Today is the 4th of July and I’m thinking about American artist Jacob Lawrence whose paintings I saw for about the fiftieth time this past week. Each time I walk the perimeter of a gallery with “The Migration Series” paintings on the walls, there’s something new to discover — a gesture, a unique and colorful shape, a ray of light, a caption previously missed — and I experience them more deeply. In the 60 panels, Mr. Lawrence depicts the stories of African Americans who trekked from the rural South to the urban North between World War I and World War II. Each one honors the hardships, labors, talents, strength of family, and resilience among Black Americans.
The series is now split in half between The Phillips Collection in DC and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I know intellectually that with art, collections are split up for many reasons, mostly so that people all over the world can enjoy the works of masters. But the divide of this particular collection seems to carry a symbolic weight to me… mirroring how countless black families were wrenched apart during the tragedy that was U.S. slavery, and the more recent inhumane separations of thousands of immigrant children from their parents along the U.S. border — separations ordered by the Trump administration.
I’d love to hear which American artists impact you most deeply.
*Photos taken at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
My first YouTube video, inspired by some garden bees.
Lately, when I’ve been going to paint, or even just to draw or watercolor in my sketchbooks, I feel overwhelmed and not very creative. My time to paint is so limited because I’m also a full-time journalist. There’s nothing worse than feeling too tired to be creative in the few precious hours I have to make art at night and on the weekends. So when that happens I tend to turn to street art. There’s something about it — the uninhibited creativity, the huge scale, the colors — that opens up my head space. I was looking at Brazilian street art online yesterday and found L7Matrix’s art for the first time. It resonates for me in this moment in time — his hummingbirds are beautiful and colorful and there’s this chaos about them but also a peace. L7M says on his Facebook page that his first love was Rayonism, which the Tate describes as “an early form of abstract art characterized by interacting linear forms derived from rays of light.” His other influences include Modigliani, Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Picasso, John James Audubon, and Mark Rothko. Let me know what you think of L7M’s art if you get a chance, or let me know who your favorite street artist is.
“You May Want to Marry My Husband” is an essay in The New York Times today. It is so beautiful. It’s a love letter — by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a writer dying of cancer — to her husband of 26 years.
Growing up, my mom called it “the passing eye.” A moment when you catch something visually and a whole story unfolds. Once, as a teen, I was riding the train into Philadelphia from the suburbs, leaning my head against the large glass window watching the streets and buildings whiz by. We were already on the outskirts of the city. In a split second I saw it – an alley lined with old mattresses top to bottom and a boy running down them doing flips, perfectly, one after another, like the gymnasts in the Olympics this week in Rio.
I had a much different “passing eye” moment the other day. I was feeling under the weather and taking a nap on the couch. I woke up and looked up out the window and for about a minute the sky looked like this… a Magritte painting. I reached for my iPhone and snapped a pic.
Then the clouds blew away and I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
Wishing you some “passing eye” moments this weekend to fill your head with stories or inspiration or whatever you need right now to get you through your days.
I spent most of October in New York City. I’ve been there lots of times, but only for snippets — a weekend, an overnight. Living and working there opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. Looking up at the skyline as I walked the mile to work and back every day was like viewing a giant Etch A Sketch picture — layers upon layers of horizontal and vertical lines, cubes and smaller cubes punctuated by light and shadows. I didn’t have time to see half the art I wanted to see in NYC, but I’m thankful for the chance to be exposed to such grandeur and architectural lushness. Mostly, though, it was the people there who left me in wonder. Loud, quiet, rich, poor, dark, light, joyful, sorrowful. More than anything, I wish I could say thank you to one man in particular — the man in the hoodie with the soft Spanish accent who helped me up off the pavement one morning after I took a really hard fall (because I was looking up at the building tops instead of where I was going). If you ever happen to be reading this, your kind words and gentleness as you lifted me back to my feet meant the world and renewed my belief that people are kind. Especially New Yorkers.
The tops of buildings.
It started when I was very little. On road trips. Curled up with blankets and surrounded by stuffed animals and my five siblings in the back of our family car. Being a middle kid, I never nabbed a window seat so my view from the epicenter of the vehicle was generally of stuff higher up – friezes, cornices, rooftop decks and gardens, eaves, keystones, clerestories, mansard roofs… a world above of architectural intrigue and beauty.
I hope you enjoy these pics of some of my favorite building tops shot during my summer in France.
Photos (from top to bottom): Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris; Paris rooftops; Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris; View, Cote d’Azur, southern France; Eglise Saint Barthelemy, Cote d’Azur. All photos by Loveland Art, 2015.