Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Fantastic Art of Kay Rasmus Nielson


Kay Rasmus Nielson was an amazingly talented,and imaginative artist, who was categorized in the genre of Art Nouveau. His illustrations of fables and fairy tales are remarkable.

At some point, while working for Disney his services were no longer wanted, he fell out of favour, and seemed to disappear into obscurity.

 His perfected technique is so exquisite, delicate and whimsical. I was excited to learn when he was introduced to The Society of Tempera Painters, where he learned to greatly improve his skills, which is reflected in his washes and great attention to detail.

 I had never heard of Kay Rasmus Nielson until today. Though I certainly was a fan of Fantasia which he did the illustration for, and no doubt I have seen his illustrations in the past, but never knew of his name. I absolutely am crazy about his work.


'Lassie and Her Godmother" - Kay Nielson



Arabian Knights - Kay Nielson - 1917



The Troll Soul

From 'The Widow's Son'


As Far Away From The Castle - Kay Nielson

Powder and Crinoline - Kay Nielson

Friday, November 28, 2014

How To Save Yourself From Yourself



I was never a good student from grade three on. I succinctly remember how school changed for me, beginning with bad teachers, boring classes and once I hit puberty, it all went from bad to worse. Lots of problems at home caused emotional turmoil within my young self. Art and creativity was a kind of therapeutic refuge, helping me cope with melancholy, and depression.

Depression did overwhelm me a few times, and I once had suicidal thoughts. I am grateful I didn't suffer from serious mental illness, though it was in my family, along with alcoholism. I was also affected by the disease of multiple sclerosis, that my brother contracted at sixteen, when I was six years old.

In 1981 I was married to the love of my life, whom I'd lost to paranoid schizophrenia, and brittle diabetics at the age of 27. Bill, was 26 when he died, and we'd been married only four months. This was the lowest point in my life, but I can also say, it was a time when I excelled creatively. After Bill died, my own disease of alcoholism took a downward spiral as the years passed, until finally through the Grace of God I got into recovery, almost 21 years ago.

The worst thing about disease, whatever it might be, is the denial we can all experience. Most of society does not want to talk about disease, particularly mental illness of any kind, whether it be mild depression, an ongoing clinical depression, or other serious disorders.

 I've heard it said, that denial, and the refusal to openly accept mental illness or disease, can be worse than the illness itself. I would think the reason being is, that it prevents the individual from getting any help and support, that they so need. This is why I feel so strongly about talking honestly, and openly about this topic, because you never know who's life you might save, perhaps even your own.

It has been absolutely vital for me to educate myself, so as to be able to cope with mental illness, and other kinds of illnesses.

There is a significant difference between melancholy, clinical depression, and mental illness. It is impossible to be happy all the time, and really, who would want to be? If we weren't unhappy we'd never know or appreciate happiness. But when you are suffering from serious illness, we need to seek help, and others need to educate themselves, reach out, and help us, help ourselves.

There can be no room for shame or judgement in illness of any kind, and we all need to make a concerted effort to be accepting, and proactive. We also need to advocate and organize for change, and save ourselves from ourselves, by coming out of our denial, and move toward acceptance.





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 wikiart.org)


Frida Kahlo, “Still Life with Parrot and Flag” (1951), oil on canvas, 25.4 x 29.7 cm (via wikiart.org)aption
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
After...



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

Before...
 After...
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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brittany Powell - Artist



Here's a great multimedia project called the Debt Project, by artist Brittany M. Powell. It is both poignant, and powerful.

Debt is an overwhelming, crushing burden all too many of us are carrying, both in the United States and in Canada. What strikes me the most is the amount of people portrayed in this project are highly educated, artists, musicians, and or in the humane service field.

Much of the money owing is attributed to high levels of student debt, taxes, the economy, medical expenses, bad mortgages and the economic crash of 2008.

It really makes one seriously wonder when, how, and where this debt is all going to end. Many of us can only dream of being debt free, but it appears to be an never ending up hill battle. This isn't really a lofty dream in my opinion.

I commend Brittany M. Powell for bringing the discussion around debt, out of the shadows. Hopefully this project will begin an important and necessary dialogue to enable change in how our society views debt.

There is a pervasive attitude toward money in our culture. Credit is the word of the day, as if this is a good thing, when in actual fact, the real meaning of the word is debt and this is not a good thing.

My grandparents and my parents lived through the depression. If you didn't have cash to buy something that appeared to be was a bargain, well it wasn't a bargain, if you didn't have the cash, and you didn't get it.

Today's reality is, most are credit rich, and cash poor.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Older Artists Versus Younger Artists



Reflecting on what it means to be an older artist, I have never worried about my age, which I think is an attitude of agelessness, which I am grateful to have inherited from my parents.

Having returned to University to finish my degree at 56 years of age, it would have been easy to give up on my dream of obtaining the Bachelor of Fine Arts I had started so many years ago in the early 70s. Though I certainly had my challenges, and struggles to overcome, I never seriously considered throwing in the towel, regardless of how difficult my situation was from time to time. It all just made me even more determined in wanting to fulfill this goal, as it was what I was passionate about.

The fact that I was 56 when I became a mature student, and graduated in at the age of 58 never felt like a disadvantage, but an advantage, because I wasn't distracted, and could focus on the tasks at hand, more so than when I was much younger art student.

I know there are many artists I greatly admire, whose art is just as compelling, if not more so, once they had matured in years. Some of these artists I know, and are are my personal friends.

Recently I heard of a book written by Martin S. Lindauer, entitled AGING, CREATIVITY, AND ART, A Positive Perspective on Late-Life Development.
 Lindauer, states that research indicates creativity increases in quality, and in quantity, over an artist's lifetime. Productivity peaks age 60, and the quality of the creative output remains constant and steady, well into age 70 years of age.

Artist's who create work well into their 80s have a quality of work rated higher than it was during their 20s and 30s.  Lindauer purports that there are seven characteristics that distinguish "old artists and late art from young artists and youthful efforts." 
  • "Older artists have more knowledge and are less career oriented.
  • "They also have less energy - the only case where older artists were at a disadvantage to younger ones..."
  • "...which they compensated for with greater maturity, concentration, and self-acceptance."
  • "Older artists were also less critical than their younger counterparts."
  • "However, in two areas, creativity and experimentation, older artists were seen as equal to younger practitioners." (2003, pp.187-188)
When the so called "Old Age Style" might emerge, Lindauer wrote, "...the 60-year-old artists, and many of the 70-year-olds who were studied, were 'too young' to have an old-age style."


 I especially admire those women considered the Grand Dames Of The Art World.

 I have no "Old Age Style" but I intend to age creatively, and gracefully as an artist with an attitude of creative agelessness.
96-year-old Lebanese artist Salou Choucair

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Labyrinth Versus Maze

Kabala Tree of Life - Catherine Meyers


 
 Do you listen to late night radio? Yes? No? I have listened for many years now, and I hear the most interesting items that often aren't broadcast on daytime radio. Last night I heard about a labyrinth built for a park in Sydney Australia. Seems like a whole lot of money went toward this project, $500,000 grand, which one could question. That said, the final project was pretty remarkable and beautiful.

Most think the meaning of labyrinth and maze are interchangeable. I never really thought so much about it until now, and I now realize they are not the same thing, and I find it really interesting to understand  why they are not the same.
There in a plethora of information about the difference between a labyrinth and a maze. What I have generally concluded, is that mazes are meant to confuse and frustrate, whereas labyrinths are made to provide rest, and a serenity to the visitors.

I've always been very drawn to Sacred Geometry.   Mandelas and labyrinths are similar in their spiritual connection to sacred space, or to the path to the Divine and the balance between our natural environment. The circle is seen as being a symbol of wholeness and spiritual quest, or journey.

The spiritual principles behind the idea of the labyrinth are ancient, and compelling. The site Labyrinthina gives a detailed, mythical, and a historical overview of the meanings.



History of The Labyrinth - Sisters of Providence or Saint-Mary-Of-The-Woods

People from ancient and modern times have long looked to the labyrinth as an archetypal symbol of journey and spiritual renewal. Evidence of this dates to 4500 B.C. A figurine from the Ukraine, with a labyrinthine pattern, dating 15000 to 18000 B.C., was discovered by the archeologist Marja Gimbutas, who concluded the pattern may have predated the actual labyrinth.
Certainly, labyrinths are found in Greek mythology, Peruvian symbolism, Native American artifacts, and in Sweden, Finland and Estonian cultures. Legend says fishermen walked them slowly in order to entrap ill-intentioned trolls. Ancients believed the intestine was the uterus or womb or birth canal; therefore, the labyrinth symbolized the death that will come and the death that preceded birth, both naturally and spiritually. The labyrinth at Crete contained 272 stones, the same as the average number of days in the human gestation cycle.
Christian labyrinths (the earliest of which may be in the Church of Reparatus in Algeria, 400 A.D.) may have come to be used as a substitute for making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for those who could not go to Jerusalem. People imitated the journey in a faux pilgrimage, but they were also engaged in a journey understood to be both spiritual and real. The Cathedrals at Rheims (1240), Amiens (1288) and Chartres had labyrinths, all situated in the nave. Moving out of the labyrinth has traditionally been understood as symbolic of the process of rebirth or resurrection. From the day of our birth — we journey.
Adapted from “Labyrinths from the Outside In,” Schaper, Camp; Skylight Publishers, VT


Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth


Monday, November 10, 2014

Rememberance Day - Wilfred Owen

 
Wilfred Owen


ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH
A
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes. 
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


While attending Mount Allison University from 2009 - 2012, one of the very best things I did, was  to take a English Literature course from Professor Emeritus, Michael Thorpe.
 I was never a huge poetry reader as I hadn't been exposed to a lot of it in school growing up. But after I enrolling in this class, and from that time forward, I changed my perspective toward poetry and about war. 
The language of poetry helps us to understand the human condition, as it is a living thing and can change our lives.

Thanks to  Professor Thorpe, I developed a deeper understanding of war, the suffering it brings, and it disturbed me more profoundly trying to comprehend why we are such a warring species. The above poem by famous war poet Wilfred Owen especially, touched me deeply. 
This Remembrance Day, I pray for peace in the world, and for all the those in service, and victims of war, past and present, and for all of their families.

Woman of War - Catherine Meyers

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A New Way To Think About Creativity



I really thought long and hard about posting anything about the recent media reports concerning the past host of Q. Frankly I don't even want to repeat his name, because I found it all extremely disturbing. I had been a long time fan, and often wrote blog posts referring to him, to his guests, and the topics that were broadcasted on this program.
I understand that a host is not the show or is it? The situation has left me with feelings sadness, and with many serious unanswered questions.

Being in an abusive relationship myself, in the past, I understand very well, why these women did not come forward. If an individual has not been in an abusive situation, it is easy to sit in judgement.

What became eminently clear to me, is how abuse, particularly against women, is still insidiously rampant in our so called civilized society, and I hope perhaps the one good thing that, will result, is an ongoing open dialogue, that urges and enables much needed change.

I certainly don't know what the answer is, but silence is not. Men need to engage in proactive and actualized change, both  politically and in socioeconomic way. We can't change any one but ourselves and we all need to change.

Gender roles need to be more flexible, and I believe because of the stereotypical rigidity of gender roles that still exists in society, this contributes to misogyny and abuse.

I never considered the meaning reflected in the follow quote I found today, from a very compelling article in Brain Pickings today. It discusses and reflects the relationship, and connection between creativity, gender and having an androgynous attitude, that transcends, and is beyond one's physical appearance, and wanting to look like or be David Bowie.

“Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.”

Because I study Greek Mythology through the Mythic Tarot, I immediately thought about the last card in the deck, The World , symbolizes and reflects much of what I think about androgyny. 

 Hermaphroditus
  • son of Hermes and Aphrodite
  • The nymph Salmacis desired him, but he wasn’t interested in her. When he was bathing in a pool, she embraced him tightly and called to the gods to never let them be parted. They were then fused into one being with both male and female characteristics
  • the experience of being whole
  • symbol of the potential integration of the opposites within one’s personality
  • this wholeness is an ideal that is out of reach of imperfect humans; but it can see glimpsed whenever there is a state of inner healing because warring parts of oneself have at last come together and some inner resolution has brought peace

Perhaps if we develop creativity, and a more androgynous attitude, individually, and collectively, we might have a more empathetic world, with less misogyny and violence, and perhaps women would feel safer to break their silence.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Frida Kahlo Made Me Think About Life and Death


 
Recently my childhood life long friend lent me a wonderful little book about my favourite artist, Frida Kahlo. The book, Frida Kahlo Painting Her Own Reality is written by Christina Burrus and published by Abrams, New York.
It is a fairly in depth biography along with wonderful coloured illustrations of Frida's paintings and photographs depicting her life. There are her intimate diary enters and letters giving a real sense of who she was.


What I've mostly thought about Frida Kahlo was the way she fully lived her life and how death was so often a present theme throughout her subject matter in her paintings, while simultaneously, she had great passion for life, and for her painting.

Perhaps Frida was an atheist of conviction, though this is not completely clear, however one can not help but feel some how, a strong presence of the divine, the spirituality of the goddess, with an otherworldly quality in many of her paintings. I can't help but feel her Mexican heritage and culture, along with her mother's staunch Catholicism and her father being Jewish must have been a significant influence on her spirituality or opposition to it.


The Dream - Frida Kahlo (1940)

 Her Mexican heritage I'm certain, shaped her level of comfort surrounding the acceptance of death as being, just a part of life. As seen in her painting The Dream (1940) it reflects how she was very conscious of having to live day to day with the possibility of her own death.

She stated to Alejandro immediately after her accident ' death is dancing around my bed all night long'. All of her paintings reflected an obsession with death during the period after her separation from Diego. As well, understandably the loss of all her children, she could not carry to term, was a source of great depression, and sorrow for Frida. The fine and precarious thread between life and death must have been ever poignantly present.

I believe because of Frida's suffering, she lived her life as fully as she possibly could, seized the day in spite of, and perhaps because of her sorrows, heartache and pain, she loved life itself, with such passion, that one can not help but be inspired by a woman who had such a close relationship with life, because she had such an intimate relationship with death. She may not have wanted to return after her death, but she certainly will always live on always in the spirit of her paintings and the beautiful soul she was.

 Frida reminds me of Persephone, queen of the underworld. She reveals in much of her painted subject matter, the secrets of her inner life, not unlike the mysterious unconscious inner world of Persephone.

I believe Frida Kahlo's world was not full of death and darkness, but full of life and much light.




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Powerful Daguerreotype - Photographs Without Negatives

Richard Learoyd, “Jasmijn” (2011), camera obscura Ilfochrome photograph, 58 x 48 in (image, sheet & mount), shown at Paris Photo (© Richard Learoyd, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco)


There are some photographs created by certain photographers, that cause you to immediately fall in love with their work. Richard Learoyd  is one such photographer, that I just found out about today. Not sure how I missed this guy!

 He has immersed himself in the traditional method of what is described as being " antiquarian of photographic processes: the camera obscura. " These traditional processes is what made me passionate about  photography, and about the process. Richard Learoyd's employs the process of photographs without negatives.

Being exposed to the work of such artists like Robert Frank, Dianne Arbus, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz and my own wonderful teacher, Thaddeus Holownia deepened my appreciation, and love for this art and the admiration I have for these artists.

Being a painter I understand, and greatly appreciate the connection between painting and photography. These photographs of Richard Learoyd have that quality. Call me old fashioned, but nothing quite compares to the powerful quality of daguerreotype.

If I wasn't a painter, I'd be a photographer!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Singing Over The Bones

The Wild Woman - Singing Over The Bones - Catherine Meyers"  The Wild Woman lives where the dead come to be kissed and the living send their prayers. "

I have always been fascinated with all kinds of stories that are manifested through mythology, and tomorrow is The Day of the Dead, which originates from Aztec Mythology, and it is the celebrated holiday when the dead, family and friends are all remembered. I wish all my Mexican and Spanish friends a Happy Day of the Dead. I don't know a whole lot about Aztec Mythology, but have always been interested in ancient cultures, their stories, myths and legends, as they teach us about life, and death.

I have found it some what sad how our Western world is so out of touch with death. Death is what we all have in common, yet we keep death at arms length. Ancient and traditional cultures are much more connected with the Life-Death-Life cycle.


The myth of The Day of The Dead revolves around the underworld of Mictlan which was ruled by King Mictlantecuhtli ("Lord of the Underworld") and his wife, Mictecacihuatl ("Lady of the Underworld").
It is the most celebrated holiday in Mexico, and has become integrated with Spanish traditions, and all over the world. The goddess Mictlantecuhtli reminds me of Persephone, in Greek Mythology she is Psyche, and the High Priestess of the Tarot. The High Priestess is an image of that natural law at work within the depths of the soul. Persephone like Mictecacihuatl  is also the goddess of the underworld or the night world of the unconscious, which is revealed through feelings, intuition, dreams, and fantasies.


Within the art world, death seems to be mostly avoided, and not reflected usually within the subject matter of the contemporary artist.

The story of the Inuit myth about Skeleton Women best reflects for me the Life-Death-Life cycle.

Skeleton Woman - Catherine Meyers