Celebration Of An Artist

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Today’s Google doodle.

It’s always an exciting day for a dancer when the Google doodle features an artist. Today’s doodle is an ode to Oskar Schlemmer on the occasion of his 130th birth anniversary, for his contributions to art, puppetry, theatre, and dance. Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school – Staatliches Bauhaus, a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined fine arts and crafts, and was recognized around the world for its approach to design. Schlemmer’s work has been described as a “rejection of the pure abstract, and retention of the human” (not in the emotional sense but in the physical structure of the human body). He represented bodies as architectural forms, where the figure was an interplay of convex, concave and flat surfaces. He was fascinated by movements the body was capable of, and captured his observations in his work.

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Oskar Schlemmer – One of the most influential aesthetes.

Schlemmer was the youngest of six children, whose parents both died before he reached his teens. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule – a vocational arts school which existed in German speaking countries in the mid-19th century. The Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart was another one of his alma maters, where he studied under the tutelage of landscape painters Christian Landenberger and Friedrich von Keller. Schlemmer moved to Berlin in 1910 where he painted some of his early works, before returning to Stuttgart in 1912 as an apprentice under Adolf Hölzel. In 1914 he enlisted to fight in WWI, and returned to work under Hölzel in 1918. Schlemmer turned to sculpture in 1919, and was invited to run the mural painting and sculpture departments at the Bauhaus school.

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“Grotesque” (1923)

This was followed by being hired as a Master Of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop in 1923, after working at their workshop of sculpture. His most famous work which brought him international recognition was the Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet) of 1922, which comprised costumed actors transformed into geometrical representations of the human body. There were three acts, three dancers and three colors, twelve scenes with eighteen costumes. He designed the costumes based on cylindrical, spherical, conical and spiral shapes – revolutionary at the time. Schlemmer described his creation as a “party of form and color”. The Triadic Ballet is viewed by many scholars and artists as a precursor to contemporary choreography and modernism.

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Costume from the Triadic Ballet, 1922

Space dance, gesture dance, rod dance, hoop dance, metal dance, form dance, scenery dance – Schlemmer used elaborate costumes in his stage ideas and transformed dancers into “artificial” figures which united dance, costume and music. Faceless female figures were the predominant subject in his paintings. He developed a multidisciplinary course at Bauhaus called “Der Mensch” (The Human Being) – a movement which celebrated his themes of the human figure in space; sitting or standing, lying down, walking or stationary. He used Cubism as a springboard for his structural studies, and was intrigued with the possibilities of figures and their relationship to the spaces around them. His characteristic forms are visible in both, his sculptures as well as his paintings. He also immersed his creative urges in stage design, and executed settings for the opera “Nightingale” and the ballet “Renard” in 1929.

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“The Dancer” (1922)

Schlemmer left Bauhaus in 1929 and joined the Akademie in Breslau where he painted one of his most celebrated works, the “Bauhaustreppe” (Bauhaus Stairway) in 1932. During WWII, he worked at the Institut für Malstoffe in Wuppertal. He produced a series of eighteen small, mystical paintings titled “Fensterbilder” (Window Pictures) in 1942, his final works before his death a year later.

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“Bauhaustreppe” (1932)

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Sources:

~www.thefutureperfect.com

~www.britannica.com

~www.bauhaus100.de

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Blogging Anniversary

This blog-site completes a year today. Woohoo!! Those of you who have been following this site for a while, would be aware that Curious Cat was the outcome of an accident I had last year. For the uninitiated, I suffered from nerve damage and was bedridden for a couple of months – the entire right leg being paralyzed from hip to foot. Being a marathoner and dancer, staying put was more difficult than the actual injury. Books, movies, art and craft, online courses came to the rescue. I did a couple of random courses on Coursera, and began learning Russian on Duolingo. Along with painting, paper quilling and various other home-made crafts, I was aching to create something more. There was too much information input and not as much energy output. I decided to start a blog to write about things I was doing – thoughts on books I read, experiences on races I had run and dance shows I had performed at; just idle ramblings on whatever came to mind.

Curious Cat was named after my pet cats, who are always interested in what’s going on. And having spent much time with all my pets during the recovery period, I noticed how snoopy cats can be – in contrast to the indifference they are usually known for. This blog was not intended to be read by anyone; just a means of putting my thoughts into words. The settings were initially set to private because I didn’t think anyone would want to read any of it. Unlike a travel blog which would interest travellers, or a fitness site that would bring in exercise enthusiasts, or cookery or book blogs which cater to specific reader groups, I have varied interests. I love all of those things and write about all of them, and much more, and that was where the dilemma lay – in finding like-minded people who also share varied interests. About two months after I started Curious Cat, two friends found out about it from a casual conversation and wanted to read. So I had to change the private settings to public. Within a few days, a large number of “followers” cropped up. I had no idea what they were “following” because my “about” section clearly mentions my ramblings, without offering anything specific to follow.

The initial write-ups centered around book reviews and art work since I was reading a lot and crafting some thing or the other at the time. I’m not from a writing background professionally and didn’t know what to write on, besides the topics that randomly came to mind. When I turned the settings public, I also chanced upon The Daily Post and the word-of-the-day they offered bloggers to write on. November and December were spent diligently writing to every word – I didn’t miss a day! I learnt new words, and expanded and expressed on the ones I knew. It was a great initiative for newbie writers, offering them a base from where to grow. Sadly, The Daily Post discontinued this endeavor within a few months of me finding out about them. But I did connect with some like-minded people through the daily prompts, and realized there were many like me who benefited tremendously as non-writers turned somewhat writers, who wanted to continue writing daily. Stephanie from Curious Steph was instrumental in bringing us all together, and in June this year we formed the Ragtag Community – seven of us from around the globe, working in different time zones to fix a word each day for bloggers to write on. The team presently comprises Sgeoil, Margaret from Pyrenees to Pennines, Tracy from Reflections of an Untidy Mind, Mary from Cactus Haiku, Gizzylaw from Talkin’ to Myself, and of course, Steph and me. The ragtaggers recently completed three months and are growing by leaps and bounds with fellow bloggers dropping in daily to share stories, poems, photographs, or just about anything related to their interpretation of the daily prompts. Each of us has our day to fix the prompt, and Margaret has given us today’s word – energy. (For those who would like to participate.)

About two months ago, some reader friends mentioned they found it difficult to navigate Curious Cat for book reviews and literature related articles. So I started Tomes and Tales – a purely literary venture for fellow bookworms. I love reading and there’s always lots to say and share about books and authors. So at the moment, I manage three blog-sites.

At current count, Curious Cat has 211 followers. I still don’t know what everyone’s following since this was never intended to be a technical blog. But I’m glad to have you all here. The stats show I published 389 articles in the last one year, and the blogging community has played a huge role in inspiring me to write more and connect with fellow readers, athletes, musicians and a plethora of individuals with varying interests. It is rightly said, good things can come out of the bad too. The accident and its aftermath was a horrible time for someone accustomed to moving about, but if not for that forced sedentary lifestyle I might never have ventured into the blogging sphere and met so many lovely people out here. Even a year later with all my energy returned, and easing into races and dance shows step by step, I still try keep up with writing almost every day. It has been great connecting with you all. Keep reading and sharing. 🙂

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Dare To Read?

So, there’s this Seven Day Book Challenge that has been doing the rounds lately. I have no idea where it started from or by whom, but people have been challenging fellow readers around the world to click and share pictures of seven of their favorite books. You need to be challenged by a friend, and in turn challenge another bibliophile to continue the game of tag. (The terms ‘nomination’ and ‘invitation’ have also been thrown around.) The criteria involves taking a photograph of only the book cover – no blurbs, quotes, excerpts, reviews, narratives of how you came across the book, who gave it to you, where you picked it up from, or any sort of explanation related to why that particular book is one among your favorites. All one needs to share is a picture of the book cover.

Now as avid readers, we always have a lot to say about our books. We would read anyways, even without being challenged. And for someone who reads about seven books in two months, identifying seven books from those read over a lifetime is quite a task. I personally don’t follow any of these “challenges” that do the rounds on social media – It means having to take out time to perform the activity, and log in daily to share updates of the same; something I don’t usually have the time for. Even when it comes to “Reading Challenges” which set themes for books to be read, I prefer setting my own reading goals. Books are always handy, though, and bookworms love showing them off – new books bought, visits to bookstores, thrift scores from second-hand shops, gifts from friends – we love sharing and seeing what others are reading which can be discussed at length if read, or added to the list if not.

Here’s what I came up with for the Seven Day Book Challenge. I read just about anything – across genres and languages – and I’m usually intuitively good at picking great reads, so most of what I read is highly recommended. I could come up with these “seven day” lists everyday! For those of you who haven’t come across this book challenge yet, the pupper above challenges you – Which seven books would you list, if you had to recommend a book for each day of the week? Here’s my list, or rather pictures since that was the requirement of the challenge.

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Footsteps To Follow

Guru Purnima is celebrated today. An eastern spiritual tradition dedicated to teachers (or gurus) – considered as enlightened human beings who share their knowledge and wisdom with others. The occasion is often considered a festival, traditionally observed to revere an individual’s chosen mentors and to express one’s gratitude.

Guru Purnima is observed on a full moon day (purnima) in the month of Ashadha (June-July) as per the Hindu calendar – the day on which Maharshi Sri Veda Vyasa was born. Hence, the day is also known as “Vyasa Purnima“. Vyasa was the one who completed the codification of the four vedas and wrote the eighteen puranas. The day marks the peak of the lunar cycle after the end of the solar cycle. Hence, the specific date varies every year. The Guru Purnima of 2018 is special due to the occurrence of the total lunar eclipse or the blood moon. Hindus refrain from performing any puja or ceremony on the day of the lunar eclipse, since no auspicious practices are undertaken during the period of the eclipse. For this reason, my dance class has scheduled the Guru Purnima ceremony for tomorrow, and my drumming school will be celebrating the occasion on Monday.

I don’t follow the rituals much since I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I try and participate in the activities. My dance form is the Indian classical style of Odissi. On Guru Purnima, our ghunghroos or ankle bells are blessed by the teacher, an offertory of fruits and flowers is made to the gods (Lord Jagannath in the case of Odissi), and the guru ties a cord on the wrist of every student, symbolic of his/her blessings. The student in turn delivers Guru Dakshina – the tradition of repaying a teacher for everything one has learnt in the course of the year. This could be monetary or non-monetary – in a dance class, students can even offer a dance performance as guru dakshina. In my drumming school, students play various percussion instruments as guru dakshina, and homage is paid to the founder of the institute. I play the doumbek, but students can select from an array of instruments – from the djembe to the tabla, the timpani, bongo or the drum kit. Thus, the ceremonies vary depending on what the teacher deems fit for his/her school and students.

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All set for tomorrow.

Follow Your Heart

‘International Yoga Day’ and ‘World Music Day’ were recently celebrated around the globe, with both occasions coinciding on the 21st of June. Yoga and Music are two subjects close to my heart. I have been a yoga practitioner for almost eighteen years now, and have dabbled in various musical instruments over the years.

A friend of mine, from the percussion class where I had learnt the doumbek, is currently in Bucharest, Romania for a gig. He uses music as an aid to travel and explore, just as I run marathons around the world – clubbing the pursuits that are dear to one’s heart. I play the doumbek as a hobby, but he is a professional musician and drummer who is equally adept at the various percussion instruments. He shared this picture just before the performance yesterday – an array of sounds contrasting the spectacular architecture of the concert venue.

When you follow your heart, the world treats you to it’s many wonders.

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Venue: Bucharest (Romania); Photographer: Omkar Salunkhe

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/rdp-23-heart/

The Reading Promise – Book Review

Title – The Reading Promise

Author – Alice Ozma

Genre – Memoir

On the weekend celebrating Father’s Day, Alice Ozma’s tribute to reading is a fitting book that highlights the parent-child relationship and the bond forged through books.

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This is not a book about books – If you’re looking for a list of titles to pick up and authors to check out, you’ll be disappointed. The Reading Promise is about the very act of reading, and how books connect people. This is a book about individuals having the quilt of their lives woven together by the books they shared. It is a tribute to the words on a page, the person who read them to you, the one you read them to, the memories associated with each book you have ever read. For Alice Ozma, reading is an act of love, and she describes her book as a love story.

When Alice was nine years old, her parents went through a separation. Her father ended up with sole custody of Alice and her sister Kath. Dad wanted the girls to know they would always be his priority no matter what. And the bibliophile that he was, he made a pact with the girls to read to them and with them everyday. Books ensured they would always be there for each other – whatever else might separate them in life, reading would be the one activity that bound them.

Kath did her own reading (she’s seven years elder to Alice), but dad and Alice took up a challenge to read together for a hundred consecutive days. This was a fun activity for a nine year old – she got to read and spend time with dad. They successfully completed the challenge and realized there was so much fun and learning on the way that they set a new target for a thousand consecutive days of reading – even giving the project a title, “The Reading Streak”. Avid readers, however, will always read – target or no target. The 1000-day goal ultimately resulted into 3,218 days – the reading streak continued for nine years, only coming to an end when Alice left home for college.

“The Reading Promise” beautifully takes us through the father-daughter relationship and the role books played in their lives. As a single father raising two daughters, dad relied on literature to get him through parenthood – according to him, anything you ever needed to know could be found in books. And this love for books is what he shared with his children. As mentioned earlier, this book is about the memories associated with books read over a lifetime. Alice’s mum’s attempted suicide, her  parents’ divorce, her sister leaving home, her first accident while driving, road trips, visits to museums – from the ages of nine to eighteen books backed her every step of the way, whether to learn how to cope from characters going through similar situations, or just as a diversion when situations got too overwhelming.

Each chapter begins with a quote from a book she was reading at that point of time. So, from a child to an adult the reader is taken through an assortment of books that grew up along with Alice (or rather helped Alice grow up).

Anyone who has been raised by bibliophile parents and grandparents, who has literally been born and brought up around books, who has tonnes of friends who are bookworms, and has in turn introduced one’s children and grandchildren to books will love “The Reading Promise”. It’s an ode to the unsaid promise that books have always been there for us and we will always be there for books. And as we share books with the people we love, we promise them that we will always be there for them. Books, and the memories of reading them, are treasures we entrust to our loved ones. A reading family will identify with this greatly. (Even Alice Ozma’s name has a literary story behind it – Dad went all out right from the time of his children’s births.)

“The Reading Promise” was written when Alice was twenty-two years old. (Hence the tagline of the “promise made thirteen years ago”.) The writing is simplistic and childlike – not intended as a literary marvel but more as a compilation of the bookish antics of the father-daughter duo. Read this if you have bonded over books with your parents/children. A fabulous read for all bookworms, though fathers and daughters will particularly enjoy this one. A single father raising daughters and using literature as a medium to have “the talk”. Or dad showing up at the theatre because rehearsals have gone on too late, and arguing with the director that it’s nearing midnight and the day’s reading is pending. Alice’s writing strikes a chord of how protective dads can be, no matter the age of the daughter – that eagle eye will always be on the lookout for “injustices” (however trivial they might be). As it pays tribute to this special bond and the role books play in the equation, this is a must-read, on Father’s Day or any day.

P.S. There is a detailed list of books the pair read over nine years, compiled at the end of the book. At a glance, it literally reflects how the father raised his children  through books and how their reading choices evolved over the years.

Rating – 5/5

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/rdp-16-target/

Eat Well. Live Simply. Laugh Often.

Wow! Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt brought back some old college memories. This blog is a fun site for the hobbies and activities I like to share with the world (and also connect with like-minded individuals to learn from and grow on the way). I try not to keep my posts too technical for the benefit of my followers who are following and reading about my myriad pursuits. For those of you who are so used to being bombarded by books, running and dance articles, I do have a professional life besides all of these. (Time management is the key!) I am a nutritionist by profession, though I try to keep this blog fun by avoiding too many serious posts. So don’t worry! We’ll stick to tradition and keep this write-up light as well.

Our prompt for today “julienne” transported me to those years of university classes. I majored in Food Technology, Nutrition and Dietetics with a specialization in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) and Sports Nutrition, along with a super specialization in Diabetes Education. Nutrition therapy, however, is not just about planning and prescribing diets on paper but also cooking each of the meals you plan. Principles of food science need to be applied to account for changes in food composition in raw versus cooked foods, meals should be an assorted mix of colors and textures in addition to being palatable. Each food preparation was rated on a “sensory evaluation” chart – an individual score for each parameter (taste, smell, visual appeal etc.), followed by an overall score by adding up the individual gradings.

The cooking practical classes were quite something! Now I’m quite good with my gross motor skills (lifting, punching, jumping), but my fine motor skills are another matter altogether. I’m capable enough to paint, sketch, embroider or engage in any miscellaneous art and craft, but finely dicing and chopping ingredients, applying decorative piping onto cakes or muffins, or cutting vegetables into julienne strips were an enormous task. I still wonder how I got through university exams. (Maybe I made up in theory.)

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https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/14/protected-julienne/

RDP #13 – SMORGASBORD

How has the week been shaping up in the blogging world? We’re on Wednesday – my day for picking the prompts (woohoo!!) For the benefit of those (like myself) who were following the Weekly Photo Challenge in addition to the daily prompts, I’m proposing a word that can be used either way. At the moment we don’t have a separate page for the photo challenges, but I loved participating in the photo challenges and have selected a prompt that can be attempted for writing and/or photography.

Today’s chosen word is “smorgasbord“. What comes to your mind when you think of the word and the ways it can be used? Formulate a write-up describing the word and/or a photograph depicting what lends meaning to the word – let’s have your thoughts on “smorgasbord“.

To those participating in the daily prompts, use “ragtag daily prompt”, “RDP”, and “smorgasbord” as tags so your posts are easily accessible to fellow bloggers. For those contributing photos, use “weekly photo challenge” in addition to the other three prompts.

Being a Wednesday, you are invited to post two blogs if you want – one describing the word in text, and a separate one for the photo. Or you could just club the two. The photo option is specially for those who actively participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Here’s the link to the ragtag community page – post all your blogs there so fellow bloggers following the prompts can find you.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/rdp-13-smorgasbord/comment-page-1/#comments

Happy reading, writing, photographing, sharing. We love to hear and see it all!

Here’s my contribution for the Wednesday photo challenge using the prompt:

https://curiouscat99.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/tomes-and-travels/

 

RDP #9 – RAGABASH

Ragtag Daily Prompt of the day : Ragabash

Ragabash : scoundrel, ragamuffin, idle worthless fellow, shiftless disreputable person.  Mass noun: rabble or riff-raff

Create a new post inspired by today’s prompt.

Use “RDP”, “Ragtag Daily Prompt”, and “Ragabash” as tags.  Create a pingback to Ragabash. Alternately, copy your link in the comments below.  Do give pingbacks a little time to be approved as they need to be moderated to avoid spammers.

FYI: Ragabash is not in the offficial Scrabble dictionary but is in Oxford and in the 1913 Webster’s which  Wikitionary is based upon.

Just a reminder – Our team of ragtag volunteers has launched the new site where all the prompts and posts of the day are on one common platform. Do follow the page below:

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/09/rdp-9-ragabash/

RDP #8 – PICKLE

The weekend’s here and the ragtag community has successfully completed a week since it’s inception. Steph from Curious Steph kicks off Week Two with the word of the day – “pickle”. 

Let’s sharpen those writing skills using today’s prompt. For those who missed the news, the ragtag volunteers have set up a site to unify all the prompts. Kindly follow the link below to the new ragtag community and share your posts on that page – we made it easier to connect with fellow bloggers.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/rdp-9-pickle/

Here’s my post on today’s prompt:

https://curiouscat99.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/friday-fun-pickles-with-brian-crane/