Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?* (Part Two)

In 1879, Auguste Rodin entered a competition to design a war memorial honoring the Parisians who defended the city while it was under siege during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). The elite twelve-member jury of art experts eliminated his entry, The Call to Arms, on the first round – too undignified and extreme; lacked decorum, they said. Perhaps the problem was that Rodin had no interest in creating a … Continue reading Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?* (Part Two)

Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?* (Part One)

(Above: Rue de Rivoli, Paris; 1871) What makes a war memorial appropriate or inappropriate? Whom or what should be remembered? Honored? Valorized? How should the sacrifices of the defeated be portrayed? How should the facts and memories of a nation’s history be preserved? Apparently, not like this. During the 1800s in France, many sculptors’ livelihoods depended upon designing monuments for city parks and squares. In 1879, … Continue reading Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?* (Part One)

Don’t drag my love around, volcanoes melt you down*

Vulcan thought his ex-wife was out of the picture. Then one day while he was at work, she suddenly appeared in his forge floating haughtily on a cloud and offered her body to him. It wasn’t love, she expected something in return. What would Vulcan do?  What else could he do? He was the god of fire and volcanoes. He erupted. ◊ Under a stable government … Continue reading Don’t drag my love around, volcanoes melt you down*

A Perfect Indian is He*

In 563 BCE, in foothills of the Himalayas, a holy man prophesied that the king’s newborn son, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, would either become a great ruler or a great spiritual teacher. The king, favoring the first outcome, shielded his son from religious practices and reared him in sheltered opulence. When he was twenty-nine, the prince traveled for the first time outside the palatial compound to … Continue reading A Perfect Indian is He*

Send lawyers, guns, and money*

There’s something special about marble. Ever since the invention of metal tools during the Bronze Age, marble has been carved by sculptors to tell stories about rulers, myths, heroes and heroines, and gods and goddesses. Master sculptors like Michelangelo, Bernini, Houdon, and Rodin dedicated their lives to working with it. Marble is softest when first quarried, won’t crack or shatter, and becomes denser and harder with … Continue reading Send lawyers, guns, and money*

Of and Off The Grid

In 1957, forty-five-year-old artist Agnes Martin rented a studio in Coenties Slip among the abandoned buildings along the dilapidated waterfront of lower Manhattan. An old sailmaker’s loft with two skylights, no water and very little heat, it was one of the happiest times in her life. “Humor, endless possibilities, and rampant freedom,” she said. Above: Agnes Martin in her Coenties Slip studio; 1960. Photo by Alexander … Continue reading Of and Off The Grid

The sculpture has been drinking.*

Once it became widely available in the mid-1800s, a drink fondly nicknamed “the green fairy” became the liquid muse of choice for the artists, writers, and intellectuals who debated and exchanged ideas in the cafés, bars, and cabarets in Paris. Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire, Amedeo Modigliani, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Erik Satie, Lord Byron, Paul Gauguin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso were notoriously … Continue reading The sculpture has been drinking.*

For All the Single Ladies* – Durga, the Invincible Goddess

Hinduism, the world’s oldest living religion, originated in India about 4000 years ago and encompasses a vast array of practices and beliefs. Hindus believe that there is only one supreme God, Brahman; however, the many aspects of Brahman are expressed through other gods and goddesses, including the divine trinity of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Each of them has multiple … Continue reading For All the Single Ladies* – Durga, the Invincible Goddess

Rood Trip

During the Middle Ages (roughly 400 to 1400-1500 CE), the Catholic Church was the only Christian faith practiced in Europe and became a leading cultural force. The Church encouraged the faithful to visit sacred places, and millions did, especially if the site had a relic, an object associated with a religious figure. Pilgrims believed that even being near a relic might endow them with greater … Continue reading Rood Trip