Monday, September 15, 2014

Weather Formerly Known As The Polar Vortex

                                           Connoquenessing Creek, January 2014

      As our relatively cool summer draws to a close, autumn awaits, and winter looms.  I am not one of those people who wishes she lived in the south.  Not at all.  It's not because I love winter and winter activities like skiing (falling) or ice skating (more falling), but I don't mind winter.  That stillness that can only be had when it's utterly frigid outside, the air like needles on any exposed skin, and perhaps best of all, the anticipation of spring.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Angels and Gender

                    Calvary United Methodist Church, North Side, Pittsburgh, PA 2014

     As of late I've been looking at a lot of stained glass windows and couldn't help but be struck by how almost always angels are portrayed as female.  Given how the Christian church has relegated women to a secondary, if not completely submissive role, for much of its history, I found this curious.  Indeed, others have asked this question as well, and there doesn't seem to be much of an answer, at least not a clear one.  But there it is, for all to see, in church after church, window after window, from the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany to that of Charles J. Connick, and everyone else in between.  It seems to have been a standard practice for artists creating these masterpieces to default to the female angel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where Tacky and Art Collide, To Make Tacky Art

Cat Manikin and Portrait of a Cat, Private Collection, My Dining Room, Pittsburgh, PA, 2014

A couple of years ago my mother-in-law, who took up painting in her retirement, painted this portrait of our cross-eyed cat, Peeps.  Then, the other day while I was at the art supply store, I came upon this life-like cat manikin and I thought, wow, this will serve as a wonderful companion piece to the Peep's Portrait!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Cave Dwellers

                      Myotis lucifugus, Little Brown Bat, 2014

    Despite my unreasonable fear of contracting rabies, I am fond of bats.  I even did field research two summers for a local university tracking a colony of little brown bats nearby my home.   In the gloaming they would swarm out of their roost, tilting and dipping over the sky, feasting on insects until dawn.  We are years removed from that now, where dozens or hundreds of bats might be seen exiting a roost to hunt through the Pennsylvania night.  White Nose Syndrome (WNS) has claimed 7 million bats in the eastern US and Canada, driving some species to the edge of extinction.  Now when I see a bat I actually make a note of it in my journal, so rare an occurrence has it  become. 

    Stopping the spread of the disease has proved to be difficult, as every year since its discovery in the winter of 2006, WNS has been confirmed further north, south, east and west from its epicenter of Schoharie County, New York.  Mortality rates for infected roosts are between 90-100%.  A statistic cannot get anymore stark than 100%.

    Pray this is not the end of the fledermaus.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Bloodsmoor Romance, of Sorts

                                         Teddy Roosevelt National Park, ND, 2009

This morning, like every morning, I called my mother.  She didn't have much to report, but she did mention that she wasn't too thrilled with the latest romance novel that my sister-in-law had downloaded for her on her Kindle.
"I don't know who this writer thinks she is, but she goes off on these long tangents of prose.  Just pages and pages of words that I don't even bother to look up because I would never use them out in the world.  And the book isn't even much of a romance," Mom declared.
"What's the title?" I asked.
"I don't even know."
"Who wrote it?"
"Oh, for pity's sake, let me go look it up....A Bloodsmoor Romance by Joyce Carol Oates," Mom said.
"Joyce Carol Oates!  Mom, haven't you ever heard of her?  She's a well-known writer of literature.  She's taught at Princeton forever."  I was flabbergasted, first that JCO wrote a romance, and second that my mom didn't seem to know who she was.  Is.
"Her name doesn't sound familiar, and I don't think she's a very good romance writer.  I mean, I'm not looking for smut, per se, but I want people's lives and their stories, so that I don't have to think about my own life.  You know what I mean."
"I think you want more near-smut than what this book is providing, and I don't think you want a narrative that's going to challenge your preferred easy romance reading experience."

We talked a few more minutes after that, but that's the gist of it.  I did go and look up A Bloodsmoor Romance and the typical response by readers is:  WTF did I just read?  And then they give 4 stars (out of 5).  I don't read a lot of JCO, the last of her books in my hands was We Were The Mulvaneys, but I may see if my local library has this so-called romance novel and see for myself WTF is going on.  Someone on Good Reads likened to what Little Women would've been like if Stephen King had written it.  My goodness.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nude With A Bowl Of Fruit

While exploring the finer points of form and composition, I created this classic and eternal image.  Barbie, the doll, discovered naked at the bottom of the toy box, as is her wont, both compliments and contradicts the plastic bowl of fruit, augmenting the very crisis of identity that Barbie herself has evolved to represent.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Water Weight

The desiccated remains of a 5 1/2 inch long (including tail) horseshoe crab weighs half an ounce.  Unfortunately I do not have an undesiccated horseshoe crab for comparison, but I am willing to go out on a limb and hypothesize that it weighs more.