~’NIGHTJAR’ . . UNDERDONK / more pix !! from evil eye to Em-ily / Sottobosco to: arf arf !!

up thru JUNE 18, 2017
the gallery is open for public viewing: Sat & Sun / 1 – 6 PM

more pix . . from this strange, and eerie / on the dark side, botanical offering.
& which I dedicate to: EMILY DICKINSON.

curator ASHLEY GARRETT beside:
VALERIE HAMMOND, ‘Touch’, 2011.
pigment, gouache, color pencil, wax on Japanese paper. 48 x 25 in.
note . . the texture / and waxy, ‘off-radiant’ . . profile.


is that the evil eye ?
in the palm of the hand ?
to scare away evil / & not invoke ?

is that the magic -in the science of the bio ?

from the gallery notes:
“VALERIE HAMMOND’S traces lie somewhere between the spirit world and the human world – perhaps even a decomposition. Beginning by tracing the arms and bodies of her friends and relations, Hammond visualizes what transmutations of organic forms might lie inside the human outline. Filling this skin with a floral and infernal essence. flowers and fruit become wounds and ferns are skeletal in Hammond’s figures, imagining the slipping away of the human into a primeval space that might be of the land,or the sea.”

SHARON CORE . . ‘Untitled 3’, 2015.
Archival Pigment print, 31.25 x 24.75 in., edition of 7
($8,800 framed)

detail, SHARON CORE.
I spy . . thorns, and ‘rusty’ butterfly / night omens ?
hands, can ‘strangle’ – as well, as ‘grow’ and . . nuture.

from the gallery notes:
“SHARON CORE . . plants and grows the subjects of her photographs with her own hands. Having created a geodesic dome at her upstate studio, she explores the function and effect that long durational time can have on works of art. Planting, choosing and framing the contents of each photograph, Core is like a scientist as she moves all the way through form, even before it’s inception. The resulting photographs embody both the literal ‘sottobosco’ of the floral bed and it’s ecosystem and references the 17th century Sottobosco painting genre (as in the work of Dutch painter OTTO MARSEUS van SCHRIEK). Core’s photographs evoke a possessed, spatial presence in the woods, while a marginal world sets the stage for the darkening, deepening forest, from which slowly emerges an awareness of the delicate microworld of the forest bed.”

sottobosco: nature studies focused on the ‘dark, damp floor of the forest’, as opposed to say, carefully arranged floral arrangements in vases – sottobosco is Italian for ‘undergrowth.
source: ‘Holland (17th C) – by LESLIE KUO’

see: SHARON CORE – Wikipedia, b. 1965.
note the controversy re: her baked recreations of WAYNE THIEBAUD paintings (!!)

RUTH MARTEN, ‘#907’, 2015.
watercolor on 19C. print, 7-3/4 x 8 in.
($3,200 framed)

from the gallery notes:
“As a tattoo artist in New York in the 1970s and 80s and an illustrator for many years, RUTH MARTEN understands the power of images. Her works on paper unravel symbols and historical settings into new, mysterious narratives that change the power relationships between humans and animals. Awakening curious narratives in the 18th and 19th century prints she overdraws, Marten unearths something provocative from known historical contexts: surreal worlds where animals can have as much stature, emphasis and power as humans, and sometimrs even more.”

though in this particular piece, which is my fave – the 2 prim, young ‘ladies’ are the . . bio-animals ?!!
and yet, it’s also a very erotic, sad, & thorny ‘bush’. .not about to burst into blooms, any time soon – despite the watering . . . ‘tears’ / ‘bio-sperm’ ?
the symbolism . . could go on for pages. totally love-ly, stark, strange, and . . sad ?



detail. RUTH MARTEN.
well, maybe there is some strange death here ?
leaves turning colors, and then to: die ?
but, then again: maybe it’s completely the opposite ?
something to really contemplate, at any rate.

ASHLEY GARRETT helps us see the micro detailing, in RUTH MARTEN’S ‘in Repose’.
note: the random design on the T-shirt (!!) . . .
bio / bio / bio / the male & female ‘strange’ science – seahorse.

RUTH MARTEN, ‘In Repose’, 2017.
collage and watercolor on 20C. photo reproduction. 3-3/4 x 4-1/2 in.

RUTH MARTEN, detail.
this one, is more like the gallery note: animals . . taking on empowered / unusual. human (/) roles.
it’s quite micro . . painstakingly crafted, too.


and then, bow – wow !!
how really – eerie, strange & magical !!
the show takes on a humorous turn, and how funny – since everybody in this city . .
is currently DOGGIE OBSESSED, including ME !!
my ZORA, a gorgeous, sweet tempered, but can be scary if you – be bad !!
American Long Coat Akita, just turned one yr & 3 mos & weighs . . 86 pounds !!
& she follows me around – just like the dragon, in ‘Neverending Story’.

DEBORAH MASTERS, an assortment of strange and wily nily – clay doggy, ‘ghost’ / ‘puppets’ !!

DEBORAH MASTERS, ‘Lupi’. raku, threaded rod, satin, maple.

well, this one looks like a dog, but it’s a . . baby cheetah !!
DEBORAH MASTERS, ‘Baby Cheetah’. ceramic. threaded rod.

from the gallery notes;
“With her raku-fired “Little Ghosts,” DEBORAH MASTERS conjures up the spirits of animals. Evocative of altarpieces or devotional objects, these figures intimate aspects of Masters’ personal relationships with and attachment to animals. One can feel the memory imbued in Masters’ hands as borne out by the textures and definition of the figures in the sculpted animal’s face. Their satin dresses (femme / femme / femme) mark their wraith-like detachment from the living world. As if attempting to reverse the dying process , they honor the deep connection that can exist between animals and humans.”


as for the word: NIGHTJAR – !!!!!!

it is . . as strange with meaning – as it seems at first glance, what a beautiful . . musical, poetic-laden, scientific sounding – word.

it ranges in meaning all the way . . from a blood-sucking, bad-luck bringing nocturnal bird, to a simple chamber pot . . and then turns a really pretty steep corner: to perhaps being the bodily form – of a Patronus Charm !!
in the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
an ancient & mysterious charm that can conjure a powerful, magical guardian / a projection OF ALL YOUR MOST POSITIVE FEELINGS !!


it’s strange times / war-like and yet, charmed.
science has to meet poetry / and reign.

I’ve still got EMILY DICKINSON, running through my veins – so how delightful / that my jaunts
can bring me – here.
gathered around – the ‘NIGHTJAR’, in Bushwick.



Rockin’ . . the Mystery.
Exploring . . the Biology.
Feeling . . the Science.

an all woman show, curated by a woman/artist at . . UNDERDONK / in BUSHWICK.

opened May 12, 2017
the show runs thru JUNE 18, 2017
featuring the work of:

UNDERDONK, 1329 WILLOUGHBY AVE, #211, Bushwick / Brooklyn

the gallery is open weekends !!
HRS: SAT & SUN / 1- 6 pm / & by appointment

“At last we saw water gleaming at a distance, and came to a clear tarn, lined with brown leaves and holding a fair picture in its bosom….what a place fir summer, and how one envies the frogs!”
~UNA HAWTHORNE / press release

‘UNDERDONK . . is pleased to present ‘NIGHTJAR’ a show of 5 artists confronting human relationship with nature and animals. This relationship is rapidly changing as the ecosystem becomes increasing hostile and threatening to both humans and animals. The exhibition explores the conceptual, spiritual, personal and investigative ways in which we can relate to the organic, natural world around us.’
~gallery press release

the show’s curator, artist ASHLET GARRETT on the right.
that’s Priscilla Fusco’s clay ‘bell’, and . . on the wall behind her, photographs by Sharon Core

PRISCILLA FUSCO, ‘Grunter (bell) 2017. ceramic, EU speaker, Grunter, sound file.
the large hand-built, coil technique / clay bell is suspended from the ceiling by a strong wire.
it’s quite stunning, and . . strange.

inside the bell a sound loop is playing: a ‘geophone recording conducted by Dr. Kenneth C. Catania, included in his report “Worm Grunting, Fiddling, and Charming – Humans Unknowingly Mimic a Predator to Harvest Bait.”

PRISCILLA FUSCO, b. 1973, Maine . . is a recent graduate (2016) of the Hunter MFA program.

VALERIE HAMMOND, ‘Reverse Reflection’ series. edition of 18.
set of 6 drypoints, 16 x 15-1/2 in paper / 5-7/8 x 5-7/8 image.
($800 unframed / $970 framed)

VALERIE HAMMOND, ‘Reverse Reflection’ series, drypoint.
Valerie Hammond come to us by way of Santa Maria, California.
She received her MFA from the University of California at Berkeley, she now is New York City based.
she has an impressive international list of exhibitions in her C.V.

a-ha, so !!
I wasn’t so far off regarding: BUSH-wick !!
light that spark, my darlin’ chicks !!
curators, artists & poets !!
women ruling this . . art season.

more on the other artists & artworks in ‘Nightjar’ – up next !!


~wow, that was such a . . ‘girls’ !! only trip !! illustration by RUTH MARTEN / UNDERDONK

finding stepping stones / in the art world . . . brook /
NYC, Spring 2017.

loving nothing better, then when the path I take through the various shows I see – takes on a subtext of it’s own !!

this past month – it was really quite the WILD ride !!
and it was all about . . GIRLS !!!!!!


RUTH MARTEN, ‘Possession’, 2012.
POSTCARD . . OBTAINED FROM UNDERDONK, on a visit last weekend / May 14, 2017.

yeah, that was so F . . is for femme, femme, femme tripppppy !!!

it seems to have started, most unknowingly . . with the ‘SURREALIST DINNER ‘ at the woman-artist run SELENA / OLIVIA SWIDER, and ANJULI RATHOD.

that, got me to – thinking: Surrealist, Symbolist.
women / artists.

then, about a week later I walk into ‘Like Oxygen’ at MOUNTAIN / expecting a very tech-oriented / cutting-edge underground experience, only to be awe-struck by . . the shaman-centered ‘Crystal Flowers Radio’ 2017, install by ALLISON WADE !!

where the artist, ALLISON WADE . .
was presenting recorded seances, she had set up in the former apt/home of . . FLORINE STETTHEIMER !!
if, this wasn’t pushing ‘Surreal’ & ‘Symbolist’ . . right off the map / it was definitely raising the spirits.

because . .
not more than 4 days later, on Tuesday May 2nd, I found myself at the JEWISH MUSEUM for the press preview of one of the most wonderful exhibits you will ever happen upon, ‘Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry’ !!
& up thru Sept 24, 2017 – don’t miss it.

now, not only was this . . a ghost come to life / but a woman artist, who is long over-due a revival of interest & recognition !!
here we not only a have a . . . a ‘SYMBOLIST’ – !!
but, a magic realist / visionary.
resplendent with the most passionate paintings, and imagine that: passionate & whimsical in one sentence !!
including the most surreal theatrical costumes, fortune telling cards & . . garden scenes. imagine that: surreal and domestic in the same sentence ??/!!
you go, FLORINE !!!!

then somehow, while chasing the Old World treasures . . of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1695-1770) / which morphed into the ‘Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden’ at the Morgan Library, me & my friend . . took a stroll into another exhibit running concurrently: ‘I’m Nobody! Who are you?’ – a sweet, new take on EMILY DICKINSON, which had me totally enthralled, so much so, that I even hit up the movie: ‘A Quiet Passion’ – a new re-telling of her story.

so, it was all in all, all, all / it was: all-women . . stepping stones !!
though, what was even more surprising . .
was how the tour, took a most strange, and winding, and unexpected, but . . p-a-s-s-i-n-a-t-e turn !!

flowing from surrealism, and seances / thru symbolism . . . onto the fanciful / magic realism !! of GILDED AGE . . FLORINE STETTHEIMER,
to the . . classic Victorian parlor . . of EMILY DICKINSON !!
via herbarium / scientific nature collections, black paper profile cut-outs, Daguerrotypes / shaped poetry & the hand-bound / hand-stitched fascicle booklets of Emily DICKINSON !!

so how strange, is the meandering art world I prowl . . . ?

that last weekend . . .
I find myself at . . ‘NIGHTJAR’ / at UNDERDONK !!!!

~CHARLES BURCHFIELD . . double your money at CHRISTIE’S

there’s a CHARLES BURCHFIELD painting from 1955 / Estimate: $120,000 – $180,000
up for auction – this weekend,
at Christie’s ‘American Art Online’ sale / open for bidding / from 17 May – 24 May, 2017.


and, it’s no small potatoes, either /
titled: ‘June Wind’ . .
it is: 27 x 39-3/4 in / 2ft-4in x 3ft-1/4in !!

though it is watercolor & charcoal & chalk on paper, but laid down on board / vs. oil on canvas.
but prob very durable, if taken proper archhival care of.

if you wanted to double your money as soon as you dropped it / this would be it – art world-wise.
and, art world-wise . . this is small change / chump change.

jump the chump, is all I can say !!!

Image via Instagram @christies

CHARLES EPHRAIM BURCHFIELD (1893-1967), ‘June Wind’, 1955.
watercolor, charcoal and chalk on paper laid down on board
27 x 39-3/4 in.
executed in 1955.

LOT 110

Estimate: $120,000 – $180,000

Bidding starts at $100,000.

note: the lots from this auction, including this work / can be viewed at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries, NYC
20 – 22 MAY 2017.

and, don’t say . . I never tell you – anything !!!! $$$ blue chip $$$ !!!!!


EM & me . . .

yesterday, May 16 . . was the day Emily died – in 1886, at her home in Amherst.
the Ghost – is in the room !!!!!


besides the current exhibit on Emily Dickinson, ‘I’m Nobody! Who are You?’ at the Morgan Library, up only til the end of the month / don’t miss it.

a feature length film . . on EMILY DICKINSON, titled, ‘A Quiet Passion’ / opened last week, here in NYC.

between the two of them / one can begin begin to feel closer to the austere Emily.
her times, her family and friends, her upbringing, and her life’s work . . with each endeavor, the museum show and the feature length film – dovetailing with the other, to fill in the blanks.

‘A QUIET PASSION’, (2017) . . . a feature film on EMILY DICKINSON,
directed by TERENCE DAVIES & starring CYNTHIA NIXON as Emily Dickinson – is now playing,
at the Quad Cinema . . here in NYC.

unlike the press I saw online just now, I would say, no – it is not a brilliant blockbuster, lordy.
what-ever . . are they thinking ?
it’s really only for . . diehard Dickinson fans; and perhaps some diehard poetry, and early Americana religious & history buffs / or . . . . ,
those with stressed-out jobs in, say . . the fashion world, who are just dying to veg-out on a pretty & yet informative / sensitive & delicately . . spaced-out 2 hour, period docu-drama, with . . good costumes.

speaking of which:
the various, period-correct / hand-tatted lace collars, seem to be authentic museum pieces ?!!!

did somebody say: passion, albeit . . quiet ?

turns out, at the beating heart of the Emily Dickinson real life drama / lies a most passionate & most illicit, yet apparently hardly hidden . . love affair; that between her brother Austin, and his mistress . . MABEL LOOMIS TODD /
while of course, wouldn’t you know: EMILY and his proper wife, SUSAN . . were best friends.
go figure !!

it gets even more complicated by the evil woman Mabel’s apparent utmost devotion to Emily’s poetry, if not to Emily herself, but who really knows ?
. . turns out, it was MABEL who first edited, preserved and published Emily’s poems, after her death !! and a most interesting facet of the whole tale – and which is more fully addressed in the Morgan Library exhibit.
and, in fact not mentioned here at all. the publishing. the devotion to Emily’s work.

instead, this film’s focus, is to try / to fill us in on, cinematic-ally . . on how hard it was, for the contrarian Emily, so rebellious, and yet in her own way / so very rigid . . to come to terms with her brother’s absolute flaunting of convention / to live and to work . . amidst a very complicated betrayal of her life, on all levels.

it’s a long meandering road, but we do get . . how Emily’s stubborn, questioning & contrary views – the depth of which gave rise to her inward / haunting voice, and which followed closely nevertheless upon the strict & repressed Protestant / Puritanical upbringing she had been raised in; and whose conventional practices she upturns & questions at all turns . .

and which clearly has its own individualist / stubborn yet undeniably ‘passionate’ set of narrow beliefs, . . how that ‘QUESTIONING’ . . . is thrown right back at her, to rationalize and ask her to accept Austin’s deviant behavior.

as in: doesn’t everyone have a right to find their own path, passion, and way / and, most importantly to ber to be . . forgiven ?

there is some gentle alluding – to the fact that the long suffering wife, Susan . . might be lacking in the passion department / or else, ‘why did she resist Austin’s proposals of marriage – so many times ‘?

there’s also some ‘alluding’ to some ‘acceptable’ veneer for the affair; as to the fact that ‘Mabel’s husband might be compromised by . . venerality’/ or, as we say . . std / and in those days, it was quite a devastating situation, re final solution ‘surgery’.

at any rate, unlike the Morgan museum exhibit, which keeps a petty tight pace attuned to the intellectual & ‘literati-life’ / whirl of passion, that complicated Emily’s life, and I guess made her akin to a contemporary reality star – in her own little village, no ?
college town, or not.

‘A Quiet Passion’ . . treats us to a physical, lustful . . . scene of Emily actually walking in on Austin and Mable, getting it on, while innocently on the way to the kitchen – for a midnight snack !!!
oh my !!!!!

you know, and then all that Protestant – faith questioning /comes on-board / so you see them all argue it out – from both sides of the ‘righteous’ ledger / or any side, actually.
back & forth endlessly !!
one thing’s for sure, Mabel does not get kicked out.

but, my question is: is it ever directly addressed in the poems, or in any of the huge correspondence she is supposed to have kept up ? how Emily felt about this affair ?
what was the low-down ?

what’s in the real . . archive / and, what was . . re-imagined by these filmmakers ?

a poem is narrated overhead, after the ‘outing’, to the effect that: ‘why has my world spun out of my control’ ?!!

I don’t think there is much mention, either on paper, in letters or diaries / or at least in ones that haven’t been long burnt (!!) by now . . . because there’s absolutely no portrayal in this film, on how that relationship / the between Emily and her brother’s mistress, Mable – evolved over the years. though it seems it did, re the Morgan exhibit.
and that’s one reason I would like to read the poems – now.
searching for references . . to the ‘goings-on’ / between the . . lines !!

though, that’s where the Morgan Library pipes in again, letting you know how MABLE was a big fan of Emily’s work, and sent her letters, and Emily sent her poems.
in fact, it was red letter ‘Capital A’ MABEL LOOMIS TODD, and not wife/ friend Susan, who was to publish Emily’s poems after her death . .

the Morgan does give us some tantalizing facts, but with very little emotional detailing.
again, I guess none exists on record ?

but still, who knew . .

that under all that carefully crafted, minimalist phrasing, a questioning, troubled emotional ‘storm’, based on a most purple love triangle, though not of her own making / but one sibling step away – was a-brewing,
all along . . confounding & confusing her ????

no wonder, she looked so outward for order – in the world.

but the singular, most important aspect of this film, and one that fills in a big void at the Morgan exhibit, is not an emotional ‘coloring’, of her life, but an actual . . DEMONSTRATION !!

of EMILY, at work on her famous ‘fascicles’ / or hand-sewn tiny packets of poems, small folded paper pages stitched together / or, in other words . . as we would say today, DO-IT-YOURSELF-BOUND !!
at the ‘spine’, or fold.

although the Morgan exhibit speaks of these ‘fascicles’, or ‘packets’ – there are no photos or reproductions, let alone a precious archival one. turns out Mabel, who actually gave the name ‘fascicle’ to these little hand-sewn packages of poems, and the other early editors . . dismantled them !!
oh. no !!!!!!!!

wow, that’s a whole other story, somebody else – has to write.

A quiet passion . . ?
indeed !!!!!!!

CYNTHIA NIXON, as a pretty good, very believable . . EMILY DICKINSON, first stabs a few holes, clear through a few leafs of folded paper, upon which she has scribbled her poems / to ready them for hand-stitched sewn binding, or DIY, as we would term it today !!

and that’s another reason, Dickinson is seeing a sudden revival, & relevance today.
her shaped pages, scraps, collages . . and DIY binding !!
are allowing us to see her / through the magic of modern digital / photographic reproduction, not just the old typeset printing of yore, as the singular poet – artist / she really was !!
the times, they just be a-catching up . . to her.
rebel, outsider. visionary. self-driven.

Emily pulls the thread – through the holes, to hand-bind the tiny books into packets, the easier to store the poems.
or . . what we would call today, self-published ZINES !!!!!!!

a priceless moment in the film . . ‘A Quiet passion’.
EMILY stitches . . a hand-bound – ‘fascicle’.
you can see how good CYNTHIA NIXON is, too.

all 3 images: screen grabs / via a short clip on the @aquietpassion / Instagram page

how strange / funny, well actually sad:
that although, as the Morgan gets it . . Emily is now being seen through new eyes as a poet-artist, and they, the filmmakers . . did make a point of re-creating this well-informed scene of her hand-binding her little books, and it’s produced so well, and so lovingly . . .
the footage doesn’t make the . . commercial trailer ???

I guess they forget, that in the end, probably . . it would be only artists and writers, in effect the scholars . . who know, and are desperate for this kind of historical detail / that would be the ones who would be watching the trailer, and they should have included it.
they should not never have dumb-ed it down, for the masses.
a ‘Hallmark’ film, despite the illicit affair – this is, not.
a cross-over film / this is . . not !!
why not revel in what it – is.
it definitely has its moments.



~’Nightjar’ . . UNDERDONK, BROOKLYN / opens to-night

UNDERDONK / Bushwick Artist Collective PRESENTS: ‘NIGHTJAR’
the show runs thru JUNE 18, 2017
UNDERDONK, 1329 Willoughby Ave, Bushwick
HRS: SAT & SUN: 1- 6 PM & by appointment

a group exhibition, curated by . . ASHLEY GARRETT
including . .

is this too coarse ?
BUSH-wick / great spark – for an all women show / !!

~from the press release:

“At last we saw water gleaming at a distance, and came to a clear tarn, lined with brown leaves and holding a fair picture in its bosom…what a place for summer, and how one envies the frogs!” ~UNA HAWTHORNE

“UNA HAWTHORNE, NATHANIAL HAWTHORNE’S eldest daughter, describes in a personal letter .. following in the footsteps of THOREAU’S journey through Walden Pond.”


RUTH MARTEN, ‘#907’, 2015
Watercolor on 19th c. print, 7-3/4 x 8 in.
image via UNDERDONK

~NANCY SMITH . . I’m somebody ? me & Em !!

Me & EM . . .

as in EMILY !!
DICKINSON . . . both stick postal stamps – into our diaries / journals / notes / & in her case: poems.

NANCY SMITH, detail collage with postal stamp – on my current journal / notes.
the U.S.A. postal stamp is . . FLANNERY O’CONNOR.

the fortune cookie paper slip: ‘Po Says: It is good luck to feed the dragon warrior.”

write that damn journal / scribble them damn poems !!
feed – that . . damn stubborn / contrarian, inner voice.


~EMILY DICKINSON . . ‘I’M NOBODY! Who are you?’ / THE MORGAN LIBRARY & MUSEUM / 2 more weeks


well, something like that.

It seems to be the season of recognizing – in capital letters, the female outsider geniuses that walked so unassumingly, but stubbornly among us.
though, what a contrast: EMILY DICKINSON vs FLORINE STETTHEIMER.

about the most they have in common, beyond sharing a stubborn faith in their own forward-reaching, somehow . . ‘future’ vision, & a singular, uncharted creative .. drive.
was that they both lived at home for their entire lives, and were generally unrecognized in their own times.

though of course, EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886) predated FLORINE STETTHEIMER (1871-1944) by a 50 year birth gap, which is such a small generational number in the greater picture, yet seems so far apart seen through the lens / bedrooms / living rooms . . . of their individual life-styles.

while Emily D. shined a stylist poetic flashlight that was so fast forward – we are only just beginning to really catch up, she feels so much of an earlier American / Puritanical time / while Florine S. born to assimilated cosmopolitan Jews who traveled between NYC & Europe on a regular basis . . lived a life that included, MARCEL DuCHAMP. (!!)
maybe another way to put it:
Emily D. lived through the Civil war / Florine S: through WWI & WWII.

while one – Emily D. was a ‘poet /artist’ . . the other – Florine S. was an ‘artist/painter/poet’.

both were ‘consummate’ . . insider-outsiders / involved with stimulating intellectual communities, yet with no ‘consummate’ / translate: intimate relations / translate: romances (at least on record.)

though not internationally ‘cosmopolitan’ in the lavish & wealthy sense that we associate with Florine Stettheimer . . Emily D. did not live in a remote cabin, though she worked from her bedroom. and is generally considered a ‘recluse’. in fact, Emily D. lived within the vibrant society of a ‘college town’, her grandfather having co-founded Amherst College. and she read many leading magazines etc.
and she had to deal with . . scandal !!
major scandal. her married bro & his mistress. some little buzzing garden that was.
you don’t hear that about Florine’s family !!

though you kind of wonder: what really went on with Florine S. and her sisters, behind closed doors – besides high-end couture, with lots of shopping trips to Bendels !!
not too much is revealed on the record, except for some unhappy poems . . Florine was to pen / about scaring away suitors with her bright ‘light’.

so, it’s kind of shocking to find that Emily D. was one step away from her sibling’s full-blown, torrid love triangle, that if it had been 19th Bloomsbury . . might have touched and rocked her world, as well.
one can only imagine.

lucky for us, both had their works, Emily D. her poems, collage poems & hand-stitched ‘booklets’ / Florine S. her artworks, poems, plays, stage sets, etc preserved for us, by immediate family members, who also went on to donate the bulk of these precious estates to museums & libraries. so, they were recognized within their own circles – well, that’s about the best you can hope for, as an ‘outsider’ – isn’t it ?

but mostly, what’s most compelling about both them, these American ‘soul sisters’ – is that their inner worlds propelled . . both of them forward, so far forward / that flash forward 2017: both Emily D. and Florine S. . . are subjects of newly rapt acclaim & . . solo museum shows.

Emily D. at the Morgan Library Museum, while Florine S. is concurrently, beautifully presented at the JEWISH MUSEUM – thru Sept 24, 2017.

see: ‘Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry’ – Jewish Museum

‘I’m Nobody! Who are you ?’ – The Life and Poetry of EMILY DICKINSON’
through MAY 28, 2017

EMILY DICKINSON, Daguerrotype, ca. 1847. The Emily Dickinson Collection, Amherst College Archives & Special collections. gift of Millicent Todd Bingham, 1956.
PHOTO: via The Morgan Library & Museum
which also has a very good online presentation on the exhibit . . .

see: ‘I’m Nobody, Who are you ? – MORGAN LIBRARY & MUSEUM

and also, the very best cafe food – of all the museums & libraries in NYC – by the way.
though strangely enough, the JEWISH MUSEUM is a very close second, with their authentic Russ & Daughters’ bagels & buttery lox / smoked salmon !!

I have to admit, I knew more about Florine Stettheimer, from living in avant-garde NYC all these years, there were some previous exhibits associated with her, or her circle / than I did about Emily Dickinson – esp being Canadian & thus under-educated in general re American culture. I had a big catching up to do, and maybe that’s what fascinated me.

At any rate, young Emily D. looks just like someone I went to high school with, and even more, she looks she could just step out off the L train, albeit in different garb.
my heart sunk to see her so young & earnest, and to later be so beat down by a repressive culture.
though what else is new for outsiders, anyway ?
even the fabulous Florine, wanted her artwork destroyed upon her death, due to cultural disappointment, to put it politely.

EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886), ‘A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring’.
Poem, ca. 1881. / Amherst College Archives & Special Collections.

when I saw this ‘shaped’ poem I got it right way, and so will you – why they call Emily Dickinson, . . a poet – artist.
she wrote her poems out in teeny tiny handwritten script, something of which we might be much more curious about today – despite or actually because of . . computers !!
which has ironically resulted in our endless fascination with all things . . graphic design & fonts, but esp DIY hand-script !!
apparently, she also wrote on all kinds of different papers, (texture-wise, etc) not just oddly shaped ones, and left-overs from envelopes, etc.
the effect of which is hard to translate through written language, let alone limited old fashioned typeface / and is much easier to convey today – with our easily accessible, modern means of photographic reproduction.

though I was super disappointed upon reading, in the exhibit texts, about her use of ‘fascicles’ or hand-sewn manuscript booklets, not to find any here.
not even a photograph ?
I guess they are too fragile to travel, but what about an archival photograph ?
did I miss it ?

EMILY DICKINSON, (1830-1886), ‘Alone and in a Circumstance’.
Poem with “George Sand” and “Mauprat” clipped from Harper’s Monthly pasted to sheet, ca. 1870.

“This collage is one of Dickinson’s most enigmatic manuscripts. The two clippings tucked under the postage stamp were cut from the May 1870 issue of Harper’s Monthly Magazine, which included a brief sketch of George Sand (!!).
. . . Interpretations of this poem range widely from playful verse about sitting in the outhouse, to a Freudian meditation on Dickinson’s father, represented by the locomotive on the stamp.” (!!)
~exhibition text

ps: May 1870 !! – that’s like 147 years ago – almost to the day !!
a whole century – and . . a half.

pss: if you came to my workroom / bedroom – you’d see my journals are full of the same kind of tiny stamp collages, maybe I’ll post one or two, next – just to show you how contemporary / out of the box – she was.

EMILY DICKINSON, digitized slideshow of her ‘Herbarium’, an album of pressed botanical specimens – which she began compiling ca 1839, when she was about 8 or 9 years old.

I found it interesting how literary and scientific her family was, and that seemingly, she and her sister, or even mother did no handiwork ? no embroidered samplers ?
no hand-stitched quilts ?
no hand-crocheted collar lace / or shawls ?

MABEL LOOMIS TODD (1856-1932), ‘Indian Pipes’.
oil on card. 1882.

of course, I was totally blown-away by the love triangle, illicit p-a-s-s-i-o-n (!!) repressed, self-righteous Emily’s brother – Austin dropped on the family.
esp because his wife, Susan was Emily’s best friend, and his 20-something years younger mistress, Mabel Loomis Todd, seems to have been quite enamored with Emily, herself, and/or her talent, at the very least. It was she, and not Susan, who ultimately played an important role in getting Emily’s work published !!

I believe ‘Indian Pipes’ must be a kind of American wild flower ?
the drawing is quite beautiful,
and way !!
black & white . . drama queen / DRAMATIC !!!!!!!

“Todd sent this painting of Indian pipes to Emily Dickinson in late summer 1882 while Todd was staying in Washington, DC. . . .
A rendition of this piece was used to decorate the covers of all the editions of Dickinson’s poetry and letters edited by Todd and published by Roberts Brothers between 1890 and 1896.”
~exhibition text

so, just how did Emily D. and the mistress . . interact, if only we had got that part of the story, too.

life was so complicated – even for that literary . . minimalist.

Amherst, Bloomsbury . . not ?!!!

I mean, there is not a peep of this, in the poems, right ?

what about in her letters ?

that would have been amazing, I bet they got destroyed pretty fast, if there were any – no matter what they said.

but damn it, color me: C-U-R-I-O-U-S !!!!!


now, that’s a strange bird . . up against / another.

and plenty of secrets – to go around !!



SOMEBODY . . should write a paper on that !!!

PARTY . . ON !!


MAY 5 – SEPT 24, 2017

FLORINE STETTHEIMER, (1871-1944) . . ‘Family Portrait II’, 1933.
oil on canvas, 46-1/4 x 64-5/8 in.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Miss ETTIE STETTHEIMER, 1956


they were a close-knit family, the 3 sisters and their imposing mama. the father split early on.
& note her life span – covered . . 2 World Wars !!

“BORN to a wealthy Jewish family in Rochester, New York, STETTHEIMER studied at the Art Students League in New York City and then in Europe, where she encountered two profound influences: the SYMOBLIST painters and poets, and the BALLETS RUSSES.

Stettheimer’s return to New York in 1914, as World War I began, was a turning point for the artist, who was then in her mid-40s. She made her New York art debut with a 1916 solo show at the prestigious Knoeldler Gallery, but it proved disappointing, attracting lukewarm press and no sales.

She and her sisters Carrie and Ettie, and their mother, Rosetta, then developed a stratagem for unveiling her new works, characteristic of the period: parties.

Their elite salon attracted many of the leading lights of the artistic vanguard , including her close friend MARCEL DUCHAMP, as well as ALFRED STIEGLITZ, CARL VAN VECHTEN, GEORGIA O’KEEFE . . “(!!)
~press release

her ‘skinny’ brushwork – usually in black, top-painted as embellishment, is a detail that pops up throughout the exhibit – and is a nice re-discovery – re: painting technique.

mama’s fortune telling (?) card game – is another good example of that . . fine, laced & expressive brush work.

of course, she’s drop dead gorgeous with the . . the FLOWERS !!

speaking of . . which !!!!!!!

I wonder, what kind of conversations, FLORINE STETTHEIMER . .
and GEORGIA O’KEEFE – had ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, com’on – in many ways she, FLORINE . . is just as an innovative painter as GEORGIA O’KEEFE, but obviously, though ALFRED STEIGLITZ frequentd her parties – he didn’t seem to have championed her seriously, as an artist ???

could it be that same old same old (story) – who ya F..K – gets the CROWN.

and, too damn bad.




Her painter’s palette – held the KEY !!
& the Grim reaper . . got the / LAST LAUGH !!

MAY 5 – SEPT 24, 2017


one of the most delightful surprises . . among a small treasure trove of . . DELIGHTS !!
came early on – in this jewel box of – an exhibit !!

in the introductory table / display case,
‘Twelve hand-painted fortune-telling cards from a set of twenty-five, c. 1885’ – (!!)
Watercolor on card
Florine Stettheimer papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Columbia University in the City of New York.

FLORINE . . was fourteen, when she painted these cards, probably for a family pastime.
The figures include a mixture of traditional Tarot images (time, death) and some
that suggest the artist’s own future: a young woman and an artist’s palette . . .”
~Jewish Museum display text

I’m thinking: you will take a trip ? / where am – I going . . in life ?

turns out, she lived with her two sisters and their mother – her whole life !!
but they were not hermits – they had an incredible & brilliant salon revolving around them – all the time & they decamped to Europe frequently.

though, she definitely was wondering . . about BOYS !!

but . . that was not to be, or . . the full story – hasn’t been told !!

her painter’s palette . . .

held the key . . to her life !!

the grim reaper !!
the ultimate – outsider !!
but, not always – the last word. nor, the last card.
turn it upside down, and it means: CHANGE !!

I found out, that she – FLORINE !!
asked for her artworks to be burned !! after her death. oh no.
she was so disappointed by the mainstream art world – oh lord, nothing much has changed !!
thankfully, one of her sisters saved the work and dispersed it among several prestigious library & university collections, and thus it has been saved – & – surely, slowly but surely . . . the times have finally caught up with her.

in truth, far from being a “lightweight feminine artist with a whimsical bent” – she was a true AMERICAN VISIONARY.

a magic realist. a symbolist. a surrealist. an observer.

a classic: insider-outsider !! of her time, and yet – way ahead.

this exhibit is a revelation: don’t miss it.