Saturday, January 13, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thin Man Movies

Thanks to Turner Classic Movies and my DVR, I was able to watch the six Thin Man movies in chronological order as a fantastic way to ring in a new year in 2018. It is Classic Hollywood - William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man Movies. The Thin Man (1934) was shot over a mere two weeks on a shoestring and conceived by MGM as a B-movie. It became a franchise over six films while the country worked its way through the depression and WWII. Director W.S. Van Dyke’s casting coup of Powell and Loy paid off and The Thin Man was a surprise smash. The Thin Man movies adhere to a rigid formula. They gave people what they wanted, over and over again. Nick attempts to just relax and drink away the afternoon is disrupted again and again by a sudden murder mystery. Reluctantly, and with a big push from Nora, he takes the case, outpacing the actual detective investigating.
Of course one needs to suspend one’s disbelief and movie-viewing cynicism as crime scenes are violated, political correctness is compromised, justice is obstructed, women are objectified, nightclub/party goers are over-served and plots twist.  All that said, it is a pleasure of black & white escapism and entertainment to binge watch Nick and Nora as the formula plays out and all ends well.

The Thin Man (1934), After the Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) and The Song of the Thin Man (1947)…

Happy New Year!  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Raphael Angels

The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting on canvas and represents one of the last works Raphael would complete. In the complete work, the Virgin Mary stands upon a cloud holding the Christ child. The Madonna is accompanied by Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara. The cherubim, arguably the most famous in the world, are located at the very bottom of the painting. The work was nearly destroyed during World War II as the allies bombed the German city of Dresden, but was thankfully saved by Russian forces. Though shortly held by the Soviet Union, the painting has since returned to Germany where it be seen in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. 

Note: This painting left an impression on me somewhat indirectly. A print of the Madonna painting hung in in my parent's bedroom in our home in Lakewood, a west side suburb in Cleveland. Years later I took a picture of my kids at home in Raleigh, NC (around 1992). In 2016 these two angels introduced us to Lawton (Robert Lawton Dewey) and James Benjamin Morgan. 

Poetry Before Breakfast

The content of this book of poetry would not be possible without family and dear friends. It is a compilation of reflections since the passing of my parents: mom in 2011 and dad in 2013; the wedding of my children in 2012 and 2014; and birth of two grandchildren in 2016.
2016 will forever be marked as vintage because of you.
We are watching everything you say and everything you do.
As you grow, live, learn, seek fortune and fame;
We will always, always, always love you Lawton and James.

It took loss, weddings and the miracle of birth and renewal to recognize the circle of life happening around me. The incomparable Toby Stevens, my mother-in-law has been instrumental in so many celebrations, some of which are honored in this book of poems. This book is dedicated to her.
Dave Cox of Sandbox Creative in Webster Groves is amazing at helping to make a project like this a reality. More than just the design and layout of Poetry Before Breakfast Dave Cox encouraged me to make it happen. I am forever grateful for Dave.

So it is the juxtaposition of sadness and joy inside a half dozen years that forms a core composition I felt compelled to publish. Looking back on my siblings as they make their way on their respective life paths adds additional perspective. Finally, a bitter sweet seasoning is sprinkled in the mix from watching some exceptional and special people learn about the world while trying to find their respective places in it.

I hope you will enjoy the book. Chances are you will want to celebrate with your families and friends a poem or two of your own. Go to and order the book (available in hard cover and paperback). Live. Love. Enjoy.  

Poetry Before Breakfast was published in 2017. Failure Coach, a novel by Wes Morgan was published in 2015.    

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Wonder, Roman, A Who Done It and Lady Bird

Wonder (based on the R.J. Palacio novel) is a movie targeting tweens that follows a year in fifth grade with Auggie who was born with a genetic abnormality which required him to undergo surgeries and medical treatments. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play the parents and the movie is saccharin sweet with too many tear jerking moments and spoon fed life lessons. Predictable and formulaic. Sheesh, even the family dog dies. In the end, we get a full school auditorium applauding the brave young Auggie. An emotional lift but maybe the world is not all that kind. 
Roman J. Israel, Esq.  is the kind of movie you expect to have redeeming value but it misses the mark. Denzel Washington chose this lifeless story as his follow-up to his Oscar-nominated performance in August Wilson’s Fences. Denzel is Roman, a lawyer in a two-man criminal defense law firm in Los Angeles when his partner, William Jackson is admitted to the hospital. Roman now is front man in criminal cases in the face of an uncertain future. And, oh yeah, he has well researched idea about a movement for landmark legal reform.    

Murder on the Orient Express is star studded production with Kenneth Branagh as the world-famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s novel. Branagh, the star and director behind the digitally-enhanced stab at bringing this ensemble vehicle back to life. Who done it? Well, everyone is guilty in this one.
Lady Bird is written and directed by Greta Gerwig and stars Saoirse Ronan as 17-year-old Christine, aka the self-proclaimed Lady Bird, who impatiently expresses her post-graduation intention to flee from her staid Sacramento and take off to the East Coast “where the culture is.” She derides her hometown as the “Midwest of California”. She lands her opportunity to go to college in NYC and only then does she fully appreciate her home town and her mom.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Yvonne Osei

The 2017 Kransberg Exhibition Series presents Tailored Landscapes at the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center at Laumeier Sculpture Park. The opening on Saturday November 4, 2017 is a treat. The exhibition is installed in a way this space has yet to have experienced. Minutes before the doors opened the artist was cutting pieces of the large scale photography based installation on the ceiling in the entryway. But as people arrive there is a joy in the room that leverages Osei’s “Tailored Landscapes” that allow visitors to step into the work and engage. Families and art enthusiasts are challenged to see the textures of the sculpture park in new ways.

Yvyonne Osei was born in Germany of Ghanaian parentage. She got her MFA at Washington University in 2016. Her exhibition here cannot project fully what this artist will accomplish in her lifetime. But it is for certain that she is the sort of personality that helps us see the beauty in texture, patterns and repetition. The sort of critical eye that sees a sculpture park as a pallet that can be repurposed and applied to atmosphere and apparel.

I am planning to visit the Lambert Airport to see evidence of what this artist has to say in Africa Clothe Me Bare, Saint Louis IV 2017 which will be on view at the St. Louis Lambert Airport somewhere near the baggage claim while so many travelers will be looking to get somewhere for Thanksgiving. Thanks to Osei, some people will stop and see.

I was especially inspired by the impression Yvonne Osei had on young visitor to the exhibition who instinctively understood the art and iconic imagery and how we see ourselves and how we see the world around us.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Playground Bugs by Huck

Tom Huck has owned and operated Evil Prints since 1995. Huck (b. December 9, 1971 in Farmington, MO grew up in Potosi) received a BFA in drawing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1993. He lives in St. Louis. He is best known for his large scale woodcuts. His imagery draws heavily upon the influence of Albrecht Durer, Jose Guadalupe Posada, R. Crumb and Honore Daumier. Huck’s woodcut prints are included in numerous public and private collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Spencer Museum of Art, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum. Milwaukee Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Fogg Art Museum and New York Public Library
So it makes all the sense in the world to commission Huck to make some playground equipment for Laumeier Sculpture Park – not a place known for swing sets and slides, right? Maybe not, but here sits three of Huck’s Bugs adjacent to the children’s pavilion and not more than a hundred yards from works by Donald Lipski, Fletcher Benton and Donald Judd.