Faded shakes on the side of a building in New England conjure images of time, the sea and having remained in place for many years. Stormy skies and freezing cold matched wits with blazing sun and the wood surrenders its color. Beautiful in their own right, adding a simple sunset to the shakes is a perfect accent. Just as a single strand of pearls can bring new life to a black dress,here, a silhouette performs the same simple magic. Too often when creating a piece of art in whatever medium we choose, it’s so easy to go for the big add-on, over the top and screaming for attention. While there are pieces that certainly work in that format, over time, those that last are easier on the eye and on the soul. Simple beauty is a gift to be appreciated and cultivated.
Monthly Archives: August 2012
Wooldridge Monuments: An Unwritten Novel
Driving into Maplewood Cemetery in Mayfield , Kentucky on a late summer afternoon, the shadows lengthened. A perfect time to explore the monument that has stood silently for over a hundred years. A novel remains buried here. The story of our protagonist, a horse trader by the name of Colonel Henry G. Wooldridge, involves lost love, ego and loneliness.
Wooldridge, a lifelong bachelor, lost the last of his three sisters in 1892. Her death begins his quest to build a monument to himself and his family. Over the next seven years, local sculptors carve the images of his brothers, Alfred, Josiah and W.H. There is a statue of Colonel Wooldridge on his favorite mount Fop, as well as his two dogs and a random deer and fox for them to chase.
The story focuses on the women. Legend says that Wooldridge remained a bachelor after his young love, Minnie, died in a riding accident. You need to wonder about Minnie’s pull on him. Was she beautiful, gentle and loving? Did he give her the horse as a gift and grow unable to handle the guilt? Minnie is included in the party of statues ,but a family Bible and other records indicate she is his niece and not focus of the love story. What will the author decide?
The other women in the group include his mother Keziah, nieces Maud and Minnie, and sisters Minerva, Susan, and Narcissa. Did Susan’s character match her uninspired name? Did Narcissa live up to hers? Was Minerva an enchantress? Great characters for our unwritten story.
As you view the detail of the statues , you admire the craft and artistry of the sculptors. All of the pieces were done locally except for the man standing taller than the rest who is made of marble and carved in Italy, Wooldridge himself.
He appears twice in the group, which helps to develop his egotistic persona. Comparisons to pharaohs burying their loved ones with them come to mind.You might imagine that his fear of being alone at his death compelled him to have his family members with him so it is ironic to note that he is buried there alone. And ,as another element of our plot, his father is not included in the group.Psychological analysis? The monument is called “The Strange Procession That Never Moves.”
That remained true until 2009, when a three hundred year -old oak crashed down on the family during an ice storm and beheaded all the statues except for his sisters and dog.Divine intervention, another plot twist? The monument was restored on site and remains open to the public.Inspiration and the unwritten story remain.
Reflecting the Differences
I started to name this image Dancing By the Light of the Moon because it felt free and magical. When I created this photograph, I used difference as one of my layer modes. The result was unplanned and I liked it immediately. If you walked along the riverside, you’d expect the image and its reflection to be the same colors.Experience teaches that one would reproduce the other, just like in the mirror. Of course you have to wonder if our reflection is always just what we expect to see? Do we really look different than what we see in the mirror ? Perhaps our image to others is brighter and bolder than we think. What a welcome surprise!
Lessons From a Vineyard: Growth in Unexpected Places
When you say vineyard, France, Napa, and Sonoma come to mind.Very few people would say Tennessee, Kentucky or Florida. Connoisseurs would discuss the soil, its acidity, clay or loam or the terroir that is achieved. Yet,half-hidden, on a small road in Kentucky , a small vineyard thrives in the late afternoon sun. Are the grapes the same? No. Is the soil duplicated? Probably not. But here , stretching themselves in the sun and lazing under wispy clouds are vines that are more than just alive. They are growing. Is it the climate? The care they receive? Specialized knowledge of the vintner? Perhaps. Could it be that they are in a place that suits them , where there is room to grow, and that they are responding to the environment in the best way possible? As they receive nourishment , they in turn produce and return the gift. It seems so simple, but for many of us, accepting that we can grow , even if it is in a place that we didn’t choose, is difficult. It is easier to find fault and wish we were growing in Napa rather than on a back road in Kentucky. Yet the wine produced here , while different in character, may taste as sweet.
Driving along a country road in Kentucky, we came upon this house overtaken by shrubs and vines. Pulling off the road to explore further, it looked like it had slept for the past fifty years. Quietly approaching, I found myself moving slowly as if not to disturb the silence. It had seen better days when its paint was fresh and the screen door would slam countless times a day as children tore in and out again. Now it stood empty of voices. The porch swing remained and still squeaked in the breeze. At first I thought it was in protest to my trespass, but I realized it sounded a welcome .Requiring that I notice it still hung stalwart and strong, the guardian of many happier times.My witness would keep those memories safe a bit longer.
This collage speaks to what drives a musician to compose or play. The elements are classic: love, demands, desire to please or to play two lives. For each artist the challenges differ. Some are life-changing, others not so extreme. But each decision feeds our art and the story of our lives. Sometimes the little choices may have the most far-reaching effects and of course, we never realize it at that moment. For some , passion feeds the soul to create; for others, it may be loss. Each step creates a path that is original and instinctive to us. We can trace our steps back but never reach the same point in time. (Unless you are an Einsteinian physicist who has figured it all out.) Moving forward is how we grow and survive.
Standing Tall, Feeling Alone
Standing tall in Reelfoot Lake, this pine tree commanded attention. I’m not sure it was proud just because of the height it attained. It seemed more a case of, the odds were against me, too much water, too much wind, little shelter and still I thrive. Providing a home for osprey and perches for birds passing by, it also helped anchor a little bit of its world. From the boat, it looked effortless. The best in every situation make it look easy. While the rest of us often create excuses. it’s too cold, I’m tired of waiting, no one cares about what I say, I’m no different than anyone else. I’m afraid , and the list goes on. You wonder how tall we’d stand if we maintained our piece of the earth and reached up towards what it is that calls to us, towards what we truly need. It’s time.
Morning Has Broken : The Power of Sunrise
It’s so quiet that you hear the gentle lap of the waves against a dock and the chirp of stubborn crickets. Standing in the dark, in an unfamiliar place, your senses strain to take in all the details. Cool air roses your cheeks and wet sand cakes on your feet. As the first glimmers of light stain the sky, you stand so still, almost afraid that any subtle movement will stop the transformation. Alone as the sun begins to rise, you almost feel like the only person in the world and that the show is for you, an audience of one. As the sun climbs higher, you see evidence of all the lives that have touched this place and a sense of kinship in witnessing this beginning grows. How many have felt the same awe and sense of possibility as watercolor hues grow stronger, when the first beams of sunlight wash away the shadows and warm your face. Receiving this gift as freely as it appears and creating something from its inspiration can be our gift in return.
Portrait of an Artist
Looking at this photo, you’d automatically respond – artist. He’s French ( met him in Nice) and looks his part. Of course it’s a stereotype and often what we picture in our minds is how we think we must be, if we’re to be taken seriously.Wear the smock, dress in wild colors or layers of layers, drink, smoke and party until a new day begins.I’m not sure that makes one an artist. Is it a matter of dress or demeanor? A suitcase full of fears or the ability to live with abandon? Is an artist the one who markets himself well? ( I must admit I did buy a watercolor from this man, but it really was fine!) Or is the artist the one who can look at the world in a unique way? Someone who can create something out of little? One who can hear music where there is a breeze and see art when there is shadow? Is there one right answer? Most likely , it’s a crazy quilt combination of attitudes and characteristics unique and shared that creates an artist. Just take a look in your mirror and you’ll see for yourself!
Elvis Week in Memphis
Every morning this week I’ve gotten up and readied for school, pretty much oblivious to Elvis Week here in Memphis.
On Sunday , we played tourist and headed downtown to the Arcade for breakfast. We were seated in Elvis’s old booth, it seems he liked to sneak in the back door, so we sat in his booth and enjoyed country gravy and biscuits and sweet potato pancakes.
We wandered the city and reached the Peabody Hotel.
There we found a baby jumpsuit at Lansky’s ( Elvis’s favorite clothier).
Even the ducks were decked out for the week. As we walked down Beale, I shot a photo of both Kings to round out my impromptu collection.
Going to Graceland would have been too predictable so I chose to see what appeared in town.Shooting with my iPhone and processing with apps, I had a great day playing tourist. I hope you enjoyed this mini-visit to Memphis.