It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

People seem to be staying put and getting to know their neighbors. In “Love Where You Live,” from Christianity Today (July 2010), Collin Hansen explains that the number of people who move each year has generally declined over the past four years. Hansen also makes reference to the increase in requests for front porches on new homes in the Chicago area (see, “A Front Porch State of Mind,” Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2009).

Hansen visited three differently-situated churches (urban, suburban, and rural) “to see how the body of Christ is loving where its members live.”

As individuals, our mobility may or may not reflect the national decline, but getting to know our neighbors is probably always a good thing– messy as it may be. Christ answered the question “Who is my neighbor?” with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Geographically speaking, is the notion of neighborliness on its way back in– was it ever out? Is it harder to be neighborly in an urban, suburban, or rural setting?


The Art of Motherhood?

Life can feel a little extra messy when you’re going against the norms of society. The blog “Childless by Marriage” follows the life and thoughts of Sue Fagalde, who, due to her husband’s preference, chose to remain childless. Fagalde’s post on Georgia O’Keeffe is particularly insightful. According to Fagalde, O’Keeffe wanted to have children with husband Alfred Steiglitz, “but agreed with him that motherhood was incompatible with her art.”

image courtesy

Motherhood certainly consumes time and energy, which can affect art production, but at the same time, I have to wonder about the art that motherhood surely inspires. Parenting is a creative endeavor at its core, and must also draw on a woman’s creativity to respond to the unpredictable chaos into which children can launch a family. But, does it allow for expressions of creativity in traditional forms of art?

Messy Question: Can the creative pursuits of motherhood contribute to the production of art in other areas of life, or does parenting fail to leave energy for any other creative actions?

Great book on consumerism– but can I buy it?

I’m adding another book to my “to read” list. Alicia Cohen at wrote a great review of the book Unsqueezed: Springing Free From Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos by Margot Starbuck.

Unfortunately, after learning about the book’s central challenge, I’m not sure if spending money to read it is another selfish expenditure. (Maybe the library will pick it up, or buying the book can substitute for one of my more trivial reading material purchases!)

A Staycation to France

My Life in France

by Julia Child, with Alex Prud’homme, Anchor Books (a division of Random House), 2009 (2nd ed.)

If the movie Julie & Julia (or the book, by Julie Powell)  left you obsessed with Julia Child, her memoir My Life in France is your next step in book-stalking the amateur-cook-turned-professional-culinary-icon. Written in collaboration with her grandnephew, this book features the mishaps and “just-try-it-again” attitude that makes her cheese souffle look as easy to make as a grilled cheese sandwich.

In the “Foreward” Prud’homme explains that the book was produced from letters Paul and Julia Child wrote to Paul’s brother, Charles, and from memories Julia recounted to Prud’homme. The result can sometimes feel disjointed, and it’s difficult to follow an exact timeline. The stories, however, are enveloping. The scattered sense of time encourages the feeling that Child is fondly recalling story after story, with more consideration for memories’ associations than for chronology. Appropriately, the common element throughout the vignettes is always a fascination with food– French food, to be exact.

image courtesy Smith College,

Clips of Child’s cooking shows can be found on YouTube, which will help to cancel out the picture of Meryl Streep (instead of the true subject/author of the book!) on the cover of the re-released edition. Not that Streep did a poor job of portraying Child– in a movie– but for the cover of a book, actually written by the real Julia Child, it would just be more accurate to use a picture of the real person. I would also recommend looking up a picture of Paul Child. The way Julia describes Paul clashed with my impression of the “movie-version” played by Stanley Tucci.

Traveling to France may not be in your plans this summer, but, in the meantime, reading My Life in France can be a decent consolation. Round out the experience with Child’s recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, courtesy of publisher Knopf Doubleday.

art pricing and a book review

Rogues' Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals that Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rogue’s Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals that Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art

by Michael Gross

Gross discloses in the introduction that he received very little support from the Met while writing this book. And, perhaps, that adds to the sense of scandal running throughout the pages. The actual revelations, however, are tame, leaving me to wonder what a Met-endorsed book could have to offer. The most shocking information Gross reveals is the price of many of the Met’s paintings, which left me thinking about art pricing in general. (The art of pricing art?)

NPR recently aired the story “Nice Art! How Much?” by correspondant David Kestenbaum. Kestenbaum interviewed art gallery owner Ed Winkleman to find out how art is priced.

Winkleman gives 3 criteria for pricing art from new artists:

  1. scale (bigger art costs more than smaller art)
  2. intensity
  3. medium (the material used for the piece of art)

Winkleman pointed out, though, that the rules of supply and demand can override these criteria. When more than one person wants a work of art, the price goes up.

It’s all fascinating to think about, but for now, I’ll stick to or local artists (specifically, Emily Pellegrin) for my art needs. For more insight into the world of art, and more particularly, art museums, Rogue’s Gallery makes a good read.

image courtesy