Don't get me wrong, I love summertime as much as the next person...long, sunny days outdoors...nature trails, camera in hand...visits to grandchildren unencumbered by homework assignments...travel time adventures. It's all good... except for ....
THE CREATIVITY DRAIN!
Those long, lazy days can certainly drain the creativity right out of my brain! I was sure that a weekend of baseball games with the grandsons, followed by a few days soaking up the natural wonder known as Niagara Falls, would be just the ticket for fresh ideas for painting and printmaking.
I WAS SO WRONG!
I came home with some wonderful photographs and great memories, but not a single bit of motivation to pick up a paintbrush or even a drawing pencil.
UNTIL THIS PAST WEEK!
I no longer remember whether it was a Facebook post or an email, but somehow I discovered that the Dayton Art Institute "Language of Art" program had a book-related gallery tour coming up on June 27. That was only about ten days away at the time, but Amazon delivers quickly and I'm a fast reader, so I decided to take a chance on "The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories" by British author, Penelope Lively.
MEET MY NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR!
This book was a perfect introduction to Lively's writing style and sometimes quirky take on the human condition. Plenty of unexpected endings and a mix of past and present made each short story a delightful read on a hot summer day, but the whole time I was wondering how our DAI tour leader would relate these tales to art in the museum collections. I was sure that a trip to the Ancient Art galleries would be on the agenda since the first story in Lively's collection provided a bird's eye view of the life and times of ancient Pompeii at the time of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption that buried this once-thriving Italian city.
NOT QUITE CORRECT...
The title story was indeed the first one on the tour, but the artwork chosen for our discussion was Georgia O'Keeffe's "Purple Leaves", a lovely painting by one of my favorite American artists.. Purple pencils were distributed for some quick impressions, followed by a lively (sorry, couldn't resist!) discussion about the meaning of purple from the point of view of both artist and author.
Our tour included two other works, well-chosen for their connections to several stories from Lively's book. I came away with a new appreciation for artist Robert Brackman's "Life About Me", a wall-size painting that I had simply passed on by for years while on my way to view my favorites by Hopper and Wyeth.
SO, WHAT ABOUT BOGART?
Not just the famous American film star, but famous faces from another place and time, thanks to the amazing black and white photography of Yousuf Karsh. This exhibit of 48 iconic portraits, is on loan from the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. through mid-September. I wasn't able to stay that same day to visit this exhibit, but returned two days later to soak it in at leisure. Photography was forbidden, but suffice it to say, that I was enthralled by Karsh's work. I had seen several of the photographs over the years in other contexts, but had never given a thought to who may have been the photographer. What a life he must have had, with the opportunity to fulfill his dream of photographing the movers, shakers, and history makers of the 20th century!
AND WHAT ABOUT THAT INSPIRATION?
As part of the Yousuf Karsh exhibit, the works of 20th century Dayton photographer, Jane Reece, were also on display. Unlike Karsh's sharp contrast black and white photography that so perfectly captures the personality of the individual, Reece's work has an ethereal quality with soft images and occasional color overlays with colored pencil and crayon. I've only dabbled a bit with black and white photography, and have much to learn, but I am going to get a few of my photos printed and give adding a bit of color a try in the coming weeks.
COMING NEXT...THE RESULTS!
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