Our executive editor's weekly missive, including a smart testimony on the value of work, a Mary Oliver poem on suffering and joy, a call for headlines that reflect the fullness of the world, and a stunning body of paintings from Rabindranath Tagore.
“I see my work as a vehicle for relationships. A great painting isn’t great until viewers come and engage with it.”
On a gloriously sunny Memorial Day in 2008, I arrived at the Santa Fe studio of painter Joan Watts. I was there to interview her for a review in a local newspaper. She led me into her impressive studio where her newest paintings, in cool gradations of blue, purple, and gray, lined the warm, white walls. As we talked, a friendship based on our mutual experiences in the studio and on the meditation cushion began.
From Eindhoven to Ramallah, Picasso's "Buste de Femme" arrives in Palestine.
Ernie Barnes used his canvas to celebrate black American life in elongated, vibrant strokes. “The Graduate” (shown above) is one of the professional football player-turned-artist’s best-known paintings, which is part of a body of work Barnes called “The Beauty of the Ghetto.” Barnes passed away in 2009.
According to his long-time assistant Luz Rodriguez, “The Graduate” is rooted in Ernie Barnes’ experiences growing up in segregated Durham, North Carolina during the 1940’s and 50’s:
We received this remarkable video from a brother to his sister. A tribute on art, cancer, and vulnerability that touched us deeply.
Japan has been on all our minds and in all our hearts. There doesn’t seem to be enough capacity in the human soul to witness nature unleash its force on man in this way. Helplessness still sits with us even after the contributing of funds to relief efforts.
The magnitude of the disaster and continuing saga has made us all feel vulnerable to the uncertainty of life. We can’t fathom how recovery can possibly follow such devastation.
Then there’s me here in my studio just painting clouds and wondering how what I do could possibly matter. And then today I happened upon this Rilke poem after I finished the painting shown above. And the words could not be more profound and with them my painting feels right again.
Threshold of Spring
Harshness gone. All at once caring spread over
the naked gray of the meadows.
Tiny rivulets sing in different voices.
A softness, as if from everywhere,
“Human Tapestry” is a three-dimensional painting running on and off the canvas that measures 6 feet high by 16 feet wide by 24 inches deep. The work is visual prospect for international peace and the continuation of life on our shared planet.
Eleven life-sized figures represent various countries and political ideologies. Each is draped in her own flag, her own nationalism, seemingly separate and distinct from that of any other country. While each flag is a symbol of a reciprocal system of language and customs of the people of an individual nation, it also serves to define geographic boundary lines on the earth.
The flag then becomes a symbol of separatism rather than alliance. Instead of recognizing our common human bonds and celebrating our universality, we see ourselves as isolated and often superior to one another.
Inspired by our show with Bill McKibben, a listener and law professor reflects on tuning in to nature's reality rather than anesthetizing from it.
Saw this over the weekend in the London Times and thought it was worth sharing for those of you who missed it.
Looking to a Jewish tradition found in Deuteronomy of absolving loans as a solution to current debts.