Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Driving Miss Daisy into a city with chickens, goats, ghosts, & guns

Somehow, it's a hoot, living in sight of skyscrapers in the middle of a mid-sized city, where folks trade chickens, not to mention goats.

Some keep bees, owls take out our tree rats, hawks hunt, and coyotes cower in our culverts, even as we continue to live among tall buildings. Someone in historic Grant Park started a gun club, where neighbors now carry concealed as all men did for centuries, and practice socially at in-town ranges; others claim this raises violent ghosts of the past. I once designed a house to be compatible with the Cabbagetown Historic Landmark District on a Pearl Street lot where both goats and chickens had dwelt for a century. I had passed it for a couple of decades and barely noticed. I recall the goats were white and the fowl were black.

Around us, new cities try to form, and old communities seek refuge within entrusted enclaves.

The other night, I meandered home through the Krog Street Tunnel  down Estoria Street in Cabbagetown, its postage stamp lots lined with postage-increase homes milled a hundred years ago but enhanced by recent newcomers. Graffiti artists made a mist in the Tunnel, a crowd reclined on the patio at 97 Estoria as usual, and the street was narrow between cars and curb, until the jog past the stone carver's place. It's a two-lane with room for one car, a careful path. No cars approached ahead or behind, so I careened along at a timid ten or twenty; as the old wooden signs used to read in C'town: "Pedestrians leave Dents" and "Speed Limit XXV". No one fired shots at me in road rage, and I waved at passersby on sidewalks — we nearly conversed.

Then, I spotted movement ahead. It wasn't a Walker ("as seen on TV" in Atlanta), it wasn't a cyclist — it was a large, dark rooster strutting in the middle of the road in front of 200 Estoria . His gaggle were safely on the sidewalk, but he chose the bold path to protect his hens. As I didn't have the requisite three feet to pass (law for cyclists, though figuring it etiquette for coq, not yet au vin), I slowed to his pace. Happily, he gave a hoot, then rejoined his flock. I continued slowly to enjoy life in the Southern Capital.

If our Grant Park Gun Club keeps growing, along with concealed carry, we must all be more polite, and presumably safer. This is not to mention the effect of beehives at backyard fences! Now, I hear that wealthy and leftist Druid Hills may want to join Atlanta — and they will be welcomed, but I wonder: would Druid Hills be happy, driving Miss Daisy into a City with our chickens, goats, ghosts, and guns?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The visual work, "Waiting for Rain", by Suzy Schultz, has been juried into the Marietta Cobb Museum's "Metro Montage XII Exhibition".

The opening is July 7th, from 6 - 8 pm.  There is an $8 admission fee to get into the museum, and cash bar.
"Waiting for Rain" Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved Suzy Schultz. Used by permission.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Like to Find Dead Folks' Margin Notes in Old Books

Central State Hospital, the Asylum,
located at Milledgeville, Georgia.
As a child, scheming relatives spoke of my dear Aunt Beulah: "We'll  Send her to Milledgeville!" They said it in more syllables than are spelled.

By the 1960s, Milledgeville was not known to a child as the vanquished capital city of our State. It was known as a place where the mentally disabled were constrained, not in loving care, but in isolation and abuse. Though the city, in truth, is a far more gracious place than the harsh Old South often depicted, it had assumed an image as a place for incarceration of The Insane — though of course, now, we are kind and good, so we house them in underpasses, instead.

Her short-term memory fading with age, as she knew, she began carrying it on slips of paper in her purse. They might be scattered like mustard seed throughout her dwelling. Her scratchings worked, most of the time, to meet her daily needs. Forgetful as she was on occasion, and fretful sometimes, she was yet patient and joyful about greater things. I first skipped a stone across Etowah waters from her shore. I met her mule.

Under a floppy straw hat, she walked me to her stretch of the river, shouldering a few cane poles strung with line, already baited from her worm bed. I was intrigued by reflections of gold among the strands of wiser silver and white in her hair. She was so proper that she thought she ought to put up her braids before going out, though it was only for a hike across her own land. She cast the lines and set the poles, then showed me how to do the same: await with patience, or return another time. Later, she made my daddy scale and gut the fish, and we ate them for supper. A different Sunday, a casserole's pepper cleared my head and had me seek its eggplant savor all my days.

She taught me to whistle a dog with two fingers. And two teeth. So loud a shrill, so little breath, and she was more than the square of my age! She kept all her teeth to the end of her days. She was my Granny's closest sister, and they shared memories of one another with me that furl beneath my skull today.

Aunt Beulah retained, through her nineties, the acuity to manage a farm on the banks of a river coveted by a utility, and she never was forcibly committed, not for profit, nor for reason, nor the good intentions of meddlesome kin. A daughter, who loved her, later lived there, as well, beneath the cooling towers of the power plant. I recall the great windmill that powered her farmhouse; those who tilted at it only took it after she was gone.

As I motor through underpasses, I contemplate graffiti that captures a journey, so an offhand phrase from a web page also caught me metaphorically, "I studied art in Milledgeville". I found it in the introduction to a wonderful artist, Jessie Parks, more of whose works I hope to share in later posts.
Portrait of the artist's father and grandfather.
Copyright © 2010 Jessie Parks All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.

Her studies were not in the old asylum, but where my Granny and her sisters also studied in the early 20th Century, when their school was called Georgia State College for Women. (Its matriculants were known as Jessies.) Her works evoke paling memories and honor to our elders — banners we must unfurl to rally us against the desertion of our culture by its own.

While most of us prefer to cross over the top of a bridge in sunlight, Ms Parks is unafraid to show the dark shadow of an underpass or hard abutment, maybe cracked on impact. Take a thoughtful look: the windlass turns. She wrote that she likes to find dead folks' margin notes in old books. There's life in those! Watch for more of these scratchings soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Second Innocence — the work of Suzy Schulz

Update: Mason Murer Fine Art features Suzy Schulz' "Second Innocence", opening with a reception Friday, September 21, 2012, from 7-10 PM.

Update: The first of Suzy Schulz' "Dancing in the Ruins" series has been selected for publication in the watercolor book, "Splash 13", as she announced August 31, 2012. (Fort Walker Prospect had featured the third in her series in this post, back in April.) Even more significantly, her watercolor, "Worn", was selected for the Eunice Porte Memorial award by the San Diego Watercolor Society at its International Show.

Update: The artist will be included in a community show, called the Art-B-Que on Saturday, May 5th from 10 am - 6 pm, and Sunday, May 6th from 2 pm - 5 pm. Please check the event website for details:
Avondale Estates Art-B-Q

The view from Fort Walker seeks artisanry in works of art, and it is to be found in the works of Suzy Schulz, a visual artist with studios in nearby Avondale Estates, Georgia. Her figures emerge from surrounding environs that, while abstract, retain a gritty texture reminiscent of our reality. It seems mindful of sculptural figures that emerge from the rock from which they are carved — the imposition of order into chaos by a conscious person: ". . . and He saw that it was good."
Victory in our fallen world is often achieved with scars and ultimately the separation of soul from body. The figurative expressions of concepts that she considers in her works remind the viewer that these principles apply to each of us, and notwithstanding our setbacks we can dance in the ruins of our own lives.
Dancing in the Ruins 3 by Suzy Schulz © 2011
Here is a worthy visual testament, and her website offers further inspiration. Please visit today:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Loss of Artisanry and Artistry

Here's a heads-up to check out the link to Rudy Christian's blog entry from December 14, 2010, titled, "What Have We Lost?". Erosion of cultural knowledge is a recurring theme on Fort Walker Prospect, and Mr Christian's entries promote not only a respect for our heritage of artisanry but clearly what we've termed here as the durable transmission of this deep knowledge from one generation to another. (Note: I decided to link the word "artisanry" to its definition on one dictionary site because several other sites, spell-checkers, & other sources denied that this is a valid word — does this mean we're even losing the definition of it?)

I recently visited the Dalí Late Works show at the High Museum of Art. One may like or dislike the artist and his works or criticize certain phases of his career, but seeing his work in person granted a perspective not available through the numerous books and online resources that reproduce them: he was a formidable craftsman of the canvas, paper, brush, and pen or pencil. Only with increasing rarity have late-20th Century artists cared so much about the state of their final product.

This is a call to those who would enter the realm of the visual fine arts to attempt to hone the most exemplary artisanal skills in their works, and yet for artists this is seldom enough. Tolstoy suggested that the true artist will use a given medium to impart emotion experienced by the artist so intently that any viewer will quickly perceive and experience that emotion, as well. An examination of the work in many a gallery, as well as those assembled more carefully by museum curators, reveals a laziness on the part of many visual artists in the imparting of ideas and emotions. Their lack of motivation is itself a durable transmission, but of the wrong kind — one that erodes its own art form and in turn erodes society.

Mr Christian's writing and the works of Dalí encourage the best of artisanry and artistry.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Teaching Design for Change

Not only does this talented professional want to bring design to her adopted community, she wants to show kids how to recognize its value, as well. Where are we in this?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Dream within a Dream — Poe

Notwithstanding the gnostic imagery suggested (an ethereal palimpsest?), its speculation about the departure of soul from body makes worthwhile meditation for a seeker
"I want to live where soul meets body...", Death Cab for Cutie

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Durable Transmissions from One Generation to the Next

A little while ago, Dr. Mary Grabar, a poet and professor of English Literature, wrote an essay entitled, "Death by Suicide: the End of English Departments and Literacy", in "Minding the Campus: Reforming our Universities". It is compelling  — please click the link in the title heading this post and read it. She ranged through many contributing factors and supporting points leading to the core of her argument.

Copyright © 2010 Wofgang Stoudt

Her main point was that, in our society, English Literature departments in most major colleges and universities have so strayed from their missions that, not only is a higher calling never heard by truly gifted artists, but even the more straightforward competencies are being lost: we are becoming an illiterate people.

This is true not only in literature but in the visual arts, applied arts, and other related arts.

Dr. Grabar amalgamates the emblematic in her stories: not merely does her matriculant wish for and fail to receive Classics in favor of contemporary politicized swill, but graduates, in jobs as nurses or engineers, are incapable of forming adequate, basic, handwritten communication to peers.

We erode from erudition to incomprehension. This principle suggests that higher callings affect applications within their broad fields. This holds true in poetry, in music, in higher mathematics, and in the visual arts: lose the poet, lose basic literacy. Each loss from the fine arts affects applied societal and personal abilities.

Copyright © 2007 Wolfgang Staudt

Each successive wave of erosion of the quality of our fine arts incrementally decays the willpower of our society to survive and maintain the liberty to enjoy rights granted by our Creator. As we cease to be a Christian society, we employ styles of expression that are either increasingly opaque or crude, and society, through the economy, devalues the work of artists. Our art is a barometer of our spiritual state. By the loss of position of architecture as a communicant of cultural vitality, Christendom lost the means of creating certain durable transmissions from one age to another of its foundations, inspirations, and aspirations — of what ordered it — so that we now lack confidence to assert the very right to life of our own society. We forgot. What culture has done this and survived?

An example of a durable transmission that was begun more than a century ago is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, of the Catalán province of Spain. Its durability may consist partly in maintaining the vision of its principal architect, Antoní Gaudí through the several generations required to build it, although he died in 1926. It is still under construction. Gaudí considered himself the last Gothic. The striking pictures of his work in this post are by Wolfgang Staudt (who generously allows certain of his images to be reposted online with attribution). They barely reveal the talent granted by God to the architects of such marvels. Should this building survive the destructive evils devised in modern Western civilization, it will be a witness of our Creator to generations.

Will architecture or any other art save Western society? Not by themselves, though in a degenerate state they contribute to the fraying of culture. More importantly, vital works of visual arts inspire individuals and communities to strengthen the framework of society in their locale, to "brighten the corner where you are" as it might be phrased. As we seek and identify those works that so encourage us and collect and create a market for them we are beginning to build our culture a new base of vitality and turn it from its present course of self destruction.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sprawlanta — American Makeover Episode 1

Many of the great old neighborhoods we cherish are now illegal to build, according to zoning and land use codes imposed in the last 75 years. While we may not want obnoxious uses next to our homes, our massive municipal regulations go far beyond that and mandate over-accommodation of cars to the extent of excluding and even prohibiting other forms of transport. Some of this resulted from car makers lobbying governments to mandate certain taxes, uses, and configurations that were friendlier to automobiles than to others. This opened up huge sections of land for the middle class, but it distorted markets for transport and for real estate. Now, many recognize the desirability of varied transportation and community configurations but must overcome a regulatory morass to build them. Here's a story of one such development in the middle of Atlanta.

This approach encompasses small towns, mid-sized cities & towns, and the cores of large metropolitan regions. Here is the website of the producers of this short video. They seek funding to continue documenting this trend.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush the Mulberry Bush the Mulberry Bush!

So early in the morning: Perhaps not art, nor culture, per se, but the mulberry is certainly germane to the cultural evolution of the southern US, from the failed colonial silkworm cultivation efforts onward. It grows wild in many a Southern yard, often considered a trash tree and removed, but is a source of delectable fruit and nutritious leaves & stems. I have beaten the birds to a few to my delight.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie of San Francisco Trolley run before 1906 Quake

Seven or so minutes of silver screen reminiscence with a melancholy instrumental:
Headed towards the Ferry Building along Market Street. On the eve of their pride, you might say — not long after, San Francisco would be devastated by the infamous 1906 earthquake, killing thousands.

Alternate source:

Tip of the hat to Charles Nelson for this.