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MASTER PAINTINGS OF THE WORLD:
Page through 350 pages of academic nudes
This book has traveled with me all my life. It was an essential part of my childhood - a glimpse into
a world of so much beauty. I spent hours paging through the images, with not a notion how they actually
looked in color. And even though I chose to go into the sciences, rather than the arts as mother urged,
I always had these incredible images of double stars
locked in my brain to stand for all the beauty that I found in astronomy.
The book was passed from
grandmother, to mother, and on to me. But the pages were made of a terrible quality of paper, and the
only way I can pass it on is by digitizing it for you here.
In 1997 I was putting together my original website, and was frustrated by the emphasis in HTML books on textual,
rather than image loaded pages. Yes, people were almost always using dialup lines, but there were some lovely
add-ons to Photoshop that made it possible to create much cheaper loading images than most people
bothered to get. So I experimented with a subsite that went the other direction (mother DID call me
Mary Contrary), and was filled with images and almost no words.
Mother was a hard role model to follow. She took abilities she had for granted, and truly belived that
I could do anything she could do. She was wrong, but her faith in me came from love, so I can't really
complain. No matter how many times she showed me how to sketch with simple and quick lines, I just
couldn't do it. Her hand was always steady and her pencil went where she wanted it to.
There was nothing
she ever used her art for after she left school except, perhaps, to inspire me with a love of beauty, too.
But she kept her artwork and sketch book from college, and they're extremely precious to me now. I look
at the images and I can still hear her voice just behind my shoulder. I won't turn around. That way,
maybe she'll always be there when I need to talk to her.
MY VERY POOR ART:
Museums were playgrounds when I was a child|
Hanging my heart on jungle gym bars
Of Renoirs and Rodins and even Matisse
While mother explained the curve of the hip
Of the Buddahs and odalesques playing with me
As we swung from 12th century tapestry
Into the sky of Georgia O'Keefe
And back again laughing in such fine company.
It was here that she studied, my mother explained,
Your grandmother, long before grandpa appeared,
At the Institute's classes of art and design,
Of the lion and the curve and the stroke of the pen.
She studied with Taft, mother said with some pride,
Though the master was gone long before I arrived in my turn,
Now it's yours, to take up the brush
For genetics will conquer in gentle ambush.
This wasn't at all what I wanted to hear
Because I was a scientist, cool-eyed and clear,
From the tips of my fingers that typed at the keys of computers
To firm-planted feet that walked near eyes of heaven
That gazed at Albireo's eyes blinking back blue and gold
In a canvas of black, crying
"I am no artist and I know no verse."
Then I listened to silence that laughed in reverse.
MUSIC VIDEO POSTERS:
In the last twenty years, I've made over 650 literary music videos. When I presented them at the MIT
Media Lab, the conclusion was that the videos were, indeed, art, in and of themselves. After relentless prodding
from the people at our local cable channel, I finally
agreed to show them in our tiny town, and put up a half hour of them every week for about a year. To
advertise them, I built small posters and the storekeepers let me tape them up in store windows. And every week
I'd go back and take down the old one and put up a new one. But I always came home with less than I brought,
since a number of people had taken to collecting the posters, as they did the music videos.
MULTIMEDIA FAMILY FORMS:
For all my lack of artistic talent, I'm still primarily a visual person. So genealogy was a hard row
to hoe for me, with its emphasis on names, dates and multitudinous facts. The solution I came up with
was a new genealogy form, which I called MultiMedia Family Forms,
so that I could abbreviate it as "mmff."
The acronym slips so beautifully off the tongue. These use a graphic layout style to help me remember key
information about particular people, and brings them to life for me as individuals, and not just as
entries in a computer file.
BATHROOM and LIBRARY
Designing is my passion, and it really doesn't matter what the medium is. Paul was kind enough to give
me full freedom to design the smallest room in the house, the bathroom near the master bedroom. To me,
it's an inverted sculpture. You stand inside the art, instead of looking in at it.
The walls are tumbled and polished white marble. The shower is light green/blue iridescent glass, with a ceiling
of white and green tumbled marble. The cupboard is a high relief carved cabinet from around 1800, and the
vanity was created to match the fireplace mantle in which it's contained. The sink, itself, glows as a
nightlight, and there's carved pieces embedded in many of the walls.
The library was next. I fine-finished incredible boards of poplar and had the workmen put
them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Library shelves of oak and bathroom of cherry. It's where we work and spend most of our time. No curtains anywhere. I designed
it so that staggered folding screens block visibility into the main library.
I tend to be just a trifle extreme when I get excited about something. This was my dried flower
stage. Thank goodness for friends like Lyn, who glued along beside me. The Annie Oakley wreath
and the Victorian Valentine wreaths are hers.
I've always loved architecture (blame mother), but it was especially exciting to discover that some of
the homes of my ancestors still exist. The Niagara-on-the-Lake summer home of my 2nd great grandparents
eluded me for the longest time, because the next owners changed its name. I knew it through their
will as Woodlawn, but it's now known as Randwood.
My husband Paul has always loved photography. It was a hobby he shared with his father.
While I was building the Locust Grove part of the website, Paul took a series of pictures of
flowers on the property,
and of various views.
Another place we extensively used his photographs were to record the three month motorhome trip we
took in 2005. While I made music videos, Paul took photographs. It was a wonderful time.
There's more of Paul's pictures linked off the page I made for him.
PAUL'S PHOTO MANIPULATIONS:
Still photographs or video, the moment Paul got his hands on something lovely, he would play with it until
you lost all reference to his starting point. He's always said he developed his artistic sense, along with
his PhD, at MIT.
Star Trek was our passion, and one of the first things Paul learned to do with Photoshop was turn people
into Vulcans and Klingons. Bless that imagination of his!
ARLEEN GELLER'S SPOCKS:
We've been so lucky to know so many fine artists. Arleen is a very dear friend whose talent
is immeasureable. Since she didn't have a website, I was ecstatic to be able to put up these
amazing images for her.
THE ART OF HENRY LIVINGSTON:
Henry Livingston lived on the banks of the Hudson River from 1748 to 1828, on a farm which he bought
from his father, adjoining the land on which he was born. Although known mainly as the other claimant to
the authorship of
'Night Before Christmas," Henry had an interest beyond literature - in art, and in music.
A surveyor, among his many occupations,
Henry indulged himself with the occasional watercolor on his maps, as well
as with small pieces for his family. This looser medium was more suitable for Henry's style
than the engravings that were published in the New-York Magazine.
ILLUSTRATED POETRY OF HENRY LIVINGSTON:
In order to encourage people to read through Henry's wonderful poetry, I created illustrated versions, and
then linked them together into books that let people read just the type of poems that appealed to them -
moral fable poetry,
poetry about family,
And if you really prefer comic books, there's a lot of Henry's poetry that's
heavily illustrated by vintage postcards.
By the way, do stop by to see what's new with Henry this year.
Mac won't be out with the writeup of his statistical analysis of Henry and Moore this Christmas.
He's had so many deadline obligations on Shakespeare books - his own and with other academics. But he swears next year. The results
stay good for Henry even after including Moore's handwritten manuscript! Mac just has to finish explaining his results.
ANTIQUE POSTCARDS OF SANTA:
Antique Christmas postcards are a favorite collectible. They are inexpensive, easy to store, and provide
access to a wide range of artists from many countries. This collection includes
Santas with non-red clothing,
and some pretty crotchety Santas thrown in for good measure.
ANTIQUE EDITIONS OF NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS:
While Christmas has always been a favorite subject of artists, A Visit From St. Nicholas has
been absolutely inspirational. Early magazines published the poem with an engraving by Nash.
Later Nash art appeared in publications devoted to only that Christmas poem. Page through
antique editions of this famous poem, by illustrators such as Thomas Nast,
Margaret Evans Price,
Hugo von Hofsten, and
John R. Neill,
A set of portraits, which link to larger images, and which were attributed as portraits of
Henry ancestors by the portraits' owner. Attributions, of course, can be wrong, but they're still lovely portraits.
We tried photographing them on three separate occasions, and were always limited by the darkness of
the rooms, and the reflecting glass.
A SLIDE SHOW PRESENTATION OF HENRY:
Not having mother's skill with free line, I tend to play with layout. I've always said that lectures
should be done with pictures rather than with words, because it's important that your
audience not have their attention divided between reading the words that are projected,
and hearing what you have to say.
Of course, you could always just read the words, but boring them purposely seems a trifle unkind.
So I like to build slides that visually entertain, while still reminding me of the topic I need to
discuss. Which means that it would be pretty useless to put my slides up on the web, as is. So I've
added a smoother version of the crib notes I keep between my lecture slides.
FAVORITE ART AND ARTISTS:
Other artists I enjoy are on my Favorite Artists page. 'Favorites'
is such a lovely concept. It means you get to look back and remember the happiness of loving something deeply,
then you can put away the memory in a place where you won't ever forget it again.
There's a special place in my heart for the sculptor Lorado Taft because both mother and I studied in
his studio. The family story was that grandmother studied with Taft at the Art Institute when
she came to Chicago as a young woman. Be that as it may, Taft was an artist whose work mother talked about
frequently. Whenever we went to the Art Institute, we'd stop for a time to enjoy various pieces, such as
the 5 sisters representing the lakes pouring into one another. Studying at University of Chicago meant I
could spend time at the nearby immense fountain illustrating the Progression of Time. Figures rise from
a crawling babe to an erect center figure, then gradually bow again when weighted down with the load of their years.
And I don't know what your 'must see' place in St. Louis is but, for me, it's the Taft sculpture in the
large pool out in front of the train station.
Indeed, favorites are memories.
There is so much beautiful art on the web. To remember my favorites from the Daily Mail (UK) site, I've captured images
to remind me of pages to which I want to return.
There are also some glorious pages of links to
astronomical art, that I keep, as well.
Some of my favorites:
Colorado Night Skies
Under a Frozen River
Paint Drops Art
Human Body Art
Old Master Illusions