Ah, Spring! Time to get downtown to visit some galleries and museums. Time to fill our eyes, minds and souls with beauty in a world growing uglier by the second. When was the last time you actually looked at your surroundings? I was driving home from LAX the other day and noticed how ugly this city is. You have to get to the ocean if you are looking for beauty, and then it has to be a city you could not afford to live in unless you are part of the 1%….If you don’t live in Los Angeles, and have not visited our big sprawl, click on images on a search engine and take a look. It will not show you the broken down buildings along the avenues, the potholes even in the posh areas, the sloppy signs, cheaply painted covering buildings along the avenues with languages other than English. There is an interesting part of the city where Spanish and Korean signs are slopped all over the same buildings. What is our world coming to? Perhaps it is becaue people are gazing into screens of every size, escaping into cyberspace to look for “friends” and playing games to keep from thinking about reality as it is today. And, where are the artists? What are they doing? Showing us the ugliness, often.Screaming out of canvas and electronic devices, and it is all very depressing. So, what is uplifting if we don’t do drugs? How far do you have to go for beauty?

Image  SUSAN MCDONNELL. Here is one artist who looks closely at the world around her. Can a fly be beautiful? Compared to the creepy things in Los Angeles alleys, cheap apartments and ill-kempt stores, maybe so. Browse my gallery and look for this sensitive young artist’s work and communicate with her about her inspiration. Artists are not inaccessible. Most of them. Image

How about photographs? Fine artists bring the world to you through insightful images they catch like wild things all over the world and bring home to share with us. I invite you to spend some time looking at the beautiful images from Peter Tan’s travels. Spend a few moments enjoying the beauty of a world not really so far from where you are. You can e-mail the artist at PTan@msmc.la.edu and share your thoughts about his work. I am inspired to stop right here to write a Haiku:  Contemplating Buddha now/such serenity/ I forget I am crying…

Maybe you are a writer too, or a teacher of writing and love to read. How about the classics. I like to hang a photograph of a favorite author over my desk for inspiration. Now, having memorized these images, I offer them to you for a modest price in the handing over. The whole point of my gallery is to transfer my art to people who will love it as I have loved it. Here is just a sample of my favorite writers who have given me many beautiful hours.

The beauty of noble souls who share themselves so completely with us.ImageChristina Rossetti from a book in this gallery.ImageHer brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti…ImageHow about reading some Raymond Carver right now? His short stories are beautiful in that they touch the heart and psyche at once without filter. His very first published book of poetry is here, signed twice to someone who was lucky enough to know him.ImageI am glad that after a turbulent, hard-scrabble life, Ray got to enjoy “gravy” for the last ten years. He lives forever in his deeply honest stories.Image Now here is a beauty in every sense of the word.  This very famous portrait of Virginia Woolf, who once said the whenever Leonard, her husband, came into the room, she never knew what he was going to say. Isn’t that a recipe for respect? I love this particular large picture I bought at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Time for me to pass it on to someone who feels the same way about this brilliant creature who, like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton afterwards, lived like a moth in a world of flames.

And speaking of noble souls, how can we think of beauty without music? I have this rare little hand-made portrait of  J.S.Bach. Signed by the artist in Berlin. What is your favorite creation? Just how much music did this one man produce? He was prolific in every area of his life, wouldn’t you agree?  Also, My Old Dutch Master original etching is ready to escape my grasp….You can read about it in these pages and decide whether or not you would like to keep it for some time yourself.  I am reminded of a sign near Culloden battlefield in Scotland where some of my ancestors lost their lives that says –everything I own will one day belong to someone else. No one person can own anything forever. Everything on these pages is being released into someone else’s hands. Maybe yours.

So, what about prayer? Contemplation of the Holy? This little gem is also in the gallery for you to own. It is a good idea to research the Magdalen and the truth about her occupation. Much propaganda would make us believe she was a woman of ill repute when in truth she was a wealthy, educated patron of the apostles, and in fact, believed by many to have been “the first apostle.” Look into this and think for yourself. 

So beauty is the theme of this page. Seek it for its healing powers. The beautiful young John Keats who lived so briefly, said “Beauty is truth…that is all you need to know.” Pilate asked Jesus, “What is the truth?” WE know what even the Roman presence in Jerusalem failed to understand. “Truth is beauty.” Ah, my heart is aching here in the brutal unreality of an ugly city fast falling into ruin for lack of civic funding and inattention as we keep our eyes gazing into our many-sized screens. At least here, I hope you get to see some images that, in fact, are very real if you want to own one or two…if you want to have the real thing to gaze at.  Now, I think I will find some time today to go down to the Los Angeles Museum of Art and enjoy the collections, a concentration of beauty in the middle of a cluttered chaotic and cacophonous city. Without hope of ever hearing a nightingale in the city I call home, or sitting under a fruit tree in someone else’s garden without getting arrested for trespassing, I persevere!

Have a good day!

joan

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