Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

dublinstreetart1

You have only to do an online search for “street art” and “dublin” to discover the backstory as well as the ongoing evolution of graffiti arts in Dublin, Ireland. One of my favorite quick reads was this 2014 article: https://untappedcities.com/2014/02/24/the-evolution-of-dublins-street-art-scene/dublinstreetart2

Even on the cloudiest days, art brightens the city. I expect that one could orchestrate a whole tour of the city focused on street art and the artists who produce the very diverse works. It can be found up high …

DSCN8431

DSCN8433

and down low …

dublinstreetart3

dublinstreetart5

there’s the fun …

dublinstreetart4

IMG_20171103_131901587_HDR-2

and the poignant.

DSCN8435

There appeared to be few limits on presentation given this sculptural figure on a wall.

dublinstreetart6

More so than any other city I’ve been in, Dublin with its art everywhere made me want to put away my phone and to truly look around me. You never knew what you might see.

Read Full Post »

Crisis1927NewArtist

I’ve been researching the year 1927 for a project and came across an issue of  The Crisis Magazine for that year. In this issue, several new artists were featured. Even though they were not the focus of my research, I became curious about who these people were and who they became. I knew of Countee Cullen but the others … I began by looking up Blanche Taylor Dickinson. The article in The Crisis notes that she “received honorable mention for her poem, “That Hill,” in The Crisis contest of 1926. Four of her poems have recently been accepted to appear in “Present Day Poets.” She was featured alongside Cullen, Loren R. Miller, Anita Scott Coleman and Eulalie Spence.

1200px-WEB_DuBois_1918

Three years earlier, Dickinson had written W. E. B. Du Bois, co-founder and editor of The Crisis. “I am a teacher and a reader of The Crisis but am just becoming a suscriber. You edit a fine magazine and it is a great factor in helping to bring us more and more into the recognition of the opposite race.” Enclosed with the letter were poems but no envelope with return postage because, as Dickinson wrote, if the poems were unacceptable to Du Bois, “you have a waste basket handy I am sure.”

Du Bois read her poems and then sent a reply, despite her lack of return postage. “You have some poetic feelings but are not good enough to publish. You must read more poetry. Buy Rittenhouse’s Little Book of Modern British Verse.”

Dickinson does indeed read Rittenhouse and other compilations. In 1925 she wrote Du Bois once more.

Once before I was ‘nervy’ enough to write you a personal letter and you were kind enough to advise. So pardon this second intrusion and say, ‘She is determined to hold out to the end.’ I have read or you might say studied the book you mentioned … and feel that I have profited thereby. I have made a study of several others, too. Now if I could see a few expressions of mine in our own magazine, CRISIS, I imagine I should feel as I imagine one feels in your own sphere. I am not working for money now but for RECOGNITION. It is unwomanly of me to beg favor of your staff but I do ask please read these lines from the angle of the writer and others less favored and see what you can find in them that deserves criticism or comment.”

Du Bois’s reply? “I do not think that the poems which are enclosed are quite good enough for publication but I do think that the course of study upon which you are embarked is worth while and I hope you will keep it up.”

Dickinson, who’d been writing since childhood, would continue to work at her craft and her poetry would be published in a number of publications during the late 1920s. A little but not a lot is written about her life. Born in 1896 to a prosperous Kentucky farmer, she did well in school (including having her writing published), attended university, became a school teacher and worked as a journalist. She married a truck driver and moved around a bit. In 1929 she interviewed Amelia Earhart for the newspaper, Baltimore Afro-American. In 1930 Dickinson would deliver a speech about “The Cultural Values of Negro Poetry,” but little writing can be found after this time.

Her poetry is quite moving and suggestive of how she (or perhaps women around her) may have felt about life as a woman in the 1920s in general and as an educated African American woman specifically.

“Ah, I know what happiness is …

It is a timid little fawn

Creeping softly up to me

For one caress, then gone

Before I’m through with it …

Away, like dark from dawn!”

— excerpt from poem, A Sonnet and a Rondeau, 1927

Her words can be raw as in this excerpt from, The Good Wife, appearing in a 1932 newspaper, where her words reference the to-this-day divisive issues of class, color and even education level within the African American experience.

All day long

I been sipping suds.

Money making’s mine- 

Money spending’s Bud’s.

Folks keep asking,

How could I

Let a man black as Bud

Take my eye.

I keep rubbing

‘Till my po’ head swim.

‘T ain’t worthwhile to answer

‘Cause Bud ain’t courted them!

BlancheTaylorDickinson

Her work can be found online and in print anthologies from and about the period known as the Harlem Renaissance. Blanche Taylor Dickinson died in 1972.

Sources & Additional Reading

http://credo.library.umass.edu/view/full/mums312-b168-i213

http://credo.library.umass.edu/view/full/mums312-b169-i545

http://credo.library.umass.edu/view/full/mums312-b169-i546

Shadowed Dreams: Women of the Harlem Renaissance by Maureen Honey

Kentucky African American Encyclopedia edited by Smith, McDaniel and Hardin, p. 142

New Negro Artists, The Crisis, February 1927, p. 206

The Good Wife, The Greeley Daily Tribune, October 10, 1932, p. 3.

Revelation, https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/revelation-16

Read Full Post »

One thing people might not know about me is that as an adult I learned how to play the harmonica. I’d never played an instrument before. The class was in part an opportunity to do something different and also an homage to my father who played the harmonica when I was a child. I have a very nice harmonica tucked away somewhere. I haven’t played or thought about playing for years until I came across a 1975 recording of Babylon is Falling Down sung by Deacon Dan Smith with Nick Hallman & the Georgia Sea Island Singers. The music is on the disc, Shall We Gather at the River, highlighting Florida’s African American religious music. This song and 14 additional tracks can be accessed online via the following link: https://www.floridamemory.com/audio/cd3.php  Well worth a visit to that page and the larger Florida Memory site to learn about the diverse history of the peoples that have shaped a place that is an important part of the American puzzle.

 

Read Full Post »

In the words of Rebecca Solnit, “It’s very important to say that hope is not optimism. Optimism is a sense that everything’s going to be fine no matter what we do. Hope is something completely different. The kind of activist hope I believe in is that, although we don’t know what will happen, that uncertainty still means there’s grounds for intervening even without being sure of the outcome.

An excerpt from a very thought provoking piece that is well worth a read: https://blog.longreads.com/2016/12/22/we-have-to-resist-rebecca-solnit/#

Read Full Post »

When do we see ourselves? How do we see ourselves? How is our sense of self shaped by the images of others?  This past year, I spent a lot of time researching U.S. history, mostly pre-Civil War into the early twentieth century.  One of the things that I re-discovered for myself was an evolution in the illustration and other visual representation of African Americans that reflected the sentiments of a rapidly evolving nation.  A nation that had loosely reknit after a Civil War, thirty-years later still in rancorous debate about the “Negro Problem”, and now having to deal with waves of mostly non-English speaking European immigrants making their way to a promised land. Culture clashes took place at every level of society. And those tensions were reflected in the arts and how “others” were represented.

I chanced upon an 1898 issue of the magazine, The Art Amateur: Devoted to Art in the Household, a popular type of magazine at the time.  The article that caught my attention, by E. Day McPherson, focused on Drawings of the Negro Character, an actual tutorial for how to capture the character of your artistic subject.  When reading the text I tried to keep in mind the context of the time. For example … “Character might be defined as the result of emotional habit, and certainly the lines expressive of character are those which show what emotions the person is most frequently subject to and in what degree he is accustomed to repress or hide them.  The negro is much more accustomed to give his emotions free play than white people, and they more than the yellow and the red races. To the Japanese we seem as “funny” as the negro seems to us …”

But my focus was not the words but the artist’s work.  Most publications from that time, outside of publications produced by African Americans, were already presenting stereotypical images of African Americans, if any images were being shown at all.  I was struck by Dee Beebe’s portraits of young African Americans, possibly in Galveston, Texas, in the casual clothing of their day.  I don’t know if she captured their character but she captured their beauty for me.

I couldn’t find out much about the artist. She was born in 1870 into a prominent family in Galveston, Texas. Her artistic skills were clear at an early age.  As one writer noted in 1896:

At the Art Academy of Cincinnati, she studied with Frank Duveneck.  In New York, she studied with William Merrit Chase and Kenyon Cox, and later with Theodore Wendel in Gloucester, MA.  Throughout her life she was a teacher while continuing to produce oil and watercolor paintings as well as etchings. The last reference to an exhibit that I could find was 1922.  She exhibited at the Ainslie Galleries in New York, seventy-five watercolors, “including bits of Holland and Switzerland, views of New England, the Arizona desert and around San Francisco and studies of flowers in localities as diversified as Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Switzerland and Holland.” She died in 1946.

It would be intriguing to see more of the work of this artist. I found a few landscapes online.  The 1898 article says that at one period while back home in Texas she “devoted much time to the portrayal of negro types.” Perhaps those other images, if they still exist I might not like so much, but I am glad she created these images and that they were shared with the public in that popular magazine.

Sources

The Art Amateur: Devoted to Art in Household, Volume 39-40, 1898

Prominent Women of Texas (1896), p. 82

Magazine of Art, 1922

 

Read Full Post »

The recipes are good. They are simple, elegant and refined, like the family sharing its history through food.  The preface describes the book as telling the story of five kitchens and three generations of women. “Mother-daughter duo” Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams use the book to share stories from the kitchen, a place that could be both forboding and a place of great calm, depending upon one’s generation (e.g. slavery) and one’s location (e.g. north vs. south).  Traditional, mostly southern recipes, are reworked.  Flavoring agents like bacon dripping, ham hocks, and butter are replaced by olive oil, or no oil at all.  But fear not.  As I told my big brother, a traditional southern cook, flavors have been retained if not indeed heightened with the liberal use of spices. My favorite recipes were the simplest like the Warm Onion and Rosemary Salad, Herb-Roasted Salmon Fillet, Fiery Green Beans and Links Salad composed of green beans, green peas, cucumber and basil.

There’s a Homemade Peanut Butter recipe. The authors describe peanut butter “as a bass note that can carry a wide variety of top notes” and encourage users, once comfortable with the basic recipe, to add spices. Be creative. Set no limits.  It’s a sentiment that fits the family.

Many of the book’s recipes from Mama’s Tequila Ice to Eggplant Tower with Mashed White Beans open with brief headnotes that describe the family connection to the dish.  Whether its a variation on a meal served while hosting parties during the Harlem Renaissance or a reworking of a meal had as family members traveled overseas in Yugoslavia, each recipe clearly has meaning.

While its an eclectic mix of recipes, overall the book is quite a culinary inspiration.  The recipes don’t begin until page 80.  Those first seventy-nine pages are a poetic examination of five kitchens, and American history, beginning with Minnie Randall (1897-1976) through Caroline Randall Williams (b. 1987).  Reviewing the book has reawakened my desire to ask family members about their memories of food past and what they’d like to cook in the future.  You don’t need to be of African American heritage to enjoy this book.  It’s an American experience that can be shared, quite deliciously, by all.

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

More Info …

Author Bios

SoulFoodLove

Read Full Post »

Yes, I have sought out stained glass in Prague and what beauty there is to be found like these images from the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle.

Only a quick glimpse this trip …

… I hope to visit again for a longer period of time.  The windows were breathtaking as was the light they cast upon the stone.

Learn more about this cherished structure here: https://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle/guidepost-for-visitors/st-vitus-cathedral.shtml

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »