Archive for January 14th, 2015

NOISY cover

Note: The following is a written transcription of a discussion conducted with the vice-president of the Gugenheim Museum in New York City on December 10.  Ms. Cecelia Abstractello graciously donated some of her time to discuss the work of an artist, whose work is intertwined with the museum more than any artist of the twentieth century.  The informal discourse was administered in the Board of Trustees meeting room on the second floor, where two other museum officials sat in.  For the record, they were Tracey Bashkoff, Senior Curator, and Megan Fontanella, Associate Curator of Collections and Provenance.  

SJ: Hello Ms. Abstractello, so pleased to meet you.  I can’t thank you enough for sharing your time, especially at this busy time of the year.  Great to meet you Ms. Bashkoff……and Ms. Fontanella.  (shakes hands with each).

CA: Buon Giorno, grazie.  Mr. Juliano, we are much obliged.  Megan tells me that you are doing a review on Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre’s The Noisy Paint Box for a series you have been presenting at your site, is that right?

SJ:  Thank you!  Yes, I will be posting a review of the book in my continuing Caldecott Medal Contender series at Wonders in the Dark sometime in mid-January, though I won’t know the exact date till we get closer.  The book has reawakened my love of Kandinsky’s art, but just as significantly it is one of the best picture books of this or any other year, and a real godsend for art lovers, and to kids hoping to learn about a seminal figure in the culture. (more…)

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FB 1by Sam Juliano

The following is a letter written by Serena Wright, the niece of acclaimed ballet soloist Misty Copeland,  Young Ms. Wright is a music major at Julliard, and herself  a fan of ballet who possessed her own aspirations in the field.  The letter was sent on to her famous maternal aunt a week after Wright had received a copy of ‘Firebird,’ a picture book authored by Copeland.  Ms. Copeland provided the letter in its entirety to WitD:

Dearest Aunt:

I received your parcel yesterday afternoon.   Since that time I have been trying to put together a response pertaining to your new book.  My friend Jasmine and I read it together at my Harlem apartment and, and were left speechless for a while.  We couldn’t believe something so beautiful – so full of passion and so imbued with energy and vision could come from the pages of a picture book.  We were awe-struck when we learned that it was based on Stravinsky’s great ballet, The Firebird.  Jasmine was so smitten that she took a cab down to the Union Square Barnes & Noble to get her own copy.  She bought a second copy for her sister in Philadelphia.  Auntie, though I know how talented you are, I could never have expected what for me was practically a life-changing experience.  Always looking for the spark or the inspiration that could send me soaring upwards, I think I now have found it in your book.  You said in your afterward it is your hope that “people will feel empowered to be whatever they want to be – to feel that they have no limits, just endless dreams that are reachable.”  You went on to say that hard work and dedication can overcome any obstacle.  As you know.  I grew up under very difficult circumstances, losing my beloved Mama as a young age and having a tough time making things meet.  Duane was the most wonderful and supportive older brother that any girl could ever hope to have, and you always were super generous and served as an emotional crutch for us.  If it hadn’t been for you and Duane, I don’t know how I could have made it this far.  Anyway, my loving auntie, you have been my hero since I was four years old.  You are a beacon of life in a world with too much pain and hardship; as one of five, you always told me you were lost in the shuffle.  Yet you found movement and the rest is history.  Your poetic prose had us enraptured.  I was in tears when I read “we’ll make the night sky our starry curtain/the moon our silver spotlight/as we spin across the planets/pirouetting tightly as the curls on our heads/spinning wishes for new little ones we can’t yet imagine”, and then “the space between you and me is longer than forever and I will show them that forever is not so far away.”  Your words have made me see things I never even conjured up in my own dreams.  And your vision is one that defies defeat, that thumbs its nose at negativity, that shakes the very foundations of despair, that glories in the euphoria of graceful movement and the exhilaration of flight.   I too, like the young girl you inspired to seemingly unreachable heights, was “as grey as rain” until slowly the colors started to appear in my life.  I have seen them re-appear in my music appreciation classes, and later in the more advanced study of opera and ballet. (more…)

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