Coming Out at Christmas – London Gay Men’s Chorus

Performance at The Barbican on Wednesday December 20…

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Experiencing Art

My dear friend, az, told us about her day out, today and asked “Do you get that same “is this really happening?” feeling when you see a very famous work of art up close and personal”

Indeed, I often do, although rarely here in Canada.

For some reason, I have found many of the exhibits of major works at galleries, here, to be rather overblown affairs with so much hype that it is impossible to enjoy the works of art.

Many years ago, circa 1979, I went to see the much-talked about “Turner Exhibit” at the Art Gallery of Ontario which was over-priced and over-hyped, far too crowded, and with very few really good pieces of his work. Just over two years later, while in Paris, there was an exhibit entitled “Turner in France” at the Centre culturel du Marais which featured over 100 smaller pieces of work done on the Continent. It was fabulous. It also cost something like 5 francs, as opposed to the $15 (if I recall) entrance at the AGO.

The venue was almost as amazing as the show, itself.  I’m not sure what the connection was but it was apparently being used to house a thearte featuring plays with Babar, the elephant. You paid your entrance fee and stood on a little platform to be carried into the theatre by a little train made of barrels. Once inside, there were several rooms with the paintings, mostly watercolours and chalk drawings. To access the rooms on the other side of the theatre, you climbed a little wooden hill which featured a lamp-post and a park bench. When you finished viewing the amazing paintings and drawings, you climbed down a set of stairs and exited onto the street through a cut-out of Babar’s butt….

The French really know how to put on an exhibit!

Although I saw so many of the World’s artistic treasures during the two weeks I spent there (despite being completely broke for the second week) there were a few really memorable pieces (and places).

I went to the Musée Rodin and that is, of course, the home of most of the greatest of Rodin’s works…

Musée Rodin

My favorite being….

Danaid

Danaid

The Louvre, of course, has plenty of memorable pieces and I spent a lot of time looking at a lot of them.

Winged Victory

Winged Victory

Then, there was The Musée Cluny which houses an amazing collection of works from the Middle Ages. It was founded in 1843 with the collections of Alexandre Du Sommerard, and is housed in two historic sites, a Gallo-Roman baths from the 1st and 3rd Centuries A.D., and the 15th Century Cluny Abbey. Anyone who has seen the film “Pret a Porter” has seen the baths. The final fashion show was filmed there.

Amongst other things housed at the Cluny are the beautiful “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries.

Musée Cluny

Musée Cluny

The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn

I visited the, then new, Centre Pompidou and saw an wonderful exhibit of the work of Man Ray and another of kinetic sculptures by the Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely. Memorable!

But the most memorable piece was at Jeu de Paume (I mistakenly called it Jeu de Pommes) which started out life as the Paris handball courts. It now houses photographs and other contemporary images. When I visited, it s the home of Impressionist paintings which I think were later moved to the former Gare d’Orsay and renamed Musée d’Orsay.

Frankly, I can’t recall anything of the exhibits there with the exception of a single, magnificent, mesmerizing painting which was hanging at the top of a flight of stairs, Van Gogh’s “Church at Auvers”. It isn’t a particularly large painting, perhaps 2′ x 3′. But it seemed to loom over the landing, almost shimmering. The swirling paint-strokes make it seem almost to be alive. I have seen other exhibits of Van Gogh’s paintings (again, the one I saw a few years ago was over-hyped and not as memorable as the one I saw back in the 1960’s) but none of them struck me quite so much as this one.

Church at Auvers

Church at Auvers

Here, in Ottawa, we have a number of pieces I truly love…

Rembrandt’s “A Woman at her Toilet”. This one is particularly memorable because of its beauty but also because once, just after college, I was visiting and to my horror, some woman went up to the painting and touched it, making a sort of scritching sound with her fingernail and turned to her friend and said… “Geez, I thought those were real jewels! It’s just paint!”. I tried to find a guard to report this to but there was none around. I truly hope no damage was done. I did mention this once many years later when I was actually working at the gallery.

A Woman at her Toilet

A Woman at her Toilet

I also love the works of Joseph Cornell. Cornell was an American artist who had no formal art training. He created these wonderful assemblages made from objects collected from junk shops and bookstores.

Untitled (The Hotel Eden)

Untitled (The Hotel Eden)

I have always been fascinated by them and they were what inspired me to create some of my own found-object work, such at “June Bride“, as well as some of my jewellery and small sculptures.

June Bride (detail)

"June Bride" (detail)

Found Object Insect

"Found Object Insect"

Milk Trailer (HQ)

Can’t wait to see this!

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"Milk"

…but I digress….

Yeah, so, anyway….

I am going to give WordPress another try. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the features which weren’t here before so I will see if I like it better, now.

I still have my blog over on Blogger which I SORT of keep up to date, along with a few others which I SORT of keep up to date, on different themes.

There’s my Links blog, Vanished Ottawa (just started when I broke my hands… long story which I might tell the whole truth about some day), and Mother Forgets which is about Mom’s increasing memory problems. There are a couple of others which are either too personal or neglected to post the links to.

Anyhoodle, hopefully this will get my dear friend az off my case <<HA!>> satisfy az…

nov-1-002aa1

Mansfield 1888

Keith Olbermann on Proposition 8

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Thank you, Keith, for probably the best and most impassioned speech in support of the right for same-sex couples to marry.

It is offensive that on the eve of the final emancipation of African Americans, America chooses to embark on yet another campaign to not just deny but to destroy the civil rights of another segment of its population.

Transcription:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8. And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. “It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.”

Keith Olbermann on Proposition 8

Thank you, Keith, for probably the best and most impassioned speech in support of the right for same-sex couples to marry.

It is offensive that on the eve of the final emancipation of African Americans, America chooses to embark on yet another campaign to not just deny but to destroy the civil rights of another segment of its population.

Transcription:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8. And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. “It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.”

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