Category Visual Arts

Who Would Be on Your Train? A “This Is Us” Tribute

A  beautiful woman—the matriarch in the sprawling, multi-generational television show “This is Us”—is sitting alone, gazing out the window of a luxurious passenger train car. What appears to be a porter—well-dressed and dignified—looms over her shoulder, but before he says anything, she informs him she is waiting for someone.

But then she launches into an impromptu reminiscence on her long-dead father’s love of such trains, and his promise that someday the two of them would journey on one. Whereupon she looks happily up at the porter and invites him to “sit with me.”

Soon, she is asking him to recite a poem they both apparently know, and it becomes obvious they are familiar with each other. Then, courtly as it is possible to be, he asks, “Would you like to go to the bar car with me, Rebecca?”

Now she repeats that she is waiting for someone, and he replies, “I know.”

And he rises, inviting her to f...

Read More

Thanks, But No Thanks: Lisel Mueller’s “Monet Refuses the Operation”

We’re not much given to ecstasies, visions or fantastical disruptions of form, light and sound in the workaday world. Observe the social conventions, show up in the conference room at the appointed hour, monitor your in-box, and don’t say anything stupid or offensive on social media from the confines of your cubicle.

Keep that up for 40 or so years, let the IRA compound, then hunt for the perfect landing place—single-story, welcoming and with a woodsy name—to ensure your own version of domestic, senescent tranquility.

And then there are artists, whose creations, in the words of 20th century French philosopher George Bataille, inhabit “a minor free zone outside action, paying for its freedom by giving up the real world.”

I’m not sure artists “give up” the real world so much as they challenge the very foundations of what most people claim the real world is...

Read More

Hark! Get Thee to Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” !!

For the average person born and brewed in everyday contemporary English, reading Shakespeare is no walk in the park. Despite his essentially one-name status reflecting a worldwide reputation as a playwright and poet barely this side of a god, Shakespeare goes either under- or unread by the vast majority of people largely because of his arcane, at-first-glance impenetrable prose, which can be a challenge for even the most learned readers.

The Irish critic Fintan O’Toole captured this truth with his usual panache in his slim-but-packed 2002 volume, “Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearean Tragedy.”

Recapitulating his “Shakespeare Is Hard…” title in the text, O’Toole goes on to add “So long as you can see that there is a lot of life in Shakespeare, then the effort begins to make sense.”

Castle hallways are long, empty, and mournfully shadowed, every inch lifeless gray mortar, th...

Read More

Ninth Annual Holiday Photo Gallery

Nine revolutions around the sun for “Traversing” this week, which lands us on the doorstep of our Ninth Annual Holiday Photo Gallery. Today, we will wander as we please, linger where we want, and emerge all the better in the spiritual and aesthetic nourishment that is so fundamental to our very survival as self-reflective creatures with an eye always scanning ahead toward more joyful horizons.

May these shots from stellar photographers around the world be worth more than any 1,000 words I could pull together as we inch ahead, ready or not—because time just does not care—toward 2022.

With the good news being: still here!

***

Poof! Good-bye, 2021…by Doug Wheller

***

She’s a lady—and an imposing one, at least from this angle…by dr.larsbergmann

***

Apparently not his first rodeo…by Klim Musalimov

***

Just another crazed cumulus…by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

***

Into the mystic in Mya...

Read More

And in the End, Love: Matthew Richardson’s Gay “Hallelujah” Dance

One of the great temptations in this Age of Vitriol is to grow so weary and exasperated that we seek release, turning willfully away from the darkness, covering our eyes and ears to all that we fear is gaining an upper hand every time we dare tune into the State of the World.

“Can we talk about…politics for just a minute?” is a common refrain across dinner tables and Happy Hours, rendered tenuously, though with an underlying urgency, as we seek to balance the competing needs for engagement and retreat from the ever-present, often oppressive affairs of the day.

The dilemma: We can’t bear to look, and we can’t afford to look away.

What should be, what could be, what might still be, what is.

Along that continuum, we seek our daily comfort, our solace, our need for joy and play, balanced against our responsibility to do what we can to help lighten the wearying weight of the world.

“Beauty is truth, and truth b...

Read More