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Ain’t No Grave

I’m not a religious person and wasn’t raised with any religion in my life. Growing up, Easter was just another excuse to gorge myself on candy and boiled eggs.

But the idea of resurrection that this day represents is a potent theme, one that resonates deeply with me. I am not talking about actual resurrection, the rising from the grave type of thing. But the idea of rebirth, of washing away the past and beginning anew has always struck a chord within me.

Maybe that’s why I am a morning person. Each day is a personal resurrection of sorts. There is a new start each day the sun comes up, a new chance to redeem yourself in some way. So, in a way, Easter is just part of a continuum of  constant rebirth, one that transcends personal religion.

For this Sunday morning music I am choosing a song that concerns itself with a more literal form of resurrection. It is Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold This Body Down) which was written in 1934 by Claude Ely. He was twelve years old at the time and was stricken with tuberculosis. His family is said to have prayed for his health to return and in response, he spontaneously performed this song.

I can’t attest to that part of the story but it is a pretty well known gospel standard now. This version is from the great Odetta.

The newer painting above is a small 8″ by 8″ panel that I call Resurrection. It feels very Easter-y to me.

Have a good Sunday.

 

The Choice

A child in India grows up with the idea that you have to make choices that will create a better future. In fact, your whole life is a continuum of choices, so the more conscious you are, the greater your life will be.

Deepak Chopra
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I don’t think many of us spend much time in considering the many choices that we make each day that make up our life. Indeed, the many choices we make that form our personality and our character.

And that’s a shame because we do have a great deal of control over who we are and how we live.  More control than many of us would believe, especially those of us who make a choice not to choose, to live an unconscious life that takes little notice of the possible consequences of our decisions.

I see this new painting, an 18″ by 24″ canvas that I call The Choice, as a representation of those who decide the course of their lives. Clarity, light, and color make up this painting for me and I would like to think that is the same for those people who choose their own way.

Of course, there are bad decisions made after much deliberation. That is our But it seems to me that knowing why or how something has gone wrong makes the decision in how one deals with the consequences that much simpler. And being conscious of our decisions and actions makes it more likely that we can make adjustments as we move forward. Adjustments that will help us find the feeling represented in this piece.

I wrote this off the cuff this morning so maybe it won’t sound that good later today.  But even so, there’s something about this piece that really appeals to me and pulls me in.

WomenInArtThis blog post ran here about eight years ago but it’s a great video that should be seen again. It’s called 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art.

It is a montage of famous portrait paintings of women through the centuries morphing from one to the next.  The creator of this video, Phillip Scott Johnson, did a great job of choosing and arranging the subjects, earning him an award for his creativity from YouTube. The accompanying Bach piece performed on the cello  by Yo-Yo Ma fits beautifully.  Makes for a nice Sunday morning viewing.

If you would like to identify any of the paintings used in the video, click on the group of six paintings above and you’ll be taken to a website that identifies each.  Enjoy…

Cavatina and Wyeth

I have been enjoying the films I’ve been sharing lately featuring the work of some of my favorite artists. It sometimes gives me a wider view of their body of work, giving me glimpse at lesser known pieces alongside their greatest hits while listening to music that often fits the tone of the work.

Today’s pick was an easy one for me.  It’s a lovely compilation of the work of Andrew Wyeth set to the gorgeous guitar of John Williams‘ version of British composer Stanley Myers’ Cavatina. You might recognize the song from its prominent place in the film The Deer Hunter.

Andrew Wyeth would have been 100 years old in 2017 and to mark the occasion, the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown has an exhibit opening in May that celebrates the life and work of Wyeth. It is curated by his granddaughter, Victoria Wyeth, and includes many items from his personal collection. It is on my to do list.

Anyway, enjoy this beautiful group of paintings and the music that accompanies it. I am off to work, happier for having watched this short film this morning.

Maverick

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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I am calling this new painting, a 30″ by 24″ canvas, Maverick. I hesitated about using that particular word for a bit, as it seemed a bit tainted for me by a certain past vice-presidential candidate from outside the lower 48 states. But it’s too good a word to let that person’s use of the word spoil it. A maverick is just a consciously active nonconformist, someone who makes the choice to separate themselves from the herd.

I think many of us would like to think of ourselves as nonconformists or mavericks. But I don’t know how many of us ever really deserve that label.

I know that I certainly don’t see myself as one, at least in the true sense of the word. I find myself all too often bending to the will of the crowd and staying in line. Oh, I still try to have my way and to do what I want in the manner that I want but I try to keep it low key without flaunting it or unnecessarily stepping on toes.

Maybe if you were able to use an adjective in front of the word. An anxious nonconformist or a fretting maverick. Maybe then I would put myself in that category.

And even then, probably not. I mean, what kind of maverick cares what they are called? They just want to do their thing without any hassle and the opinions of others be damned.

And that’s kind of what I see here with the Red Tree on a rocky outcropping away from the other multi-colored entities that seem to be primarily focused on the issues of themselves and their neighbors. Looking at the lower part of this piece reminds me of a microscope image of the endoplasm of an amoeba as it pulses and churns. It all seems inward and involved only with what is around it. It can’t see much beyond its own cell walls whereas the Red Tree, having freed itself from those struggles, is able to focus on other matters- the sea, the sky, the sun, and its place in that realm. A perspective that encompasses things well beyond itself.

Well, that’s my opinion. If you’re a maverick you most likely won’t give much of a damn what I think. Good for you.

I only have time enough this morning to throw this song out for this week’s Sunday morning music. The song is At My Window Sad and Lonely with lyrics by Woody Guthrie. The band Wilco and singer Billy Bragg put music to these lyrics along with a number of other Guthrie songs in the Mermaid Avenue albums. The version below is an acoustic version from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Nice stuff.

The image to the right is from my Outlaws series from back in 2006. This piece is called Followed. It was chosen because I think this person might be sad and lonely.

Give a listen and enjoy your Sunday…

Flight of Angels

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

James Allen, British Author  (1864-1912)

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I’ve had this new painting in the studio for the past few weeks and my eyes keep coming back to it. Not in a questioning way where I am looking for what might be lacking in it.

No, it’s a satisfied look. Instead of me looking for what I can add to it to make it better, I am looking to see what it can add to me to make myself better.

It has that kind of feel to me. More than the sum of its parts.

I am calling this piece, a 24″ by 36″ canvas, Flight of Angels. I take that title from that feeling that there is something hidden in there that is trying to assist me and from the shape of the space running up the river and into the sky. It has the silhouette of an angel, one that just jumps out at me. I’ve altered the image a bit in the image at the bottom of the page to better illustrate what I’m talking about.

Now, I am not sure that I truly believe in angels or can even pretend to know how they would act or move or interact with us. But if I were an angel – and that’s very big if– I could imagine myself flowing in the cool air above rivers and seas, always moving towards the light of the sun.

After all, wouldn’t the angels fly near where the earth, the waters and the skies converge?

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