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A Blank Canvas

The decision to move to a larger city after leaving Charleston was one I made a long time ago. I’ve always preferred big cities. I like being able to use public transportation instead of having a car, I love having access to many museums and galleries, and I enjoy hearing many languages spoken as I make my way through the hustle and bustle of downtown. As I searched for a job, I concentrated on NYC, DC, Chicago, and LA. DC won the race and I am glad to be here. Starting over is always scary, but I’m enjoying the challenge.

As I spent a few days in May packing my things, I knew that, regardless of which city I moved to, I would end up affording a smaller apartment than I had in Charleston. With this in mind, I seriously purged my belongings and decided to leave all of my furniture behind in South Carolina. I own a lot of books. Even after my major purge, I still have more than 500 books in my collection. I know this because I assign them each a catalog number that I put on a bookplate in the book. I keep a list of my catalog in a series of spreadsheets, organized by general category (art & architecture, biographies, etc.). I don’t even keep all the books I read, just the ones I would like to re-read, or would like to have available to lend to my friends. As I searched for an apartment in DC, I was looking for a place with enough wall space for me to be able to install enough bookcases for my books (also acknowledging that I will add to my collection). I settled on the Columbia Heights neighborhood, a neighborhood that was mostly Hispanic for most of the second half of the 1900’s and into the early 2000’s. Gentrification is changing the area, but I still find tías selling watermelon and mango slices on the street and families with babies that look like me, brown hair and big brown eyes.

This is the apartment I found. I chose it because it has a great bank of windows facing the street, which lets in a lot of natural light during the day. The window sill is a great spot for my orchids. The kitchen is tiny, it makes me smile it’s so itty bitty. I don’t do much cooking, so it’s fine for me. The main studio space is approximately 250 square feet (there’s a walk-through closet to the bathroom and the tiny kitchen space, so the apartment is a little more than 350 sq feet overall). Other than the full-size bed that I had delivered when I moved in last week, there is no other furniture…yet. I will be bringing a drafting table from my old apartment, otherwise I have a blank slate. I’m excited to hunt for vintage pieces to create a home from this little space, and to build some new shelves to accommodate my books. I love a good challenge!1225161026

Let’s see what this blank canvas becomes!

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Posted by on December 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

How is Grad School Like Being Dead?

You don’t have time to think, much less post! Check back, I will be posting some of the awesome pictures that I’ve taken on tours of different historic properties. Cross my heart!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Underwear Rant

I don’t understand how, with nearly a century modern “underwear”, it still fits so badly. We all know women complain about bras. No matter how comfortable a bra is at the start of the day, you will be desperate to get it off at the end. My real pet peeve, though, are panties. Why, oh why, must they ride up? It doesn’t matter the cut, boy short, cheekster, granny-panty, or thong, it will be up your butt at some point in the day. It’s such a pain! Do men have this kind of problem? I mean, boxers are just a pair of shorts away from going commando, but, do men who wear tightie whities have the same problem? And, if they don’t, why can’t women’s undies use the same system to keep them in place? Inquiring minds want to know!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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New Paintings

I’ve spent many years pursuing the perfect photo-realistic painting style. I’ve studied undertones and details and have striven for perfection. Recently, though, I threw that all out the window and decided to feel my new paintings. They’re not perfect, but I like them. The colors are a little off because I photographed them on my phone, but you can see the way they flow. It feels really good to paint this way!

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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Apollo’s Angels: History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans

Homans, a former professional ballet dancer and a dance critic, set herself to the formidable task of telling the history of ballet from its inception through to the modern day. Her book is meticulously researched, insightful, and well presented.

She begins, just as ballet does, in France. Telling the story of the court dances of Louis XIV through Louis XVI as the foundations of what we would recognize as the essence of ballet. As the courtiers of Louis XVI were replaced by professional dancers, and the revolution decimated their ranks, the nascent Paris Opera Ballet struggled against itself and outside forces to be recognized as an art form in and of itself, rather than a minor element of Opera.

As the ascendancy of the male dancer was falling by the wayside in France, the story (and book) moves to the Danes and their retention of the conservative movement and focus on restraint of Bournonville, all the way through to the modern day. The story then moves to the antithesis of Danish restraint, the flamboyant virtuosity of the Italian ballet. Blending the traditions of commedia dell’arte with the court dances developed in France, the Italians, lead by Manzotti, increasingly created larger and more spectacular spectacles. They developed a training system that led to their dancers being able to perform amazing feats of athletic prowess…but left the art form as little more than empty pageantry.

With money to entice, and an active pursuit of Westernization, Imperial Russia took over the mantle of the home of ballet in the late 1800’s. The aristocracy hired French, Danish, and Italian ballet masters to teach them to dance. They eventually created ballet schools that blended the elements of the different schools of dance, the virtuosity of the Italians, the male dance tradition of the Danes, and the regal, ephemeral beauty of the French ballerina. The Russians gave all to this art, treating it, much as the French ballet masters had desired, as an art form in its own right, on par with painting and opera. As the 20th century dawned, with the beginnings of modern dance, the Russians created the first truly “Classical” ballet, The Sleeping Beauty. The rise of the Soviets, with their ironic adoption of ballet (the art of courtly manners) as the art of the proletariat, was both a blessing and a curse to Russian ballet. Training in the USSR was, and still is, legendary. Poor and often orphaned children would be plucked from the entire Soviet Union and set to train in the Kirov or Bolshoi schools. Local schools were also developed, and the entire people understood ballet as an element of life in a way no one had before. The classical dances were preserved against the movement of modernism…and the art form was stifled under the extremes of the totalitarian state. As Homans points out, the Soviets did not have agitators within their system. Their dancers and choreographers either fell in line, or defected to the West.

The loss of some of the Soviets best and brightest, was to benefit the British and American dance traditions. The Royal Opera Ballet in Britain, and both ABT and NYCB benefited from the talents brought by these defectors. It is in this era, contemporary to the author, that the books tone shifts from the more purely historical presentation of the earlier chapters, to the views of the author as critic. It is obvious that she is in thrall to Mr. B (George Balanchine) and not a single word of criticism against him is presented in the book. Having read Dancing on my Grave by Gelsey Kirkland ( a former protege of Balanchine with some positive, but many negative memories of the man), it is hard to see Homans as an objective presenter of history when it comes to this particular era. The final chapter is a disgrace to the rest of her book. Homans essentially dismisses all ballet since her retirement, claiming it is vapid and devoid of personality and depth. She even claims that ballet is in its final death throes. It is the point of view of a critic and not of a historian, and one would think, having seen the “death throes” of ballet declared in each period her book explores, she may have been able to see the fallacy of her own proclamation. Perhaps she is right, perhaps ballet is stultified in America and Europe, but, one would think she of all people would recognize, that this may simply mean that it is to rise again elsewhere in the world.

The book has three sections of images inset. Most of these images are black and white and, as such, I would have preferred they be placed in the body of the text (as some images are). This would allow a lay reader, who perhaps doesn’t understand the more technical terms in the text, or have ready memory of the art or artists she mentions, to have access to those corresponding images as they encounter the information. Although I know what a pirouette is, or what Nijinsky looked like, some other readers might benefit from the visuals being included within the text. All in all, this is an excellent work, totally readable, and presents the topic with enough depth, considering its brevity, to capture, as the subtitle presents, the history of the ballet.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A Note on Recent Events

In all the craziness of this week, there is something that has been re-enforced for me…”breaking news” is a pseudonym for “rampant speculation”. It was very disheartening to hear, over and over, news anchors say, “well, we don’t know for certain but…here’s this totally out there idea.” All this speculation does is foster conspiracy theories and confusion that will never truly go away.

Consequently, I chose to remain out of the breaking news cycle. I found that, once I was apprised of any truly breaking news (you know, the kind that happens when you’re asleep), there was really no point in any further news seeking. It’s just as bad online…and I don’t even have a twitter account!

All I choose to say is, my thoughts are with all the victims and I am glad that the second suspect was caught alive, at least we may have some opportunity to find out what these young men really thought they were doing.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Vintage Patterns Online!

Found a cute website today, http://thevintagepatternfiles.blogspot.co.uk/

They have vintage patterns with lots of free ones to download and use! Check it out!

 

**I have no relationship with the blog posted above, I really just think it’s cool.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized