If you’re drawn to stories of the art world (and who isn’t?), the beauty and the money and the chicanery, you might have considered picking up the following books. For me, aspiring writer that I am, they illustrated some of the differences between rather ordinary storytelling and the remarkable. I didn’t set out to make such a comparison, but the rather startling weaknesses of the first were all the more apparent upon reading the second.
The Art Forger is a debut novel by B.A. Shapiro (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013). Glossy and sexy, the cover is clearly intended to draw the attention of what I’ll call the airport patron: quick choice, disposable, and full of positive reviews (“engaging”, “addictive”, “ingenious and skillful”, “blazingly good”, etc.). It was the subject matter, though, that drew this reader.
It’s a twist upon a twist in the art forgery sub-genre: Is the stolen, now-recovered Degas the original work or a forgery? If the latter, is making a forgery of a forgery a crime? It’s an interesting concept, and in more sure hands it might have been pulled off.
For me, the term “insouciance” came to mind. (I can’t tell you quite… Continue reading
I have suggested in a previous post (June 19, 2014) that George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue may reach that pinnacle of human accomplishment which is incomparable, transcendent, even sublime; that it is a composition—a musical invention—beyond the possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation. That it is an accomplishment of the human spirit which moves us to a place of great visceral, intellectual, emotional or spiritual wonderment.
Following is how Brother Alphaios (Al-fay-us) hears this amazing piece. He’s a cloistered monk and the protagonist in BOOK OF HOURS: The Beguilement of Brother Alphaios, a novel written by this author and available to you at the click of a link.
Today, Alphaios was especially happy to escape the confines of the monastery. The morning had been spent in a dull chapter meeting that Brother Richard, possessed of a good heart but small mind, had stretched out interminably. And lunch had been uninspired even by monastery standards.
It was a false spring day. More rain and cold would come before winter released its grip on the city, but today he would enjoy the contrast of warm sun and chilled air. The… Continue reading
If one has even a passing interest in architecture or history, one cannot ignore churches and cathedrals—monuments built to honor something greater than mankind itself. One such building is the Mission San Xavier del Bac, located just south of Tucson, Arizona.
I had photographed the mission a number of times, but was frustrated that my efforts only duplicated the many tourist postcards available throughout Tucson. That changed one evening when I set out on nothing more than an evening drive. It was early summer and already quite warm. The sky was cloudless, the light unusually soft. I had brought my camera. As the sun began its descent over the land of the Tohono O’Odham nation, the white mission church began to turn the golden colors you will see below.
This Catholic mission to local Indians was begun in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino (long beloved in Southern Arizona), but his order, the Jesuits, were expelled from what was then called New Spain. Their work was taken over by the Franciscan Order, which started building the present structure of clay bricks and stone in 1783. The church was beautifully conceived and constructed, European in style… Continue reading