Holiday Traditions: Old & New

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

Something For Your Pocket

My mother was a Christmas magician. She made every holiday candy and cookie known to humankind. She did not shy away from butter, or a good laugh. She wrapped what seemed like mountains of gifts in sparkling paper, and every package had a bow. Sometimes the bows were made by hand. During my mother’s most seriously invested Christmases, she prayed over a candle-lit Advent wreath. Every year my dad located and cut down the perfect tree for her. This was not an easy task (the perfection nor the cutting), and my father took his appointment seriously. He laid old-fashioned tinsel on the tree, branch by painstaking branch. It was a labor of love. A ball of mistletoe hung over their entry door. They forgot to pack it away one year, and it is still up twenty years later never having moved. Maybe the best tradition is to just leave the mistletoe up? My brother Charlie and I kept advent calendars, left rough-looking cookies for Santa, and even left carrots for his reindeer. We read the beautifully illustrated book “Jolly Old Santa Claus” together every Christmas Eve until we were nearly grown-ups.

There is a sadness that sometimes comes with the holidays. Maybe it is the onset of winter, the end of a difficult year, or an unnamed longing that hangs in the air near the rafters. It seems nocturnal, though there is no scientific evidence. This sadness didn’t make its first visit to me until I was seventeen, when by brother Charlie missed his first Christmas home… Read the rest of this entry »

Springfield Museums Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico
New Exhibit at Springfield Museums
September 10th, 2013 – May 11th, 2014

Fiesta represents an exciting combination: a detailed documentation of botanical and ecological phenomena, a reflection of Hispanic culture and perspective, and an example of formal watercolor techniques. Regardless of the prior knowledge and experiences visitors may bring to this exhibition, everyone will be able to connect with Vargas’ work. – Meet artist Josie Vargas at a special reception at the D’Amour Museum on Saturday, September 14th, 2013 between 6-8pm.

Josie Vargas, artist and adjunct professor at Parsons the New School for Design, will exhibit her watercolors at the Springfield Museums’ Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts this fall.  The exhibit, Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico, is part of the Springfield Museums’ celebration of Hispanic History Month, and contains works that are inspired by the mood, colorful foliage, and landscapes of Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Bronx Botanical Gardens in New York.

Vargas draws inspiration from the vibrant photographs she takes while traveling, and from the words of Edgar A. Whitney: “You are not artists… you are shape makers.”  Her interest in tropical plants stems from her upbringing in New York City, where only a few hardy plants thrived on the city streets, and her visits to Puerto Rico, from whence her family originates and where the colorful plants are equal parts showy and resilient.

Her bold, energetic paintings celebrate the plant and animal life in Puerto Rico, and demonstrate her commitment to the “traditional” style of watercolor painting.  However, unlike many watercolor artists, whose images are relayed in ethereal pastel tones, Vargas’ works are “bold, sensual,” and truly saturated in color…

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