Featured Art: Billowing In

Doris Mady, Greenwich Branch, Connecticut
“Billowing In,” 20×10 oil

 

Doris Mady considers herself a plein air painter. When asked, “Why plein air?” she answered, “because I feel alive when I’m outside and the world has so many messages to give us.”

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Mady also studied at the School of Visual Arts, Westchester Community and Skidmore Colleges. Following a long, successful advertising career as creative director and graphic designer in some of advertising’s Top Twenty advertising agencies, she decided to pursue her first love: oil painting.

 

Featured Poem: Old Things

Donna Bruno
Ft. Lauderdale Branch

 

The satin sheen
of Great-grandmother’s table
Duncan-Phyffe mahogany
gives testament to
generations before me
who dutifully polished it with elbow-grease
to enhance its lustrous finish
A valued heirloom
treasured through the years
but now unwanted
My children do not
“see” its beauty
nor appreciate its history
They prefer
modern chrome and glass
functional
utilitarian
sleek
geometric
clean lines
Stark representations
of a “newer” age
They need
Lord Byron’s eye
to realize
“A thing of beauty
is a joy forever.”

 

Featured Art: The Watchkeepers

 

The Watchkeepers photo

“The Watchkeepers,” photograph by Jane E. Allen, Huntstville Branch (Alabama)

 

 

One day, Jane and her husband traveled down a dusty country road in Weumpka, Alabama. As they neared Lake Martin, they discovered an isolated burial site near a church. 

The inscription and poignant epitaph engraved on the granite included the words “A Child of Innocence.” The words “Our Angel” were tucked inside a heart in one corner of the stone. Praying hands and a kneeling angel were in other corners. 

A ceramic Dalmatian, bear, deer, a stonewashed cherub, and a wrought-iron nymph were scatted about the surface of the grave, as if keeping watch over the site. Allen, captivated, photographed the unusual array of compelling objects.

Allen became a letters member in 1984 after winning writing contests sponsored by the Montgomery Branch. She added the art qualification to her membership after several of her photos won awards and were published.

“After retiring in 1994, I finally had the time to enjoy the outside world and its fascinating subjects, she says. “Sometimes, I write a poem and snap a photo; at other times, I capture a subject with my camera and then write the poem.”

 

Featured Art: Gallery Hopping

 

Gallery Hopping embroidery

Carol Nipomnich Dixon, Connecticut Pioneer Branch  

Gallery Hopping, embroidered assemblage on felt, 13-inch square, framed

 

Statement from Carol Nipomnich Dixon: I have been drawing, painting, photographing, and experimenting with mixed media collages since I was a child. I like to think that the child in me still appears in the art I do, along with more mature “soul”, feeling, intelligence and wit, expressed through color, texture, shape and composition. For me, art needs to convey a personal, original point of view, along with strong visual elements and well-executed techniques. My inspiration comes from my own experiences and emotions, nature, varied cultures, historical eras, and art over the ages, ranging from Ming Dynasty squares to paintings by Klimt, Kandinsky and Krasner and collages by Schwitters. My most distinctive works are my small embroidered collages, which often incorporate contemporary papers, original photos, and found objects into traditional stitchery. I also owe a debt to my Russian-born paternal grandparents, my grandmother who taught me to embroider and my tailor grandfather who gave me fabric remnants from his shop.

Featured Poem: Writer’s Block

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City Branch, Texas

 

There I sit
Done with trees
Their rugged hide
Their fallen leaves

 

Ended the garden
At mid-lawn
With vibrant roses
And firethorn

 

Through with birds
On twig or in flight
Chirping in mornings
Hooting in nights

 

Finished with stars
Zodiac members
Burned out long ago
All that’s left – embers

 

No more verses
On oceans and waves
Their ships with cargo
And bereft slaves

 

All things come
Eventually to halt
It isn’t the plants’
Or animals’ fault

 

It is the pen
Though often a shock
But will entice again
To end writer’s block

 

 

Featured Poem: Slammed

Cornelia DeDona
Member-at-large, Kingston, New York

 

I slammed my heart
into love’s door
bloodied and bruised
it swelled
on the other side
of a reckoning
exacted its price
no change
forthcoming.

 

My head
knew
that
our days
would be
fractions
of a time,
our souls
divided.

 

Glad, I knocked
anyway.

 

Featured Poem: A Decision

Elizabeth Diane Martin
Pikes Peak Branch, Colorado

 

In turmoil and distrust
In the midst of fear and confusion
A decision to love
Changed a wandering
Wondering heart
Into one that found
Its roots
And began to grow.

 

It is the flow of love
That causes
New branches
To push out from
Its wizened trunk.

 

Solid and unmoved
Supporting and
Reaching
Toward
Its eventual fruit.

 

What a long, long
Journey
It seems
But, Oh!
The satisfaction
Of reaching
The destination!

 

Then its
Fallen seed
Sinks below,

 

And, if
Good ground
Surrounds it,
A new life begins
Its own journey.
Searching,
Winding,
Reaching,

 

Not knowing
But steadily returning to
Its programmed desire
For the fruit,
So beyond
The thought
Of its daily work.

 

Dear Reader,
Decide also
To love.

 

 

Featured Art: 19th Century Lady

 

19th Century Lady painting
Patricia Daly-Lipe, Jacksonville Branch, Florida
19th Century Lady, oil, 26 by 30 (includes frame)

 

Statement from Patricia Daly-Lipe: The portrait is based on an old photo of a friend of my grandmother (on my mother’s side). However, I do not know who she was. I was intrigued, however, with her look. So much can be read in those eyes.

 

Featured Poem: Circle of Time

Linda Farmer Ames
Columbus Branch, Georgia

 

I, mighty oak, have stood rooted here
for greater than one hundred years,
surrounded by brothers and sisters,
all of Mother Nature’s children.

 

We poked the skies, loomed over heaps of fallen limbs,
leaves and brush, and beneath all that made homes
for living creatures who died and decayed
to create a bounty of nutrients for growth, rebirth.

 

Now I stand alone, no longer part of a forest of kin.
My expanse of roots, gnarled and exposed from years of
wind and water, heat and cold, reach out and around.
I remain to give shade, disperse sun’s rays, cool the ground.

 

The expanse of grasses planted fifty years ago,
groomed faithfully, are fed, managed by
manufactured matter. My limbs have been trimmed
or removed, yet I remain firmly planted among

 

glass, bricks, mortar, cement and asphalt.
I have survived these ravages dispatched by mankind
who has lived strong and mighty, frail and weak,
who has prevailed. All vulnerable, we live and die in a circle of time.

 

 

Featured Poem: English Class

 

Donna DeLeo Bruno
Ft. Lauderdale Branch

 

I stand before my teenage students
    Speaking of Homer’s “Odyssey,”
Of Penelope, Ulysses’ faithful and long-suffering wife
    Who waited twenty years for reunion with her husband.
Before me sit kids who fall in and out of love each week.

 

I laud “The Bard”
    Shakespeare and his masterpieces.
The boys see only the curvaceous “masterpiece”
    Of the svelte but buxom female blond
Who floats across the room.

 

I speak of poets
    Byron, Shelley, Keats.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
    They nod approvingly
As the same female student
    Demonstrates “poetry in motion” in her walk.

 

“Remember John Donne
    who wrote ‘No man is an island unto himself’?”
And with that quote, they recall the hijinks
     Of last week’s boozy island beach party
With bombed-out babes.

 

Do I “cast pearls before swine”? I wonder.
    The bell rings — class ends.
A student approaches and requests that I peruse his poems.
    I take them home; that night I read them.

 

Can it be that this sleepy-eyed, tattooed boy
    Has actually “heard” me?
He writes of “a thing of beauty”–
    The Statue of Liberty that welcomed him from a distant land
Ruled by some “MacBeth-like” tyrant — ruthless and ambitious.

 

And identified with “No man is an island”
    When a church group sheltered his family
And led him to this place
    Where in due time, he plans to “march to his own drummer.”

 

And so my teacher’s “heart leaps up
    when I behold” not Wordsworth’s “rainbow in the sky”
But rather one student
    With whom these works have resonated,
Words that will be woven
    Into the “masterpiece” tapestry of a life.