This guy is from Augustus Sherman’s collection of Ellis Island portraits. The photo is dated 1906. He’s listed simply as “Romanian shepherd.”
I looked up the May Day celebrations and rituals of Romania (nearly every country’s got some), and this apotropaic one charmed me:
“The entries to the animals’ shelters are adorned with green branches. All branches are left in place until the wheat harvest when they are used in the fire which will bake the first bread from the new wheat.”
To be clear, the fire is to bake the bread.
Definitely only the bread.
Definitely not the sad American co-ed’s bad boyfriend dressed in a bear suit.
We saw our families for the first time after more than a year away.
I earned the best job I’ve ever had.
I was published in one new literary journal.
I was exhibited in two new art galleries.
I was accepted into a prestigious novel-writing program.
I found a new place to live with my best friend / creative partner / husband.
I deepened fledgling friendships into true sisterhood.
I learned to boogie board in Maui, which scratched my itchy wild side in a way I haven’t felt since I quit drinking.
I celebrated five years sober. (!!!!!)
I passed through something, some darkness I have been navigating for 20 years. I have finally found my way to the home inside myself. I’ve opened the front door. I’ve stepped inside. Next year, I’ll figure out how to turn the lights on.
And, of course, I got to know Tina Turner better. 😉 This quote from the documentary TINA is my favorite of the year:
Look at what I have done in this lifetime with this body. I’m a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above what was not taught to me.
I hope you have the very best new year. (“Simply the best,” perhaps?)
Keep pulling yourself above what was not taught to you.
Chicago friends, come see two of my newest pieces in person, plus work from these awesome other artists!
The Fulton Street Collective group show Journey / Explore opens this Friday, December 10, from 7-10 pm.
The address is 1821 W. Hubbard St. (on Hubbard between Wolcott and Wood, and NOT on Kinzie… that’ll send you to the alley, and that’s not where the show will be though perhaps that’s a cool idea for next time??)
Tickets are $5 and there’s a capacity limit (because 😷), so snag yours now!
Glessner House, located in Chicago’s Prairie Avenue Historic District, was designed by American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887.
Richardson studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which encouraged quick conceptual sketches and detailed perspective drawings that could and should be followed through to physical completion of a space.
In April 1886, Richardson completed the design for the house.
Three weeks later he was dead.
This sprawling residence was built for the Glessner family, wealthy from 19th Century manufacturing of agricultural equipment. It was home to a child who would grow up to be very important due to homes of a different scale: Frances Glessner Lee.
Frances was the first female police captain in the U.S. and “the mother of forensic science.” In her 40s, Frances began making miniature dioramas that depicted grisly murder scenes. The replicas were designed to be educational tools for homicide detectives and the fledgling field of medical examination and crime scene investigations.
Pictured: Detail of “Kitchen,” from the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths.
The dioramas, eventually becoming Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths, were precise — down to the make of the mousetrap and the bloat of the body. Many are still used today to train detectives, and the answers or real-life cases from which they were inspired remain under lock and key.
Also awesome? It’s rumored Frances was the character inspiration for everyone’s favorite brilliant amateur detective in gaudy baubles: Murder, She Wrote’s very own Jessica Fletcher.
Following, some pics I snapped on a recent tour of the place… No crime scenes evident!
As the end of the year (aka gift giving season) rolls up with the top down, I thought I’d show off one of my favorite custom embroidery jobs from the archives.
I recently finished this custom piece for a dear friend. He wanted to gift an artwork to a friend who loved wrestling and wrestling history. He picked an image from this series of photographs by Irving Penn from 1945 and told me to have at it.
The man in this photo is Maurice Tillet (1903-1954), the most notorious wrestler of the 1940s, better known by his ring name, ~THE FRENCH ANGEL~.
“He studied 14 languages, wrote poetry, and aspired to become an actor. However, his dreams were shattered when he developed acromegaly in his twenties. … This disorder is caused by an abnormal production of growth hormone usually related to a benign tumor of the pituitary gland… With his new body, Tillet, an educated man and a lover of the fine arts, felt like a monstrosity. Unable to face a life of constant gawking and humiliation, he decided to make drastic changes and use his condition to his benefit.”
At the end of his life, Maurice was a Chicago boy. He died here, too, of a heart attack that came on after he heard that his trainer died. <sobbbbbbing>
My color choices for his wings and the stars on his belt are a direct reference to the Chicago flag.
I almost put the fourth star on Maurice’s belt too, but I just had to do something about Dorian there…
The angle of her foot, the shape of that heel… oh la la, there’s just so much I love about that aspect of the original photograph. I put the last star beneath it to give Dorian her own special place in this piece.