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.
Plant your sacred trees in all the corners of this town–
Confront the evil that attempts to cross our threshold.
Send us the divine spirits of your starmother, your starfather–
O Lamassu, keep the hideous demons from this door.
Help us to remember our history–
Give us courage to continue despite our fearful hearts–
Hold us in the net of your living landscape–
Plant your sacred trees in all the corners of this town.
Lift the veils that seek only to deceive us-
Challenge those who wish to conquer us with lies–
Give strength to the voiceless, the threatened, the condemned—
Confront the evil that attempts to cross our threshold.
Lend us your wings and your presence–
Converge us with the cosmos—evanescent, light–
Make us whole again—
Send us the divine spirits of your starmother, your starfather.
Join us with the ever-turning wheel–
Four to mark the seasons, components of the soul–
Guard the elements of justice, our foundation–
O Lamassu, keep the hideous demons from this door.
Door guardians have been around for a long time. This re-creation of an Assyrian palace entrance in the Metropolitan Museum of Art dates from 860 BC. The guardians here are representations of Lamassu, a hybrid protective deity, combining four elements–lion, bull, eagle, and human. Later adapted by both Judaism (as Kerubim) and Christianity (as symbols of the four Evangelists)–these components also appear on the Wheel of Fortune Tarot card–pairs of Lamassu figures were often seen flanking both town gates and palace doors in Assyria. Representations were also buried under thresholds of house doors to keep evil spirits and demons out.
The sacred trees that are accompanied by magical beings on the walls of the palace are known to be important to Assyrian ritual, although the exact meaning of them is still a mystery. They were often placed in the corners of rooms as protections, since corners, like doorways, were considered vulnerable to penetrations by demons.
Lamassu are said to be the embodiment of the divine principles associated with human celestial origins, the children of stars. They are rendered with five legs so they appear to be both standing from the front and walking from the side.
The palace walls also contained scenes of the King performing rituals.
I forgot that Thursday Doors was on vacation this week, but you can always find doors from past weeks here with host Dan Antion.
the entrance is an enso a glowing blue light
a form that contains nothing inside of the whole
spirit absorbed by essence emptied of ego
in silent simplicity opening, complete
My younger daughter took a few days off from work before Memorial Day, and one of her requests was that I take her as my guest to early morning member hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are on Thursdays from 9-10 am. I had told her and her sister about visiting the Winslow Homer exhibit that way.
One of her favorite places in the museum is the Zen Garden. It wasn’t open in the early hour, but even after the museum opened to the public at 10, we were able to visit without any crowding–it’s tucked away among the Asian art, and if you don’t know where to look, you probably only discover it by stumbling upon it. It’s a bright open empty room with a rocks and a koi pond with a waterfall on the edges.
I used to post about my museum visits a lot, and perhaps in the future I’ll do a post on the Homer exhibit and also the paintings of Louise Bourgeois which were inexplicably hard to find. We asked directions three times, and only found it by accident in the end. But that meant that only one other person was there so we could really look at the art.
The museum also has many wonderful doors and door-like structures, such as the tiled niche above.
My poem is in the Japanese imayo form, which consists of four 7/5 syllabic lines. There is a planned caesura (or pause) between the first 7 syllables and the final 5. Another feature of this form is that it makes three poems–the whole, and one each with the 7-syllable lines and the 5-syllable lines, similar to a cleave poem, except that somehow it seemed more natural to me and easier to construct. I’ve included the color blue for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday #tastetherainbow prompt.
You can read more about the enso here.
And, as always, find more doors with host Dan Antion, here.
My poem, Number 7, inspired by the Anne Ryan collage of the same name, is up at The Ekphrastic Review, along with eleven other varied and interesting poetic responses. My thanks to Lorette Luzajic for selecting and posting my work, and for providing a wonderful forum for ekphrastic poetry and art.
The mandala, above, was also inspired by Anne Ryan’s art. You can read more about her and see more of her work here.
like the Fool’s card—zero played
I’ve been neglecting the Secret Keeper’s prompts the past few weeks for lack of time, not interest. They are always like a puzzle for me, coming together in unexpected ways when I start to write. The appearance of the Fool, after a few drafts of ideas, was definitely a surprise. But serendipity is always part of the work I do. The end is never where I thought I was going.
I took the photos of Japanese ceramics with the beautiful window light reflected on the glass display cases at the Metropolitan Museum last spring. I was reminded of them by Marcy Erb’s post a few weeks back of a photo with reflected light on a Buddha, and I think they fit with this poem.
And I’ve resurrected a few Fools from past posts. The Fool (Zero in the Tarot) represents for me a capacity to be surprised and delighted, to leave an empty space to be filled by life. Wonder is everywhere; we just need make some room for it occasionally.
Sorry I’ve been missing. We took a few days off and went to see my cousins in Florida.
The grounds consisted of 66 gorgeous acres where John Ringling lived. The Circus Museum was separate and really interesting. The main display was a huge 3800 square foot model of the 1919-1938 Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus by Howard C. Tibbals. This thing really blew my mind. I took a picture from above but you can’t really tell the scope of this.
I didn’t do any drawing. Sorry, Kerfe. It was really hot down here which is no excuse.
My cousin’s lovely and very pregnant wife wearing the Star Wars necklace I made her for the baby shower. All in all a very nice weekend!
The Boston Museum of Art has an exhibit of the works of Matisse along with many of the objects he used in his drawings and paintings. He found this chair in an antique store and had to have it. What a find…the arms are eels!
I went to Boston this weekend to visit my daughter and see the show. You can never get too much Matisse in my opinion (having this year also been to see him in Baltimore and Montclair). And there are always works I haven’t seen before, like one of his first collages, above. I like how he drew/painted the objects and then cut them out and arranged them.
There were some beautiful textiles, like this North African cut screen.
And of course he drew from his textile collection to drape the models for his portraits.
I love the vibrant colors in the still life above.
And I had never seen this paper cut out before.
The museum is good for wandering. Suddenly you’re in a room with this burial urn from Mesoamerica. That’s a bat on top.
John Wilson’s Martin Luther King Jr. prints were a highlight.
Eldzier Cortor, another African American artist in the museum’s collection, shaped many of his print plates. This one is full of visions.
There was a small show of the prints of Terry Winters, another favorite of mine. I always want to recreate his organic visions in stitch.
And we didn’t even get to the Monets! Next visit…
I did this little magician stitched collage for Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s (RoCo) 6 x 6 fundraiser. I can’t remember where I first heard about it, but I’ve been sending them a piece of art to sell for a few years. The opening is tonight, so if you are in the neighborhood…
magic growls liquid
breezes haunted by secrets
foolish wild wet stars
night is bleeding vast desire
day embraces naked sky
The Magnetic Oracle made me think of Stevie Wonder today.
If it’s magic
Then why can’t it be everlasting
Like the sun that always shines
Like the poets in this rhyme
Like the galaxies in time
It holds the key to every heart
Throughout the universe
It fills you up without a bite
And quenches every thirst
As Nina said in her post, the “Matisse and American Art” exhibit did not allow photography…but if you are in the area, you should definitely take the time to go and see it. There are many wonderful works by both Matisse and artists who have paid homage to his work.
One piece that attracted me immediately was by Janet Taylor Pickett, and to our delight there was an entire show in the museum based on a series she had done responding to Matisse. Her creative spirit is definitely kin to mine.
Other works that delighted: a Nick Cave soundsuit.
and several words by master collage artist Romare Bearden. This one shows Circe and Odysseus.
Painter George Innes is from Montclair, and has his own room full of mysterious light.
And the Museum also has a fine collection of Native American art.
It was fun to visit with Nina and her family, and to celebrate her birthday in the company of Matisse and friends.
It was a lovely spring day yesterday and Kerfe took the train in from the city to take me out for my birthday and see a show at the Montclair Museum.
That photo is me and Kerfe looking at some paintings. They didn’t allow photos of the Matisse show. One of my favorites was an Andy Warhol. I tried doing a drawing and am including an image from the internet.
The show was about artists influenced by Matisse. There was a wonderful Rothko, a Frankenthaler, Motherwell, all with a nod to the great Henri Matisse. Very inspiring!
Kerfe gave me a beautiful gift.
An Aries pendant with my birthstone, a diamond! My new signature piece of jewelry. Thank you Kerfe!