Surviving Prosperity – Wealth #2

 

I hope you survive day #2 of Wealth Week!

 

wealth #2 2014

 

The Good Old Poor Days

One of the things you can be most confident of when listening to an older couple talk about their lives together is that there will eventually be a moment in the story telling when one of them says, “We had nothing and were broke almost all the time, but we had love and fun in our household.”  It’s not a universal, and there are people who will also say those days were terrible.  But many will look back fondly on having overcome the adversity of little money, a crappy apartment, a lousy first job, or any number of other things that can befall us. 

When my first wife and I started our family we lived in a pretty crappy 90 year old rental home in downtown San Jose, California. There was 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, a pretty ugly backyard. We had mostly hand-me-down furniture and inexpensive or handmade clothing and other items around the house.  The 3 girls all lived in the same room. I worked 3 jobs, my wife worked one on and off, and we barely made ends meet. But still it worked out pretty well, the kids were happy and we enjoyed our lives.

The Bad New Rich Days

We moved to Oklahoma in 1994 when I got a new job. The cost of living was SO LOW that we were able to buy a big 4 bedroom house for the same price we were paying rent.  We weren’t wealthy by any means, but we certainly were prospering compared to back in San Jose.  And with that came not more satisfaction, but more dissatisfaction.  My wife reached her relationship breaking point with me within a few years of being in Tulsa and the marriage broke apart as a result.  

There were other elements to the break up besides money, but my wife especially was more than a little uncomfortable with a bigger house in the suburbs and all that went with it. As a matter of fact, when we separated she bought a very small house much more like the one we had in San Jose than the bigger suburban house were were living in.   This was partly due to finances of course, but it was also the type of house she had mentioned she wanted many times as we drove around the Tulsa area in the years before our split.

Question:

Why is it that many of us have such a hard time with prosperity? What is it that happens to make us more dissatisfied when logically everything should be pointing us to a greater level of satisfaction?

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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote is mine and is an interpretation of a longer quote by Alan Gregg

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“Humans are great at surviving adversity, not so great at surviving prosperity”

The Moment of Good Fortune – Wealth #1

 

It’s the start of a new Wealth Week (I did one in 2011 that these will be added to) and I have a question.  We alway think wealth is filled with positives, but it can also be a test. Have you had great abundance of some sort come upon you quickly or unexpectedly?  Maybe it was money, or maybe it was property or some other material thing or a relationship that gave you much more than you ever could have hoped for.

What was your response? Was it a trial? What did you learn from it?

 

Wealth #1 2014

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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Lew Wallace, 1827, 1905, American statesman and author of ‘Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ’

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“A human is never so on trial as in the moment of excessive good fortune”

Laughter and Friendship – Laughter #5

 

It’s the end of Laughter.  Well, my series on it at least.

laughter #4

 

The Best

Recently an online acquaintance of mine, Deana Silk, moved 100 miles away to Oklahoma City from Tulsa.  She is friends with a number of my friends, so her departure was well documented in social media with photos of going away parties and lunches that I saw in my various feeds.  She has also been a well-known local newscaster here in Tulsa for 10+ years so there were on-air remembrances of her time at the station where she worked as well.

There were tears in the pictures and tears on the set.  But what was more in abundance than the tears were the smiles and laughs. I mean BIG SMILES AND BIG LAUGHS. Not only does Deana have a great smile and laugh but everyone around her did as well. I didn’t need to be at the parties to see how much fun they all had together. And the on-air remembrances, while mentioning her professional capabilities (which are substantial), were more focused on the fun they all had together on the set and on location.  

The Good and the Bad

Watching that move from afar made me think how much happier someone is when they depart with smiles and laughs than when they don’t.  I moved across the country with my family in 1994 and the departure from San Jose, California was filled with happy laughs and great remembrances.  But I also have been in a job where I had to be walked out the door (as is common in corporate offices) on the day I was let go. There was no joyous laughter, just a lonely walk out the door, cut off from a proper ending.  That sucks when that happens and I have seen it happen way too many times.

The Worst

But there is an even worse scenario, and that is when you are leaving and no one cares, perhaps because there were very few smiles or laughs. That would suck even more.  How do you avoid something like that?  Well, the key is in Deana’s on-air remembrances.  Her time on the job was filled with that joy and laughter. She engaged and had fun with her co-workers all through the years, even as she met her professional responsibilities.  In other words, it was an accumulation of love, not just a moment of it.

The Best Again

Just for fun, here is a clip of the going away party for the CEO of Net-A-Porter.  Take a look and think how much he was loved and how much laughter and joy had to been given and received over the years. Oh, and be glad you aren’t the man or woman who follows in his footsteps!

 

 

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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Oscar Wilde

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Robin Williams – Laughter #4

 

I was already in the midst of doing a series on laughter when I heard of Robin William’s death.  There was no reason to change course.

 

laughing #4

 

The Balance

As with many around the planet, I am not just surprised by the news of Robin William’s passing but am surprised by how emotional his death is for me.  I see again and again over the past 24 hours people talking and posting and responding to the event by stating flatly their shock, then their sadness, then their remembrance of how he moved them in his various character portrayals.

As I was watching one of the morning programs giving their headlines over to his death in a way not usually reserved for celebrities I was almost brought to tears.  But then there was a huge shock. The next story? About the emergency food and water drop in Iraq and the brutal, cruel, barbaric killing going on there. The one after that? The continuing rise in deaths from Ebola.  After that? The riot and aftermath in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of an unarmed teen at the hands of a police officer.

Report after report of the most brutal events came, one after another. And then it hit me.  There is such a frail balance between joy and sorrow in the world. When you hear and see about such terrible atrocities around the globe, you really rely on those people and events that give you joy to balance it out.  Having Robin Williams depart is a big blow to that balance for me.  The emotion is even greater because it’s as if all his joyful characters left as well.  Luckily, that is not the case, they are on film to be seen for a long time. But the spark that created those characters is gone, and that is almost just as sad.

The Depth

While we love comedy and laughter, and it helps us balance out the pain in the world or in our own lives, it’s important to realize that laughter will never truly mask pain permanently. Pain will find a way out, either directly or indirectly.  The more you attempt to go around pain, the farther and scarier your journey to healing actually becomes. It’s tough to face it directly and honestly we all find ways to avoid it if we can, but eventually we have to face it and the sooner we do, the stronger we will be.

From Ebony of Perth

I found the quote I used while reading a blogging friend’s heartfelt response to his death.  It touched me because of how it connected William’s death to her own personal story of her father’s death.  Here is what she wrote.

For Robin’s family, there may never be a silver lining evident. As someone who has lost my dad to suicide, I want people to know that even in dark times, there is light to be found. 

I found out that my dad died the day after MJ passed and virtually suffered in silence as the world mourned a controversial celebrity. He had sent me a message I never replied to and have not been capable of reading since. Despite that, it does get better. We can all heal together.

Today there may be no blessings for Robin’s family. The majority of the world are far enough away from the loss, to be able to see that this can be a lesson on mental health and the fucked up stigma surrounding it.

The shiniest angels sometimes have the darkest demons. What goes up must come down. Ask for help and offer it whenever you feel is right. The answer to an unasked question is always no and ignorance is not bliss any more. Unless you felt good when you heard.

We have lost a warrior, we have not lost the war. May his memory rest in peace and his works remain in history forever.

You can find out more about Ebony of Perth at her website, The Adventures of Ebony

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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote and quoted story by Ebony Arwen, 1992 – not dead yet, Australian writer and blogger

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Mary Cassatt – Artists I Love

In spite of their popularity during my lifetime, I’ve never been a huge fan of many of the Impressionists.  But there are a few that I have loved from the first time I saw their work; Degas, Manet, Caillebotte.   Ranking in that top group is the only American and only one of two women (the other being Berthe Morisot)  to break into the ranks of first generation Impressionists, Mary Cassatt.  She is an artist I love.

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Mary Cassatt

Today, she is best known for her domestic scenes of mother and child such as the two below.

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Maternity, 1890

 

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At the Window, 1889, Pastel on Paper

But, as is typical of most artists, what she was most famous for was not her style at the beginning of her career.  She first painted images using a low intensity palette of color, with grays and browns predominating, as was the fashion in the Paris Salon. The subject matter was somewhat theatrical and staged, removed from elements of everyday life, much like a studio portrait photograph is now.

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Toreador, 1873

 

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Spanish Dancer Wearing Lace Mantilla, 1873, Oil on Canvas

 

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Portrait of a Woman, 1872, Oil on Canvas

As refined and polished as these paintings are, you can see in the unfinished double portrait below that she had a very exciting and vibrant brush stroke underlying her work.

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Sketch of Mrs. Curry and Sketch of Mr. Cassatt (upside down), 1871

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Transformation

Between the early 1870s, when these paintings were created and exhibited at the official Salon in Paris and the late 1870s, Cassatt had an artistic transformation. The catalyst for this transformation was her interaction with a fellow artist, Edgar Degas. 

Edgar Degas, 1865

Edgar Degas, 1865

Degas, 10 years older than Cassatt, first saw her work at her studio in 1877 and immediately invited her to be part of the ‘independents’ exhibition of artists known as ‘Impressionists’ (a name neither of them ever liked).  However, before they had ever met, Cassatt had been enthralled by a number of pastel drawings of Degas she had seen in a storefront window.  It was this first brush with his style that freed her to pursue a new direction in her own.

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Mary by Edgar

Degas painted Cassatt at least 8 times, including this one at the Opera.  Interesting to note the social commentary Degas added to the painting with the older gentleman in the background looking at Cassatt as she looks at the stage.

Cassatt_Mary_At_The_Opera

‘Mary Cassatt at the Opera’ by Edgar Degas, 1879

__________________________   Degas used this one drawing of Cassatt as a basis for at least 3 other paintings and drawings. 

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‘Mary Cassatt at the Louvre’, by Edgar Degas, 1879, Pastel

Here’s one of them.

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‘Mary Cassatt at the Louvre’, by Edgar Degas, 1885, Pastel and Etching

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At the Opera

She also depicted herself at the theater.

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Self Portrait at the Theater, 1879, Oil on Canvas

_________________________   This one is not designated a self-portrait as far as I can tell, but the face does look very similar to Cassatt so I think it’s a good bet it is of her. 

Mary_Cassatt_Woman_with_a_Pearl_Necklace_in_a_Loge_1879

Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge, 1879, Oil on Canvas

The one below is not a self-portrait but is of interest because of her experimentation with metallic paint amidst the more traditional material.

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At The Theater, 1878, Pastel and Gouache

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The Experimentalist

Cassatt was a rigorous experimentalist with her art. She not only embraced a then radical painting style, but she also investigated many areas outside her realm of expertise.  She often used the same image (as do many artists), transforming it by using different media. First is a quick sketch of a scene at the Opera.  This could very likely have been done at the actual opera house.

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The Loge, 1878, graphite on paper

________________________   She then returned to her studio and created an oil painting of the scene.

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The Loge, 1878, Oil on Canvas

__________________   She then created two entirely new pieces using the printmaking techniques of Etching and Aquatint.

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The Loge, 1878, Etching and Aquatint

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The Loge, 1878, Etching and Aquatint

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The Japanese 

In 1890 an exhibition of Japanese prints came to Paris.  When Cassatt saw the show she was immediately taken by the graceful simplicity of line and color. She started in on a series of prints influenced by this style.  She embraced this style and recreated it with a modern French sensibility.

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The Child’s Bath, 1893, Etching and Aquatint

Once again, you can see her experimenting. In this case she uses the same Intaglio plate, to print different versions of the same image. 

the-childs-bath2-cassatt-1893

The Child’s Bath, 1893, Etching and Aquatint

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Mary_Cassatt_Under_the_Horse-Chestnut_Tree_1898

Under the Horse Chestnut Tree, 1898, Etching and Aquatint

 

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Woman Bathing, 1890, Drypoint and Aquatint

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The Fitting, 1891, Etching and Aquatint

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The Coiffure, 1891, Etching and Aquatint

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Later work

Mary Cassatt became a very famous and respected artist and collector of art. She was award the Legion d’honneur by France in 1904 for her contribution to the arts. She continued to paint well into the 20th century. Her style by that time was set and she did little further experimentation.  Her subject matter from 1900 on was almost exclusively domestic scenes of mothers and children.

youngmothersewing-1900

Young Mother Sewing, 1900

 

Reine Lefebre and Margot Before a Window, 1902, Oil on Canvas

Reine Lefebre and Margot Before a Window, 1902, Oil on Canvas

She even had 2 prints in the famous 1913 Armory show in New York City.  However, by 1914 she was blind and ceased to paint. She died in 1926.   Ironically, her reputation in the US was not nearly as grand as it was in France. She was overshadowed by her brother, a railroad magnate, and had an unfortunate split with her sister-in-law over women’s suffrage. As a result her family boycotted an exhibition of her work in Philadelphia. This led her to donate her vast collection of her paintings still in her possession to museums and not her heirs. ___________________   Summer 2014

Winter 2012/2013

Winter 2011/2012

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