Monthly Archives: April 2015

Two women painters you’ve never heard of

Drama of Fall, Constance Cochrane, c. 1940, depicts Monhegan Island. Sandy Quang ran across two women painters this week. It’s sad how little documentation there is of their lives and work. Helen Louise Moseley was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1883. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago with Robert Henri, Hugh Breckenridge […]

Sit and stare

It’s a parent-led insurrection, and it’s about losing local control. Today marks the beginning of New York State Assessment for ELA and math grades 3-8. It’s my understanding that some districts will require non-compliant students to sit for the duration of the exam and do nothing. “Basically none of our children will be allowed to […]

Be reasonable

Sugaring Off, Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses, 1944. In some of her winter scenes, she achieves a Bruegelesque quality, perhaps in part because of the flat lighting. I was outlining my next six months’ schedule to my friend Berna, and she asked, “And you are painting when?” It’s a thought that’s occurred to me more […]

Not your grandfather’s abattoir

Carcass of Beef by Chaim Soutine, c.1924. This is part of a series that was painted in his apartment in Montparnasse, sans refrigeration. Every art student knows Chaim Soutine’s Carcass of Beef series. Soutine—who didn’t always act as if both his oars were in the water—kept a beef carcass hanging in his studio to paint, bathing […]

Picturing modern-day slavery

Day’s Work: “I remember every client, every face.  It is like a horror movie.” From Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking, Kay Chernush. Slavery is officially illegal in all countries, but there are still an estimated 20 million to 36 million slaves worldwide. Debt bondage, often spanning generations, is the most prevalent form of slavery today, […]

Art and depravity

Theresienstadt painting by Ela Weissberger “I remember thinking in school how I would grow up and would protect my students from unpleasant impressions, from uncertainty, from scrappy learning,” Friedl Dicker-Brandeis wrote in 1940. “Today only one thing seems important — to rouse the desire towards creative work, to make it a habit, and to teach […]

Voiceless, almost

This 5-gallon stoneware storage jar, incised “March 4 1857 Dave” on shoulder, sold at auction for $39,550. Yesterday I mentioned in passing that the banjo is credited to American slave laborers, who made themselves skin-and-gourd stringed instruments of a type similar to those left behind in Africa. That image of singing in the depths of […]

Make your own fun

Sampler from Salem, MA, 1791.Needlework was one of the last traditional crafts to vanish; girls were still taught to embroider into the 1960s. One would have to be blind to not notice the current trend in adult coloring. Of the top ten sales positions on Amazon, threeare adult coloring books (and one is a guide […]

The changing face of Polonia

Historic Polonia is no longer a Polish neighborhood, and the workers at the Broadway Market reflect that changing demographic. Today is Dyngus Day—the Monday after Easter—celebrated in Buffalo, South Bend, and Cleveland. It originated in Central Europe, where it is still observed, and was brought to the United States by the Slavic Diaspora. The Broadway […]

Stations of the Cross (5 of 5)

This week I am running a series of Stations of the Cross. They were completed during a deadly year, one in which I was being treated for an advanced cancer. For this reason—and because I was traversing new territory for myself—they’re uneven. But their power comes from the underlying story. The language is simple, meant […]