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Sarah Stein Art Collector The Sister-in-Law Of Gertrude Stein


      Sarah and Michael Stein -- Henri Matisse

      Featured next Sunday will be Sarah Stein the sister-in-law of Gertrude Stein. She introduced Henri Matisse to America particularly Palo Alto, California. The Stein family were known collectors of trendy French art of the times. Stay tuned.

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      Take A Break From It All!


          Take a break from politics and its related anxieties. Breathe in the cool air conditioned air slowly through the nostrils and exhale even slowlier. Gently relax your limbs rolling the neck sideways gradually to release the tension in the shoulders. But keep that spine straight!

          Now you are in the mood to read the following and enjoy. Let me know that you have read it by commenting or giving a point or two or more.

          Okay, so you are not into yoga. Just take a break and read my blog.

          What? There is irritation over my political comments! We bicker a lot. Forgive my indulgences in the political arena as I occasionally dip my big toe into the fray adding my two cents. Go ahead and read it anyway.

          Puleez. Pretty Puleez.

          Here is the link to the latest article on arts and culture:


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          Faith Ringgold: Women In The Visual Arts


              Listen to the Trees -- Faith Ringgold

              Often when artists write about themselves they list the provenance of their work, awards received, and salient museums and other institutions that exhibited their creations. Faith Ringgold has a long list of achievements. However, what stands out in my mind is her dedication to the public reflecting in her pieces the multi-ethnic web of New York's metropolitan area. First and foremost in her artistic history is the African American experience which in itself has served for her as a window on humanity.

              Born in 1930 in the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, Faith had the fortune of being exposed to this efflorescence of culture by her parents. As an asthma sufferer in her childhood, she would spend many days with her mother who as a fashion designer taught her to sew. This early exposure to fabrics has remained with her throughout either painting on such materials or making her own quilts. In grade school, Faith had developed a passion for the visual arts which persisted through high school. She applied to City College (CCNY) to study art but was redirected to art education. It is quite possible that her devotion to the public came from that time.

              Church Picnic -- Faith Ringgold

              Her first plunge into art but a circuitous first step was teaching art in New York's public schools. At the same time she raised two daughters from her first husband. While straddling parental responsibilities and teaching, she also pursued a graduate degree at CCNY completing her MA in 1959.

              Like many artists before her, Faith journeyed to Europe visiting that continent's museums. The decade of the 1960s proved for her an important turning point. Her American People series has proven to be one of if not her most important work. The Civil Rights movement, the murder of Dr. King, the ensuing riots could not have been ignored her work having reflected the tenure of those painful times. Her first solo show featuring these works occurred in 1967.

              Self Portrait -- Faith Ringgold

              In the following decade, her visit to the Rijksmusuem of Holland where she was exposed to Tibetan Thangkas led to a transformation of her work incorporating their ornate and highly detailed but decorative fabric painting into her oeuvre. She painted in acrylic – a water-based opaque paint – on canvas embroidering its edges with fabric. She also created cloth dolls and soft sculpture including one piece commemorating the legendary basketball star Wilt Chamberlain.

              Departing from teaching in 1973, Faith freed up her time to explore other mediums in the visual arts including sculpture. She also made masks inspired by and based on African art for the theater. It is interesting to note that modern art traveled a full circle from the African influences in Pablo Picasso's work perhaps inspired by masks he had seen in the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro of Paris to Faith Ringgold's mask adaptations for the stage. As a political activist she also designed posters supporting the cause of the Black Panthers and Angela Davis.

              Tar Beach 2 -- Faith Ringgold

              At this juncture in her life, Faith Ringgold had an interesting tale to tell perhaps as a legacy for subsequent generations to learn of those times but also to draw inspiration and the courage to face difficult times ahead. It was her autobiography Alas, she could not publish it. Instead, she turned towards quilt making reflecting her earlier influences from Tibetan art and as an homage to her mother who gave Faith her initial direction exploring creative possibilities in fabric. These woven works served for her as a narrative, some bearing text, honoring her mother but also the cultural icon Michael Jackson. As part of her quilts is her Women on the Bridge series in which Tar Beach resides in the Guggenheim Museum while Tar Beach 2 is part of the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art The Guggenheim work was made in 1988 while the one for the Philadelphia Museum of Art was made two years later.

              She returned to teaching as a professor of Art at the University of California, San Diego. During the last decade of the Twentieth Century, Faith Ringgold also specialized in writing and illustrating children's book publishing Tar Beach based on the quilt with the same name. She was also finally able to publish her memoirs entitled We Flew over the Bridge. She has put together over fifteen children's books.

              The Picnic at Giverny -- Faith Ringgold

              Among the tall list of awards receive was one from the National Endowment for the Arts, another from the NAACP and a Guggenheim fellowship. Her websites lists some of the over seventy-five awards. She also has received twenty-two honorary degrees. Her work has been shown worldwide. Her public focus includes “52 mosaics installed in the Los Angeles, California, Civic center subway station (2010); Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines, two 25 foot mosaic murals installed in the 125th street Subway station in New York City in 1996; The Crown Heights Children's Story Quilt featuring folklore from the 12 major cultures that settled Crown Heights . . .” (Ringgold autobiography from her website)

              What then could possibly be Faith Ringgold's legacy? She is at this moment still alive so that as a living and breathing person she contributes from the creative process as author, story teller, painter and quilter. Her life is a testament of struggle and triumph and one who has served as a conduit of protest but also through her artistic bent offered to the world a window on the African American experience and through that aperture a mirror on humanity where we can gaze at ourselves in the raw and in the open witnessing the human condition. Her life has been an inspiration for minority women aspiring in all forms of the fine arts. She still provides this inspiration in her advanced years.

              We Came to America -- Faith Ringgold




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              Form, Vision & Imagination – The Life And Times Of Marguerite Zorach


                  Man among the Redwoods 1912 -- Marguerite Zorach

                  It was 1908 when Marguerite Zorach journeyed from her home in Fresno to Paris where at an impressionable age she was profoundly influenced by Henri Matisse and the Fauves. I wonder what was attracting her to these painters who used a flattened perspective and intense colors often dazzling to the naked eye but dizzying to the mind's eye. And I recalled my past affection for Psychedelic art.

                  To this very day, I wonder what fascinated me with the genre. Back in the day, there was excitement in the air as artists deemed themselves as cultural pioneers invoking a new era, one that promised peace and love and the expansion of human consciousness into new vistas. This opening of the human mind was not to outer space as the final frontier but an inner one as just the beginning of a new epoch – one where the ancient wisdom locked within the Vedas, Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Tao Te Ching was decoded through a shared vision brought to the fore by the use of psychedelics.

                  I was entranced by this possibility wanting to taste the sweet nectar of the gods brought to the urban kid through a pill or in the mist of burning leaves or in the peelings from mushrooms and cacti. No such opportunity had availed itself to me as I had few friends and limited exposure to other human beings. It is strange that my life was almost as solitary as that of a farm boy on the prairie with only copses bordering fields for soil retention with which to converse. In day camp, I enjoyed my monologues with the mascot goats who took a liking to me even though I never fed them. Perhaps I had little need for psychoactive substances in those days as I had built my reputation in the neighborhood for conversing with non-human but animate entities most of whom possessed exoskeletons with six seemingly identical legs.

                  Les Baux 1912 -- Marguerite Zorach

                  And so I conversed with flowers and leaves and daddy long legs and whatnot. Unbeknownst to me was that these one-sided conversations were nothing more than monologues as other species saw little need for responding. Perhaps they understood little English? Recently I had a keen sense of what it might be like for two ants to communicate with one another. They met upon a leaf touching each other's antennae But for a brief moment they rubbed the other one's antennae before rapidly departing. I imagined that in that brief interval massive amounts of data exchanged antennae probably through chemical emissions such as pheromones. Could a misunderstanding ever be brought about by such communication? Are their innuendos or subtleties in the chemistry of insect language as we have in human speech? Any entomologists out there reading this blog?

                  Oh my! Dear reader, you are probably wondering how I had wandered off so far from topic. My! My! However psychedelic art enticed me to consider a parallel universe whose gateway was the mandala with fluid forms emerging in pen and ink and I should say fluorescent dyes as if a bright beautiful universe awaited unabashed in a rich display of vibrant colors. Perhaps in a similar vein the Fauves enticed Marguerite.

                  Ah, but here is the difference. My world remained locked. I stood by the wrought iron gates looking out at a fanciful world of hippies sporting long locks of flowing hair with beards that resembled neglected gardens covered in weeds with brightly colored beads around their necks sitting cross legged by a bronze Buddha burning cones of incense that wafting gently up in the air while they chanted Om. My world was an imaginary one pretending I had made this collective journey within as though I had the privilege of imbibing their form of soma. The blue bus was waiting for me, and I stepped in journeying to a place fret with “Plasticine porters and marmalade skies” or something like that. Again and again I played that Beatles song pondering its concealed allegories as though by unlocking their tunes I would perchance catch a furtive glimpse at the psychedelic world that was closed to me.

                  The Connoisseur -- Marguerite Zorach

                  But then I read an article about Carl Gustav Jung in the New York Times magazine section that came out religiously every Sunday. It tied some of the elements of Psychedelic art particularly their obsession with mandalas. Its imagery, as it turned out, were knockoffs of Jungian archetypes prepared in an artful manner. They believed themselves to be pioneers breaking new ground as their forbears thought back at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

                  Marguerite's world, on the other hand, opened wide for her living in those heady times in Paris where she met her husband hanging about Gertrude Stein's and Alice Toklas' salon. She made her home at La Palette – an art school with little structure that gave a strong and vociferous nod to modernism. Her husband to be, William, probably did not wonder what a sweet young lady is doing in a place like this but did ponder how such “a nice girl could paint such wild pictures.”

                  After a brief camping trip, by brief I mean six weeks, in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Fresno, California, the couple settled in Greenwich Village naming their home “Post-Impressionistic Studio” where they had exhibited their work. Even without gallery representation they were able to show at New York's famous Armory Show of 1913 – that groundbreaking exhibition which introduced modernism to the American public. Subsequently the Daniel Gallery picked them up to show intermittently through the next couple of years. Their domicile became a watering hole for local artists where discussions of the latest movements in the art world were discussed and where the couple encountered as guests the painter Marsden Hartley and the poet William Carlos Williams both of whom admired her paintings and her embroidery.

                  Nude Reclining -- Marguerite Zorach

                  As an early pioneer for women in the visual arts, Marguerite co-founded the New York Society of Women Artist and served as their first president. In the 1917 exhibition of her work at the Society of Independent Artists, she showed her paintings along with an embroidered tapestry. Finding the latter lucrative she made time for their preparation though she was also raising two children. In 1918. she sold twelve hundred dollars worth of tapestries and they became the families mainstay for income. Since her work was considered a craft she mitigated this derogation of her oeuvre by considering these tapestries as modernist pictures in wool. For her, fabric was just another ground upon which to lay out her pictures. By 1923, the Montross Gallery gave Marguerite her first solo show of these works in wool. The couple subsequently bought property in Maine where they settled. Robinhood, Maine situated on Georgetown island became her permanent home where she embarked on a series of lithographs depicting family life. By 1930, she returned to painting continuing with that modality until her passing in June 1968.

                  Her work is found in collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her legacy is her oeuvre but also her example as a leader paving the way for women to enter the visual arts. Her memory lives on through her work.

                  Jacaranda Tree in Ruins 1962 Marguerite Zorach



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                  Coming To You This Sunday The Life And Times Of Margurite Zorach


                      Man among the Redwoods 1912 -- Margurite Zorach

                      Margurite Zorach was an Expressionist painter who came out of the shadow of Henri Matisse. In 1912, she took leave of her studies at Stanford to learn art in Paris where she met her husband and drank the rarefied air of France's emerging modernism. Fauvism was the rage and more will be said about all of this on Sunday evening.

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