Archives for posts with tag: Art

licensed lyrna
Siena, Tuscany, Italy
by Leslie Sittner

afternoon cocktails at an outdoor Campo café
we look out on the familiar Piazza del Campo
historic focal center of Siena
soft in shape and conical in elevation
a most spectacular medieval square
no costumed jousts, ceremonies, pageants today
the medieval Palio three-lap horse race is next week
reminiscing, refreshed, rested, we wander up to

the medieval Duomo di Siena above the Campo
Italian Gothic black and white marble jailbird stripes
wrap the façade and adjacent Romanesque campanile
while Venetian mosaics and Pisano sculpture
join in the adornment frenzy
needlelike spires reach to the heavens for hope, forgiveness, love
three dominant central arched doorways
welcome all in need

inside, clusters of striped columns soar to the saints
elaborate mosaics embroider all pavement
sitting side-by-side in a proximal pew
ignoring the surrounding tourist hordes
we gaze up speechless at the Pisano pulpit
eight-sided carved marble bowl supported by nine columns
sculpted in animals, Bible stories, The virtues, Allegories

tightly holding hands, we wipe away the holy water of our tears

PHOTO: Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Lyrna1, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) was designed and completed between 1215 and 1264. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with the addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city’s founders, Senius and Aschius. The finest artists of the time — Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini — completed works in the cathedral. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2015, I took my daughter to Italy for a Tuscany Yoga Tour to celebrate reaching our birthdays of 40 and 70. I had lived in Italy with her father for two years before she was born. She had been here before with a college friend and later with her husband-to-be. After morning yoga at the rustic farmhouse, Antico Borgo di Tignano, we went on a day trip to Siena. In the Duomo, she shared her reasons for leaving her husband of 10 years. I shared that during a trip to Italy with her father, I decided it was time to leave him when we returned home. I can’t help think Italy might be a marital jinx.

PHOTO: Interior columns and altar area, Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Peter K. Burian, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016-17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog and compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.

licensed ben krut
Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

     “At least I have the flowers of myself,
     and my thoughts, no god
     can take that;”
          “Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

licensed ian whitworth
The Bean
by Steve Bogdaniec

Get up close and you see yourself, stretched and pulled, along with all of the other people around you. From farther back, you see a famous skyline reflected in an oddly rounded way.

But with repeated viewings, it becomes a magical mirror.

Something a little different each time.

In daylight, clouds, faces, the tan concrete tiles underfoot, and buildings can share focus. At night, the lit-up buildings and streetlights take over.

Sometimes, I’ll walk up to it with the rest of the crowd and inspect my own reflection, and others, I’ll want to ponder it from farther away.

Sometimes, its message is clear, and other times, not. Is it trying to tell me something, or am I trying to get it to tell me something?

It changes every time. But it’s always something.

PHOTO: Cloud Gate (The Bean), stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Millennium Park Chicago. Photo by Ian Whitworth, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Downtown Chicago didn’t need another landmark. It’s a city full of them, full of steel, of decorative and imposing and very tall buildings, of bridges dressing up an otherwise dreary river, of weird big public art instillations. But The Bean IS impressive. Its official name is Cloud Gate. But Chicagoans don’t care. It’s ours, and we’ll name it what we like. According to Chicago’s website, The Bean (Cloud Gate) is a public art structure designed by Anish Kapoor and was unveiled in 2006. It is completely rounded, curved in on itself, and is covered in polished stainless steel that creates a “mirror-like surface.” It is 66 feet long, 33 feet high, and has a 12-foot arch in the middle you can walk under and through. (The website says that arch is the “gate” part of the name. I still don’t see it.) The sculpture is located in Millennium Park, on Michigan Avenue, in the busiest part of the third biggest city in the United States.

PHOTO: The author and his wife, Sondra Malling, at The Bean — an engagement photo taken by Shad Pipes (December 2014).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Bogdaniec is a writer and teacher, currently teaching at Wright College, Chicago, Illinois. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, most recently in Eclectica Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Jellyfish Review. His work can also be found in the Nancy Drew Anthology: Writing & Art Inspired by Everyone’s Favorite Female Sleuth. Check out stevebogdaniec.com for links to published work and updates on new stuff!

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Giverny
by Chris Precise

I was a guest in Claude Monet’s home for a dewy day. It was a beautiful oasis, tucked away in the countryside behind dripping wisteria and giggling daffodils. A woman in one of his paintings called to me in the study. She held a parasol and stood at the crest of a hill’s rolling wave of endless green, rising above it as though weightless. I almost reached my hand out to her to pull me through the canvas into the frame mounted on the wall. I imagined myself closing my eyes and dissipating into the hues of the paint to become the strokes of the brush, where I would play a larger role in the grand scheme without worrying about someone getting too close to find detail in me that I could not find in myself.

The Woman with a Parasol allures me still. On the days where I wish to melt into the background, I can see her featureless face blending into the vast blue sky behind her, telling me to come with her. Instead, I roll over in my bed and lose count of the bountiful brushstrokes that make up my body without knowing where one ends and another begins.

Light yielded itself upon Giverny as the time came to depart for home. While the countryside faded into the background, the woman in the canvas did too. Her perpetual motion up close became suspended in time as the distance between us increased on my return to Paris, and the mirage of our likeness evaporated. I am not the touches of frozen oil slowly achromatizing as the years counted themselves. I am my own Impressionist canvas, speckled with the soft colors of my survival and bearing light for harvest. I am here.

PHOTO: Water garden at Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France, by Gilles Bizet, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The theory of les touches in Impressionist period art, the touches of the brush on the canvas, fascinated me, the visible strokes created through the mastery of Monet, Renoir, Degas. They bent light at the whim of their brushstrokes, gods birthing new universes I so desperately wished to be a part of. Lately, I have been trying to find a sense of self: a facet of identity or defining memory that will ground me into a sense of who I am. Until that day, which may come tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, I will be satisfied with the process of making my own oil paint touches as I construct an image of my being.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Parasol” by Claude Monet (1886).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Precise is a Black nonbinary scholar-writer-activist in the making. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a current student at Swarthmore College, they study Black diasporas around the globe and enjoy reading Black feminist and DuBoisian theory. Much of their narrative and creative nonfiction writing rests tucked away in tattered Moleskine journals, but they aspire to soon share more of themself and their stories with the world. For more, visit preciselychris.carrd.co.

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Before the Levee Comes Down
by Kyle Laws

Murals stretch up in the afternoon sun
and what’s reflected back into the river
are primary colors painted on the levee
by those who dangled by ropes from the top:
reds, yellows, and blues.

And as the river flows east the blend of primary
becomes secondary: red and yellow become orange,
yellow and blue become green. This is the function
of levee—creation of color as river moves over stones.

Where the river eddies, in the swirl where kayaks
hope not to tangle, are remnants of last night’s party:
barbecued pork rinds mingled with burnt twigs.

Underfoot is a crush of rock that is trail. My boots,
thick-soled, can scale the opposite bank. I can pull
myself up by saplings that know there is water,
that have roots enough to get me to a place

where I can see the murals, not in reflection,
but as if atop the horse Lady Godiva strides
that’s next to the rendition of Joan of Arc.

Even with the smell of algae, I want to drink
of the river, submerge myself hidden in a cluster
of trees, know that as I arch my back to rinse hair
of debris, green will trickle into my mouth.

I stumble down the wooded bank, take off boots
and orange-ringed socks, watch paintings for what
could be the last time while feet whiten cold and
stiff in the river from a slip of rock that extends
into the Arkansas on its way to Kansas.

Previously published in Turtle Island Quarterly and in Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019).

PHOTO: Mural on levee along the Arkansas River in Pueblo, Colorado. Started in the late 1970s as isolated patches of graffiti, the sprawling mural grew to become almost two miles long and 58 feet tall.  (cpr.org).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The levee along the Arkansas River through Pueblo, Colorado, built for flood control, featured the longest outdoor mural in the world. In 2014, the top layer was taken off for repairs and the height shortened. All the paintings were lost except for a small section that contained ashes of the artist, Judith Pierce.   

PHOTO:  The levee in Pueblo, Colorado, after the top layer was removed, before what remained was resurfaced. Photo by Allison Kipple, used with permission. For more about the mural, visit cpr.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, Colorado, where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Find her on Facebook.

qing waa licensed
Statue of William Penn
by Mark Tulin

I used to wear the bronze hat
of William Penn,
the founder of Pennsylvania
who stands atop City Hall
in Philadelphia
I was the one who remembered
how things were
during the revolutionary days
when freedom was a passion
and not a personal insult
I remember what it felt like
to live in the sky,
my head in the clouds,
and look over my brothers
Although I love my place of birth,
I never want to return,
nor do I want to forget
how proudly I once stood.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn atop City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Qing Waa, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For almost 90 years, an unwritten gentlemen’s agreement forbade any building in Philadelphia from rising above the hat on the William Penn statue. This agreement ended in 1985, when final approval was given to the Liberty Place complex. Its centerpieces are two skyscrapers, One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place, which rose well above the height of Penn’s hat. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Until 1985, the statue of William Penn was the highest point in the city.  I could see this 37-foot bronze statue atop of Philadelphia’s City Hall from my neighborhood in the Northeast section and whenever I took the elevated train into Center City. The iconic sculpture has always been the symbol of what it meant to be a part of the Philadelphia culture. During my adolescence in the 70s, Penn’s statue was etched in my soul, representing our country’s freedom and revolutionary spirit. Since moving from Philadelphia to California approximately 10 years ago, I am reluctant to return to the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve had so many great childhood memories that I don’t want to tarnish them by returning to a place where my favorite corner stores, restaurants, and movie theaters have been replaced by structures that have very little meaning for me.  I want to keep the memory of my city of origin alive and in my heart.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn awaiting installation at the top of Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1894. The 37-foot bronze statue, which weighs over 50,000 pounds, was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, whose namesake son and grandson also became noted sculptors.

EDITOR’S NOTE: William Penn (1644–1718) was a writer, early member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. An early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, he was notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. Philadelphia was designed to be grid-like, with its streets easy to navigate, unlike London where Penn was from. Philadelphia streets are named with numbers and tree names. He chose to use the names of trees for the cross streets because Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods.” (Source: Wikipedia.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Tulin is a former therapist from Philadelphia who now lives in California. He has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. His upcoming book, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories is available to pre-order. Mark has been featured in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Trembling with Fear, Life In The Time, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others. For more, visit his website, Crow On The Wire.

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Towpath
“I’ve got a mule; her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal”
                                                                      –Thomas S. Allen, 1906
by Julie A. Dickson

Along the water’s edge, the canal, the locks
cutting a swathe through towns and farms,
water glistening in the sun, I sing beneath my breath
a song about Sal, walking the towpath, pulling barges
along the Erie Canal to the next lock, water rising or falling
to allow the barge passage, weighed down with cargo.

Sal had a job, walking the towpath, perhaps fifteen miles
as the song describes, with a man leading her, long rope
tethered to a heavy loaded vessel, her burden to bear.
Did Sal mind her position in life? Did she live long?
Did Sal yearn for pastures and freedom to run and graze,
instead of spending her days on the towpath?

The canal is visible from many roads along New York State,
locks appear as bridges to nowhere, I often gazed at them
from the back seat of my father’s car, singing about Sal.
The towpath of our lives is a tether to responsibility, focused
as Sal was, on the task in front of us, not on the beauty of the canal
alongside, water reflecting old factories, birds feeding on its banks.

The song, made famous by Pete Seeger and others, taught children
about early life on the canal but we didn’t know its meaning,
plodding along, making a living, fulfilling a purpose in a small niche,
Sal led barges loaded down with goods to the next town, her mind
on walking, but thinking perhaps of the hay waiting in her stall.
Tethered to tasks, we don’t see the canal, eyes only on the towpath.

PAINTING: “Erie Canal” by John Henry Hopkins (1825) via William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am a lakes girl, a New York State girl, having been raised around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie; water is in my blood, and I would drive the length of the state just to view the canal and farmland. The bridges to nowhere were a mystery to me throughout my childhood.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Dickson is a New Hampshire poet whose work addresses nature, current events, animal welfare, elephants in captivity. Her poetry has appeared in various journals, including Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, The Avocet and The Harvard Press. She is a member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, and has coordinated workshops as well as 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Her full-length works of poetry and Young Adult fiction can be found on Amazon.

PHOTO: The author along a stretch of the Erie Canal.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: When completed in 1825, the Erie Canal, which spans 363 miles, was the second longest canal in the world (after the Grand Canal in China) and greatly enhanced the development and economy of New York, New York City, and the United States. (Source: Wikipedia.)

IMAGE: “Current route of Erie Canal,” map by Rosemary Wardley. (Credits on this page.)

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Gravity Grateful
by Mark Blickley

Looking down from high places doesn’t bother me at all but when I have to look up at things, like buildings, it makes me nervous cause it feels like some kind of force like a magnet or something is going to pull me up and lift me off the ground which is a lot worse than falling ’cause if you’re falling down you know you’re falling and that’s that but if you get pulled off the ground and lifted into the air you’re not falling, but you could fall at any moment, and there’s no end because if you fall you have to land, but if you’re lifted up it could go on forever and I hate that.

Photo of Dalí Theatre-Museum (Figueres, Catalonia, Spain) by the author (January 2020).

Museum of Salvador Dali

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This past January I visited Barcelona, Spain, with my daughter Deirdre. We rented a car and decided to take a side trip to the Salvador Dalí museum at Figueres, Spain. After viewing the inside of this exquisite museum, I focused on its exterior structure. The photo that appears with my poem is my looking up at a detail of this magnificent building. When we returned to Barcelona, I obsessed over this photo, which resulted in my writing a surreal-tinged prose poem, “Gravity Grateful.”

PHOTO: Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres, Spain by Taras Verkhovynets, used by permission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. His most recent book is his text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams.

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Masquerade
by Barbara Bald

Reams of silken material, cascading to the floor,
encased her young body in black-velvet elegance,
enveloped her in a coat lined with white rabbit fur,
soft and alluring.

I remember how its hood encircled her masked face,
long, curled eyelashes glued to eyeholes,
immovable, but inviting.

Her black gloves, cedar-scented from the attic chest,
flicked a rhinestone-studded cigarette holder,
flashed a fake emerald ring.
With her pinky poised in the air,
her jewels captured porch-light glare
as we trick-or-treated our way through the neighborhood.

I remember her stories about how she’d worn the coat
to nightclub gigs, where,
refusing spiked Shirley Temples,
she had danced in sequined heels,
steeled herself against grabbing hands,
smiled through a different kind of disguise.

This night she was a make-believe lady of the evening.
This night she was the mother who held my tiny hand
and carried a bulging bag of candy.

Looking back, I can forgive her
for unbounded love she could not offer.
Years later, I have come to understand
why she lived behind a mask
she could not remove.

Previously published in the author’s collection Drive-Through Window.

PAINTING: “Madame X” by John Singer Sargent (1884).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There were many masks worn throughout my childhood — those worn on Halloween, those of the Lone Ranger and Zorro, Ben Casey and Doctor Kildare, those we hid behind as teenagers, even those worn by adults trying to hide something too scary to face. I believe most masks are worn to protect somebody. Unfortunately, sometimes the disguise can rob both parties of a chance for intimacy. My poem strives to convey that possibility.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant, and freelance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies and her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. She has two full-length books, Drive-Through Window and Other Voices/Other Lives. Her chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. She has written articles for Heart of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Magazine, and other local publications. She lives in Alton, NH, with her cat Catcher and some very personable goldfish.

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ABOUT THE CREATORS: New York interdisciplinary artist Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley work together on text-based art collaborations and videos. They recently published a text-based art book, Dream Streams (Clare Songbird Publishing House). Bassin is co-founder of the international artists cooperative, Urban Dialogues. Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. Their video collaborations, “Speaking in Bootongue” and “Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death,” represent the United States in the year-long international world tour of Time Is Love: Universal Feelings: Myths & Conjunctions. In May 2020,  screenings kicked off in Madrid, organized by the esteemed African curator, Kisito Assangni.