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Beauty Out in the World
Art Worth Sharing
I spend quality time creating new artistic works, but I also seek out beauty and inspiration wherever and whenever possible. In a city street, I am often looking at the architecture of a building. In a restaurant, I analyze how its owners have designed the space for functionality and aesthetics. I stare at trees a lot. If I hear a new song on the radio, I pay attention to how it makes me feel and the journey it takes me on. My radar is always pointed somewhere.
This week, I wanted to share a handful of discoveries that left me smiling gleefully at the artistry and creativity that went into them. This is the kind of stuff that I geek out on.
1. My Love Mine All Mine by Mitski
I am new to the world of Japanese American artist Mitski. She is several albums into her catalog of music and is currently on a sold-out European tour. Earlier this month, she released her newest set entitled The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. She recently considered quitting her music career altogether. This new album is part of her renewed effort to stay inside this realm with a more balanced approach toward the demands and lack of privacy that a high-profile life presents. The new music is smooth and strong, and I LOVE the music video for the song My Love Mine All Mine. The concept is simple and understated but full of layers.
2. Something in the Orange by Zach Bryan
I have not been a fan of modern country music. It’s slick, formulaic pop-stylings are far removed from the more authentic and poignant music of legends from the past like Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and George Strait. My friend Sunfrog was recently raving about music from a new country artist named Zach Bryan. I decided to check some of his songs out, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Bryan spent years posting his songs on Soundcloud for anyone to discover and organically built a dedicated and rabid following. His writing is solid and poetic, and his delivery feels pure and genuine. The usual country music tropes of pretty girls, a beer, and a truck are nowhere to be found. One standout song (among several) is one called Something in the Orange. I applaud anyone who uses the word “orange” in a song because nothing rhymes with it, but he uses it quite effectively. This song is anguished and soulful in its disbelief and fight against the end of a relationship. This version of sorrow can feel inescapable, and this song captures that feeling so well.
The art of Bill Braun
There is a genre of painting called “trompe l'oeil” in which human vision is deceived to create the illusion that the subject of the painting is real. I never knew this was a thing until I discovered the work of Seattle-based artist Bill Braun. At first glance, it looks like a piece of art that was made by a child who used cuts of construction paper and staples to create the piece. Then, one might question why such a piece is displayed in a fine art gallery and priced at several thousand dollars. Upon closer inspection, the viewer becomes gobsmacked to discover that the entire piece is actually a painting. Every color, shadow, and staple mark was rendered by a brush. Outside of this astonishing fact, Braun’s paintings are actually quite gorgeous in a playful, innocent, and whimsical sort of way. What looks like child’s play is actually work from a master at his craft. I love this so much.
Ne Me Quitte Pas performed by Carolina Kostner
I have been a figure skating fan for years. Its layers of artistry, mind-boggling athleticism, dance, costuming, and storytelling are right up my alley. I have seen many brilliant figure skaters over the years, but a standout performance (and possibly my favorite short program EVER) was by Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner in her 2017/2018 season.
What is noteworthy about this performance was that she delivered it in her early thirties (and eventually at her fourth Olympics a few months later). It came at the sunset’s edge of her career in a sport that only favors youth. Not only was this performance technically strong enough to stand up against her teenage competitors, but it was quite heartfelt and perfectly choreographed. Her many years of competing, in which she was a world champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist, groomed her into the artist on ice that she clearly became.
The Japanese Garden at Cheekwood
My sweet hubbie and I are members of Nashville’s longstanding Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. My favorite feature of this place is its Japanese garden. It is regarded as one of the finest in the country and a few Japanese master gardeners were instrumental in its design. A gorgeous teahouse grounds the space and looks out onto a view that represents the ocean, low hills, and steep mountains of a Japanese island. Large stones of various sizes create depth and weight in the space. Sloping hills and trees that have subtle hues and textures infuse a sense of calm and balance. A pathway lined thick with wispy bamboo shoots serves as a portal into this world, and I make sure I go through it every time I visit. This garden is an understated and rich masterpiece.
The world is full of inspiration. It can live in every corridor of our planet. We simply must have the desire and wherewithal to recognize the richness it inhabits.
Have you found something that inspires you? Whatever it is, hold it gently in your quiet gaze. Soak all your senses into it.
Let it give you life.
As a child, I got to see the ocean every day, but now that I live in landlocked Tennessee, that experience rarely happens. The best I can get is usually a pond or a lake. This week, I had my mom’s swimming pool in her back yard. Sure, it is not like the ocean at all in so many ways, but it does possess some of its energy. Water flows in small waves. Light reflects playfully on the surface. My feet are cooled to the touch upon entry. It still offers some of the sensory pleasures that I experienced as a child. Some time spent along its curved edges did me lots of good.
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