Outlandish Women

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone, Settignano/Fiesole, Italy, June 26, 1930. BMA Cone Archives

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone, Settignano/Fiesole, Italy, June 26, 1930. BMA Cone Archives

In the days when Americans traveled to Paris in search of the things that only Paris could offer, the artist Henri Matisse met the Cone sisters.  It probably saved his career, and perhaps even, his life.

Matisse was not well-liked. At least not in 1905 when the modern art exhibit Salon d’Automne descended upon Paris, leaving the art critics in shock. It was the advent of the brief period of art known as Fauvism. Fauve, translated: wild beast. Among the jarring, dissonant pieces on display were several works by Matisse, including the multicolored Woman with a Hat.

At the exhibit that day was the wealthy Baltimore-bred physician Dr. Claribel Cone, accompanied by her younger sister Etta. The sisters, ages 41 and 34 at the time, were spending an extended vacation in France with noted American expats, writer Gertrude Stein and her art guru brother Leo. Later in the day, Claribel pulled out her journal and penned her thoughts about the exhibit:

“We asked ourselves are these things to be taken seriously. As we looked across the room we found our friends earnestly contemplating a canvas–the canvas of a woman with a hat tilted jauntily at an angle on the top of her head–the drawing crude, the color bizarre.”

The establishment certainly didn’t take them seriously. Art critics of the day dismissed Matisse and his contemporary André Derain as “wild beasts,” who took little concern for artistic form, color, and propriety. But for the Cone sisters, despite their initial astonishment, curiosity had taken over.

Continue reading at Sky Blue Window . . . 

Joel Tucker and the Language of Jazz

Photo by Naama Levy

Photo by Naama Levy

Race flags and Christmas lights drape the walls of a hidden slice of Massachusetts Avenue. An old jukebox sits in the back, unattended as the 20-person crowd inside the Chatterbox Jazz Club listens attentively to the improvisations of a young trio–a bass player, a pianist, and an electric guitar player–squashed together on a small stage at the front of the room.

The guitar player, a young white guy with a mop of curly brown hair, bends intently over his chords. His eyes register that he’s somewhere else, perhaps absorbed in a secret story.

When Joel Tucker speaks, however, he is fully present, cheerful, polite.

Continue reading at Sky Blue Window . . . 

Songwriting and Sisterhood

Photo by Allister Ann

Photo by Allister Ann

Stepping out of my usual for a while, I recently wrote a first-person profile on this enchanting teenage sister duo. 

I meet Madeleine and Lily Jurkiewicz of the budding musical duo Lily & Madeleine at Monon Coffee Company. We fill up our mugs with black brew, and as we settle into comfy armchairs, I can tell it won’t be difficult getting these teenage sisters to talk.

“Our family’s pretty musical,” says 18-year-old Madeleine, a chestnut-haired senior from Bishop Chatard. “My mom taught us everything we know.”

A cross between Indie and folk, the duo’s music is lilting, ponderous, gentle; filled with youthful questioning and a surprising poetic maturity. An unexpected sound coming from the Justin Bieber generation.

Check out the full article over at Sky Blue Window . . .