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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
trentgilliss:

David Campbell’s paintings from his series “The Idiot” will make you laugh. Come on, a dude in repose sucking a lollipop while bouncing a beach ball is knee-slappin’ funny!
And some of his titles are even more humorous when paired with his painting. Granted, it’s an odd humor at times. “Touching My Wife’s Hair While She Sleeps” is kind of creepy, yes, but I love that the artist doesn’t take himself too seriously.

They are rather strange and slightly awkward — and they’re utterly beautiful.
(h/t to Tamara Brantmeier)
trentgilliss:

David Campbell’s paintings from his series “The Idiot” will make you laugh. Come on, a dude in repose sucking a lollipop while bouncing a beach ball is knee-slappin’ funny!
And some of his titles are even more humorous when paired with his painting. Granted, it’s an odd humor at times. “Touching My Wife’s Hair While She Sleeps” is kind of creepy, yes, but I love that the artist doesn’t take himself too seriously.

They are rather strange and slightly awkward — and they’re utterly beautiful.
(h/t to Tamara Brantmeier)

trentgilliss:

David Campbell’s paintings from his series “The Idiot” will make you laugh. Come on, a dude in repose sucking a lollipop while bouncing a beach ball is knee-slappin’ funny!

And some of his titles are even more humorous when paired with his painting. Granted, it’s an odd humor at times. “Touching My Wife’s Hair While She Sleeps” is kind of creepy, yes, but I love that the artist doesn’t take himself too seriously.

image

They are rather strange and slightly awkward — and they’re utterly beautiful.

(h/t to Tamara Brantmeier)

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Oh my, I sure hope this elderly woman’s intentions are paving the road to somewhere else. From the National Post:

‘Good deed’ by rogue restoration pensioner ruins 19th-century Spanish fresco
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) was a prized Spanish fresco — the pride of the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, near Zaragoza, where it has delighted parishioners for more than 100 years.But after a botched restoration attempt by a well-meaning DIY pensioner, Elias Garcia Martinez’s 19th-century masterpiece looks more like a child’s finger-painting.The unauthorized alterations were made by a Spanish woman in her 80s who had apparently grown upset over the worsening state of the painting. (Centro de estudios Borjanos)

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Oh my, I sure hope this elderly woman’s intentions are paving the road to somewhere else. From the National Post:

‘Good deed’ by rogue restoration pensioner ruins 19th-century Spanish fresco
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) was a prized Spanish fresco — the pride of the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, near Zaragoza, where it has delighted parishioners for more than 100 years.But after a botched restoration attempt by a well-meaning DIY pensioner, Elias Garcia Martinez’s 19th-century masterpiece looks more like a child’s finger-painting.The unauthorized alterations were made by a Spanish woman in her 80s who had apparently grown upset over the worsening state of the painting. (Centro de estudios Borjanos)

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Oh my, I sure hope this elderly woman’s intentions are paving the road to somewhere else. From the National Post:

‘Good deed’ by rogue restoration pensioner ruins 19th-century Spanish fresco


Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) was a prized Spanish fresco — the pride of the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, near Zaragoza, where it has delighted parishioners for more than 100 years.

But after a botched restoration attempt by a well-meaning DIY pensioner, Elias Garcia Martinez’s 19th-century masterpiece looks more like a child’s finger-painting.

The unauthorized alterations were made by a Spanish woman in her 80s who had apparently grown upset over the worsening state of the painting. (Centro de estudios Borjanos)

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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"I see my work as a vehicle for relationships. A great painting isn’t great until viewers come and engage with it." —Bruce Herman, from a profile in Comment magazine.
Photo by Sheryl’s Boys (disributed with instagram)
"I see my work as a vehicle for relationships. A great painting isn’t great until viewers come and engage with it." —Bruce Herman, from a profile in Comment magazine.
Photo by Sheryl’s Boys (disributed with instagram)

"I see my work as a vehicle for relationships. A great painting isn’t great until viewers come and engage with it."
Bruce Herman, from a profile in Comment magazine.

Photo by Sheryl’s Boys (disributed with instagram)

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Picasso in Palestine for the Very First Time: An Interview with Khaled Hourani

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Picasso in PalestineAll photos courtesy of the Van Abbemuseum

This summer, for the first time, an original painting by Pablo Picasso was exhibited  in the West Bank city of Ramallah. What’s the big deal, right? Museums and galleries loan each other works of art all the time. But in Israel and the West Bank, where politics, borders, and security concerns rule the day, organizing a public exhibition of Picasso’s $7.1 million "Buste de Femme" turned out to be no easy feat. Who would insure the painting? How could its physical security be guaranteed? How would it be transported across military checkpoints?

For the last two years, Khaled Hourani has been doggedly figuring out answers to those questions together with the Van Abbemuseum in Holland. Hourani is arts director at the International Academy of Art Palestine (IAAP) in Ramallah where the “Buste de Femme” was on display. The Van Abbemuseum holds Picasso’s painting in its collection. Theirs is a story of a cross-cultural team triumphing over bureaucratic hurdles.

The Van Abbemuseum sent us over one hundred pictures documenting the painting’s careful voyage from Holland to Ramallah. The photographs tell their own story with the “Buste de Femme” as a silent, cipher-like protagonist. The painting is a magnet for attention and inspection and yet it also seems a little lonely and plaintive as it winds its way through customs and checkpoints into the IAAP’s exhibition room.

We reached out to Hourani to learn why he wanted to exhibit a single Picasso painting in Ramallah, and how the experience of working on this project affected him personally. Here’s his answers to my questions via email:

Picasso in PalestineStaff at the Van Abbemuseum in Holland prepare the “Buste de Femme” for its journey to Ramallah. (photo: Perry van Duijnhoven)

Why Picasso?
There are several reasons for this choice. The students of the Art Academy were at the center of the selection process from its early stages. The students voted in full consensus for Picasso as an artist and for the chosen painting in particular.

The Academy conducted a thorough research in Palestine about “who is the most popular international artist in our region?” The answer was Picasso. I recall asking my mother about the most well-known artist or painting she favored. Her answer was Picasso as an artist, and “Mona Lisa” as her favorite painting.

I had other personal reasons for selecting Picasso. His name was carved in the memory of my childhood in the early stages of my upbringing. When I was a child and used to paint, my teachers nicknamed me “Picasso.” Later in my life, when I started working, the name Picasso accompanied me. In our culture it is very popular to give a nickname to someone after a well-known figure; and, for me, Picasso became my nickname.

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The Collective Pride of Commencement

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

the-graduate-ernie-barnes"The Graduate" by Ernie Barnes

Ernie Barnes used his canvas to celebrate black American life in elongated, vibrant strokes. “The Graduate” (shown above) is one of the professional football player-turned-artist’s best-known paintings, which is part of a body of work Barnes called “The Beauty of the Ghetto.” Barnes passed away in 2009.

According to his long-time assistant Luz Rodriguez, “The Graduate” is rooted in Ernie Barnes’ experiences growing up in segregated Durham, North Carolina during the 1940’s and 50’s:

"Because it was rare at that time for a member of the family to graduate from high school, it was commonplace and an honor for the new graduate to walk home from campus still dressed in their cap and gown. As the new graduate walked home, people on their front porches stood and clapped, which instilled a sense of pride in the graduate as well as the community. This image always remained in Barnes’ psyche."

The creative inspiration for “The Graduate” came many years later while Barnes was in his car, parked at a stop light. Peering out the window, he noticed a young man striding across the street. “He expressed the attitude and confidence that Barnes captured for the mannerism in ‘The Graduate,’” says Rodriguez.

John McDonogh Senior High School Graduation - New Orleans - 2007A student in New Orleans, Louisiana walks to his graduation ceremony at John McDonogh Senior High School. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Even though “The Graduate” depicts a solitary figure, it tells a story of collective pride and accomplishment. For Barnes, who attended North Carolina College on an athletic scholarship and graduated with an art degree, the graduate’s achievement buoys a family and a community. One person’s success may inspire a succession of possibilities.

Livingstong High School graduation - New Orleans - 2008Valedictorian Lawyna Taylor, one of 11 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, celebrates after commencement was held in Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in the Ninth Ward. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Snoop Digs the Kosher Doggs
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
This altered scene of The Last Supper is popping up in the strangest places and all over Tumblr. Here, Snoop Dogg warms up the room before the main act takes the stage. You know Jesus is big when Snoop’s just the opener!
Snoop Digs the Kosher Doggs
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
This altered scene of The Last Supper is popping up in the strangest places and all over Tumblr. Here, Snoop Dogg warms up the room before the main act takes the stage. You know Jesus is big when Snoop’s just the opener!
Snoop Digs the Kosher Doggs
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
This altered scene of The Last Supper is popping up in the strangest places and all over Tumblr. Here, Snoop Dogg warms up the room before the main act takes the stage. You know Jesus is big when Snoop’s just the opener!

Snoop Digs the Kosher Doggs

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

This altered scene of The Last Supper is popping up in the strangest places and all over Tumblr. Here, Snoop Dogg warms up the room before the main act takes the stage. You know Jesus is big when Snoop’s just the opener!

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Completely Free to Be Vulnerable: Martha Depp on Art and Cancer

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

This afternoon we received the following email from Ben Depp, a photographer whose sister Martha, an artist and art teacher, was diagnosed with an advanced form of ovarian cancer:

"I put together a six-minute film on her art, life, and cancer. I think this is a good fit for your blog because of her spiritual journey through her cancer process, and it’s very interesting because of how she illustrated the process with painting and drawing. Her blog has touched thousands including many with terminal cancer.”

I don’t know why, but I started watching Ben’s quietly touching video, half expecting an against all odds type of story. It wasn’t to be.

Martha died this past Thursday at the age of 33. May she rest in peace with that brand new body she was awaiting:

"Physically, healing hasn’t happened. I mean, obviously, I still have cancer, and I’m obviously going to die from it. And it’s all over my body. But I’m kind of happy about that because I get to go to heaven sooner and be healed and get a new body and be from pain and suffering, and tears. No more tears."

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My Wish for Japan: A Softness Touching the Earth

by Sharon Kingston, guest contributor

A Softness Touching the Earth

Japan has been on all our minds and in all our hearts. There doesn’t seem to be enough capacity in the human soul to witness nature unleash its force on man in this way. Helplessness still sits with us even after the contributing of funds to relief efforts.

The magnitude of the disaster and continuing saga has made us all feel vulnerable to the uncertainty of life. We can’t fathom how recovery can possibly follow such devastation.

Then there’s me here in my studio just painting clouds and wondering how what I do could possibly matter. And then today I happened upon this Rilke poem after I finished the painting shown above. And the words could not be more profound and with them my painting feels right again.

Threshold of Spring
Harshness gone. All at once caring spread over
the naked gray of the meadows.
Tiny rivulets sing in different voices.
A softness, as if from everywhere,

is touching the earth.
Paths appear across the land and beckon.
Surprised once again you sense
its coming in the empty tree.

—from “A Year With Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke” (translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)


Sharon KingstonSharon Kingston is an oil painter of invented and imagined spaces infused with metaphor and poetry. Her most recent paintings, the Reading Rilke series, have been inspired by the writings and poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.

We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.

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Finding Balance through Paint
by Joel Traylor, guest contributor
One of my paintings, “Finding Balance,” serves as a reminder to myself that balance can only be achieved by seeking it moment to moment. On Being is one of my podcasts of choice while working in my studio.
Joel Traylor is an artist living in Mount Rainier, Maryland.
We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for    possible        publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry   through  our First Person Outreach page.
Finding Balance through Paint
by Joel Traylor, guest contributor
One of my paintings, “Finding Balance,” serves as a reminder to myself that balance can only be achieved by seeking it moment to moment. On Being is one of my podcasts of choice while working in my studio.
Joel Traylor is an artist living in Mount Rainier, Maryland.
We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for    possible        publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry   through  our First Person Outreach page.

Finding Balance through Paint

by Joel Traylor, guest contributor

One of my paintings, “Finding Balance,” serves as a reminder to myself that balance can only be achieved by seeking it moment to moment. On Being is one of my podcasts of choice while working in my studio.


Joel Traylor is an artist living in Mount Rainier, Maryland.

We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.

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Rembrandt’s Divinely Inspired Light: An Unheard Cut from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Rembrandt's 'Portrait of a man'
Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a man, half length, with arms akimbo” (1658) (photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

"Sometimes you have to kill your puppies." This is radio producer insider baseball talk for cutting your most precious, beloved bits of tape — the ones that aren’t serving the bigger story you’re trying to tell. Such was the case with Great Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a masterful storyteller appearing in our recent shows "Pursuing Happiness with the Dalai Lama" and "The Dignity of Difference."

On stage at Emory University with the Dalai Lama this October, Sacks told a story about Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine. When the First World War broke out, he was stranded in Switzerland and later made his way to England. There he found solace in the company of Rembrandt’s paintings at The National Gallery in London.

In the clip above (mp3, 01:31) that never made it into the show, Sacks points out that Rembrandt’s subjects weren’t all that beautiful, but his paintings nevertheless reveal their “inner radiance.” He invites us to find beauty where it’s not immediately obvious, and to expand our perceptions of what’s beautiful.

Rabbi Kook commented on Rembrandt’s masterful use of light in this 1935 interview with The Jewish Chronicle:

"I really think that Rembrandt was a Tzadik. Do you know that when I first saw Rembrandt’s works, they reminded me of the legend about the creation of light? We are told that when God created light, it was so strong and pellucid, that one could see from one and of the world to the other, but God was afraid that the wicked might abuse it. What did He do? He reserved that light for the righteous when the Messiah should come. But now and then there are great men who are blessed and privileged to see it. I think that Rembrandt was one of them, and the light in his pictures is the very light that was originally created by God Almighty.”

And these lines from Rabbi Sacks’ short reflection about art, timeless beauty, and Rabbi Kook’s particular love of Rembrandt resonate:

"Art which aims to shock, shocks only once, while art which aims at beauty never fades. Art as sensation eventually deadens our sensations, while art as wonder wakens them."

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In Praise of Open Windows

Shari Motro, guest contributor

Granni Sunshine
Painting by Ola Schary. “It’s a copy of a postcard my grandmother painted for me when I was a child. She was a great lover of fresh air, a gentle and beautiful soul.”

Krista’s interview with Bill McKibben inspired me to write this, so I thought it would be fitting to post it on this blog.

Last spring, the Obamas planted a White House vegetable garden. This year, why not follow up by cutting the air conditioning and opening the windows? They might also set a temperature range for the White House within which neither artificial heating nor cooling is used — recognizing that for much of the spring and fall what nature provides simply cannot be improved.

I’m no fan of indoor refrigeration even in summer. I realize I’m in the minority. Nevertheless, year-round climate control is surely not what most people want. During these glorious weeks, I cannot believe the office and retail workers who crowd every outdoor café and park bench at lunchtime appreciate returning to their airtight posts. I cannot believe the guests of most major hotels prefer stale recycled air over an April breeze. I cannot believe the bedridden sick and elderly prefer the drone of forced air to the calls of nesting birds. Novelist Henry Miller called the United States the “air-conditioned nightmare.” He had a point.

The ubiquity of windows that do not open may cause some not to notice what they are missing. Sealed spaces divide, they alienate, they blind us to what is happening beyond our threshold. They rob us of the goose bumps you feel as the sun sets at the end of a balmy day, of the sounds of crickets and children, of the smell of freshly mown grass, honeysuckle, earth. A different kind of comfort emerges when we tune in rather than anesthetizing ourselves to our given reality, and with this comfort comes a different kind of compassion for ourselves and our surroundings.

In the end, of course, this isn’t only about us. Americans make up 4% of the world’s population and we produce a quarter of its carbon dioxide pollution. I don’t know where you draw the line between personal comfort and responsibility, but treating our air 12 months a year, 24/7 is on the wrong side of it. This isn’t comfort, it’s gratuitous waste.

Who stands to lose from an open-window revolution? The multibillion dollar HVAC industry. I’m okay with that.

It’s been a long winter — let the sun shine in.

Shari MotroMs. Motro teaches law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. This essay was first published in The Wall Street Journal on April 10, 2010 and reprinted with permission of the author.

We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on SOF Observed. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.

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A Rare Chagall “Crucifixion” Painting Surfaces

Trent Gilliss, online editor

White CrucifixionSaw this over the weekend in the London Times and thought it was worth sharing for those of you who missed it.

Quite some time ago, we chose Marc Chagall's "La Crucifixion Blanche" (1938) as the lead image for our program, “The Jewish Roots of the Christian Story” with our guest, Joel Marcus. “White Crucifixion” is the first in a series of Chagall’s major crucifixion paintings in which he focused on the persecution of his fellow Jews by Hitler and the Nazis through depictions of Jesus dying on the cross and his essential Jewish nature. (Ziva Amishai-Maisels’ exploration of Chagall’s painting is a good starting point for better understanding the nuanced detail and subtle narrative devices used in “White Crucifixion.”)

Apocalypse in Lilac: Capriccio Chagall’s series has been pretty thoroughly documented and well-catalogued — until October of last year.

A previously unknown 1945 gouache painted by the French-Russian artist while living in New York surfaced in a recent auction in Paris. Keeping it on the down-low, the London Jewish Museum of Art purchased “Apocalypse in Lilac, Capriccio” for the relatively paltry sum of 30,000 euros, about $43,000. The small museum kept it quiet so that major museums and other collectors wouldn’t bid up the price.

And, now, after all these years in hiding, the painting will be displayed in London this coming week. What a treasure for the public to behold.

(“White Crucifixion” courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago, a gift of Alfred S. Alschuler)

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