27 Feb 2013


It's the end of February we are covered with snow and it's still snowing. And snowing. Oh - and snowing again.

Besides obviously not much, this is documenting the peculiar vintage element we share in Ottawa even in the most central areas of the city: the wooden electric pole.

26 Feb 2013

Graffiti - Here's to you, Peter...

In a few day is one of my boys birthday I would like to say few words about graffiti.

Years ago, when he was still unmarried and childless he joined a community of graffiti-makers, who took advantage of certain sites designated by the City to spray to their heart's content.
Purposefully I did not call them artist because I do not know exactly the make-up of this group and I have not seen much of their work.
I have seen some of their photographed work and en masse I found it intense and interesting.

That brings me to a following reflection.
In general whatever wall art or graffiti we have in Ottawa it sucks big time and really could not be called art in any way. It is usually crude, style-less, devoid of those powerful things about graffiti that we could find interesting, like: vigour, spontaneity, colourfulness, certain aggressiveness, and a sense of mission.

Peter Slota, 2007                       click to enlarge
I have left bits of murals to the left and to the right visible so it reveals a bit more
of the situation and context. 

The photographs from around 2007 had quite a bit of that. I have made a composite from several photographs of one of Peter's murals. When I have a bit of time I will print it as an art work, on matte canvas, stretch it and view in a gallery setting.
I am curious and I would love to observe how the gallery context plays against graffiti's essential "grungy", unmaintained, short-lived, often hit-and-run origins.

 In the meantime:

Somebody is a birthday boy...

On the occasion of my dear husband I made sure to have lived by my words and bought gifts in places that I recommended in earlier posts:
  • Delicious loaf of freshly baked, generously sprinkled with sesame seeds Spelt loaf ($6.50) from nearby True Loaf Bakery.
  • This was accompanied a gorgeous book of the symbolist prints of Edvard Munch, used ($20.00) from also nearby Black Squirrel Bookstore.
Supper consisted of goods also locally procured, although I am afraid coming from far away...

My husband often comes a tad late to the table - the privilege of age, his aching body and repute...
Norka (ca 3 years old, female, "locally found") made a dash for a nicely warmed dinner plate, I am serious:

25 Feb 2013

From me to you ladies!

Photography is magic, it's been used to proof explorations, new lands that nobody saw, apparitions nobody else saw, we surely dressed in our best to pose in front of the camera.

As I look at the photographs I can feel that being photographed, was very very important to them.
It feels it was so important that I have decided to choose three of the photographs and let the women come out of the frame.
I believe every person deserves a moment in history when one can be larger than life.

Sometime in the 1920-ies, this is Stasia, my Grandmother's half-sister. In the actual photo her friend walks beside her. She probably knew she is not asking her girl friend for just a stroll, she knew they will get photographed. But the friend didn't.
Stasia dressed like a princess and the friend didn't so when the camera flashed the other girl may have just realized she was a little bit of a patsy, she didn't seem happy...
I have spared her the discomfort and in this version of the photograph I made her invisible.
I did let Stasia to be what she wanted - immortal.

Stasia died during the war, from untreated pneumonia.

My Grandmother, Maryla with her sister in law, the 1920-ies.
It looks like they really enjoy themselves, the gloves, the hats and the laughing.
The boys, my grandpa and his new brother in law are behind. But this is the girl's time to be immortal.

Both survived being expelled from the Nazi-occupied Poznań. They both died old ladies, but I have decided to let them come out of the picture just a bit more...

Tha's my grandmother again.  She worked as a nurse and those were her co-workers. Judging by the way they dressed they did enjoyed quite a bit of financial independence.
Nursing was probably one of the earliest opportunities for women to succeed without family support.

I did let grandma to show off her fur coat a bit closer...
I love those hats...
I hope those women survived the war.

In my scans and reproduced photographs I did aim at preserving as much as possible of the present-day coloration. The photos are not the way they saw it 90 years ago, but it is likely they were warm-toned. We delight in those sepia-tones nevertheless.
All photographs were taken in Poznań, Poland.

Did you like those great hats that the grandmas wore in the Twenties?

I have found an old 1920 Sears ad - look at the beautiful evening/party versions of the hats!

24 Feb 2013

Ervin Panofsky - Melancholy again...

German Art historian, fled the Nazi Drang and Sturm and taught in the US.
Proponent or even founder of Iconology (study of meaning, content).
"...together with A. Warburg and F. Saxl provided the foundation for the iconological approach to the study of works of art. Striving to overcome the one-sidedness of both the stylistic and the purely iconographic approaches, he proposed that a work of art be considered as a characteristic manifestation—a sign or “symptom”—of a cultural-historical situation, which is reflected not only in the choice of the subject but also in the artistic style. In his research, which was devoted mainly to medieval and Renaissance art, Panofsky analyzed peculiarities of form within the context of a philological and historical-philosophical interpretation of the content." Russian Encyclopedia
Anyway, Panofsky, being a German had enormous interest and knowledge of German art and of Albrecht Durer in particular. Together with several authors, a work has taken shape of a true compendium of the knowledge of and and history and anthropology, literature, medeval medicine you name it - around the theme of Melancholy. A. Durer's "Melancholy I" was the trigger of the work (by the way, apparently there was Melancholy II, but is no more...)

File:Dürer Melancholia I.jpg
Melancholia I, A.Durer (Wiki)
Being so interested in certain subjects of Art History I sought this book for quite some time.
Last year I became desperate, I looked on Amazone and almost dropped dead: over 700.00 for a used copy,  this book has been out of print in English since its only print run in 1964!
Christ, I thought, I need to rob a bank. But, I looked more and there I found it:  a complete Polish translation, hard cover with dust jacked so what did I do - I have asked my darling sister, to buy me this book. Apparently this book has been printed also in German and in Spanish relatively recently - obviously the countries where the interest in certain themes and motives of history of art never die.

My sweet Lila bought me this book - Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl.
I can marvel to my heart's content in the matters that interest me so much. Last year, "out of nostalgia for melancholy" I have reproduced myself a small self-portrait of Durer, as a young man, this one -->

This book is amazing in the amount of detail, you can imagine over 400 pages, two-colums text is a lot of good read... It is a collection of study of those three men, poor Mr. Saxl never lived to see the first printed edition.


Here is a book, right on my lap, as it arrived on Februrary 12, 2013!
It has prompted me to post several of earlier drafted posts on one of my favourite subject - the Big M

Thank you Sis!

23 Feb 2013

"I fell in love with the charms of a woman"...

Here is something for everyone who knows of the late Ancient Music soprano Monserrat Figueras or read my post devoted to her memory (Nov. 2012) Monserrat is survived by her husband Jordi Savall, musician and educator and two children, also musicians.

A truly enchanting piece sung by beautiful Ariana Savall, Monserrat's daughter, a signer and a harpist.

A comment on YouTube:
actually, Yo M'enamori d'un aire is a folk song in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews. It is based on Old Spanish and is written in the Hebrew script traditionally. It translates to "I fell in love with the charms of a woman"

Funerary Traditions, cont.

The funerabre traditions of Europe had contained and continued the Memento Mori theme in design and craft. While the Polish tradition of Funerary portraits died off, the funerary styles of clothing, and decorum continued its mission.

In the Protestant regions, the Quakers have developed a particular style of funerary ceramics. Whole sets were being created to serve at funerary receptions in a manner that would not disrupt the noble solemnity of the rite-ridden event.

Contemporary artist, James Turrell, himself a lapsed Quaker had involved himself in a process of designing a series of ceramic service pieces in the style of traditional Quaker basalt ware. In line with the community’s disciplined approach, the pieces are black, with subtle satin sheen. Sublime decoration is achieved with relief battering and combing. (I definitely will find and attach a photo of his amazing work)

22 Feb 2013

Nostalgia vs Melancholy, Funerary Art

Will we enter the new era of Nostalgia? Or, perhaps another period of it, or maybe we have never been without it? Are we amidst such period?

In 2008 Vienna Museum featured hugely successful showcase of Vanitas in art. What would I give for the catalogue of it....

Favourite symbols beaming from the canvases
asking the question of Essential Melancholy:
In ictu oculi ("In the blink of an eye") a vanitas by Juan de Valdés Leal

Ubi sunt? 

¿Qué se fizo el rey don Juan?

Los infantes de Aragón
¿qué se fizieron?

¿Qué fue de tanto galán,

qué fue de tanta invención
como trujeron?

What became of King Don Juan?
The Princes of Aragon,
What became of all of them?
What of so much handsome nobility?

This canción relies on the motives of things of this world that are gone by, hence letting us that we may be next in line....

That's just what this is - Where are the flowers gone, from 1961.

20 Feb 2013


15 years ago a client gave me a CD with a collection of old Argentinian Tangos for 50ies and 60ies, with Julio Sosa (Peruvian-born Argentinian crooner of times gone by). I became totally infected with tango. I do not dance it, I love the music and watching this entire theater of visual ritual.
It's a formidable force....

18 Feb 2013

Discovery of Shabby Chic and Reclaimed

Somewhere in the older posts I have confessed that for a while I was suspecting myself of being a deviant, trying to isolate, building a suspicious museum of myself, filled with found or given objects and trying to evoke the climate of nostalgia for the era gone by...
But then - here is to the Internet - I noticed that it is not only me. I felt consoled and relieved.
I felt like poor Mr. Jourdain form The Bourgeois Gentleman who upon learning that he speak in prose and has been doing so for a long time feels adequate and so much closer to being an aristocrat!

So I  have been speaking Shabby Chic and Rustic and Reclaimed and all this without knowing it!
I am so relieved...

Here is some good Mr. Lully, who even set some music to Moliere's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme just to set us in a mood of French style...

13 Feb 2013

Dame Edna

Hello Possums.

Yes, as some of you know, I am all-time fan of Dame Edna, who is a bit ugly creature, the natural daughter of the Australian comedian Barry Humphries and the figment of his creative imagination.
She/he is a superb entertainer and a talk-show and the founder of the Prostate Olympics.
Yes, you've got it right: The World Prostate Olympics!
The photo shows her at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Yes, she is something, look darling - isn't she adorable?
This is what her website says about herself: http://www.dame-edna.com/

"Possibly Jewish, Dame Edna is a widow, with three grown children.  She spends her time visiting world leaders and jet-setting between her homes in Los Angeles, London, Sydney, Switzerland and Martha’s Vineyard.  She is the Founder and Governor of Friends of the Prostate and the creator of The World Prostate Olympics."
A tad more on the subject of Funerary Traditions:

When I die would love to have her notoriously stylish eye glasses put in my coffin, or shoe box - whatever it will be at the critical moment...
Of course, there is a whole list of items I would like to take with me to the afterlife, so I better prepare the box ahead of time or someone may do that not exactly to my liking....

But the plans for the internment of my precious earthly remains a subject of a whole separate blog post. There is still, statistically, a little bit time left for the preparations, because as most of you know I am still well in my thirties..... YES? or NO?
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