Learning Something New


TELLING MY STORY IN 6 WORDSWe struggle in quarantine…stay connected.

We’re fighting a different kind of war now…all over the world…a world in quarantine. Keeping busy, doing meaningful things that are constructive and feel good are key for me. I’ve spent some time learning of an art movement about which I knew little. Born out of World War 1, the DADA Movement reacted against the carnage of that war. It was anti-art and had a strong negative and destructive element. DADA artists and writers were concerned with shock, protest and nonsense…rejecting all tradition, they sought complete freedom. Online art group, DIGITALMANIA (https://www.flickr.com/groups/digitalmania/), has declared this week’s theme to be DADA art. Very interesting period in art and literature…I wouldn’t have done too well creating art in that period, as it made no sense and was not concerned with all the properties usually associated with art. In any case, here are my DADA creations…

SUNDAY POSTCARD ART’s challenge theme for this week (https://sundaypostcardart.wordpress.com/) is one of my favorite…theatre!! I’m honoring one of my most beloved live theatre shows that eventually became a movie…WAR HORSE. It was very emotional for me…and a great learning experience. I found it incredible that a mechanical horse…lifesized…became so real to me. It was an excellent story and stunning production. I highly recommend it if it comes around again and you haven’t seen it!

Another production impressed me with it’s acting, it’s unique staging and an excellent storyline. We enjoyed this in Toronto, Ontario, Canada…THE BLUE DRAGON…

Thanks for checking in. Do enjoy your week and try to reach out to loved ones as well as those alone. We must fight this war together!

Big hugs (from a distance,)

abbyj

HATS FOR EASTER

My Nana used to wear hats!

With Easter right around the corner, hats are a topic of discussion in some circles. In two of my art challenge groups, THE THREE MUSES CHALLENGE, (https://thethreemuseschallenge.blogspot.com/) and SUNDAY POSTCARD ART, (https://sundaypostcardart.wordpress.com/) they’ve declared their theme this week to be HATS!! Here are my entries…

Couldn’t resist doing this… apologies where necessary!

…and, HAPPY EASTER to you and yours, dear ones!! Perhaps with spring’s renewal will come a leveling off of the Coronavirus- we can hope and pray. Sending love and hugs… abbyj

PLAYING AT ART

TELLING MY STORY IN 6 WORDSCreating art always soothes my soul.

It’s such a pleasure the have the luxury of time, to once again create art with my favorite art challenge groups. This week’s challenges were fun. I had the opportunity to look back at a past journey (to Mongolia) for TAKE A WORD (https://takeaword.blogspot.com/) who’s theme was JOURNEY. The nomadic people who hunt with eagles in Mongolia were fascinating and spectacular to see…

and to create a piece of art inspired by the style of young French graphic designer, Florian Nicolle for Flicker’s group, DIGITALMANIA (https://www.flickr.com/groups/digitalmania/.) I put one of his next to three of mine…

By Florian Nicolle
By Abby Lazar
By Abby Lazar (I DID go a little crazy with this one!)

By Abby Lazar

Still learning and experimenting…and loving the processes. Thanks for checking in. Be safe…

Hugs,

abbyj

TRUMP Revokes First People Reservation Status

“We all share the earth together.” Audrey Shenandoah

In response to the Trump administration revoking reservation status to Massachusetts’ MASHPEE WAMPANOAG tribe, I opted to make this my entry for the Sunday Postcard Art Challenge (https://sundaypostcardart.wordpress.com/) this week. In 2015, President Barack Obama bestowed special land designations to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. In taking this action, Trump is undoing yet another piece of Obama’s humane legacy…a further slap in the face for our country’s First People and to former President, Barack Obama!

I’m posting this poem of peace and unity, written by my friend and international Iroquois spokeswoman, Deer Clan Mother, Audrey Shenandoah. RIP, dear friend. You are missed and loved.

BACK TO ART

Social distancing…part of today’s lifestyle

With travel wings clipped, there’s lot of time for the gentle side of life. For me, that’s reading, writing, listening to music and creating art. I’ve happily rejoined some of my old art challenge groups and below are some of my creations.

For SUNDAY POSTCARD ART (https://sundaypostcardart.wordpress.com/) they challenged participants to create art with the theme “alchemist.” The art of alchemy was handed down through the centuries from Egypt and Arabia to Greece and Rome, then finally western and central Europe. The original aims of alchemists were to find the Stone of Knowledge, to discover the medium of eternal youth and health and to change the form of ordinary metals into more valuable forms like gold or silver. In medieval times, alchemy was associated with sorcery and witchcraft as well.

TAKE A WORD (https://takeaword.blogspot.com/) is the next art challenge group I played with. Their theme was “botanical” so I chose to examine mushrooms…delicious with almost anything!!!

Finally, a piece of art that just made me feel good…

Stay safe and try to do things that make your heart smile during this time of lockdown! Sending my love and best wishes to you all… abbyj

ARTFUL READERS CLUB

OUT OF MULBERRY STREET by Jacob A. Riis

STORIES OF TENEMENT LIFE IN NEW YORK CITY

It’s an American version of Dickens!

Imagine it’s 1880. The Lower East Side of New York City is the most densely populated place on earth…block after block of tenements house the working poor as well as unemployed immigrants of the city, including Italians, Irish, Germans, Jews, Czechs and Chinese. Imagine the darkness of an unlit hallway in one of those tenements, a hallway that’s lined with windowless rooms, 10 feet square, where entire families live and may even work…sewing, laundering, making hats, etc. At this time, 40% of New York City’s population is foreign born. (I think it’s about the same today.)

This is the backdrop for the written snapshots of life in the Lower Manhattan tenements of the 1800’s, as seen through the eyes of someone who was an immigrant …the author of this book. Although Riis’ writing style is different from our norm, it’s well worth the effort to read the different stories of the individuals who lived in this area. The lack of decent housing, medical care, education, sanitation and life’s basic comforts for these immigrants bordered on criminal. Most of the clips this journalist, reformer and photographer shares are sad…some are heartbreaking…all are factual.

*Please CLICK on each photo to enlarge.

Any reader whose ancestors immigrated to America through Ellis Island in New York City- whether they stayed in New York or passed through to other cities- should have a greater appreciation of what these people endured to provide for their families…and build a future for ours. While these Lower East Side neighborhoods that Jacob Riis documented have been transformed into fabulously lucrative real estate, his work still resonates on a global level. I really enjoyed the in-depth look at pieces of the lives my ancestors endured, but this book isn’t for everyone…only those who are curious about the beginnings of city life in big cities in the USA.

A GLIMPSE OF SKY

TELLING MY STORY IN 6 WORDS Distant shores opening arms to immigrants

Searching for new home…

Freedom across the ocean-

Tears flooding the seas

Michael and I visited New York City recently…before the Coronavirus scare exploded…and we spent quite a bit of time exploring the Lower East Side of the city…the area where most immigrants coming to our shores settled, at least, for a time…

Note: Click on each picture to enlarge

In the 19th century, more and more people from across the oceans and seas began piling onto ships, like sardines in a can, only to crowd into American cities… thousands of newly arrived immigrants came to New York City seeking a better life than the one they’d left behind… hoping for a new beginning in their new land. They came from Ireland, Germany and later, Italy, Eastern Europe, Russia and China, among other places…a veritable melting pot of nationalities, races and religions…a fine example of cultural diversity.

The population doubled every decade from 1800-1880 and buildings that were once single-family dwellings were increasingly divided into multiple living spaces to accommodate this growing population. Known as TENEMENTS, these narrow, low-rise apartment buildings, concentrated in the city’s lower east side, were all too often cramped, lacked indoor plumbing, proper ventilation and enough windows to provide needed light. They occupied nearly all of the lots on which they were originally built…usually 25 feet wide and 100 feet long. In 1872, there were about 20,000 tenement houses containing about 160,000 families-about 500,000 people. Some buildings contained as many as 126 families-about 700 inhabitants…in a narrow structure only 5-7 stories high. An individual apartment sometimes housed a family of as many as 10 people.

By 1900, about 2.3 million people, (two-thirds of New York City’s population at the time,) were living in tenement housing, longing for just a GLIMPSE OF SKY from their small rooms. Their only “escape” from the dingy tenements was the streets where they could enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and the other new immigrants with whom they could share common experiences as well as news from back home. In addition, they could shop from the pushcarts of enterprising newcomers who sold goods of all kinds. The streets were their arteries of life.

Many families worked out of their cramped apartments sewing clothes, rolling cigars, fixing shoes, making hats, constructing collars, taking in laundry…they called it “piece work.” The atmosphere was suffocating! These tenements were in multi-use neighborhoods and situated close to factories, docks, slaughterhouses and power stations that provided employment to some of the residents. Convenient to get to work, but it meant living with increased air pollution, loud noise, and putrid smells. There were also issues with rats, mice, and roaches. The occupants of these buildings frequently emptied their filth and refuse into the public streets. HOWEVER, the rent, though a major expense for most residents, was cheaper than they could get anywhere else. In 1892, 2 rooms in an attic cost $3-5 per month; 3 rooms cost $6-12 per month and 4 rooms ran about $12-16 per month. As a family’s financial position improved, they often sought better housing…and as it worsened, they were forced to seek cheaper quarters.

In the early 1900’s, with the help of social reformers who put pressure on the city to pass city housing laws, the lot of the tenement dweller was greatly improved.

Today, in modern times, it’s the Latin American and the Asian communities that continue to experience harsh living conditions in tenement areas of New York City…especially in Chinatown.

Almost all of us have relatives or friends who came from someplace other than the United States. Imagine how hard it was for them to learn English and find a job to support their families or themselves while living in such horrendous conditions…yet they did, building a city known for its cultural diversity- indeed a country built on the strength and hard work of these early immigrants. They came, not only to New York City but to Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and other pockets in the U.S.A. They made their new streets and neighborhoods the very arteries of their new lives and built on each hurdle they overcame. I’m grateful for all the early immigrants built for us…and continue to contribute to each of our lives as new immigrants join us today.

ARTFUL READERS CLUB

“My Heart Remembers”

TELLING MY STORY IN 6 WORDS…Tenement fire kills parents…leaves orphans.

“Take care o’ the wee ones. Don’t let them o’ yer sight. D’ya hear me, lass?” Those were the last words 8 year old Maelle Gallagher heard from her Da as he pushed her and her two younger siblings out the door, away from the raging fire, to the safety of the street. Their father and mother perished as their entire tenement burned to the ground…their only family, GONE. Maelle, her brother Mattie and baby sister, Molly are put in the care of the New York City orphanage where, before long, these three young Irish immigrants are selected for relocation. They unwittingly become 3 of the estimated 200,000 homeless youngsters who travelled west on an orphan train in search of new families that might want to adopt them. Unfortunately, they’re torn apart, each going different ways with different families. Maelle heads off with a traveling photographer as his assistant; Mattie is taken by a rancher as a child laborer and baby Molly is taken by a wealthy couple. Maelle, broken, vows to find each of them as her job with the photographer will afford her the opportunity to visit many places. Sadly, she’s unsuccessful in her search. Seventeen years pass with no contact among the siblings or knowledge of each other’s whereabouts. Then, as fate would allow, all three begin their own unexpected journey to Missouri…and unknowingly, towards each other.

Kim Vogel Sawyer, the book’s author, covers a lot of ground in “My Heart Remembers”…immigration, Ellis Island, crowded tenements on the lower east side of New York City, sweat shops, child labor, orphan homes, orphan trains, early photography and faith. Against this backdrop, she beautifully and heartfully relates the story of three siblings, separated by tragedy and united by a common cause. It’s a book filled with heartbreak, determination, kindness of strangers, forgiveness, getting past selfishness and…most of all…overcoming adversity. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last! “My Heart Remembers” will leave you with a smile on your face and…perhaps…a few tears in your eyes.

Artful Readers’ Club

THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING

by

Kristin Harmel

Your very worst memories, put behind you, may become more vague as years advance…there is a SWEETNESS of FORGETTING. But those memories are part of who you are for as long as you live. That’s one of the lessons…one of the premises behind Kristin Harmel’s best-seller, “The Sweetness of Forgetting.” She’s a gifted storyteller who weaves an amazing story with threads of love, hardship, secrets, second chances, heartbreak, family…and recipes for baked goods sprinkled throughout! The story was both as sweet as the pastries from Hope’s bakery and as solid and strong as faith. It addresses something I strongly believe…we all speak to the same God. It is not religion that divides us, it’s good and evil here on earth that gives birth to hate and prejudice!!!

“The Sweetness of Forgetting” is a story about never giving up, about the stars in the night sky and about all the brave souls who lost their lives during the Holocaust…(but there was very little about the Holocaust in this book). We hear from two heroes, (spanning the time from WWII to today …) the grandmother and family matriarch, Rose (aka Mamie,) who fell in love when she was young, while living in Paris at the start of WWII …and Hope, Mamie’s adult granddaughter, who knows nothing of her beloved grandmother’s past. Hope runs the family bakery on Cape Cod with the help of her teenaged daughter, Annie.

This is a book about life and loss, as Hope journeys to Paris and New York City to discover a 70 year old family secret. With a masterful hand, Harmel weaves a story that is profoundly deep, mysterious and heartwarming…a perfect trifecta! I highly recommend this book…it’s a quick read because you won’t be able to put it down!

TELLING MY STORY IN 6 WORDS…Snow-encrusted trees silvered by sunlight.

ENJOY!

Big Hugs,

abbyj

TAMPA HOSTS ANDREA BOCELLI

TELLING MY STORY IN 6 WORDS…ANDREA BOCELLI SINGS WITH GOD’S VOICE…

The hip, urban heart of Florida’s Gulf Coast beats in Tampa, our destination for a long weekend…not so much to see Tampa, but to bask in the extraordinary voice of Andrea Bocelli!! Just recovering from a week’s bout with laryngitis (for the first time in his career,) we were fortunate that he didn’t postpone our concert as he had the three before ours. Although he was cautious and didn’t sing as much as we’d hoped, it was, nonetheless, a thrill to hear him live and be so close to him…3rd row center!! He truly is the world’s greatest tenor. The man’s middle name is ANGEL and his voice couldn’t be more angelic! What a beautiful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Thank you, Michael! xo

Both Michael and I had multiple cameras at the ready as we explored Tampa. With its blue skies; sunshine; extensive, culture-filled waterfront and RiverWalk;

world-class chefs and a century of Cuban culture(multiethnic YBOR CITY, specifically, known as CIGAR CITY in the late 1800’s and is still a major producer of hand-rolled cigars)

…and people as friendly and warm as Tampa’s weather… we had a great time walking, taking the free trolley, sampling the restaurants and just plain sightseeing! It was amazing to see all the cranes towering above downtown Tampa‚Ķa new wave of construction, raising office buildings, bars, restaurants, hotels, medical facilities as well as residential multi-storied structures.

Tampa is a booming city…Florida’s third largest…and growing. I imagine this won’t be our last visit to Tampa, Florida!