National Gallery of Art, DC   5/17/13

National Gallery of Art, DC 5/17/13

Got a break last week and enjoyed a half day at the National Gallery of Art in DC - saw three shows: Albrecht Durer, The Pre-Raphaelites and Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes…a bit rushed, but still an enriching visit! Albrecht Dürer   “Saint Eustace,” c. 1501   engraving From the National Gallery of Art: “Saint Eustace,” the patron saint of firefighters and anyone facing adversity, is Dürer’s largest copperplate engraving by far. It tells the story of Placidus, a Roman military commander who, while out hunting, meets a stag holding a cross with the crucified Christ between its antlers. Deeply moved, the Roman converts to Christianity and takes the name Eustace (the Steadfast). From the National Gallery of Art: In “Ophelia” (1851–1852) John Everett Millais imagined a scene that is only described, never staged, in Shakespeare’s play: the drowning of Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover. Millais began the picture outdoors and worked for months on the background, painting it on the banks of a river. He returned to London with this canvas completed but for blank sections in the center awaiting the insertion of the figure. The model, Elizabeth Siddall, lay in a filled bathtub to help him paint a floating body realistically. The painting exemplifies the Pre-Raphaelite poetic, psychological, and descriptive approach to depicting history and...
Swept Away

Swept Away

On summer vacations, I used to spend hours, raft in tow, running into the ocean, leaping over shallow breaking waves, paddling out to wait for that perfect moment to ride the rolling, churning swells back to shore - only to turn around and do it all over again. It was an exhilarating, exhausting activity punctuated here and there by mere minutes of recuperation, lying flat and still on the beach, catching my breath, soothed by the hot sun and the constant breeze. But the ocean is unpredictable. Occasionally that out-to-sea-back-to-shore rhythm can be jarringly interrupted by a sudden, strong undertow. The current drags you down into an underwater tumble of sand, shells and seaweed. It whisks you from your familiar shoreline landmarks, depositing you, sputtering and disoriented, somewhere foreign and unanticipated…perhaps close by or maybe far, far away. Of course it’s naive to jump into the turbulence of the sea, or simply to live life, and not expect to have some undertows, some surprises. My most recent “surprise” was a significant increase in the needs of my Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother, who lives with us. Sadly, many people are all too familiar with this scenario which is so difficult for both patient and caregiver. So what does all this have to do with art? While it is obvious that caring for an ailing parent rightfully takes top priority in heart and life, dealing with the interruption of work is an added challenge. There is a cost involved. In recent days, the sacrifice for me has been time for painting. (My presence here on this blog has been sporadic as well.) The exhilarating,...