Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Thinking About Artemisia

Our book group discussed The Passion of Artemisia on Friday night, and with one exception, we all enjoyed the book. The more we talked, the more I wondered why I had never heard of Artemisia Gentileschi before discovering this book. She was a contemporary of Caravaggio, and appeared to have known him personally. Art history classes cover Caravaggio Titian, and Michelangelo ad nauseum, but women artists are seldom celebrated. Heck, the first female artist I recall being referenced in a Humanities class was Frida Kahlo, and even that included a comment about her uni-brow!

I went to the library to get a book of works by Gentileschi but came up with next to nothing...just a few mentions of her in some books on "influential" women artists. Not the big, coffee table books I found on other artists. Her suffering - her passion - is evident in her character's faces. Artemisia was tortured because she accused a fellow artist of rape. When she would not admit the act was consentual, her fingers were laced with rope which was incrementally tightened until the flesh between her fingers cracked and bled. She was subject to a life of ridicule and scorn, not the least of which was her father's continued partnership with her rapist.

I know I have to move on, but I am hoping that perhaps one or two of you will pick up this book and be as moved as I was. The painting at the top is one her many renditions of Judith Slaying Holofernes.

What am I reading? Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations." Each week, Bourdain takes us travelling - sometimes to places quite exotic, other times, to rather mundane locations. But no matter where he goes, he fills his hour with history and color. And, there is always the ceremonial tasting of a local gastronomic delight. Now, that could mean something quite posh and unpronounceable to plebeians like me, or it could be something most of us would never even consider food. In "Kitchen," Bourdain writes with crude honestly about what he has experienced as a career chef . Much of what he shares isn't pretty, or appetizing, but the culinary warnings are softened by his acerbic wit.

Did you all get to AcousticFest on Saturday?

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