Friday, December 28, 2012

Andrew Wyeth: The Observer's Eye

The works are stark, real and beautiful. They exist in something of an eternal state of winter and barrenness. The chill of the air, the sound of a slight wind blows through the leafless trees and the unfiltered light of the almost warmth less but sustaining sun reveals all. This land is drawn to the bare essentials and survival. The faces and character of the inhabitants reveal the austerity of this monochromatic place that must be worked; by all the inhabitants including the artist. There is nothing of adornment, nothing of the baroque in these works. The artist’s power of observation is great, his attention to detail immense and he is without rival. He; Andrew Wyeth is an artist for the ages. His works tell a tale of dedication and love of craft, of art and life.

In addition to landscape and still life, portraiture was among Wyeth’s favorite forms. He painted his neighbors religiously in the spirit of the “American Scene” artists. His love of sight and seeing was formidable and women were among his favorite subjects. Three of note were Christina Olsen, Siri Erickson and Helga Testorf. “Christina’s World” is in many ways his seminal work. It is included in the MoMA collection in New York and reproduced in countless books, magazines and was my introduction piece to Mr. Wyeth. It is magnificent! The young Christina is placed alone in the distance from her home in an expansive field. She is seemingly unable to walk in what appears to be a noon that could rapidly become twilight and night. Wyeth has masterfully painted the complexity of the foreground grasses and the distant buildings in equal manner without losing a feeling of depth. This is a great feat of painterly skill and invention.

The Helga series consists of 45 paintings and 200 drawings. The works were done in secret and it is safe to say Helga was his favorite single subject and devotion. Wyeth painted Helga from many angles and points of view, many are nudes. The Helga series was scandalous, entertaining and richly vibrant. Wyeth was thrust into the limelight of the mass media and for a time the world’s most talked about artist.

The Siri paintings are probably the least publicized but none the less beautiful and intriguing. They are much fewer in number than the Helga works. They are equal to the “Helgas” in technique and are visionary pieces.    

Wyeth has not been universally loved and appreciated. It is the curse of popularity to be derided by some. He has been accused of being an over glorified illustrator.  His father was the great N.C. Wyeth who essentially home schooled his beloved son “Andy” after recognizing his incredible possibilities as an artist/draftsman. Wyeth was a child prodigy; one that lived up to and surpassed his youthful potential. His works are of the sort that the viewer can become lost in, transported to a place of unequaled skill, achievement and grace. He was and is the Best.

Slected From the Artist's Portfolio

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Best of Days

We have enjoyed another incredibly blessed and wonderful Christmas. It is indeed “the Best of Days.” We celebrate the birth and gift of our lord and savior Jesus Christ; the son of God, Emmanuel. Our individual and collective celebrations take on many forms and it is so much bigger than a single day. It is a season; a continuing season that we still embrace, enjoy and cherish even as I write this blog. The Hallelujah Chorus, the card in the mail box, the trimming of the tree, Santa and the “Merry Christmas Greeting” accompanied with smile from a stranger are all equal parts. We give freely in every way and the joy is in seeing the happiness on the face of those we give to. Such a reward and treasure are these and countless other things of this immaculate time of year. The word; priceless is the only response to these moments to which we are immeasurably thankful. Among the greatest pleasures of life is Christmas. It has been so for generations and will continue without end. 

Filling stockings

Trimming trees

Children praying on their knees


Gifts and giving

Ancient ways

Christmas is the Best of Days


This particular Christmas Season; regretfully has had many sad notes. Our hearts go out to all as we pray for God to grant the strength, heart, character and faith to endure their terrible misfortunes. The sorrows and losses to befall so many this year seem unbearable. A better day is coming and their spirits will be renewed.


Thank you Christmas! This year we needed you even more!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Favorite Christmas Carols   

Music is a major part of our Christmas Holiday.  We hear Christmas carols and songs everywhere during the season. We each have our personal favorites that we know and enjoy every year. We sing them with joy, heart and spirit. I have envisioned some of the favorites and most familiar tunes here in cartoon form. You can guess the titles and then check your answers by clicking on the video below each graphic for the animated  & musical solutions.  ENJOY and have a Happy, Healthy, Completely Remarkable, and Wondrously, Enjoyable Christmas!!!      

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Magnificent Zen Story and Film

Did you ever own a “View-Master” as a child and did you love it? Essentially everyone I asked this question answered… “Yes and yes.” With that reference established I proceeded to tell them about the glorious screen adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel “Life of Pi.” The opening credits sequence of this film will return you unexpectedly to that time of total engagement and wonder, to the visually enhanced world the “View-Master” gave us. Within the same emotionally rich feeling the toy drew us into we find ourselves experiencing those same emotions again as we view this film.  The visuals are so compelling, so rich they could exist simply on their own as works of art without a story line or plot. They are that good! There are many scenes through the course of the film that rival museum masterpieces in depiction, depth and composition. This is to the glory and grandeur of Lee’s film that illustrates the limitless possibilities of the emerging medium and technology of 3D. Until now the domain of the “Tech-Boys” the release of “Life of Pi” marks a giant step forward into the realm of the visual arts. Ang Lee (the artist supreme) has crossed into legend with this peace and surely the best from his oeuvre is yet to come. For the moment we have “Life of Pi;” see it, enjoy and be enraptured. 

The world of Pi is also envisioned as much more than mere tranquility and beauty. It is brutal and frighteningly realistic. There are many discomforting scenes and times when the dangerous; potential man-eater feels literally at the viewer’s throat and you will find yourself wanting to escape the danger. There are moments of pulling back into your theatre seat and genuine dread. I know of no other film to accomplish such a feat in such a disturbing and alarming way. It is a fantastic thing of amazing dimension.

In short Pi is a young boy who finds himself alone on a life boat with an untamed Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Pi’s father was the owner of a zoo in India who for economic reasons leaves with his family by ship to make a fresh start in Canada. The ship sinks in a terrible storm; Pi’s family is lost, Richard Parker and Pi survive. The life boat, the ocean, the tiger and God are all that remain to Pi. Survival and faith are Pi’s dilemma and salvation. The telling of this Zen story is multi-layered and intricate. 
Thematically Pi and the tiger’s story is one that has been told in many forms and countless versions. There are reminders of Kipling’s “Jungle Books” and Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.” Only Blake’s “Tyger” captures the power of the beast more dramatically and poetically.  This effort is universal in appeal as it searches for answers to eternal questions. The journey will reflect on your personal vision of life as you drift at sea with the unlikely pair of castaways. Stories of this nature will always be fresh, moving and entertaining; “Life of Pi” is in line of becoming a classic, an exceptional extravagance. The journey of pure survival and into the self is taken every day in less fearful and dramatic but equally meaningful ways. We share this bond with Pi. Ang Lee’s film making and the writing of Yann Martel come together in a thing of perfection. It is ours to enjoy as we return to an age of wonder.



Friday, November 9, 2012

President Barack Obama Reelected

 The presidential campaign of twenty twelve is over; Romney has conceded, Obama has accepted, the counting of ballots has ended and the results have been concluded…except in Florida.  It was another historic event as essentially every election is in our continually great nation. The re-election of President Obama is the result of an unparalled effort equaled only by another miraculous achievement; his own first election and first term. At this time no one knows with certainty what his next four years will entail but hopefully it will culminate in progressive and remarkable things.

 The campaign was grueling for all involved and difficult for all those lucky/unlucky enough to live in a swing state. The television ads were merciless. The phone calls numbing. The sad reality of modern politics is that attacks are necessary. Both sides are forced to counter-balance each other with negatively brutal attack ads not to get an edge but simply to stay even. There was a time when it was the Vice-President’s or running mate’s job to be the “Attack Dog.” This trend of relentless attacks started many elections ago. It increases every four years. On that count we are all losing. Celebrities were part of the fray as Morgan Freeman narrated a powerful commercial for President Obama; Clint Eastwood aired his trumpeting endorsement of Mitt Romney. Honey Boo Boo endorsed Obama as another little girl tearfully pleaded for an end to the madness “I’m tired of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney “was her lament.
There were also good opportunities within the course of things as citizens had opportunities to meet and see the candidates and their surrogates in the flesh. A personal favorite was a last minute rally featuring former President Bill Clinton at Patrick Henry High School in Salem Virginia. I attended with my cousin and a little over twenty-two hundred others. I was amazed at the number of Romney bumper stickers in the parking lot. (There were zero hecklers in attendance.) Clinton was insightful, charming and funny. He is an amazing speaker, a tremendous public servant and ultimately a great man. We enjoyed it! (John McCain was in the area that same evening. He attracted about three hundred supporters.)

Another related event I attended was the opening of Melissa Ichiuji’s “Fair Game” exhibition at Galerie Lareuse in Georgetown (Washington, DC.)  Melissa’s primary medium is stitched fabric. She is becoming increasingly famous for her provocative dolls and figures. She utilized her considerable artistic skills to create charactures, stuffed heads mounted like trophies on the gallery walls. Her subjects/victims were the participants of both sides of the election. She uncannily and deftly satirized in much the spirit of Daumier the likenesses of Herman Cain, Paul Ryan and Ron Paul. Obama, Romney and their wives were included among the trophies. The Obama piece was met with such controversy that Sarah Palin (who is little known for her art world interests) has since purchased it.

I was able to enter the fray in many discussions on my job and through social media. Along with face to face discussions I created a number of graphics and cartoons for display, inspiration and humor. Many are featured here as illustrations. Obama’s acceptance speech was expectedly eloquent, heartfelt, touching and rousing. The President is gifted as much as he is the nation’s gift. Hope has been revived for many as some seem to be slipping deeper into delusion and dismay as a result of their shock and disbelief of the election results. Time and realization should bring them around and back to some sense of reality. We (the Obama supporters) will enjoy this brief season of happiness and satisfaction. This is the kind of moment we wish for; a spirit of co-operation and shared purpose that could last for months; possibly years. We can dream.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Lonesome Ghost: For Halloween

A Lonesome Ghost


James Jones

I came upon a lonesome ghost

along a lonesome road

He had a hundred things to say

In life a heavy load

He carried with him into death

Oh yes; beyond the grave

to carry for eternity

in life he’d been a knave


We walked together for a time

A path of pain and sorrow

We shared our tales of tears and woe

today became tomorrow


He was the saddest ghost of all

The saddest that I’ve seen

Not so unusual to see a ghost

upon a Halloween