Monday, August 29, 2011

Life Before Text Messaging

"I love you.  P.S. I'll bring a bread home for lunch."  Today it would be a text message, abbreviated and eventually deleted.  I am touched by the poignancy of my Dad's handwriting, his little drawings, the gold stars stuck on these seemingly daily notes to my mom in the early 1940's.  She had saved them all in a heart shaped Whitman's chocolate valentine box, which I discovered when I was cleaning out their apartment ten years ago.  These love notes are documentation of a vibrant, loving, and sexy marriage, and also of the zeitgeist of an era.  They are a treasure.  

I started this altered book project using Sayings of the Fathers / Pirkei Avot, a compilation of Jewish traditional ethical teachings and maxims with many layers 

of commentary over the centuries. My altered book is still a work in progress. The more I work on it, the more it feels like I am adding my own contemporary commentary, through the story I am telling from my dad's love notes and doodle poems and my mom's jottings.  In Jewish tradition, commentary on any text is also an ongoing work in progress..

The two little girls on the right are my mother and my aunt Judy.  I superimposed them on the text that talks about how arguments for the sake of heaven endure.  They loved each other fiercely, disagreed and argued often, but held hands to the end of long lives and did anything to help each other.

I will keep you posted as this project unfolds!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lee Krasner: The Real Story

I don't want to return Gail Levin's new biography of Lee Krasner to the library.  It was such a compelling read, I don't want to let it out of my hands.  What a picture of an era: all the ferment of the early development of Abstract Expressionism in America, and the story of Lee Krasner as a complex and powerful woman who was a radical creative explorer in the center of it all before she ever met Jackson Pollock. We learn exactly how Krasner's contribution was rendered invisible by the (non) role of women artists in the 1940's and 50's,  as well as a subtle anti-Semitism along with the sexism.  How she balanced being Mrs. Jackson Pollock, promoting his work and insuring his legacy after his death, while continuing her own unique painting at the same time is an inspiring story. The images above hardly begin to convey the breadth of her work.

There's also a lot of juicy gossip in this book, like which critics were sleeping with whose wives, which got shows for who at what galleries...  For we voyeurs who want the scoop on some of the famous names, this book is a lot of fun.  It certainly makes some of the luminaries down to earth and human.

Mostly it makes me deeply appreciate what Lee Krasner's legacy is for every woman artist who has come after her.

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