Ivana Kupala Day is celebrated in Ukraine July 6-7. It's more a festival than a holiday: the celebrations roots are ancient, as a celebration of the summer solstice, but it ... had a hard time making it intact through the 20th century, under the Soviet Regime.
"Reverence," "Indulgence," "Sumptuous," "Entitlement"--this is the vocabulary that comes to mind when I think "John Singer Sargent." But then there is Sargent's friend, Henry Tonks. With whom none of these words can be associated.
Tonks was not an easy man to know. A physician before he became a painter--and during World War I, he became, for a time, physician again. Appointed an official war artist in 1918, he painted a series of uncompromising portraits of wounded soldiers which I do not recommend looking up on the internet unless you want to be upset. One of Tonks's early students, from the time Tonks was teaching in London, wrote:
"Tonks cared nothing for other authorities and he disliked self-satisfied young men….His surgical eye raked my immature designs. With hooded stare and sardonic mouth, he hung in the air above me, like a tall question mark, moreover… of a derisive, rather than an inquisitive order. In cold discouraging tones he welcomed me to the Slade. It was evident he considered that neither the Slade, nor I, was likely to derive much benefit.
I find myself according Sargent deeper respect, for maintaining a friendship with this man... past the superficials of disdain for "making nice."
And, even better, some great satirical images remain for us, out of that decades-long friendship. They were "official painters" of the war together (~1918), but also traveled and enjoyed each other's company both before and after that. The details of these images are particularly fine. Note that Sargent, in the third picture, is being "belayed" on his mountain perch by two rope-wielding assistants, and he has set up his easel on the top of a mountain route--as evidenced by the heavily packpacked climber, trying to crawl up into the picture...!
The images are all linked through to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts--click through, if you like, for more details.
If you are told that such a one speaks ill of you, make no excuses against what was said, but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone!"
My mother took this photograph of me and my Dad in 2016. We were visiting the William Merritt Chase exhibition at the Boston MFA.
We got a wheelchair for my mom, so she wouldn't have to walk. She was extremely nervous about the outing. In her last years (my mother passed in 2018), she had diminished lung capacity owing to a severely dysfunctional diaphragm. We had a big argument in the car before we got to the museum.
*At* the museum, we had a wonderful, wonderful time. WMC may not have been the most original painter of the 19th century, but he is a painter's painter, with luscious brushstrokes and a sensualist's love of color. And he's one of those 19th century artists who got to spend a lot of time on beautiful beaches, and in lovely country homes, shaded by old trees. I'm glad I have this picture, to remember.
William Merritt Chase could have been another John Singer Sargent, but--he isn't. Sargent. Had something bigger or more complex going on. This said--I'd be happy to have a good WMC at home on one of my walls!
Frances Carpenter Bibliography
For years, this was my local used bookstore. I missed buying a first edition of The Game of Thrones there. I missed buying a 12 volume set of My Bookhouse, a beloved childhood companion (the edition we'd grown up with was my father's, an early 1930s printing, and it's become too fragile to trust in a young person's hands... and many of the volumes are "read alone," not "read aloud"!).
But I also purchased many excellent books there. A replacement copy of Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf. Connie Willis's Bellwether. And many more. Books and Christmas shopping. But evidently, between myself and the rest of my community, not enough.
In all the years... I was too shy to ask "why 'Sixth Chamber'?" and after that it was so familiar that I never thought to look it up. Only as it was closing, did it post my answer, on its Facebook page. The name came from "A Memorable Fancy," written and illustrated by William Blake (1790), a passage/page from his longer work, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell":
I accept that the world is changing, but this change, this closing of my used bookshop--it's a bad one.
I wish Carlson all the best as she works her way through this painful episode. Hope she makes it to the other side & back to joy.
I got intrigued. The limits of the internet fascinate me. And the more I looked for Kochergin images, the more I realized how familiar I was with his imagery. To some extent, he has the corner on classic Russian fairytale imagery. He owes a debt to Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942)--one of those innocent, tremendous "Golden Age of Illustration" artists who got caught up in weird Central European Nationalism (much to the detriment of their illustrations, I'd put Alphonse Mucha in this category also). But from what I can tell, Kochergin is a creature of a different generation.
I say "from what I can tell," because the internet isn't telling me anything about these next pieces, except that they are all images created by artists named, variously, "N. Kochergin," "Nikolai Kochergin," and "Nikolai Mikhailovich Kochergin," all of whom appear to have lived 1897-1974. I am pretty sure that these are all the same person. But--this is just from the internet, so maybe not. In any case, Kochergin's images:
And then come these (POSTCARDS: 1960s. N. KOCHERGIN). Okay, I can see the Social Realism influence here, but there's a step (in history) that I'm feeling gets glossed over:
What was the progression from the young man who created the top image to the old(er) man who created these last images? I don't know if it would make a book. But it's something I'd like to know something more about.
I ordered it about a week back. My childhood copy had gone missing.
I love Paul Gallico's writing. He's probably known best these days for The Poseidon Adventure (1969), but I hope not. This one, The Man Who Was Magic (1966), remains one of my favorite books--not least for its portrayal of magic. My grandmother gave me my copy, back in the day. I vividly disliked the cover at the time, and consequently it was years before I actually opened it and read it. But from the first chapter, I was in love. I don't think I slept until I'd finished it.
Gallico was a bestselling writer in his own day, and he's one of those writer's whose prolific output hasn't served to cement his literary legacy. There is a tendency to dismiss him as a great "storyteller" rather than a writer, and certainly the archetypes in his narratives... could use some updating.i But when he hits it, he really hits it. There is a description of a little girl's uncomfortable spangled tights in this book--forty years after I first read that passage, it still has a special niche in my brain. There was an observed sympathy for her situation that Gallico understood, and I understood that he understood.
Gallico was a man who could write convincingly about human goodness, and human bravery. That's a rare and under-rated talent in our culture.
Sites I recommend
These ones are maintained by long-time personal friends.
is a consummate artist. There are so many images to enjoy on this site. His carved wooden long-leaf red pine Rhinoceros (which he made for me when I was ~11 years old) is a personal favorite.
Is the U.K. based caving gear store run by serious hard-ass Tony Seddon. This link goes to the 'caves' section of the store's site--complete with alarming portrait photo of Tony ("After 7 days underground and 700m prussiking").
The Oxford University
Maintained by Steve Roberts, a guy who is extraordinary in so many ways, I'll just limit myself here to saying "Steve is a man who knows about motors."
John Bedell is an archaeologist, historian, and father of five living in Maryland. His blog is a fascinating grab-bag of historical, artistic, and political materials. This entry about work and leisure gives a good example of his voice.
This is Liz Manicatide (now Liz LaManche), principal at Emphasis Creative's personal art & graphics site. I love Liz's work, panache, and aerial artistry, which leads me to-
Flying Squirrel Consortium
Phil Servita's site, and the place to go for custom fabricated circus equipment (either freestanding or fixed point), and aerial classes, if you happen to live in the area.
Paul's site is... unique, authentic, & expressive, and pretty much exactly what I think of when I think of a website as an artform.
Metro Bikes Trails Guide
(St. Paul, MN)
"Reviews and Reports on over 70 bicycle paths in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area!"
Maintained by the tireless Seamus Flynn, and a great little site for those local to the Twin Cities area.
I enjoy the Ukrainian/Russian artisanship on this website.
Sites I enjoy
I don't know these people, but I appreciate their work.
What's That Bug?
The title says it all. A useful site for both the non-bug-phobic & the consummate bug-phobe.
Margaret & Helen
Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting…
I'm not a grandmother (or raging!), but I appreciate this site. Especially the fact-checking part.