Some Italian citizens – as perhaps only Italians could – reacted to a recent COVID-19 quarantine with music and song. Until March 26, Italy had experienced the most confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China. Initially, Italian government shut down the northern half of the country – but eventually, the entire nation fell to lock-down commands. Isolated in their homes, several talented individuals retrieved musical instruments and their voices to sing to the quiet air. The results have been magical – and have been spreading faster than the virus.
Category Archives: Art Working
Artist, writer, photographer and fellow blogger Art Browne has a unique – and sometimes twisted – view of our universe. Which is why I know, without a doubt, that he is my long-lost twin brother! When not tormenting spiders or ridiculing helpless cats on his blog, “Pouring My Art Out”, Brother Art captures some truly fascinating visions of the natural world. In a recent series of simple cell phone shots, he photographed the moon in various stages and from various angles over San Diego, California. A few of them are presented below.
I have to concede these lunar photos make me feel incredibly sentimental. Every time I look up at the sky and see that glorious moon, I – sniff – always get homesick.
Well, at long last, someone has found a good use for old phone booths*. Botanical designer Lewis Miller ambushed the streets of New York City recently to adorn an otherwise ordinary corner in swaths of floral color and energy. A few years ago Miller transformed the notoriously banal empty garbage cans into vases of sumptuous flowers. In this most recent endeavor to make a gritty urban area appear palatable – a project he dubs “Flower Flash” – Miller and his crew filled a Manhattan telephone booth with a plethora of flowers and greenery.
“What initially began as a Lewis Miller design experiment to reinvigorate and reconnect us to our craft, turned into a beautiful shared experience in a city of millions,” the group stated. The “reactions to our flower flashes emphasizes the basic goodness in all people and prioritizes compassion”.
The results are more than a little impressive, and I feel we need more of Lewis Miller’s works in our increasingly crowded and convoluted world.
*To the under-30 crowd, phone booths are tall glass structures where people would have to make phone calls if they weren’t at home, at work or in jail. You’d put a quarter into a little slot towards the bottom of the actual phone; wipe the receiver as best you could so you wouldn’t catch germs like herpes or gingivitis; and press little buttons on said phone to make the call.
Hummingbirds occupy that rare place where tenacity, beauty, grace and mysticism collaborate to create something extraordinary. Australian photographer Christian Spencer has used his camera to capture all of that in a new manner. A longtime resident of Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for nearly two decades, Spencer has photographed many of the region’s natural wonders, including hummingbirds. Recently, he discovered a unique way to combine his love for the birds with sunlight. In a series entitled ‘Winged Prism’, Spencer photographed light filtered through the wings and tail of a black and white Jacobi hummingbird. In a Photo Shoppe world, this is truly unique and breathtaking.
Last week I posted a haiku writing from a close friend, Preston*, who I’ve known for more than 20 years. Haiku (or hokku) is a Japanese verse form of poetry that follows a very strict composition of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables and is often a prelude to a longer poem or a story. The terse nature of haiku verbiage always challenges the writer to capture what is absolutely necessary for that particular moment. Such brevity is more difficult than most imagine, but just a few carefully chosen words can evoke extraordinary visions in the minds of an audience.
Smiling was easy
When our eyes were bright and clear
We were so naïve.
What can you buy for a dollar these days? Maybe a pack of gum, or a single doughnut. In Chicago, it can buy an entire building. Okay, said building is a 1920s-era former bank on the city’s south side. Long-abandoned and crumbling from one end to the other, it’s the type of structure where the best residents are birds and rats. Artist Theaster Gates, however, saw something else: a world class arts center. The Chicago native, an urban planner with a gallery of prestigious art awards and even more creative vision, literally purchased the 20,000-square-foot edifice for a single U.S. dollar in 2013 from the city and began transforming it into a conclave for exhibitions, artist residencies and the headquarters for the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization he established in 2010 to foster cultural and artistic development in forgotten and underprivileged neighborhoods. Earlier this month the former Stony Island State Savings Bank was reintroduced as the Stony Island Arts Bank. Among other artifacts, it contains the book collection of John H. Johnson, founder of “Ebony” and “Jet” magazines; the record collection of Frankie Knuckles, the “Godfather of House Music”; and slides of art collections from the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Gates described the center as a “a repository for African American culture and history, a laboratory for the next generation of black artists,” and “a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage, as well as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history.”
As a writer, I’m naturally attracted to the slew of books the place houses. But it’s obviously much more than a glorified library. It’s a people’s center; far removed from the ranks of high society cocktail parties and stuffy art museums. Gates has connected the beauty of art and literature – hallmarks of a progressive nation – with communities that some thought worthless. In this volatile election season, where self-proclaimed saviors of the masses regurgitate their ideas of revolution and the future, that’s simply extraordinary.