Monday, December 7, 2015

To Balance on One Foot...Harold Pessirilo

This is part three of what I'd begun writing when doing the post about Milton Feher, and then the one about Pauline Tish. It all seems to be about man's relationship to gravity, to moving on the one does it, and how it can be done better.

So I will begin with telling something about Harold Pessirilo, who was a friend during the years when I lived with my two daughters on Roosevelt Island (a tiny slice of land hanging in between Queens and Manhattan, just as I seemed to be hanging in between my life as a married woman and the rest of my life as a single one.)

Harold was a unique figure in my life: he taught high school art in Queens, the part of Queens just over a little blue bridge from Roosevelt Island. He too was divorced and he too had two children living with him, older than my daughters, a girl and a boy. He was a wonderful cook, had special ways of cooking quite delicious chicken and myriad vegetables and rice and such like that. He also had a certain way of seeing the role of the parent as helping the child approach life boldly and encouraging them to join in to activities without temerity. There was a very nice article written about him in the paper called the Roosevelt Island Wire, an interview with him where he was asked ideas about single parenthood and how to navigate through it.

Harold also taught a yoga class on Roosevelt Island, and that was how I had met him. And now, over the years when we have spoken, he would often mention that he had hurt himself, pulling a muscle, or falling and bashing a knee, and his method of healing it was, instead of putting the leg up on a chair, or resting his back, he instead tries to work into the injury, bringing the blood circulating to the injured tissues, a way of working from the injury to bring healing to it, so to speak, and that way, restoring equilibrium.

Here follow a couple of poetry-like excerpts that I wrote in response to Harold's classes...he was very similar to Milton Feher in the things he would say in the course of a class, the way he used words to pull the mind of the student into alignment with the body.

You say that to balance
on one foot may make the foot
struggle...that all the little
muscles are brought into move-
ment to keep the great body
poised above, the great weight
funneled into the small base,
the large dependent upon its
linkage to the earth, to its
reality, gravity, a place
in space.

I saw you during the class
spring to what you are
without any system evident,
your atoms going to their
appointed places, your body
making a curve in space
elegant as some ancient ivory weapon
(one that monks would use,
 nothing ordinary about it.)

Here also is a quote from the I Ching, the book I absolutely love, not only for its help in times of stress with a word or two of wise counsel via synchronicity, but also for its overall balanced words of wisdom that stay fine and imprinted on one's mind for many another moment:

"In the Zen Monastery: The abbot placed a stick on his finger, balancing it. He pointed to the left, and said, this is the past, it will not come back. He pointed to the right, and said, the future is yet to come. Then he pointed to where the stick balanced, and said, here, there is nothing, emptiness, zero, yet if abundance can be piled up anywhere, it must be here. It is now."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Willoughby Wallace Library in Stony Creek, Connecticut

There is a library in Connecticut that has some very special qualities, which I will describe below...but also want to announce that there will be an exhibit, in its Keyes Gallery, of my watercolor paintings, and watercolors and collages by fellow Connecticut artist, Anne Coffey. 

First, some information about this unusual library, then more about the upcoming exhibit which will be on view from October 2nd through October 28 of 2015...

A plaque at the entrance to the library

                                                           A close-up of the pink granite

There is a wonderful book, Flesh and Stone, Stony Creek and the Age of Granite, edited by Deborah Deford, which tells the story of the quarry whence came the beautiful pink granite of which Brooklyn Bridge is made, as well as the base of the Statue of Liberty, and many other artifacts around the world. From the book's jacket:
"This is the story of a changing world. From the formation of pink granite deep in the heart of a volcano to the urbanization and industrialization of a nation, this story traces the forces that changed not only the face of the Earth but also the heart of a nation and the soul of a village."
Published by Stony Creek Granite Quarry Workers Celebration in association with Leete's Island Books, ISBN # 0-918172-29-2

The library itself is made of the pink granite, not only its handsome architecture, but the pavement outside and some sculptural forms out on the grounds...and across from the library lies Long Island Sound itself, with the first of multitudes of Thimble Islands right offshore, a house and a couple of trees residing thereon.

From an article in the New York Times, June 24, 2007, by Eve Glasberg, How Many Thimble Islands? Depends on the Tide:

"The Thimbles are an archipelago of 100 to 365 islands, depending on whether you count small rocks, reefs, ledges and sandbars that surface at low tide, off Branford, east of New Haven. The largest, Horse Island, owned by the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, is 17 acres. They look like chunks of coastal Maine - with pink granite bases and lush covers of hardwoods, pines and thickets - that have somehow ended up in Long Island Sound."

The article by Eve Glasberg tells much about what living on one of the islands is like...this is a nice paragraph from the article:
"The Thimbles begin just 200 yards offshore with Wheelers Island, less than an acre and dominated by a replica of its original house, a four-story Victorian with wraparound porches and a cupola. Similarly small islands farther from shore...each with a single century-old house, sit on the horizon and appear very fragile. If the world were flat, you'd think a wind would push them over the edge."

There is information in the article about tour boats that take people out on the Sound to view the islands and learn something about their history, as well as a kayak expedition and water taxis.

You can read the whole article on the New York Times archives:

June 24, 2007 - By EVE GLASBERG - Travel - Print Headline: "How Many Thimble Islands? Depneds on the Tide"

From Wikipedia:

"Known to the Mattabeseck Indians as Kuttomquosh, 'the beautiful sea rocks', they consist of a jumble of granite rocks, ledges and outcroppings resulting from glaciation...the islands themselves - long prized by sailors on the Sound as a sheltered deep-water anchorage - comprise 23 that are inhabited (most of them wooded), numerous barren rocks and hundreds of reefs visible only at low tide."

The exhibit will be in the Keyes Gallery at the Willoughby Wallace Memorial Library, October 4 - October 28, 2015, with an artists' reception on Sunday, October 11, from 4 to 6 PM.

                                                     Postcard announcing the show

My work includes watercolors, ink drawings and watercolor with are a couple of the paintings:

New York City Blue Pastel

                                                                  Curve of the Land

                                                                 Spring Light

An ink drawing:

                                                                 Thimble Island, #1




I had taken these photos of leaves gracing the walkway in front of the Library the last day of the show, one of wild wind and heavy rain. But shortly I will post photos of the Reception on October 11th...a lovely day of nice people, delicious food, and hospitable weather!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Musings on the past, waxing nostalgic for the 30s and 40s...

An intriguing article in the January 5, 2014 issue of The New Yorker is The Birth of Pulp by Louis Menand. It talks about a revolution in the publishing industry when Robert de Graff launched Pocket Books, the first American mass-market-paperback line. A quote from the article: "Whether it also transformed the country is the tantalizing question that Paula Rabinowitz asks in her lively book "American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street" (Princeton."

Looking back at one of this blog's earlier posts about Adventure Magazine, where my aunt worked in the 1930s ("My aunt Connie and Adventure Magazine", posted on Mary 25, 2013), the New Yorker article refers to that very same era with very similar cover art, such as the illustrations done by artist Earl Mayan (see website with Mayan's illustrations for Adventure and Saturday Evening Post.

The 1930s and 1940s seem very appealing to me now, though at the time I was very young and interested in the more daily doings of childhood!

I'd like to recommend a catalog I receive periodically called Radio Spirits which documents what was, before television, a wide variety of drama and humor and news...the catalog lists them all, including newsreels from World War II.

Here is the Radio Spirits catalog information:

1(800) 833-4248
Radio Spirits
P.O. Box 3107
Wallingford, CT 06494-3107

CDs are available of what they call "classic radio": detective programs including Nero Wolfe, Johnny Dollar, Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Keen - Tracer of Lost Persons, Mr. & Mrs. North, The Falcon, The Saint, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, The Adventures of Sam Spade, Nick Carter, Bulldog Drummond, Boston Blackie, Dragnet (on radio before it was on TV), The Whistler, The Shadow, Mysterious Traveler and Suspense.

And humor: the Fred Allen Show, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Burns & Allen, Abbot & Costello, Duffy's Tavern, and my parents' favorite: Henry Morgan.

I was and am very partial to Jean Shepherd, who via his all-night wonderful radio monologues on WOR, helped me survive my first year at Pratt Institute. CDs of many of his shows are available from Amazon for modest sums, under the heading of "Classic Radio Humor". The titles alone entertaining: "Don't be a Leaf", "A Fistful of Fig Newtons", and "Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories." Shepherd, as he did in the Christmas Story movie, told again and again of his childhood in the midwest in details I had heard over and over again on his radio shows in the late 50s when I was commuting to Pratt, and struggling with art homework on all-night stints in the cellar of my parents' house, in a room that had been converted into an office/art studio from its earlier incarnation as the room where coal had been delivered through one of the cellar windows.

And lastly, in continuing homage to the 30s and 40s...I enjoyed many a wonderful jazz performance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City: the Jazz in July series directed for years by Dick Hyman. I used to buy CDs at those performances, and recently ordered a magnificent one directly from Dick Hyman's website:
The CD is "Lost Songs of 1936"...Dick Hyman, piano, Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar, and Jay Leonhart, bass.

These are some quotes from the wonderful liner notes for the album by Michael Feinstein: 
"That Bucky, Dick & Jay collaborate so effortlessly is as much due to the bonds of friendship among three longtime colleagues as it is to their peerless professionalism."  And: "The musical accomplishments of Dick Hyman are of Herculean status, his being a career of extraordinary scope, innovation and inspiration." And: "The best example of Hyman's maverick versatility is paradoxically demonstrated through one instrument: the piano. He has made many recordings on that instrument and the dazzling variety of sounds and styles he has extracted from 88 piano keys remains the single most unique document of what is possible from the mind of a true genius of musical expression."

Here is contact information from Dick Hyman's website (and see the beautiful Al Hirschfeld caricature):

Dick Hyman Music, Inc.
617 Menendez Street
Venice, FL 34285

Phone: 941-485-9506
FAX: 941-488-1824

Al Hirschfeld drawing