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Local painter selling 50 years of artwork


Meira Bienstock photo

BETHEL – There is a black and white print of a young girl with a bird on her head and two windows in the background. The sky is darkened and there is an engraved moon and star. The piece appears upon entering the Cavanagh Ink Studio, owned by local artist, Deirdre Cavanagh, who has put his collection of 50 years of work inside.

Examining detailed sketches from his time at college in the 1960s, alongside landscapes of trees in Portland, to books of his paintings paired with his short poems, Cavanagh has created so much that there must be an answer. to life hidden among the details.

“It’s not that simple,” says Cavanagh. “All of this, and that’s how I came to experience life: nothing is but one thing. When you go back to the root and look for the meaning, that’s where I think all of us who are – if you’re a poet, or a writer, or a painter, you want to get to the point, to the reality of the words… but everything changes… so sometimes you have it… and then sometimes you become poof! Ha!”

Cavanagh remembers that she always painted her whole life.

“I used to go to art classes when I was little at the art center and I still remember that vivid image in my head… the guy who was there, a young man, showed me how to do a dry ink brush. It’s always exciting for me to think [about]. My mind is visual, not linear.

Cavanagh always carries a handmade sketchbook with her. She created it from poetry that she wrote and ripped out of notebooks then glued together to become a large sketchbook. Her brother, Charles, looks back on Cavanagh’s birthday dinner last week. They were sitting outside and she had taken out her sketchbook and started drawing.

Cavanagh mainly talks about his two main series. The first series concerns the development of music and the second, the series of Noh masks.

As for the series The Development of Music, “I took the score [Beethoven], which was so beautiful. I am in love with the sheet music before I start to paint the music. I wanted to understand as much as possible about this.

As you walk into the studio, one of the songs from the musical series looks straight up at you.

Noh Masks originated from a classical Japanese dramatic dance. It features iconic masks to represent the roles played. Cavanagh became interested in them when she was dancing in Albany.

“So I did the Noh Masks drawings, because you know that an artist has a terrible tendency to draw her own face, without wanting to do it in the evening, ha ha!” she laughs. “But it’s also because I kind of like the contradiction in masks, sometimes it’s Noh or just No. There’s this thought that I have, that we all wear masks so as not to show your outer skin. “

Whether you’re a fan of Tim Burton’s gothic black and white plaid prints, or Pablo Picasso’s cubism, or just love Maine trees, Cavanagh is able to blend the three genres and give them a meaningful touch, with poetry, hope, and a lot of New England mixed into it.

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Jeff Simon: Buffalo-born writer Lawrence Block’s latest autobiographical look doesn’t disappoint | Books-and-literature


Each year, I submitted five or six to the school’s literary review. For my efforts as a junior, the magazine’s senior editor made fun of the school’s “professional writers” in his introduction, as if we were all guys with hurdy-gurdies and dancing monkeys. .

He’s gone now, but he grew up to become a professor of Celtic literature and mythology at a college in the Midwest. (I bet he was a great teacher. He was a good guy under the pleasant patronage of the faculty, and his own hermetic passions were persuasive even as a teenager, when he was already a Joyce scholar.)

Block would have been kosher if he had attended the legendary University of Iowa Writers’ School, whose faculty was legendary. But he went to Antioch, which required the students to spend six months working in the world.

Lawrence Block’s apprenticeship seemed, from a distance, hilarious. No fancy stuff there. He was, practically from his teens, a pulp writer in training. His first novel was written in Buffalo. It was a lesbian novel. Its editor at the publishing house changed the title to “Strange Are The Ways of Love”. She changed her name to the pseudonym Lesley Evans.

Block was writing dough by the pound for magazines and inexpensive paperbacks. Some of his pseudonyms were Jill Emerson, Andrew Shaw, Paul Kavanaugh, Sheldon Lord, Don Holliday, Lee Duncan, and Anne Campbell Clark. He has co-authored books with equally legendary pulp practitioner Donald Westlake.

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A Poet’s Heart: The Rancho Santa Fe Writer Publishes “A Westbound Sun”


Rancho Santa Fe writer James Hurley calls it courageous, the continuous effort to help poetry find a resurgence. He loved and wrote poems throughout his life, ever since writing for his college literary magazine, drawn to carefully crafted cadences and choosing the perfect words.

James Hurley, author of “A Westbound Sun”

(Michael Coy)

“A poem comes out of your heart, then out of your mind. And then you need to know how to count and rhyme, ”he said. “If you have all three, you can have a poem no matter who you are.”

A collection of poetry and writings is featured in Hurley’s long-awaited first book “A Westbound Sun”, published as he nears his 84th birthday.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book, Hurley considers the book a bit of his legacy, he has put his heart into the work and hopes his readers will come with us. As he puts it, “If a writer can enter his own heart but not the hearts of his readers, he is not worth much. “

“Aptly distributed in ‘A Westbound Sun’ are poems that show us over and over again how a loving family, deep friendships and perseverance conspire to overcome the darkest forces in our lives,” writes author Robert Bernard Hass in the front. “As evidenced by Jim’s life and book, he continued to probe his imagination and remind us that ultimately the last and greatest theme is love, and for that I am very grateful. “

Originally from Waterloo, Iowa, Hurley lived in Los Angeles for over 50 years before moving to Rancho Santa Fe about 10 years ago. After graduating from Loras College and serving in the US Navy as a journalist, he launched a distinguished career in corporate communications. As an executive and consultant, he handled public affairs, investor relations, crisis management and corporate governance. He has also produced documentary films.

Hurley has always written but has turned from literature to business writing for many years. About three years ago he decided he was “out of the way” and that his writing heart needed to keep writing this book and doing it all.

“This book is entirely Robert Frost’s fault,” remarked Hurley.

Hurley met the poet, his favorite and longtime mentor, in 1959 at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. “I was a burry, a poet in the making. He was clearly one, ”he writes in the poem The offered hand. “I caught an old desire in those color blind eyes to find an ideal rhyme containing God and the science born alike.”

In 2019, 60 years after sitting shoulder to shoulder, Hurley finally began working on his memoir on the reunion. He wrote, rewrote, and rewrote his moment-capturing essay again and ultimately had it published in the Robert Frost Society’s annual peer-reviewed journal, the Robert Frost Review.

Hass, the executive director of the Society, became a friend and literary companion, writing the front of his book.

Upon learning more, Hurley was alarmed to discover that the Society had not maintained a permanent home since 1978.

Through his expertise and relationships with business and civic leaders in San Diego, he helped create a new home for the Society at the downtown Central Library. Opened in 2020, it is a center for research and study of Frost’s work and the collections of his rare books and letters.

A condensed version of the 1959 encounter “A Personal Rebuke from Robert Frost” appears in “A Westbound Sun”. Almost an anthology, the book includes a few older writings but the majority, 28 poems, which he has written over the past two and a half years.

The volume even surprised itself, but seemed to find inspiration on a daily basis – in the poem Illusion, he writes that he was awakened to write by the rhythm of the clicking of his spoon in an empty coffee mug at the breakfast table.

He aimed to write every day, usually starting around 10:30 a.m. and sometimes writing until late at night, printing parts for editing and reworking by hand.

The book includes short stories like the moving “The Broken Day of Bernie McCarville,” a retelling of a true story of his maternal grandparents in 1915, and vignettes of six public figures he met throughout. about his career and what he learned from meeting them – from mentor poet James Hearst to Louis Armstrong to Ernie Banks to the Chicago Cubs.

“Over time, I have discovered that the only thing to fear about being close to accomplished people is the fear of becoming accomplished myself,” he wrote.

The poems transport the reader to places of Hurley’s past, in nature, and to memories of friends and family. Of his wife Jennifer, an impressionist painter, he writes: “If you had never chosen me, I would never have seen the shade of his burnt or phthalo blue. Renoir said that emotion is the signal: I owe it to you to become fully me.

The pages contain revealing and personal poems, including a poem he wrote on his mother’s deathbed, a tribute to her and her eight siblings which he read as the eulogy during his funeral.

The title of the book “A Westbound Sun” is a reference to age and serenity, Hurley said.

“I have often thought that sunset was a more contemplative time than any other time of day,” said Hurley. “It also speaks of a feeling of mortality, not in a sad but joyful sense.

“As I got older, I learned that what you seek is looking for you,” he mused. “It’s a timeless feeling to be in a sense of balance.”

This fall, Hurley plans to do his book tour on his way back to his Midwestern roots. It also has several events planned locally:

  • August 14: Reading and Q&A at the San Diego Central Library with Robert Bernard Hass, author, critic and executive director of the Robert Frost Society.
  • August 15: Book signing at Warwick’s in La Jolla from noon to 2 p.m.
  • August 18: Reading at Soul of Yoga Encinitas, 7 to 8 p.m. Owner Ryan Stanley will host and combine traditional yoga sounds (chimes, bells, drums, bowls) with readings of his poems. The studio is located at 162 S. Santa Fe Rd., Suite A70 in Encinitas.

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Cristina Iglesias creates liquid sculptures by the sea


ONA ROCKY outcrop overlooking a Norwegian fjord, she created a wall of aluminum foil, making each of their slightly curved shapes distinct. At the open-air sculpture park of the Inhotim Museum in southern Brazil, she built a magical maze lined with replicas of vegetation. In Baja California, she fashioned a delicate sculptural monument that sits at the bottom of the ocean, 14 meters below the surface. The fish swim in and out of the lettering she carved through the reinforced concrete. The only way to see the work, a tribute to marine preservation, is to go scuba diving.

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Much of Cristina Iglesias’ art has been commissioned as public monuments for specific sites. She spends months, sometimes years, polishing the individual character of each piece, but they are all linked. It is often inspired by the fragile relationship between humanity and the natural world. It mixes the real with the imagined, the seen with the memory. Typically, it took her a while to decide what she wanted to do for her seaside hometown, which she left at 18 but never forgot.

The city of San Sebastián in the Basque Country of Spain had asked him on several occasions for a sculpture; the initial request came in 1998, when Ms. Iglesias organized an exhibition at the nearby Guggenheim Bilbao. Realizing that San Sebastian already had monumental pieces by Jorge Oteiza and Eduardo Chillida, two Basque masters of the 20th century, as well as many religious statues that stand in the hills overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, she wanted to do something different .

And then it came to him. In the middle of the bay, around which San Sebastian runs along the ocean, is a small island called Santa Clara. Just a few hundred yards from the shore, it is nonetheless removed from the daily rhythms of the city, observes James Lingwood, a long-time collaborator of Ms. Iglesias d’Artangel, an art-promoting charity. It used to be that plague victims were taken to die. Over the decades, a small lighthouse has given both a warning and a welcome.

As a child, Mrs. Iglesias watched him as she fished from the mainland. “Santa Clara has always been part of the landscape for us,” she says; at 16, she swam to the island with her brothers. But none of them had ever been inside the lighthouse. Creating a work of art in the building, which had been abandoned since the mid-1960s, would, she decided, be her gift to the city.

The trip there is part of the experience. Visitors board a small boat to cross the glassy sea. The cries of seagulls fill the air. A narrow stone track winds up the hill, surrounded on both sides by ash trees, laurels, tamarisks and Japanese pittosporum. It is only when reaching the clearing near the summit that one sees the square lighthouse which has guarded the bay since the middle of the 19th century. When you open the door you are faced with the creation of Ms. Iglesias.

Creatures of the Deep

After that, it’s hard to look away. From a narrow platform just inside the entrance, you gaze at wavy ground, cast in bronze but with the shape and texture of rock. Every few minutes, the sea rushes in, throwing spray in the air before retreating into the depths. There is something fascinating about watching the water emerge, recede and return, a sensation heightened by the changing sight and sound of the sculpture as you follow the platform that winds along the interior wall to consider it. from new angles.

Learning how the extraordinary work was produced strengthens its theatrical power. Ms Iglesias’ team dug a nine-meter hole in the rock under the lighthouse, then installed a hydraulic system through which the spray is pumped onto the bronze rock. The soil itself, curved to carry the eroded layers of sediment that emerge from the sea around the island – “the shores of the Earth”, as Ms. Iglesias calls them – was sunk in a foundry and slowly put into place. by winch from a helicopter. It was “one of the biggest challenges of my career,” explains Hugo Corres, the structural engineer behind the project.

The result is the feeling that something, or everything, is swallowed up and carried away into a void. It echoes the human peril in the story of Jonah and the Whale, while also alluding to the vulnerability of marine animals. Ms. Iglesias wanted the sculpture to have a name that would bring out what Mr. Lingwood calls his “dark enchantment”. She called on Beñat Sarasola, a young poet who, with the help of an etymological dictionary, discovered an old Basque word that he did not know before: “Hondalea”, which roughly translates to “sea abyss. “. “As soon as I heard it,” said the artist, “I knew it was perfect.”

Among her muses is Rachel Carson, an influential American environmentalist who has called the seaside a “place of turmoil.” Carson’s book, “The Rocky Coast,” which Ms. Iglesias read and reread while working on “Hondalea,” ends with the writer standing on a rock, thinking of where the deep time of the geology meets the bi-daily movement of the tides, advancing and retreating, covering and revealing. Mrs. Iglesias sculpture captures the same state of mind of transience and eternity, peril and doom. It captures your senses on the island and, back on the mainland, swirls and swells in your memory.

This article appeared in the Books & Arts section of the print edition under the title “Au Lighthouse”

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At Fuller Craft, artist Michelle Samour transcends borders and boundaries


In Michelle Samour’s childhood home, a magnificent Persian rug adorned the living room floor. The rug was filled with patterns – deep reds, navy blues, soft greens – that were geometric in style but organic. The carpet was just one object among many that was the touchstone of a region of the world that Samur never knew, but which was, in fact, his ancestral home. Samour’s father was a Palestinian emigrant. He never spoke much about his life in Palestine, but Samur nonetheless absorbed some of his visual language through accessory items scattered around the house, including an embroidered waistcoat, an ornate jewelry box belonging to his grandmother. and a mother-of-pearl compact which was a gift from Samur’s father to his mother.

Michelle Samour, “Borders and Boundaries: Jerusalem”, 2017 (Credit: Fuller Craft Museum)

“Visually, it was really part of my childhood,” says Samour, professor of papermaking in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. (She will be retiring this year and has already moved to Bennington, Vermont, where she plans to build a studio.)

Samour adopted the visual vocabulary of the Middle East in “Map borders and boundaries», On view until September 19 at the Fuller Craft Museum. Investigating the concepts of homeland, exile and diaspora, his work, at first glance, may seem purely decorative, but at second glance, reveals a deeper substratum laden with political and philosophical considerations.

We see large, colorful paintings on plexiglass, reminiscent of the type of pattern Samur observed on his Persian rug from childhood. But there is a trick. These geometric patterns which may appear to be simple abstract foliage or random abstract shapes are actually outlines of Palestinian territories and Israeli settlements, particularly the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. They have been traced and mirrored to create an “inverted painting” of decorative symmetry. Under the first layer of plexiglass painted in a translucent and opaque color in jewel tones is a second layer of luminescent leaf, similar to the green leaf that stands out under the mother-of-pearl compact that Samour’s father gave his mother. The technique is called garland painting and is common, along with the handwork of mother-of-pearl and abalone, in items made in Bethlehem.

Samour’s use of indigenous design is an elegant and deftly succinct way of celebrating the region’s cultural history while also criticizing it in a subversive way. The gemstone colors of some of the paintings in the exhibition testify to the preciousness of the land while drawing a stark contrast to the history of conflict in the region.

“I worked this way for a while and then I realized the connection,” she says of her reverse paintings. “It was sort of a way for me to talk about my father’s story and my belonging to the Palestinian diaspora. I had always wanted to talk about it, but I really wanted to make sure it felt right, that there was already a connection to the work I was doing.

Michelle Samour, "Borders and borders: Palestine, Israel, Gaza," 2017. (Courtesy of the Fuller Craft Museum)
Michelle Samour, “Borders and Boundaries: Palestine, Israel, Gaza”, 2017 (Credit: Fuller Craft Museum)

The questions inherent in his work go much deeper than mere surface decoration. What place do we call home? Who or what gives us the right to call this place our home? What Happens When You Lose Your Home?

“The original title of this series was ‘Borders and Limits: In Search of Palestine’,” says Samour. “But I felt like the title was too specific because I wanted the work to be a catalyst for conversation not only about this part of the world, but about what is happening in all parts of the world, in terms of redefining borders and limits. “

Samour’s artistic practice has long leaned towards a robust materiality. She doesn’t just paint. Previous work has seen her manipulate pigmented abaca fiber into sculptural forms and construct two-layer light boxes to provide a multidimensional view of our microbial world. In this exhibition, his physical approach continues with two other bodies of work, “Land of Milk and Honey: A Story” and “Milk and Honey: Stuck. “

In “A Story”, Samour creates mixed media works on small panels that incorporate burnt wood, milk paint, beeswax, plaster and steel. Samour takes wooden tablets, some painted white, and sands them down as a metaphor for loss and disappearance. She says she was also referring to the wooden construction of the jewelry box that belonged to her grandmother and was later given to her mother. On these heirlooms, pieces of mother-of-pearl and abalone had peeled off, exposing the raw wood.

“I thought it was a good metaphor for what was happening to the Palestinians before the partition of Palestine, the formation of Israel and the ongoing conflict,” she said.

Michelle Samour, "Land of milk and honey: Stuck," 2020. (Courtesy of the Fuller Craft Museum)
Michelle Samour, “Land of Milk and Honey: Stuck”, 2020. (Courtesy of Fuller Craft Museum)

Samur drills holes in his wooden tablets and burns them, another way of discussing the loss and destruction of the Palestinian homeland. The artwork, with splinters of wood encrusted in beeswax, was Samur’s expression of the cyclical nature of the story as well as “the ‘confinement’ of the Palestinians where leaving is difficult and staying can be. be even more “.

In “Stuck”, Samur cuts iridescent acrylic paint reminiscent of mother-of-pearl in the shapes of Israel, Palestine, the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and the settlements. She then inserts the fragments into sheets of shiny orange-yellow abaca paper. She coats the paper with a layer of white gouache. The title of the play refers to the biblical phrase “land of milk and honey” referring to the promised land in Jewish tradition. The question implicit in the play is who is this “promised land” for?

“This whole idea of ​​talking about Israel and Palestine can be so difficult because people are so invested, understandably, in history whether you are a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim,” Samur explains. “It’s a difficult story to tell without people getting angry and territorial and listening. I just wanted to pay attention to all of this work to present it in a more subtle way, to hopefully make the work curious and invite people to think about what that might mean for both parties.

Michelle Samour: Mapping Borders and LimitsIs at the Fuller Craft Museum from March 2 (the day the museum reopens) to September 19.

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