Thursday, October 1, 2015

AMan’sPantsFallingOff: TheSecretsOfFlight

This is from a manuscript "Measuring The Sky" of Pop's written in the fall of 2003. LS 

Kites themselves are uncommonly special, but a vehicle, and like all vehicles, for me, it is the kite journey where kites lead the mind and the soul that make them so special. 

Even the simplest of kites on a short length of string have this ability to carry us deeper into the cosmos. 

A world-wide kite community has discovered this feeling: The universality of the language of kites is similar to that of music; distinctive in each culture, but sharing details in its roots, capable of bridging otherwise impassible chasms of language and cultural differences. 

These kite strings do indeed connect us, bringing us together, stretching around the globe, as one famous kite personality, Domina Jalbert, inventor of the parafoil, described kites, the foundation of a “Brotherhood of the sky.”

This is not about kites specifically, and only incidentally about a man’s pants falling off (though I recognize the gravity of a man’s pants falling off whenever and wherever that might occur). But there! 

We have stumbled upon the falling pants problem, one and the same, the interloper in the mansion of flight: Gravity! How do we escape, in a manner of speaking, if only briefly, gravity? And why was it such a long drawn out process, finally overcoming gravity, uncovering the secrets of flight?

One of Einstein’s useful aphorisms, “Everything is simple: But not too simple,” comes into play here, not just for kites, but the principles underlying everything, including things that fly. 

Once it was figured out for kites, an airplane was not far behind. And then it became possible for humans to flynot quite as freely as birds diving and flitting between the interwoven limbs of trees in the forest …but in their own way, flying very nearly anywhere one might imagine needing to go. 

These basic necessities of human flight, however, the “simple” elements of flight, as we are all well aware, were such a long time in revealing themselves, but once they were revealed, very soon, making up for lost time…human kind was able to walk on the surface of the moon.

Complicated, yet simple: The actual circumstances of flight’s discovery: complicated yet, on reflection, perhaps it too is simple.

I would like to believe it is entirely reasonable to imagine that the underlying principles of flight may have occurred in a manner not so dissimilar from the story that follows: wedged between the common occurrences of everyday life, in autumn when fall leaves live up to their name sake, falling. 

In this brief passage through the sky, the colorful fall leaves becoming one with their moving shadows on the ground; piling up, all a jumble; waiting for a family pet to acknowledge a question put it by its human companion; a person approaching or passing middle-age, pausing pondering the fall leaves; gaining a moment’s respite from the thoughts accompanying an expanding waist line, the embarrassing thoughts—perhaps only plausible and embarrassing in locals and times when pants were a common feature of clothing—of a man’s pants falling off.

In short, it is a fact that we can’t be at all certain where or when the revelations of flight signaled closure on one of the all-time great mysteries, but moving forward, then—postulating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the common engine underlying the secrets of all flight, from birds, to kites, to airplanes—to one fall day, a day following the day when a man’s pants were in fact observed, stopping just short of falling off.


It was never easy for me, as an adult, to own up to the strange malady I came to associate with the autumn season.

Everyone in the Hudson Valley except me it seemed, looked forward to falling happily under autumn’s spell: Here and there among the maple-covered hillsides of the Hudson Valley, a small dab of orange soon to dazzle the eye with autumn’s Joseph Coat colors. People spill out of New York City’s steel and glass canyons, leaving behind city sophistication, willing to put up with countrified ways for the sake of enjoying the brilliant colors of New York’s countryside.

I don’t for a moment dispute autumn beauty. Without a doubt, it is spectacular. Having said this, I’m all the more perplexed to admit that autumn invariably marked the beginning of a depression, a descent for me, sending me “down in the dumps,” as such a malaise is too benignly portrayed. 

While others sprung out of bed ready to enjoy the colder fall weather, I preferred to sleep in, tucking myself further down under warm covers, the bedroom blinds pulled tight against the autumn light.Down under the covers, I reviewed earlier autumns.They hadn’t always been accompanied by this dull lethargy.

At the top of my list from childhood, my “ten, all-time favorite things” was the time spent with neighbors and my mother and father and later my brother, nine years younger, raking leaves into big piles, then setting them on fire. 

The tangy, acidic smell so peculiar to burning leaves was a special part of the treat: wanting to keep the tears and coughing at bay, to prolong the delicious olfactory fragrance. As the early evening light waned and the temperature went down a few degrees, the warmth of the fires drew everyone in close. 
Tiny orange sparks rose from the piles, doing a crazy dance, climbing helter-skelter, into the darkening sky. Running around, in an out of dense, gray clouds of smoke, our rakes were poised to stop errant wisps of fire from leaping our fire line. 

We called out through the smoke at each other, excitement in our voices, frightened by little fires that sped toward the bushes planted at the house foundation. Small clouds of moisture appeared and as suddenly disappeared in front of our faces.Our breaths sharing the same cold, tangy air drew us closer together. 

Actually, my love of fall leaf raking and burning memory extended even further back in time: younger still, the rake handle three times my height, I jumped and rolled in the fallen leaves heaped into big piles at intervals across our lawn. As far back as I can remember, the smell of burning leaves immediately turned this early home movie on in my brain.

In the light of my earlier happiest memories, my later adult fall maladies, the turn from joy to depression, caused me some consternation. The problem seemed to emanate from the pit of my be continued ! 

Lissa's note: 

At some point the Dream of Flight Family will publish Measuring the Skin its entirety ! Thought you all might enjoy reading just a bit of it this fall 2015 .  Beautiful writing.   
Till then, 
Many Smiles !

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tal Days. Remembering Our First Trip to Paris

August 1st. Pop's Birthday.

So yes, today I've been thinking about him. He would have been 81.

I've been walking around Paris with Helene N. She is almost sixteen and thinking about making fashion her future path. We were looking into how you research and come up with ideas and directions. Out in the world, bookstores, libraries, museums, collections of this or that, watching people in the street, noticing details of architecture in the street, leaves on a tree, a group of pebbles...stopping every so often to note something down or take a quick snapshot.

Because that was what Pop taught me, worked on with me. A long stream of consciousness, back and forth discussion together or just with ones self. Sleeping on the harder problems. Awaking to the next day's answer.

I made my first trip to Paris with him when I was sixteen ! Back then I was a serious 24/7 dancer but he said I was going to need a fall-back job. Why not fashion he said ? So I started filling notebooks with some kind of "designs", started making and transforming my own clothes. Developing a "look" personal to me. Started thinking about color. Experimenting with plant dyes...hunting for lichens, collecting onion skins from the school cafeteria.

He supported all of this. Even tho it was way outside of his own experience and interest. He looked into this new world with me. And taught me that fashion doesn't exist in a vacuum. It was all part and parcel of any culture. Fashion was influenced by literally everything happening around it. Architecture, theater, music, performance, sculpture, all fodder for fashion's insatiable appetite for the new.

Our trip to Paris was one of the few times when we went somewhere without Mom. Pop had been invited by the Herald Tribune to take part in the first kite festivals in Paris out in the Bois de Vincennes. In those days, you were not allowed to fly kites in Paris proper.

We stayed first in a hotel next to the Madeleine on the Right Bank. Ate delicious baked potatoes stuffed with bechamel and bits of ham at Fauchon "au comptoir' (wasn't the fancy spot it is today) and I had my first mini macaron. Then we moved across the Seine to the Left Bank and stayed in a place on Rue de Seine.

During the two weeks of our trip, I think we had three "normal" meals : one with the lovely lady from the Herald Tribune and her family at La Coupole. I had melt in your mouth lamb and creamed spinach with fresh nutmeg liberally grated in it. Gosh that was good ! Another dinner we had at Jackie M's house and met the most incredible woman there : an elderly Meret Oppenheim all dressed in black like a very large bat. She was someone that I idolized as an artist. And she definitely had her own "look" going. I was VERY impressed

The third dinner Pop and I had venturing into a restaurant on Rue de Seine near the hotel. Catastrophe ! I had no French thinking I recognized the word for "lamb", got "rognons d'agneau". Lamb kidneys ! I'd eat them today with great pleasure but back in those days seeing one on a plate was quite a surprise ! Pop ordered Boeuf Bourguignon and said "I'll take care of dessert !" he ordered an Ile Flottante for two !

So what did we eat ? Pastries ! Five or six times a day. I don't remember having anything like a crepe or a croque monsieur or anything other than those baked potatoes and sweets. A special Tal diet.

Pop's favorites were giant billowing meringues. In fact that is all he ever chose. I, on the other hand tried all manner of chocolate cakes, lemon tartes, chestnut puree anythings, and those incredible macarons. My favorite thing, from a place on rue Moscou was a chocolate genoise with mint chocolate ganache, dark chocolate mirror glacage and one crystallized mint leaf on don't see pastries like that anymore!


We walked everywhere. From one end of the city to the other. Pere Lachaise to Cimetiere de Montparnasse. We spent a lot of time in cemeteries. We visited the grave of Brancusi. And the grave stone he made for a young girl. From the Gate of The Kiss in Tirgu Jiu.

We spent hours sitting in the faithfully reconstructed Brancusi's studio at the recently opened Centre Pompidou. The experience I imagine was something like praying in church. yes ! Just sitting there! For hours! Surrounded by multiple versions of Endless Columns and the Birds in Space. Watching the light move around the room(s).    

We ventured into a theater (Theatre de Variete)  without a ticket (something you will all recognize as typical Tal behavior) watching from the peanut gallery unable to follow the plot beyond the idea that a chamber pot was something very funny especially if it as to be found in the living room when guests arrived.

Getting bored with the stage stuff, we went down into the empty rooms of the entr'acte bar. Red velvet and floor to ceiling.mirrors. I danced around for awhile. Felt like something out of Toulouse-Lautrec which we had seen at the creaky floored Jeu de Paume (long before it became a gallery for contemporary work) That was one of the only times I remember Pop looking carefully at any "painting'. The Monet haystacks. He loved those.  

Visiting the Louvre, we were very surprised to see the little etruscan statues that Giacometti's sculpture greatly resembled. Seemed a little too similar...He loved the case after case of the Egyptian shabti. I don't remember us seeing the Mona Lisa or indeed any of the painting. Long discussion in front of the Winged Victory of Samaranth. Pop was certain she was much improved without the arms.    

Hours were also spent in and around, up and down via elevator as well as walking, the Eiffel Tower.

Pop gave me a found treasure from that day which I still have. he swore he found it at the base of the west leg.  

 Ooo did I say it was all very exciting, every day ?

A heady time. Those Pop days in Paris.

- Lissa




Friday, June 19, 2015

Sebastião Salgado, John Berger : "The Sky is the only thing that can be appealed to in certain circumstances."

Many have seen recently "Salt of the Earth", the Wim Wenders documentary on Sebastião Salgado's work of the past twenty years "Genesis", his wife Leila and the renewal of life on their farm in the rainforests of Brazil. Romig sent me something about it today.

Salt of the Earth brings to mind the wonderful BBC documentary made in 2000 for Arena by John Berger called "The Spectre of Hope". Certainly worth a watch. Berger's poetic insight into these images is remarkable.

Berger says looking at Salgado's "Migrations":

"One is face to face with the tragic. And what happens in face of the tragic is that people accept it and cry out against it. Altho it won't change.

They cry out... to the Sky

The Sky is an important part of the work. People that have lost all sense of tragedy look at these pictures and say What a beautiful set ! What beautiful decor! What a well chosen moment ! But it isn't a question of that.

The Sky is the only thing that can be appealed to in certain circumstances.

Who listens to them in the sky ? 

Perhaps God? 

Perhaps the dead. Perhaps even history." 

Sebastião Salgado, John Berger ; BBC Arena "The Spectre of Hope" (2000)

I can't remember what Pop thought about Salgado's work. That escapes memory. I'm sure he would have been moved by the tragedy shown but also bv the positive tale of regeneration possible.

He would have been moved to tears. Of that I am sure. Our Tal Moon.

- L  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Here We Are. April 21, 2015

One year on. Slowly going through Pop's things. Organizing his things. All this as we both are going on with our lives. I've been getting to know some of his friends thanks to Pop's facebook page. People from all over the world with all kinds of interests and connection to Pop. It has been eye opening experience.

Some part of the kite world, some with Indian Circus, some with Manhattan Kansas connections, some from Korea and Hong Ik Arts University in Seoul where Pop's Endless Smile continues its life, beautifully cared and appreciated by the students and administration. Men (yes so far, just men!) that Pop mentored. I have many more brothers than Id previously thought !

Romig is potting, has gotten several physical things worked on this year like eyesight, lungs...

Best of all she has been potting. Whether in Santa Fe or Verbank her work continues at great speed, with enormous creativity. She is a great potter. 

Me? Still in Paris. Still working as a foodstylist.  Food photography has been a pretty volatile job in the past two or three years. Publishing, advertising and food photography have changed radically with the onset of the digital revolution. So am looking at the various paths opening/closing to me with this reality. I 've started a blog about what I do with food and "prop" styling : Cooking and Looking Paris ! it lacks a bit of direction but I'm learning a lot about the digital world and the possibilities in it. I hope Pop would be proud of that. 

It is my intention to publish all of his writing, books that he had prepared for publication on the Indian Circus, Domina Jalbert...there is an enormous amount. and I want to bring The Philosophers Kite, The Art of the Japanese Kite and A Kite Journey Through India, all those into the digital age. 

It's time to use ones inner creativity and to be open to new things/places/lives. Always the big question of how to find the courage or audacity to open new doors and close others. 

This was us in Pop's eye at the Grand Canyon the winter before his stroke. 

As many of you know that have seen me in the past few years, I've put on a a few more pounds. it is starting to go the other way now thank goodness. Thanks to the Pool and finding Contact Improvisation, the inner body, my inner body is feeling better out here in the world.  

David, my brother, once asked me whether that weight was kind of a protection or body armor and I think he might have a point. I used to joke about it and say "Am pregnant with myself !" What a laborious process it is to birth oneself  at 54 or 81 ! 

Losing Pop or the Pop we knew up until his ischemic brain attack four years ago, then finally his last self  has been quite a journey. Much of our early effort went into learning about his physical situation and how to deal with the anosognosia.

We tried to offer him as much of a "life" as he could manage! Calibrating that was so difficult for Mom and I.

I'm still so amazed at how she kept it all going. Keeps it all going! How she organized the everyday stuff and dealt with the realities of life at El Castillo. There were times when I worried that I might be saying goodbye to both my parents ! But that hasn't turned out to be the case.  I pretty much fell apart after his passing but she didn't. She really got herself going. Her energy level seems miraculous. It's hard to keep up with her!

Somehow we survived another year. And are moving on.  

We thank each and everyone of you that has contributed in some way to our rebirth and offering new paths with your friendship. Our family has evolved into such a large one ! What a fine tribe ! 

We couldn't have done it without your help, kindnesses, love and the creativity that you share/shared with us throughout this period. "Next week : New hope ! That's an old Flash Gordon line, I think.

Lissa and Romig

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tal Traditions : The Arkansas Sugar Cookie Recipe V.1.0 and V.2.0

Oh I wanted to get this up at Christmas time. I really did. But things got happily complicated 'round the end of December. We got hung up!*  So with no further ado : 

The Arkansas Sugar Cookie (all versions) !!

First, a bit of background on the subject .

While Pop never liked any tampering with his favorites, he would try our experiments with traditional recipes at least once. Mashed potatoes with roast garlic which we thought a remarkable improvement, found no favor with him. From that day forward, he became responsible for all mashed potato production, Thanksgiving or otherwise. All win- win from our point of view. Right Mom?

The Arkansas Sugar Cookie has a similar spot in Streeter family history. They were a Gram Streeter specialty. A tin came by post every December wherever we were living at the time.  She prepared these very far in advance and they could survive pretty much anything. They were always the same size, recipe, color.  Pop thought that they were just as good several months later as right out of the oven. Not many cookies hold up quite as well as these do!

Blanche Waller Streeter ( b.1882 - d.1970).Widowed early in her marriage, she raised one son, Tal's father, Paul. She supported the two of them by taking in lodgers to her two story home on Laramie Street in Manhattan, Kansas.

I spent only one afternoon with her that I can remember. I was nine, soon to be ten. We were leaving to live in Japan that August. She passed away several months later.

She and I were left together in a very dark living room with Victorian furnishings. She sat in a huge Morris Chair, me the sofa. Green Acres on the television. I was given one of these cookies from a large red tin in the kitchen.

Her stern admonition "Don't marry no Mandarin with no long pigtail" were the only words addressed in my direction. No further conversation . Eva Gabor offered the only levity and light to the afternoon.

I didn't quite know what to think of these cookies at the time. They are huge things for one.The ingredients are super simple. LARD, buttermilk, white flour, white sugar and nutmeg. Nothing more, nothing less. They aren't very sweet. Similar texture to a pie crust.

And LARD ? If ever there was an ingredient that has fallen out of favor, this is one! And if you have never had a cookie made with lard instead of butter you won't be able to imagine the flakiness.

I can't tell you anything more about the name. I've looked into it. The recipe doesn't show up anywhere using quite the same ingredients. I can't recall what Gram Streeter's relationship was with the state of Arkansas. As far as I know she was a Kansan through and through.  

When she passed away, Tal decided to take on the AS cookie challenge and he became quite good at it. Mostly for his own enjoyment as he never quite got around to making them in time to send them off like his Gran had. That would have meant preparing far,far in advance. Not a Tal attribute.    

Pop was bold enough to offer his Bennett College sculpture students an A if they could successfully write out the recipe which he passed around the month before final exams. No takers as I recall. So it is Romig that gets the credit for sitting next to Gram Streeter and writing everything down. Once again, she saves the day.    

One Christmas in Paris, I received a box of these dipped in dark Chocolate. Even I screamed sacrilege ! Calling up the Verbank kitchen, I asked what prompted this unnecessary addition? This gilding the lily ? He replied "That was your ever astonishing Mother !" We laughed long and hard as I recall !

Classic style Arkansas Sugar Cookies V.1.0 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

The Ingredients:
1 cup shortening (LARD!)
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 t freshly ground nutmeg

Cream all of the above together. I wouldn't use your hands as one can over heat/over work this dough too quickly. Use a utensil like a pastry cutter or  a Foley Fork .

Then add:
1 cup buttermilk
6 1/2 cups to 7 cups of flour

At this point I divide the dough into 3 balls of equal size and wrap them up in plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge to calm down before attempting to roll them out.

Roll out each ball pretty thin, say 3mm, sprinkle with sugar and an additional grating of nutmeg and roll again. Cut with a Hellman's mayonnaise top. This is the traditional size of an Arkansas Sugar Cookie. But more on that later.
Yeah yeah we did this step a bit later than you are supposed to.

And sometimes we added just a bit more nutmeg.

For this? A Microplane, a real Microplane is the kit to have.  Here, Tiger uses a yellow handled Microplane Home Kitchen version !                                                                                

Yeah, Yeah a bit ass backwards but it still works.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Microplane you see him using here, doesn't have a big handle like previous one. Why? Because it's a Potters Microplane! They use these too! We got ours at the Santa Fe Clay Supplies Shop! 

Much less expensive and just as good as the kitchen or chef's version.

What does a chefs version look like? Very nice and very expensive. Stainless steel handle is the only difference. We don't have one of those.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

In the oven and puffing up nicely.

Then out of the oven. "Hot stuff! Watch your back!" Pop's friend Peter Moore used to say that.

The finished product :
Classic Style Arkansas Sugar Cookies.

A nice mix of well done ones and less done ones. Thinner and thicker.

The biggest tip we veterans have to offer would be to not overwork the dough. All of you people that like to mix stuff ? Makes one tough cookie.  Not a good idea !

With the extra bits, also try to curb your instinct to put the scraps all together then squeeze the wee out of them with your hot hands trying to make everything come together. Also not a good idea. Like good pie crust, you just want the dough to stick together.

Ditto putting too much flour on the surface of your rolling area.  Dry Dough Alert!  

I also put each batch of cut cookies in the freezer for 5 minutes before putting them into the oven for baking. This gives us even more flaky cookies!

But Pop should have the last word ** :

"My grandmother had a big tin box she had painted bright red, our favorite color. She filled this right up to the top with cookies big enough so children would be coming back for more. She rolled the cookie dough in the kitchen right out on an enameled kitchen work counter, then cut them out; with a four inch diameter cookie cutter ( the top of a Hellmans mayo jar does the trick)

Since childhood, Pop adds that he likes the crispy thin ones best but "a mix of thicker and thinner is just  perfect!" 

This recipe makes about five dozen cookies."

Okay. Got that out of the way.

Now we come to the Tiger/Lissa Arkansas Sugar Cookie V. 2.0

Truth is, I'm a bit of a dog with a bone when it comes to a traditional recipe. I can't resist tinkering with it. I 'd like to think Pop would agree that it is important to his godson Tiger's development that even Arkansas Sugar Cookie Making offers ample opportunity for independent thought, testing a hypothesis and discovery !

So with that in mind, I hope you will all enjoy this 2.0 version of The Arkansas Sugar Cookie. We think we really have come up with a winner ! One that he would have approved of ! Right Tiger?

In our version we wondered what this recipe would be like if we added something other than nutmeg ?

We tried three variations : 1. Cinnamon and orange zest, 2. green cardamon (black inside seeds finely chopped ), and finally 3. fennel or green anise seed.

Then we asked what other thing we might try to make this recipe our own?

Change the size! So off came the top of a gin bottle, the perfect size we both thought!

Our recipe makes too many cookies to count! Those dough balls never seemed to get any smaller !

We decided after much deliberation that cinnamon and orange zest was our favorite combination. Turned out to be our testers prefered V.2.0 Cinnamon/orange zest too!

See what you think ! Are you a tradionalist? Or ready to head out into the great unknown?

Please let us know what you come up with?

V.3.0 anyone?

- Lissa in Paris, sending a little wave to her Tiger pal, veteran AS Cookie maker /designer 

*Mom always said that "I got hung up" was an acceptable excuse for being late to something and needed no further explanation ! So I'll use it here. 
**This comes from his bio. I kid you not. He took this all very seriously.
***Yes yes, the two square boxes with our final product ? All Mompots ! Beautiful. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

So Tal, How Did You Become An Artist ?

Found this while going through some of Pop's papers :

"All the art "success" in Tal's career since Manhattan High School aside: How Tal came to be an artist in the first place!

1938 Kindergarten, Bluemont Elementary.
A paper-mache banana painted a bright chrome yellow tempera (right out of the bottle) was followed by a book of colored crayon and pencil drawings of birds. These were recognized by my mother as a "career omen" . In the ensuring years, she lost the banana but managed to hold onto the bird book til her mid eighties. Passing it back to me with the comment: "I always knew you were going to be an artist."

1939 Miss Waite's First Grade.  The college art education student teacher in my first grade class took my crayon drawing of Abraham Lincoln to show her classmates.

1943 Fourth Grade, Wichita Kansas. in the spirit of not putting all my eggs in one basket, I teach myself to play alto sax.

1945/46 mid Fifth and Sixth Grade, Bluemont School. At the close of the war, we moved back to Manhattan. For me, it was a return to the great company of all my old friends.
My art career takes off really seriously. I win the Poppy Poster Contest.

This next item is arguably, the most crucial element of my bio : One day skipping play recess, Gary Rodgers was reading at his desk on the front row of our sixth grade classroom, me drawing, copying comics seated at the desk just behind his. Gary turns 'round every once in awhile, watching the progress of my drawing.  

1947: Seventh Grade, Manhattan Junior High School : Midway through the first term of art class, an unfortunate misunderstanding occurred between Miss French and myself regarding a Halloween drawing, Miss French slaps me, bringing to a stinging close, this segment of my art career. It was not to be resumed until my senior year of high school.

1952 : Senior Year, Manhattan High. Gary Rodgers, after all these years, still a close friend, was made editor of the high school yearbook. He approached me one day in Miss Sykes' journalism class, saying "Tal you can draw right? Would you consider illustrating our High School Annual ? "

It just so happened that Miss French, who taught art from seventh through twelfth grades, died that year. I enrolled in my first art class since seventh grade. I was back in business.

I paint my first picture, a portrait of Shirley Wickham (now Shirley Taylor ) using the redhead Breck Girl Shampoo advertisement as a resource.

Encouraged, I send in my pencil copy of the "Draw Me" girls head that appeared on the back of Safety Matches Talent Test, required for gaining admittance to art correspondence school.

I'm way up there !

" 97 ! Definitely a career worth considering !" says the salesman who visits our house on 1718 Pierre.

I decide to check this out just a bit further, taking advantage of an open-house at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

One of my art career credentials I learn, was the fact that though I'd taken math all the way through Algebra in high school and despite all of Kenny Ellis' wonderful help, I was really stupid when it came to math.

This, it turns out, is a requirement for being an artist ! Flying colors at KU ! I'm offered a scholarship! The rest, it goes without saying (when you are only allowed a half page bio) is history. "  

Aw he had a good sense of humor didn't he?


Saddened by recent events. Paris : Grey, Overcast. The usual January/February Paris vibe.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tal Spirit : Shirone, Japan 1971 to present day and beyond.

My mother and I received a very special letter last week from Shirone Japan. Back in 1971, Tal's introduction of this incredible community and their tremendous festival of Giant Kite fighting really rocked Western imaginations. It was The Art of the Japanese Kite's first chapter.

In some sense it recounts in a macro way Tal's own introduction to Japan. The train north, the except from Kawabata's Snow Country, the arrival in this tiny farming village, going to the gymnasium to see these giant things being readied, which were going to fly? It seemed impossible ! Tal wrote in extraordinary detail what it was like to encounter these mammoth O dako or "Giant" kites. His descriptions of the actual kite fighting were engrossing and unforgettable.

In the years that followed the publication of The Art of the Japanese Kite, American publications like National Geographic came to Shirone and filmed the festival, wrote articles on the kite crazy Japanese  

  So it was particularly touching when two of the   present day exponents of the Shirone Odako         made a visit to Tal, in July 2013, a year before     his passing. While he was greatly depleted of       physical energy , he was very moved. Kazama Masao, one of the Odako Master kitemakers      and Endo Hiromi head of the Shirone Odako      Museum reignited his memories of those first  experiences with these spectacular kites.

When Mr Endo, today's present director of the Shirone  heard of Tal's passing, he wrote offering his condolences. And this past month he sent us another message saying that Tal had "put Shirone on the map. Had introduced the Odako far beyond the island of Japan and for this, the town was eternally grateful and they were dedicating this years 2015 Odako Calender to Tal's spirit.
Tal ended the chapter on Shirone with these words : "The sight of the Shirone Kites hanging in the afternoon sky is indescribably beautiful. Their combat is exciting and their death poignant. For me, and for many others, the festival need not ever end."    


Lissa, looking out on a light snowfall in Santa Fe New Mexico
December 2014.