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A friend got in touch recently about my beaded Christmas ornaments. I'd taken a break, because the process is too hand intensive. I've given myself carpel tunnel symptoms more than once, working on these pieces--and I believe that I am never going to do one as big as this big boy again. It's 3" diameter, and I really didn't give proper thought to what this meant about the spherical surface area until I was well along! But--am glad to be revisiting these again.
Check out some other ornaments (if you haven't already done so) on my Artwork/Beadwork page.
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.
Snihurónka is the Ukrainian Snow Maiden, companion to Did Moróz, Grandfather Frost.
Moróz has been identified with Morozko, the pre-Christian pan-Slavic personification of the snow (an animistic spirit, god, or demon, depending on your perspective), but it is widely accepted that his companion, Snihurónka, dates back only to the 19th century, and Alexander Afanasyev's 1869 ""The Poetic Outlook of Slavs about Nature."
I have yet to resolve to my own satisfaction why this should be. Afanasyev is, effectively, the Russian equivalent of the Grimm brothers, and his folktale collection techniques, where "he never tried to give any definitive version of a folktale: so, if he gathered 7 versions of one folk type, he edited them all,"* is considered to have been intellectually sophisticated and ahead of its time. Why Snihurónka should be relegated as Afanasyev's personal invention, rather than one among many folk figures that he collected--I have not seen the scholarship that tells me this is anything other than bias against the story--the Moróz figure, in other cultures, does not have a female companion.
Very little is known definitively about Slavic mythology, but one thing that is known is that the Slavic pantheon was full of unusual gender assignments, gods who are variously represented as female or male in different times and locations, and god-pairs with male and female partners. So--why not Did Moróz and Snihurónka?
I am currently going through a French language obsession. Or, more precisely, a French word obsession. In trying to understand why, I'm seeing myself loitering (with great pleasure) at the building blocks stage of things.
I'm very much enjoying these Sicklemoon decks on Tinycards (that's a vocabulary App, a subsidiary of the language learning Duolingo program, and a log in is probably needed to see them). Each of these decks, like a sort of "sonnet plus one," has fifteen entries, each on a closely related theme. I think that's related to the way the program is set up, but to me, they are like fifteen word poems, introducing me, almost from a child's point of view, to snippets of French life: "Les Animaux de L'Étang." "Les Animaux de la Plage." "Les Fruits de la Forêt."
The pond one is a particular favorite (also the berries). Who needs to know the French words for waterstrider and whirlygig beetle? Evidently... me.
They're words--they are names--in an Ursula K. Le Guin sort of sense. Knowing the names... I think that still bestows real power--even if only a brief flare of it.
And... drat. The formatting has cropped off the accent aigu from the capital "E" of étang.
Actually, I was tidying something boring and this sketchbook turned out to have been shoved in there by mistake.
I'm pleased that it turned up, and really like what I'd forgotten I had drawn.
Thus far, the book has lived up to my expectations. So far, Marie is 16 years old, and I have moved only a little on from her early entries as a precocious 13 year old. But what an odd privilege, to read the words of this petted young woman, as she rackets around some fine estates in Italy and France:
Something tells me that both Nice and Paris must have been nice... in 1873, when Marie was living there.
Marie is known best these days for her journal, which she herself predicted... and somewhat for her paintings. She did some very fine paintings--not enough of which are on the internet (as of 2017). Here's hoping that will be rectified in the next couple of years. I very much like these portraits.
Equally, I could title this post, "cool things you find on the internet."
Here are the passenger landing cards for the first Reimanns in my family to arrive in America.
It's not really useful information. I believe "Jean Key" was the name of an owner, and not of the actual vessel, there's no port of embarkation (family lore says Bremen), and the names are somewhat wrong. This Ludwig and Attillia Reiman went on their tombstones as "Phillip Ludwig and Maria Ottilia Reimann"--so I come by that second 'n' in my name honestly, or at least it's been used by my particular family for ~150 years.
But, although these cards lack an influx of really good new information, looking at these cards, one thing struck me: my understanding is that Ludwig and Maria Ottilia were not people of great means. Ludwig's occupation "mechanic" was more a sort of a class competency than a profession (think: the 'mechanicals' in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, not car engines). Yet somehow they arranged for their entire family to travel to America together. Phillip, one of their older children, was already married to Margaret (listed on his "accompanied by, line, following his parents), and sister Barbara, also traveling in the group, was married just four years later, in 1848. What prompted this middle-aged couple to pick themselves up and move here? War? A draft? A prospect of a better life? It's true that, on arriving, the family traveled straight to Buffalo, settled there, and prospered. But the family did know know that was going to happen when they set foot upon that ship.
I'm 50 this year. Four years older than Maria Ottilia. As I sit here, typing to you on this marvelous machine, I stretch my imagination to consider selling my possessions, and moving with my husband and children to a new country. Chidren--I have three. Would they all want to come with me? Even if the stakes were high, and they knew they might not see me again? My great-great-grandmother: she had 10, and all 6 of the survivors came to America with her on this ship.
What was so wrong with where she was living that she, that they, made this choice?
Now, there are several artists I know whose life and work gives a viewer or reader moments of pause, in which it seems one is viewing/reading/experiencing something close to "perfectionism" snared.
Terri Windling, who has maintained studios in Arizona, US, and Devon, UK, is one of those individuals.
Seriously--could there be anything more perfect than these images of her working space? The books? The drawings? The tapestry?
(photos from Terri's blog entry, click the link below for the original page and context)
This said--the subject of Terri's post, and the wisdom with which she observes the topic...
"The ability to view one's own work critically is, of course, a necessary skill; but when healthy discernment turns into destructive self-judgment, there is usually a persistent "perfectionism" in the mix....and although some folks boast of this, believe me, perfectionism is Not Your Friend...."
Go and have a read. She's collected a number of people's thoughts on the topic, and a lot of them are good ones--great ones--& inspiring.
(a stabilizing structure over which a sculpture can be built. When the sculpture is complete, it is removed from the form)
The staff at the Science Museum of Minnesota was incredibly helpful and did everything they could to make my time enjoyable. The visitors were a terrific group, and very adventurous. Some beautiful bowls were created (form sculpures), and a variety of creative masks, animals, spaceships, and flowers.
Thanks are due to all who participated and made it such a great experience.
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.