Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Flashcard Contest at Sycamore Review

2015 Flashcard Flash Fiction Contest

Judged in-house.
First Prize: $100, publication online, and publication on a Flashcard that will be distributed with Sycamore Review at AWP


Submission Deadline: February 1, 2015 (Contest opens January 1, 2015)
1. For each submission, send a piece of flash fiction of no more than 500 words.
2. A reading fee of $5 (submitted online) must accompany each submission.
3. Additional flash pieces may be submitted for an additional reading fee of $5 for per piece. Please submit each piece individually.
4. Manuscript pages should be numbered and should include the title of the piece.
5. All entries will be read blind. Information that identifies the author should NOT appear on the manuscript itself.
6. All pieces of flash fiction must be previously unpublished.
7. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable only if Sycamore Review is notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.
8. Each flash piece will be read by two Sycamore Editors, with the winner selected by editorial vote.
9. All contest submissions will be considered for regular inclusion in Sycamore Review.
10. When submitting, be sure to select the Flashcard Prize option in our Submissions Manager.
Once your work has been submitted, you will be redirected to our secure payment website. Submissions will not be considered without an accompanying payment.
If you are not redirected for payment, chances are you accidentally submitted through the regular submission channel. If this is the case, withdraw your submission and resubmit, being careful to select the Flashcard Prize option.  In the event the automatic redirect doesn’t work, or you have any problems getting to the payment area, try this direct link.
Questions may be directed to

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Feathers Will Fly

Rarely have I walked into a room where I felt an emotional coldness, a sense of dread, abandon all hope. Except perhaps a haunted house.

Through the ages there have been rooms. The grand duke Franz Ferdinand had a room devoted to his game hunting skills. Approximately 100,000 trophies were on exhibit at his Bohemian castle.

Wealthy industrialists have sought to have rooms reconstructed after the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Henry Clay Frick who made his money from coke (coal) had installed in his Fifth Avenue mansion panels painted by Fragonard, “The Cycle of Love”, with a drawing room designed around them in 1915/16. The boiseries, or painted wall panels, were designed and executed in Paris by Auguste Decour in the Louis XVI style.
There have been rooms inspired by Japanese aesthetics or by nature. Frank Lloyd Wright designed his house/studio around a willow tree that would eventually “grow” in the front entryway.

Indeed one can easily identify a Wright room or one designed by William Morris of the Arts & Crafts movement with its lush wallpapers and floral window treatments.
Or rooms arranged around a specific time period.Such as "modern."

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) decorated his congressional office Downton Abbey style—and immediately resigned for “unknown” reasons but largely due to spending controversies.

So there is a history of rooms—both infamous/famous. One such room is the Peacock Room designed by James McNeill Whistler for his patron at the time, Frederick R. Leyland, a wealthy shipping magnate from Liverpool.
During the early 1870s Whistler was a regular fixture at Speke Hall the Leyland country residence where he did pen and ink drawings of Mrs. Leyland and her three daughters. Whistler described himself as a “never-ending guest.” Not only was Leyland a patron, but a friend and Whistler was a favorite of the whole family.

Sometime later about 1876 Leyland “commissioned” Whistler to design/paint the dining room at his Kensington, London townhouse. Whistler threw himself into the work. Over the fireplace was hung Whistler’s painting, Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, to serve as the focal point of the room. The room was actually under the direction of Thomas Jeckyll who was instructed to create a space to display Leyland’s porcelain collection. Jeckyll fell ill and Whistler took over, going above and beyond with his flourishes and expenditures. All while Leyland was away.

Whistler covered the leather wallpaper with a blue/green color and coated the ceiling with imitation gold leaf, over which he painted a lush pattern of peacock feathers. He gilded Jeckyll’s walnut shelving and embellished the wooden shutters with four magnificently plumed peacocks.  He wrote to Leyland that the dining room was “alive with beauty.” This was the Gilded Age famous for its excesses. So who would be surprised???

When Leyland returned . . . he was shocked. At first Leyland refused to pay, then wrote a check for half of the amount. Whistler just couldn’t leave well enough alone. He had to get back at Leyland. Somehow he got back into the house and continued painting on the opposite The Princess. The birds on a background of Prussian blue faced each other as if about to fight, on ground strewn with silver shillings. Whistler aptly titled the mural Art and Money.

Whistler never returned to Speke Hall or to the Kensington home. From this point on Leyland and Whistler were bitter enemies. Money had indeed, corrupted both men.

Upon Leyland’s death in 1892 his widow Frances boxed the room up and auctioned it off. It was purchased by Charles Lang Freer, who took the room apart and reinstalled it in his house in Detroit. Later, upon his death in 1919 the room was again boxed up and sent to the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Jump ahead now to the 21st century, to a Peacock Room re-Mix. Contemporary artist Darren Waterson explored the idea of creating a room, a physical installation the public could walk through. He turned to research what other rooms had been done in the past and was drawn immediately to the fracas of the Peacock Room. And to the broken relationship between the two men. Both of them never completely recovered. Leyland and his wife eventually separated and Whistler spiraled into financial ruin, mostly because of a drawn out court case against John Ruskin for libel.

Waterson set out to de-construct the room based upon his research. Not since Ivan Albright’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” have I felt the impact of humanities choices, the wretched state we are in.
Upon entering the room I felt the cracks and fissures wrought by enemies. There were shards of broken vases littering the floor. The once gilded room was ravaged by an intense rivalry. The beloved painting above the mantel, its colors ran, the face blotted out. The gilded spindles of walnut wood looked like melted wax. Time seemed to have taken its toll. I felt the loss of friends, family, reputation. Every surface told a story of disappointment, betrayal. Add to this atmosphere a haunting soundtrack by BETTY.

The peacocks on the back wall appear to be not only fighting but eviscerating one another, pulling out the guts with their long, probing beaks. There is gold paint spilt, bleeding across the floor. The dim, red-tinted lighting in the room contributes to the eeriness, uneasiness.

Welcome to Filthy Lucre, Waterson’s re-mix, now installed in the Sackler Gallery adjoining the Freer where the original Peacock Room resides. Money and art are a bad combination, evident in this new show that runs through January 2, 2016.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Some Highlights from the American Art Museum

Ice Skating in Central Park, Agnes Tait
Subway. 1934 Lily Furedi

Mr. Imagination from Chicago

DEATH CART/ George T. López

John Ashbery, National Portrait Gallery

Countee Cullen, National Portrait Gallery

Abbott Handerson Thayer, selected artist of Freer to decorate his foyer

Friday, October 23, 2015

Art Highlights from The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest in North America. There are more than 70 side chapels. Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of the Immaculate Conception, the Basilica is the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine.

the Black Madonna

our Lady of Guadalupe

St. Louise, patroness of social workers

I like the spinning wheel in this one

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington DC


Chicago artist Archibald Motley Jr.

living free, Jane in the Sculpture Garden

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Some Highlights from the National Gallery

isn't she beautiful

always love paintings of women reading

love this guy

double exposure, Cape Cod Evening, Edward Hopper

Andrew Wyeth, Looking Out, Looking In

Whistler James Symphony in White no 1 (The White Girl) 1862.

view of Capri, the arch

paintings of books

Berthe Morisot | The Sisters (1869

Mary Cassatt,  Little Girl in a Blue Armchair

Van Gogh flowers

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

GAP/C & O Trip Diary

Day 6
Bald Eagle Island hiker/biker – WS host, NW, Washington, DC 20011, approx 60 miles

I was so close to my end point. I was super excited to get on the road. I tried to lighten my load by eating a hearty (for me) breakfast. I made a fire and burned paper, the maps I’d downloaded.

The Potomac was definitely getting wider and wilder. I had lunch at a lockhouse and Larry caught up. Afterwards I did a power hour where I cycled as hard as I could for 1 hour. I got to Great Falls Tavern visitor park about 1:30. My info said there is a snack bar there, but it is very basic. Not really anything worth buying. At this point I was only 15 miles from DC.

After leaving the park the river splits and there is a slip of an inlet between the canal and river. This is VERY scenic. It has for the feel for quite a few miles of a Japanese garden, very serene. Also there are very many more people on the path.

Any second I expected to turn a corner and see the Washington Monument sticking up above the horizon. No, still in the forest. At a certain point the Capitol Crescent trail, paved, begins to run parallel to the C & O. I hop on it. Where is the city?

It seems to take forever, but all of a sudden I empty out into Georgetown and a swank coffee bar that runs under a highway overpass. It’s over and about 3:30 pm. I decide to take a victory lap—and go find the Lincoln Memorial. Something that says, I’m here.

At about 5:30 I begin the trek up to my warmshowers host. I take Rock Creek Trail up past the Washington Zoo. The trail is VERY narrow and at places, very steep. I definitely would not recommend taking it in the dark. It was still light when I arrived feeling very satisfied with my bicycling adventure.

Friday=sightseeing via the bike
Sat: =million man march revisited and sightseeing until time to board the train. Where just 2 weeks earlier there was a rule change and I was now allowed to ROLL ON. So easy. I relaxed and enjoyed the ride through the night where I deboarded in Chicago at 8:30 a.m.—ready to ride HOME.