Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Christmas Magic

There is such a thing as a perfect book. “The Christmas Magic” is such a thing. For the believers of “magic;” especially Christmas Magic, Lauren Thompson and Jon J. Muth have collaborated to make a special joy for you. Parents, children, grand-parents, uncles, aunts and cousins will enjoy!
I discovered “The Christmas Magic” a couple of Christmas’ ago and immediately fell in love with the poetry of Miss Thompson’s language and the equal beauty of Mr. Muth’s water colors. The two are responsible for many delightful and pleasurable books. Books; award-winning, endearing and interesting are to the creators’ credits.
If you have already know this book be sure to re-read it this season and share it with someone special. If you have not had the pleasure; seek it out at all costs! You are certain to enjoy!   

Sunday, December 1, 2013


What an amazing career this man; Jimi Hendrix had. He is easily described as extravagant, loud, exuberant, original, blazingly hot and brilliant to genius levels. The recordings and stage performances are legend. “Electric Ladyland” to Woodstock; “Band of Gypsies” to Monterey are recordings and concerts of note. Hendrix was always innovative, unusual and continually pushing farther and farther to the extremes of his craft and art. It was the electric guitar that he transformed into a thing miraculous as he kept the other great players of his time in awe. Hendrix led and ruled in the age of the “Guitar Gods!” He is by consensus number one among them. When the words “The greatest guitarist of all time…” are spoken or written they are usually followed by his name: Jimi Hendrix.

In honesty I was not immediately a fan of Hendrix or his music. He was rarely heard on the radio or seen on television. Photographic images were almost non-existent and he was in many ways an elusive rumor.  The main stream media in both print and broadcast video had chosen to ignore the man. How could they fit this extraordinary, reckless Black American fronting a group featuring only himself and two White Englishmen into a format? Dick Cavett was the first and one of the few, to give Hendrix a national forum. Hendrix appeared on Cavett’s popular late-night talk show and was surprisingly reserved and modest. I missed seeing the original broad cast.    

There was talk about Hendrix around my High School and there were those that were fans. The Hendrix fans were all devoted and spoke about Hendrix with a sort of religious fervor.  There was also a lot of talk about a new movie “Easy Rider.” There was an equal excitement about the film and it was essential viewing for just about everyone I knew; including teachers.  Some of the Hendrix devotees were sitting in the row just in front me at my first viewing of “Easy  Rider.”  From the opening minutes of the film the score was impressive as every element was spell binding and very dangerous. About a quarter into the film a song began that was like nothing I had ever heard before. I was capture from the first beat and it was somehow the perfect fit for the mood and tone of this radical thing we were engrossed in.  The lyrics began and the rapture was total and complete:       

If the sun refused to shine
I don’t mind
I don’t mind
If the mountains
fell in the sea
let it be
it ain’t me
Got my own world to live through
and I ain’t gonna copy you.

The lyrics went on; totally lost “in this spell” my life was being changed for the moment and forever. The lyrics continued and then concluded with:

Fall mountains
just don’t fall on me
point on Mr. Business man
you can’t dress like me.
I’m the one that’s gotta die
when it’s time for me to die
so let me live my life
the way I want to 

As the song ended; somewhat abruptly, the audience with that eerie but beautiful silence that lets you know everyone has had something of the same shared experience. One of the guys in front me turned around and simply said; “that’s Hendrix.”

It was the sound track of Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” that brought me on board with “The Jimi Hendrix Experience.” I have never looked back as that addictive alchemy of the music he created continues to this day. Hendrix was to die young; his song “If 6 Was 9,” something prophetic, lives on, influencing new generations as it continues to capture unsuspecting hearts.

Hendrix Portfolio

The late great, prenominal gifted artist Jimi Hendrix was as visually stunning as his music was transformative. While preparing to blog about his life I discovered too many images to ignore or to fit on a single blog. What follows are some that I feel are among his most arresting and pictorial.

Watch the full video!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Child's Poem

My daughter posted a photo of my baby granddaughter Malia-Mechelle and myself the other day. She was one year old on Nov. 7th It inspired the following poem:

A Child’s Poem


James Jones

Too much to do

too much to be

too many, many

things to see.

A chance to play

things far away.

What wonders will life bring today?

A bird to sing

a golden ring

some funny, blissful, happy thing.

Another day

a chance to pray

or maybe dream the clouds away.

So many things

I say to you

grow strong and wise

but foolish too.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall is in “The Tower.” He will be there through December 7th. Make every effort to get to this revealing art exhibition. “The Tower” for the record is the one at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The spiral stair case just off the second floor will take you there. You will not be disappointed. Marshall is one of the most successful and sought after artists of the day by museums and by collectors. I’ve also seen his seen his originals at The Smithsonian’s American Collection, the “30 Americans” exhibition at the Corcoran and at   San Francisco MOMA. He always inspires amazes and is at the top of his game. 


Marshall’s exhibition is a mini retrospective of sorts that covers many of his series’ including “The Garden Project” paintings and his “Memorabilia” pieces.  There are historical references to much of his art. The African-American experience is central and a “jump off point” for Marshall. One of the exhibit’s newest and most impressive pieces is Marshall’s own envisioning of Homer’s “Gulf Stream.” Homer’s original depicts a Black man adrift at sea; alone and surrounded by terrors and potential threats. The waters are choppy, sharks encircle the small vessel and a typhoon looms in the distance. Marshall by contrast depicts a family in a small yacht, calm waters and a definite sense of optimism pervades; almost to the point of naivety. The two works exist in contrast and speak very much to their respective times and are strong statements wonderfully executed.


Marshall who studied with the great draughtsman Charles White has richly gained from that experience. There are approximately twenty drawings by Marshall exhibited here and they are amazing to see. In many ways drawings tell more about the craft and mind of an artist than any other form of expression. The Marshall drawings illuminate this point to an extreme and are treasures unto themselves. Included is also one of Marshall’s drawing/studies for his “Gulf Stream.” In particular this adds an additional depth to an already provocative and meaningful exhibition.   


To be exhibited at the National Gallery is to be acknowledged as a master of an artist’s chosen form of expression. Marshall’s placement “In the Tower” can be taken as something symbolic. Marshall has stated; “…I’m not trying to teach anybody anything. I’m just sharing some thought that I’ve had with some people.”  I guess he can’t help the teaching part; perhaps he not teaching but we are certainly learning and growing through his artistic vision. Again; seek out this show at all cost. It is to be cherished!   

Monday, October 28, 2013



Full moons

Lycanthropes and terror

a murder looms

inside your mirror.

What better time

to speak of these

than in the month

of ghouls and screams

than in the month

of Halloween.


The smell

Of burning leaves

A corpse?

but yet it breathes.


A scary

picture show

a thing

best not

to know.


Lon Chaney Jr. talks

as the Wolf-Man stalks

A whisper and a scream

Is coming

from the screen.

Within this month

you’ve seen


a host,

a gruesome thing


this month of Halloween

this month of Halloween.
Del Toro

awakes tomorrow

heavy heart

was born

to sorrow

his strength

has all been spent

a night of horrors vent

awakens with the dawn

a bloody

sickening throng

man / wolf

or in-between

beware of Halloween

beware or you

will scream.

From what?

You dare not dream

because of Halloween

because of Halloween.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Diaghilev & The Ballets Russes @ The National Gallery

Serge Diaghilev
There is always a certain contained excitement when walking down Fourth St. to the East wing of The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. An anticipation of knowing the greatness of beauty, artistic achievement and perpetual awe that is housed there is about to explode before your very eyes.
  I hadn’t been to the museum for a few months and I knew there would be new exhibits to discover. When approaching the main entrance the first object seen is a marvelous but very familiar Henry Moore Bronze (one from a series of works he based on the bone structure of elephants.) The opposite wall always features a 50’x 80’ poster of the current featured exhibition. Looking in passing for a glimpse of what to expect; a preview of sorts, I recognized the exuberance of a Leon Bakst costume design but the title didn’t feature Bakst’s name. The bill board sized ad read: “Diaghilev (in huge bold letters) and the Ballets Russes, 1909 – 1929: When Art Danced With Music.” Who was Diaghilev? This was something of a mystery that had some possibilities. I was to find out in a grand way.
I walked inside through the revolving doors, past Miro, Naguchi and Motherwell to stand below the gigantic Calder attached to and hanging from the massive ceiling. I stopped to spend some time with the small French Impressionist works in an adjacent gallery and from there on to the second floor and Diaghilev! I walked into what was one of the most incredible, extensive and phenomenal exhibitions of the museums history. This was a multi-medium extravagance comparable to none the NGA has presented before. Original costumes, designs, drawings, backdrops, models, posters, video and music all just as a beginning. 

This was a land of enchantment filled with visitors from around the world and across the nation; Serge Diaghilev the promoter, the entrepreneur, the man who revolutionized the world of dance and inspired the great artistic creators of his time was an undeniable; “Hit.” The exhibition itself was of such proportions to cover three floors of the NGA and some interior walls literally had to be removed to bring many of the pieces into their display spaces.      

 Diaghilev’s talents were those of the promoter, the organizer, the pitchman. He was very much a Russian born P. T. Barnum of the arts. Diaghilev; the impresario knew how to stage a production and enlist the services of the great creative talents of his time, many of them the greatest artists of all time. Leon Bakst, Henri Matisse, Georges Roualt, Eric Sati, Coco Chanel, Pablo Picasso and George Balanchine were among those enlisted by the man and created many of their most famous personally celebrated works.  Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky would dance for the Ballet Russes as they toured the world and changed dance and theatre forever.

Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring and The Firebird,” Maurice Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe” and Eric Satie’s “Parade” all seminal pieces, all Diaghilev commissions.    Modern companies like the New York City ballet, the Joffery and the Dance Theatre of Harlem regularly perform works originally commissioned by Diaghilev for the Ballet Russes. Contemporary artists/designers including Julie Taymor and Nick Cave are under Diaghilev’s spell and show elements originating with the Ballet Russes in their work.    

 In conjunction with this informative, enlightening and thoroughly entertaing exhibition the NGA has produced videos, held lectures and even included on site live performances of such works as the “Fire Bird.” I was to visit “Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes” a total of two times. The idea of a third visit; considering the scale of the event it’s staggering volume and quality of presentation would have been considered but “Diaghilev” was to end prematurely.

The recent shut-down of the United States Government would close the National Gallery it’s many wonders and Diaghilev. The arts are always among the first to suffer.