Intrigue in an oasis

The house was taken down by a stomach bug last week, and with deadlines looming, my energy went towards painting work versus blogging work. In between everyone's bouts and loads of laundry, I got some reading done, and I was reminded of my happy experiences at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum when it cropped up in the headlines - again.

If you've ever been to the museum, you most likely felt as a lot of us have: like this is your home, and you're privileged to live there.

via Google + museum page

via Google + museum page

My personal discovery of the Gardner was during my internship at the Boston MFA, which is very noticeably across the street. The MFA commands its space, with limited foliage and maximum frontage. Nothing subtle about it.

image via Creative Commons

image via Creative Commons

The Gardner sits quietly, perhaps a private home silently waiting visitors. If I remember correctly - it was a long time ago - the building sits close to the Fens (Fenway park, too), quietly magnificent gardens containing another hidden gem, the Victory Gardens from WWII. Check them out, because I digress.

As an (albeit temporary) employee, the Gardner was free so I took advantage to visit during one lunchtime. There were few people, and I had the galleries I entered first to myself except for the quiet but very watchful guards. Then I happened into the courtyard. I wasn't prepared for the courtyard.

In the middle of a typically hot Summer workday - after having commuted from Providence that morning and sweated through the T, I found a little hidden bit of Italy. I remember wanting to stay and eat lunch (I was really hungry), but it wasn't allowed. It's really easy to forget this is a museum.

So I went on to explore the remainder of the building (the top floor, Mrs Gardner's rooms, was closed to the public). As I wandered from gallery to gallery, I was still overcome by the feeling that this was my place. There's a sense of solitude, not a lonely one, a secret garden, happy one. One full of treasures, exactly as Mrs Gardner left it, as she intended.

It makes total sense, then that the infamous heist (slightly salacious details here) feels so personal. The empty frame with shreds of damaged canvas doesn't help.

It feels much like when your own belongings are stolen, the violation and loss of privacy. I hope the artworks are restored, someday, to their rightful places. And I'm dying to know how they'll restore the Rembrandt. Hope that's a future blog post itself.

No.

Ran across this article about gun violence illustrations on Drawger (really want to write "Drawager," like it's an old widow living in an Abbey who draws), and it reminded me of something.

As part of a story in Entertainment Weekly on gun violence in Hollywood, post the Newtown shooting, EW commissioned a number of illustrations. Soon after the shootings, which took place in the town where my parents live (they moved while I was in college, so I've never felt as if I 'lived' there), I tried to do a personal illustration. I'd intended to do a beautiful painting - highlighting the details, creating the patterns - of the rifle, the legal mass-killing machine used to take children away from innocence. And their parents.

I couldn't do it. I did my research, I started sketching, and I couldn't do it.

It's such a joy to paint something beautiful. For me, as the painter, I enjoy the journey, and the destination - the finished image - is an additional benefit. But to paint, to find the beauty in something that only exists to kill - and to kill mass amounts, violently and finally - well, no.

After nearly 20 years in the design world, as an Account person no less, saying "no" to a client (albeit the client was me...) was tough. But

No.

Oh, yes

Do you ever have the experience of being 'confronted' (in a good way) with something that you'd seen before but not focused upon? So this wasn't a blinding flash of overwhelmingness, since there was some familiarity and enough separation that it wasn't personal, but. Maira Kalman

Yup, late to the party again. But that's ok, I've the urge to go create now, thank you.

Here's her TED Talk, which I can't seem to embed here. Worth going to another page. Really.

Geek admiration

Hate to admit it - yes, I'm...picky - but it's rare to find work that I totally admire and be totally inspired by. Totally being the operative word.

First, the site Book by Its Cover is a great read, and since I just found it (behind, I know), it is great to see it's coming 'back' better than ever. And not only the content, but the layout of the site. Intuitive, interesting and graphically acceptable. Nice!

Then. THEN. One of the sponsors of Book by Its Cover. Also. That's the name (another great inspiration). Also. I curiously clicked through, and not only their site, but their clients' sites (the most difficult place to showcase the breadth of your 'stuff'!), AMAZING. Incredible illustration, design, animation, thought. Hooray!

Go! Please. Visit Also now.

Up and running

This will soon contain some more insights, but in the meantime, the site is actually functional. Yes, that is a hurdle in and of itself. But it will be nice to add the dimension of insights. Promise, promise it will be coming soon.

In the meantime, check out what is here and Happy Hols!