Stations of the Cross

Easter Sunday is almost here. It is the culmination of Holy Week for Christians and the day of the year that fills church pews, brings out bonnets and chocolate bunnies and colorful spring flowers, organizes Easter egg hunts and feasts of food. But it is Good Friday which distinguishes itself in liturgy and worship. Good Friday is heavy. It’s solemn and mournful. In most Christian denominations, Good Friday services mean clergy and acolytes dressed in solid black vestments, plain wooden crosses, bare bones altars stripped of adornments, no uttered Hallelujahs or friendly glad-handing. Many people attend church to experience a day of joyful worship. Good Friday is not that day.

I’m aware that readers of this blog comprise various religious beliefs and lack of religious beliefs entirely. It’s all good. I would point out, however, that Good Friday presents timeless subjects that any thoughtful person might contemplate in their moments of deep reflection, awareness, and questioning; the execution of an innocent man, the corruption of political and religious authorities, the menace of a raging, bloodthirsty mob.

Good Friday service at my church, with our priest Father Laurence Byrne:

An integral part of Good Friday services is Stations of the Cross, in which worshippers follow Jesus’ harrowing path from his death decree ordered by Pontius Pilate, to his crucifixion, to his burial, and stop for prayer at each point. Churches display plaques, relief sculptures, paintings, crosses, or any artwork to mark each station. At my church, All Saints Episcopal Church in Queens, NY, our stations are marked by framed drawings created by our church’s children over the years. And they are superb. I thought I’d share some of them here for my Easter blog post. Sometimes I feel like I admire children’s artwork more than any Rembrandt or Degas.

I offer my warmest wishes for a blessed Easter, blessed Passover, and restorative spring season! May you all rejoice in new life, new birth, grace, and salvation.

Love one another …

Always,
Claudia

Bring the Children

I don’t know if any of you have ever slept for 14 straight hours, but I highly recommend it.  Yes, that’s what I did when came home from Manhattan on Saturday – my last day in the chaotic city until the new year. Weeks of jam-packed subways, throngs of tourists, and drunken Santa Clauses can take their toll. Feeling completely frazzled and weary from commuting and modeling , I got into bed at 7:00 PM and stayed there until 9:00 the next morning. Gotta say, it was awesome 🙂

So now I can enjoy the Christmas break, yay! I look forward to holiday fun, activities at church, and hopefully catching up on some reading. I hope you all have wonderful plans as well.

I’m posting a video for Music Monday that I meant to post a few weeks ago, but I believe it got bumped for Bruno Mars! But I didn’t forget about this one. It’s delightful. Some New York City second graders were brought to Carnegie Hall for a surprise concert, and their reactions are priceless. Enjoy, my friends!

Ahoy Buccaneer

“Are you a real pirate??!!”. That was the adorable question posed to me by one of the kids in Martha Bloom’s Art and Drama class for children ages 5 – 9 at the National Academy. The little girl’s inquiry was perfectly reasonable since I had already changed into my pirate costume 🙂 Children’s art classes certainly don’t make up the bulk of an art model’s booking schedule, but on the occasions when we do pose for the little ones it’s a welcome departure from the adult classes. No offense grown-ups, but kids are more fun!

Martha Bloom has been fostering the imaginations and creative spirits of New York City’s children for over three decades. Her classes are the starting points for the superb young artists’ education offered at the National Academy. With the help of goodies from the prop closet, Martha set up a makeshift mast for my pirate boat and put a treasure chest at my feet, with a rubber rat crawling out. “Blimey! Thar be a rat in me booty chest! Walk the plank ye little scalawag!!”

As the late afternoon sun streamed into the National Academy’s elegant Stone Room, the children set up their markers, crayons, and papers. Martha took this photo of me during the pose.“Ayyee aye matey! I am a pirate wench!! Give me a bottle o grog and we be swashbucklin’ three sheets to the wind!”

FullSizeRender

This is Sasha’s drawing:

IMG-20151020-01282

And this is Eliza’s drawing:

IMG-20151020-01285

The class Halloween show was just around the corner, and Gemma was assigned the task of designing the invitation. She created this excellent illustration:

IMG-20151020-01288

We went down to the office and made copies, which came out great. And a poster to go along with them.

IMG-20151020-01294

At the end of class, when I emerged from behind the changing screen dressed in my street clothes, Gemma exclaimed “You’re NOT a real pirate!!”. I think it was my NY Mets shirt that gave me away 😆

But Ratty the rubber rat managed to get over to the window of the Stone Room. Unless someone carried him over there … a pirate wench perhaps? Hmm …
The last time I saw him he was taking in the view of East 89th Street, gazing at the Guggenheim:

IMG-20151020-01277

Remembering Our Inner Child

It was entertaining, educational, adorable, innocent, playful, and fun. It was Sesame Street, the groundbreaking show in children’s television programming. It debuted on PBS on November 10th, 1969, and this week Sesame Street is commemorating its 40th anniversary. I LOVED Sesame Street. My brother and I were regular viewers. Our parents loved it too!

Maybe because its been around for so long, we forget what a wonderful show Sesame Street is in terms of message and substance. Along with the smiles, jokes, laughter, and memorable  Muppet characters sprung from the brilliant creative mind of Jim Henson, Sesame Street consistently promoted lessons of tolerance, compassion, and acceptance. The show has had its detractors over the years, mostly ultra-conservatives who have accused the show of having a “liberal agenda”. (Oh god, someone make it stop)

I think we’ve gone way too far with scrutiny in our culture. Legitimate criticism is one thing, nitpicking is another. In this crass, snarky, cynical age of Family Guy and South Park, it seems rather petty to criticize an uplifiting show like Sesame Street for depicting a character riding a bike without a helmet 🙄 Let’s get some perspective here folks.

Sesame Street was, and always will be, a cultural icon. The program’s fundamental goal was to encourage children to learn, to be the best citizens they can be, to strive for a better world, and to value friendship and community. Those are the lessons I remember. Happy Anniversary Sesame Street!

The Chawed Rosin has a great post honoring Sesame Street’s 40th with animation and audio. Definitely check it out.

Laughing and learning is a terrific combination. Here’s a vintage Sesame Street clip of the Cookie Monster singing “C is for Cookie”. C is also for “Claudia”, but nevermind   🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Friendship, Blogging, and the Art of Motherhood

Six months ago, a surprise appeared in my email inbox, from a sender I didn’t recognize. I opened it, and it turned out that the words within were heartwarming, touching, and uplifting. By the time I got to the end of it, my eyes were filled with tears of joy, my heart overflowing with fond remembrance. What brought about such an emotional response? A note from a dear old friend. A note 20 years in the making. A note from Stephanie.

We met in the 7th grade, at PS 216 in Queens, and became fast friends. The best of friends. We shared many interests, possessed similar talents and academic aptitudes – we were both A students. We came of age together, in the 1980s Reagan Era, from adolescent girls into mature young women. It was a transformative time, and we witnessed it all together, the good and the bad.

I could recount all my recollections of mine and Stephanie’s friendship, and while it would delight me to do so, and bring many a smile to my face, I won’t. The rest of of my readers would have to know both she and I personally to fully appreciate it. Plus, a lot of it is between me and Steph. But because I can’t resist, I will mention that both of us were obssessed with Duran Duran (hey, as far as I’m concerned, they’re still cool!), excelled in Mr. Cusimano’s English class (where it seems we always were), got the “pre-Beverly Hills Cop” Eddie Murphy’s autograph after a live SNL broadcast, and were die hard Met fans. This was back in the early 80s, mind you, which was the depressing dark ages of that franchise!

Although we attended different high schools, Stephanie and I remained friends. Then we drifted apart in college, largely due to my stupid decision to go out of town, to a shitty school I ended up transferring out of. In a few years, Stephanie and her family moved to Florida, and sadly, we lost contact for the rest of our adult lives. Until now.

Thanks to some creative, persistent Googling on Stephanie’s part, she found me through Museworthy!!! And we are reunited as friends. Our regular emails over these past several months have been nothing short of delightful. And fun! I look forward to all our exchanges. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, because Stephanie just gave birth to beautiful triplets! Words cannot describe the happiness I feel for her, her husband, and her whole family – a loving, close-knit one much like my own.

If there is any woman who can handle raising triplets while maintaining her sanity, it’s Stephanie. She is an immensely capable person, responsible, compassionate, down-to-earth, funny, and smart. She was a “multitasker” before that term was ever coined. Anything Stephanie chooses to do, she does well. She is up to the challenge of three newborns, I have not a shred of doubt about that. Even now, with her hectic life, she still manages to read Museworthy on a regular basis. She rocks! I want to tell her, right at this moment, that I love her and respect her very much, and am so thankful that we are communicating again. It’s augmented my feelings about many things, magnified my perspective of life, and even made me a better blogger! (Stephanie, by the way, would make a fantastic blogger. Should she ever decide to start one, I will support her with great enthusiasm. She’s insightful, witty, perceptive, and an excellent writer. That would be a must-read blog!)

To honor Stephanie, I decided to post three images of work by the American Impressionist, Mary Cassatt. Why three? One for each triplet of course! Cassatt is famous for her sensitive paintings of mothers with children, and for conveying the tenderness of maternal love. And what makes a better muse than the vulnerable, trusting eyes of a child? These are exquisite pastels, done between the years 1889 and 1900. I hope Stephanie sees a little of herself in these works, along with all the emotions she’s feeling these days.
From me to you, dear friend 🙂