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Make America Grateful Again

Updated: Mar 11

Catchy title, no? I'll tell you more later.

We are now in the one hundredth year since the birth of James Baldwin, although his actual day isn't until August 2. Of course he's a Leo!

a lion in  a tweed suit

Mr. Baldwin is part of our family, at least part of our family legend.

Here's the story; I said to Jessie, "I just finished re-reading The Fire Next Time. Boy, he's a good writer." Jessie replied, "I know. I've read everything he wrote. Plus, he said I was a cute baby."

I said, "Oh, I think that's just one of your father's stories." And Jessie said, without anger, "Why would you take that away from me?" I could have bitten my tongue but I said, "Now that you mention it, James Baldwin did live down the block from us on Horatio Street. I know, because I saw him walking by several times. And if he looked into your stroller, Jessie, of course he would have admired you."

a baby wrapped in a fleece jacket

So yes, I stand by the truth that James Baldwin said Jessie was a beautiful baby. As I said, part of our family legend.

And about that title? Make America Grateful Again? I'd wear that on a T shirt--well, I never wear message T-shirts so maybe a baseball cap, but I don't really look good in a baseball cap so maybe a pin. A great big pin.

What am I grateful for this week? Remembering an exhibit I saw in 2021 at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery titled "Be Your Wonderful Self: the Portraits of Beauford Delaney" with this portrait of James Baldwin. The colors really lifted my heart and my imagination.

Oil painting of a young man
Portrait of James Baldwin by Beauford Delaney

I thought I had never heard of Delaney but the name rang a bell---I remembered this drawing by Georgia O'Keeffe.

pencil drawing of a smiling man
Portrait of Beauford Delaney by Georgia O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe and Delaney were friends. Is it the man himself or the empathy of the artist that makes me want to be friends with him? Does it matter? Delaney was a friend and mentor to Baldwin who wrote a beautiful foreword to the catalogue for the exhibit "Beauford Delaney: a Retrospective" at the Studio Museum in Harlem You can read it here.

 I'll be writing more about it--especially what Baldwin says about the color black. Here's a bit that I can't resist sharing;

“Though black had been described to me as the absence of light, it came very clear to me that if this were true we would never have been able to see the color, black: the light is trapped in it and struggles upward, rather like that grass pushing upward through the cement."

That reminds me of my favorite Bible verse--well, not a favorite because how can I choose among so many?

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it." John1:5

That reminds me of a conversation I had with my parents. I was trying to get the city to make some improvements in our neighborhood playground and Dad said, "Why are bothering with that? You'll never get it done." And Mom said, "Because it's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." Thanks, Mom. And that reminds me of this cup I saw in a stationary store where I was looking for Artgum erasers.

Yes, I still need her and I miss her every day but she comes to me with these little moments and I'm grateful.

I'm grateful (and proud) that Jessie didn't rest on her connection with a great writer but then actually read what he wrote.

I'm grateful to the person who found Sam's wallet in a taxi last week and mailed it back to him.

I'm grateful to the United States Postal Service for delivering it on only one forever stamp even though it was a lumpy and heavy envelope.

I'm grateful to whoever left this beautiful catalogue from the Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting on the sharing bookshelf at the YMCA.

It's given me ideas for how I'll populate the drawing I've been planning, inspired by this wonderful shot of a lady-female reticulated giraffe in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. this will be in memory of my mother and celebrating the birth of Virginia Kathleen Pratt. Am I stealing the image? Let me give credit to the intrepid photographer, Eric Lafforgue and The NY Times.

Now you know where I get my ideas.

Here's what's on my drawing table today;

You may not see a lot of progress but I'm getting there--and moving up to the parlor floor. I want to put a whale in somewhere but I don't want him to block the outline of the house so it's taking some deliberation.

And I finally finished the Pagoda on the Rocks!

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Mar 09

Hi Barbara,

…A disquisition on the word reticulation, a word few people use but has special Meaning for me. Sterling Silver (and some types of gold) can be reticulated but to do it properly takes some skill as I will describe. I did teach it with much pleasure as it winds up creating a texture like a frozen moonscape on a planet with some liquid on the surface. You can see some examples on Google.

Sterling silver has 7.5 per cent copper which melts at 1984 degrees F and silver has a melting temp of 1761 F. If you can by torch bring the internal temperature of a sheet of Sterling precisely in between those melting points, the surface wil…


Mar 08

"and she comes to me in these little moments and I'm greatful" What a lovely phrase to describe a memory of a dear parent or friend.

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