Friday, February 26, 2010

Probably belongs in a journal but Hey! Why not?


Do you ever meet people that just make you feel smart? Not because they are praising your intelligence, but sadly, because they have a view of the world that seems... uninformed, or just dumb to you?

On the flipside, do you ever meet people that make you feel like a country bumpkin, or a child, or a plain old idiot? Not because they're slipping facts about their ivy-league education into your conversations (although I've come across a few of those in my day...) but because their ideas seems grander and their capacity to DO seems like 1000x bigger than yours?

I've met people that made me feel like both sides recently, but I don't really like separating them in such an unfair dichotomy! These are my own weird stereotypes, and that's all they are, I know it. In the base regions of my heart, I fully believe that all people are created by a God who absolutely loves them for who they are, for every unique strength they have, and even for the weaknesses they have, because He made them that way (like Punchinello the Wemmick in that one book that's awesome that I can't remember the title of...). I need to recall that people have the potential to work through their weaknesses and work towards Him, and for that and myriad other reasons, He loves his kids. My gosh, lately I just really want to see people like He does.

Right now my only weapon is to pray for charity (I can't go wrong with that, huh? :). "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature... for the Lord seeth not as man seeth. For a man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." That's how I'd like to be. But how DO you get to see people's hearts when you're meeting them at parties and they just fill you in with brief stats like where they grew up and what they do and where they went to college... and that's all?

Here's one more Lindsey stereotype coming down the line: East Coast people don't like to let their freak flags fly. I think that's what's bothering me right now. I like to be a little bit different than everyone else, and I usually don't care who sees it. In the west I surrounded myself with friends who do likewise, and we pretty much lived out one of the colorful, fun Owl City songs I've got stuck in my head this week. I think I just need to get a grasp on how other people like to be out here. I also need to quit whining :)

Because none of this really, truly matters. Today's post is a wee bit o' gibberish that just needed to come out. I'm growing up, ironing out what is best in my character, and what is not. Welcome to my bumpy road. Someday soon, mark my words, I'm going to make a break-through in connecting to this hard-as-rock East Coast lineup of acquaintances. I'll see people better, light them up, and hopefully look on their hearts! Maybe they'll see mine, too, and like what they see.

Fact/Resolution: It does not matter what you wear (annoyingly trendy or disturbingly outdated), nor does it matter if your parents are rich, if there's a MBA behind your name, if your bag is genuine Fendi, or if you speak only in sign language. I should not, will not care if you never rise to prominence, gain notoriety, amass spectacular levels of wealth, or if you have limited language capacity, education or wit. You have the capacity to love. And thus, you are amazing. That's really what counts. Hopefully you use that capacity. I'm certainly going to try better to do so. Dear hipsters, bums, clueless tourists, and overbearing business-y folk who are too grown-up for their own good, I'm sorry for the rolled eyes I have shot your way recently. I'll try to smile next time. You probably deserve it, what do I know? Until then, I remain,


Some contemplative girl in your midst

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Half good enough for a girl of your...what was it...your passion for living?"


I'm surrounded by passion this week. I love it. It's reminding me why I've come hither, to winter wonderland. I'm reading this fascinating textbook called A Documentary History of American Art to 1900, and basically, instead of some Ph.D. somewhere paraphrasing art history into his terms, the editors have compiled people's writings about art that are actually from the 19th century (letters, lectures, journal entries, essays, etc). These documents really encapsulate and convey the ideals, passions, and philosophies of early American artists in a way that historians who come later just can't duplicate, no matter how hard they try. And the American in me just loves that some of the excerpts are from big players-- art celebrities-- and some are from relative nobodies-- the little guys-- who nevertheless lived and breathed and experienced the onward march of art history just as much as anyone who shared their epoch.

Example: I accidentally started reading this little excerpt from John James Audubon, published in the Ornithological Biography in 1831- I was supposed to be reading the next page, Thomas Cole's Essay on American Scenery, but once I started Mr. Audobon's "Ruby-throated Humming Bird" I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful! I'm repeating it in full, have fun guys:

"Where is the person who, on seeing this lovely little creature moving on humming winglets through the air, suspended as if by magic in it, flitting from one flower to another, with motions as graceful as they are light and airy, pursuing its course over our extensive continent, and yielding new delights wherever it is seen; --Where is the person, I ask of you, kind reader, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and instantly turn his mind with reverence toward the Almighty Creater, the wonders of whose hand we at every step discover, and of whose sublime conceptions we everywhere observe the manifestations in his admirable system of creation? -- There breathes not such a person; so kindly have we all been blessed with that intuitive and noble feeling-- admiration!...

The prairies, the field, the orchards and gardens, nay, the deepest shades of the forests, are all visited in their turn, and everywhere the little bird meets with pleasure and with food. Its gorgeous throat in beauty and brilliancy baffles all competition. Now it glows with a fiery hue, and again it is changed to the deepest velvety black. The upper parts of its delicate body are of resplendent changing green; and it throws itself through the air with a swiftness and vivacity hardly conceivable. It moves from one flower to another like a gleam of light, upwards, downwards, to the right, and to the left. In this manner, it searches the extreme northern portions of our contry, following with great precaution the advances of the season, and retreats with equal care at the approach of autumn.

I wish it were in my power at this moment to impart to you, kind reader, the pleasures which I have felt whilst watching the movements, and viewing the manifestation of feelings desplayed by a single pair of these most favourite little creatures, when engaged in the demonstration of their love to each other: -- how the male swells his plumage and throat, and, dancing on the wing, whirls around the delicate female; how quickly he dives towards a flower, and returns with a loaded bill, which he offers to her to whom alone he feels desirous of being united; how full of ecstacy he seems to be when his caresses are kindly received; how his little wings fan her, as they fan the flowers, and he transfers to her bill the insect and the honey which he has procured with a view to please her; how these attentions are received with apparent satisfaction; how, soon after, the blissful compact is sealed; how, then, the courage and care of the male are redoubled; how he even dares to give chase to the Tyrant Fly-cather, hurries the Blue-bird and the Martin to their boxes; and how, on sounding pinions, he joyously returns to the side of his lovely mate. Reader, all these proofs of the sincerity, fidelity, and courage, with which the male assures his mate of the care he will take of her while sitting on her nest, may be seen, and have been seen, but cannot be portraye or described."


SO CUTE, right? I just want to meet Mr. Audubon and hug him. One wonders if he were newly in love when he was writing this. The Thomas Cole article I had to digest after that wasn't near as exhilarating. Ah well. I considered myself a fortunate and happy scholar to have stumbled upon it at any rate. I wish I could write like that. Are you like me and vaguely recognized the name John James Audubon? He was a huge deal! Read a bit about his fascinating and adventuresome life here, if you will.


Yesterday I worked the National Building Museum's biggest public event, their Discovering Engingeering Family Day! Also a huge deal! Companies from all over the world set up booths, replete with gadgets, crazy displays, hands-on crafts, Wii machines and robots in order to show the crowds (some 5,000 people!) how engineering can be fun and can make our lives easier and cooler. My goodness I realized how far behind I am in my passion for science. It was fun to get a refresher, and realize that the engineering branch of science is just as much if not more in love with the potential of human creativity as anybody is in the art world. My job for 5 hours yesterday was to put little fake tattoos on kids. Tattoos of Digit and the Cyberchase gang (some PBS show that teaches kids to love math). You'd think that'd be boring, throwing stickies on kids for 5 hours, but I got a major kick out of seeing just how excited each one would be for this little tattoo. I instructed them to count to fifteen while we waited for the tattoo to stick, and some would screw up their faces in concentration, some would proudly breeze right through the sequence. And, then, when it was over, their hands looks like this^ And 95% of the time, they could not have been more delighted afterwards. Seriously, these little people's entire days were completely lit up-- their worlds were made perfectly wonderful-- because of a sticky I put on their hand.

Love it.

And love this-> girl's win (Go Mormon girl snowboarders! You're an inspiration to us all! Aunt Marie, she [Torah Bright] looks like you!)

Last but not least, I came across this fun poster this evening (actually, it was sent to me by my friend Mary from here). Let's play a little game: You get one point for every name you recognize, and one point for every art reference/joke you actually GET (my score is 67, I'm pretty proud of myself, and my favorite is "Picasso owns the century").


Monday, February 15, 2010

Running

Welp, I started this blog at 12:50 am, which means it's no longer Valentine's Day and I am no longer under obligation to talk about love. I'm gonna go ahead and run with that...

... what a coincidence: the topic of running is my starting off point today.

About two months ago (back when DC was just a wintery grey, not its present snow white), I was midway through my favorite run along this canal thing in my neighborhood that culminates in a meet-up with the Potomac River, when the thought randomly crossed my mind- "Is there any type of art that really, truly captures the sensation of running?" Almost instantly, I had my answer: LANDSCAPES. Why? Landscapes try and encompass all that you see before you, try to bring you in to that space. There's no story involved, no figures for you to narcissistically identify with, no giant brushstrokes for you to be confused by. Just you and the land. Just like running.

Winter semester 2010 means Art History 254: American Landscapes in the 19th Century. I signed up for this class because, admittedly, I do not like landscapes, nor do I know much about them, and I knew I should probably fix that (and, I love America!!!). They all seem essentially the same to me: a horizon line through the middle, with earth beneath and sky above. Usually there's some kind of weather and rock formations thrown in the mix, too. Case closed. One of my favorite paintings to say hi to everyday at the BYU Museum of Art, though, was a landscape. It is by the southwestern painter Maynard Dixon, Mesas in Shadow, oil on canvas, 1926, at left. He sure is a pretty canvas, now isn't he? I love(d) this painting because it feels exactly how my high desert clouds look, rolling on over my neighboring mountains.

Now, a little over a month into my course, I write to you as maybe not a changed woman, but definitely an intrigued and thoughtful one. My in-class landscape learning thus far has consisted of philosophical discussions (my fav... NOT.), and just two slides: an artist's self-portrait and a depiction of a guy getting his leg bitten off by a shark (??). This week, however, I had homework with illustrations-- amazing ones!-- and for once, landscapes have my full and complete attention and admiration! Maybe it's because of the twelveish-day streak of sitting in my house contemplating nature. Maybe (and a lot of art fans out there would probably say this smugly) it's because landscapes really are that important to art history. Either way, what I might once have dismissed as just artists showing off their skills ("Let's see how realistic I can make this leaf..."), I now see as very valuable records-- snapshots-- of how people view their own time and place; what seems important and beautiful enough for them to document.

Albert Bierstadt, Merced River, Yosemite Valley, 1866.

The Hudson River School of artists were the first Americans to take up the mantle of creating a distinctly American style of painting that could compete with the Europeans. They chose as their weapon the American landscape. Why? Because they felt (and rightly so, in my opinion) that the land of the free and the home of the brave contained something brand new to art, history, and society. Their gorgeous pictures of the untamed, idyllic beauty of the West symbolize the freedom and majesty inherent to our democratic system of government. The Hudson River School also frequently depicted the Eerie Canal and the Hudson River it connected to (hence their name). This was because the canal (363 miles long, finished in 1825) symbolized man's innovation, engineering prowess, trade potential, and also the still-new nation's great potential for growth. I'm looking forward to finally getting to discuss these images in class, someday.

My dear mom keeps getting after me and my siblings for never taking pictures of our worlds. She likes to be able to envision where we are when we tell her the stories of our various social and educational escapades (it must be the artist in her). Well, I was browsing through the 600+ pictures stored on my camera this week, and realized that I have taken quite a few landscapes of my own, and that these are often my very favorite photos (well, tied with the ones of me and my BFF's). In the spirit of the Hudson River artists (John Frederick Kensett, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Thomas Cole, and Albert Bierstadt... Google them if you want to see some jaw-dropping nature scenes), I am now posting some of my landscapes, so you can see where I've been (and maybe some day you'll share some of your own...). I love these photos because all of them have a story. All of them are visual records of events and places in my life that were important, or just breathtaking. Right now (I can't believe I'm going to cave and talk about love) I am just happy to have a horizon full of hope. My idea of love is pretty much the same as it was at the end of my V-day post last year, except that I've seen that that train flash by me a couple times now (and I SOLD that GRE book, instead of burning it- haha!) For all my friends in my same boat, let's just hang on, smile, and repeat the lines from my current favorite hymn: "Keep thou my feet I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me." Life is a beautiful thing. Keep going. :)



Wait, one more thing. Because it will get you to smile, it has great landscapes of Rio, and I'm a little obsessed with it right now:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMhUZAq5IxQ

Snow Days/Daze

(No seriously. That's how our streets look. This picture was taken in Arlington this weekend. Me and my friends have either had to sit in and look out the window at this whiteness or bundle up and sojourn like eskimos out into it allllllll week long!!!)

I have passed five of the last seven days in sheer lazy abandon, thanks to Mother Nature's "Snowpocalypse 2," a 24-inch snow binge that basically shut down the entire region, just like back in December (Global warming, if you ask me, has officially been decamped as a belief system!)

I was really kind of mad on Thursday and Friday that my jobs were cancelled, since apparently the powers that be forgot that some little people still get paid by the hour and WANT to work (that's what I get for living in Government-Town, USA... apparently the people who created snowpocalypsedc.com this weekend feel the same way). But I got over it quickly. My darling little sister Katie sent me a ham in a roundabout way, which I proudly glazed, cooked, and later turned into an experimental ham-pepper soup starting on Thursday night. Total success- I cooked a whole ham! All by myself!

That was snow adventure #1. On Friday, I was all set to perform adventure #2, 72 hours of homework, when thankfully, during a few hours' lull in the snowdrift, wonderful friends came and picked me up from my relatively isolated little apartment. We trudged on over to one of their houses (the only one with power), where we have since performed all the usual girls' sleep-over rituals, stretched out over a three-day span. And we've still got nothin' but TIME! (classes, work, all still cancelled at least til Wednesday). Let me tell you guys, laziness is hard work!! In order of time spent performing the action, here is a list of all the stuff me and my friends have accomplished in the last few days:

1. Sleep
2. Talk about boys
3. Watch chick-flicks (currently holding at 5 and still counting)
4. EAT! (Maybe this should be #3, we have definitely spent multiple, multiple hours doing this...)
5. Did I say sleep already? Ok, forget it, 5. Talk about very philosophical things (the metro closure / church being cancelled two weeks in a row / travelling to sunny places / fashion / cooking / families / electricity and how vital it is / God)
6. Sojourn out to other friends' houses for supplies or Superbowl parties
7. Play in the snow (although I really avoid this at all costs. I am such a desert rat- the cost of getting snow down my ankles and in my gloves almost always outweighs the benefits of five seconds of sledding bliss)
8. Get ready for the day (we're nearing the bottom of the time-spent barrell. I'm in my sweats, make-up-less, right as we speak)
9. Homework
10. Anticipate going back to work / assuming normal responsibilities / gear up for normal life again. (Time spent equals approximately 8 minutes)

Basically, Mom, Dad, grandparents, and other darling relatives, I'm doing fine. I feel like I'm five years old kind of: eternally in my PJ's and blissfully avoiding the homework that I carted over to my friends' house in my backpack. I regret that at this moment of extreme relaxation and ease, I am not able to summon up the mental powers to write about anything artsy, serious, or insightful. My apologies. Next week! :)

Yours from the white wonderland cave of Virignia,
Lindsey