Artful: Tarsila do Amaral

Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973) helped shaped  Brazilian Modernism. The exhibition of her work at the Art Institute of Chicago (which ended January 7, 2018) focused on the decade of the 1920s, when she moved back and forth between São Paulo and Paris and drew influences from the cultural, social and creative life of both cities.

Her important contribution was part of a broader Brazilian movement called Anthropophagy, whose proponents imagined their work as a sort of “aesthetic cannibalism” in which they consumed and digested a variety of artistic forms and traditions to create a new artistic language of their own.

The information at the exhibit said that Tarsila do Amaral is quite famous in Brazil, but almost unknown in the United States. I talked to my Brazilian sister-in-law about this artist, and although she didn’t know her by name, she did recognize some of the paintings that I sent her photos of.

These are my favorites of the 120 works displayed.



Abaporu (1928), oil on canvas. The name comes from two words in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani languages: aba, which means “person” and poru, which means “who eats.”  This is one of Tarsila’s most famous works, which my sister-in-law was familiar with.



Anthropophagy (1929), oil on canvas. The faceless figures, which may be identified as male and female, are set against a green wall of cacti and a banana plant. Inspired by European paintings of bathers, the landscape sets the figures in a Brazilian rather than European setting.





Sketches for Serra de Mantiqueira






Carnival in Madureira (1924), oil on canvas




Hills of the Favela (1924), oil on canvas. Favela is the Brazilian word for shantytown or slum, which began to crop up on the hillsides surrounding Rio de Janeiro and other cities in the late 1800s. In visiting the favelas, Tarsila and her companions explored the rich Afro-Brazilian music and culture.



The Bull (1928), oil on canvas



Study for Blue Woman (Water Spirit) I, (1925), graphite and water color on paper



The Lake (1928), oil on canvas



Manacá (1927), oil on canvas. A stylized portrait of the manacá plant of Amazonas, used by the native Tupi people for medicinal and magical purposes.




Anthropophagic Landscape (1929), oil on canvas





The Papaya Tree (1925), oil on canvas



Sleep (about 1928), oil on canvas





A Cuca (1924), oil on canvas. Tarsila wrote to her daughter about this painting: “A cuca is a strange animal, in the forest with a frog, an armadillo and an invented animal.” The cuca is adopted from Brazilian mythology. This painting is possibly the last of Tarsila’s paintings in its original frame with faux-snakeskin trim, which adds to the exoticness of the work.



Workers (1933), oil on canvas. In 1929, Tarsila experienced a series of setbacks including the loss of her family fortune and the end of her relationship with Oswaldo de Andrade, which resulted in the end of the Anthropophagy movement. She became interested in socialism and traveled to Moscow in 1931 where she became inspired by the “great collective effort.” As a result of her involvement in left-wing politics, she was imprisoned by the Brazilian government for one month in 1932. This left her very cautious, but she continued to participate in socialist activities for a short time and painted this work the following year.

I found Tarsila do Amaral’s work to be very colorful, creative, unusual, and VERY Brazilian. Which of these paintings did you find most interesting or beautiful? I welcome all comments, as well as links to any artwork you find inspiring!










CFFC: Double-U

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues its alphabet with the letter W. The requirements are that the word starts with w and has at least two vowels.

Windows with wrought iron bars (Antigua, Guatemala)KODAK Digital Still Camera
willow trees (Chicago Botanic Gardens)125

wheels (Bicycle with folding chairs, Quebec City, Canada)20171006_142915 (3)

warhead or weapon (Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota)20170531_112548

wastebasket (Scandic Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark)100_0041

wood (Ketchikan, Alaska)KODAK Digital Still Camera

writing in chalk, (July 4, 2017 in Arlington Heights, Illinois)20170704_110527.jpg

Women’s March Chicago, Jan. 20, 201820180120_110234


CB&WPC: Walls

The theme of Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is walls. I took most of these in Milwaukee last November.


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Dale entering Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


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At Colectivo Coffee house in Milwaukee – behind Dale is the back wall with a mural of dock workers with bags of coffee for shipping.


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The old Blatz Brewery in downtown Milwaukee


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Mader’s German Restaurant, Milwaukee


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At Mader’s German Restaurant, Milwaukee


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Lobby at Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Salvatore Calatrava



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Wall with microphones, Oakton Community College, Skokie, Illinois








WPC: Do You See A Ghost?

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is a photo or photos of a Variation on a Theme.

A few days ago, it looked like there was a ghost in our house!20180117_154902

Some odd specter floated in the air across our living room…20180117_154905

My husband noticed it first. I had been sitting in the white chair you see in the photo and I didn’t even realize I was being touched by a spirit!
From where he was sitting, I could see it and took these photos. What could it be??20180117_154922

It began to dissipate…20180117_160052

It turned a little bluish.

The sun that had been shining through the window in the next room disappeared behind a cloud, and with it went the ghost.

Because it wasn’t a ghost at all. It was the vapor emitted by burning incense in the dining room. A draft came from the back of the house, pushing the vapor into the living room, where it was illuminated by a ray of sun as it floated through the room.

If I ever again see a photo that someone has taken with this ethereal “ghostly” look to it, to prove they’ve seen a ghost, I’ll know it was Do-It-Yourself special effects!

And now for some ghostly music:   Spooky Ghosts

Travel Prep: Journaling

In my previous post under the Weekly Photo Challenge prompt “Growth“, I introduced a new travel journal my daughter got me for Christmas. Well, my husband liked it so much, he had her order one for him too!  (By the way, she got it on Amazon. It’s called You Are Here: A mindful travel journal by Emma Clarke.)

I’ve been working on the preparation section for our upcoming trip to Holland and Tanzania. To travel to Tanzania from the U.S., there is usually a flight change in Amsterdam. I thought, since it’s such a long trip, why not break it up by staying a few days in Amsterdam before we fly to Tanzania? I’ve heard from several people how awesome Amsterdam is, and since I haven’t been there since the ’70s and my husband has never been there, it’ll be great to spend a few days in that historic yet modern city.

So I’m trying to divide my journal into two parts and here’s some of my progress!


TravelJournal 27

What I’ve done while traveling in the past


TravelJournal 28

I want to travel more mindfully now – take time out to rest, be still…and not obsess over everything!

Well, I guess I have obsessed somewhat because in Amsterdam we’ll be on our own. In Tanzania everything will be taken care of as part of our tour. I had to do some research about Amsterdam and find a place to stay. I went online and came across the website I was able to compare prices of different hotels and found something reasonably priced. I had planned to book through Airbnb, but found a studio apartment at Amsterdam ID Aparthotel. We can buy coffee and other breakfast type foods to eat in our lodgings, saving time and money.

Then I had to figure out what to do and see in Amsterdam. I contacted my brother, who has spent quite a lot of time there. He sent me an enthusiastic and long email with ideas and tips, which I printed out and taped in my journal. I also looked on the Internet, and copied information for a lot more places than we will be able to see. It’s a good thing I did this, because the Anne Frank House is being renovated and one must order tickets and a time slot to visit online.  While I was at it, I booked a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. I also ordered a card that gets us into some museums free, discounts at others, and free public transportation for four days.

It’s always nerve-wracking yet exciting to plan trips where we’ll be on our own. I’ve been checking Amsterdam’s weather, and next week it’s supposed to be in the 40s (F) and rainy. A lot better than Chicago!

Today I did research on transportation and printed out this map of the Amsterdam metro.
Amsterdam metro map


Another map is interactive and shows buses and trams as well as the metro and how they connect together. I’m sure we will use it!

Since our trip has two parts with very different climates, we have to be careful what we pack. I’ve decided that it would be a good idea, on our last day in Amsterdam, to mail our winter clothes (except our winter coats, of course) back home. That will give me the freedom to bring a couple of warmer shirts. My husband wondered, what do we mail them back in?

“A box, of course,” I said.  Here the post office sells boxes; perhaps the same is true in Holland. Anyway, I’m sure we can find a suitable box to use.




TravelJournal 32-33

My ongoing packing list – still a lot to add – such as sunscreen & insect repellant, and a warmer shirt or two. I drew a hypothetical box for mailing back our winter clothes.


TravelJournal 36-37

What I want to do and see! (A partial list). My brother told me about other interesting places in Amsterdam, so I pasted his email on the following page. Most of the things to see and do are on a separate document I made. In Tanzania, we’ll mostly be on safari, which is why I printed and cut out random African animal photos and stuck them in here. 

I’m finding the travel journal fun and engaging. Its pages have different ways of looking at things as we travel. I look forward to filling them in during the next two and a half weeks!  We leave on Sunday, Jan. 28.