GNL number 107

a report of doings at meeting #107, Sunday, June 5, 2016

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends




Art is not a thing: it is a way. ~~~Elbert Hubbard


Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one. ~~~Stella Adler


….that’s what music and art are about: another way to connect to the divine….a real pure way of touching that deeper reality beneath our life. ~~~Kathy Mattea


There’s not enough sax and violins on television. ~~~Unknown



Opening this conversation today on Eye and Ear: Art and Music, Sue gave us not only music (from a cd by Utah Phillips and Ani DiFranco) but many great quotes, for which see AFTERWORDS. And she was strong on the idea that art can be the fine-tuned, well-understood making of something—doing something well, that could be seen by others or not, satisfying and fulfilling just to do it fully and well. As hostess, Sue had also given us a pre-talk tour of her lush gardens, which had us thinking this is surely art, if not heaven.

Gail was clearly delighted with a musical adventure also involving her artist-musician Virginia, as she reported on the recent High School Pageant of the Bands at Sherburne. This was not just the marching kind, but others like jazz bands, and more than competitive, but such good feedback, growth, and fun for the kids as well as community. She also told us of a favorite place, the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, which was running a great show of Ansel Adams photographs.

This topic recalled both recent and old times for Louise — most recently of one of her dance parties at the house, where a young friend-artist had drawn the happy scene, which drawing she showed us today. And she recalled living years ago in Brooklyn in a music-dance culture she loved. And then her time in Jamaica– not only married a Jamaican, but fell in love with its music and dance. She said it has struck her what a completely absorbing, expressive art dance is, and so good for body and soul.

We were delighted to have Marge Griffith of Cobleskill with us for the first time; Marge, a retired teacher, spoke first of music too, recalling an esteemed local music teacher who’s doing great things with jazz bands, and noting how she loves cooking favorite food to favorite music. She and her husband Don are great travelers, and she was also very enthusiastic about the museum subscription (North American Reciprocal Museum Program) that’s enabled them to enjoy art not only at the Art Museum in Cooperstown, but others all over.

Nancy N said she’d loved music always, had music in her life always, and sung in choruses for years too. But that what she particularly wanted to show and tell us today was about her son Alex, now graduating from the Berklee School of Music with a major in composition. Much of his work was designed to accompany visuals, including video games. So she played for us two of his tracks for two different scenes, each very evocative and beautiful. And we asked her to relay to him our enthusiastic applause.

Cynthia brought books to share, and then pulled out a large painting she was working on, that was based on Vijaya’s Lilies of the Alley garden she’s made behind her apartment building. Cyn showed and explained how in this work in progress, she wants to reflect the true beauty of a common alleyway magically turned into lush greenery and vivid floral display that is a joy to any who discover it. And we recalled, it’s home as well to a lovely memorial to our late friend Jack. (At this point Marge also treated us to a bit of the old Lilies of the Valley hymn!)

Like some of the rest of us, Ann had found this topic so big as to overwhelm, or at least inhibit example-choosing. But she appreciated and seconded the idea expressed earlier, of things done well and fully as arts; and then noted that she’s found it possible that even the “noises” of life, like the chainsaw operating in your neighbor’s yard, can take a backseat to your birds singing if you choose to hear the birdsong. Ann also read us two fine quotes from writers James Baldwin and Theodore Roethke, for which please see AW.

Vijaya, whose alley-garden art Cynthia was honoring with hers on paper, was reminded of the tree under which her father had started his own art with metal-working, which led to his company that became the third largest of its kind in India. She spoke reverently of him, and regaled the group with other stories of her early and recent life, including her bilingual adventures in the US, eg.,when chased down by a cop on the road. We urged her to write down her memories and anecdotes, and collect them in a book.

This also was a too-big-to-choose topic for Nancy S, a lifelong lover of music, and of beauty of all kinds, nature-made especially. She shared favorite eye and ear beauties: art by Eli and Lucy, representing the family; our friend Anna’s wonderful NYC photo book; 2 nature magazines w/ photos; N’s tiny music box with its theme from Bizet’s Carmen; and she sang Song of Peace, from Sibelius’ Finlandia; and for eyes and ears both, read favorite picture book The Salamander Room. For further notes and quotes, please see AW.

We agreed to send today’s offering to the Women’s Boat to Gaza program of Non-Violence International.


What art offers is space — a certain breathing room for the spirit ~~~John Updike

…..we want our kids to grow up to be people who can think outside the box, be creative and innovators, sort of the forward thinkers of our future. I think a way to inspire that is through art and music ~~~Angela Kinsey


Sunday, July 10, 2016 (1030), at Nancy Niles’ home in West Richmondville, and the subject is TREES.


from Sue:

Here’s my quotes: 

Yo Yo Ma: “…to Isaac Stern saying, the music happens between the notes.
OK, well what then do you mean when you say music happens between the
notes? Well, how do you get from A to B? Is it — is it a smooth
transfer: it’s automatic, it feels easy, you glide into the next note?
Or you have to reach to get to the — you have to physically or mentally
or effortfully reach to go from one note to another? Uh, could the next
note be part of the first note? Or could the next note be a different
universe? You know, have you just crossed into some amazing boundary and
suddenly the second note is a revelation?

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” ~ Pablo Picasso 

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of
making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or
badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the
shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even
a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an
enormous reward. You will have created something.”  ~ Kurt Vonnegut, A
Man Without a Country 

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine
picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not
obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the
human soul.”  ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

“Creativity takes courage. ” ~ Henri Matisse 

“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures
on silence.” ~Leopold Stokowski 

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find
it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Black holes can bang against space-time as mallets on a drum and have a
very characteristic song. ~Janna Levin

and the music: 

Utah Phillips song “Natural Resources” .  It’s on the album The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere, by Ani DiFranco & Utah Phillips

from Ann

“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.”  ~James Baldwin


“Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.” ~Theodore Roethke

from NancyS  


Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp 


Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art. ~Leonardo da Vinci 


When my daughter was about 7 years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college — that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” ~Howard Ikemoto 

and a couple further notes 

Part of my “art appreciation”, as they used to call it, I guess is needing to be out, in the natural world as much as possible, where beauty abounds for eyes and ears, all senses. Yes, used to take a lot of pictures out there, and yes, need to revive that good habit. But even without doing that, it is especially outdoors that I find myself whistling and hum-doodling, often tunes I’ve never heard before, it seems, and so often in response to birdsong, breeze in the trees, other phenomena more subtle. Often feels like I’m kind of thanking, if not joining them, the singers of this big ongoing song. And that, it also feels like to me, is a very life-giving thing.

And the author of that so lyrically beautiful picture book for all ages, The Salamander Room, is Anne Mazer. Its equally beautiful pictures were made by Steve Johnson. 


And from the editor

a list of topic ideas, mostly new,

(with an invitation to do a list your own self)






—–Short Stories and Anecdotes

—–Aging Sucks/Aging Rocks


—–Waking (the Folk)Up?






—–What Matters Most

—–What Have You Learned Lately

—–Something Most People Don’t Know About You

—–the ever popular Potluck


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