Friday, September 28, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
After leaving the lovely town of Rouen, we started driving toward Caen. On the way we stopped at a Cheese Factory. It was kind of funny because I kept thinking that this was the French equivalent of the Herr's Potato Chip factory near my home which gives tours and samples. Inside it was much the same with the welcome area explaining in the process, the introductory videos, the long hallways with windows into the different making and curing rooms with the gift shop and tasting room at the end.
We got there in the afternoon, so unfortunately we didn't get to see any live workers because they milk the cows and start making the cheese while it is fresh very early in the morning and then go home, so that made the tour a bit dull until we got to the gift room. This was filled not only with your typical tourist cha cha's but with all kind of tasty delights which I had never seen or heard of. This is where my first encounter with Calvados, Cidre, and the very stinky cheeses that the Normandy region is known for occurred.
Calvados is a drinkable brandy created, believe it or not, from apples.It is very tasty and one of my new favorite drinks. Our tour guide said that when she was a little girl,her mother would cook a 13 course dinner on Sundays. They would spend hours at the table and in the middle of the meal, every one would take a shot of Calvados, because they say it puts a hole in your stomach so you can eat more! It is aged and priced like whiskies according to age and Calvados Boulard is one of the most famous brands.
Normandy boasts the famous villages of Camembert, Pont-l'Evêque and Livarot and makes cheeses bearing their names. They also make a Neufchatel that is nothing like what we buy in the grocery store.
Cider In an area so well known for growing apples it should come as no surprise that there is also a large cider industry. The main production centres around the Pays d’Auge between Caen and Lisieux. We bought a bottle of the cider which happens to be alcoholic (about 5.6%) and I have to say that this was NOT my favorite. Nor was the Pont-l'Evêque that we bought to eat with it.
I grabbed Dyana and we headed around the corner to investigate. We found the opening to the yard and we slinked in timidly at first in case we were intruding on some private affair, but it became clear very quickly that this was indeed a show and sale of local artists. The home we later learned had been owned by a prominent French artist who had no heirs and had left it as an art center when she recently died.
Dyana is fluent in French and began speaking with one of the artists who was perched at a table under a tree, leaning back, smoking french cigarettes with some others. I stood around in amazement at what luck had brought us. Was it not enough to be in France and treading the ground of my artistic heroes, but now to be visiting with modern, living french artists? I was absolutely giddy inside! They were all so friendly and nice. Jeanne Francois spoke some English and took us to see his paintings in one of the co-op spaces where his show was hung. We conversed awkwardly about being artists (he said he had bagged the corporate life to be an artist) but the smiles and friendly laughter transcended the language.
We had to leave for dinner but when I went to close the window in my room, Karin, a friend of the other artists, saw me and insisted that we come back over and drink some wine with them. Dyana and I went back over and sat in the yard with JF, Karin, David and a lovely gentle man named Emmanuel. Dyana did most of the talking and I listened to them all converse in French but it's amazing how much can be picked up and communicated through, laughter, smiles, hand gestures and nods. It was such a wonderful night. One I will never forget. Jeanne Francois is my friend on Facebook and you should check out his art and say hello. (Facebook translates comments). This is undoubtedly one of the best nights I had in France.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Step one: Draw on a good or meaningful story. In my case the story grew out of a negative incident with a teacher in 5th grade. She berated me in front of the class because I couldn't do a math problem and swatted me with a yard stick. What hurt worse than the stick were the words she said. "You're no good, you're family is no good and you'll never amount to anything." Ouch.
I have lived with those words and feelings my whole life. They became my "not good enough story " that I have continued to struggle with. I had heard of therapies where adults write a letter to the child inside of them and say what they might say to another child to help them heal. So I thought I would write a letter to myself. Then I started thinking about other people and figured that I wasn't the only kid in the world to have her self esteem crushed by a mean person. So the letter morphed into a story and then a book.
Since I had been painting cows for several years, it stood to reason that my characters should be cows. There was also no question that I would illustrate my book. The story is autobiographical. It starts out "Millicent was a sad and lonely" cow. I didn't have the greatest childhood, I was sad and lonely much of the time. It then moves into Millicent trying to succeed at something and be just as good as the other cows. That was me. I was always looking around at other people, trying to find out how they did it, what (I thought) made them better, more special than me.
But somehow, somewhere deep in my soul, I knew that I was just as special, talented, smart and capable of success as anyone out there and that one day, I would totally rise above the circumstances of my early life and touch the world in a grand way. So I decided to write the book and make tangible evidence of my future. I was writing a declaration! And so, while "Millicent starts out "sad and lonely" my book is a story of overcoming and triumph.
I can't say that I did a lot of research into publishing a book, I just thought: "I need to do this." And so I set about my project.
Once I wrote the story, I drew out what I imagined the book would look like in page layout in some sketched story boards....
I have been asked where the name "Millicent" came from. All I can do is point up. It was just given to me. The next step was to develop my characters which is where I will end for today and pick up in my next post.
I invite you to stay with me through the journey of writing a kids book. It is no easy task and not for the faint of heart. If you are thinking about embarking on writing your own book, follow your heart and DO IT! But be ready to fully commit because it takes all the love, nurturing and hard work of raising a child. ( I know because I have one :0) Please feel free to comment or ask questions.....God Bless.. see you next post :0)
Millicent and the Faraway Moon available at:
(signed copies) millicentthebluecow.com
Barnes and Noble.com
Chester County Books and Music
Kathy's Corner Shop
Newark Arts Alliance
Friday, September 21, 2012
If you like art, but don't enjoy traditional stuffy art museums or you're just looking for a little fun in your life, visit the Baltimore Visionary Art Museum in the Inner Harbor area of the City. What feels like part fun house, this is definitely an art museum and is my very favorite place to visit in Baltimore.
The museum hosts the work, of visionary and outsider artists both established and emerging. What is visionary art, you ask? Here's the museums definition:
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
Artworks are lost for several reasons. Disasters – both natural and man-made, war, repression by political or religious authorities, or destruction at the hands of artists themselves seem the most common cause. Whatever the reason, a lost artwork is always a huge loss to our shared cultural heritage.
Henri Rousseau was a post-impressionist painter whose child-like works had a profound impact on the surrealist, expressionist and primitivist movements. Alfred Jarry was a genius playwright whose own work had a huge impact on the course of modernist theater, influencing Dada, Surrealism, and the Theater of the Absurd. According to popular legend, Jarry in fact inspired Rousseau to paint by declaring he had the face of an artist. In 1895, Jarry, who had written some positive reviews for the now noteworthy Rousseau, sat for a portrait by the artist. Frustrated by vanity, Jarry could not stand the results and promptly destroyed the canvas, thus depriving today’s audiences of a glimpse into the world of two precursors to so much modern art.
Minimalist artist Richard Serra’s massive Tilted Arc, which featured 2.5 inch thick steel sculpted to be 120 feet long and 12 feet high, was commissioned by federally funded arts organizations for the Federal Plaza in New York City in 1981. Over the years, the sculpture was opposed for reasons of maintenance cost (it had become an attraction for graffiti artists), convenience (it made movement around the Plaza difficult), and for aesthetic reasons (many publicly declared the work an eyesore). In 1985, a decision was made to destroy the work. Four years and many court battles later, the work was scrapped for steel by federal workers. Serra believed the piece altered the visual perception of the viewer’s environment. Unluckily for Serra, the public perception of Tilted Arc seems to be that something as solid as steel can be altered into invisibility at the pound of a gavel.
In Bahrain, Pearl Square became the site of sweeping protests for democratic reform and economic equality in February 2011. Central to the square was Pearl Monument, a massive sculpture featuring six sweeping arches, representing the six Gulf states that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, holding a pearl, a symbol of wealth. After several weeks of demonstrations, the Bahrain government removed the protesters through military power. The sculpture, which had begun to hold symbolic meaning to the protesters and their sympathizers, was destroyed by the government. A migrant crane worker was crushed to death during the demolition of the monument.
In the early 1970s, pop artist Roy Lichtenstein took a break from appropriating comics and began making canvases based on entablatures. Entablatures are moldings decoratively placed horizontally above the columns on buildings. Lichtenstein copied designs from Greco-Roman sources in his typical style, giving the motifs a modern edge. Several of the original canvases were housed in one of the Twin Towers and were destroyed during the 9/11 attacks.
Many works of great importance to Western art have been lost in a series of events termed the Bonfire of the Vanities, a practice initiated by an Italian priest in the late 15th century wherein artworks depicting secular or mythological themes or images deemed sinful were destroyed by fire. Perhaps the greatest loss to our cultural heritage is the destruction of several paintings by Sandro Botticelli that are based on mythological and pagan lore. Botticelli’s use of Greco-Roman and pagan themes stirred the interest in the ancient arts and sciences that were crucial to the development of the Renaissance. It is a great deprivation that the works of his that remain after the fires are mostly meditations on religious themes and not the more stringently humanist, mythological, and sexual themes he was renown for during his life.
Francis Bacon was a giant of modern art who left both his critics and the general public in awe of his hallucinatory and visceral canvases. The Velazquez series is generally considered to be not only one of his masterworks, but also one of the masterworks of 20th century art. Unfortunately, Bacon himself was rarely satisfied with his work and was also prone to alcohol fulled fits of rage in which he would destroy his canvases. The third in his landmark Velazquez series was one of the more notable victims of his despair.
Film noir maverick Henri-Georges Clouzet directed the documentary the Mystery of Picasso, which features the eponymous aged and shirtless master creating whimsical drawings and paintings. Filmed in an innovative manner that allows the audience to see Picasso’s simple, abstract, but powerful figures come to fruition brush-stroke by brush-stroke, it seems the process was more important than the result for both filmmaker and artist. All of the works created for the film were destroyed upon completion, so they would exist nowhere but on celluloid. The French government declared the reels a national treasure.
Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller to create a mural for the entrance to Rockefeller Center, Diego Riveria was given the theme “man at the crossroads,” a utopian sentiment chosen by Rockefeller to stir ambitions for a hopeful political future in the viewer. Riveria had ambitions for a very different political future than his patron when he painted two leftist heroes, Trotsky and Lenin, standing amidst a crowd of workers. Rockefeller demanded the painting be altered, but Riveria refused. The painting was covered with a curtain upon completion, an act which was met with many protests. Despite the public outcry, the mural was destroyed by workers.
Caravaggio’s stunning Nativity, which demonstrates the qualities that have made him so revered – his controversial naturalism, dramatic use of chiaroscuro, use of imperfect models, and loose pairing of historical subject matter – was stolen in 1969 from a church in Sicily, Italy. The theft is assumed to be the work of the Sicilian mafia. A former mafia figure turned police informant has stated that the painting has passed through several hands, ending up in storage in a farmhouse where it was destroyed by animals. The owner at the time burned remains of the painting upon discovering it in scraps. The FBI is still attempting to recover the painting and has listed its value at $20 million dollars.
Courbet’s landmark painting shocked bourgeois audiences upon its 1850 debut at the Paris Salon. The masterpiece is a monumental depiction of lowly peasant labor. Courbet had bravely paired a canvas size typically reserved for royal portraits or religious paintings with a topic generally shunned by high art practitioners of the period. The Stonebreakers has proved hugely influential for its bold assertion that everyday activities are an acceptable theme for high artwork and for ushering the social realist tendency in visual art. The original canvas was destroyed during the U.S. Military’s air attack on Dresden, Germany in 1945.