The "Arts"


The Cosmopolitan Texan – Not An Oxymoron

A good man can make you feel sexy, strong and able to take on the world…Ohh sorry that’s vodka….vodka does that. Anonymous

Ha! Ha! I’m writing about a good man this week and I Googled quotes on the “good man” and I came across the above which caused me to laugh out loud.

What makes a good man? The first quality that comes to my mind is kindness. Is he kind? Not only to family and friends but to strangers as well? Is he generous of spirit? Does he have empathy? Does he connect with humanity and see his story as part of the fabric of life?
Kindness, generosity, empathy, connectedness are often considered “more” feminine qualities yet they are the first attributes I would use to describe my good friend and confidant, the quite masculine Louis Hughes.

Mr. Hughes was my age, 64, when he hired me in 1986 to work with him in the Development Office of Winter Park Memorial Hospital. This Tuesday past, he celebrated his birthday. Hughes, today, volunteers three days a week in the WPMH emergency room. We lunch several times a month.

Louis Hughes grew-up on a West Texas ranch. During the Dust Bowl Days no less. He experienced the greatest gift any of us every receive, that of the good parent(s). That and oil leases, eh, Louis? Hughes “left” Texas to be educated in the East, served in WWII, eventually living, working and parenting in the Northeast. He worked for Harvard and The University of Pennsylvania Development offices before arriving in Winter Park in 1984 to become the Vice President of Development for WPMH.

The first thing I noticed about Louis was his sartorial habit. He wore three-piece suits everyday. A bit of a clothes-horse myself, I judged his ties rather conservative. His attire contributed to an over-all initial impression that Hughes was formal, formidable and somewhat unapproachable.

Hughes is a snob. He’ll deny it. He’s well read. He likes art. He’s cultured. He plays the piano. Today. He’s been places, seen things. He appears to be the type of gentleman who will not indulge in small talk. It’s all a façade. Not his cultural attributes, his veneer of aloofness. He doesn’t take himself seriously. Hughes resists, however, sophomoric humor (which I do employ) yet will indulge my uncouth, “common” observations. We both appreciate beautiful (in every sense of the word) women. He’s a wonderful, delightful man with which to enjoy life.

Two closing observations. Hughes married for a second time to Arlene “Petie” Showalter of Winter Park, Florida. She was the love of his life and they had over two decades of happiness together before her death.

A final story. Louis and I would, upon arriving for work each morning, stand at the development office receptionist counter for ten or so minutes, coffee in hand, and discuss the “nature” of life. Much laughter ensued. One day, Louis, said in passing, that at one point in his life he had four children in diapers. You could have picked my jaw off the floor.

I only found out some years later that all four of those once-diapered children were adopted. His love for his four children (Ned, Margaret, Justine & Jeff) has been unconditional and unwavering. They give him much joy.

Hughes is a prince among men and on his 91st birthday, vodka is unnecessary (champagne, perhaps) when singing his praises. Happy Birthday, Lad! More!

At The Dance.

Ah, such goodies I have for you.

Many of you will already know from whence I speak. I’ve a book and movie by the same name to recommend. Here’s what Bosley Crowther, movie reviewer for the New York Times, had to say August 13, 1963, “The film that Luchino Visconti and his star, Burt Lancaster, have made from Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s fine novel The Leopard is a stunning visualization of a mood of melancholy and nostalgia at the passing of an age.”

The Leopard was published in 1958 and made into a movie five years later. I highly recommend that you first read the book and then Netflix the movie. The writing, the book is spot-on marvelous. The movie is gorgeous.

It’s Burt Lancaster as the lead who makes the movie so fascinating to watch. Lancaster plays a Sicilian prince in 1860s Italy. Everything is changing. His world is disintegrating. But what’s a prince to do? He hunts. He reads. He conducts scientific experiments. He carouses. He leads his family. He debates with the family priest. He’s sexy. Ironic. He’s a modern man (of sorts) lamenting the loss of his privileged status. He has faults. What man hasn’t? But as one English lady observed of the Prince, after reading the book, “There is a man I could have loved.” And how difficult could it be to have loved the likes and looks of Lancaster?

I cannot specifically remember how I first came to read The Leopard but I was still an impressionable teenager. I missed the movie’s release in 1963, probably not seeing it until Blockbuster Video opened in the late 1980s. What I do vividly recall was my utter fascination with the author’s creation of the primary character, the Prince, a man at the pinnacle of the social order who clearly understood that his day in the sun was inexorably passing. Not only was Italian nobility being replaced by—of all things!—a bourgeoisie middle class but the Prince was now one of the “old ones at the dance.”

I could easily live in Italy today. The land, the food, the history, the art, the climate, the people, Italy is a grand experience. And to have, once-upon-a-time, lived there as a Prince on 700-year-old estates, well, sign me up.

Burt Lancaster was born in 1913 and was 50 years old when The Leopard was released. He looks about as good as a man can look (in life/or movie). He’s trim. He’s fit. He’s handsome. He’s educated. But he’s melancholy. Life, alas, hasn’t stopped, hasn’t paused even briefly for him, a Prince no less. Time unfortunately does not defer to title or social class.

The last 45 minutes of the movie is a gaudy, extravagant ball where the Prince dances with a rapturous Claudia Cardinale, whose character, Angelica, is described in the book as “tall and well made, on an ample scale; her skin looked as if it had the flavor of fresh cream, which it resembled . . . and emanating from her whole person was the invincible calm of a woman sure of her beauty.” So lush a woman that one man upon first seeing her could “feel the veins pulsing in his temples.”

I’d cry, too, as does the Prince in the movie. So much beauty in life—sigh—so quickly gone.

The Leopard captures that dichotomy of human experience, hmmm, shall we say, beautifully.

I Can Take No But Not From You.

I’m thinking of “I Can Take No But Not From You,” as a song title and chorus lyrics for a country western song. I think I can write a song. And to have “I Can Take No But Not From You” as a starting point well, visually, I’m already picking-up my award in Nashville. Yea Baby.

So, I could use some help. Add an idea, your “eight words” and our success will be a collaborative effort. Publish here your words.

Give it up for “I Can Take No From Anyone But You.”

c.

O’Beauty, Cuff Me Now!

We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting. – Kahlil Gibran

My sister, Saint Sandra Once of Socorro, recounts a wonderful story of a herd of wild African buffalos that each day traveled from where they rested at night to savannahs of grass they grazed upon during the day. At the close of each day they could go directly back to their place of rest but consciously opted to go out of their way, up a rather long hill that overlooked a valley, where they paused to watch the beauty of the setting sun. The human observing this choice believed that these wild creatures had a sense, an appreciation for the beauty of this world such that they intentionally sought it out.

I particularly like this story because it illustrates the power of beauty, that it is such a prevalent feature of life (our universe) that its recognition (relevance) is observed in lesser mammals. Humans throughout history have endeavored, regardless of circumstances, to have beauty in their lives.

It is the rare human environment that has no personal examples, no individual expressions of what constitutes the sublime (beauty) for that person. I prefer Botticelli’s Primavera over, say, an Edgar Leeteg-like black velvet Elvis but that merely illustrates the personal nature of beauty. My mother, could be a bit judgmental in this regard, that an affinity for “lowbrow” art (a velvet Elvis, for example) indicated that that person’s taste was all in their mouth. Haha! Love that Moms.

While in Ashville, NC this past summer I visited the Grovewood Gallery adjoining the Grove Park Inn. The Gallery offers an exceptional presentation of fine American craftsman. I viewed furniture covered with fabrics created and produced by Mary Lynn O’Shea. Absolutely stunning. I was the equivalent of a lumbering water buffalo dumbstruck by the beauty of an African sunset. Only it was gorgeous fabric.

One thing led to another. I contacted Mary Lynn O’Shea, spent approximately 55 days visiting her website (http://mollyrosedesigns.com/), ordering and reordering fabric samples, talking extensively with the Vermont artist, ultimately selecting four patterns for a chair and ottoman I had reupholstered at Decorative Home Interiors (9205 South US Hwy 17-92, Maitland – 407.339.4432). DHI is owned by Terry & Nadine LaLonde. They offer extensive lines of fine fabrics, do marvelous work and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Tell’um Chris sent-cha!

The aesthetic experience is a simple beholding of the object….you experience a radiance. You are held in aesthetic arrest. - Joseph Campbell

In my newly reupholstered chair I will be . . . sitting during my next experience of aesthetic arrest. O’beauty, cuff me now!

An Appeal To The Maitland City Council

If you have only two pennies, spend the first on bread and the other on hyacinths for your soul. – Proverb

In 2000 while serving as an elected councilman for the city of Oviedo I convinced my fellow councilmen to put on the ballot a $10 million initiative to construct “my” vision for a combination “Crealdé” style arts center and performing arts theater.

I had identified a 40-acre parcel, of which 10 acres were buildable for a theater and arts facilities. I anticipated multiple classrooms for art, galleries and a 400-500 seat theater that 18 wheelers could back into and unload productions. I envisioned an Oviedo (Eastern Seminole County) theater troupe. I also planned to have a full “institutional” quality kitchen adjoining a large meeting room (adjoining galleries) to host banquets and community groups. All this surrounded by gardens and walkways through the remaining 30 acres of tree-covered lowlands, with outdoor art liberally interspersed.

I announced to the Orlando Sentinel that if the voters didn’t want an Oviedo Arts Center that they should not re-elect me. The center was approved by approximately 35% of those voting. It and I lost. My loss of public office was inconsequential. I am not at all disposed to the process of “running” for office. While serving, however, I had accomplished my immediate goal of dealing with “roads” in Oviedo.

I deeply regret not convincing another 16% of the electorate that such a center would be a community asset of inestimable long-term value. That it would, among other things, distinguish Oviedo as a unique and leading community within the Orlando Metro Area.
Mine is no cautionary tale. I failed because I did not convincingly convey a clear vision of how art (its creation, display and accessibility) makes for a richer (in every sense of the word) community. You must invest to profit.

The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself. –Woody Dumas, former Mayor of Baton Rouge

The City of Maitland is at a crossroads. You have what many cities across America could only wish for. An established art treasure in the form of the Maitland Art Center. It has a long, illustrious history. A history of national repute. The Center requires “significant” municipal financial support to fix long overdue structural issues. It needs an unqualified Council endorsement and assurances that, going forward, the City of Maitland will commit the financial resources to ensure that this community treasure flourishes.

In the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered work to go ahead on the completion of the dome of the Capitol. When critics protested the diversion of labor and money from the prosecution of the war, Lincoln said, ‘If people see the capitol going on, it is a sign that we intend this Union shall go on.’ Franklin Roosevelt recalled this story in 1941 when, with the world in the blaze of war, he dedicated the National Gallery in Washington. And John Kennedy recalled both these stories when he asked for public support for the arts in 1962. Lincoln and Roosevelt, Kennedy said, ‘understood that the life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose- and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization. –Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

The Maitland City Council is being tested. Demonstrate leadership/vision. Invest and your community profits.