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AshinWindowAlone

photo by DL

In this picture, Ash sits in the window alone, a photo shared by guest contributor DL who has presented several beautiful and often poignant pictures on this blog over the years. Her cat Ash is just learning to sit in windows alone for the first time. His big brother Pepi passed away recently. As DL said to me the picture might be a little sad but for me it is also a beautifully lit capture of perseverance and adaptation to change.

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Burial places they certainly are, but across time, cemeteries have also served other functions within our communities — as gathering places for celebration, as gardens of serenity for reflection, as time capsules that help us remember and document the past. In the first of two posts, friend and guest contributor Donna Stenwall shares memories of her visits to cemeteries around the world, respecting their universal solemnity while experiencing the unique attributes of each place.

Detail from Oscar Wilde Tomb, Pere Lachaise Cemetery

It seems strange to say this, but cemeteries have always played a role in my life. The small New England town I grew up in is where it all began. One of my earliest memories is walking by the old cemetery on my way to the library. It was locked every day with the exception of July 4th. That’s when we were able to enter and roam the aisles of the chipped and weathered headstones of the residents that founded the town in the 1600’s. With the names and dates barely visible to the naked eye, this is where we were taught the art of stone rubbing.

The “new cemetery” as we called it was the spot to learn how to ride your bike for the first time without training wheels. We would fly up and down the streets of the cemetery enjoying the freedom of 2 wheels, and all the while passing the graves of neighbors that left us too soon.

Since Massachusetts still had Blue Laws at the time (meaning no shopping on Sunday), the place to take your first spin behind the wheel was the parking lot of the newly built mall on Sunday afternoons. There we got accustomed to the feel of the car, practicing forward and reverse and left and right hand turns. But, to practice that three-point turn on a hill that we would be tested on? It was back to the cemetery!

Gates of Pere Lachaise

Gates of Pere Lachaise

When I began to travel, trips to cemeteries were on the itinerary. During my first trip to New Orleans I mentioned to our host that I would like to visit one of the old cemeteries I had heard so much about. The next day we set out to St. Louis Cemetery #3. It was there that I decided I wanted to be buried in a Mausoleum! Breathtakingly beautiful, I thanked our host for such an experience. It wasn’t until later I discovered that his mother was buried in St. Louis Cemetery and that our visit that day had been his first trip back since she had passed many years before.

My first trip to Paris, with its famous cemetery Pere Lachaise, was long overdue and bittersweet. My husband and I had planned a trip to Paris several times but circumstances prevented us from ever getting there.  With a smile and twinkle in his eye he promised that he would take me to Paris on my 50th birthday. Ah, I thought, the City of Lights I will see you soon!

Heartbreakingly, my husband passed away on July 25, 2005 after a brief illness. Two months later, I celebrated my 48th birthday. When my 50th was approaching my dear friend suggested I think about Paris for my birthday. I wasn’t sure I could do it or even wanted to but with the urging of family and friends I made the trip. Paris was worth the wait and every step I took I knew my husband was with me cheering me on!

 

As a huge fan of Oscar Wilde, I knew I had to venture out to Pere Lachaise, the oldest cemetery in the city of Paris, to pay my respects. Not the easiest spot to get to, we hopped on the Metro, then a bus, and finally by foot. As we made our way to the other side of the cemetery we stopped to visit with Edith Piaf, Proust, Chopin, Colette, Sarah Bernhardt and Moliere. I noticed several people taking photos of the graves. I was a bit uncomfortable believing that these legendary souls were gawked at their entire lives and that now they should be allowed the peace they deserved.

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On our way to the exit it dawned on me that Jim Morrison of the Doors was buried here and we should find his grave. My friend humored me but after ½ hour of roaming (we were notoriously bad map readers), she was ready to give up. I told her to stay put and I would take 10 more minutes. If I didn’t find his grave we would head back to the apartment.  As I was rounding the corner, there, right in front of me was Jim Morrison, surrounded by metal barriers and his own security guard. His grave was strewn with gifts of cigarette butts and empty bottles of Jack Daniels left by the pilgrims that made the trek.

Several years have passed since my trip but I was reminded of my trip to Pere Lachaise when I caught a documentary on the cemetery and its residents. One scene shows 2 elderly ladies sitting on a bench, taking a moment after visiting their husband’s graves. One was buried next to Jim Morrison. When the interviewer asks her how she feels about all the activity near her husband’s grave, she just smiles and states “at least I know he never gets lonely.”

Photography by Donna Stenwall.

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Titian, active about 1506; died 1576 Bacchus and Ariadne 1520-3 Oil on canvas, 176.5 x 191 cm Bought, 1826 NG35 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG35

Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3, by Titian

In Titian’s painting of Bacchus and Ariadne, Bacchus, god of wine, emerges with his followers from the landscape. Falling in love with Ariadne, he leaps from his chariot, drawn by two cheetahs. Ariadne had been abandoned on the Greek island of Naxos by Theseus, whose ship is shown in the distance. Initially she is fearful. Eventually Bacchus raises her to heaven and turns her into a constellation, represented by the stars above her head. So the story is told on the website of the UK National Gallery where the painting is now housed. While wonderful to see such a work in a book or on the computer screen, it is a whole other experience to view it in person.

Painter Donald Langosy wrote about such an experience. He was a young poet chasing Ezra Pound around Venice. “But my meeting with Pound was overshadowed, quite unexpectedly, by entering the Frari church one day and finding myself facing Titian’s Assumption. … My encounter with Titian’s painting was an aesthetic epiphany.”

Assumption of the Virgin, by Titian

Assumption of the Virgin, by Titian

From Titian and other Venetian masters, Langosy would begin to understand how artistic technique was the servant of ideas.  He would share their work with his daughter, Zoe. “I learned what it meant when my father pointed to the sky and said, “It’s a Titian blue.”

Diana and Callisto by Titian

Diana and Callisto by Titian

Viewing Titian’s painting in person certainly influenced Langosy’s early work.

Detail from Flora by Langosy

Detail from Flora by Langosy

Pucinello by Langosy

Seeing Titian in later years would become an unexpected opportunity for two artists, father and daughter, to focus on the beauty to be found even during challenging times. In Zoe’s own words:

“Over the years, my father developed multiple sclerosis, and our once-frequent visits to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts or the Gardner Museum became increasingly rare. Shortly before my father lost the ability to walk entirely, he and my mother traveled to London, where I was living at the time. Walking with a cane and with great difficulty, he set out one day with one purpose: to see Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne at the National Gallery. It was a masterwork that he had never before seen in person and, of all the great works of art in London, it was the one he refused to miss.  While my mother and I wandered through the nearby exhibits, he sat studying that single painting for nearly an hour.”

Detail from Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian

Detail from Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian

“As the years progressed, my father’s MS caused physical discomfort and fatigue that made it increasingly difficult for him to travel even as far as the local art museums we had enjoyed together. Our conversations about art never took place outside the comfort of the studio, living room, or kitchen at my parent’s home in the Boston suburb of Medford. Then, one day, we read in the newspaper about the “Rivals of Renaissance Venice” show at the MFA. That moment created a breakthrough. My father knew this was a show that he could not and would not miss.”

Detail from Venus with a Mirror by Titian, at the MFA 2009 Exhibit

Detail from Venus with a Mirror by Titian, at the MFA 2009 Exhibit

“We chose a time when we knew the museum would be quiet, and, on a hot summer morning, my father, mother, and I traveled into Boston to see the exhibit. Above all, we went to see the Titians. As I pushed my father in his wheelchair, we stopped for a long time at each painting. Sometimes we would quietly look at the art, while other times we would talk about what we saw. For the first time in many years, I was given the gift of being able to walk through a museum with my father again and share with him one of the things that we both love most: art. Visiting the show was highly enriching for all of us.  Since then, my father has found renewed strength to combat the hold that MS had placed on his activities, and he is determined to attempt such outings on a more regular basis.”

Zoe with her father's portrait of Elizabeth

Zoe with her father’s portrait of Elizabeth

Want to learn more?

View Langosy’s The Story of My Art: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

View four decades of Langosy’s work at http://www.donald.langosy.net/

See what’s current on Langosy’s Facebook page.

His contact: Zoe Langosy at zlangosy@me.com.

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donald langosy in the studio

donald langosy in a studio from the early days

For the past six Thursdays it has been been my pleasure to share the words and images of painter Donald Langosy. In collaboration with his daughter, he produced a unique 14-page memoir visually chronicling his evolution as an artist. I was allowed to share that memoir on this blog interspersed with additional words and images by Langosy.

Last Thursday’s post – story of my art – shakespeare and the joy of being, revealed that Mr. Langosy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003. Has it affected how he expresses himself as an artist? Of course. But decrease in mobility and even fine motor skills has in no way decreased his creativity or even his productivity. As he has stated he does not allow MS into his studio, but he has welcomed visitors on occasion.

donald langosy in the studio present day

donald langosy still in the studio present day

I have been lucky enough to sit in his space and at his side and see his works-in-progress upon the easel, the canvases stacked against the wall, his sculptures tucked in high nooks, and what I especially love (and I tell him each time) the books, the books, the books, on so many different subjects, collected over the years! And no matter how crammed the space becomes with paintings and books and new technologies to enable him in his work, there is always space for the grandchildren.

grandchildren in the studio

grandchildren in the studio

Below are a few more images. Please enjoy this virtual peek inside the studio, present and past, of Donald Langosy.

Photos provided by Zoe Langosy.

View The Story of My Art: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

View four decades of Langosy’s work at http://www.donald.langosy.net/

See what’s current on Langosy’s Facebook page.

His contact: Zoe Langosy at zlangosy@me.com.

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Lin A. Nulman is an Adjunct Professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College.  Her poetry has appeared in Black Water Review, Tanka Splendor, and the anthology Regrets Only: Contemporary Poets on the Theme of Regret, among others. Lin puts her heart and soul into teaching and while I’ve yet to take a formal class, I have felt a student. In her own unique ways, she has challenged me to both appreciate and expand upon the work that I do as writer and photographer. It’s with pleasure I share Lin’s words and images about her grandmother, a great influence in her life.

photo by Lin A. Nulman

“Oh, you see one tree, you’ve seen them all,” a woman once said to my grandmother, who had just remarked on a tree she found beautiful. Gram repeated the comment throughout my childhood as “the saddest thing I ever heard anyone say.” I think so, too, and I’m thankful for the gift of knowing why.

We took walks when I was a little girl, and even not so little, in our neighborhoods and on the beach. Often Gram would stop to look at something commonplace, such as weeds in a patch by the side of the road. Isn’t it amazing, she would say, how Nature creates so many shapes of leaves in just this one place?

photo by Lin A. Nulman

photo by Lin A. Nulman

Eventually I reached the age of impatience with what grown-ups noticed that wasn’t rare blue beach glass or a good climbing tree. But even when I felt impatient, I knew I could see what she was talking about. I don’t know if Gram believed in God, certainly not in a kindly God, but she did deeply believe in Nature, wonderful and endlessly giving. If you looked at it that way. And I do, and I have to, despite all the other ways my eyes still need to open. Her view was one of my starting places, creatively and spiritually.

photo by Lin A. Nulman

Recently a latent love for bohemian style has sprouted in me, thanks in part to author and blogger Justina Blakeney. I stay up too late turning pages of her new book and feeling out of breath. Justina defines bohemian style as the product of “a creative life and an active engagement in the search for alternative ideals of beauty…Our worldly collections are as eclectic as we are…Decorating is about feeling free, having fun, rejecting traditional notions about what goes with what…and getting a little bit wild.” [I’m quoting from her introduction to The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes. UNputdownable.]

photo by Lin A. Nulman

photo by Lin A. Nulman

Even my 1906 copy of Putnam’s Handbook of Etiquette warns New York High Society about the habits of “Bohemia”, over there in Greenwich Village, beyond “the borders of wise convention”, definitely over the edge and unacceptably wild.

photo by Lin A. Nulman

photo by Lin A. Nulman

Her book was in my mind recently on a walk through the Fens, one jewel in the Emerald Necklace of green spaces that loops through Boston. It has a wide area of community gardens, where dozens of people fulfill their own visions with flowers, trees, bushes, berries, vegetables, bamboo, grasses, and leafy plants. It is a wonderful place to open my grandmother’s eyes, to see the shades and shapes Nature creates in just one corner of a park, sometimes helped along by a little human artistry: a painted gate, a statue, a purple disco ball. On this walk, my looking as I was taught to look revealed Nature, to my joy, as The First and Ultimate Bohemian. Everything goes with everything, so feel free and always be a little bit wild.

photo by Lin A. Nulman

photo by Lin A. Nulman

I challenged myself to photograph the gardens in December, without most of the flowers to help, and still found colors and forms running madly, beautifully together, eye-catching contrasts of silhouette, especially as I lost the light, and small places full of texture and depth. Thanks, Gram.

photo by Lin A. Nulman

photo by Lin A. Nulman

Please look for my blog, The Creative Part-Timer, in early 2016.

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photo by D. Ledesma

photo by D. Ledesma

I am grateful to have family and friends who as they walk in the world will sometimes pause and think, “Hmmm.  This is a picture that Cynthia might like.” Some people will share photos of that sight in the moment by text.  Other times, as most often happens with my brothers, they will give me a ring and describe in great detail the Virginia sky above them. It is all wonderful, as are these images shared by a friend who recently traveled around London.  She is an archaeologist who has been involved in Egyptian digs and one day I will convince her to sit down for an interview about why she chose that field. Until then here are photos she shared of a walk through Highgate Cemetery.

photo by D. Ledesma

As the website notes, this cemetery opened in 1839 and is considered one of England’s great treasures with its fine funerary architecture.  There is an east side and a west side. The west side which includes an Egyptian Avenue is considered fragile and accessible only by special tour.  People of many backgrounds are buried here with some of the most famous figures buried including Karl Marx and George Eliot.

photo by D. Ledesma

photo by D. Ledesma

From these photos alone one can see the interplay of light and shadow upon the beautiful sculpture.  Scary movies (e.g. one involving Dracula) have been shot here but from these photos one can also imagine the serenity of this sacred space. It is still an operating cemetery.

photo by D. Ledesma

photo by D. Ledesma

For history buffs, the history page on the website is an amazing compilation of old and new video as well as text.  I don’t know if I will ever have the chance to view this place in person but I thank Ms. Ledesma for sharing these images with me.

Learn more at …

http://highgatecemetery.org/

http://highgatecemetery.org/about/history

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Remember the hand of the budding artist? Well, mom is artist Zoe Langosy.  Recently, she mentioned how important this period of fashion weeks around the world had been in her artistic growth and I asked her to share more through her words and images …

When I was 14, the fashion world became a magic kingdom to me. Fashion took me on a journey through music, pop culture, the arts… I couldn’t get enough. Already developing into a figurative artist, my drawings became filled with long-legged, often tragic looking, beauties. All my characters were adorned in lavish attire made from a patchwork of fabrics and colors.  As this was before the internet, the way I kept up with my new found passion and muse was either on TV or through magazines.  My teenage bedroom began to overflow with Vogue’s from all over the world, Harpaar’s Bazaar, The Face, Sky… Nothing ever compared, though, to the September issue of American Vogue.

Each year seemed to compete with the year before… More pages, more looks, more exclusive inserts from designers. Each year, as summer drew to a close, my sister and I would check newsstands every day anticipating its arrival.  The first issue I purchased was in 1991. Linda Evangelista donned the cover, smoldering with red hair and tartan. I must have turned the pages of that issue a thousand times, and yet somehow kept it pristine like only a true collector could. Never letting any hands on it but my own.

photo by Zoe Langosy

24 years have passed, and I still feel a buzz when the September Vogue appears on the newsstand. It remains a guilty pleasure of mine, still inspiring my art … Of course, I have other inspirations these days as well.

These days, I’m okay if the cover gets scratched or my one-year old tears out a page. Now, it’s become so ingrained in my world it’s like buying a new set of pencils. Something I’m prepared to destroy and use purely as a visual playground that will set my imagination running.

Follow Zoe’s creative journey …

http://www.zoe.langosy.net/

Langosy Arts on Etsy

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