Thursday, November 27, 2014

57 Examples of Art At The Metropolitan Museum of Art To Inspire You

Nellie Mae Rowe, “Woman Scolding her Companion” (1981), pastel, colored pencil, crayon, and marker on paper (all images courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2014)

I love museums and I have to say I think my absolute favourite museum to visit, is The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, which is an overwhelming all day experience, and I really think it would take a whole week, if not more to explore all that it has to offer. I hope one day I will get there again.

 There is so much to learn, and it is a great thing, that the average person can now experience some of what this wonderful museum has to offer, thanks to the internet. Nothing however replaces the actual experience of wandering around, exploring the various exhibits throughout the museum, especially by yourself.

 Today I found out about a recent major exhibit that I would dearly love to see, called Souls Grown Deep; 57 pieces of art work that has been donated to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from its William S. Arnett Collection.

Lucy T. Pettway, “‘Housetop and ‘Bricklayer’ blocks with bars” (circa 1955), cotton, corduroy, cotton knit, flannel, even weave

“We are an institution dedicated to telling the story of art across all times and cultures, and this extraordinary gift is critical to that commitment.” 
 “It embodies the profoundly deep and textured expression of the African American experience during a complex time in this country’s history and a landmark moment in the evolution of the Met.”

                                       - Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Joe Minter, “Four Hundred Years of Free Labor” (2003), welded found metal

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Where To Find Frida Kahlo's Paintings In 2015?

I was excited to hear about an exhibition of Frida Kahlo's paintings in  New York City's Botanical Garden. It is a major exhibition, they are calling FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life, opening on May 16, 2015, through November 1, 2015. This will be Frida Kahlo's first solo exhibition in 25 years in New York City focusing on her passion for the botanical world.

 Gisèle Freund, “Frida in the Garden, Casa Azul” (1951) (courtesy Throckmorton Fine Arts)

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. © 2014 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust,

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. © 2014 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust,

Frida Kahlo, “Flower of Life (Flame Flower)” (1943), oil on masonite, 27.8 x 19.7 cm (via

Frida Kahlo, “Still Life with Parrot and Flag” (1951), oil on canvas, 25.4 x 29.7 cm (via
The most beautiful black and white photos I have seen of Frida's surroundings in La Casa Azul I found here, at Museo Frida Kahlo
This site has a broad variety of photographs of La Cas Azul and with pictures of her actual traditional costumes.

I have been to New York City twice, and so wish I could attend this exhibition, which I know will be spectacularly beautiful,  and I am certain very moving to all those like me, who love Frida Kahlo.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How Blues Made Me Happy

November is a hard month for me. The body always remembers if the intellect doesn't.

I'm talking about the loss of loved ones that of course one never forgets. My mother and father though they died years apart, both died in November, on the same date. Two months after the death of my father, my big brother Ralph who was ten years older then me died in January at the age of 59.

 So from November through Christmas, and even  into the New Year, it can be a dark time for me emotionally. No, I don't have long periods of depression, but I have the underlining feeling of sadness that makes my heart rather heavy this time of year. Though is has been several years since my immediate family has been gone, I don't realize sometimes why I feel this way when November rolls around, but then it dawns on me that the body remembers sorrow.

Some would call it as I do, having the blues. My brother  knew the blues very well. Not simply because of the things that happened to him in life, but he so dearly loved Blues music, relating to it so much, and he was so knowledgeable about every blues man and woman historically.

He had an incredible collection of vinyl Blues records, you name it, he had it. He also subscribed to periodicals and magazines about Blues and had a variety of books on the history of the Blues music and read them religiously.

I distinctly remember early one morning, I was about 16 years old, and was woken up around 7:30 a.m to the music of Hound Dog Taylor and The House Rockers who were on Canada AM.
My brother had turned up the volume on the TV full blast, which quickly got me out of my slumber.  The song I first heard Hound Dog do was, "Give Me Back My Wig". This was my first real introduction to the Blues, and I have been hooked ever since. I thought to myself, wow these guys look like they were just out of the joint!

My brother introduced me to Saturday Night Blues on CBC Radio with Holger Peterson, which I have listened to every since the beginnings of the program. Blues wasn't all about the music, but  very much about the people and the personalities of Blues musicians, and the stories they told in their music and through their lives.

I don't know if I'm as passionate about the Blues as my brother was, but I know the Blues made him happy and they sure made me happy too, and they still do.

There are so many remarkable Blues women, and one amazing Blues woman is Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

I always loved Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta reminded me of her. Mahalia wouldn't sing the Blues or Rock and Roll. Sister Rosetta did both Gospel, and the Blues, which I think was the both of best worlds. She could sure play that guitar, and was the great influence on Rock and Roll.

 I remember buying a 99 cent record at the Salvation Army in my home town when I was a teenager and first heard Mahalia Jackson sing this song Sister Rosetta is singing 'Didn't It Rain' along with some amazing Gospel Hymns on the same album, that blew my mind.

Rosetta Tharpe plays 'Didn't It Rain'. Recorded in Manchester, England in 1964.

Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe Paperback – Jan 15 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kara Walker and Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes is going to be broadcast on television as a miniseries, in  2015.

I recently read  the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize-winning book: The Book of Negroes by Canadian writer, Lawrence Hill. I am interested in seeing how the miniseries compares to the book. This book is far from a light read, based on fact and fiction. Regardless, I could not put it down and I think it is an important book for everyone to read, as it gives insight into a part of history that most of us, particularly the white Anglo Saxon population, rather not be reminded of such a shameful and painful past.

I see a parallel between Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes, and Kara Walker's art work. Both are factual, and fictional dealing with the historical subject matter of slavery, violence, racism, gender, identity, and the subjugation of one culture over another. These are not "pleasant" topics, none the less, absolutely necessary stories to tell, because if we don't accept, and acknowledge the ugly and shameful parts of our history, it is bound to be repeated and we close ourselves off to change.

Unfortunately, and disturbingly, slavery, exploitation, violence, and injustice is still ever present today, all over the world, and this is the hard reality. For this reason, it is so essential I want to educate myself about history, seen through the eyes of those who have been so unjustly treated, and relate this to still existing injustices, globally.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Here's A Quick Way To Paris

Charles Marville - Self Portrait

I've never been to Paris, but always had a desire to go. I may be disappointed because much of my idea about Paris is based on history particularly during the 20s when the place was full of artists, writers and thespians. I fondly remember seeing  Joséphine Baker dance costume's at a museum in England, who was one of my idols, and who lived in Paris during the 20s.

I was really excited to find out about rather obscure photographer who left a legacy. Charles Marville (1813-1879) was the official Paris photographer in the 1850s, that documented the city's prior landscape and infrastructure which was being dramatically changed at the time of dramatic modernization, during Napoleon's reign, and was reconstructed by Baron George-Eugene Haussmann, his architectural urban planner. There are still some existing buildings reminiscent of the Old Medieval Paris. The before and after pictures are fascinating.

Before ...
Passage du Clos-Bruneau

Before...   The buildings marked in red are still standing today, hidden in la passage du Clos-Bruneau.
 rue des Ecoles
Haussman rue des Ecoles

Rue des Saules, Montmartre, then and now by Charles Marville

My wonderful Mount Allison University photography Professor, Thaddeus Holownia took trips to Paris in 2010,and then again in 2013, documenting the combination of the old and new Paris. Although his photographs, and his printing process are very different from the photography of Charles Marville,  none the less they are just as beautiful, as he still uses the traditional large format photography, the same as Charles Marville.

And so, I was able to take a bit of a time travel trip in my mind, through these wonderful photographs of Charles Marville's. I hope you enjoy the time travel as much as I did!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Amazing Family Secrets - Claude

"Claude" - Archaeologist/ Artist Talva Jacobson

I have relatives that were born in France and Belgium, Poland and Germany. I have difficulty finding out about many of my relatives due to the war. This feels to me, like a big part of my identity is missing, because I can't go back very far in my family of origin, but I know more about my family than many others. I just recently was able to see pictures of my paternal great grand parents. It was an emotional experience.

 I can not imagine what Acadian families, and their community must be feeling, and experiencing after seeing what archaeologists Jonathan Fowler and Tanya Peckmann at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax had discovered, the skull of an Acadian child, dating back to 1740.

Talva Jacobson, an archaeologist and artist from Alberta, studied facial reconstruction and produced the reconstructed face of this child, they are calling Claude.

What an amazing creative gift for an artist to have, and to be able to give, to those searching for missing relatives or trying to find their family origins.