The IX Art Park

The IX Art Park in Charlottesville, Virginia just had its grand opening on Sunday. The 17 acre park is a vibrant, dynamic, interactive community space dedicated to the arts.

There’s a “Before I Die…” chalkboard wall where people are encouraged to make public their most cherished dreams and aspirations…

It’s filled with inspiring messages of hope, such as:

“Find true peace in my soul”

“Travel the world”

“Build a flourishing practice that helps people love their lives”

I was busily taking photos elsewhere when my daughter came running up to find me with eyes shining. She brought me over to look at what she had written on the wall.

“Guess which one is mine?” she asked.

Gosh, I’m proud…

Simply bursting with pride, really.

The kids and I participated in the Rainbow Rush 5K, which was part of the grand kickoff for the Art Park. Inspired by the Holi festival, the race was designed to be a “color run.” There were stations set up around the route where people would pelt the runners with different powdered colors.

A few more photos back at home:

We had so much fun, my daughter and I went back on Monday to explore some more.

I’m signing off for the rest of the week. Hope your week is wonderful!

NYC, Day 2

On Sunday we spent the morning at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Costume Institute has just reopened after a two-year renovation with the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” exhibition. James’ ingenious architectural designs are shown next to computer graphics which show how the complex pieces are constructed. He is known for his highly structured ball gowns, capes, and coats cut from luxurious fabrics. Sadly, no photos were allowed…

I was however able to take a million photos of Greek gods and goddesses for my budding classicist:

This one was my favorite…perfect for Mother’s Day:

Little did I know that while I was admiring the art at The Met, this masterpiece was being created at home:

To be continued tomorrow!

Santa Monica Chic

It sometimes seems like Virginia is all brick, columns, and colonial architecture and interiors. It was fun to see a totally different design vibe in Santa Monica…

Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica

I loved the art behind the reception desk. It’s the first line of this poem by American poet Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), which also happens to be perfect for Earth Day:

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things – earth, stone and water.
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars –
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality –
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant – to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

Even more spectacular was The Penthouse, the restaurant in the nearby Huntley Hotel. We met up there for brunch on Saturday with a small portion of my very large family:

The views!

The ultra-hip lobby designed by Thomas Schoos:

The Continuing Adventures of…Super Peanut

It’s been almost a year and a half since the last episode of Super Peanut. The one good thing about my daughter being at home sick for so many days was that she had the time to crank out a couple more episodes…

In case you missed the first episodes, you can get caught up here.

Looking Back Again

I’m constantly looking back over my shoulder, both literally and figuratively. Did I remember to turn off the oven? Should I have said what I said, done what I did? Is my dad still standing there in the freezing cold at the end of the sidewalk waving to me as I drive away? Nowhere is this tendency to look back more pronounced than when I write. I revisit and revise things I’ve written over and over again, sometimes even decades after I first wrote them.

For this reason, trying to keep up a blog has been a sometimes painful form of self-discipline. Because the time I have to write is so limited, it’s only a self-imposed posting schedule that keeps me going. But forcing myself to write and actually post to a deadline has been a bit like what I would imagine it would feel like to have to run naked around my neighborhood. (If you happen to have read “Naked” you’ll know how unthinkably horrific that would be for me, not to mention for my neighbors as well)! I could so easily be paralyzed (turn into a pillar of salt?) by succumbing to my urge to endlessly look back, fix, tweak, and edit. This is perhaps why the literary theme of looking back as an act fraught with peril resonates with me.

A couple weeks ago I explored this theme in “Looking back,” a poem written from the point of view of Lot’s wife, who turns to watch Sodom burning. This week’s “Looking back” poem is about Orpheus and Eurydice. On their wedding day, Eurydice is killed by the bite of a venomous serpent and is taken into the Underworld. So powerful is Orpheus’ music that he is able to sing his way into the Underworld and is even able to persuade Hades to allow Eurydice to return to Earth. In most versions of the myth, in his frantic joy at finally reaching Earth with his beloved, Orpheus turns too soon before Eurydice has been able to cross the threshold of the Underworld. For this one glance, Eurydice is lost to him forever. Gluck’s operatic version of the story is even more cruel. Eurydice cannot understand why Orpheus won’t turn to look at her. She reproaches him for no longer loving her and refuses to continue on with him. Unable to bear her grief, Orpheus turns to reassure her of his love and she is lost to him again.

Here’s how Julian Barnes makes sense of Orpheus’ action in his book Levels of Life:

Of course Orfeo would turn to look at the pleading Euridice – how could he not? Because, while “no one in his senses” would do so, he is quite out of his senses with love and grief and hope. You lose the world for a glance? Of course you do. That is what the world is for: to lose under the right circumstances.
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Orphée ramenant Eurydice des enfers, 1861

Looking back

When Orpheus played his golden lyre
The wild beasts lumbered and swayed
Rocks and trees drew nearer to listen
And the sirens’ ruinous song was outplayed

How could you not love a boy like that? Eurydice thought
As she danced with the Naiads on her wedding day
With flowers in her hair and a heart full of love
She trod barefoot where a venomous serpent lay

Orpheus rushed after her into the Underworld
Singing a lament so bitter and gorgeous
That Hades himself broke down and wept
And three-headed Cerberus howled in chorus

I’d like to think Persephone played a part
In pleading for the poor bride’s release
She who had also been torn from the Earth now asked
That Eurydice be allowed to go in peace

Leave now, Hades commanded, but don’t turn around
Until you’ve both crossed the threshold and see sunlight
Amazed at their good fortune they set off at once,
Orpheus in front, Eurydice behind and safely out of sight

Then what joy, what relief to finally step out into the sun
And to know this terrible nightmare is over!
Orpheus turns joyfully with hand outstretched –
Too soon! For this glance, Eurydice is lost forever.

I’m quite sure I’ll be looking back and changing this poem, but there it is for now.

You shouldn’t have!

These days, my husband and I only get presents for our children, never for each other. Every once in a while, I pick something out for myself, but I always give Colin the credit. It’s a win win every time.

“Oh my gosh! I LOVE it! How did you know this is exactly what I wanted? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! Mwah!”

Here’s what “he got me” this Christmas:

I love it! It was perfect after it was resized, free of charge, to fit my finger, which has apparently become even chunkier than before. 

And here’s the drawing it came from:

I’ve always adored this picture, depicting all three of my children. It was drawn years ago by my oldest son on a tiny scrap of paper. Now I can wear the drawing on my finger every day!

Mia Van Beek, a jeweler whose studio is here in Charlottesville, can use your own child’s drawing to create everything from a pendant to a ring. Best of all, the whole process can be done by email. You can check out her beautiful work here:

Formia Design

The Fragrance of Ink

Many years ago I saw a traveling exhibit of literati paintings of the Choson Dynasty from the Korea University Museum. I was enchanted by the name of the exhibit – “The Fragrance of Ink.” Inspired by that evocative phrase, I wrote this haiku. (Is it cheating that I didn’t make up 1/3 of the poem)?

The fragrance of ink
Is subtle, but insistent
Lingers, and is gone.

This literati painting is my favorite work of art that I own. It was done for my father by his friend, a well-known calligrapher. The words are a description of my father’s character:  “Deep thoughts, Great spirit”:

Detail:

I love how the vigorous characters boldly wriggle, leap, pirouette and undulate as if they were going to dance right off the paper.

May your weekend be filled with beauty.

Chihuly

Dale Chihuly (b. 1941) is an American artist whose medium is glass. I first encountered his work in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where I saw this spectacular 30 foot high chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the main entrance:

After studying interior design at the University of Washington and art at the University of Wisconsin and the Rhode Island School of Design, Chihuly received a Fulbright Fellowship to study glass blowing in Venice. Upon his return to the States, he helped found the Pilchuk Glass School in Washington State.

After a car accident caused him to become blind in one eye and a bodysurfing injury left him unable to hold a glass blowing pipe, he began working collaboratively with a team of artists who help him create the elaborate installations for which he is known.

We went to see the Chihuly exhibit,  which is in its final week at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

“Fiori and Float Boats” features two wooden rowboats filled with glass, beautifully displayed on a reflective black surface.

The stunning Persian Ceiling is lit from above. The glass elements rest on a flat glass pane:

And another view:

In this series, Chihuly’s mission was to use as many colors as possible:

And finally:  “Laguna Torcello,” Chihuly’s “homage to Venice.” This is one in a series of “Mille Fiori” (thousand flowers) glass garden installations, and the largest platform installation he’s ever assembled:

Check out the Chihuly app for the iPhone, which allows you to have the experience of “blowing glass”:

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