Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Teeny Rant and A Belated Valentine Post

Just to set the record straight, Valentine's Day is NOT a Hallmark creation!!!!!! This said, we all know that Hallmark has capitalized on this special day, but stop, People! 

Valentine's Day was named after several martyr saints named Valentine and properly established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496!

The day became associated with romantic love and matters of the heart during The High Middle Ages and was typically associated with Chaucer.  Romantic and courtly love was a new concept during  "The

Handmade cards, notes and expression of fond feelings were typically demonstrated with handmade greetings. These handmade goodies evolved into produced cards  around the Industrial Revolution.

Victorian Valentine

I just received this lovely piece below  from Bill Stewart, violinist extraordinaire! It is sad, heartbreaking, sweet and exquisitely lovely - all at the same time. Give it a listen!

I heard the cutting edge valentine socks below were quite "haute couture" on the streets of NYC this season.

Bravo!! Thank you to Bill Stewart and Jerry Wade for these terrific contributions.

Of course, we should express our love to self and intimates as frequently as possible without the prompting of a dedicated day. But, Valentine's Day is, historically, the day to make things right with our current loved ones, entice a new love, make our feelings known

Naysayers - quit blaming Hallmark for being artificial and start getting real yourselves! There is no time like this day to tell those near, far and dear to you that you love them.  Practice ENLIGHTENMENT....and "Remain In Light".

In Love, Peace and Beauty...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Golden Rain Trees and The Wabash River

New Harmony has an abundance of lovely Golden Rain Trees and, in fact, is quite celebrated for the plantings. The tree is a deciduous type, with clusters of golden "weeping" flower bunches. When the flowers are yellow, they drape and fall in such a downward way as to appear rain-like. Or, at least I think so.

You can find more information about the tree here  -

Over the years, I have attempted, in my own fashion, to downsize my belongings. In my opinion,  material goods accumulate over time and have a way of owning me, rather than the other way around.

This point was painfully apparent about two years ago when I sold my house of 25 years and moved to the 'United State of Texas'. 

Wow! I had way too much stuff! So - donation, recycling or destruction became a daily occupation for a period of time.

One possession that I have never parted with is a beautiful and quite precious, handcrafted box. This gorgeous piece was given to me by my long time friends, Jerry and Jonathan, oh  so many years ago that I cannot recall the occasion.

The box is very special and close to my heart.

It was handmade by  New Harmony Gentleman Postmaster during my years there - of the wood of a New Harmony Golden Rain Tree.


When you open the box....


...inside, there is a tiny Wabash River pearl...

This treasure is never far from me, just like my friends who so thoughtfully chose it, the special man who made it, or the Utopia  of its origin.

In Love, Peace and Beauty.........

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Love Letter for New Harmony, Thomas Merton, Dennis Hopper and more

Intro contributed by Jerry Wade ...
New Harmony
by Matthew Graham

"The shadows of history are long here, and dark."
---John Hawkes

A distant sadness:
A smudge of light against the Golden Rain trees
And then shadows spreading through the streets,
To the fields and the river.
The golden hair
On an arm trembles in a breeze
Like a breath. Utopia lost,
Twice here in this town mapped in a dream.
Clouds build above distant church bells.
The sun dials darken.
Someone turns to leave
And all that was ever meant to be
And could not happen, flickers
As the first sweep of rain across the screened porch
Disturbs the shadows, neither new nor old,
Of this fragile harmony.
New Harmony has been in my thoughts more than usual during this long, cold winter. I was born and raised in that area of southern Indiana, so New Harmony is never far from my mind. Utopia, as it is sometimes referred to, makes up a large part of me.

New Harmony has an utterly fascinating history. I suppose that it is largely recognized as being the site of two communal "utopian" projects. Find the abbreviated information here -

New Harmony has a rich and well-established history of education, religion, philosophy, art and architecture. Consider that Thomas Merton, the phenomenal Trappist monk, author, poet, social activist and comparative religion supernova spent time in New Harmony - when he was not entertaining Dylan and Joan Baez at his hermitage in Kentucky...and Paul Tillich, the Protestant scholar...just to name two fascinating beings.

Check out the architecture in New Harmony..."The Atheneum" by Richard Meier - that seemingly rises up from the Wabash River bank like a shiny contemporary stainless steel beacon. The glaring and somewhat startling contrast of the  architecture against the sleepy farm land and river bank cannot be ignored. 

Placed neatly against the backdrop of  preserved Harmonist homes and Golden Rain Trees, you will also find my personal favorite, Philip Johnson's "The Roofless Church" ... all one underneath the open sky...

It was at "The Roofless Church" where a von Furstenberg wedding took place. Diane was still married to Prince Egon (I think!). Some of the famous wedding attendees included Dennis Hopper and Michelle Phillips. 

The bride and her attendants wore cowboy boots.

It was the talk of most of the 950 inhabitants of New Harmony. The boots gave them something to talk about besides the wacky artists at "The New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art".

I was 'called' to New Harmony, like so many people. Like a religious vocation, or the impossible occupation of art, New Harmony sings a siren song to whom she chooses.

I happened to be called to New Harmony by John Begley to work at "The Gallery".  Almost like a dream, my life changed forever. dream that dream again!

What a glorious place, time and seemed that anything was possible - and we were, all one, for a time - underneath that big, open, yet sheltering, sky.

In Love, Peace and Beauty...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In anticipation ....

... of what spring looks like in Texas
In Love, Peace and Beauty...
In loving memory of Meera.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Candlemas ... 'I found a picture of you'

For those of us who know, honor or otherwise acknowledge the "Old Ways", February 2 is considered a major Sabbat for the initiation of neophytes. Candlemas celebrates the waxing light. This Sabbat marks the high point between Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox. The wonderful parallel here is that the waxing light represents the corresponding waxing light of the soul.

"Taste the sweetness of Isis;  may her blessings guide you always"

Keep the knowledge of the old ways kindled, for they make more sense than the new. Here is something old that many of us seem to forget these days: There is no wisdom greater than kindness.
May you and the Groundhog have a happy and blessed Candlemas! 
Today can be a new beginning. We begin again by fearlessly and honestly reviewing our past. Ask any art historian...

As I write, I am listening to The Pretenders "Learning To Crawl".  
I find that the tracks "Back on the Chain Gang" and "Middle of the Road" have significant power for me. The opening line of "Back on the Chain Gang" is "I found a picture of you". Got me, Chrissie. 

I am so sentimental that I keep every card, note, photograph and personal message.  This surprises many people who know me. I treasure my memories. Once in awhile, I drag them out (a considerable feat) and spend some time with them. This ritual can bring laughter and tears, but always serves to keep my connection with the old ways, as it were.
This Candlemas, I found a picture of you....

In Love, Light and Peace.....

This post is dedicated in loving memory to James G. Robinson, 1953-1992

Monday, February 1, 2010

Love and Surrealism

It is February 1, 2010. In honor of Saint Valentine, I am posting a poem that I have carried with me for many decades. It is a poem written by the Surrealist writer, Robert Desnos. 
For the record, I am a bit touchy about the term "surreal" being tossed about rather carelessly these days. Surrealism began as a literary movement and is complex, fascinating and VERY specific.
To be considered actual Surrealism is to conform to Breton's Manifesto. More on that topic in a later post, as yet to be determined.
In the meantime, this is the real thing - the genuine article...
I hope you enjoy it. 
As Lenny Kravitz says, "Let Love Rule"


I have dreamed of you so much that you are losing 
your reality. Is it still time to reach this
living body and to kiss on the mouth the birth
of the voice that is so dear to me? I have dreamed
of you so much that my arms, accustomed while
embracing your shadow to fold over my breast, 
would not bend to the shape of your body perhaps.
And that, before the real appearance of what has
been haunting me and governing me for days and
years, I should doubtless become a shadow, O sentimental
scales. I have dreamed of you so much that
it is perhaps no longer possible for me to awaken.
I sleep standing up, my body exposed to all the
appearances of life and love, and you, the only one
who counts today for me, I could touch your brow and 
your lips less than the lips and the brow of the first 
newcomer. I have dreamed of you so much, walked,
spoken, slept with your phantom so much, that all that 
I can do now perhaps and in spite of everything is
to be a phantom among phantoms and one hundred times
more of a shadow than the shadow that walks and will
walk joyfully on the sundial of your life.

by Robert Desnos, date unknown

In Peace, Love and Beauty...