as I could, providing negative spaces, both horizontal and vertical lines, a cornucopia of human anatomy. I really felt, instinctually, that the pose was perfect for that project.

I shared my idea with the instructor and she thought it was terrific, so we set it up. I got into my pose and she walked around the platform to view it from all angles. Then she gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. “Looks great!”, she said. “I wish I was drawing this myself!”. I was pleased 🙂

But then, about a minute after I set my timer and started the pose, I heard a voice. “Can we just have her stand? I can’t draw this!”. Uh oh. Here we go. Then another one, “Yeah, me neither! Let’s do something else.” And another one. “This is no good! Let’s do a sitting pose.” These were the voices of students. Young, inexperienced art students, trying to undo my work and reject my well thought-out pose. I’m sorry, but that’s a no-no. And the hits just kept on coming. “How about sitting in a stool?”. “No, I want standing!”. “How about turning to the left and sitting Indian-style?”. You know what? How about shutting the hell up and letting me do my job????? Grrrrrrr 😈

Here’s the deal. In this environment – undergraduate art school, room full of first year art students, and an assignment that was essentially a practice exercise – only TWO people should decide on the pose: the model and the teacher. You can’t have 25 different people barking out their own opinions and ordering the model around to accommodate their individual preferences. First of all it’s just rude and bad manners. That’s number one. Number two, an art class is not a democracy. I know that sounds awful and fascist, but it’s the way it has to be, otherwise it’s chaos. At places like the National Academy, the students aren’t even allowed in the room when the pose is decided. They wait outside while the model, the instructor, and the monitors set up the pose in the studio. Then the students come in and select their spot based on the pose they’ve been given.

A small, intimate group of professional artists in a private studio is an entirely different dynamic. In those situations, which are more collaborative in nature, I am happy to ask the five or six people what kind of pose they would prefer. And a consensus is always reached without conflict. Different settings call for different behaviors.

So at FIT yesterday I didn’t get visibly annoyed or raise my voice or anything like that. I never behave that way as I am the “anti-diva” 😆 But I was a bit frustrated and tried to explain that the reclined pose would work best with their assigned project. “But it’s too complicated!! I can’t see!!”. No, children. It would be complicated if you had to draw the WHOLE THING. You’re not drawing the WHOLE THING. You’re drawing parts. Any parts you want. From any angle you want. Get up and move if you don’t like your perspective! Geez.

My point is that people have to trust the model and let her do her job. I’m not an arrogant person generally, and I feel really uncomfortable even writing this but . . . I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing it a long time. I’m presenting the pose, and young art students need to just be quiet, and draw, and learn. If you reject new challenges you’ll never learn anything. And art models are not indentured servants. We are there by choice, not by force. The “public debate” thing over poses is not good. I’ve seen it many times and it’s never productive, just like that saying about “too many cooks spoil the pot”.

I don’t appreciate students barking orders at me when I’m up on the platform, taking a pose that, incidentally, was already approved by the teacher. She’s paid to do her job, just as I’m paid to do mine. So please, don’t shout shit at me when I’m trying to work! Think of it this way; how appropriate would it be for me, the model, to walk around the room on my break giving critiques of the students’ drawings and telling them to make changes? Not appropriate at all, because it’s not my job and I’m not qualified.

So after 10 minutes – that’s 10 wasted minutes, by the way – of testing out inferior poses, for no other reason except to indulge the capricious whims of teenagers, we ended up with . . . the original pose. The same one I started with! There was one minor adjustment- a second pillow under my back. That’s it. That was the big alteration.

Everything’s fine. I like FIT a lot, and I like the students there. They just lack confidence, I guess. And maybe they get nervous when they see something that tests their skills, so they panic. I understand that. By the way, after all the confusion they ended up doing really excellent drawings! Even the instructor said so. I was very proud of them. Oh man, why didn’t they just trust me in the first place? :sigh:


Photo by Fred Hatt

Shake it up, baby

Yeah, yeah, yeah!! It’s “Music Monday” for April 12 🙂

In 1963, a famous incident took place at the Royal Variety Performance in London, at which Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and the Queen Mother were in attendance. Before the Beatles took the stage, John Lennon was admonished by bandmate Paul McCartney and manager Brian Epstein NOT to make any offensive remarks to the audience or use any foul language. But trying to rein in John Lennon’s sarcastic mouth was a futile exercise. Taunting audiences was a Lennon specialty, and an elitist audience was a verbal jab just waiting to happen. In his introduction of the song “Twist and Shout”, the ever-defiant and rebellious Lennon announced into the microphone, “For the people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you just rattle your jewelry.” Though he made the minor concession of not saying “fucking” jewelry as he originally planned, Lennon still got his point across.

That was on November 4th, 1963 at the Prince of Wales Theater.  At the Shea Stadium performance on August 15th, 1965 however,  no such class conscious wisecracks were necessary from the acerbic tongue of John Lennon. Shea Stadium was proletariat central. I know this from having spent a good portion of my life in that place as a die-hard Met fan. No royalty would be found in the stands of Shea. Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart maybe. But no royalty. And that’s the way we liked it dammit!

So on a hot, sticky August day in New York, the Beatles, dressed handsomely in light brown jackets and dark pants, took the stage at good old Shea. No seating was put on the field, which meant that the 50,000+ fans were corralled far, far away from their idols. But I don’t think they minded one bit. John Lennon later spoke about this performance and said with the poor sound system and the screaming noise, they couldn’t even hear themselves singing or playing. Again, the plebeian masses didn’t care. They were in the presence of the Beatles, after all.

Here is a excellent video from that historic day. Not only does it include great images of the Beatles themselves, and again performing “Twist and Shout”, but many views of Shea Stadium, which is no longer with us 😥 It has been replaced by Citifield which, sadly, will never, ever host a Beatles concert. That’s one credit that forever belongs to Shea Stadium.

You can see the “rattle your jewelry” statement and the Queen mother’s reaction at this YouTube link.

Let’s Go Mets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

🙂