Friday, May 28, 2010

Armchair BEA: Inspiration for a Blog Post

What to write about?  I know for several bloggers that can be a pesky question.  Sure, there are some wonderful memes available to help us write a post --- but sometimes the questions posed do not relate to me, or it is a topic that I have just discussed and do not wish to repeat.  Sure, we can write book reviews, but if life has kept us busy from reading, then the reviews are lacking.  Sometimes there is a thought-provoking post from another blogger that begs us to respond.  And sometimes it comes from other places.  Here is a peak into my inspiration for today's post.

About three weeks ago my brother and his wife came into town to help celebrate Mother's Day with my 82-year old mother.  While they spent quite a bit of time socializing with her, she does tend to need an afternoon nap, which left us with enough time to visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum here in Kansas City.  Now both of them are far more knowledgeable of art than me, but I was anxious to go with them in the hopes that some of that knowledge and insight would transfer over.  I enjoy Impressionism, their true love is modern art.  So, they entertained me while we walked through the European Art collection, and then we sauntered over to the new Block building to gaze at the modern, contemporary works.

Be-still my heart!  The first painting I saw was this one:  Interior with a Book by Diebenkorn and I was instantly transfixed.  In fact, I could almost think of nothing else for the following two weeks.  I finally drove myself to the museum this past Wednesday just so I could look at the painting again.  It is the beach lovers, bibliophile's dream come true.

Now hold that thought......

I thoroughly enjoy Cathy's blog, Kittling:  Books, and anxiously await her Wednesday interviews at Scene of the Blog and her weekend Weekly Round Up posts.  Cathy always has an opinion poll in which we can submit our vote, and there is always some "bookish" art that is showcased.  I am not sure how long she has had this picture posted, but it caught my attention for the first time last weekend.  I was immediately smitten.  So much so, that I researched the artist (Deborah DeWit Marchant), discovered that she had a book published entitled, In the Presence of Books, and I immediately ordered it through the inter-library loan system.

Let me tell you - this book is a treasure trove for all those who love books and want to be reminded of the peace and serenity that comes from curling up with a good book (and perhaps a blanket, or cup of tea, or a writing journal).  And for those who think that reading is strictly a solitary activity?  There are several paintings that prove otherwise.  It is a feast for the eyes and for the soul.  I plan to order a copy for myself immediately - in the hopes of always finding just the perfect painting to view at the end of a hectic day.  (there are over 55 paintings in the book, so that is more than one painting a week to muse and mediate)

Finally I must say that I was completely taken with one particular painting:  The Exchange.  I shows the transformation of a book into a bird that soars into the sky with a flock of blackbirds.  For those of you who have read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, you are aware of his constant compariso of birds and books.  I think this will be a fabulous way for me to introduce this symbolism to my 9th grade class when we start reading the novel.  It is absolutely true:  a picture can be worth a thousand words and this illustration will certainly help these young students understand the relationship that Mr. Bradbury is trying to make.

Let me leave you with a few chosen passages from the introduction of the book, written by Kim Stafford:
This is a book of spells:  Light falls on an open book.  you gaze, read, pass beyond.  A message smuggles from the writer's hand to the reader's soul.  From the book you turn, look far away.  In a moment, you will read that last sentence again, and again your pulse will quicken.  What you long sought has arrived, and you will not be as you were.
In these paintings, the reader has put down her book and walked forth, seeking in the evening sky what was hinted on the page.  The reader has left  a stack of books beside the chair, where lamplight pools, where all is possessed of calm, to seek at the window something not yet known, but palpable.  The reader has left the bed, where a book lies waiting, face down, to love again.  The book is the meal before us....the offering before a painting in the painting that is the world beyond the book, and before.  The reader is on a journey, and the book, open in hand, offers a parallel quest that carries the traveler into the past as the train or the car or the life moves forward.
I realize that this may not be a book for all, but I appreciate you allowing me to share it with you today.

PS - this post has been slightly edited as I decided that perhaps the content did fit into the Armchair BEA boundaries.


  1. I suspect that most of us would bask in that book. Just the pictures that you showed was enough to life me up out of my kitchen right now. I'm going to see if I can track this one down as well! Great post Molly!

  2. Art and photos of art inspire me, just as books do.

    I now have a warm, fuzzy feeling! Thanks!!

  3. Fantastic Article!

    I agree that finding inspiration is sometimes very hard and other times smacks in the head from out of nowhere. Hopefully not literally though, as that might hurt!

    I am not an art person, but I did enjoy those paintings :)

  4. Beautiful pictures! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. I'm going to have a smile on my face the rest of the day after reading your post. In the Presence of Books is one of my most prized volumes. I'm glad I could lead you to it.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this experience, and letting us take a peek at the wonderful book-related artwork!

  7. In the Presence of Books sounds lovely. I would love to have some of these paintings hanging on my walls at home.

  8. Going to add this book to my Amazon wish list! Thank you!

  9. A book of spells. How cool is that?

  10. I've never really thought about artwork about books. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

  11. This sounds like a book lovers dream! thanks for sharing ... and it was fun to see your arty side .. it seems to be coming out more and more!

  12. I love when the books I'm reading or the art I see can transfer into other areas of my life. I really does help to show that both thing reflect life.


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