The Kick-About #74 ‘Ruth Asawa’
Layering and light inspired by Ruth Asawa.
In common with our last Kick-About together, which was inspired by cephalopods (those buoyant, ballooning denizens of the deep), this latest showcase of new works made in a short time features a further array of responses to floating, globular forms – specifically to the work of Ruth Asawa. Happy browsing.
“I was reminded very much of the fluid melting magic of lava lamps and, in certain elements of Asawa’s creations, I envisioned eyes that reminded me very much of Hitchcock and Dali’s dream sequence in the film, Spellbound. My images were created from photographing melted wax accumulated on a wine bottle over a period of time, with a couple of videos of my own eyes overlaid on top to pay homage to that surreal dream sequence.”
“I like the contradiction in Ruth Asawa’s…
View original post 1,211 more words
Velez Blanco (Thursday Doors)
The patio is hushed, other-worldly, the door to an office space a jarring contrast to the feeling of suspended time. Only one other person is present, a woman quietly sitting on a bench nursing her baby. I walk around and around, taking photos and pausing in wonder at the artistry, the attention to detail, in the construction of the room.
I try to imagine the lives of the inhabitants of a castle in 1500s Spain. Was this a place for conversation, entertainment, dancing? or just a passageway to other, more practical, rooms?
My mind fast forwards to New York in the early 1900s—how did George Blumenthal fit this into his townhouse? and to what use did he put it? I see finely dressed men and women, members of high society, gossiping and showing off their latest Paris fashions. Servants discreetly move among them with trays of food and drink.
The arrival of two other people returns me to myself, surrounded by the stillness of the museum’s whispered air. If only the creatures carved into the walls and doorways would speak…
between then and now
I walk imagined pathways–
roots, branches, and trees
This room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the actual patio from the Castle of Velez Blanco in Andalusia, Spain. Built with the façade of a fortress in the early 1500s on the foundation of a Moorish castle, it fell into ruins in the late 1700s, and its valuables, including the entire patio, were sold off in the early 20th Century. The patio was installed in the townhouse of George Blumenthal in New York, the one where he displayed his art.
The doors and balcony contain many beautiful marble carvings by Italian sculptors working in Spain.
One of the doors serves as an entrance to office space, which is a bit disconcerting.
There are also sculptures scattered throughout the space, including Bernini’s Bacchanal
and this Siren which I found quite appealing.
You can read more about the Castle of Velez Blanco here, and see pictures of the exterior.
And see George Blumenthal’s art mansion and read about it here.
My haibun is for my own W3 prompt–Compose a haibun that contrasts past and present.
And Doors! you can always find more of them, hosted by Dan Antion, at Thursday Doors, here.
Changes (Thursday Doors)
On an empty block west of Central Park
rose twelve houses–not a dead end street,
not wild, but quiet–perfect for the well-to-do.
They proceeded to fill the line of brownstones
with their unquiet and disorderly lives.
~Time changes the faces and the facades~
Homes are bought and sold and sold again.
Doors are replaced, stoops deleted, details erased.
A school opens, caters to the well-to-do.
Only the guardians remain to trace the years–
older now, but still fascinated by human folly.
In fact there was one particular house on this block which made me cross the street, Number 38–perhaps it was the multi-paned windows, or the arched door, but I was pleased to find a guardian over the door as well.
As I walked further along the block I saw more and more similar guardians. Some were over doors, but some had become window guardians when the stoops were removed and the doors placed on the garden floor. This is often done when houses are divided into apartments.
At least one had its guardian removed altogether, but I didn’t take a photo of that one. Had I known that this row of brownstones was all designed and built at the same time, 1886-1888, but the same architect, Increase M Grenell, I would have taken photos of all twelve doors.
The guardians are all slightly different.
Number 28 has lost its stoop, so the guardian is over the window above. The transition is a bit clumsy.
Number 26 now houses Columbia Grammar School, a private school which charges $56,000/year tuition. Yikes! I also really dislike that awning, or whatever it is, over the doors.
I’m not sure that doors are an appropriate subject for a puente poem, but I wrote one anyway for Tanmay’s W3 prompt; the middle stanza was to contain the title of a song. I chose David Bowie’s “Changes” and included some of the lyric words in the rest of my poem as well.
As to changes in these houses, you can read a detailed history of the early residents of number 38, coincidentally the house that first caught my eye, and their chaotic lives, here
And you can always find more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
Bowie knew all about changing his facade as well…
The Kick-About #73 ‘Cephalopod’
This week Kick-Abouters explore cephalopods.
Our last Kick-About was prompted by a work of art celebrated for its complex commentary on the act of looking. The subject of this week’s showcase of new works made in a short time is no less enigmatic – the otherworldly cephalopod. Enjoy this latest dive into the deep waters of creative play…
“I have to say that cephalopods are not really my favourite thing. They are rather too wriggly and slippery for my liking and have too many tentacles and suckers to grab their unsuspecting prey! However, I do admit they are super-amazing in their ability to survive this world for so long by camouflage and cleverness. I especially like the information I read about the octopus that sneaked out of its tank, climbed over to another fish tank, ate the fish inside and then sneaked back again! I used some yuppo paper, which I marbled to…
View original post 1,288 more words
Liminal Deities (Thursday Doors)
don’t miss my gate
good luck god
From across the street the buildings don’t
look special—it would be easy to miss
the details—but I always cross with my
camera to look beyond the gate.
So many faces!—multiple voices ask Please!
make sure you take an extra good
photo of me! and I will send luck
from the spirit of my liminal god.
The series of six tenement buildings look nondescript from a distance, but if you’re looking at doors, as I always am, they suddenly come to life.
This building was designed by the same architects, Neville and Bagge, as the one containing the first door. They are both rental buildings, but obviously owned by two different landlords.
The next two buildings were also designed by the same person, in this case George Pelham, a very well-known architect who designed many many buildings in NYC–he even has his own Wikipedia page. Again, it looks like the buildings now have two different owners.
The guardians supporting the columns look like they could use a little surgery. I really like the placement of the lamps.
The last pair of doors were also designed by the same architect, John C Burne, another prolific designer of Upper West Side buildings. Again the doorways are full of wonderful details.
Other than the names of the architects, and the date they were all constructed, 1895-6, I could find out nothing about their history. But they are all in the Upper Westside Landmark District, so hopefully their facades will remain as is to delight those who happen to notice them.
The W3 prompt this week, from Angela Wilson, was to turn a haiku into a Golden Shovel poem. I chose the haiku under the first photo, by Japanese master Issa. If you look at the last word in each line of my poem, you will find Issa’s poem. Here’s some more information about his haiku:
kado chigai shite kudasaru na fuku no kami
don’t miss my gate
good luck god
According to Shinto belief, in Tenth Month all of Japan’s gods vacate their shrines to congregate at the Izumo-Taisha Shrine. Issa worries that his good luck god will go astray on his way back.
All translations © 1991-2023 by David G. Lanoue, rights reserved.
And you can find more doors and their stories here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
Oh, and about those Liminal Deities–according to Wikipedia, “A liminal deity is a god or goddess in mythology who presides over thresholds, gates, or doorways; a crosser of boundaries. These gods are believed to oversee a state of transition of some kind; such as, the old to the new, the unconscious to the conscious state, the familiar to the unknown.”
I can always use some good luck with my transitions.
Lourie/Turaco (Draw a Bird Day)
Fertile branches of fruit, leaves, and flowers attract feathered families craving sweetness—their rampant appetites, bursting with greed, work every angle of every treetop.
If we imprison the tree in a net to protect it, will we make the birds disappear? or entrap them too?
Pests from one point of view look like integral parts of the ecological landscape from another. Can both coexist?
between seed and birth
roots gather inside darkness
holding a new breath
Robbie Cheadle recently wrote a poem talking about her experiences with her local birds. Eleanor, a tame hadeda, had come into her office for a visit. I discovered right away that the hadeda is an ibis, a bird I’ve painted and written about previously. It’s a magical bird, and Eleanor’s behavior reflects that.
The other bird Robbie mentioned was a lourie, one that she freed after it had become entangled in a net on one of her trees, a bird I knew nothing about. Lourie is a local South African name; these birds are known as turacos in other parts of the world. But the behavior Robbie described is typical of the species.
Louries are poor flyers, but are excellent at climbing, due to their mobile toes that can rotate backwards and forwards; they also use their long tails for balance. They spend most of their time in treetops, eating fruit, flowers, leaves, and small insects which is why they are often not welcome guests in human habitats. But they provide an important role in distributing the seeds of trees throughout the landscape.
Louries travel in groups, which can be loud and noisy. They do not migrate but wander around in an irregular pattern, though they often have favorite trees that they return to again and again.
The grey lourie is also known as the Go-Away Bird, dues to its loud “go-away” call.
The brightly colored green and red of some turacos contain the only true red and green pigmentation known in bird feathers. Although other species have feathers that appear red or green, it is due to the reflection of light.
You can read Robbie’s story and poem here, and also see photos of Eleanor.
And I’ve used some of Jane’s Random Words for my haibun.
More Lions (Thursday Doors)
The streets are my friends–
a concrete jungle, gridded
rampantly with doors.
I walk among guardians,
greeting them with a photo.
Lion spirits mix
garlands with mysterious
Hello, tell me your story.
Silence keeps their secrets safe.
I encountered both of these lion doors while out running errands. The first building is rundown with an unremarkable metal door and buzzer system–yet it’s heartening to see that the lion guardians remain to keep evil spirits away.
I was able to find out a bit more about the second building– it was constructed in 1890, designed by architect John G Prague, with storefronts on Amsterdam Avenue and five stories. Three more stories were added in the early 1980s. The building is a rental with 46 studio, one- and two- bedroom units. There doesn’t seem to be much turnover, so I expect it’s well-maintained. It looks that way from the outside.
John Prague designed many many upper west side buildings and brownstones, but I was unable to find out any other information about him.
And I was left totally in the dark as to the reason for the Stars of David above the doorway. They make sense as an accompaniment to the lion ornaments, as both are symbols of Judaism. But the building is just an apartment building now–was there originally a synagogue inside? A religious school? I could find no information about it at all.
Life is full of mysteries. This is just another one to add to my list.
The poem I wrote for the lion doors answers the W3 prompt from Jaideep Khanduja for a tanka with personification using the words “concrete jungle”. And I’ve also used some words from Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Random Word List: mix, greet, walk, detail, and rampant.
And look for more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
February 2023 Imbolc
ablaze in opposition
to monochrome days
breath held in
the beating heart, veins
roots, marking the season with
and skies expand, meet,
cross between, entwining
elements seeded into
the path shifts–
shadowed and cast out
into a now that transforms,
emerged, as after
One of the recent Kick-About prompts was Christo and Jeanne-Claude. This reminded me of their Gates installation in Central Park in February 2005, and I pulled out some of the photos I had taken then, printed them, and cut them into squares to make grids. I did not think of it at the time, as my daughter and I delighted in following the winding paths, as a ritual experience for the mid-point between winter and spring–yet it felt magical, like a journey into a different world. A transformation of a familiar landscape, a stilling of time.
A gate, like a threshold, is a symbol of crossing between paths of light and darkness. The fabric of the gates was constantly in motion, holding inside them the play of light with water, sky, ground, and bare trees. A fortuitous snowfall added to the magic. I don’t know if Christo and Jeanne-Claude had Imbolc in mind at all when they planned The Gates (they were supposedly inspired by Japanese temple gates), but in both time and place it contained a strong resonance with the return of color and the anticipation of spring.
For earthweal, where Brendan has asked us to think about Imbolc, and how it shows up in our lives.