Leftovers: Take One

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Note: Since I will be away from Thurs., March 23rd until Monday, March 28th, I am post-dating some of the articles to appear while I am away. It’s a nice feature on Word Press. Since so much happened in March, I still have lots of articles, so I thought I would group them under Leftovers for the end of this month and work on April when I get back.

Last month I reviewed Pink Ribbon Blues, a book about the issues surrounding breast cancer and the emphasis on a race for the cure. Author Gayle Shulik posts many interesting articles about this topic on her website: www.pinkribbonblues.org. One of the “side effects” I had from reading this book and reading her newsletter is to see the variety of ways people deal with cancer, not just walking to raise money or participating as though they had the energy to be volunteers for raising money. In the book lent to me by my neighbor Judy, which highlights works at National Museum of Women in the Arts (nmwa.org/collection/)  in Washington, DC, was this painting. I Googled the artists and have printed the information below her art work.

Hollis Sigler (American, 1948-2001)
To Kiss the Spirits: Now, This Is What It Is Really Like
Oil on canvas with painted frame, 66 x 66 in.
Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist

Extrapolating on events from her life, the artist’s favored subjects became women’s experience in and of the world, from love, family, and the domestic sphere to disease, coping with loss, and ultimately the inevitability of death. Using her purposely awkward style, complete with written banners and borders and decorative, painted frames, Sigler conjures up intimate interiors or suburban backyards in which household objects or a shadow figure called “the Lady” serve as stand-ins for real people. Typically, too, her set pieces register the emotional aftermath rather than the cause of a dramatic action.

From 1985 onward, she has focused on the complex issues surrounding breast cancer-its incident rates, causes, and treatments; its fears, rages, and uncertainties. A long-term survivor of the disease to which her mother and grandmother have already succumbed, Sigler creates works that are emotionally relentless for all their sweet coloring and engaging style. In what can best be described as a coda to the 1992-93 series Breast Cancer Journal: Walking with the Ghosts of Our Grandmothers, the painting To Kiss the Spirits: Now This Is What It Is Really Like, presents the artist’s most hopeful expressions to date.

At the lower register of the painting, small, toylike brick and timber houses softly glow under their porch and street lamps, while the upper two-thirds of the canvas pays homage to Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. At the center of the picture, bathed in celestial light, the silhouetted “Lady” rises effortlessly along a fluted staircase, changing color from purple through rose to white as her arms slowly lift upward to become an angel’s wings. Freed from the mundane cares of this small patch of suburban ground, Sigler envisions the end of a most difficult physical, psychological, and emotional journey and the achievement of a long-awaited state of grace.



Last month I also posted pictures of my step-daughter Penny stepping out at the Oscars. At the time, I had pictures taken at her brother and partner’s house in LA.  These photos were actually taken at the Oscars! I feel almost famous!!

Penny with her brother’s partner, Ignacio, who is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and a vice-president at Sony-Columbia Pictures in LA. Don’t they both look like stars?


A few days ago I posted my tongue-in-cheek book review called The Nuclear Cookbook, which I wrote in 1986, after Chernobyl. I referred to a New York Times Article, which I found after I posted the review. It was written on Sept. 12, 2002 and was entitled: “The Kick in the Fruit Punch Could be Atomic.” The article noted that there were practically no cases of  radioactive watermelon in Moscow food stands, but then the writer notes: “Maybe that is practically good news. Then again, it could be worse.  Some of the lingonberries here all but glow in the dark.”

At the time this article was written, Moscow had a corps of atomic food inspectors because the city lies barely 415 miles from the nuclear power station at Chernobyl. However, while the food in Moscow markets is checked, the food outside the city are not and when it was analyzed by the chief of the city’s food-inspection laboratory, Irina I. Rozanova, she found the caesium level of the dried mushroom she was inspecting to have a cesium content 20 times the admissible level. (Wikipedia says that, “Although the element is only mildly toxic, it is a hazardous material as a metal and its radioisotopes present a high health risk in case of radiation leaks.”

So we have a history of radioactive food being sold in the countryside outside Russia, which echoes my mock review. What now of Japan? Will the food be so contaminated that there will be inspectors everywhere watching for radioactive food? Food is crucial to our lives and if more and more becomes radioactive, what will we eat???

Photo of Chernobyl plant from: http://villageofjoy.com/chernobyl-today-a-creepy-story-told-in-pictures/