Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Artist of the Month, RENOIR

Renoir Pierre-Auguste Renoir
February 25, 1841
1Thomas Cole, 1801
2William E. Artis, 1914
3Norman Rockwell, 1894
4Fernand Léger, 1881
5Alison Saar, 1956
8John Ruskin, 1819
8Franz Marc, 1880
9Robert Morris, 1931
10Mary Lovelace O’Neill, 1942
11William Henry Fox Talbot, 1800
12Max Beckmann, 1884
12Joan Mitchell, 1925
12William Wegman, 1943
13Grant Wood, 1892
15Charles-François Daubigny, 1817
17Raphaelle Peale, 1774
17Hung Liu, 1948
18Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1848
18Max Klinger, 1857
19Constantin Brancusi, 1876
20Ansel Adams, 1902
22Rembrandt Peale, 1778
22Horace Pippin, 1888
23Tom Wesselmann, 1931
24Charles LeBrun, 1619
24Winslow Homer, 1836
25Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841
26Honoré Victorin Daumier, 1808
29Augusta Savage, 1892

Renoir began painting flowers on porcelain to help his family survive financially when he was thirteen years old. He enrolled in night painting classes to refine his techniques when he could afford it. Eventually, he banded with classmates Monet, Sisley, Bazille and other Impressionists. They rebelled against the Salon painting styles which harked back to classical themes. The Impressionists were more interested in capturing everyday scenes and the shifting effects of light. At first the Impressionists were derided, but eventually achieved recognition and success. After exploring Impressionism for several years, Renoir visited Italy and was swept away by the art of Raphael, a famous Renaissance painter. After he returned to France, he began to paint people, especially beautiful women!  He painted into his 80's, never letting crippling arthritis stop him. His assistants used to tie his paint brushes to his hands so he could continue painting. I admire his enthusiasm and perseverance. We should raise a glass of (French) wine to salute this fantastic painter on his birthday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Charles V of Spain

Heraldic symbol of Charles V

Charles V of Spain, Holy Roman Emperor
 1519-1556 dressed for battle.

Gold and Wars

The Golden Apple Affair

Hera, wife of the god Zeus, Aphrodite the goddess of love, and Athena, goddess of wisdom all were involved in the Golden Apple Affair. Eris, the goddess of strife, not invited to a wedding atop Mount Olympus, the home of the gods and goddesses, threw a golden apple into the wedding party and the quarrel began among the three goddesses. The apple was inscribed, FOR THE FAIREST, and of course each goddess assumed she was it. Zeus, afraid to rule in the squabble, sought an impartial judge and chose Paris, son of King Priam of Troy. Attempting to bias Paris, Athena promised that she would make him a renowned warrior if she received the apple. Queen Hera assured him she would make him a very wealthy and powerful man. Last, more cunning than the other two, Aprodite lured Paris with her promise of rewarding him with the most beautiful woman in the world. The Trojan War was the result after Paris accepted Aphrodite's gift and escaped with Helen, the beautiful wife of King Menelaus. They sailed to his home, the city of Troy. The rest of the story, you probably know, Homer told in the Illiad and the Odessey.

"Gold. The word itself is as malleable as the metal it names---an explosion of sound, or a long, drawn-out song of ambition and greed. It resonates in a way that few others words that describe precious things do.

Gold is, in large part, what initiated the conquest of the Western Hemisphere by inhabitants from the East, as Spanish conquistadors roamed Central and South America in search of a place they called 'El Dorado,' a city made of gold. They believed such a place existed because they were continually finding inhabitants of these lands bedecked with objects that seemed to capture and hold the very light of the sun.

Jeffrey Quilter, a senior lecturer in anthropology at Harvard University and director of Yale's Peabody Museum, writes on the sophistication of metalwork in pre-Columbian America. He states: 'The attribution of vanue to gold is a fiction, a social construct. The metal has very little essential or practical use in sustaining human life. In contemporary societies, gold bestows social status through its monetary value. In ancient societies, status derived from gold jewelry came from its association with the sacred, with the light of the sun.

John Hoopes, director of the Global Indigenous Nations Studies Program at the University of Kansas, writes that the search for gold in the Americas not only left indelible marks on the Western Hemisphere, but also affected the history of Europe.

Gold from the New World obtained through plunder, looting and forced labor, would be transported to Europe to help pay off ever-increasing debts by such entities as Charles V*, who found ways to finance the creation of an army through the promise to his lenders of a continued flow of precious metal from the New World.

Hernan Cortes is quoted as saying that money was "made of air," as the treasure-laden ships from the New World would be quickly emptied of their stores which were then sent to pay off various national debts. Goldwork from the New World played a glittering role in events unfolding in the first decade of the Modern Age, from Christian Europe's struggle to avoid Ottoman control of the emergence of the modern banking industry of the 16th century whose legacy is still very much with us today."

This wonderful recap of humans' fascination with gold is from an article written by James D. Watts Jr. for the Tulsa World recently. His comments were based from the publication To Capture the Sun: Gold of Ancient Panama, published by Gilcrease/University of Oklahoma Press.
*Charles V of Spain was the grandson of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus' patrons for his trips to the New World. Charles served as the Holy Roman Emperor 1516-1556. He abdicated and eventually spent the remainder of his life in a monastery.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eat the Rainbow

Food Palette
            As simple as it seems, colorful fruits and vegetables benefit our health if color-coordinated with our diets. It’s fun to imagine your dinner plate as a painter’s palette where the following foods add nutrition as well as color.
White foods such as bananas, cauliflower and garlic lower heart disease risk. They also lower LDL cholesterol, so think of mushrooms, pears and onions as well as those listed earlier when you shop.
Blues and purples keep memory sharp and reduce risk of several types of cancer including prostate. Plums, eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes and raisins are among this color family. All colors of berries are low on the glycemic scale and high in antioxidants and fiber. Fiber helps control blood sugar, and also removes cholesterol from the body. It has been called nature’s broom.
Continuing around the color wheel, greens protect bones, teeth and eyesight. Kiwi, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts and green cabbage are the heroes here. Spinach contains neoxanthin and kaempferol which are “Kryptonite” to cancer cells. Avocado is rich in potassium, fiber and B vitamins.
Watermelons, strawberries, red apples, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, tomatoes and radishes, all lovely reds, help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and improve blood flow to the heart. Red kidney beans have a high oxygen radical absorption capacity.
The sunshine colors of yellow and orange boost the immune system and may prevent eye disease. Oranges, grapefruit, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, squash, carrots and corn complete the palette of healthful foods. All contain vitamin C which helps with immunity and wound healing. Orange carrots and yellow squash contain lutein which is important for good vision, but also may prevent or delay atherosclerosis, the thickening of arteries, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The new year inspires us to replace unhealthy habits with better ones. Perhaps including more colorful foods on our plates is more than an artist’s delight.