Robert Wyland…an artist inspiring future conservationists

Have you ever listened to a child critique art? They are the best…no filter, honest and very observant of things we might not see at their eye level. The conversations they have about art are priceless. One of my first grade students said while looking at a Wyland painting, “Look, I’m swimming with the turtle and I’m not even wet.” Every year during open house our elementary has a traveling art exhibit. This year we hosted Robert Wyland. Children could not pass by the beautiful art work without stopping to stare. We could only have the banners for one week but it gave children the chance to explore and hopefully recognize Wyland so that when they someday see one of his one-hundred Whaling Walls, they will remember studying Wyland.
Here are some questions, quotes and information about Robert Wyland to inspire you and your children…
 
Robert Wyland:

Wyland is a world-renowned marine life artist who celebrates art, science and conservation. He was the official USA artist for the Olympic games in England. Wyland has painted one-hundred Whaling Walls over twenty-seven years and he did them all for free. Did you know that he has used art and science education to inspire kids around America so they will take care the planet? He’s very passionate about teaching children and has painted with over one million kids in all fifty states and many countries around the world in the last twenty years. He wants to inspire children to protect, promote, and preserve our environment. Wyland’s paintings are a celebration of the wonder of our blue planet. His murals are designed to motivate environmental awareness and stewardship, particularly in children. Wyland says, “You can choose not to go into a gallery or a museum, but you can’t ignore a giant mural like this. If people see this beauty, I know they’ll want to get involved in protecting it.” 

Have you ever met a sea turtle face to face? How about a spinner dolphin or a blue whale? The ocean can be steps away, but their world couldn’t be more different from ours…dive in with Wyland without even getting wet. 
 
Wyland is all about educating children about conservation. Here’s some inspiration from him to help us teach our children to care for the planet…
 
Conservation tips:
When brushing your teeth, turn the water off while you are actually brushing. Use short bursts of water for cleaning your brush and this will save about 80% of the water normally used. 
A faucet that drips a drop a second is leaking 2,600 gallons of water a year…so fix the drip!
Did you know that it takes five-hundred years for one plastic water bottle to break down. Be certain your empty bottles head to recycling centers. Better yet, skip the plastic bottle and choose reusable water bottles filled from home!
Wyland quotes:
The ocean is an amazing, indescribable world filled with color, movement, emotion and light.
The only thing you can hope for is to enjoy every moment and try to keep the balance by giving something back.
Saving the planet is a cool thing to do!
If you happen to see a whale, it’s only because they want you to.
Water is life and we have to protect it.
 
Craving more? Here are a couple of little videos that I showed my class…

 

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An American in Paris

Have you noticed that musicals are cool again? New musicals like La La Land and Beauty and the Beast are making their mark in America. History has shown us that most great musicals come out in times of anxiety and disorder…hello?! Musicals help provide us with escapism…who doesn’t want to get away sometimes? Audiences love watching a beautiful fantasy about young people succeeding. Think about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers…they provided an elegant distraction from the Great Depression.  Classic musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris offer that escapism that people are craving and now we’re seeing them pop up again today.

An American in Paris is the theatrical version of Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly’s Gershwin-themed 1951 screen musical…very different from the Vincente Minnelli movie. Even today, the late Kelly continues to inspire dancers, choreographers and directors such as Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and British ballet dancer Christopher Wheeldon, who directed this balletic musical. English choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, who ranks with choreographers like Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, is a master at connecting storytelling through the language and romance of dance. 

George Gershwin’s beloved  ‘s wonderful jazzy American standards are still timeless today and they work well with the displays of bold primary colors and geometric shapes in Wheeldon’s An American in Paris on Broadway.

‘S wonderful, ‘s marvelous
You should care for me
Well, ‘s awful nice, ‘s paradise
‘S what I love to see

Wheeldon opens the show in 1945 (unlike the movie which opened in 1951) just after the end of the war. Paris is traumatized…dark and poor not cheerful and light. Opening with scenes of a shorn-headed collaboratrice being manhandled by the crowd. Wheeldon says, “In many ways, [the changes] makes the romance more potent because there is a contrast of the darkness and the light.”

The show is about an American WWII veteran trying to make it as an artist in a newly liberated Paris. American soldiers, Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner) and Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson), stay in Paris after the end of the war. The painter and composer befriend a wealthy Frenchman, Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler) and all become involved in the production of a new ballet. They also all fall in love with the same woman, Lise Dassin (Sara Esty), who has a secret past. 

An American in Paris is a love letter to the City of Lights. The virtuosic designs take us all around Paris…people fishing on the Seine and shoppers in the Galeries Lafayette. It’s a style fit for Gershwins’ irresistible “(I’ll Build a) Stairway to Paradise.” 

The dancers display balletic grace and emotion that seem effortless. These performers are true triple threats…they act, sing and dance so well that they lift you right out of your seat to take you along for the ride.

Escape with An American in Paris while you still can. 

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Five of the sweetest paintings for Valentine’s Day

 

Love has been one of the most prominent themes depicted in art throughout history. Many artists have been inspired to create works that evoked powerful emotion to people around the world…thankfully for art lovers these artists channeled their emotions into timeless masterpieces.

Beautiful love paintings are much appreciated around the world. It is a favorite subject for several famous artists. Romantic paintings of lovers are a feast to the eyes and it’s beautiful to see how perspectives on love have evolved over the centuries. 

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, cast your adoring eyes on five of the sweetest representations of romance.

The Lovers, 1855 by William Powell Frith 

The Kiss, 1907-1908 by Gustav Klimt 

Il Bacio, 1867 by Francesco Hayez

The Swing, 1767 by Jean-Honore Fragonard

Romeo and Juliet, 1884 by Frank Bernard’s Dicksee

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Neil Young: Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say

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Neil Young is a rock-and-roll icon and has been for six decades…he’s not fading away! He’s released thirty-six solo albums since 1969-2015. “I don’t care what people want to hear…that’s not why I’m playing. I’m not an entertainer in the classic sense. I play what I feel like playing, and I hope the people like it.” 

Neil Young is my Dad’s age…seventy-years-old young. There’s something about this generation…their unwavering confidence and spirit of a Crazy Horse. Neil Young’s middle name is Percival…one of the knights of Arthur’s round table. Percival was one of the persevering knights who finds the Holy Grail and completes the quest. Young’s parents probably knew that Percival would suit him well.

Most music fans know about Neil Young and his epic musical legacy, but if you “come a little bit closer”…the man behind “Rockin’ In The Free World,” “Heart of Gold,” “Harvest Moon,” “Ohio” and so many more classics is even more interesting than you thought.

FIVE THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT NEIL YOUNG…

1. Neil Young has been a resident of Northern California for almost fifty years (he also has homes in Florida and Hawaii) but did you know that he’s Canadian? He’s received both the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada“It’s my roots, I’m proud to be a Canadian – but I don’t let it hold me back.”

2. Neil Young was once in a band with R&B legend Rick James. Before he formed Buffalo Springfield, Young played in a ’60s Toronto band called the Mynah Byrds that was fronted by seventeen-year-old Rick Super Freak James. Not only did Young play in a band with Rick James in the ‘60s, they also shared an apartment together in Toronto. In an interview Young said, “We did some wild things. It’s all very hazy to me now. I’m glad I made it through that stage. It got a little dicey.”

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3. Neil Young is passionate about paddle boarding and practices during his free time. He said he loves paddle boarding because “it’s a beautiful thing…I can’t worry about the paparazzi. You can’t see them anyway. They are taking pictures from behind trees. You can’t think about that.”

4. Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” as a diss song to Neil Young for writing “Southern Man” and “Alabama.” Young’s songs discuss the racism that existed in the American South. “Sweet Home Alabama” is about how great the South is and includes the lyrics “I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.” Young actually liked the song.

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5. Young looks long and lean because of his training regimen…Pilates! He’s a trained Pilates instructor. “I have a truck that travels with me when I’m on the road, and it has a Pilates Reformer in it. I keep doing stuff like that. It keeps me fit.” Young attributes Pilates to making his performances on stage more aerobic and a form of strength training. “I can actually do it better now than I’ve been able to for years because Pilates has opened my body up. I feel much better about my ability to react physically to what I’m doing.”

It’s nice to know that Neil Percival Young isn’t retiring anytime soon. He’s writing a book right now…still on his quest like a persevering knight of King Arthur.

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Tuesday Nights in 1980

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Imagine a party in New York City in 1979…the punk era. You might see Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Blondie, Keith Haring… This was a time period that changed the art world and opened it for the outsiders coming in with a vision. Molly Prentiss paints the end of the seventies Manhattan with many cigarettes, graffitied phone booths and seedy bars that take you back to the hey day of CBGB’s and Studio 54.

“One man would be grinning while the art lovers toasted in his name, another man would never paint again.”

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Things seem to be falling into place at the beginning of the book…The main character, James, has a faithful following of his New York Times art reviews and his art collection is the talk of the town. On New Year’s Eve, James and his wife, Marge, are excited to begin the new decade with a new life that they’ll welcome in 1980.

Tuesday Nights in 1980 follows a group of people engrossed in the art scene in New York in 1979. Raul Engales is an artist from Argentina who has run away from his sister, Franca and the problems his country is facing. Raul is ego driven and dives head first into NYC’s art scene. Raul tunes out his past in Argentina but when James comes into his life, he can’t ignore what he left behind. Franca’s little boy Julian is warmly welcome by James’ wife Marge who so desperately wants a child of her own. Marge confronts Lucy about the affair she has had with her husband. Marge tells Lucy, “It isn’t enough to be beautiful… Beautiful is for other people. You have to be something for you.”

Lucy is like “the girl with the pearl earring“…she’s in a painting of Raul’s and is muse to both Raul and James. James describes Lucy in his synesthetic-style…”She was a lime after a shot of strong tequila. She was no sunglasses and no sunscreen when you needed both. She was wet tar when your feet got stuck…”

James is the peculiar character who shines the brightest in Tuesday Nights. He seems to be on the spectrum and needs inspiration to be the art critic that New York Times can’t get enough of. James’ synesthesia has made him successful with his unique critical perspective…”a word was transformed into a color, where an image was manufactured into a bodily sensation , where applesauce tasted like sadness and winter was the color blue.” When James awakens to find his synesthetic abilities gone, after his wife has had a miscarriage, he’s desperate to regain them in order to save his marriage and career. James tells Raul after he’s had an accident and states that he’s giving up art, “You are underestimating of the power of the associative brain! That’s what an artist is! Someone whose way of looking at the world – just their gaze – is already an idea in itself!”

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Each character is motivated by a deep yearning that keeps them dancing into the New Year with sentimental hope. Tuesday Nights in 1980 is a debut novel that will keep you turning the page for more… “The imperfections, the time that’s passed, the hiccups…that’s the wear of the world on it. That’s the life.”

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The Peach Kings take a “Detour” with Cyndi Lauper

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When my sister was about five, my brother and I would toss her down the laundry shoot. She was up for the adventure and thought it was wildly funny. That’s my sister Paige, always up for an adventure and looking for fun…she’s a “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” kind of sister.

When Paige and I played Barbies together, she liked to cut Barbies hair short…always experimenting with different hair styles. Paige and Cyndi shared a love for changing hair styles. I read that Cyndi Lauper did the same thing. “I was always cutting my Barbie and Pollyanna dolls’ hair. I lined them all up and put a cloth around their necks, like they were at the beauty parlor. Barbie was a real heartbreaker, but then all of a sudden, Barbie was freakin’ bald. That was a shocker.”

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This month, Paige, sang with the oh so unusual Cyndi Lauper on her “Detour” tour. When Paige walked out on stage in Raleigh, North Carolina wearing her “Kinky boots” she grabbed the mic that’s reserved for Boy George and yelled, “Are there any Goonies in the house?” The loudest scream came from me, “YESSSSS!” My family knew we were in for BIG fun!

The highlight of the evening was when Paige sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with Cyndi!! Holy merde, my sister sang with Cyndi Lauper! My emotions were so high that I felt like I was going to explode with happiness! My sister-in-law hinted to me that she thought it might happen but I thought she’d lost her mind.

When Cyndi asked Paige and Steven to come back out on stage she said in her Brooklin accent, “Aww, look at them…so cute and purty.” Cyndi said, “Alright, Let’s do this. Steven, you start.” Steven started playing the guitar without the band, then just Cyndi and Paige were singing together. My brother’s favorite part was when Steven made an air pump to cheer on Paige when she started singing, “I come home in the morning light“…the same way you would if you just scored a soccer goal!

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Paige and her fiance Steven, make up the band, The Peach Kings. They were the opening act for Cyndi Lauper. Paige and Steven have an electric energy…it’s easy to see how much they love each other by the way that they perform and get lost in their music together. They have this cool indie-alternative vibe that you might hear in a soundtrack to a film noir movie. You might not imagine The Peach Kings and Cyndi Lauper together, but that’s what made the show unique. Cyndi wanted an opening act with a love duo that was organic and vulnerable. They didn’t need bells and whistles to set the mood.

Sixty-three-year-old Cyndi reaches every generation. Her music is still just as relevant today as it was when she began more than thirty years ago. You can tell that she is nostalgic about old country music. Her country heroes are Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash…it really comes through on her new album.

Cyndi has been a dedicated advocate for the gay community with her work for the True Colors Foundation and Kinky Boots musical (a true story about the power of acceptance). She spoke about the controversial House Bill 2 before her performance and donated proceeds from the concert to Equality NC. Numerous bands and musicians have cancelled shows in North Carolina due to HB2 but Cyndi Lauper took the high road by shining a positive light on young children. Cyndi says, “You can’t make kids be what you want them to be. They are who they are. It’s our responsibilities as adults to nurture them as they are.”

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The 80’s music is nostalgic to me…I am truly a byproduct of growing up in Cyndi’s Goonie era. My parents are close to Cyndi’s age and they love to listen to her throw back music to the 60’s…especially when she puts her spin on Pasty Cline’s, Walkin’ After Midnight” and Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love.”

Her new album, “Detour,” is built on country music. She sounds right at home singing country. Before her hits in the 80’s, Cyndi fronted the rockabilly band, Blue Angel. Country music is her first love. This was my third time seeing Cyndi play in concert. She’s one of the only artists who truly paints a picture for you before she begins. She talked about what it was like growing up in Brooklyn and how she’d watch Saturday morning cartoons that inspired her to make the “Detour” album. By the time she started singing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” the audience made a connection with her and we were transported to her childhood.

Catch The Peach Kings on their Night Sweat Tour and see Cyndi Lauper as she continues her “Detour” around the world.

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Five things you might not know about the Goonies

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HEY YOU GUYS!!!!! Summer is the best time to watch the Goonies. I think most kids fantasize about finding a map that leads them to hidden pirate treasure. The Goonies is an action-comedy…like a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” for children. Our family watches the Goonies several times during the summer…just like my brother and sister and I did when we were growing up in the eighties. We are of the Goonie generation. We are Goonies! My children are Goonies now too and summer is “our time!“. Whenever they hear me play Cyndi Lauper and Good Enough comes on they shout, “GOONIES!”

Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket. ~Mickey

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1. JUNE 7TH IS “GOONIES DAY.”

The mayor of Astoria, Oregon named June 7th “Goonies Day” in honor of the movie, and the town hosts an annual celebration. It’s a weekend of treasure hunting, group truffle shuffles and trivia scavenger hunts. If you’re planning a trip to Astoria, here’s a Goonies guide. Not only will you see where the Goonies was filmed but Astoria is also the oldest settlement west of the Rockies…rich with history and Victorian architecture.

2. THE FILM WAS MOSTLY SHOT ON LOCATION IN ASTORIA.

Other than the cave with One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship that was shot in Burbank, California, The Goonies was shot almost entirely in sequence in Astoria, Oregon on a five-month shooting schedule.

3. DATA MENTIONS A SCENE THAT WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

If you listen carefully, you’ll here Data mention that “the octopus was very scary” to the reporters at the end of the movie. There wasn’t an octopus scene in the movie…because it was cut.

4. CYNDI LAUPER’S “GOONIES R GOOD ENOUGH” IS A GOONIES ANTHEM. 

I remember watching Lauper’s seven-minute music video on MTV. It features appearances by executive producer Steven Spielberg, the Bangles and André the Giant and of course…The Goonies. Cyndi was upset about Steven Spielberg jamming “The Goonies” into her title. For a long time, she never played it in concert. It’s a great song (one of my favorites)…an anthem for a group of misfit heroes, The Goonies.

5. COREY HAIM AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF MOUTH AND LOST IT TO COREY FELDMAN.

Corey Haim and Corey Feldman ended up becoming best friends after The Goonies. They were both cast in The Lost Boys (1987) then went on to make six more movies together. In License to Drive (1988), Feldman auditioned for the lead role, but lost it to Haim.

Enjoy The Goonies this summer and revel in the nostalgia of Mikey and the gang’s epic voyage, and you’ll soon find yourself “setting booty traps and doing the truffle shuffle.”

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Gustav Klimt and Georges Seurat…for children

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Children are the best observers. It was such a joy to come to school while the traveling art exhibit was on display and hear the conversations that children were having about Klimt and Seurat. I heard one of my students say…”Klimt was one of the greatest artists because he used gold swirly whirlies in his paintings.” It was fun to see my first graders be inspired by Seurat and create a painting using dots (pointillism) just like Seurat.  For one week, the school was covered in the happy wallpaper of Klimt and Seurat. Children could not walk by the banners without staring in awe at these incredible masterpieces.
 
Having these beautiful pieces of art at Hilltop made for a powerful learning environment…it gave children the chance to explore, observe and experience art that we can’t just fly off to Paris to see. When you go to a museum, you have the power to choose what to look at…the children now have the pictures stored in your head. The memories created are filed for future reference. It was a pleasure to be a docent for our school and to watch the children gain an appreciation for Klimt and Seurat.
Here are some questions, quotes and information about Gustav Klimt and Georges Seurat to inspire you and your children…
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Gustav Klimt:
Gustav Klimt was one of seven children. Klimt’s father was a gold engraver…around all that gold Klimt was very poor for most of his childhood. It was a difficult time to get work and he was very lucky to be awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of the Arts. He loved art, life and his cat. Klimt’s style of swirling flowing lines and patterns was called “Art Nouveau” or “New Art.” Klimt lived a simple life. He wore a robe and sandals while he painted all day, every day…it paid off because some of his paintings sold for more than $135 million dollars. Gustav painted highly ornamental figures that appear to float in a dream like space. Exploring Klimt, gives us the opportunity to look at shapes with fresh eyes.

Questions to ask children: When would you have guessed these were painted? What shapes can you see? Why does Klimt like gold so much? Why does he like cats? Think about how Seurat and Klimt grew up…one was poor, one rich. Was money important? Did they both work hard and keep trying?

Quotes to inspire children:
Art is a line around your thoughts.
Look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do.

Craving more? Here’s a little video that I showed my class…Who is Gustav Klimt?

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George Seurat:

Seurat developed a technique called “pointillism” using tiny dots of colors, which become blended in the viewer’s eye. If you have the chance to see it, look at it close up, then take a few steps back and see Seurat’s vision. Seurat never gave up…even when his art was rejected in Paris. He decided to form an independent art society as he developed his pointillism technique that later took off. This new method of painting used dots instead of brush strokes to create the picture was all the rage in Paris. Georges Seurat spent two years working on the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” (French for big river)…it was as bigger than a mini van and was only twenty-six when he completed it. This same painting was on loan in 1958 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City when a fire broke out. The fire damaged some paintings, but Seurat’s beloved work was whisked away to safety through an elevator evacuation plan.

Unlike Klimt, Georges Seurat was from a very wealthy family in Paris during a time when money was hard to come by. Seurat worked with mostly crayons on paper…just like an everyday kid!! His work has been described as the most beautiful painter’s drawings in existence. Do you agree?

Other questions to ask children: Can art and science combine? Did you know that Seurat’s most famous painting has had more screen time than any other piece of art? Here are a few places you might have seen La Grande Jatte: Ferris Bueller’s Day OffSesame StreetThe Simpsons, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action

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Quotes to inspire children:
Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
Under a blazing mid-afternoon summer sky, we see the Seine (that’s the river you see in the painting) flooded with sunshine…people are strolling, others are sitting or stretched out lazily on the bluish grass.

Here’s a video about Seurat that children will enjoy and this video is “artrageous” too!

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Gustave Caillebotte…with children

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It’s a guarantee that when we are on a holiday, we will visit the museum. There are always a few paintings that make you want to step into the picture. When you go to the museum with children, it’s nice for them to be the leaders and see what paintings they would like to step inside of.

We seemed to agree that The Floor Scrapers, Traffic Island, Boulevard Haussmann and Paris Street: Rainy Day were three that pulled us in…making us wonder and feel like our holiday was in Paris (if only for the afternoon). Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth was a treat to see. Caillebotte’s paintings make the viewer wonder what it is we’re looking at, what we’ve decided we see, and why…

Do you know how to say Caillebotte? The Kimbell created this fun video…see if you’re right!

Here are three Gustave Caillebotte paintings that will make you wonder…

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The Floor-Scrapers
1875

The Floor Scrapers demand the viewer’s attention…showing a dramatic perspective. Look at the splayed stripes of the wooden floor being so laboriously scraped. Caillebotte visually drops the bare-chested workers right in the viewer’s lap. It’s a painting of three laborers at work preparing his first studio. It was in what was then the relatively new neighborhood of the 8th arrondissement, where Caillebotte’s father had bought. It’s an odd subject matter…very different from his Impressionist friends, Monet and Renoir. His colleagues invited him to participate in their 1876 exhibition. He chose to submit The Floor Scrapers, and it was very popular…viewers either adored it or hated it, but everyone was talking about it!

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A Traffic Island, Boulevard Haussmann
1880

Caillebotte’s Traffic Island is an aerial painting that captures a sensible and controlled environment. This is a true impression of a Paris street with people in isolation going about their everyday routines and repetitions. It might remind the viewer of Degas’s Place de la Concorde (1875) the way that you see these people going about their day as if the viewer were “people watching”…they both have a serene quality. Views like this one could only be afforded by buildings that were ten stories or higher…Caillebotte was one of few painters who could afford the view.

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Paris Street; Rainy Day
1877

This is a painting about intersections…working class and upper class mixing together in modern Paris. The Parisian bourgeoisie cross in and out of the picture on this Right Bank drizzle-slicked street. Caillebotte steals the limelight from Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir during this time because he created this glowing light that the great Impressionists were trying to capture. Sadly, Caillebotte was never considered a true member of the inner circle of the Impressionists…lacking the easy brushstrokes and sunshine scenes with people interacting. Instead, Caillebotte tells us two things we know about Paris (then and now)…the sky is usually grey and fashion is black.

Gustave Caillebotte had a short career: born in 1848, he didn’t start painting until his late twenties, and he was dead from a stroke by the age of forty-five. Upon the death of his father (who had much success on the Paris real estate market) Gustave inherited a hearty fortune. The cash meant that Caillebotte could work at his own pace, selling almost nothing; the large majority of his art still belongs to his successors. He never needed to work for a living, and never married or had a family. He painted current, in the moment surroundings…gardens, river boating, and his father’s country house. This is why he is one of the most modern of the Impressionists.

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All three paintings are remarkable for plunging perspectives for children and a sense of contiguity. Step inside Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye…it’s an air of modernité.

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Frank Sinatra: Five things you might not know

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This year marks the centennial of the birth of Frank Sinatra, who came into this world on December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey and died on May 14, 1998. Sinatra had many nicknames…The Voice, Ol’ Blue Eyes and The Chairman of the Board were a few. Each name represented different sides of his talent, good looks, charm and presence. Sinatra won nine Grammy Awards, performed on more than 1,400 records during his six-decade plus career. It was his honest voice that made the audience feel that he understood them.

When I think of Frank Sinatra, I think of my grandmother. I remember when I graduated from college in May, 1998 (the very month that Sinatra died)…my grandmother kept disappearing to the bar so she could talk to the bartender about Frank. It was as if she was in mourning for the loss of that time in her life.

I imagine that my grandmother would have loved to have been in the audience at The Copa Room in Las Vegas when Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were on stage…sipping cocktails and smoking cigarettes. This beautiful generation seemed to know how to enjoy life to the fullest.

My grandmother would have loved to have read this book to her great-grandchildren and elaborate on his life and his songs.

My children like to listen to Seriously Sinatra in my car on the way to school. I knew they would enjoy the John Seven book, Frankie Liked to Sing. This is a spunky biography that follows Sinatra as he moves from his humble childhood across the river to New York City, begins a recording career and makes it in Hollywood.

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Reading the book, Frankie Liked to Sing, is a beautiful way for grandparents and parents alike to pass on their love for Ol’ Blue Eyes to a younger generation. “Frankie’s voice made people feel like they could get through hard days and have fun on better ones.”
Perfectly timed to celebrate Sinatra’s one hundredth birthday…here are five things you might not know about Frank.
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1. Frank’s signature cocktail originated in Philadelphia. This drink can be considered a martini, but make sure to hold the olive. It is a rather refreshing, sweet cocktail that is popular in the summer time.
3 oz dry gin
3/4 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
1 oz sweet and sour mix
 
Get a martini shaker. Add a few ice cubes, then add all ingredients. Shake for ten seconds and serve in a martini glass or cocktail glass with a lemon twist.
  

 2. The song My Way is thought of as Sinatra’s signature song but he didn’t want to record it…thinking it was self-indulgent. Remember that scene with Peggy and Don in Mad Men? It’s a perfect moment when Sinatra’s “My Way” comes on the radio, and the two share a dance; it’s a magic moment for Don and Peggy.

3. Frank’s favorite color was orange. He used to say, “Orange is the happiest color.”

4. Frank inadvertently helped name Scooby-Doo. CBS exec, Fred Silverman, found inspiration in Frank’s signature, “Scoo-Be-Do-Be-Do!”

5. Born in a New Jersey, apartment, Francis Albert Sinatra was not breathing when he was born. Baby Frank was thought to be dead and was laid on the kitchen counter while the doctor attended to his mother. His grandma picked up the newborn, stuck him under some cold water, and little Frank sang his first song. Thank goodness for grandma!

His music crossed the decades from World War II to the 1990s. He defined the classic American songbook for decades with verve and panache.

Any song that Sinatra sang was most likely the very best rendition of that song. These are just a few that are linked to this amazing entertainer over his career.

Fly Me to the Moon Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” was the first song ever played on the moon.

I’ve Got the World on a String There have been many artists who have recorded their own versions but Sinatra’s is the most memorable.

Swinging on a Star “Swinging on a Star” was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke and originally sung by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My WayIt has been covered by artists including Burl Ives, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

New York, New York This love song to New York makes you want to be in a Broadway show.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas This is the gold star of Christmas songs.

Let it Snow This song helps set the mood for holiday festivities. It’s romantic, happy and everyone likes to sing along.

Luck be a Lady Hearing this song reminds me of when I was in the musical “Guys and Dolls.” It’s full of energy and spunk.

Strangers in the Night Frank Sinatra’s version of Strangers in the Night, can’t be beat…it’s smooth and I imagine my grandparents slow dancing to it.

My Way This song was not Sinatra’s favorite but it sure is a favoirte of fans…one of his most popular hits.

Mack the Knife This song is pure New York!

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May you live to be one hundred, and may the last voice you hear be mine. 

Related posts:

Mary Cassatt: Five things you might not know

Amelia Earhart: Five things you might not know