The full-color images surely do represent simplicity, a set that fits in well among the winter months. Susan Davens “Resonance I” looks like trees over a snowy winter background, the dark lines a shivering blur. Kay Layne’s calming blue “Order from Chaos” sits across the page from Carolyn WarmSun’s “En Pointe,” a deep red, a pairing that looks like the painters somehow had each other’s piece in mind as they worked. One of my favorites, Marcie Scudder’s photograph “Before Breakfast,” shows a minimal scene of a wire fence drawing a line between a snow-covered field and a gray sky. It’s impossible not to feel a calming effect after paging through the exhibition selections.
On the more literary side of things, David Gardner looks at the Oz books by L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumy Thompson in “Following the Yellow Brick Road.” Gardner weaves in the factual with the sentimental, highlighting some differences between the writers (Baum’s main characters were generally girls while female Thompson’s central characters were boys), and letting readers know about his own childhood connection to the series. As Gardner points out, no Oz book is complete without the art of John R. Neill, and some of his images are found among Gardner’s essay, a great inclusion. Gardner mixes reportage and nostalgia so well that I felt compelled to search through my books for my own used Oz copies to be sure one of Gardner’s books from his sold, childhood collection didn’t somehow make it to me in Michigan (it didn’t).
Other writing includes Gail Tyson speaking of her introduction to photography in “An Unexpected Education.” Wally Swist’s poem “Glass” falls across the page and brings birds to life in vivid language. Roy Money provides an interesting read about photographer Minor White who “generated considerable controversy in his last years for promotion of spirituality.” Broken into different sections, it’s creative enough to not bog readers down.
Portfolios offer more art in this issue, including Dan Pyle’s charcoal drawings, and my personal favorite, Rebecca Rothey’s photographs of steps. Explaining her inspiration, Rothey says:
There was a brick staircase leading to a landscaped walkway. I took a photograph of the lines leading to a hedge at the end of the path. Then I looked down and noticed that the bricks on the staircase were aged and interesting. I lowered the camera, allowing the top portion of the image to be out of focus. What resulted was an image I found aesthetically pleasing and unique to my way of seeing.The portfolio shows off some of these images, from American front stoops to across the world in China. Rothey offers a close-up view that we overlook every single day.
A perfect mixture of visual art and writing, Still Point Arts Quarterly brings an art gallery right into a reader’s living room. However, don’t forget: when this issue inevitably stirs up the desire to go out into the world and take in more art, do change out of those favorite pajamas.