Monday, August 15, 2016

ART APPRECIATION: The Hart to The High

Sadly the only time I’ve seen Dilworth’s art exhibited was at Atlanta’s High Museum in the late 60s. Yep, I’m talking last century. One piece, an approximately 40 inches in diameter granite peach, was partly sliced open exposing part of the peach’s pit. Not surprisingly it was titled a Georgian Peach. Keep in mind this was a decade before someone followed with Steel Magnolia. The peach was highly polished granite which is, of course, how Georgia women like at least to think of ourselves. I was surprised and quite proud as I read the name of the artist. We had gone to undergrad together in the 50s. Actually I went to the High that day to see a painting by another well known Georgia artist, Ann Osteen, from my hometown.
Hartwell is fortunate, particularly for any sophisticated art connoisseurs in the area. One of our country’s most gifted artists, Mary Lula Dilworth resides there. Hartwell will have an exhibition of her works and only hers, a one woman show. She’s done her civic and regional duty often acting as judge and allowing pieces shown in Hartwell, Anderson and other fortunate spots in the area. However, October 1 some new pieces never before displayed will be seen.
One of my favorites was featured in Vivian Morgan’s excellent June 16th Hartwell Sun article on Mary Lula and her works. The canvas is of several women and the topmost face, about 2nd from left must be her self portrait. It looks as she did in her youth. Excellent likeness. The 3rd from left also intrigues me. It seems to be someone I don’t know at all but at the same time I know dozens of women who look just like her and they all have an identical personality. They present themselves attractively almost identical to some prototype. That face’s right ear is clearly non-functional, indicating a common feature of that personality type. The 1st face with its collared neck doesn’t intrigue me at all, possibly because of her obvious bondage status. Yet the hand/arm with the possibility that the collar is also around a wrist does... there’s a lot of geometry in that face. That piece is an example of why Dilworth is one of America’s foremost artists; the more you look, the more you find. The apparent nose, to the left of the first eye begs the question is it phallus instead. Before I could resolve that I was struck by the recurring possibility that the eye’s position and shape was not unlike testicular. In fact, all the noses and eyes on those faces are. Keep in mind that Art Appreciation can reveal more about the observer than the artist.
Another of my favorites she admits took 47 years to complete and I have personally known that wooden sculpture since it was merely one of many trees bull-dozed to construct I-285. About 1970 I received an excited phone call from her telling me she had just saved some trees. Being a lifelong tree-huger; literally so, usually in order to not fall as I loved to climb them. Then as a Biology major in undergrad, I studied under Botanist Dr. Donald Caplenor and much later once had myself a three storied home built completely around an ancient sycamore. So I was impressed by Mary’s rescue. Never knew she gave a fig about trees. Of course, as a tree-huger I was less impressed to discover she ‘saved’ them after they’d been bull-dozed. She was ecstatic at the prospect of using them for wood sculptures.
I have looked at that former tree several times through the years and the progress of her sculpturing of it. Last time I saw ‘the tree’ it was a voluptuous nude, though obviously quite gravid female. It too was pictured in the Hartwell Sun’s story... Wood sculpturing has a strength requirement that few women, even as young adults, would undertake and Dilworth is 82. Impressive again, but no surprise. She takes roads her art requires her to take. She was the only woman ever known to enroll and gloriously complete Industrial Arts at our Alma Mater .

Thursday, August 04, 2016

SURFING the NET in SEARCH of the GOOD OLD DAYS

                                SURFING the NET in SEARCH of the GOOD OLD DAYS
As my 2016 birthday approaches I find myself nostalgic for the good old days. Without divulging my specific age, which no woman should or so the cliché claims: When I celebrated my 80th my daughter-in-law asked what my thoughts were. I paused and tried to look beyond the most obvious one, “when can we cut the cake?” and came up with, “Since according to the doctor who delivered me I was born dead. The year was during the Great Depression of the 1930s. So all things considered, celebrating this birthday is almost miraculous for me.”
As if surviving after being pronounced dead, being one of seven children when employment, money and food were practically non-existent, even Baby boomers may know what followed. Yep, World War II! With three brothers, we contributed one to the Navy, one to the Army Air Force and the youngest to the Marines. That made WWII and The Occupation very personal. After that there was Korea, Viet Nam, ad infinitum. Hopefully by now you’re asking yourself why, with that history, would I be searching for the old days and how do I have the nerve to call them good. Have you looked at the news of the world today on the internet?

Throwing most of the election 2016 news out, here is what’s going on in a capsule: Indianapolis Star reports USA Gymnastics hid sexual abuse accusations to protect reputation of coaches; De Pillis on Yahoo says “Baby boomers Are Taking on Ageism…” (Oh, I remember Boomers they’re the ones who coined the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 40”just in time for my 41st birthday. Good luck with that, guys and gals!); Women with Tonsils and Appendixes removed are still fertile; Clint Eastwood, the only person in the world who looks older than I but isn’t, says, “It’s a sad time in history” and Pokemon Go is the newest game craze. I admit I chose the last item from the technology articles because it is the only one I can remotely relate to, remembering my now 22 Year Old grandson’s Pokemon card collection.

Perhaps the Good Old Days I seek is better explained by a friend's wall plaque: The best thing about the Good Old Days is simply that I was neither old nor good.

Friday, May 06, 2016

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, MICHELANGELO

                                                     
You’re not going to believe this but let me tell you of my apparently pornographic half bath. I bought a condo in a northern suburb of Suburbville, GA (others call it Atlanta). It was in lousy condition still I call it home after some insane DIY projects. These gave me bonding time as well as a way to give spending money without danger of spoiling him, with an otherwise distant grandson. It went like this:
“Son, would you like to earn some money by painting my half bath for me? I have the paint and all.”
Eye rolling, fake grimacing, heavy sighing Grandson: “what size?”
“Quart and a five inch brush.”
Pitying look at me, head shaking and eye rolling Grandson: “I mean room size?”
“Like a big closet… really.”
GS with a sneering look of authority and might’ve known:”You didn’t even measure it before buying the paint, did you?” toward my head shake.
Such was our ‘bonding’. I leave it to your imagination as to the look he gave when he opened the paint and found it to be super-duper high gloss and pitch black but his disbelieving words were. “Do you have any idea what you’re doing using this freakish paint?”
Once done, off went my GS with words of urgency of school work. As I was left to clean the brushes, remove floor tarp and generally act as clean-up guy I pondered suspiciously his sudden devotion to homework.
Eventually I added my decorative touches. My hobby is painting but obviously not the room kind. I had my pencil sketches of statues of artists in front of the Telfair Gallery in Savannah and put them in gilded frames but really needed another to fill the bathroom shelf. Meanwhile, WalMart had great plush, black, edged in gold guest towels. Except for another picture of an artist, I liked the room even better than I’d imagined.
Then I rushed to locate a picture of one more artist. Bingo! Found the perfect one on, of all places, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel… well, no, didn’t really go to the Vatican in Rome but that’s why we have the web. Right? Michelangelo, the guy that ‘painted’ that ceiling, used his own self portrait as St. Bartholomew. My pencil sketches were white on black paper and Mickey-O’s was black on white paper. Also my sketches wore their clothes and Michelangelo was naked as a jaybird but I dared not be dumb enough to mess with any M painting. Besides I really like the contrast of the one white among four blacks. I was thrilled but not without fear that my GS would really roll his eyes and worse when he saw it.
Tried phones, Texts, Emails to get GS to view my finished room but without success. Soon his Dad decided he had no room for a family heirloom resulting in my looking out my window to see GS. ROLLING said heirloom, a  round table, on the concrete to my condo. Felt the need of Aunt Pity Pat’s smelling salts but being more the Prissy type tried to appear calm. Like all teenagers he had more like himself in tow. He briefly introduced me to friends who’d helped him with the chore while I resolved this was not the time to unveil my finished bathroom. I offered them glasses of tea after they placed the table as directed. They were leaving when one emerged from the bath with a red face, painfully resisting the urge to burst out laughing. He whispered urgently in his friends’ ears and suddenly GS ducked into the bath. He emerged with eyes rolling like they’d entered the Daytona 500 and I braced myself.
“Baxter, you’re a dork. Next year when you’re a senior like me you’ll take Ms. Carr’s Art Appreciation class and learn nudes are NOT porno, you dweeb! Nudes ’ve been around since fifth century B.C. To the Greeks and Romans the nude body represented Humanity and depending on how shown represents heroism, vulnerability, purity, idealism and that kinda stuff.Those remotely sexy are meant to arouse only the mind. That’s not porno! That’s a great Renaissance artist plastered among a lot of other nudes including God on the inside of the best known church in the world, you Neanderthal.”

GS was still making his point as they left. I was now the one rolling my eyes… mostly heavenward in relief and thanks for education.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

IRENE

It’s that time of year again as Irene just reminded us. Have been a hurricane evacuee three times on land with two of those real horror stories but my worst experience with a hurricane came at sea. My parents gave me a cruise to Bermuda for college graduation. The ship left Savannah and everything started out sunny: swimming pool; food every hour; flying fish off the bow and then my favorite the little red dingy Savannah way outside the harbor marking the entry to our port. I was in my element. I loved my first voyage. When not in the pool if you’ve ever seen the movie Titanic you know what I did: stood on the bowsprit and enjoyed the crashing waves – long before Gwyneth was born. I marveled at the sea and sky.
A day later the clouds moved in; white caps whipped up and swells grew larger by the minute. When the weather didn’t improve they emptied the pool and finally told us what we already suspected: we’d run into a hurricane. Apparently, the Captain was the last to know. It was only a decade since WWII and I doubt our young German crew had ever been near a hurricane before. . I was fine as long as I stayed in the open air. If I went inside I felt queasy so I stayed outside and slept in a deck chair. Soon lifelines were strung on deck to hold onto and lots of green looking people joined me on the deck, some leaning over it with gusto. Joyously we made Bermuda and the island and its weather were perfect.
Before the return trip began many questioned the Captain before boarding and he assured them the storm had moved on north. Nonetheless a passenger from Charleston swore off cruising for life and took a flight home.One day out and we met our old nemesis again, only this time it was worse. The troughs of water between the mountainous crests of waves were deeper. We rolled so that you could only see water until it rolled the other way and you only saw sky. We pitched and dishes and glasses fell from the racks and broke when the props came out of the water. The whole ship shuddered as if it would shatter each time that happened. At meals the elegant dining was gone as we made do with sparse settings. No big deal since few showed up inside for meals where you had wine OR water OR tea OR a cocktail since there was only one glass per guest allowed. Very sobering!
We safely made it home a day late with many worried but welcoming friends and families with outstretched arms awaiting us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

GARAGE STALES

Just received an E-mail from my niece with the subject line: Cleaning out Mom's garage. Nearly needed the late Anne Sanford's (UGA football stadium bears her family's name)Victorian fainting couch but alas it is inside said garage. I thought my niece a brave soul to undertake such. While a columnist in Savannah its staggering contents were one of my favorite subjects which turned the place into a minor Savannah icon. Since I once lived in the house attached to it for about five years she wanted to know if I wished to reserve anything in it. Wow!
I once wrote 500 words in my column about a peach gown originally owned by an aunt but used by everyone in the family, actually the females only... as far as I know, for four decades. It served as the gown for Jeanette in my role in Christopher Frye's The Lady Is Not for Burning; with a hoop my cousin was a southern belle at a UGA fraternity's Old South Ball; and my E-mailing niece wore it in her lead role in Bell, Book and Candle and with a boa the newspaper photographed her in it at the final gala before the razing of the original Hotel DeSoto. That gown hangs among racks of similar vintage clothes including my own wedding gown and veil. My first computer, an Apple given me by my oldest son in the mid-80s; varied paintings I've never finished; a huge life-sized portrait of Ben Hogan which my late PGA brother left in my care because he couldn't chose which of his sons should inherit it (must be a genetic flaw because neither can I); the Sanford couch already mentioned bought from neighbor Anne's estate sale; and endless other such are all in there.
In the end I asked niece to save the Ben Hogan, an unfinished portrait of herself I started and the Apple's Owner's manual (good basic 'How to' for computers). Sent a PS for her to pass on my crabbing net in there to someone in the family as I want be needing it here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

BULL SHARKS and BIG BLUE HERONS

Some left over scraps from the wedding- I was preoccupied that the groom’s family follow the prescription of my mother-in-law who as a Missouri Protestant minister’s wife put together many a wedding in her day. She said the groom’s mother should wear beige (meaning drab and colorless so as not to steal the bride & Co. thunder) and his family should sit still and be quiet. We were doing fine until a nephew and wife decided to seat themselves just as it was time for the father-of-the-bride to begin their entrance. My son, seated on the row with them leaned over and quietly said hello to his cousin whom he had not seen in decades. Nephew demanded, “Who are you?” When son identified himself they stood, shook hands and had old home week! I apologized to the bride afterwards but she assured me she didn’t even notice. I also was apparently so busy recovering from that so I missed the groom fixated on the Bull shark swimming behind the ceremony as it took place. Apparently there was also a Big Blue heron not frightened from his fishing by the predator. Possibly they’re two pretty good symbols for a young couple starting a new life together (and the rest of humans as well) but let’s not dwell on that.
I finished writing a non-fiction piece of 40,000 words if any non-fiction publishers out there are reading this. It goes like this: one of the most condemned and vilified women of history, presents one of its greatest mysteries. Inspired fiction writers treat her kinder than writers of her earliest alleged non-fiction with the latter’s many self-evident errors. These blunders occurred because factual records like the State Papers of Thurloe and Clarendon, various government Calendars, Letters between rulers and/or administrators, Memoirs, and even Hotten’s Lists were not made public until usually centuries later. Her slanderers, not knowing or caring that reliable contemporaries were recording events which along with advances in science would one day prove their accusations impossible, are “hoisted on their own petard.” Search for her historic truth continues. One need only use a computer’s search engine to find the scandalous details recorded of her. She has been a popular subject and herein is a review of some reportedly non-fiction facts about her. She has inspired more defenders than accusers in the last two centuries and each defender examined the evidence and usually established only one or two new truths regarding her. Now time has established enough accumulated valid evidence at least to sketch her real character.
Heavy work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Home Again

Returned Sunday from Skidaway Island off the Georgia coast to chilly weather. Barely 60 degrees F but we expect a warm-up by the weekend. No, this is not going to be another one of my weather reports. Pulled some winter clothes out which I efficiently put away before heading southeast for my grandson’s May 14th wedding.
My son, his wife and I took a rental home at the Landings on Skidaway for the occasion and it was nice to be back in my home area. Sat on the patio at night and listened to the swamp sounds coming from our lagoon. A resident Blue Heron successfully fished ten feet away. Anhinga dived for their dinner and then spread their huge wings to dry in the sun. The rehearsal dinner was at Bonna Bella Mariner, a Savannah landmark and as mariner oriented as the name implies. Had a somewhat formal version of a Frogmore Stew/Dump/Low Country Boil (different names given the same dish depending on which part of the Carolina-Georgia coast it’s held), chicken and accompanying fare. Saw people I had not seen in thirty years and another even before that from the west coast. Took my older sisters and another to lunch in the kitchen at Savannah’s “World famous” (are they sure?) Johnny Harris’. Shared memories with family, friends and enemies equally. Toured my late mother’s old home with its wealth of photographs and art and gave tours of it to all as well. The wedding took place there outdoors facing the east and the Vernon Estuary after a full day of steady rain that stopped an hour before the ceremony. My mandatory grandmother heels sank a bit on every step as one of favorite grandson’s friends from his cradle days escorted me to my seat. The reception followed at a Golf Club on the nearby Landings where I darted between the Peacocke’s family table, my birth family’s table and the bride’s family while watching the dancing expertly coordinated by an emcee imported from Atlanta and designed to entertain onlookers. Fun, exhausting but the change was good for me.