Wednesday, December 12, 2012

EARLY in 1939, Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist most famous for depicting the arid Southwest, suddenly decided to paint America’s diametrically opposite landscape — the lush tropical valleys of Hawaii.  In an era when advertisers often hired fine artists to add a touch of class to their campaigns, the “least commercial artist in the U.S.” (as Time Magazine described her) was persuaded by the Dole pineapple company to visit the remote Pacific archipelago and produce two canvases.  Despite initial reservations about the project, her many letters back home show that her experience of the then little-known Territory of Hawaii was a revelation.  O’Keeffe ended up spending nine weeks on different islands, of which by far the most productive and vivid period was on Maui, where she was given complete freedom to explore and paint.  When O’Keeffe arrived, Hana was a thriving community of 3,500 people.  Its six sugar plantations attracted a cosmopolitan mix of Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Portuguese, Pacific islanders and native Hawaiian workers, with two cinemas, three barbershops, several restaurants and a pool hall.  Although the last plantation closed in 1946, memories of the glory days linger.  On the volcanic sand beach, a crumbling jetty still extends into the surf, with railway tracks for loading the sugar boats still visible.  Back in Manhattan, O’Keeffe completed a series of 20 sensual, verdant paintings.  Dole advertising executives were exasperated to learn that she had painted almost everything except pineapples, including papaya trees, heliconia plants and even fishhooks.  So the company had a whole fresh pineapple couriered to her by seaplane, which she graciously did paint.  Artistically, the trip was a success, and Alfred Stieglitz’s Madison Avenue gallery, An American Place, was turned into a “madhouse” by fans eager to see the new collection — a “health-giving” dose of Pacific color and sunshine — when it was displayed in the freezing February of 1940.  The critic for The New York Sun noted that the works “testify to Miss O’Keeffe’s ability to make herself at home anywhere.”  Many of the attractions of the Hana district are easy to find:  the black sand beaches with wild lava formations and lush rain forests extend along the coastline, and the natural swimming pools of Oheo Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, are a clearly signposted part of the Kipahulu section of the Haleakala National Park.  Hamoa Beach, just south of town, is renowned as one of the most beautiful and pristine in Maui.  Tony Perrottet

The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system.  It is based on the Early Cyrillic, which was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School.  It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, past and present, in parts of the Balkans and Northern Eurasia, especially those of Slavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian.  As of 2011 around 252 million people in Europe and Asia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages.  About half of them are in Russia.  Cyrillic is one of the most used writing systems in the world.  Cyrillic is derived from the Greek uncial script, augmented by ligatures and consonants from the older Glagolitic alphabet and Old Bulgarian for sounds not found in Greek.  It is named in honor of the two Byzantine Greek brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on.  Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius.  With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official script of the European Union, following the Latin and Greek scripts.  See history and letters of the Cyrillic alphabet at:

The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review   See 100 Notable Books of 2012 published Nov. 27, 2012 at:

When Laurent de Brunhoff was a boy in Paris, his mother began telling him and his younger brother, Mathieu, a bedtime story about an elephant named Babar who flees a hunter in Africa and goes traveling around the world, before returning and becoming the King of the Jungle.  “We loved it,” recalled Mr. de Brunhoff, 87.  “And my father, Jean, who was a painter, was taken by the idea of doing some illustrations.”  The illustrations turned into a book, the book turned into a series, and translations turned it into practically the most popular French cultural export besides the Chanel jacket.  (It celebrated its 80th anniversary in Paris this year with shows at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Bibliothèque Nationale.)  Then, at the tender age of 21 (nine years after his father died of tuberculosis), Mr. de Brunhoff picked up the torch with his first book, “Babar’s Cousin:  That Rascal Arthur.”  He is currently completing what he guesses is his 49th book, “Babar on Paradise Island.”   Jacob Bernstein 

Stephen Crane (1871–1900) is an American novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist.  Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism.  He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation.  The eighth surviving child of Methodist Protestant parents, Crane began writing at the age of four and had published several articles by the age of 16.  Having little interest in university studies, he left school in 1891 and began work as a reporter and writer.  Crane's first novel was the 1893 Bowery tale Maggie:  A Girl of the Streets, which critics generally consider the first work of American literary Naturalism.  He won international acclaim for his 1895 Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, which he wrote without any battle experience.   Search the poems of Stephen Crane at:

On March 17, 2012 in Keller Hall at UNM, Albuquerque's contemporary chamber ensemble, Chatter 20-21, presented the world premiere of "Spaces of Night," a, 18-minute song cycle for organ, strings and mezzo-soprano, based on poems by Stephen Crane.  New Mexico composer Frederick Frahm. commissioned by the Albuqerque chapter of the American Guild of Organists, was the composer.

After failing to entice even thrift-store shoppers, the next stop for an unwanted book is often the landfill.  Thousands, if not millions, wind up on the heap every year.  “It’s just a tremendous amount,” said Steve Grossman, the president of Creative Green Marketing, a Westerville, Ohio-based recycling broker and processor.  The company’s sister operation,, announced a partnership with Goodwill Columbus that aims to dent the flow and return more old tomes to pulp.  Individuals, schools, libraries and other organizations now can drop off unwanted books at any Goodwill donation center or retail store in Franklin County and know that they will be properly recycled, Grossman said.  Goodwill officials say they are regularly asked to accept book donations but generally had a market only for in-demand titles in the thrift stores.  “A lot just did not sell,” said Josh Schilder, the retail-operations manager.  Grossman said he thinks the new book-acceptance and recycle plans will boost donations to Goodwill and help generate money for the nonprofit organization, which serves people with disabilities and other challenges. and Green Marketing will pay for the recyclable books by the pound.   Rita Price

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