Category Archives: Art

Just the Right Space

Last night Husband and I attended the local college Christmas concert featuring the band, choruses, community Choral Union,  and a small string group from Bismarck.  The highlight of the concert was Handel’s Messiah. It was wonderful.

Our college music department had a good reputation but fell on hard times a few years ago. They have repopulated the faculty with some really fine teachers. We also have a strong city music community,  and are blessed with very fine community vocalists and musicians.

The concert was not held in the cavernous college auditorium, but in a terrific space with to-die-for acoustics.  I refer to the Abbey Church connected to a Benedictine Abbey 20 miles to the east of us.  You can see part of the ceiling in the header photo. The church was built in 1906-1910 in the Bavarian Romanesque style.  They have a new pipe organ.

The sound was especially gorgeous for O magnum mysterium, a choral piece published in 1572 by Tomas Luis de Victoria.  The church provided just the right acoustic space that the piece was written for.  Look at the header photo and imagine how the sound goes up, fills the church, and then circles back to listeners’ ears from those round ceiling sections.

I remember when I was in the Concordia College concert band we had to play inside an enormous, concrete, sugar beet warehouse for the warehouse dedication in Moorhead, MN.  We played a Sousa march, and the place echoed so much that we had to play every note staccato. I can still hear the horrible echoes. Tonight was a delight.

What are your experiences with acoustics and sounds? What are good and not so good sound spaces you have encountered?

Protecting Good People from Bad Art

When in my early twenties, I escaped the “mundane and uncultured” Midwest and found a temporary mecca in exotic 1970 San Francisco:  the ethnic restaurants, funky bars, antique shops, art museums, concert halls, and the art fairs (which I’d never seen before). After a couple of years in the crowded city, I opted for Half Moon Bay environs –  45 minutes south of S.F. on the Pacific Coast – a town of (then) 5,000 souls,.

There were the schools, a library, a “general store”called Half Moon Bay Feed & Fuel, a bookstore, a few restaurants. Forclassical music, there was the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society at the Mirimar Beach Inn. But the center of the art world at the time was the fall Half Moon Art & Pumpkin Fest, where I bought my first local art – a soft leather-bound journal, and a wonderful pottery bowl in my favorite shape.

My next two locales were Brooklyn, NY, and Minneapolis, so of course there were plenty of opportunities to find art (and art fairs). Now that we’re in Winona, MN, I’m aware that I never really needed to leave Small Town Midwest to find art – or maybe it “grew up” while I was not looking. This town, and many other surrounding ones (Lanesboro for one), have much to offer culturally.The ads in my Big River Magazine reveal that every little town along the Mississippi has some kind of art gallery or art center, wonderful sounding restaurants and cafés, community theaters, independent bookstores, charming B&Bs, wine bars, and often a natural foods market.

When we were on our road trip Southeast in September, we traveled some back roads for a break from the freeways. I love traveling through the small towns, and I found the same kind of variety of cultural opportunity. One example would be the in historic downtown Paducah, KY – Paducah Area Painters Alliance Gallery – whose byline is “Protecting good people from bad art.”

Do you have a neighborhood or small-town art center nearby?

Where is your favorite place to view the visual arts?

Let’s All Go to the Lobby

The holiday movie season has started; I just saw that Fantastic Beasts 2 is out now. I will admit that I haven’t yet seen the first Fantastic Beasts; I’m a marginal Potter fan so not excited about seeing it in a theatre with the cost that entails.  But the concept of a pre-Harry world is appealing to me so I’m looking forward to seeing it one of these days when Netflix or one of the cable companies picks it up.

Who would star in a prequel of YOUR life? Theme song?

 

RIP Stan Lee

I’m not a huge comic book or graphic novel fan. Not sure why since I AM a super hero fan; probably  because super heroes have special powers, not unlike wizards and witches.  The last several years have been a real boon for super hero lovers and Stan Lee was behind a lot of that:  Spider Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, X-Men.  It was fun to see Stan Lee in small cameos in all the Marvel movies, a little like seeing Alfred Hitchcock showing up in the films that he directed.

Stan Lee passed away on Monday at the age of 95 from pneumonia. I’m sure his characters and movies will live on but it won’t be quite the same.  I’ll miss you, Stan.

What super hero would YOU like to be.

Charmed

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

A friend of mine sports a lovely bracelet with initialed charms of her grandchildren. I loved it, so I decided that I’d tell my kids that the most special gift they could give me is a bracket or necklace with my 12 grand kid’s names for Mother’s Day, my birthday, or Xmas. Years went by and this special gift never materialized.

Still wanting one, I decided that if I wanted this so badly, I’d have to make my own. I went on Google, ordered the charms, and bought a silver chain. I excitedly strung the initialed charms, in order of birth, onto the chain.

Hanging below the 12 charms is my “Survivor” pendant. I’ve worn it around my neck 24/7 ever since. The unexpected out play of giving myself this gift is that I find myself constantly rubbing the charms together. It makes me feel like my family is with me. 12 charms are a lot for one chain, so I put three charms on my three kids on an ankle bracelet.

WHAT HAVE YOU HAD TO DO FOR YOURSELF THAT YOU WISH SOMEONE ELSE HAD DONE FOR YOU?

Lobby for a Hobby

The egg table went up today. I’m way behind my usual schedule but after an evening of wax and dye I feel pretty good and remarkably relaxed.  Between paper crafts and the Ukrainian eggs I am in hobby heaven.

It’s fantasy time. Money and time are no object.  What’s a hobby you’d like to try?

Haunted House

My mother is extremely pragmatic. When I was growing up, some of this manifested itself in not having many decorations around the house for holidays.  It was a waste of money and time to put stuff up just to have to take it down in a short while.  We did have a tree and stockings at Christmas but the rest of the holidays came and went without any seasonal knick-knacks or gewgaws.

I went the opposite direction – I have boxes and boxes of holiday décor in the attic: Spring/Easter, Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July – you name it. But not as much comes out these days, since we got a naughty tabby.  Nimue is a terror on décor.  Nothing glass can go out.  Easter grass is a no-no.  Plastic Easter eggs hit the floor and then become dog toys.  So over the last 8 years I have put out less and less.  And now I find myself becoming my mother.  Seems like a lot of fuss when I have to guard it from the cat and then just put it away in a couple of weeks.

I did put out a few things last night for trick-or-treaters – a large ceramic pumpkin with our name carved out as the teeth, some tin can luminaries that I made years ago when YA was a toddler and the big orange candy bowl. I do have some pumpkins and corn stalk on the front porch as well.  Not quite the over the top haunted house that I used to have for Halloween, but it will have to do.

Here is one of my favorite haunted house poems:

Haunted Houses

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What makes a good haunted house in your mind?