Friday, September 18, 2009

Amedeo Modigliani

I knew nothing of the personal life of Amedeo Modigliani when first introduced to his art in college. Only later, after reading his biography, did I learn about the man and a life of sickness, poverty, and addiction. Dead of tuberculosis before the age of thirty-six, Modigliani had only one solo exhibition in his lifetime, and gave away many of his paintings for food.

No introduction to his art was needed. The pain, sorrow and dark beauty of his life were present full force in his paintings, making an immediate and profound impression. Yet there is another element of Modigliani's work that I find particularly appealing. I cannot look at his sublime portraits of women without also feeling a sense of allure, a hint of danger, and, above all, mystery. And isn't that, after all, what we look for in women.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Watery Heart of Florida

My friend and I made another and this time slower trip down to West Palm Beach. I'm happy to say that the Atlantic Ocean continues to surge ashore in Palm Beach County. The Gulf of Mexico still flows under the magnificent Sunshine Skyway bridge into Tampa Bay.

Lake Okeechobee I'm not so sure about. In two trips, we have yet to glimpse the full expanse of the 730 square mile lake. Surrounded by a 30 foot dike after a devastating 1928 hurricane, the Lake lies hidden from view for most of its circumference.

We stopped at the Clewiston boat launch and climbed to the levee's top, expecting to see miles and miles of big water. No luck, the view was blocked by huge grassy islands dredged up by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Driving home Sunday, we passed through the town of Okeechobee on the Lake's north shore. Friends said the Lake's vastness could be enjoyed from the town fishing pier. Lake Okeechobee is a natural wonder of Florida and headwaters for the mysterious River of Grass, the Everglades. The only mystery we found was a total lack of directions or advertisements for the Lake.

After driving up and down country roads, we gave up and continued west into the flat belly of Florida. Once home, Google Maps informed me that we were only two turns away from the road to the Lake. The big watery heart of the state lies contained, waiting for our return or perhaps a Catagory 5 visitor.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Take Me To The Water

The idea sounded simple enough and fun - deliver a bunch of artwork to the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach and return in time to watch the sun set while crossing the Sunshine Skyway. My friend Melissa and I had hopes of success, but rain, photo opps, and detours in Belle Glade conspired against us.

Landscapes along the way more than made up for the missed sunset. Seeing the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Okeechobee, and the Atlantic Ocean in one day became the icing on my journey. In between, massive thunderstorms rolled over endless fields of sugar cane. And the stark contrasts of Palm Beach County - rows of migrant worker shacks in sugar cane towns and thirty minutes further on, the million dollar mansions of Palm Beach.

As a lifelong Cracker Boy, I thought I had seen most of this fascinating state, but drive away from the crowded coasts and bits of Audubon's Florida still exist. The Fakahatchee Strand lies in wait.