Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Let There Be Light

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in."
- Leonard Cohen

Girl with Pearl Earring, Jan Vermeer, Oil on canvas, 1665
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

What makes this painting so special? Most experts will tell you it's Vermeer's understanding of light, using it to highlight the earring with such intensity that he pulls the observer's eye toward the center of the painting filled with darks and lesser highlights. What an impressive mastery of his subject and the observer!

The great masters of Chiaroscuro like Raphael, Caravaggio, and Vermeer began to explore concepts of light and dark in the Renaissance era, and today the concept of light remains as provocative as ever.

Blues Come Through, Alice Dalton Brown

I looked at a print of the painting above, and nearly couldn't believe it wasn't a photograph. (I don't know the original medium used, but I suspect it's a watercolor.)  Dalton Brown, a Contemporary Realist who was born in Pennsylvania in 1939, studied art at the Academie Julian in Paris. She's known for her attention to detail and, like most great artists, "finding the sublime in the everyday." I'm simply amazed at her understanding of the interplay between light and shadows.

The dark, murky shadows of the light-deprived winter season have finally given way to the crisp, clear shadows that accompany the bright spring sunshine.  As the sunbeams came streaming into the house this morning, I couldn't help but reflect on the power of light and how deeply it affects us all.

Physically and metaphorically, I'm letting the light in today. I've opened all the shades and thrown up the sashes on this perfect spring day. (A high of 75 F. is expected today. How perfect is that?) As the brilliant Leonard Cohen tells us, I'm going to try to accept the cracks in my world and understand that it is through those very cracks that the light will enter. 

Today, I wish you light through the cracks.

Wow. Leonard Cohen. He is one of the greatest poets of our day, to my mind, and certainly one of the most gracious performers to ever live.

Of course the music selection today is his brilliant "Anthem" from which the quote above is exerpted. Many versions are out there for you to explore (here is a very unique version posted by my friend, Steven, over at his blog, the golden fish), but this one is filled with the grace of Cohen's soul from beginning to end. Please watch his face as he performs, allowing the music and the poetry of his lyrics to enter completely into him, and so, into us.

As much a I enjoy the beauty of the music and the words, I enjoy the final introductions of the people with whom he shares the stage, given and receieved with such reverence for one another. Enjoy. 

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