With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
Two paintings displayed side by side at the Winnipeg Art Gallery have an Easter message for me.
The first one is And Peter Followed From Afar Off by American painter William Ashby McCloy. It is a Good Friday scene. Jesus is hanging upside down on a cross shaped like an X. Over to the right you can see Jesus’ disciple Peter who denounced Jesus three times. The cock that crowed after the three betrayals is pictured. So are the people Peter spoke with denying he had any connections to Jesus. Could the man in front be Judas who betrayed Jesus for money? Artist McCloy gives us a grey, sad canvas full of rejection, violence and guilt.
Right beside the crucifixion painting is this vibrant and heart lifting canvas by the famous First Nations artist Daphne Odjig. It is called Friends Rejoicing. A group of women are celebrating the birth of a child. Easter is a time of rebirth and new beginnings and Daphne’s painting fairly bursts with the joy of a new beginning and the happiness it brings to a community of people. For me it beautifully captures the spirit of Easter Sunday a day to celebrate the resurrection of hope.
I have no idea why the curator chose to place these two paintings side by side, but I love their juxtaposition. One of our former guides at the WAG Perry Nodelman gave a talk at the University of Valencia in Spain in March. He said that in an art gallery…..
…..where pictures are hung, how the floor plan of the galleries invites viewers to move through them— makes each picture part of a larger text, a larger story…
The way these two paintings are placed in the gallery makes them part of the Easter story for me.
The art gallery was closed! We took the train into Phoenix yesterday to visit the art gallery in the afternoon and attend a Phoenix Suns game in the evening. When we arrived at the front door of the art gallery the information on the door said CLOSED MONDAYS. Why hadn’t any of us thought to check that? Many art galleries, including the one in Winnipeg are closed on Mondays. But wait! Were those people inside the foyer? Yes! Were those ticket agents behind the front desk? Yes! Were the doors open? Yes! It was Martin Luther King Day in the United States and in honor of the holiday the gallery was open to the public.
We had a wonderful afternoon at the gallery including a lunch in the gallery restaurant The Palette and a tour that introduced us among many other things to the work of celebrated African-American artist Kehinde Wiley.
At the Suns game in the evening they were also honoring the holiday. Quotes of Dr. King’s ringed the stadium, a special video during the game paid tribute to his legacy and another showed the Phoenix Suns visiting the new African-American History Museum in Washington DC. Various players were interviewed about what their visit to the museum had meant to them. The game opened with a few words about Martin Luther King Day shared by player Alan Williams whose mother currently serves as the first female African-American chief of police in Phoenix.
We had a good Martin Luther King Day!
The final question in my Christmas series is…… What is the best thing about Christmas? For me it is the opportunity it provides to get together with family and friends. In the last month we’ve had so many chances to do that. We went to a Christmas banquet staged by the car dealership my husband works for as a shuttle driver. I hosted my writers group here at our place for a Christmas potluck and gift exchange.
After the choir my husband sings in put on their Christmas concert there was a party to reminisce and celebrate another year of making music.
I had a lovely Christmas celebration with the T-4’s the group of friends I meet with every month. We played the Christmas question game which I have been featuring on this blog. Our friends Don and Marlene invited us out to Steinbach for a Christmas lunch and my cousin Lynne and her husband Rod had us over for a Christmas supper. Because we are off to Arizona for a couple months we had a ‘good-bye for now’ movie and dinner with our friends Bruno and Caroline and took out our friends Beatrice and Jean for Chinese food in Steinbach. We had another Chinese dinner at our favorite restaurant here in Winnipeg Noodle Express with our friends Dave and Wendy after enjoying a play at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. My friend Arlene hosted a special Christmas party at her condo for the group of ladies I volunteer with at the Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue.
And there are many Christmas get togethers still to come… an extended family gathering at my sisters, our own children and grandchildren arriving from Saskatoon to spend four days with us, a dinner tonight at my brother’s house and a Christmas movie this afternoon with our son and his wife.
We feel very blessed indeed to have so many family members nearby and so many friends with whom we can share the joy of Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone! Hoping you too have some folks near and dear to share it with.
What homemade gifts have you made for others? That’s the ninth question in my series for the month.
The first year my husband and I were dating we made each other Christmas gifts. He made me a blue and white beaded necklace, a skill I believe he learned from a friend he lived with in the Yukon, and I knitted him a brown and gold scarf with the help of one of my college dorm mates. Although they may be a little worse for the wear we still have those gifts forty- five years later.
Do you have a Christmas baking memory? That’s the eighth question in the series I have been doing this month.
When I was teaching elementary school in Steinbach my mother would come to my classroom every December to make peppernuts with my students. These little round cookies are a German holiday tradition. Mom would come in and mix a batch of dough with the kids so they could see all the ingredients she put into the cookies. She would have prepared long round strips of the dough for each child ahead of time and they would cut their lengthy rolls into the tiny cookies. We’d bake them in the oven in the school staffroom and then the children would put them in plastic bags with a festive ribbon and card to take home to their families as a gift. Looking back I think of how much work it must have been for my mother to prepare for those annual cookie- baking visit to my classroom. I hope she knew how much the children and I appreciated it.
I have a large collection of children’s Christmas books which I began to buy when I started teaching kindergarten in 1974. By the time my first son was born in 1979 my collection was quite substantial and having children of my own was inspiration to grow my collection even more. Those books figure in my answer to question 7 in my ongoing series of Christmas questions. “What is an advent tradition in your family?”
Every year at the beginning of December I would fill up a large basket with my Christmas books and place it under our diningroom table. Each night we would light the appropriate number of candles on our advent wreath and then one of my sons could crawl under the table and pick a book from the Christmas collection for us to read. Of course sometimes we had to read two because my collection was so big by the time my second son came along that we could never have read all the books by Christmas if we had just read one a night. The next day I would take the book I had read to my sons to school with me to read to my students. I still have many of my Christmas books although I stopped adding to my collection when my sons were grown and I moved to teaching highschool.
Since I became a grandmother I send off a couple Christmas books to Saskatoon to my grandchildren every December 1 so they can build a Christmas book collection of their own for advent reading.