Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Universal Welcome

So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.
~Gordon W. Allport

Laughing Buddha at the Lingyin Temple in China
Photo taken by Bernard Oh

Willie Dixon
by Melissa Morrow/Dunegrass Studio

Grinning Moon
by Brandi McKenna

Happy Man
by Marcy Lansman

A Sunday Smile
by Gana Ndro

Two of the Five Windows
by Shelley Buonaiuto

Laughter Museum in Germany
A-Maze-ing Laughter by Yue Minjin
Silly Eggs (I think the top one is my favorite)
Bird Visual Puns lesson plan
The Museum of Humor has a LOT of lesson plans


I'm thinking about making notebooks or binders with some of my art (in the past, I've made birthday, holiday, and blank cards with them). Do you have any suggestions about which ones? I was thinking about the Clef Creature for a notebook/journal and Spiral Aquarium for a binder.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

This shot of a clever Banned Books Week display at Dorman High School Library, Spartanburg District 6, Roebuck, SC was taken by Cathy Nelson.

You can find information about books that were challenged, removed, banned, or restricted in 2009-2010, as well as things you can do about it on the ALA web site.

Monday, September 27, 2010

If You Feel A Bit Under The Weather

Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.
~ Maela Moore

My neighbor, who has a wonderfully green thumb, has night-blooming jasmine on the side of her house that faces mine. I always notice their fragrance when I walk into my home during the hours the blooms are open. It makes me think, "Tea!"

I tend to believe that a cuppa is good for what ails you. In fact, I'm kind of like the granny in this song, minus the ranting and raving (by and large):

Have A Cuppa Tea by the Kinks

Whatever the situation, whatever the race or creed,
Tea knows no segregation, no class, nor pedigree
It knows no motivations, no sect, or organisation,
It knows no one religion,
Nor political belief.


A little poem to help you remember how much to steep the tea and how much sugar to add, if you are having Moroccan Tea :

The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as gentle as death.


Tea Links:
~ BraveWriter advocates Tuesday Tea Times (tea and poetry).
~ A little literary-inspired food to make to go with your tea: Redwall Dessert Recipes (There's The Redwall Cookbook if you'd like more)
~ A Chinese tea poem

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Visualization of Time

I'm reading Rose by Martin Cruz Smith (just so you know, it's not a kids' book) and one passage reminded me of what I did with a bit of N.D. Wilson's Dandelion Fire: I had the urge to turn it into a poem.

So here it is--

Blair loved maps
from Rose by Martin Cruz Smith

He loved topography,
the twists and folds of the earth,
the shelves that became mountains,
the mountains that were islands.

He loved the inconstancy of the planet--
shores that washed away,
volcanoes that erupted from flat plains,
rivers that looped first this way,
then that.

A map was,
no more than a moment in that flux,
but as a visualization of time,
it was a work of art.


Rose won the Hammett Prize in 1996.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Great Nose is the Banner of a Great Man

"Does it seem strange: a hundred cutthroats against one poor poet? It is not strange. It is a minimal defense, mademoiselle--(Drawing his sword; quietly.)--when that poet is a friend of Cyrano de Bergerac."
~ Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 1

Today, we have the legendary fictional poet Cyrano de Bergerac, created by Edmond Rostand (who was inspired by a real person). You have probably heard of Cyrano -- his nose is gargantuan. He describes it like this:

"A great nose is the banner of a great man, a generous heart, a towering spirit, an expansive soul--such as I unmistakably am, and such as you dare not to dream of being, with your bilious weasel's eyes and no nose to keep them apart! With your face as lacking in all distinction--as lacking, I say, in interest, as lacking in pride, in imagination, in honesty, in lyricism--in a word, as lacking in nose..."

Despite his pride in his large appendage, Cyrano is sure that it will prevent the woman of his heart from returning his love, so he agrees to help another man woo her. His words, spoken by the other man, are very successful in winning his ladylove's heart.

And why not? Check out how beautifully he describes a kiss:

"And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb 'to love.' A kiss is a message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee's brief visit to a flower, secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever.'"

Or you could write it like this:

"And what is a kiss,
A pledge properly sealed,
a promise seasoned to taste,
a vow stamped with the immediacy
of a lip,
a rosy circle
drawn around the verb 'to love.'

A kiss is a message
too intimate for the ear,
infinity captured
in the bee's brief visit to a flower,
secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven,
the pulse rising from the heart
to utter its name on a lover's lip:

~ The Project Gutenberg EBook of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
~ I wish the BBC radio production of Cyrano (with Kenneth Branagh as Cyrano) was available on their site. You can hear bits on YouTube.
~ Cyrano, the poetry card game
~ Genji, another poetry card game (Japanese-themed)
~ Monsterpiece Theater - Cyranose de Bergerac (don't say, "Nose"!)
~ It's probably best not to get your love advice from Cyrano Debench
~ Cyrano, the opera by David DiChiera
~ Another opera (this one Estonian, by Eino Tamberg, libretto by Jaan Kross after Edmond Rostand)

Karen is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's The Story?

Today's spotlight is on narrative paintings (paintings which tell a story or represent key features or events of a story).

Nameless and Friendless
by Emily Mary Osborn
A widow ventures into an unfamiliar world to try to sell a painting.

The Orrery
by Joseph Wright
Here, a scientist/philosopher uses an orrery (an early form of planetarium) to explain the workings of the solar system. As the Derby Museum and Art Gallery says, "The audience listening to the philosopher consists of ordinary, middle-class people and their faces express surprise and wonderment at what they are hearing. It is important to remember that it was still relatively recently that Newton had claimed that the planets moved around the sun - and not around the earth."

A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge (1852)
by John Everett Millais
On St. Bartholomew's Day, 1572, a massacre of French Protestants (known as Huguenots) began. Here, a young woman tries to tie a white armband on her love so that he can pass for Catholic. He, however, pulls it off.
The flip side -- Millais' painting of a Catholic man being called to go kill Protestants on St. Bartholomew's Day.

Two by John Callcott Horsley:

Rent Day at Haddon Hall
by John Callcott Horsley

The Banker's Private Room Negotiating a Loan, 1870
by John Callcott Horsley

The Mockery of the Owl
by Jan van Kessel
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

And in the "Where DO you get this stuff, Tabatha?" Department, we have a video of Queen's The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke, written by the late, great Freddie Mercury, combined with shots of Richard Dadd's painting The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke. The Fairy Feller is a woodcutter, and his master stroke is the one he uses to cut a nut open for Queen Mab's carriage. (Queen Mab was a fairy in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet).

Mercutio says of Queen Mab:
"Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies ‘ lips, who straight on kisses dream..."

The small oil painting took nine years for Dadd to almost finish (the left corner is not completed). (Grim info that I shouldn't leave out: he painted it while he was in a psychiatric hospital for killing his father.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Upcoming Event: Museum Day!

Are you ready for Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day?

Museum Day is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian Media in which participating museums across the country open their doors for free to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket. You can print out your Museum Day ticket on their site.

If I could clone myself and be in multiple places on Saturday, I'd try to see my kids' soccer games and also go to the American Visionary Art Museum, the National Museum of Language, and Dumbarton Oaks. What about you?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Giveaway

Time for a GIVEAWAY!

I will be awarding a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card to one lucky winner, chosen at random on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10!). You can enter your name one of three ways:

1) Comment on any post. One entry per post. I would ask that your comment relate to the post that you are commenting on :-)

2) If you write a haiku comment for any post, you automatically get THREE entries.

3) If you name three countries (other than the U.S.) whose art or poetry I have posted, you get THREE entries.

Since people don't have to leave their email addresses on their comments, you can either a) check back here on October 10th to see if you won or b) send me your email address privately after you post your comments so I can contact you if you win. If you'd like to do option b, you can email me at tabatha(at)

I will count all comments that I receive between now and midnight on October 9th.

Good luck!

Edited to add: You can enter with a comment to any post, not just ones that are posted between now and the end of the giveaway. So all (non-spammy) comments from now until the 9th -- including ones on entries from other years -- will count!


Since it is Poetry Friday today, here are two haiku-related stories and a haiku by Frank Kuenstler:

~ John Morse's haiku signs in Atlanta
~ Pieku (haiku + pie) here, here, and here.

A haiku by Frank Kuenstler (1928-1996)

Fish swim. They die. They rise to the
It is their way of falling.

Today's PF round-up is being hosted by Elaine at the Wild Rose Reader.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Museum Where You Can Spend The Night

I would *love* to go to the Women's World Cup next year, which will be in Germany. If I actually got to go, wouldn't it be great to include a night or two at the Arte Luise Kunsthotel in Berlin? This hotel has fifty rooms, which have all been uniquely decorated by different artists. They say that most rooms are recommissioned every 2-5 years, so its "exhibits" will rotate. The hotel's history is interesting-- the owners got the idea for an "artists' hotel" even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and they began the project in 1994. It wasn't until 2003, however, that its current incarnation was completed.

Unter dem roten Pferd (Beneath the Red Horse)
Artist: Roman Schmelter

Artist: Kehl

Mythos Fliegen (Flight – The Myth)
Artist: Silke Vollmers
"The dream of humanity; the feeling of lifting off, and limitless freedom above the clouds. Playing with these associations the artist uses airplane fragments to construct usable furnishings. The bed consists of a tail-wing unit, steering elements, and motor parts, and is hung from the ceiling by steel cables. Also hanging from the ceiling are numerous tables, each constructed from a different stage of a turbine. The chairs also originate from an airplane as do the shelves, which are built from propeller blades. Appropriately, the guests may record their dreams of flying in the flight log for the next passenger."

Dangerous Books
Artist: David Dalla Venezia

Mauerspringer (Wall Jumper)
Artist: Gabriel Heimler

Vincent’s Bedroom
Artist: Irene Hoppenberg
"Vincent's Bedroom is an artist's room at the "K├╝nstlerheim." With images, bare furnishings, and simplicity it is meant to resemble the atmosphere and circumstances in which Vincent van Gogh lived. The artist wants to stimulate the imagination of the guests, who will be confronted with both the person and the work of one of the most famous artists in history during their stay at the hotel. Literature on the subject is also available to enable the process."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Older PF and AT Revisited

Although I only started this blog a few months ago, I have been sharing Art Thursday and Poetry Friday posts on my web site for a few years. I put the ones from my site up here when I started this blog, so there are a lot of posts from other years that you might not have seen. Here are a few old Art Thursday entries you might want to visit:

Around the Bases(baseball art)
Washington, D.C. art
Riding the Wind (wind sculptures)

I'm just mentioning a few, but I am not picking "favorites," as that would be like choosing favorites among your babies.

Here are some Poetry Friday posts you might have missed:

* Dead Poets
* They Follow Still (Orpheus and Eurydice)
* Spy Poems
* The vampire Nosferatu
* Bad Poetry! Oh, Noetry!

This was fun, and I barely scratched the surface. I'll have to do this again sometime. The ATs above included a lot of 3D art -- maybe next time I'll focus on paintings or photography.

When I posted my old entries here, their comments did not come with them from my web site. I moved a few comments by hand, but most of them I didn't, so their comments aren't there. My apologies to the original commenters. I might go back and move them still, even though their dates will be messed up (the comment might be from 2008, but it will say 2010).

Monday, September 13, 2010

How To Know What To Believe

Last night, I took one of my kids to see Vivian Schiller (the president of NPR) and Katharine Weymouth (the publisher of The Washington Post) discuss “The Future of Journalism in the Digital Age” with moderator Ray Suarez of “PBS NewsHour.” So why were these folks talking about journalism to a multi-age crowd at a high school? Because it was part of The News Literacy Project.

The point of the News Literacy Project is to bring experienced journalists together with students from middle and high school to help kids learn how to tell fact from fiction, how to sort the wheat from the chaff. That's their mission, but along the way, the NLP are also helping interested students learn how to be trustworthy journalists. A worthy outcome, indeed.

You can learn more about the News Literacy Project here.

(Side-note: Ray Suarez has been added to my list of great voices.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Something In Our Minds Will Always Stay

Yesterday, Elaine at Blue Rose Girls posted Photograph from September 11 by Wislawa Szymborska. I particularly like the last verse.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Word On The Street

How Pedestrian asks people on the street to read a poem for the camera. Here are some examples:

This fella does a nice job with Aigin Larki's "quiet clean."

I liked hearing Dante's Abandon All Hope in Italian.

These Japanese unicyclists are so brave and fun.

Achilles (for David Beckham) by Carol Ann Duffy

Side-note: As long as we're talking about football/soccer, did you know that a betting service in England had a poet-in-residence for the last World Cup? Gary Boswell wrote a poem for nearly every day of the competition.

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is at Picture Book of the Day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Place For Prayer

A mihrab is a "niche or marker used to indicate the direction of prayer usually in a mosque." ('s Digital Library, Dictionary of Islamic Architecture)


Mihrab of the Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain
Photo by Looi

A mihrab from 1354–55 in Iran, Isfahan
From the Islamic Art collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Arched Mihrab
Photo by Swamibu

Mihrab in Qila Kuhna Masjid, Purana Qila, Delhi
Photo by Russ Bowling

Mihrab in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Photo by Radomil

Zaouia Sidi Abid el Ghariani mihrab
Photo by Damian Entwhistle

~A carved wooden mihrab in Turkey at the Virtual Museum
~Info on Seljuk ceramics
~An explanation of mihrabs & other parts of a mosque from a UK school site.
~A Welsh resource pack for teachers with an outline of Islam
~Info about Islamic art with lesson plans on Arabic script and Geometric design

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I mentioned before how much I love Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith's voices. And Matthew MacFadyen. Before you start to think I (only) have a thing for British accents, I'll tell you that I also love to listen to Kojo Nnambdi and Kavitha Cardoza.

Here's another great voice (and yes, he's British) --

Richard Armitage reading "Song" by Ted Hughes.

Feel free to tell me about voices you like to hear. (I'm sure I shouldn't leave out this one.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rapping It Up

A rap song for teaching kids about poetry (you can read this excerpt, but really, it's better to hear it):

Poetry (for Life)
When beautiful lyrics start to take form
At that very moment a poem is born
It’s like an emotion you feel in your chest
Sincere words you may find hard to express
But when we look under the hood to see what’s up
You’ll find some basic principles that make it up
It’s more than words that pour from your soul you see
There’s a couple of standard elements of poetry

The rhyme, for instance, is broken down
To a couple of word play styles that change the sound
What usually happens we see all the time
The words sound alike at the end of the lines
But it goes even deeper from there
There a variation in the styles of the rhymes that we hear
There’s perfect and off rhymes, but we can break it down more
So much in store, let’s take our time


The song is from Rhythm Rhyme Results, who offers songs on Math, Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies, as well as theme collections on Black History Month, Grammar Goodies, Earth Day, Our U.S. Government, Pi Day, and Reading Month.

Susan Writes is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anna Chromy

European artist/sculptor Anna Chromy does fantastic work. These are from her Mythos Revisited exhibition:


by Anna Chromy

Olympic Spirit
by Anna Chromy

From “Il Canto di Orpheo” (Orpheus's Song), Pietrasanta 2004
by Anna Chromy

by Anna Chromy

Cloak of Conscience (also known as the Coat of Peace)
by Anna Chromy


Here's another video that is kind of over the top, but I do dearly love the Coat of Peace!

You can see more of her sculptures (for sale) at Maxfin Galleries