Thursday, September 29, 2011

Come, Creator Spirit


   
Yesterday, I received a telephone call from Conservative Majority (or Con Major, as it appeared on the caller ID). I was invited to listen to a "news item" and then take a survey. What followed was a histrionic rant, that was pretty much stuck with ideas that were thrown about before the 2008 presidential election. You have heard of these, Obama pals around with terrorists and believes in "God Damn America!" Obama is set on destroying America! And where did he get all that contributed money? Con Major is going to work tirelessly to get to the bottom of this! There was no mention of what the organization was actually for. After the "news", I suppose this was the "survey" part of the call, I thanked the Con Major person for reminding me to make that Obama 2012 contribution and pointed out helpfully that this would be one less contribution they would have to get to the bottom of, because I had told them about it upfront. 


Yesterday was also the day that I wrote up the text for our holiday cards this year. I am using the images pictured here.  They are my paintings from Mary's and Jacob's Alma Maters:  Rice University and the University of the South. At Mary's graduation from Rice in May, the Latin hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus" was sung, as it has been sung at every Rice Commencement. Veni Creator Spiritus will be on the front of the card, along with the images. The translation of two verses of the hymn, which was in the program for the graduation is an antidote to today's destructive shouting.  The idea is that we can use our hearts and minds to work toward a better world.  The hymn says it best, so I'll include the translation  here for you:

Come, Creator Spirit
Visit the minds of your people,
Fill with supernal grace
The hearts which you have created.

Gives us the rewards of joy,
Give us the benefits of your favor,
Break the chains of strife,
Draw fast the bonds of peace.

May your mind be visited and your heart filled with grace!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The End of Peach Season


Vernon at Dawn
 I love peach season!  It starts out slowly, and we are impatient, enduring under ripe peaches. But then, before we know it, we are enjoying lovely, ripe peaches. Is there anything more appealing than a ripe peach -- the luscious smell, the cheeky color, the juicy flesh with a velvet skin? The season has grown longer and I can start the day with a fresh peach well into September.  Then comes the batch too far, when the peaches are bruised and have a sort of fermented nature. We can be hopeful and buy some more, but it is always a disappointment.  We have to let the peach season go.

      It looks like I have reached the end of peach season in my life.  My last blog post helped me understand this.  The dreams that I dreamed of thirty-four years ago have come true and now those dreamy beings are old enough to have their own peachy plans! I have to let them go. But not to worry. Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I have an autumnal pursuit to pour myself into.

Show Notes:  I will have the painting shown above on display at the Courthouse Square Arts Guild's Members Show along with Foxhunt Morning. These two paintings were my demo paintings that I made while teaching Experimenting with Watercolor & Pastel at the Lexington Art Academy. Please see the Guild's website: www.csag.info for more information.

Also this week is the Paris Art Walk. Stoner Creek Arts will be hosting Creative Harvest  at the Hopewell Museum, 800 Pleasant Street, Paris, KY.  I will have two paintings there, Red Fencerow and Goldenrod Gone By. The Paris Art Walk is this Friday, September 23rd, from 5 to 8 pm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Leaving Home, Finding Home

In just a week, Mary leaves to be a teacher's assistant in Brittany, France for the academic year.  In the autumn of the year I graduated from college, I also made a significant trip to Europe. Recently, I found a notebook from that trip and I was struck by how much that I wrote then, still rings true today.  In fact, many of the dreams for my life that were developed and articulated during that time away from home, have come true and sound rather like this blog!
  
 Though the timing of this trip in Mary's life is similar to the timing of my trip to Murnau, Germany to learn German at the Goethe Institut; there is a huge difference between our preparation for such a trip.  Mary is a seasoned traveler and a very enthusiastic one.  She has already been to Europe earlier this summer! Mary was eight years old when we made a trip to Europe as a family. We visited Manchester, England where David and I spent five months in 1985. Mary and Jacob met children from around the world who were also staying in the university flats that summer.  Mary has also studied French since she was ten years old because we had the good fortune to have a lovely French woman move into our neighborhood and begin teaching French. Mary has made trips to Spain, and France with school/college groups and we took wonderful trips with the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra to Italy and Central Europe. When Mary chose a college, it was four states and one-thousand miles away. She  drove herself.

   My situation back in 1977 was a little different.  I did not know any German. As a student of art history, it was a good idea to learn German, as the German's invented art history! So that was my purpose for the trip.  At that point in my life, I had not even traveled outside the state on my own, much less across the ocean.  I was terrified!  My brother Doug and sister-in-law Becky took the shuttle from Boston to New York to see me off.  I was so scared I could not fully appreciate this act of kindness. My flight was from New York to Frankfurt, but the only time I slept was when there was turbulence (I like flying!) This was right after the l976 Munich Olympics and the attacks on the Israeli team. Germany was on high alert.  For some reason, we were not able to go straight to Frankfurt and had to land in Cologne.  The flight then when on to Frankfurt.  The same plane was supposed to go on to Munich, but we had to switch planes for some reason and we had 20 minutes to get to this new flight with our luggage and go through customs. Some how I made it.  In Munich, I managed to make my way to the rail station and obtain a ticket to travel to Murnau, although the communication was not via spoken language! On the way to Murnau, a little town nestled up to the mighty Alps, we made a number of stops and the landscape was as foreign as the language to me. Trees were completely different. This was wonderful!  At Murnau, it was as if I were deposited in a cow pasture (which doesn't seem like such a bad thing now.)  I found a place to spend the night and I'll never forget the sound of the cars on the narrow roads bounded by buildings right along the main thoroughfare.  Now our cars in the US sound very much the same and the sound I hear on my street in Lexington is not unlike the sound on the Mainstrasse in Murnau. The next day, I registered at school and landed at my new home for the next two months.  In my little room with my Italian roommate who spoke no English (and I no Italian) accompanied only by the possessions that could fit in one modest suitcase, I learned what I wanted in life. I wrote that in my little book and when I re-read it just recently, thirty-four years later, it was still true! Perhaps, ironically, it was/is all about home.  Sometimes you have to travel far away to see home clearly.

     Mary has already had these experiences of traveling far, on her own and with just a few possessions.  Still, I hope that she makes some new discoveries about what she wants in life.  And I hope they come true, too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Up?



Good Woods at the Little Library

 Well, for starters, Good Woods (aka Into the Woods) is now on display at the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center at the University of Kentucky. So you can do your research and take a walk on the wild side while you at it.  Featured are the woods of Kentucky, at Floracliff, Blue Licks and Carnico. 



Red Fencerow

   Stoner Creek Arts is offering a Creative Harvest again this year.  The setting is the beautiful Hopewell Museum located at 800 Pleasant Street in Paris, KY.  One of my (two) paintings on display will be Red Fencerow, which was recently part of the Art of Carnico show in Carlisle, KY.  This painting is one of my favorites since it was inspired by Max Slevogt's Red Arbor with Dog, from the German Impressionists exhibit that I viewed last autumn in Houston. 

     My recent contribution to the Fleming County Hospital revolving wall has come back home to Clover Slope, my studio by Lake Carnico in Nicholas County, KY. I took advantage of that to create my own revolving wall display.  If you would like to see my work, feel free to e-mail me:  kathy@kathyreesjohnson.com.






Horses!


Monday, September 5, 2011

...and Now for Something Completely Different!


Kid on a Methionine Transporter
       Back in the spring, my brother Doug told me that 2011 is the Year of Chemistry (did you know this?) and that there was going to be a celebratory gathering at the Paul Klee Museum in Berne, Switzerland. The topic is to be "Dimensionality" and the organizer of the meeting thought that Doug's research on cells being transported through membranes would be of interest. (My brother is Professor of Chemistry at Caltech and Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute--and I am not--so I won't pretend to know too much of what I'm talking about here!) Fortunately for me, I do know a bit about art, so Doug was looking for guidance on how he might be able to tie in Klee's work with his presentation. Thus began my unusual summer project: to create a representation of molecular structure in the style of Paul Klee.

    I began to look into the work of Paul Klee, and as luck has it, my  friend Meg is an Art Librarian and Klee Fan. She supplied me with three large volumes to search out his work, along with a fascinating book on his life (please see my blog post, Considering Klee, August 22, 2011.) The first thing I learned about Klee is that he was very open to trying different materials.  He did not particularly concern himself with using the medium that would be most acceptable to the academy. Klee was rather like a mad scientist, holed away in his lab, considering the fundamentals of nature and art.

     Doug sent me images of protein structures that have been reinterpreted for mere mortals to read.  To me, they look like ribbon curls.  These curls represent helices and resembled the diamond patterns that Klee used in his paintings.  So I made a painting using the diamond patterns on a backdrop of variegated horizontal stripes, after Klee's Uncomposed Objects in Space. I had stumbled onto two very appropriate visual elements. Doug told me that the tetrahedron (what I thought of as a diamond shape) is a key chemical concept in dimensionality since carbon atoms typically have 4 bonds in a tetrahedral arrangement that was first recognized by the famous Dutch chemist, van't Hoff in 1874. Now you know! And the backdrop turned out to be a sort of short hand for membranes.

     I kept prowling through the Klee books, looking for tetrahedrons. Child on an Open Stairway appeared. The diamond patterns were the main attraction, however, it turns out that the painting provides great scaffolding for the representation of the methionine transporter, which is the main focus of Doug's presentation to the Swiss Academy of Science's annual Congress.  The stairs are the membrane through which the child (a cell) is being transported.  Doug thought that an arrow pointing the direction through the membrane might be helpful, if not too contrived. It turns out that Klee found a lot of meaning in the arrow and used the symbol frequently in his work.  So this is how Kid on a Methionine Transporter came to be. After this exercise, the idea of having a gathering of scientists at the Klee Museum seems totally appropriate!

    It is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. The Summer of 2011 has brought me a bundle of new insights, thanks to my brother Doug, my friend Meg, and my new inspiration, Paul Klee! And just as a little extra added bonus, Klee means clover in German.