the Walking Tour . . . and conclusion

Posted: April 15, 2013 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


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. WMU has announced that except for the central portion of East Hall, that all of East Campus will be destroyed this year.

DSC_0934 - Version 2The William-Wood Upjohn House, South Street, Kalamazoo, erected 1877. A very stylish expensive post-Civil War home.

DSC_0031Sculpture of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Kalamazoo, MI by Lisa Reinertson.

Was this your first time looking around downtown Kalamazoo? What impressed you? How does Kalamazoo compare to the town or city where you grew up? If you grew up here, did you learn anything new this semester about your hometown? How could life on campus be better connected to downtown Kalamazoo? All other comments are welcome.

Note: This is the last post of the semester. It will close Friday night at midnight. This post closed at 1:15 am on Friday night with 118 comments.

What About Beauty?

Posted: April 10, 2013 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

beauty_blog.009-001After the ‘Beauty” music quiz we looked for meanings in these two stories in this week’s news.

lost.005-001Right: Pennsylvania Station, New York, N.Y., erected 1910, destroyed 1963.

Left: East Campus, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, erected 1901, destroyed 2013?  Link to FB page for Students for East Campus.

blog_images.022-001scene from the film La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini, 1960, Marcello Mastroanni (as Marcello), and Anita Ekberg (as Sylvia)

blog_images.023-001scene from the film Atonement, 2007, based on the novel by Ian McEwan, James McAvoy (as Robbie Turner), Keira Knightley (as Cecilia Tallis)

goldsworthy_ice_spiral.038-001Ice Spiral by Earth Artist Andy Goldsworthyice sculpture

scene from the documentary film Rivers and Tides by Thomas Riedelsheimer, about the work of Andy Goldsworthy

This class covered a lot of territory. We discussed our individual and collective ideas about beauty and how the body provides invaluable clues to our feelings – and many other topics. The images above will remind you of key portions of the class. Please keep in mind that you must be present in class to comment on the blog about that class. Comments that create connections between subjects in this class and material covered previously in the semester are especially welcome.

 Quotations from James Hillman about beauty:

“the road to beauty begins in pleasure, opening the soul’s body to delight, which is what is implied in the word taste. “

“You draw in your breath and stop still. This quick intake of breath, this little gasp, this ahhhh reaction is the aesthetic response just as certain, inevitable, objective and ubiquitous, as wincing pain and moaning in pleasure. Moreover, this quick intake of breath is also the very root of the word aesthetics, aisthesis in Greek, meaning sense-perception. Aisthesis goes back to earlier Greek words meaning, ‘I perceive’ as well as ‘I gasp, struggle for breath’ and aisthomai, ‘I breathe in.”

This post will be open until Monday morning, April 15 at 9 am. The last post of the semester will go up on Monday — it will be about the Walking Tour experience.

Carmina Burana with Maestro Raymond Harvey

Posted: April 8, 2013 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Medieval Era painting illustrating the concept of Fortune

maestro_harvey_conducts copy

Maestro Raymond Harvey conducts the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Will attending the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra concert on April 19 be your first experience with live professional level classical music? Whether yes or no, in what ways have your expectations been shaped by our class with Raymond Harvey? Are you looking forward to the concert and Carmina Burana in particular? The topics written about in the 12th and 13th century poems that Dr. Harvey discussed: how relevant are they to your life? Your concerns, desires, feelings?  In recent weeks we’ve had a succession of incredibly talented and diverse guest artists:  Laurencio Ruiz, Millicent Johnnie, Julia Haw and now, Dr. Raymond Harvey. What do the four artists have in common? What two artists seem to have the most in common? Can you make connections between today’s discussion of Carmina Burana, and other topics we’ve discussed this semester?

This post will remain open until Wednesday evening when a post will go up for the class What About Beauty?  – that will be the subject in class on that day. This post remained open until 11:18 pm Wednesday night. The What About Beauty? post opened at 5 pm today Wednesday.

Julia Haw – in the flesh

Posted: April 1, 2013 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

After two visits on Skype this semester Julia Haw traveled from Chicago to our classroom and continued to share with us her work and life – in person.




Key to images. Top: Saint Olga, or The Three Handed Mother of God, 2013, 11x17in., Oil and gold leaf on canvas; Middle: Blurred and Blurred and Blurred and Blurred, 2010, 18x18in., Archival paper, oil and ink on wood. Bottom: Power Pussy, 2013, 48x48in., Oil and Swarovski Crystals on Canvas.

We had a very unusual opportunity to get to know Julia Haw. Not only do very few artists speak so openly about their creative process and personal lives — but we have been able to get to know Julia Haw over a period of time. Not only that -but by chance, her work has suddenly gained quite some notoriety in the Chicago art world very recently.

What have you learned that surprised you about the creative process of a visual artist? What did you absorb about works of art of the past and the contributions of teachers and artists who have influenced Julia Haw’s work? What work of hers spoke to you the most and why? All other topics and comments are welcome.

For purposes of this post the following rules will be in effect: For the first 18 hours of the post (until 12 noon Tuesday), the usual rules will apply. However: Beginning at noon Tuesday, bloggers have an option. If you choose to RESPOND to a previously posted comment — and substantially expand upon the original comment — your reply will be worth double the usual points. PLUS: Whoever wrote the original comment will have their comment doubled as well.

A couple of notes about the temporary rules: If you choose to REPLY, you must click the REPLY button first. Also: your addition to the pre-existing comment must be of the quality that would earn it 6 poins. (See blog grading criteria.) If your comment is not judged to be worth 6 points you will receive 2 or 4 points. If your comment is worth 6 points it will receive 12; if 8 it will be 16; if 10 it will be worth 20. If you want to comment but do not wish to Reply to an existing comment, you are welcome to do so for the usual criteria and points.

ONE MORE NOTE: Usually posts about the Monday class close on Wednesday morning. But – because there will not be a post for the class at the KIA – this post will stay open until Friday at 5 pm. However  – the ‘special offer’ of bonus points described above will end at 9 am Wednesday. Comments made after 9 am Weds. will be evaluated in the usual fashion.

This post closed on Friday at 5:30 pm with 104 comments.

I Got a Gal in Kalamazoo

Posted: March 27, 2013 by Melissa Sparks in Uncategorized
This post will serve for Wednesday’s class with guest Lynn Houghton, co-author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found

KEY: Top left in b&w: Temple B’Nai Israel, dedicated 1875; interior of Penn Station, NYC, erected 1903 – 1910; view of the World Trade Center towers during the late 1970’s. Second row: East Hall, circa 1908; the Pantheon, Rome, built circa 27 BCE, rebuilt circa 126 CD. Third Row: The Wood-Upjohn House, erected 1878; Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, erected 1163 – 1345 (Medieval period); First Presbyterian Church, Kalamazoo, erected 1931. Bottom Row: WMU students on the funicular circa 1950’s; plus on the right hands side, a photo we didn’t have time to see: What location is shown in this photograph? First correct answer wins 10 points. 

As you think about what you want to say keep in mind that the ten photos above are just a sampling of the 104 slides we viewed today, Wednesday. Especially valuable will be comments that succeed in drawing connections between topics referenced in class today and other subjects that we covered this semester  — but which did not come up for discussion in class today.  As always please be as specific as possible. Also remember that your subjective personal opinions are always especially welcomed.

This post closed on Sunday, March 31 at 10:40pm.

DSCN0691 - Version 2
Millicent Johnnie with Calvin Green with the DEARTS a.m. class.

What impressed you about Millicent? and Calvin? Are you inspired by their art? By their life? How might you translate that inspiration into your own life? Artists often have to make difficult choices. What difficult choices do you face and can you find support, encouragement in the examples of Millicent Johnnie? Calvin Green? other artists we’ve met this semester? All comments welcome. Please re-read blog grading criteria and beef up the quality of your comments = more points!

This post open until next Monday morning at 9 am.

Image  —  Posted: March 18, 2013 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Posted: March 11, 2013 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


This post will serve for Mondays’ class, Wednesday’s class, and the performance of MACBETH. You may post comments for each class and the show. Comments on the Monday class need to be posted before the Wednesday class.  Other guidelines for commenting: For class Wednesday please come up with your own questions and topics for comment. Please refer to designers by name – they are listed below. As always, be very specific and speak from a personal point of view.

Macbeth Designers: Bridget Williams – Stage Manager; Leah Smith – Costume Designer; Mara Johnson – Lighting Designer; Matt Knewtson – Sound Designer; Jacqueline Valdez – Scenic Designer

All comments about the performance which answer any one of the following questions will receive an additional 4 points to their score.  Thereby a comment typically worth 2 points will be awarded 6 points or a comment worth 6 points will be awarded 10 points.  In order to receive the points, you must correctly label the number of which question you answered.

1.  How did the use of a soundscape affect your willing suspension of disbelief?  Did it draw you further into the production or did it deter from the action?  How did the use of leitmotifs (themes) further your understanding of the characters and action?

2.  Actors Kelsey Michelle Jackson and Shane Montgomery Schmidt performed the roles of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth.  Throughout the course of the play, what drives them to the choices they make?  Compare and Contrast the changes they undergo throughout the show.  Is there a substantial gender commentary here about the way men and woman respectively internalize guilt?

3.  The death toll in this production is very high.  Through the course of the play, Macbeth kills four people, King Duncan and Macdonwald first, then two Royal guards.  He also hires murderers to kill Banquo and Macduff’s family.  By the end of the play, he too loses his wife and his own life.  All as the witches prophecies stated.  Was justice served by the end of the production?  Why or why not?

4.  How did the information from the cast members affect your viewing of the performance?  Did the information which you received in small groups from cast members better inform or affect your response to the performance?

5.  Many murders are committed onstage as well as offstage.  There are also many moments with varying degrees of amplification in sound.  Were there any moments in the production that elicited a physical response from you?  What was that response?  What was the moment in which you had a physical reaction to what you experienced through any of your senses?

6.  The director chose to perform the “banquet scene” twice.  Once where the ghost of Banquo was visible to the audience as seen through Macbeth’s viewpoint and again when the ghost of Banquo was not visible as seen through the guests and Lady Macbeth.  How did these two interpretations affect your response to the onstage characters?

7.  Choose any one character/actor besides Macbeth which stood out to you.  How did they fit into the driving action of the story line and how did their character aid or prevent Macbeth in his rise to power?

8.  The concept of utilizing the “weird sisters” or “witches” as spiders was an idea original to the director, Joan Herrington.  How did the use of spiders add or detract from Macbeth’s journey into darkness?

9.  After seeing the production, did your understanding of the story and the text become further illuminated or confused?  Why or why not?

The post will be open until next Monday at 9 am. Closed at 9:45 am Monday.