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.
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.
Christmas Tree (Thursday Doors on Friday)
all of our many seasons–
circle and return
When I went to the Metropolitan Museum a few weeks ago, I discovered a treat–they were in the midst of decorating the holiday tree. This was during early member’s hour, before the museum was open to the public.
I even got a view of the work room…now I know what’s behind that door when I pass it again.
The tree is in a large cathedral-like room filled with medieval Christian art. Here’s one, appropriate to the season, that caught my attention.
I’m always interested in the many different depictions of Mary and have done quite a few drawings from sculptures in various museums. I’m especially attracted to the ones with expressive hands.
I hope to get back to see the tree completely decorated and unveiled. I also took photos of the fountains and as much of the front facade of the museum as was possible with traffic, contstruction, and the width of the street–but that’s for another post.
You can always find more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
accommodations (Thursday Doors on Friday)
uncertain, I felt
a vague un
ease at how
the context had seemingly
buildings were now on
sides of the
street—no recollection of
this terrain remained
lodged in my
parallel world where nothing
retained the same shape?
or was it
just my synapses?–
the past re
recognition had been lost,
refilled with yearning
I took the subway down to Chelsea this week for the first time since 2019–I used to go often to see specific shows or just walk around the galleries, The show I wanted to see was Joan Mitchell’s late paintings at Zwimmer Gallery. But first, of course, was the walk from the subway on Seventh Avenue west towards the river.
I lived briefly in Chelsea in the mid-70s. I knew the street, but did not remember the exact address, although I narrowed it down to the two possible tenements (walk-ups with railroad apartments) above. But I was completely surprised by the door and window guardians, not only on both of these buildings, but on many other ones on this block. I had never noticed them! Neither when I lived there, or since, in my many visits to the neighborhood.
It’s true I was young, and my life was chaotic–but when has my life not been chaotic? And my memory is known to be bad–but still.
Just another example how looking at doors has made me more aware of my surroundings. That would never happen now!
And I couldn’t help thinking back to those years and wondering how easily I could have chosen differently, and who and where I would be now if I had.
I was really drawn to this painting by Joan Mitchell which I had never seen before. Sea and sky.
And as with my recent post on kblog mentioning the difference between the two Nick Caves, I know people confuse Joan Mitchell, the painter, with Joni Mitchell, the musician. The painting above is by Joan; the song below which goes so well with it (and the season) is Joni.
And look for more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion
What We Mean When We Say “The Met(s)” (Thursday Doors)
New York has multiple Mets–
a bloop and a blast
in Queens leads to victory–
what every fan dreams.
The Met of Lincoln Center,
its audience hushed,
awaits swelling arias
upon the lit stage.
Central Park surrounds the Met
in museum form–
inside, we reflect on how
art imitates life–
outside, life imitates art.
This somewhat nonsensical verse is a Kouta, with a theme that “reflects ordinary life and often uses colloquialism and onomatopoeia”. New Yorkers use the Met interchangeably for both the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And no one that I know of ever refers to the baseball Mets as The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, although I’ve occasionally heard them (derisively) referred to as The Metropolitans. This form was suggested by Reena for this week’s Tanka Tuesday prompt. I’ve also thrown in a chiasma at the end which was Larry Trasciatti’s prompt for W3 this week.
And of course, doors, for Thursday doors. Last week I showed the side and back of the Metropolitan Museum, and the first two photos today show the main entrance at the front. Above is one of the front side entrances, the one where members (like me!) go for an exclusive early morning viewing hour on Thursdays.
Here’s some of the ornamentation on the roofline.
I realize I need to take more photos the next time I go–from across the street, to get a larger picture of the entire building if I can, and I didn’t photo the fountain either, or get all the steps in. Here’s the right front side entrance with some windows.
and one of the corners
to be continued…
In the meantime you can always see more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
Someone once told me the NY on the Mets logo stands for “next year”. But of course these days, one could say that about the Yankees as well…
Faith, Hope, Love (Thursday Doors on Friday)
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
–1 Corinthians 13:13
Love brings together what is in danger of falling apart. Love supports what is in danger of falling down. Love extends itself to embrace those who are in danger of being lost.
Love can be expressed through ritual, repetition, ceremony. Love can be expressed through music, words, movement, art. Love can be expressed through sight, sound, touch.
Love enlarges its container, its vessel, its heart. Love fills what is empty, feeds what is hungry, connects and includes. Love is doing but also being.
Love trusts and is trustworthy. Love opens doors, lets in light, reveals truth. Love always answers need in the affirmative: yes.
When I entered this room in the Jewish Museum I was stopped by the beauty of the far wall. I recognized right away the work of Kehinde Wiley on the left, and was captivated by its juxtaposition with the Torah Ark on the right and the shadows cast by the room’s lighting. No one else entered the room while I was there, providing me with an intimate experience of the presence of spirit that the room evoked.
A Torah Ark is a cabinet constructed to hold the Torah scrolls in a synagogue. The doors are opened only to remove the Torah for prayers and the reading of scripture. When the scrolls are returned to the Ark, the doors are once again closed.
This Ark, beautifully carved by Abraham Shulkin in 1899, was originally located in Adath Yeshurin Synagogue in Sioux City, Iowa. Shulkin was a Russian immigrant who included elements of the folk art ornamentation of his birthplace in the design, which was common in Eastern Europe Arks of the 18th and 19th centuries. None of the wooden Torah Arks of this style in Eastern Europe survived World War II.
Kehinde Wiley’s painting is part of his “World Stage” series, in which he “inserts images of people of color from around the world into the Western tradition of portraiture”. This is a portrait of Alios Itzhak, an Ethiopian Israeli Jew. The work includes many of the ornamental images found on the Torah Ark, providing both an echo and a mirror.
I have a soft spot for the work of Kehinde Wiley. You can read about it in one of my previous posts, here.
And learn more about this Torah Ark here.
My poem was written for the W3 prompt, where Britta asked us to respond to her poem “Boots on the ground”, with a prose poem on the subject of love. Fortuitously and quite by accident, it also answers Bjorn’s dVerse prompt for a poem that includes our own aphorisms.
And as always look for more doors and share your own here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
A Strange Week
After being sick in bed with Covid for four weeks my dear husband was admitted to the hospital last week. He had Covid and staph pneumonia and was quite sick. He finally saw an infectious disease doctor and she put him in the hospital. He still tested positive for Covid and was in isolation. Finally I got to see him on Saturday and he was discharged on Sunday. He is home and feeling better.
This piece is a collage I gave him shortly after we were married in 1981.
I am thankful to have him home and hoping fervently that he will make a complete recovery.
Weekend Work 8/16/2021
I had a few of these going, not necessarily finished. I just thought I’d show you. Work has been on an upswing due to the Delta variant. More patients calling wanting testing because of exposure.
Here are two that happened to look good together. Makes sense as I mix a color and use it in multiple paintings.
I am still fixated in the gouache on black paper. My goal is to make the viewer’s eye move around the whole thing.
We went to our first gender reveal on Saturday-my cute manager at the office who is having her second kid. Working with young people makes me feel gratitude that I’m still relevant. My folks are in the front and me (ochre t shirt and husband Dr Wilson next to me). It’s a girl!
Have a great week.
A Visit to the Met
My friend had morning tickets to the Alice Neel show at the Met and invited me. I haven’t been to New York City since Kerfe’s birthday in January 2020. The city seemed the same but different. All the restaurants had these outdoor areas gussied up with plants. I wouldn’t like to eat in one because if someone walked by smoking a cigarette I’d lose my appetite.
I’d seen an Alice Neel show with Kerfe a few years ago and I remember it as mostly portraits. This show was a retrospective and had a lot of pieces I liked so I thought I’d show you. Here were some of my favorites:
Sorry I didn’t write down the titles. I also didn’t photograph her drawings which I liked a lot.
This last drawing was done by Neel when she was in a mental hospital for a year. She had a very intense life which showed in all her work but especially this drawing:
I should have photographed some of the portraits which made up her main body of work. Her expressiveness and technique inspired me and I’d like to do some larger paintings one of these days.
Postcards from Kerfe
My friend Kerfe has kept me inspired this crazy year with these postcards. Today I decided to share them.
Thank you, Kerfe, for your years of friendship and encouragement. And to all our WordPress friends, happy 2021!