Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Growing Gideon (My Love Is Alive)

Today I am taking a break from my "Those Crazy Bohemian" series of blogs. Most of you know that we are grandparents by love to the child next door: Gideon. Most of you know that we are childless by choice and have never regretted it.  And, most of you were probably gobsmacked to find out that - not only are we crazy about the baby next door - I am babysitting weekday afternoons.  Yeah, I know. This crazy bohemian has gone mainstream...at least in this area.

I had babysat on Fridays last year, along with some evenings. This past September I started babysitting for them "full time". Since Gideon does not come over until 11:30, I can write in the mornings, and I also write while he naps in the afternoon.

There is something holy about babydom. Jen, Gideon's mother, calls him magical.  I have to agree. He has changed me (and I would also include Dave) in many ways; all for the good. I have loved deeply before in my life. But this? This love is so powerful, so mind blowing that my eyes fill with tears just watching him take his next breath. Everything he does is magic. Every breath he takes I thank God for. If something happened to him, I would never again be the same.  Not even close.

Since I had no younger brothers or sisters, I never got to watch a child develop on a day by day basis. This spring I pushed him in a stroller and watched as he saw flowers for the first time. Just imagine that. What does the mind think, that very first time our eyes see the intricate beauty of flowers? This fall he was no less impressed with the dried leaves, pods, and grasses.  He could touch them for who knows how long...I stopped and let him touch and wonder, but couldn't stay for as long as he could probably just process. All of a sudden I, too, could see the magic in a single blade of dried prairie grass.

He not only walks now, he runs.  And walks backward. And twirls. The past two weeks he has been walking on tip-toes, and quite proud of it, thank you very much. Every single day he learns something new, becomes a little more advanced. Yesterday he realized that the large Lego blocks didn't just fall apart, he could take them apart piece by piece after Gamma put them together. His brain knew that somehow they go back together. He pressed them together, wrong parts. Any day now it will click. The round part goes into the part where there is emptiness.

He talks, too. No sentences or phrases, but words. More words all of the time. At fourteen months, he is a virtual learning machine. He no longer wants to sit on the floor and play with toys where you press levers. Now it is all about action, about walking, running, being chased, hiding. Balls are a big hit. Of course, when not feeling well (new teeth, cold, etc) he will revert back to less ambitious playing, but that's okay.  It is nice to go back six months every once in awhile, although I would much rather he felt good.

I am so honored to have this brand new person to the planet in my life. It is a privilege to care for him, protect him, and teach him.  I make sure to treat him with not only love, but dignity and respect. His soul will thrive in his body only if those who care for hm do so to the best of their abilities.

Yes, my love is alive. I have known love in many forms. The love I have for my husband is so deep, so timeless that I thought nothing could match it. Believing we have been together several lifetimes, I know we are always together. But this? This love for a child is just as profound, just as deep.

In short, Jen's right: it is magical.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians (Party at Au Lapin Agile!)

One of the two most popular places for artists to hang out during the whole bohemian era was a notorious, raucous  cabaret named Au Lapin Agile. Au Lapin Agile was located close to Place de Tertre in Montmartre and had been in existence since around 1850. It had always been a place where people gathered for sing-alongs. Sounds innocent enough, right?

The Au Lapin Agile attracted all kinds, however. Wagoneers with their knives stuck in the table tops as they drank, local villagers, artists, writers, pimps, down and outers, and anarchists all gathered there.In fact, the original name was Cabaret Das Assassins because a band of assassins broke in and killed the owners son.The songs sang were often either political and inflammatory or sexual in nature.

In 1875 an artist named Andre Gill painted a sign that hung outside the building showing a rabbit in a chef hat jumping out of a saucepan; a tribute to one of the dishes served there. People soon started calling the place Le Lapin a Gill, which meant "Gill's Rabbit". It evolved into Cabaret Au Lapin Agile (The Nimble Rabbit Cabaret). Most simply called it Au Lapin Agile or Lapin Agile. Once the name changed it became even more popular with artists, still drawing the same questionable crowd in addition to well off bourgeois slumming it for an evening of ribald fun.

There is conflicting information on who owned this cabaret for a time. Some information shows that a woman owned it for awhile (in fact during the time the sign was painted). I can't recall her name, but I believe she was a singer in another venue for awhile. Other references indicate that the artist who painted the sign (Andre Gill) actually owned it for a time. Whoever owned it did little to discourage riffraff from frequenting the place, but they were also very kind to artists.

Paintings were sometimes accepted in exchange for a meal. There was also an unspoken rule that at the end of the night any artist who had no money to eat would be given soup. Artists also had total freedom to become as drunk as they wished, fight, and pass out in a chair at one of the tables. They were not to be disturbed when they did so. Police were not to be called, either. In the morning they would simply wake up and stumble away.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century it was constantly packed with painters, writers, comedians, sculptors, poets, musicians and singers who all thrived on the energy and sharing of ideas there. Also, ownership had changed and a man named Frédé ran it. He had owned a previous cabaret and also pushed a wagon of goods around town. Because of that he owned a donkey, who would often ramble around the various tables in front of the cabaret, along with a flea bitten dog. Many nights Frédé played his guitar or cello as patrons sang.

In the early 1900's Picasso made Au Lapin Agile a favorite haunt of his.  He did a painting titled Au Lapin Agile in which he was represented as a harlequin and Frédé is shown playing the guitar. It belonged to the cabaret and Frédé sold the painting in 1912 for $20! In 1989 it was auctioned for $40.7 MILLION dollars.

Just think about how many drinks and dinners that would have bought all of those crazy bohemians! (More to come later on this era of artists)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians! (What is Impressionism Anyway?)

Impressionism. We have been talking about it for awhile now on this blog. Most people have heard of it even if they aren't particularly into art or painting. But for many it remains just a word.  What defined Impressionism? Why was it so different from previous painting style?

We already established that artists knew they had to do something different in order to still be valuable.  The camera had seen to that. Impressionism was essentially freedom. It had started a few years earlier, but it's first "launching" was in 1874.  The Cooperative and Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptures and Engravers decided to have a showing at the studio of Felix Nadar, a journalist who was also a photographer. Thirty artists (among them Monet, Degas, Pissarro,Cezanne, Renoir, Sisley, and Morisot) exhibited together eight times between 19874 and 1886.

It was a rebellion against Academie des Beaux-Arts. The Academie was considered the authority in the realist styles of French painting. If you didn't paint like they insisted, you were nothing in their eyes. The Salon de Paris was their annual art exhibit.  For new artists and struggling artists it was extremely important to get into this show. They could win prizes, earn commissions, get reviews, and become a known artist with a good reputation.

The Impressionists were painting with different brush strokes, using brighter colors, and paying much less attention to detail.  Instead, they were interested in how light affected a subject during different times of the day or season. They also were painting landscapes and community life instead of religious, mythology, or family portrait types of paintings. Some of them also decided to stop trying to give depth to a painting.  A canvas was two dimensional and so they painted their buildings flat. The artists mentioned above were routinely getting rejected over and over again. Can you imagine Monet or Cezanne being seen as "not good enough"?!

In 1863 the Academie rejected Manet's painting Luncheon of the Grass because of the nude woman in it. This rejection was considered ridiculous by Manet's fans, even those who were traditional arts patrons. That year so many artists were rejected that Napoleon II decreed the start of the Salon of the Refused. The reviewers, however, were rabid. Cezanne and Monet got verbally beaten up the worst. Their work was called "unfinished sketches" and "impressions". Here is what one said:

I"mpression—I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it ... and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape."

Regardless, these painters kept painting, accepting the name Impressionist for themselves and Impressionism for their work.  This style of painting would go on to affect not only painting, but literature, photography, and film making. This avant garde painting style, and the artists who worked in it, were eventually embraced  widely by the public. Unfortunately, for many of them it would not be until after their death.

Don't let the word Impressionism fool you.  There are a wide variety of art forms that were born from this style of painting, making it more diverse and stylistic than at first glance. I dare say that all of modern art owes its existence to those crazy bohemians who embraced the term "Impressionism" and painted as they pleased, regardless of the consequences.

Thank you for reading this. We will learn more about these artist's lives in future blogs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians (If you can't join 'em, beat 'em!)

The rise of Impressionism didn't happen easily. Paris was known as the capital of the art world, and the powers that be of that great city were not happy that a bunch of "misfit" artists had the gall to paint outside of the lines. The art schools and the people who sat on the committees for art shows in Paris had very strict rules.

Those rules dictated how one painted. They expected - no, demanded - that an artist followed those rules if they ever hoped to get in a public show. From how to apply paint on a canvas to subject matter and style, these people governed how art should be made. When the Impressionists began ignoring those rules it was not seen as a good thing.

In fact, these powerful people made sure they did everything to squash Impressionism from the start. No artist that painted in this style was allowed in any of the highly renowned public shows. This hurt the artists quite a bit. Without the public becoming aware of their work, how were they supposed to make a living?

No matter. These bohemian rebels started their own shows. Finally Napoleon II gave permission for a show of the misfits. This was known as a show for all of the artists who had been rejected entrance into the more prestigious shows. Not a very enticing advertisement! At first, not many came to their shows; and those who did came to laugh. The term Impressionism was originally a slam to the movement, a derogatory term.  The journalist and critic Louis Leroy looked at one of Monet's works and snorted "Impression!" and then went on to say, "Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished." Thanks to him, one of the greatest movements in the art world was given its name.

Impressionists were interested in landscapes and contemporary life, not religious, mythological or historical scenes. Capturing light and how the same scene changed during different periods of the day was an important part of their painting. Many of them also refused to try to make a painting look three dimensional.  Since the canvas was two dimensional and they were not trying to "trick" people into seeing their work as real, but as a painting, they painted the scenes flat.

Yes, a new movement in art was born, thanks to those misfits. Things would never again be the same in the art world. We will continue to look into the lives of those crazy bohemians in future blogs here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giselle: Keeper of the Flame (Book 4 of The Gastien Series)

I am pleased to announce that book 4 of The Gastien Series is now available for Kindle, NOOK and kobo.  It will be available for paperback by the end of November.

Europe is full of dark memories. Giselle's love is forbidden; her chance to be a mother destroyed. She flees to New York where she becomes the haute couture fashion designer to the wealthy, high-society Grand Dames of New York. After all, she had been mentored by the legendary Charles Worth himself.
Giselle’s past remains cloaked in shadows, increasing her allure. Her heart is engaged by a man who comes to her only in secrecy, drawing her back to her mysterious past.

When her brother dies and his wife abandons their child, she takes on the care of her infant nephew. Giselle decides she has to stop and take stock of her life. She has been given her one chance to be a mother, but the cost will be the end of the few moments she can still have with her one true love.
Yet love is not easily destroyed for those who are strong enough to survive its pain.

http://tinyurl.com/aq6nnlx For Kindle readers (Book 4)
http://tinyurl.com/bbbud5s For NOOK readers (Book 4)
http://tinyurl.com/a6r4eyf For kobo readers (Book 4)

Please sign up for email notifications of future releases by Caddy Rowland:  http://eepurl.com/rfjaX

Thanks for bearing with me while I announce this new release.  We will get back to Those Crazy Bohemians with the next blog. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why give permission to take advantage of you? VOTE!

Tomorrow is the day we elect a new president, new members of congress, and vote on various amendments. Are you going to bang that same old drum and not vote? You know, it isn't protesting when you simply don't vote.  I am so tired of hearing people say they aren't going to vote because it doesn't matter. You know, it's not rebellion if you choose to stay home from the polls.  It is stupidity, and it is surrender.

The people in positions of power (on both sides of the coin) are counting on you to feel powerless. If you feel powerless, they keep their power.  Their power is the power to change your life, and by staying home from the polls you give them permission to do just that. We live in "the land of the free", but some of you willingly give up your freedoms by not voicing your opinions.

There is an old saying that you shouldn't talk politics.  Bullshit. You SHOULD talk politics and you should talk it loudly and often.  That doesn't mean you don't give the other side equal time.  It doesn't mean you have to be rude and hateful.  It DOES mean you voice your opinion loud and clear, no matter what people think about it.  Polite people don't talk politics?  Ummm, no.  Ignorant people don't.  People who want to be doormats don't. The powers that be are hoping you actually believe that you shouldn't talk politics.  Why?  Because then they can run your lives in whatever way they wish.

Don't like lobbyists?  Don't like oil companies getting huge payoffs and tax breaks?  Well, what are you doing about it? Whispering in the dark to yourself and staying home from the polls?  That won't help. Voting isn't the only thing you need to do.  You need to get involved with others who are like minded and work for change.  Protest.  Go to Washington and fill the lawn with you and others like you.  Especially young people.  I am old and tired.  My voice is not nearly as strong as those that are young.  MAKE A DIFFERENCE instead of just bitching!

You have a right to complain even if you don't vote.  The only trouble is, you look very foolish doing so. It ain't rape if you bend over and hold your cheeks apart.

You know, my generation made a huge difference in the 60's.  We protested.  We yelled.  We got angry. Women saw huge gains in equal rights (something that many now want to take away).  A war was exposed for what it was. Minorities started to see change.  Then, for some reason we baby boomers went from being a force for change to becoming the worst bunch of materialistic asshats that society has even seen.  Young people, the future of politics and of this country is in your hands. Don't follow our lead and give up. Take your ideals and make them reality. It isn't easy, but wouldn't it be worth it?

Women, minorities, gays, lesbians, artists...where will you be tomorrow? Sitting in a corner bitching about things or at the voting booth?  There are some very real social issues at stake for you. If you care about your freedom, how can you stay home? Click here to find your voting location.

Hey, I am a flaming liberal, but I don't care if you are tea party.  The point is, you need to follow up your belief with action. Get loud.  Get angry. Get out there and vote! If you don't, you have once again bent over.