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Focusing my camera on rocks and water and sand on the shores of Revere Beach. There’s a story in their interaction but I just don’t know how to read it yet. That’s why yesterday I picked up Tristan Gooley’s How to Read Water. It’s subtitle – Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea – captured me. If I don’t post for a while, it’ll be because I’m lost a darn good book. Meanwhile, have a good weekend, folks. 🙂

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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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The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde presents yet another side of the complicated Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919). Scion of a wealthy New York family, sickly as a child, Roosevelt’s enduring image is that of a rough and tumble soldier, a politician with a big stick foreign policy and a big game hunter extraordinaire. Lunde’s book focuses on Roosevelt the naturalist.

In 1867, just a couple years before his father Theodore Roosevelt Sr invested in the creation of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Roosevelt started his own natural history museum in the family house. Twelve specimen would soon grow to include hundreds of mice, shrews and birds. Though the museum would soon be relocated by family decree especially after “he acquired a live snapping turtle – an aggressive pond-dweller covered in algae and decorated with a gruesome frill of leeches,” a passion had been borne that would stay with Roosevelt throughout his life.

Roosevelt lived during the Victorian Age. Nature study was common and encouraged especially among his social class.  Never formally trained, he would teach himself the necessary skills, including taxidermy. The Naturalist provides unflinching accounts of how natural history museums of that era built their vast animal collections, collections that are scientific boons for researchers today but at what cost? Even then, ethical and moral questions arose around the killing of animals. Though museums in general collected far more animals than he did, Roosevelt took the brunt of criticism later in his life from animal rights advocates as the media reported graphic details of Roosevelt’s big game hunts in Africa.

Lunde is a Supervisory Museum Specialist in the Division of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He’s clear in his affinity for Roosevelt the naturalist and also in his concern about the growing disconnect between people and nature. At the end of the book he raises questions about the changing perception of what it means to be a naturalist. He points out that “To really understand Roosevelt the naturalist, we need to locate him in the naturalists’ world that he knew  — a world that wholeheartedly embraced guns, hunting, and taxidermy as equally important to the naturalist’s craft.”

The book reads like an American Experience documentary and I mean that in the best possible way. The book is chock full of historical facts and details and yet it is not in anyway overwhelming.  The narrative flows carrying the reader along on a thought-provoking journey in the life of one of America’s great iconic figures.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

Additional Links …

The Naturalist

Darrin Lunde

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Those were the inspirations behind the latest series of blank journals and photo book now available in my blurb bookstore. Three new blank journals, great for jotting down notes (the old-fashioned way) while traveling, plus a photo book … uhm … blooming with tulips. Yes, Mr. Mapplethorpe was the inspiration.

Before its recent reconfigurations, I remember that the Boston Public Library Copley branch had a room on the second floor filled with photography books, an area different than the Fine Arts Department. I used to love to sit in there and flip through coffee-tabled sized books about artists I’d never heard of before. That’s where I first saw Mapplethorpe’s book of tulips. Years later, during the midst of a creative slump, someone gave me tulips. As I watched those stems slump over in the vase, I remembered Mapplethorpe and I thought, “Hey, why can’t I do a tulip photo shoot?!”  And so that what’s I did. A fun spur of the moment endeavor that I think produced some lovely and maybe sensual images. See for yourself. You can view a preview here.

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In short, from front to back, each page of The Flower Workshop is a treat. Am I biased? Perhaps. This is the kind of book that I can imagine on the table in front of me as I sip sweet tea, just flipping through the pages. Strangely enough, it was my younger brother who recently reminded me that that is exactly what I used to do as a child with my mom’s gardening books. Just sit and peruse them over and over again. Well-written and beautifully photographed, the book provides step-by-step instruction for producing 45 floral arrangements. But beyond those specific projects, the reader is truly educated in how to “branch out” and experiment with how to work with flowers, foliage, fruit and more to create what I consider to be ephemeral works of art.

Will I be producing a flowering dogwood display anytime soon? No but I do have a greater appreciation for the skill as well as imagination behind such displays that I had perhaps taken for granted in churches, hotels and even the homes of friends. And I also take away a deeper understanding of everything from the rule of three to the subtle use of color to establish mood.  There’s a nice index and seasonal flower guide. Simply a lovely resource.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review. Please check out the following links for more information.

Website of Ariella Chezar

Details about the book: The Flower Workshop

Photographer Erin Kunkel

 

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My mother kept a bucket of chickens next to the back porch.  It was a big white bucket like an old stew pot.  Hens and chicks was what she called the little spiky plants growing in there. No matter how hot the summers, no matter how many other flowers and vegetables died in the baking Virginia sun, those plants survived to flourish the following year. They were easy to transplant. I remember picking up the little ones … they just popped right up out of the soil … and tossing them into another little cup of dirt. My mom told me to stop doing that because she’d specifically positioned her pot of chickens. Their singular location, next to the porch, was part of her garden design.

photo by cynthia staples

Now my mom and I did not formally speak of things like garden design and water-saving plants like her cacti. My dad did not discuss these things either though I remember he kept a barrel to collect rainwater and that he rotated crops in our little vegetable garden. He didn’t really explain the why of his actions. It was just what you did if you understood the system of which you were a part.

photo by cynthia staples

That’s what stands out for me in books like The Water-Saving Garden by Pam Penick.  Penick invites readers who are interested in gardening to deepen their understanding of how their world works.  My parents grew up in a time and place and were of a generation that knew the sources of their water and understood that those sources were not guaranteed. For all sorts of reasons that knowledge was lost as human ingenuity and engineering made water readily available in many places and seemingly endless.  Today, people are aware that engineering is not enough. We are a part of a complicated system. Water is not endlessly available for our needs. But what if you really want a garden?

It almost seems selfish but I have to admit I’m one of those people. If at all possible, for my peace of mind, I like to see something green growing around me and know I had something to do with it. And despite my fond memories of my mother’s chickens, I don’t necessarily want to grow them. What are my other choices in a water-saving garden?

photo by cynthia staples

photo by cynthia staples

Pennick’s book stretches one’s imagination about what form that garden can take. She reminds and encourages people to take the time to understand the landscape and climate particular to their region. Humor is sprinkled throughout the book (e.g. “Think of your plants as astronaut-explorers, boldly going where no plant has gone before.”) as well as lovely and informative pictures.

The Water-Saving Garden is content rich and makes a nice addition to the reference shelf. Every idea can’t be tried all at once. It’s a resource I can imagine filling the margins with notes of lessons learned as I try to garden more wisely while still having fun.

You can learn more about this book via the following links. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

Additional Links

About Pam Penick: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/152546/pam-penick/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/246914/the-water-saving-garden-by-pam-penick/

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fashion illustration by zoe langosy

In the Shadow of the Sun is a 2013 documentary directed and produced by Harry Freeland. I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago on PBS. As described on the film’s website, it was filmed over six years and tells the story of two albino people, one a successful older man and one a young boy, both living in Tanzania. The viewer learns of the myths that have come to be associated with these white people, the taunts endured, and in recent years the ritualized mutilations and murders. You also see people overcoming oppression, children striving to learn and to be seen as equal and indeed beautiful, and parents doing all they can to make their dreams reality.

While researching the film and trying to learn more about albinism, a condition that can affect people of all ethnicities, I came across recent articles about albino fashion models. There were a sequence of images of young people with an absence of melanin in their skin, ghostly, different and fiercely defiant in their attitude to be labeled as anything but beautiful. Fashion has been on my mind a great deal given the collaboration taking place with Zoe Langosy, so I sent her a random note asking, without really expecting an answer, how would an artist illustrate an albino. She sent a note back sharing she had done so as part of her honors thesis where she had produced a book, The Marriage of Fashion and Nature.

fashion illustration by zoe langosy

“It was a year long project. I decided to do a series of images depicting fashion made out of nature. At that stage, as a young student, my purpose was to create a perfect character and for this scene I just instinctively chose an albino and dressed him in a kimono made of pussy willows.”

With each image, including that of the albino is lyrical text.  While yet unpublished, following are a few glimpses of this beautiful handmade book.

Sources & Additional Reading

The Marriage of Fashion and Nature by Zoe Langosy (unpublished)

In the Shadow of the Sun (2012)

Zoe Langosy Website

 

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… books by Bruno Munari on drawing trees and drawing the sun. Online descriptions suggest they were written for children but I think what is meant is children of all ages.  Unexpected finds as I walked through the library. Thank goodness I have a big backpack.

More information about Bruno Munari

Brainpickings on Munari: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/11/22/bruno-munari-design-as-art/

drawing a tree:  http://www.artbook.com/8887942765.html

drawing the sun: http://www.artbook.com/8887942773.html

Wikipedia on Munari: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Munari

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Available as PDF for $5.99 or in print. Other books can be viewed on my pinterest board. Enjoy.

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Now available in print and as a PDF in my bookstore.

FOOD

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