Archive for Art

Christian Pretzels…

I’ve always had an ambivalent relationship with Christianity–a sine wave from mandatory Sunday School as a kid to “born again” in college, coffeehouse atheist in the ‘60s, Buddhist flirt in the ’70s, Episcopalian convert in the ‘80s, to unaffiliated quasi-believer in recent years. Not exactly a consistent pattern but it establishes my credentials as a pilgrim. I’m no longer a “true believer,” but the “faith” that remains is tested whenever I hear an evangelical Christian proclaim his or her support for the President who just bribed his porn star girlfriend to keep her quiet. read more

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In Search of Heroes

My wife thinks I write too much about the past. She’s concerned that it dates me and worries that readers will think I’m old and out of touch. I agree with her that it’s important to live in the present, messy as that present is, but the past gives us context and offers us lessons for the present.

In times of stress I often find solace in books, and last week’s news cycle drove me into a new translation of The Odyssey. I’ve tried it before; in 1996 I listened to Robert Fagels’ version on tape but couldn’t finish it. The new translation by Emily Wilson is a fluid retelling of the saga that breathes a contemporary feel into the ancient story without damaging its classical roots. It’s full of brave warriors, damsels in distress, dangerous ogres, duplicitous enemies, faithless gods, raging storms and at its center an action hero working his way home from the Trojan War. I was immediately sucked in. read more

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Traveling with George Sand and Chopin…

This is the Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca’s* spiky ridge of mountains, running from its southwestern edge near Andratx to its northernmost tip at Port de Pollensa. Razor-like peaks, limestone cliffs, centuries old terraces, hidden coves, and eye-catching villages mark the route, but they are only part of what brings visitors to this World Heritage site. There is more to Mallorca than its arresting landscape, and one of the benefits of travel is discovering its little-known secrets and the local color embedded in its history. read more

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Coming Home: Miro Meets Wyeth

There is always some dissonance and disorientation when we return from an extended stay overseas. It’s not just the jet-lag. There’s a cultural acclimation that has to take place too. For two months we’ve been trying to live like locals in a foreign place. When we’re abroad everything feels new and interesting; the colors are vibrant and intense while back home they seem monochromatic. It takes time to adjust and, for me, time to find my Seattle voice.

Over the years we’ve learned to deal with re-entry by looking for local events – concerts, plays, exhibits, readings – that can help us recapture the feel of what’s new and interesting on our home turf, and I never feel truly at home until I’ve found something local to write about. read more

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Thinking About Travel…

I love this sign and the idea behind it. I love the design, the pop of the black and white letters, and the shape. It says a lot about the business and the people who run it. It’s attached to the wall outside a “simple” organic café next to our apartment in Mallorca. SIM–PLE. Yes, it’s a café sign, but I’ve taken it as an expression of my travel philosophy.

Simple, in this case, doesn’t exclude the complex; it merely strives to keep things uncomplicated. For example, we’re on the island of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, and we’re here for a month. Basically, we’re hanging out, watching people, sampling foods, visiting markets, and reading about the island’s history. It’s “simple” travel. We have the luxury of time, something most tourists don’t have, so if we want to take a day off, we take a day off. Nothing is lost. We’re here to relax, enjoy, and learn, not maximize or quantify the experience. read more

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