Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Stories of the Mona Lisa - Piotr Barsony

An Imaginary Museum Tale About the History of Modern Art
Illustrated by the author
Translated from the French by Joanna Oseman
Sky Pony Press, NY: 2012
HC $19.95
56 pages
Goodreads rating: 3.31
My rating: 4/excellent
Endpapers: gray with blurry black 1" dots and plops of colorful paint dots as well
Title Page: all white, but font is in colors and type that look like pastel crayons were used
Illustrations: In the style of many different artists

1st line: "Dad, will you tell me a story?"

My review on Goodreads:  I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art today and before leaving, sat on the floor of the (incredible) bookstore checking out the many children's picture books about art and artists.  I loved this one. In it, the artist/author shows the different ways in which different important/famous artists would have painted the Mona Lisa if they'd used their own styles. I do wish that that premise might have been made a little clearer to kids (I knew that Monet, Picasso, vanGogh, Haring, Kandinsky and a dozen or so others had never painted any Mona Lisas, but kids might not understand that).  Otherwise, it was a topnotch book with a great explanation of some of the different art movements in recent(or somewhat recent) history.  I had to buy it. I've already read it twice.

Goodreads review:   This book is about the fascinating history of modern painting through what many consider the most famous work in the history of art: the Mona Lisa by Léonardo De Vinci. Piotr acts as the museum guide for his young daughter throughout the book, taking us on a journey through an imaginary museum. He describes famous art movements and artists, including: impressionism, cubism, expressionism, favism, minimalism, surrealism; Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Picasso, Bacon, Pollock, and more. All of the most famous painters of the modern and contemporary art movements are explained with their own Mona Lisa portraits, in their signature styles.   Throughout the book, Piotr acts as a guide, explaining to his daughter (and the reader) each genre of paintings in a clear, simple, and entertaining way. By the end of the book, we discover that he's actually the artist who's been painting all those Mona Lisa's and the results are spectacular. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

22. 61 Hours - Lee Child

Jack Reacher #14
audio read by Dick Hill
11 discs: 13 hours
2010. Random House Audio
383 pgs.
Written for adults
Finished June 7, 2013, on the road between Tucson and Dallas, TX
Goodreads Rating: 4.03
My Rating: 3.5 (It was very good)
Acquired: Paperback Books Swap (PBS)
Setting: Bolton, SD during a frigid blizzard
Goodreads:  Sixty-one hours. Not a minute to spare. A tour bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.
Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman whose life he’ll risk his own to save.  In 61 Hours, Lee Child has written a showdown thriller with an explosive ending that readers will talk about for a long time to come.

My comments: I can't believe that right in the middle of bumper-to-bumper-Dallas-practically-stopped-rush-hour-traffic with about 200 miles to go I got to the end of this book.  I backed it up and listened again.  WHAAAT?  So badly did I want to get to a computer to ask a question or two. If I say more it will be to much of a apoiler!  The story started out slowly for me but got better and better - it totally kept my attention driving from Tucson through a huge part of the state of Texas!  And for the first time in many, many Reacher books, I figured out the back guy before he did!  Didn't take away from the story, though.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Goodreads has a poetry group whose members vote on a favorite submission each month. I really like the following June poems:

Union Line Cemetery

In a graveyard in Mississippi
Lie the bones of a woman I loved
And those of a man I did not,
Though I am more like him than her.

Down a paved road off the federal highway
Slicing diagonally from Mobile,
The road turns sharply as if
It was meant to dead end.

But as if someone moved the gates
The road bends, goes on precisely south
While the sun goes west away from the graves.

Marble benches wait through the undisturbed dust
For me to stop to pick sand spurs from my dress socks
And prick my fingers and remember I am alive.

While under clumps of low growing weeds,
Neat green grass and bare spots
These dead people rest in a Mississippi summer quiet,
As they do in winter beneath a midnight ice storm.

Dead, yes, they are dead.
But I am alive and they are why I am so.
They keep us, our families, ourselves alive.

I wonder if in a few years when I am dead,
Ashes tossed in the Mississippi,
Will I hold anyone connected or only be dust,

Forever blown about where the delta turns to sea?

~Anthony Watkins

I really like this one, too:


The oaks that line the road
kown it didn't rain yesterday
or the month before,
that there have been summers
when the lake bottom cracked
and a noon sun lit the wheel
of an old toy in the sand
at the bottom of a well.

A woodpecker knocks on the
leaning ash black ants are eatiing
from the inside out.
Dust rises.
A thirty-something blonde in a mail Jeep
reaches out and
the rusted hinge creaks.
Her blue eyes,
Like an oven set on broil,
measure me
from boots to sweat-soaked shirt.

~M. Flynn Ragland

Shopping in Colorado Springs

I found these "notes" I'd written two years ago, in April, 2011, which I want to remember.  So I know this is waaaaaaay out of order, but I want to be able to access it (now that I've reread it I'm ready to head back to Colorado)!  I'll look for photos later.  This is solely for my own memory and no one reads this blog but me, so I guess it doesn't really matter....

Boy, we’ve been to some really cool places in Colorado…both in Pueblo and in Colorado Springs.  I don’t want to forget the people or the places, so I’m going to make a few quick notes.

                Pueblo, CO, first thing Wed. morning (April. 20th) we went to Colorado Fiber Arts.  This was a #5 shop.  The owner was in Mexico, vacationing for the week, but Wynne (Winnie), who works and teaches there, was superb AND superbly helpful.  First she showed me the short, short Addi’s that people who don’t like to knit on four needles are using to knit socks. (People like me).  She has recreated a pattern and gave it to me.  She also gave me a copy of the scarf/shawl pattern that they had a gorgeous grey shawl made as a sample.  Wynne lives in Canon City but stays with her 91-year-old mother three times a week and works at the shop.
                Wynne also told us about a great bakery downtown (I had a yummy “sticky orange roll”), a stamp store in Pueblo that would be fun, and a couple of fiber arts stores in Colorado Springs that were too good to miss.  She was just lovely, and so was the shop.  I could have spent a lot more time looking around, and will hopefully be back another time to do so.
                Next stop was Colorado Stampin’ & Scrappin’ where I was greeted by Margaret, the store’s owner.  She is an incredibly knowledgeable stamper who showed me all sorts of tricks to get me restarted with stamping and embossing.  She was wonderful…and funny.  She had a difficult time walking and used a small shopping cart (which contained her purse and portable store telephone) to aid her.
I purchased a new VersaMark stamp pad, 6 stamping powders (metallic gold, metallic “super russet”; three DUO colors:  blue-green, green-yellow, and red-blue; and one called “interference violet”, which can be used on its own or added atop another to change its tone a bit), Stamp N Bond adhesive powder, a rubber stamp that was a lady’s face, a cylinder of three foils, and a heavy formica table pad on which to stamp.  I came away with some instructions and a lot of ideas.

                We then hit 25N for a quick ride to Colorado Springs.  We went to Van Briggle Pottery, where they have been making fine pottery since the end of the 19th century.  I bought a beautiful vase with a lovely gold-brown glaze that includes a greenish and a mauve hue.  Really lovely.  It’ll look great with my Mata Ortiz, Navajo, and Hawaiin pots on my sideboard. 
                After checking into the LaQuinta, we drove over to a lovely area on Colorado Avenue which was blossoming with all sorts of lovely flowering trees.  Although it was overcast, the sun tried to peep through the clouds throughout the afternoon.  We did finish our time here with sprinkles falling, but it was not a problem at all (except that Fran got cold). 
                Bon Ton Café:  homemade vegetable soup and salad for Fran, hash browns and club sandwich for me.  Quite satisfying.
                The first gallery we went into, right across the street, was very cool, and the gal working there knew her artists quite well.  Funky birdhouses by a Scottsdale artist were there, I’d seen them in Bohemia in Tucson.  There were also gorgeously painted and reasonably priced pine furniture from Texas….I would love a piece for my house.  $300 would purchase a gorgeous end table with door.  All the people that work on each piece sign the back of it.  This collection also included tables and chests.
                Just down the street was Arati Artists Gallery, Inc.  This was a coop of local artists, and the woman “on duty,” was a wire worker and beader.  Darn but we didn’t get her name.  (Arati is east Indian meaning “send a little light (or beauty) into the world.)  Incredibly reasonable prices – I got a horsehair vase by Dan Masimer for $6 and two cool little pots by Darlene Wells for $3 and $4!  What deals…and they’re beautiful.  There were also silk paintings by a woman who has macular degeneration.  She actually forms the pieces of silk into a sculpture like a flower or sunburst, adds dyes, and frames them.  A couple had the leftover piece of silk draped from the corner of the canvas.
                Needleworks by Holly Berry and Holly Berry House Originals was our next stop, at 2409 West Colorado.  OOOOOEEEEEE.  The left half of the store was yarns and patterns and samples and needles….the right half was baby and boutique-y gifts, and out back….well, here were Kathryn Read’s rubber stamp designs. Englas, one of the rubber stamp artists who work here, gave us a demonstration and really got our creative juices going.  I ended up buying two large rubber stamps and some transparent art glitter that can go on any color and keep that color.  She showed us how to emboss with gold, paint inside the lines with Twinkling H2O’s by Luminarte (which they were sold out of!), and create beautiful works of art.  Fran really loved it, and it looks like she might be enticed into trying it out!  So cool! 
                As I was leaving the yarn part of the store, I noticed a big container of Tamari Balls.  There is an instructor that gives classes on the first Friday or Saturday of the month.  I’d love to come on up during the summer for a class, and gave them my email address so I can keep informed about both the stamping and yarn classes.
                Across the street was Kathleen McFadden’s Range Gallery.  What a cool lady!  She’s a photographer (who gives lessons) and her studio shows her wonderful, natural photos….weathered trees, ancient school bus, donkey’s full-face….images from the central coast of California(where she used to live) and in black and white.  She has a series of oak trees mounted on cotton rag paper with UV protection for $325.  They’re long and would look great over my couch – and she can ship anywhere.  She was the one who told us that living in Colorado Springs is great, reasonably priced, and extremely dog-friendly.  There’s even a sticker that businesses put on their doors so that people know they can bring their own dogs in without a problem.
                Fran’s niece, Terri, joined us then, and we continued wandering down Colorado Avenue to Pyramide Boutique.  Batik fashions and jewelry, made by cottage industry companies, were featured.  Fran found a dress for a family wedding this summer.  Terri found a Bright green cotton shirt.  And I found a black scarf with white swirls and a necklace that almost matches my favorite silver bracelet.  We spend about an hour trying on clothes and yakking with the owner.  Such fun!

                By the time we left the boutique it was drizzling and it was also time to eat.  We walked over to Pizzeria Rustica, where we ate Neapolitan pizza with homemade goat cheese, grilled mushrooms, zucchini, and sundried tomatoes.  What an excellent afternoon!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

21. Taken - Erin Bowman

#1 in what I'm sure will be a series
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 3.78 (over 1400 ratings)
My Rating: 4.5 Liked it a whole lot
Acquired: TPPL
Setting: Eastern US in the future
1st sentence/s: "Today is the last day I will see my brother."

My comments:  4.5. Good story. Really good story. I'm sure this is the first in a series, and I'll be the first in line to grab the next one. Erin Bowman has set up a love triangle, a move to a new setting, and the possibility of adding new characters to an already strong list. There are so many dystopian novels out there now that it boggles me how many new plot ideas and scenarios authors can come up with. I really liked this one a lot.

Goodreads Review:  There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.  They call it the Heist.  Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.  Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?