Just Relax

Just relax. Nothing stresses me out more than when someone says that to me. Relax is a confusing instruction. While it sounds like the person is telling me what to do, in reality they are telling me what not to do. They are telling me not to be tense. And the moment I think of […]

Women’s Stories

As with cocktails, changing a few elements can completely transform a story. Over the past year, a group of fellow Maggidot, female Jewish storytellers, and I have discovered the power of this transformation. Our mission—to put together a collection of Jewish stories where women take the leading role. Some of the stories are our re-interpretation […]

Manhattan Monday

Mondays are rough. When I wake up in the morning, my mind buzzes with everything on my To Do list, and I feel overwhelmed. But since summer, I have something to look forward to on Mondays—the creative search for a variation of my favorite cocktail, the Manhattan. Inspired by my cousin, who posts pictures of himself and […]

Hidden Stories

Every morning I walk my dog through my neighborhood. We stroll down the street past boutique stores, art galleries, bars and restaurants. I peer through the windows and wonder what stories these places could tell. What dreams came alive here? Or perhaps, what dreams died? Did people fall in love or did they argue? It […]

Feeling Unseen

gazing out of window

I’ll be honest. I’ve been feeling a little unseen lately.  Everything was going pretty well this spring. I was venturing out more, meeting up with friends, and even taking risks like auditioning for a local play. (I didn’t get the role, but I put myself out there! I’d never done that before.) Then Alan came […]

Hidden Growth

Grass roots

I discovered something astonishing recently, and it’s influenced how I view creativity. It all started when Alan and I set out to create a peaceful habitat for bees and butterflies in our front yard. For years, our huge cedar trees dropped fronds every fall, turning the soil in our yard too acidic for grass but […]

Raining Writers Block

In March, I sat down to write my newsletter but couldn’t. Writers block had hit me hard.  Winter in Portland is cold and wet. By March, I crave sunshine, but this year we got snow and sleet followed by days of rain. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed. I had no […]

Appreciating Failure

A couple of weeks ago, the sun came out briefly. I suggested that Alan and I play hooky and go see the cherry blossoms at the Portland Japanese Garden. When we got there, we saw a sign—Closed on Tuesdays. Too disheartened to go home, we went to the zoo instead. Harbor seals glided through water. […]

Walking Dance

Tango is a walking dance. What could be simpler?  Walking in tango is simple. It is also really hard. Last month, Alan, and I couldn’t do anything right. Minor changes in his balance threw me off. Slight tension in my body threw him off. Even our embrace felt uncomfortable. Our instructor, Elizabeth Wartluft, told us not […]

Japanese Woodblocks

The extraordinary woodblock exhibit Human/Nature 150 Years of Japanese Landscape Prints at the Portland Art Museum highlights our interaction with nature. On my last visit, I was struck by the images depicting how fragile existence can be. In Katsushika Hokusai’s 1831 print Under the Wave off Kanazawa (also known as The Great Wave), menacing finger-like projections extend […]

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The extraordinary woodblock exhibit Human/Nature 150 Years of Japanese Landscape Prints at the Portland Art Museum highlights our interaction with nature. On my last visit, I was struck by the images depicting how fragile existence can be.

In Katsushika Hokusai’s 1831 print Under the Wave off Kanazawa (also known as The Great Wave), menacing finger-like projections extend from an enormous wave that threatens small ships. Stand close, and you’ll also see what I had never before noticed: tiny sailors on those vessels. Mt. Fuji stands in the background, peaceful and constant, suggesting calm in the face of imminent disaster.

Travelers with umbrellas scurry for shelter from a monsoon in Utagawa Hiroshige’s 1833/1834 print Shōno, Driving Rain. The torrential rain is portrayed in soft, diagonal gray lines, yet the travelers twist and contort to force their way through the storm, a subtle and powerful artistic technique.

Oda Kancho, in his Near the Katase River in Kugenuma from 1924, shows the devastation of a magnitude 7.9 earthquake on industrialized twentieth century Kantō. Train tracks undulate, power lines topple, and trees and grasses bend. A truly modern piece, and yet the technique, color, and themes are similar to prints from a century earlier. Beauty and fragility, a universal theme that stays true through time.

(P.S. I’m fascinated by the emotional impact of Japanese woodblock prints. Last winter, I wrote about another show at the Portland Japanese Garden.)