Posted: April 22, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

Towards the beginning of class a potato served as the analogue for how we link ideas. If you bought that idea, then we hauled in a few bushels of potatoes. The images below serve to symbolize some of the topics. edena Left: Adam and Eve depart Eden, by Michelangelo, 1508 – 1512; the same scene from Genesis as visualized by Robert Crumb, 2009. This was part of a look at 500 years of iconic European paintings of women (linked here), and how things have changed in the post-feminist era of Dove beauty campaigns. edenb Detail of photograph from Sally Mann’s book, Immediate Family; detail of R. Crumb’s illustration from his book Genesis. This was intended to bring back for consideration Camille Paglia’s comment that “sex is a turbulent power that we are not in control of.” Note that despite the many differences between the two images above, the posture of the girl, and the drawn image of Eve is incredibly similar. We also considered the graphic novel as a powerful form of art and literature, in particular, Art Spiegelman’s book Maus. edenc Left: detail of the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, erected 1902, New York; Right: The Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, erected 1957.  These buildings were contrasted as part of a presentation on creativity and courage as expressed by, among others: Philippe Petit, Paul Robeson, Maya Lin, Kristi Spessard, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, many of you (in class), and Frank Lloyd Wright. (And Jimi Hendrix – seen only in the AM class!) edenD Sangren Hall, WMU, photo by Kayla Kurdelski; recently installed WMU Seal “Branding Element.” This – part of my attempt to illustrate why I believe that “Criticism is critically important.” This was followed by a look at what being “religious” can mean, and a consideration of censorship. Last, I urged you to read a book this summer, be skeptical of technology, and to “Go Somewhere”  new, but to return someday, literally or figuratively to ‘Home’ and all it can mean – whew! edene My parents on their honeymoon. Yeah, they were kinda hipsters – circa 1950’s. You are experienced bloggers – hold forth on what interested you and practice expanding your critical view of things we talked about. Here by the way, is a link to the video of the Brooklyn public school flashmob. This post will remain open until Sunday at about 10 pm. (Leaving it open until 9 am Monday morning since this is the last post!) The post closed at 10:25 am on Monday.


Posted: April 20, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

We began looking at the real differences between baseball and football (see George Carlin here) and moved from ballparks to the great outdoors with Earth Artist Andy Goldsworthy and others. We transitioned to artists obsessed more with people than than nature; then found the place where the land and people meet – in shelter and architecture, and more.


Above, left to right and top to bottom:detail of a painted tribute to the Great American Ballpark; detail of an ice spiral by Andy Goldsworthy (we saw an excerpt from the film Rivers and Tides): Andy Goldsworthy; detail of “Candy Cigarette,” by Sally Mann; detail of Bi-Racial Portrait #1, by Paul R Solomon; photo of an igloo; drawing of future WMU Alumni Building; detail of drawing of 9/11 attack on New York by an elementary school student; detail of work by Michele Pred in the aftermath of 9/11; detail of drawing by Mordechai Gerstein for the book “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.”


Split image showing half of Jacques Louis-David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” 1801, and Kehinde Wiley’s “Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps,” 2005.


Penn Station New York, 1910 – 1963. Rest in Peace


Cover Illustration by Art Spiegelman for The New Yorker Magazine issue of September 24, 2001; and Tribute in Light, annual memorial to victims of the terror attack on New York on Sept. 11, 2001

Feel free to comment on any subjects referenced above, and others. Your comment, as usual will be more valuable when you make connections between topics; pose questions; answer questions; or speak with a persona voice. Are you more an “I need the land,” kind of person like Lad Hanka and Andy Goldsworthy, or more of an ‘obsessed with people’ person like Kehinde Wiley and many other artists we’ve looked at. Can you make connections between one or more topics today, and work we’ve seen in theatre or dance? Or in music we’ve discussed? One more question: Anything you would like to know more about when we meet in our last class on Wednesday?

The post will remain open until about 8 am Wednesday. It closed at 8:15 am.

Lost in Translation

Posted: April 13, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Above, left: detail from the painting Judith Beheading Holofernes, by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1611. You can see the whole image here. Right: detail from the painting Self-Portrait with Monkey, by Frida Kahlo, 1938. More of the image, with information here.

Class began with some assessment of Man of La Mancha including ways the musical reminded many of the issues of sexual harassment and assault that emerged with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh‘s visit, and Adi Paz’s dance Post-It. We read more of Adi’s text that she sent from Tel Aviv, this portion about being assaulted at age 14. We watched a video about comedian Adrienne Truscott‘s performance “Asking For It.” There was a lot discussion about her work and the issue she is highlighting: jokes about rape. We looked at visuals about the politically charged work of the Guerilla Girls, and referenced again, Julia Haw‘s work. In the second half of class we looked at work by Artemisia Gentileschi, Baroque painter, and viewed clips from th film “Artemisia.” Last, we viewed many slides of work by Diego Rivera and of Frida Kahlo – whose art is currently featured in the Detroit Institute of Art.

Does the work of artists we looked at today enable you to come to new realizations, feelings or thoughts about work we saw earlier? How do consider Adrienne Truscott alongside Adi Paz and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh? Does the work of the Guerilla Girls add anything to your evaluation of Julia Haw? If you are interested in Artemisia please look up more of her work to add to what you absorbed from the very fictionalized film. Finally, what about Frida Kahlo who said “I don’t paint dreams, I paint my reality?” If you are intrigued by Frida Kahlo, I strongly recommend the biography Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, by Hayden Herrera. The film based on the book, starring Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo is also excellent.  

This post closed at 8:05 am Wednesday.

Man of La Mancha

Posted: April 8, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Above, the DEARTS PM cast of Man of La Mancha in rehearsal for the first 45 seconds of the musical,  with director Jay Berkow.

Who was your favorite actor or character?  Why?  How does the content of Man of La Mancha relate to anything else we’ve studied this semester? After viewing the technical elements I’m connection with the performance, what elements (ie scenery, lights, costumes, props, hair/makeup, sound) added or enhanced the performance?  What elements detracted from the performance?  Why? In what ways can you connect the period of Man of la Mancha to our current society?   What moment in the show was most impactful to you and why? How does the convention of a play within a play add to our understanding and journey of the Miguel De Cervantes character?  Does the play within a play convention take anything away from the production? Why do the prisoners put Miguel on trial?  Why do the prisoners request a different ending? What do you think happens to Miguel after the show ends?

 The post closed at 10:02 Sunday night.

Lost and Found in Kalamazoo

Posted: April 6, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

This post serves for Monday’s class with guest Lynn Houghton, co-author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found. 


Postcard showing WMU’s original campus. Inset: the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens, Greece —  the source of inspiration for the construction of East Campus. During 2014, two-thirds of East Hall as well as all the other buildings that made up the original campus of Western Michigan University were demolished by the school. The central portion of East Hall is scheduled to open later this year as the alumni center for the university.

Class began with a look at the Glenn Miller band with Tex Beneke, performing “I’ve Got A Gal in Kalamazoo,” from the 1942 film, “Orchestra Wives.”  It features one of the greatest dance routines ever, by the Nicholas Brothers. From the 1942 movie “Orchestra Wives” Lynn Houghton led us through the early history of the Western Normal School and gave us a first look at many of the buildings we’ll examine in person on the Walking Tours. What connections can you make between what was discussed today and material presented earlier this semester? All other comments welcome. There will be a separate post fo the actual tours next week.

This post will be open until 8 am on Wednesday. The post closed at 11 am Wednesday.

Your Body is a Battleground

Posted: April 1, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Above: Posters by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh that were defaced with graffiti; Beyonce in publicity photo for Flawless; Barbara Kruger’s 1989 work”Your Body is A Battleground;” and detail of Kara Walker’s site-specific installation made of sugar (great video about it), in Brooklyn, NY.

Your Body is A Battleground, the provocative work of Barbara Kruger, was made in support of a march in 1989 of a woman’s right to have a legal safe abortion, and birth control. The words seem appropriate as well, as we consider Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s artful campaign to stop sexual harassment.

Class covered a LOT of ground including the topics referenced by the images above of Beyonce, Walker’s piece, and the fertility figure. Also: How Judaism (and later Christianity and Islam) moved dramatically away from a culture centered around the life-giving power of women, to a god conceived of as masculine; Camille Paglia and her teaching that we should not have a “stupid, naive Mary Poppins view of life,” and that “sex is a turbulent power that we are not in control of.”  Also: Emma Sulkowicz’s protest/art work about her alleged rape. New developments here, by the way.  

All the above was the introduction to class. After which I read some of your blog comments aloud, as well as an excerpt from a letter by Adi Paz.  Melissa related her story.  Then the mics were turned over to you. In the AM class we also looked at a video showing what happened as a woman spent 10 hours walking in NYC. The PM class had so many people wanting to talk – sometimes at length! – that dialogue took up every available minute of class.

So – Tatyana will be on her way to other cities by Friday. Hopefully we may see her posters up on campus in the coming days. Where are you personally at now? In what ways have your opinion, awareness, and/or feelings possibly changed during this week? Did you sense changes in others from the Monday class to the end of the Wednesday class?  If you didn’t yet have the chance to tell your story, here is another chance. I am also interested in what you thought of the class itself. I wanted to be sure the climate in class was as comfortable as possible for everyone: our guest and the diverse people who make up our class. 

This post will be open until Monday at about 8 am. Don’t forget to click on the Daily page above and post your answer. This post closed at 8:23 am Monday with 152 comments.


Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Posted: March 30, 2015 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Please read carefully below, before commenting!

We had two very different classes with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh on Monday. In the AM class many people, women and men, had a lot to say throughout class. Women spoke of their experiences being harassed in many locations including: on campus, on the street, in bars, in Waldo Library, in New York, in Detroit, alone, with parents, with a boyfriend, in middle school, in high school, and in other places and situations. Men in the AM class talked of the complexities and additional dangers that occur in big cities like Detroit, and what can happen when verbal harassment triggers violence. Time ran out with many people still waiting for a microphone. The afternoon class took a bit longer to get going, but when it did, women had many stories. In an attempt to open the discussion to men,I told a couple of personal anecdotes.  I then read two comments from last week’s blog about Adi Paz’s dance POST-IT. In these comments, two men talked about how they feel a women’s appearance might at times be “inappropriate.” This triggered a lot more discussion, though again, almost entirely from the women. I also shared with the PM class, a letter posted this week to Facebook about a ban on leggings in Kalamazoo schools. I mistakenly said Portage schools. If you look online, you’ll see that leggings have recently been banned in many places across the country.

So: If you are a man: where are you on these topics? This is, in my opinion, as much a topic for men to discuss as it is for women. If you are a woman, and didn’t have the opportunity, or were not wanting to talk in front of everyone in class, what do you have to say?

When commenting please place your comments in context with what portion of class you are referencing. I anticipate that least a couple of your comments on this blog will be referenced in class on Wednesday. If yours is selected, you will be awarded ten extra points. This policy will stay in place for the rest of the semester. BTW: if you left class early on Monday, do NOT comment on this blog – your points will not be counted.

One more thing, added after reading the first 20 comments: I would like to see more dialogue on this post. If you read someone else’s post and find yourself either strongly agreeing or strongly disagreeing –– click the red REPLY button and respond. If you do a good job responding – by which I mean you explain precisely WHY you agree or disagree, you will likely score higher points.

This post will be open until Wednesday at about 8 am. The post closed at 9 am.