Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Journeys by Ekaterina Bykhovskaya


This beautiful book is the journal of a photographer's travels to four distinguished places of the world—Jerusalem, Japan, Istanbul, and Provence. Through Ekaterina Bykhovskaya's vision, dreamlike imagery, and the magical connection of light and process, readers are drawn into the silent kingdoms she portrays. Bykhovskaya's images show us how to think differently about time and place while we also discover truths about ourselves.

I spent a few hours in the quiet and peace of the temple grounds, feeling reluctant to leave. Having found myself in the contemplative mood I was hoping to reach, I put my infrared camera to work. Being blissfully unconcerned with not getting fellow tourists into the frame (this having been my main photographic concern for the past several days), I could fully concentrate just on the feel of the place. I wanted the photographs to be very light and somewhat dreamy and found that infrared worked well for conveying this mood.

Keen on continuing my infrared efforts, I took the camera with me the next day for a stroll in the Imperial Gardens. The vast grounds of the gardens were just as unpopulated as those of the temple, and I felt absolute tranquility wandering its alleys. The pine trees and creeks seemed to me to come alive from the sumi-e paintings, and I tried to capture the poetic ambiance in my photographs.

I returned home with hundreds of both color and infrared images, and for all my striving for the autumn hues, I found that ironically the monochrome images turned out to be more subtle and lyrical. Overall they conveyed much better the mood I was seeking to impart. Besides, I realized that my obsession with the autumn leaves was successfully healed and felt a great and unrestricted willingness to return to Japan in any season.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Krish V. Krishnan: Rambles into Sacred Realms

Rambles into Sacred Realms is the beautiful and inspiring chronicle of author and artist Krish V. Krishnan's travels around the globe as he explores and portrays places of awe-inspiring divinity through writing and artwork. Krishnan recounts his experiences at places like the stunning rocky red desert of Petra, Jordan, replete with the ruins of shrines, palaces, and tombs; the ancient and holy city of Varanasi, India, where sacred chants waft in the breeze as funeral pyres consume the dead; and the ruins of Sukhothai, Thailand, teeming with temples, monuments, shrines, and watchful statues of Buddha as far as the eye can see. Krishnan's writings offer adventure, drama, and bits of humor, and his extensive collection of artwork, in watercolor, scratchboard, acrylics, pencil, and pastel, is superbly executed and captivatingly impassioned. Rambles into Sacred Realms offers a compelling invitation to the reader to vicariously enjoy and experience, through both words and images, the stunning power of some of the world's most incredible and sacred places.  Available Now!

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Here is an excerpt from chapter 12: Sukhothai, Thailand: Divinity in Stone.

Krish V. Krishnan, Monk’s Prayer on a Surreal Morning:
Wat Mahathat from Wat Tra Phang Ngoen.
Watercolor, 18 x 24.
This was indeed a dreamlike scene. As sacred chants in the Pali language wafted from across the pond, an early morning fog enveloped the landscape. In the distance I could make out the tall spires of Wat Mahathat and a few stone guardians that kept vigilant watch and blessed the pious. A lone monk clad in ocher robes was offering his worship at a Buddha shrine. As my guide chattered away with historical facts and architectural details, I lost him to the rapturous sight before me. In this special moment, there wasn’t any need for dogma or man-made faith, just the joy of being there and my gratitude for being able to both relish and capture it. Words couldn’t do it justice, nor brushstrokes make fair representation; the canvas here was infinitely more vast, handled by an artist with far more skill and expertise, and blessed with a color palette more intricate than a human hand could ever hope to mix. Nonetheless, I later sketched this scene and coated my cold-pressed paper with eight layers of washes before I could even faintly recreate what I had witnessed that morning. I returned to Wat Tra Phang Ngoen a bit later in the day to find the scene looking very different — the sun was now smiling down, bringing light to reveal every historical detail that an enthusiast could revel in! The artist’s mystery that had so enchanted me was now a thing of the past.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Naomi Beth Wakan: Film Noir

The spring 2015 issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly features an article by Naomi Beth Wakan about film noir.
He throws the door open wide. He is handsome beyond words and has the face of a dark angel. She is startled and rises hesitantly from her chaise longue. She is slender, platinum blond, and gorgeous. Sparks should be flying between them any moment now as they rush into an embrace in the center of the room. Instead, he reaches into the pocket of his belted trench coat, while she opens her beaded purse. Two shots ring out at the same time, and they come together in the center of the floor, joined in a pool of blood. Such was the way with the film genre you might have watched in the late forties and the fifties of the last century and watched again more recently on DVDs; the genre is known as film noir. (read entire article)

Naomi Beth Wakan is an essayist, and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. She has written over fifty books, the most recent being Some Sort of Life and Poetry That Heals. She is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, Haiku Canada, and Tanka Canada. She lives on Gabriola Island in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, the sculptor Elias Wakan.

Still Point Arts Quarterly is a truly beautiful publication with a clear focus on art, artists, and artistry. Subscribe

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Christopher Woods: Spirits and Houses

Christopher Woods' portfolio appears in the spring 2015 issue of Stone Voices.

There are spirits all around us. On lonely country roads, in the woods, and in memory. I have a distinct feeling that spirits are also drawn to our dwelling places. ■ I did not always think this way. I was not an unbeliever, but I simply had not thought about it until I began photographing old abandoned houses and buildings in rural areas. Decrepit, lonely places. I was drawn to them — broken windows, sagging roofs, overgrown yards and fields. No one lived in these places. No one was there. ■ Or so I thought. The more I was around old houses and buildings, the more I felt a presence. There is a primal need for place, and after spending time around old houses, sheds, barns, and railroad buildings, I came to realize that even spirits are hard pressed to give way, to go without place. What is left if we give up our only place? ■ I don’t know if you will see spirits in these photographs. I don’t know if I can. But I can tell you one thing. I feel them. There is an energy and lasting human desire in these places. Still. ■ Look around you, under your own roof. What would you do if you couldn’t be there any longer? You might linger too.

Link to Christopher's portfolio in Stone Voices.

Note - We received this lovely and much appreciated note from Christopher: I want you to know that the portfolio of my photographs is simply awesome. Such a nice and generous layout. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is the nicest thing to ever happen to my photographs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sornberger Offers Workshop

Judith Sornberger, whose poetry has been published in Still Point Arts Quarterly, is offering a “Write with Me” workshop at the Deane Center in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on four Wednesdays, April 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2015.

This workshop is open to anyone who writes or wants to write. Sornberger said, “It can be difficult for writers to find a beginning point, so I will be providing writing prompts and exercises that will help them find their way into writing.”

During the first hour of the workshop, participants will write in response to prompts and exercises. The second hour, they will share what they have written during the first hour. Sornberger said, “This is not a critique group. The emphasis will be on creating a safe and stimulating environment for writing and sharing.” 

For the past 30 years, Sornberger has been teaching creative writing in various venues from prisons to college classrooms. She is a professor emeritus at Mansfield University where she taught English for twenty-five years before retiring in 2013. “I am teaching this workshop because, although I retired early to devote more time to my own writing, I love to teach. It is very exciting to help people access their creativity and to discover themselves through writing."

A prize-winning poet, Sornberger has published six poetry collections. Calyx Books published her full-length collection Open Heart. Her most recent chapbook is Wal-Mart Orchid, winner of the Helen Kay Chapbook Prize. She has published over a hundred poems in magazines and anthologies.

Her memoir, The Accidental Pilgrim: Finding God and His Mother in Tuscany, will soon be released by Shanti Arts Publishing.

The “Write with Me” workshop is limited to fifteen students. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. There is a $75 fee.
To register, call Sornberger at 570-724-5429.

—extracted from Solomon's Words for the Wise

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let go of it?

One cold day a bearskin was floating down the river.
I said to a man who had no clothes,
"Jump in and pull it out."
But the bearskin was a live bear,
and the man who jumped in so eagerly
was caught in the clutches of what he went to grab.
"Let go of it," I said, "Fighting won't get you anywhere."
"Let go of it? This coat won't let go of me!"

~ Rumi, "The Pull of Love"

A Bear Fighting a Tiger, 1610

Monday, March 16, 2015

Megan Steusloff: Art Exposes the Soul

The spring issue of Stone Voices features a short essay by Megan Steusloff: The Journey.

I believe that endless fear and enormous demands are felt by all artists. Art exposes the soul, leaving the artist vulnerable to judgment, isolation, and ridicule. Suddenly, an artist is labeled, marked, and trapped within a certain image that they have created forever. This can be magical, and it can be painful. It can give eternal life to that emotion the artist was able to capture, and at the same time become the moment that can never be vanquished.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Leonard Cohen: He's My Man

I've rediscovered Leonard Cohen....he's my man.

"I generally find the song arises out of the guitar playing, just fooling around on the guitar. Just trying different sequences of chords, really, just like playing guitar every day and singing until I make myself cry, then I stop. . . . I don't weep copiously, I just feel a little catch in my throat or something like that. Then I know that I am in contact with something that is just a little deeper than where I started when I picked the guitar up."

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

An Afternoon with Bergman - Ingmar Bergman

As editor of two art and literary journals, I have the pleasure of reading an amazing variety of submissions—gripping stories, inspiring characters, surprising endings. Of those pieces that are selected, I then have the delight of putting them in layout, which involves doing a very close read and creating the visual display, the "look and feel," that will enhance the telling of the story and the delivery of the message.

Today I had a very special treat. I was working on a piece that will appear in the upcoming summer issue of Stone Voices. Called "I'm Anxious, Mr. Bergman," by Leo Tracy, its story is entwined with that of the 1972 Ingmar Bergman film Cries and Whispers.

Tracy tells the story of a young man dealing with searing questions about life, love, joy, destiny, cruelty, and death. His internal struggle is made even more difficult because he is gripped by anxiety and OCD. While visiting his uncle, the young man goes to see Cries and Whispers—not ever an easy movie to watch, but far less easy while gripped with emotional fragility. As for me, a close read of this piece made me determined to see Cries and Whispers. So I checked Hulu for availability . . . and there it was.

The film tells the story of three sisters, one of whom is dying of cancer. Through flashbacks, the problems of the family are revealed: infidelity, jealousy, arrogance, and even hatred. This makes dealing with the death of a sibling extremely difficult. Only the family maid is able to comfort and care for the dying woman and does so out of genuine love and affection.

The film is a thing of beauty. Costumes and furnishings are splendid. Poses, postures, and facial expressions of characters are precise and expressive. The flow of the film is slow and serene, but also perfect; one can't rush through the kind of emotional spectacle presented here. Adding to the drama, the color red is used to punctuate scene changes and certain highly emotional moments. It is a memorable and complex creation.

"I'm Anxious, Mr. Bergman" is ultimately about the intertwining of life and art. We bring ourselves to art, our anxiety, sorrow, desperation, as well as joy, freedom, and sense of fulfillment. If we are open and engaged, art helps us churn through all the muddled pieces of our lives. Sometimes art is enjoyable and refreshing; sometimes it tears us wide open. But do it, we must. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Book Cover: Rambles into Sacred Realms

Completed the book cover today!
This book will be out April 6. We'll be taking orders very soon!