The Aspen Summer Words literary festival and retreat culminated today with the Colorado Book Awards ceremony, honoring the state's best in writing and illustration. A total of 169 entries were whittled down to just 12 winners — one for each category. Additionally, Margaret Coel was honored with a lifetime achievement award for her "significant contribution to the Colorado literary community."
None of the winners this year are from the Pikes Peak region, unlike last year, when Kirk Farber took home the prize for literary fiction. However, Janice Gould, local poet and professor, was a finalist for her work, "Doubters and Dreamers."
Her other books of poetry include Beneath My Heart, Alphabet (a chapbook) and Earthquake Weather. She is the co-editor, with Dean Rader, of Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry. She is an Associate Professor in Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
— Colorado Humanities
LoDo's Tattered Cover will host a signing celebration with the winners at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 21. If you can make it, you'll get a chance to shmooze with not just any local authors, but award-winning ones.
Check out the list of all the winners after the jump.
We first met Abby Murray in 2010, when we profiled her newly created Writers Reading series. The event has since moved locations several times, but later in the summer will undergo a bigger change: Murray will leave Colorado Springs to get her doctorate at Binghamton University in New York, and turn the now every-other-month event over to a fellow instructor at Pikes Peak Community College.
"I’m really just going because I feel like, even though I finished my MFA, I’m not quite done having people tell me what to read, I guess," says the tattooed and pierced literary professor. "I just don’t feel like I’m done."
A frequent mover due to her husband's military service, Murray's a published poet who has lived in Seattle, Alaska, Vancouver, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio. Then she moved here and started the series where anybody can sign up to read their written work before an audience (with a featured author capping each event).
Still, it was no small task. Actually ...
"It was [like] pushing a boulder uphill — like, I got a lot of resistance. I don’t really want to name names, because I feel like I’m still a little bit bitter about it," she says hotly. "So I don’t want to name names, but I did get a lot of people saying they didn’t want to help me; a lot of people saying it would be waste of time; a lot of people saying that I could spend my time more efficiently elsewhere; and a lot of people who just didn’t return my calls, and then who later I heard, once I became more active in the literary scene, heard about them talking about how important community is to them. And I was like, 'Really ...'"
In a wide-ranging interview held last week at Montague's, Murray talked about teaching, the future for local poets, the environment for aspiring authors, and what it means (and doesn't) to be an Army wife.
ON THE FUTURE OF LOCAL POETRY: "It seems like more people are gradually becoming interested. ... Yeah, I think people are starting to get more interested in it; I think it’s coming out of the slump of, ‘Why would I study that? It’s not gonna get me a job.’ And people are just now starting to realize ‘OK, I have a job, but I’m not happy.’"
ON HER FAVORITE FEATURED AUTHOR: "What’s cool about the series is that literally every reading, I’m always so nervous; I feel like I’m gonna throw up beforehand, and every time I leave I’m like, ‘That reading was better than last month.’ But, at the same time, I hate those PC, bullshit answers that don’t answer the question, so I think Kitty Jospe was out here in March of this year. She flew out from Rochester.
"It still amazes me I’m paying these people in [homemade] jam; and I’ve had people fly in from Boston, Rochester.
"And she was here and I feel like she got the most warm response from the audience. People really felt like they connected to her poetry."
ON THE SPRINGS' LITERARY SCENE: "I don’t get the impression that authors are helping each other very much in Colorado Springs. I feel like everybody’s more or less in it for themselves — and you kind of have to be. It’s become really cutthroat, and it’s become really, ‘I want my five minutes in the sun.’ To me it was very hard to get started here, because I really wanted a reading series where people were just nice to each other — play nice, like, I just want people to play fucking nice."
ON THE POETRY WEST ORGANIZATION: "They’ve been the most helpful in terms of the poetry scene. In terms of Colorado Springs, they had every reason to not be helpful to me — I don’t write like they do, I’m younger than they are — and they have been nothing but welcoming. They read in the open mic, they publish in their newsletter the upcoming readings; they’re always available when I e-mail them."
ON LOCAL CREATIVE MOTIVATION: "What’s weird here, and I think it has something to do with the environmental beauty that we’re living in in this town: it’s really difficult to live here and not have some good ideas for writing. It’s really difficult to live here and be immune to kick-ass stories and really good poetry. You know, we can kind of observe the country and what it’s doing from its center, so I think there are people here who just have top-notch, brilliant ideas.
"The problem, I think — according to me, a 29-year-old, I-don’t-have-any-right-to-prescribe-my-opinion-anyway — but according to me, there’s a lack of ambition here. I think people have really great ideas — nobody wants to lead. Nobody wants to do work, I guess, or talk to each other."
ON BEING A MILITARY SPOUSE: "I’m not really an active part in the whole Army-wife scene, mostly because I really don’t know how to go about it. It’s another culture. It’s really another lifestyle. It’s really weird, because in some ways it’s incredibly limited. Like, you’re allowed — just a warning: I’m being an asshole here, and I know it — you’re allowed to have certain personality traits. There’s, like, a certain line that you’re not allowed to cross as an Army wife."
ON HER NEW BOOK: "But that said, I think there are a lot of poems in the book that speak to a lot of what wives are going through, and not just me. The feeling like — it is really something else to wonder if your spouse is dead, like, every day when you wake up. Like, you know, ‘Haven’t talked to him in 12 hours, I wonder if something happened.’ And, like, every time you turn onto your street wondering if there’s gonna be a Dodge Durango parked in front of your house. So I think the poems aren’t just for, like, liberal, anti-Army-wife types. I think it kind of speaks to everybody.
"At least I hope it does."
A few book-related activities going on:
First up, on Saturday, June 2, photojournalist Steven Clevenger will host a signing and presentation on his book America's First Warriors: Native Americans and Iraq.
You can listen to a 2011 NPR interview with Clevenger, who's been covering wars for almost four decades, and see a slideshow of his work here. Then head to Poor Richard's Bookstore from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday to meet the man.
Next up, local author Robert Spiller is running a deal on the Kindle version of Radical Equations, the fourth book in his Bonnie Pinkwater mystery series.
Starting Friday, Radical Equations will be available online here for just 99 cents. If you're looking for a light, summer read, this series featuring a high school math teacher (written by a former math teacher) with multiple Colorado references might be just what you need. Now's a good time to check out this series, since Spiller is plugging away on the fifth book, Napier's Bones, and plans to release it in 2013.
Third, for those of you with kiddos, Pikes Peak Library District's summer reading program starts June 1 and runs through July 31. Learn more about how your children can win prizes, just for reading, here.
And finally, less book-related though still library-involved, PPLD now has the first season of the PBS hit Downton Abbey available to card-holders, for free. Learn more here. The video-loaning is a part of the library's OverDrive Virtual collection, which includes not only video, but eBooks and audio books.
The phrase "Happy Memorial Day" — which today finds its way into newspaper headlines across the country, as well as websites from ESPN to perezhilton.com — can be seen as:
• a more specific variation on the theme, "Happy Three-Day Weekend";
• a reflexive symptom of Hallmark-fueled desensitization;
• or an expression of the indomitable spirit of the American people.
In any case, the holiday itself is an observance that dates back the American Civil War, a remembrance of those lost in the theater of war that remains all too real and all too relevant to this day.
This past Friday, I received an uncorrected proof of Donald Anderson's Gathering Noise From My Life: A Camouflaged Memoir. Anderson is a professor of English and Writer in Residence at the U.S. Air Force Academy whom I'd interviewed, along with his student Jason Armagost, for a cover story a couple years ago. Armagost was in the lead aircraft of the "Shock and Awe" mission that signaled the beginning of the Iraq war.
Here is a passage from Anderson's memoir, which threads his own draft-age experience with those of young soldiers today. The book will be published by University of Iowa Press in September. Scroll down further for a video of Richard Thompson's "Meet on the Ledge" that may provide some measure of solace on this most poignant of holidays.
"Draft lottery '#1' for the 1970 drawing is July 9: my birthday. I immediately join Air Force ROTC. My plan is to stay clear of the army (more soldiers being buried than airmen). And if forced to Vietnam, I mean to be forced there as a lieutenant — an officer in charge of his future. The month I sign up for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Pentagon releases to the public news of 34 deaths in 209 incidents in Vietnam of officer "fraggings" — that is, U.S. officers being attacked by their own soldiers. Attacks on officers by their own troops in time of war reached unprecedented proportions in Vietnam, with some historians reporting as many as 2,000 incidents a year.
A female air force captain, recently returned from Afghanistan, rightly spoke of the youth of the troops: "All they want to do is eat pop tarts and play video games and all we do is give them grenades.'"
Care to join me in a spot of summer speed-reading?
This morning brought the announcement that The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood is the official pick for All Pikes Peak Reads 2012. The powerhouse author, famed for her engaging public appearances and devoted fan base, will be visiting Colorado Springs for the Sept. 14 kickoff of APPR.
Some readers will have already started hyperventilating with excitement at this point, while others (like me) will be casting their minds back to high school book reports on Atwood’s dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale. Sure, it was topical and preachy, but it was a blisteringly good story with lots of crunchy plot and themes that kept haunting us for weeks. Atwood has perfected her M.O. since then — her 2000 novel The Blind Assassin won the Man Booker Prize — but the experience remains much the same. Where Tale creates a dark thrill ride out of Reagan-era social politics, Flood tangles with our current vision of the apocalypse: environmental collapse.
In keeping with All Pikes Peak Reads criteria, The Year of the Flood combines broad appeal and easy readability for readers as young as 12, while incorporating themes relevant to the Pikes Peak region and a plot suitable for stage adaptation.
In true Atwood fashion, it also happens to be set in a little-too-near future in which human error has set off a cataclysmic disaster that has changed the fabric of life as we know it. For fans of a certain post-apocalyptic blockbuster novel-turned-film, that’s standard fare, but where Suzanne Collins titillates and terrifies, Atwood tends to prefer to galvanize and provoke.
Or put it a brighter way — she’s out to get us thinking and acting for positive change.
The Year of the Flood is tied to this year’s nonfiction and teen selections (see below) by the theme of survival, a more positive bookend to the annual PPLD Regional History Symposium’s theme of disaster.
The most compelling stories to come out of disaster are those of survival, says PPLD executive director Paula Miller. “And not only survival, but finding ways to thrive.”
For residents of the Pikes Peak region, Miller says, the biggest touchstone for these themes is the environment. “Sustainability has hit this community in a big way,” she said at the announcement ceremony this morning, where winners and sponsors of the city’s Sustainability Snapshot Contest, including SunShare, Old Town Bike Shop, Greener Corners and the Southern Colorado Clean Cities Coalition, were also honored.
As All Pikes Peak Reads takes off this fall, the library district will be partnering with several local environment- and sustainability-focused organizations, including the Trails and Open Space Coalition and the Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network, to explore the ways local residents can thrive in caring for their community, as a community. A complete schedule of All Pikes Peak Reads 2012 events will be published this fall in the Indy and on PPLD’s website.
In the meantime, we’ll need all the head start we can get to digest Atwood’s 40-plus works of fiction, poetry and critique before she hits town in September. Grab your spot on the library holds list while you can!
2012 All Pikes Peak Reads
September 14 - October 31, 2012
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (teen selection)
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford (children's selection)
The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley (nonfiction selection)
From the land of wheat and the Wizard of Oz comes help from the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., in helping the Springs-based Space Foundation get its visitors center project off to a good start.
The Cosmosphere is loaning a collection of 1970s-era Soviet space artifacts, which will be displayed at its headquarters at 4425 Arrowswest Drive.
Since the foundation moved last year into the building, it's been gradually settling in and has a generous amount of space to dedicate to a visitors center and museum.
The Russian items will be on display for three years starting Aug. 1, after making an appearance at the National Space Symposium at The Broadmoor, which closed on Thursday.
On display will be one of the few Lunokhod lunar rovers ever to be displayed outside of the former Soviet Union; a half-scale model, constructed in the Soviet Union, of the Luna 16 Robotic Probe, the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample of lunar soil to Earth, and a prototype of a Sokol (Falcon) Space Suit-K, a pressure suit that was used for on-ground engineering and thermal vacuum tests during Soviet cosmonaut training.
The foundation said in a press release:
"Initially, we will place these three extraordinary artifacts, which the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center has so generously loaned to us, in our extended lobby area," said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. "Then, we'll move them into the El Pomar Space Gallery, as part of the first phase of development of our visitors center.
"We're particularly excited because these artifacts represent a rich part of space history that few Americans have been exposed to," he continued. "We are very pleased to be able to display some of the meaningful contributions the Soviet Union made to space exploration."
The Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hutchinson, Kan., that displays and restores spaceflight artifacts and offers educational programs and camps. It is one of only three museums to display flown spacecraft from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and it has the second-largest collection of flown Soviet and U.S. space artifacts in the world. In addition to being a destination, the Cosmosphere also sponsors traveling exhibits and loans artifacts to other museums and organizations. For more information, go to www.cosmo.org.
"These artifacts on display in our booth at the National Space Symposium are exemplary of the unique and inspiring collection accumulated during our 50-year history and housed at the Kansas Cosmosphere," said Richard Hollowell, interim president & CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center. "We are excited to continue our mission of honoring the past and inspiring the future of space exploration by sharing these fascinating artifacts with visitors to the Space Foundation through an annually renewable three-year loan agreement.
In a related development, industry leader Northrop Grumman Corp. has donated $375,000 to create a science center and teaching lab at the Space Foundation's headquarters.
The press release explains:
To be known as the Northrop Grumman Science Center, the facility will include a Science on a Sphere™ laboratory and a teaching facility that will be used for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs for teachers and students and for community education outreach efforts.
The Northrop Grumman Science Center is the first major component of the Space Foundation's visitors center, which is under development at 4425 Arrowswest Drive in Colorado Springs, Colo. Construction will begin immediately and the new center is expected to open as early as this fall.
"This generous gift from Northrop Grumman makes it possible for the Space Foundation to realize our vision of an interactive destination for formal and informal public and private education - advancing STEM in the exciting context of space exploration, development and utilization," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. "We envision a facility where children and adults can participate in highly interactive learning opportunities in multiple disciplines, including astronomy, physics, mathematics, geography, environmental sciences, planetary sciences and biology."
The Northrop Grumman Science Center will have both lecture and laboratory facilities that can be used for pre-kindergarten through graduate-level courses, educator professional development and educational multimedia events and presentations for the general public.
"Northrop Grumman is honored to partner with the Space Foundation to create this exciting new educational facility for the Rocky Mountain region that will help lead the next generation into space," said Gary Ervin, a corporate vice president of Northrop Grumman and president of the company's Aerospace Systems sector. "STEM education initiatives like this are critical for today's children to become tomorrow's leaders in space. They are the future stewards of our nation's leadership in technology to keep both our economy strong and our residents secure while advancing our understanding of the world around us."
The Center will extend the reach and capabilities of the Space Foundation's education enterprise, which offers space-themed, standards-based education programs to teachers and students. Programs include Space Across the Curriculum teacher professional development courses, STARS science enrichment programs for schools, New Horizons community programs that combine school-based education programs with community events and lectures, Audience with an Astronaut sessions for schools, school and youth tours of major space industry exhibits, including those at the National Space Symposium, lesson plans and teaching resources and a NASA Educator Resource Center.
Sending out congratulations to local author Barbara O'Neal on her nod from the Romance Writers of America for her 2011 novel, How to Bake a Perfect Life. It's been selected by RWA as a RITA finalist for novel with strong romantic elements.
You can find my January 2011 interview with O'Neal about the release of How to Bake a Perfect Life here; and, in tomorrow's Indy, you'll find a short review of her upcoming novel, The Garden of Happy Endings.
The RITA award winners will be announced July 28 at the RWA annual conference in California.
At the Prado in Spain, little cigarette-machine-like vendors dispensing thin books dot its numerous galleries. For a few Euros, little volumes in your language of choice pop out for an instant primer on the artist or period you’re touring. I fed my coins into the Velazquez vendor, largely to get a little souvenir image of his stunning portrait of the Infante Don Carlos (a life-changing painting, I promise).
The wee Velazquez book I still have, and it reminded me of the Denver Art Museum’s Companion to Spanish Colonial Art, a recently published guide to the DAM’s distinguished collection, housed on the north building’s fourth floor. Though more of a proper book — in line with its other recent publication, the fantastic Kress Collection catalogue by Angelica Daneo — this is a great beginner’s guide to all art Spanish Colonial.
... Which you can’t help but to love. On the one hand, it’s punchy, colorful and oh-so-dramatic. Yet those traits don’t relegate it to the telenovela of art history. Because there’s the other side, this artwork is the product of continental Spanish Conquest: Turquoise-green quetzal feathers mingling with the Baroque austerity of Spain, New World silver molded into Old World religions. Thousands of years of isolated histories clashing in a cultural supernova.
Art mirroring such a colossus is no easy feat to adequately explain, yet the author Donna Pierce does a great job for newbies. Aficionados will likely get less out of it, although I was pleased to find a great article at the end about Garden Party folding screens, products of cultural pollination from China and Japan. According to the book, the DAM possesses the only screen held in a museum in the U.S. There are about a dozen others known to exist, and they’re all in private collections. That means you can visit the real thing, just one hour from here.
Buy it here.
You want to know Storm Large. A Portland, Ore., rock legend, she’s tall, talented and inspiringly self-aware; in her brand-new memoir, Large describes her teenage years as a “turd in a punch bowl.” She was loud, obnoxious, slutty and druggy, and she’s the first to admit it.
I approached Crazy Enough as a book that would focus more on Large’s notorious stage presence and music career (I'd never heard of her, but she is most known for her appearance on Rock Star: Supernova), but this tome is about Large’s relationship with her mother, who spent most of her life struggling with mental and emotional problems. Clinically lonely and unhappy, Large’s mother drove her family away with years of hysterics, drug-addled hazes and hospital stays, convinced of one medical anomaly or another. Thus, Crazy Enough feels like it veers a bit once Large enters adulthood and escapes to the West Coast. While the first half of the book is rich with Large’s poignant memories and acerbic-yet-eloquent passages, the second half has a more wrap-up-y, overview approach.
Here, one of Large's expressive moments from an early chapter, when she recalls a mental institution where her mother stayed:
“I would hazard a guess that some of the people who were in charge back then are either behind bars or mopping up their own shit in a soggy cardboard box under a bridge somewhere in hell.
“… Sadville was a mental institution that looked exactly like you would expect a looney bin to look like had you only seen them depicted in horror films: a monolithic, gulag-type building with walls the color of yellowing chicken bone.”
You almost wish Large had held off for a while on writing this, to really pen all her memories. If her college days in Alphabet City and heroin era in San Francisco (where she calls herself “a loser among real addicts”) are any indicators, Large has plenty of stories to tell, and they deserve the full treatment. Maybe another memoir is in order.
And for more book reviews and coverage, click here.
Yesterday morning I heard an appalling statistic on the Willie and Val Show on KCCY-FM 96.9. According to its Nearly Impossible Trivia game, 50 percent of men and 60 percent of women have library cards, but rarely use them.
As someone who visits her public library at least once a week, often more, I couldn't fathom this. I mean, according to NPR, libraries might be the next pop-culture wave after cupcakes. (And who doesn't love cupcakes?)
The economics of a library is unbelievably in your favor. You get a card for free. You visit your library. Check out books, for free. Check out magazines, for free. Check out CDs and audio books and DVDs, for free. (Was it you who said you were getting rid of Netflix after it raised its prices?)
Seriously, people, why aren't you using your library cards? Hit up the Penrose Library branch of Pikes Peak Library District, and you can even pet a bunny or two in the children's section, for free. (And leave the poop clean-up to the librarians.)
If you needed one more reason to head to PPLD, this week the district kicked off its annual Adult Reading Program, "Novel Destinations."
If you're 18-plus and have a library card, now you get to read a book, for free, and win prizes for doing so. Here are all the details:
Pikes Peak Library District’s annual Adult Reading Program runs from January 9 - March 5! This year’s theme is Novel Destinations and is open to anyone age 18 and older with a PPLD library card. Novel Destinations runs through March 5 and adults can read any eight books of their choice. Books on CD, audiocassette, audiobook players, eBooks, and eAudiobooks count, too!
You can sign up now by clicking here!
Reading logs are available by clicking here or at any PPLD library, but feel free to keep track of the books you’ve read using any method you choose.
After you read your first four books, visit your nearest library to pick up your first prize. The program has great prizes this year from Shops at Briargate, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Louie’s Pizza, The Colorado Springs Flea Market, Chick-fil-A, and XS Threadz. Read four more books before March 5 and visit the library again for your second prize. And if you read eight books by the March 5 deadline, you’ll be entered for the grand prize drawing of a new Kindle eReader!
The best part is that Independent Records will be donating $1 for each CD received in order to help support All Pikes Peak Reads community outreach programs. (Note that CDs must be in good condition, with no missing inserts, so no cheating, OK?)
Face it, you'll never have time to list them all on eBay and then spend the rest of your life making trips to the post office. Plus, if you can't bear the idea of parting with all that music, go sign up at mog.com and, if there are any albums that you can't stream for free, just upload them to your computer.
Yes, it's a New Year's resolution you can actually keep. And you can feel good about helping save public libraries, that last bastion of democracy, before Doug Bruce figures out how to shut them down.
We reviewed a few more books this month than we could get into print, but wanted to make sure you heard about them, you know, in case you're still on the hunt for holiday gifts.
According to a press release sent today, the Pikes Peak Library District will purchase a building near the Chapel Hills Mall once occupied by MCI. The 112,883 square-foot building will now house PPLD's Information Technology Department, Community Engagement and Outreach Office, Finance Department, Human Resources Office, Collection Management, and the PPLD Foundation, all of which were located in other libraries throughout the district.
It will also house a Creative Computer Commons, "a prototype library facility that will provide information technology and electronic resources to the public," and like the other libraries it will offer community meeting space.
The building cost the library $3.75 million, which PPLD had already set aside, along with money for renovations and repairs.
The district plans a tentative opening at the end of 2012.
New Library Facility will Feature Creative Computer Commons and Increase Space Available for Patrons throughout District
Colorado Springs, Colo. (December 1, 2011) — At Pikes Peak Library District’s Board of Trustees Meeting on Tuesday, November 29, the Board voted to take action to purchase a facility adjacent to the Chapel Hills Mall. The facility was formerly occupied by MCI and is located at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive on the corner of Chapel Hills Drive and Jamboree Drive. The building is 112,883 square feet (a little less than twice the size of the East Library) and it has two loading docks. This purchase will increase the District’s total square footage by almost 50 percent without any new debt to the residents of El Paso County.
The preliminary contract price is $3.75 million, and it includes a 90-day (cancelable) grace period for PPLD to do the appropriate due diligence work. This equates to approximately $33 per square foot, which compares very favorably to an estimated cost to construct a new library facility of about $250 per square foot. A building of this size would have cost the District $28 million.
The District is using fund balance and the current operating budget to fund the purchase of this facility. There is no debt, and no taxpayer dollars will be used for interest expense. There will be some renovation and repair costs, and the District has money set aside in the budget to cover such costs.
This facility will ease the burden on other heavily used libraries by allowing the District’s Information Technology Department, Community Engagement and Outreach Office, Finance Department, Human Resources Office, Collection Management, and the PPLD Foundation to relocate, thus freeing up space at the East Library, Penrose Library, and the Knights of Columbus office building for other uses such as more space for the public.
The facility will also feature a Creative Computer Commons, a prototype library facility that will provide information technology and electronic resources to the public. Classes will ensure participants are comfortable with technology and have the skills needed in the current job market. Emerging technology will be available for hands-on use. It will offer both educational and entertaining programs and resources. Finally, like all library locations, it will become a community center for its area, with a meeting room, study space, and community partnerships.
“The Pikes Peak Library District is a vibrant entity in which the demand for services increases every year. This transaction will go a long way toward helping our staff meet the increasing needs of our citizens.” said PPLD Chief Finance Officer Michael Varnet.
The timeline for opening is still tentative, but the District hopes to have the new facility open by the end of 2012.
Tune into the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.
It’s funny how people have a “type.” Especially when the type is weirdly obvious and/or specific. (I’m thinking Ron Swanson’s Tammys from Parks and Recreation.)
Artists have types, too, naturally. Peter Paul Rubens was into portly women, Michelangelo was into muscular men, and the English artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti had a thing for women with strong jaws, prominent features and heavy-lidded eyes.
That’s a topical way to get into Rossetti, but his art is so much more than striking women. Rossetti was a Victorian-era painter, poet, translator and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (a school of thought related to art and literature). He was a high-profile figure during his own day, and even if his name isn't all that well-known now, his art is fairly popular.
Artwork like Rossetti’s is made for romantics. Not only because his main subject is beautiful women. His settings are flowery, medieval in landscape and style (think of the chivalrous stripe), and his themes vary from woman as idol to woman as devil.
These are simplifications, of course, but if you ever wanted to know more about this artist, look no further than Rossetti: Painter and Poet by J.B. Bullen. Even if Rossetti isn’t your immediate cup of tea, this book is no less fascinating. For one, Rossetti led an interesting, scandalous life, replete with passionate love affairs, fame and infamy, and drug addiction.
From Bullen’s website:
Bullen’s premise is that Rossetti was a courageous pioneer in the late-nineteenth-century world of evasion and repression. He dared to explore the hidden recesses of the mind and to claim that the libido was a driving force in human life. Both Rossetti’s art and his poetry were castigated for their "fleshliness" but Bullen maintains that in his painting and in his poetry Rossetti’s focus on the erotic life was a way of asserting the centrality of the sexual drive.
And one can easily trace his developments — and affairs — in his works. His passion for Elizabeth “Lizzie” Siddal, the woman who would later become his wife, burned hotly in the beginnings of their courtship, but waned as she took ill and his interests strayed. After her death by suicide, Rossetti painted her again, one result being “Beata Beatrix,” one of his best-known works, which portrays Lizzie in an allegory of death laced with a sense of mythical eroticism.
Other lovers, Fannie Cornforth and Jane Morris, held similar symbolic roles. Cornforth, the subject of the subversively lascivious “Bocca Baciata,” which graces the cover of the book, was his paragon of physical desire. The more severe Morris was an ideal of beauty.
Before relying more heavily on symbolism, Rossetti’s work was largely informed by such epics as Dante’s Divine Comedy and Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. His portrayals of doomed lovers like Paolo and Francesca, and Lancelot and Guinevere are particularly intriguing for their glorious consummation in hell and guilty stolen moments, respectively.
Painter and Poet was published Oct. 11 and is available here.