Thursday, March 30, 2023



MICHEL CIRY was  a very talented figure in modern French culture.  He was the composer of six symphonies for orchestra, mixed choir, and soloist. He published 36 volumes of memoirs. He was a master of modern etching, designing postage stamps and illustrating literary classics by authors ranging from Emily Bronte to Franz Kafka, and he painted.

He art was largely devoted to sacred themes. He also chose to remain celibate, living in self-imposed exile from the Paris art scene for over fifty years on the seacoast of Normandy in Varengeville-sur-Mer, where a museum opened in 2012 to display works in his personal collection from a career spanning over seven decades.

He was born in 1919 in La Baule in South Brittany. He showed promise as both an artist and musician while he was still a teenager. He created his first etching when he was sixteen and made his public debut three years later at an exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris.  He was a student of contemporary French musician, Nadia Boulanger, yet in 1958, he gave up composing  to devote himself to painting.

Ciry has been described as an artist of solitude.

 As French Roman Catholic Writer Francois Mauriac once observed: “Ciry knows how to make divinity shine through a poor face similar to those we walk past on the street.”


 “It seems my lot has been to translate the anguish, the pain, the diversity of torments that can assail a human being,” explained Ciry. “I do not cultivate this sadness but it imposes itself in such a way there is hardly space for anything else in my work but this.”

 When a friend once urged Ciry to renounce images of solitude and become “a painter of love,” the artist was quick to defend himself. “How could I be anything else but a painter of love?” he wrote. “It is precisely my great and slightly mad ambition in this time of hatred to want to stay on the side of love.”


Top- Pieta of Nortre  Dame- 1950

  Right:- Pieta (1954)      

Sunday, March 26, 2023



FRITZ EICHENBERG, born in 1901 was a German-American illustrator and arts educator who worked primarily in wood engraving. His best-known works were concerned with religionsocial justice and nonviolence.

 He was born to a Jewish family in Cologne, Germany, where the destruction of World War I helped to shape his anti-war sentiments. He worked as a printer's apprentice, and studied at the Municipal School of Applied Arts in Cologne and the Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig.

In 1923 he moved to Berlin to begin his career as an artist, producing illustrations for books and newspapers. In his newspaper and magazine work, he was politically outspoken and sometimes both wrote and illustrated his own reporting.

In 1933, the rise of Adolf Hitler convinced Fritz, a public critic of the Nazis, to emigrate with his wife and children to the United States, where he settled in New York City for most of the remainder of his life.

He taught art at the New School for Social Research and at Pratt Institute and was part of the WPA'sFederal Arts Project and was a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists.  He  also served as the head of the art department at the University of Rhode Island and laid out the printmaking studios there.

In his prolific career as a book illustrator, he worked with many forms of literature but specialized in material with elements of extreme spiritual and emotional conflict, fantasy, or social satire, illustrating such authors as include DostoyevskyTolstoyCharlotte and Emily BrontëPoe, and Swift. He also wrote children's stories.

 Raised in a non-religious family, Fritz had been attracted to Taoism as a child. Following his wife's unexpected death in 1937, he turned briefly to the practice of Zen Buddhist meditation, then joined the Religious Society of Friends in 1940. Though he remained a Quaker until his death, he was also associated with Catholic charity work through his friendship with Dorothy Day, whom he met at a Quaker conference on religion and publishing in 1949. He frequently contributed illustrations to Dorothy Day's newspaper the "Catholic Worker".

 He died at home in Peace Dale, Rhode Island in 1990 at age 89 of complications from Parkinson's disease.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023




One of my favorite artists did some amazingly poignant PIETAS. She often places an animal in her art. The piece to the left shows the dog licking the wounds of the dead Christ, reminiscent of the dogs who licked the wound of poor Lazarus.

ALENA ANTONOVA was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930. From 1949 to 1955 she studied graphic arts at the College of Applied Arts in Prague under the acclaimed Cubist painter Emil Filla. She then specialized in printmaking. The primary technique she used was drypoint, which involves incising a picture with a needle onto a metal plate, then inking it and pressing it onto paper. 

She also did etchings, woodcuts, and linocuts. The female figure is a common theme in her work and she often has an animal in the picture. The Pieta to the left shows a dog licking the wound of Jesus, perhaps suggesting the dog who licked the wounds of Lazarus, showing more mercy towards the poor man's condition than his fellow man. 

Alena died in  2021. I could find no more in English about her life.

Saturday, March 18, 2023



The Pieta remains a favorite subject of artists even to our own day. Here are two very different images, both of which convey the quiet suffering of our Mother.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori said, “Martyrs are represented with the instruments of their suffering… Mary is represented with her dead son in her arms; for Jesus Himself, and He alone, was the instrument of her martyrdom, by reason of the love she bore for Him.” 

Actually scripture does not mention a moment when Mary held Jesus’ lifeless body in her lap. But because of theologians and artists, this imagined moment became the focus of prayer and reflection.

The Pietà’s name doubles as both “piety” and “pity” – in Latin and Italian, respectively. It evokes sorrow in its viewers, but the longer we gaze upon it, the more they are drawn to prayer. Mary  is the picture of tranquility, accepting her Son’s sacrifice as He lays in her arms. In her Fiat, Mary accepted whatever came for her  Son, even if His death was the sacrifice to redeem the world.

It is hard to contemplate how many mothers have mourned the loss of a son or daughter in the on-going  war in the Ukraine. The images of contemporary Pietas help us see the horror, the sorrow and remind us to pray for the losses and have hope for the end - of a lasting peace.


Images:  Top left- Krishen Khanna- India

               Bottom right –Liviu Dumitrescu - Romania

Thursday, March 16, 2023




ROMAN ZILINKO  was born in 1979 in Ternopil, Ukaraine.
In 2001 he graduated from the Lviv Theological Academy (now the Ukrainian Catholic University).

In 2003 he completed his Master degree at the Catholic University in Lublin. From 2003- 06 he did doctoral studies at the Catholic University of Lublin, Institute of Art History.

Of his work he writes (before the present conflict with Russia):

I work in the area of religious art, but I try to be as simple and clear as possible. I gain my inspiration from folk religious art, naive, and kitsch. I hope that my icons are about love and friendship between God and people. I do also believe that my artwork is about searching for a lost childhood, either personal or collective.

Nowadays, we live in a time of extremes and clashes between radical thoughts, including those related to faith and religion. Maybe that is why I try to hide behind infantility in my artwork, lower the tension, and evoke pure thoughts and childhood memories.

I like to use "objects with history" as the basis for my paintings, such as old wood boards, chests, door and table tiles, pieces of a home weaving cloth... By the name token, I try to save them from a garbage can, as much as gain a grain of peace for myself."

He finds inspiration in traditional village icons from Ukraine’s Carpathian region with their naïve, flat painting style, rich in colors and ornaments. Schooled in theology, he works as the Director of Exhibitions at the Andrei Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv.  Roman uses “objects with history” like old wooden boards, panels from chests and doors, and homespun cloth in creating folk art-styled works. Painting with acrylics is his only concession to modernity.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023



Winnie and Bella

Update on our Lagotto Romagnolo pups.  People ask, and this past weekend is good occasion for news as a Lagotto won Best in Show at Crufts (in Birmingham, England), the world’s largest dog show.  Orca, who hails from Crotia, beat over 19,000 dogs for the title.  Needless to say  we are happy!

The Lagotto is still a rare breed here in the USA, but they are gaining popularity thanks to their teddy-bear looks and infrequent shedding. The Italian breed has a history as a waterfowl retriever,  but now used to hunt truffles, replacing pigs in Europe.

Monday, March 13, 2023



I found two Pieta’s that have recently been painted due to the on-going Pandemic.

Helen Lavelle of Scranton, PA had her painting, "Pandemic Pieta," displayed  in an art exhibition through the M.A.D.S. Art Gallery in Milan, Italy last November. This striking piece represents mothers across our world today who have lost children through violence, especially in the Ukraine.

The inspiration for this particular piece began to take form around the time that the COVID-19 death toll hit 25,000 in the
United States.

The artist explains:

As I was painting, the number of lives lost continued to exponentially rise. Today over 761,000 Americans are dead with over 5.1 million fatalities worldwide. The focus of this painting is not the life lost, but the mother who is battered with unbearable grief, unspeakably traumatized. She is in the eye of the storm, her face acknowledging her reality and ours. Her hand reaches out over her dead son’s body. She is not hysterical. She is feeling her feelings. She is fully present. She reaches out in her most vulnerable state so that we may reach in.

Oleksii Gnievyshev is an emerging Ukrainian painter whose work has already received international exposure. He is a graduate of the Art Academy in Kiev. Today Oleksii lives and works outside of Cologne- his wife being from Germany. His oil on canvas paintings combine classical realism with modernity using a bright, engaging color pallet. His subjects vary from figurative nudes to hyper-realistic still lifes.

Born into a family of architects, Oleksii was always surrounded by creativity. He painted his first oil painting on cardboard at the age of nine. It was a landscape inspired by the works of English Romanticism.


Oleksii combines classical realism with modernity in his oil paintings on canvas. He takes up themes of Greek mythology, as well as the interplay of human nature and animalism. He is inspired by the power and energy hidden in humans, animals and plants. The artist tries to transfer this power onto the canvas with lines and dots. He does not want to display these themes impressively, but to give the viewer the feeling that this energy exists.

He has exhibited his works in numerous exhibitions, notably in Milan, Amsterdam, and Cologne.

Oleksii paints in his special, unique style. The artist also carries the Asian culture in his own interpretation on his canvas. The fascination for Japan doesn't just come from the general interest, but from the historical and family situation of the artist: Oleksii Gnievyshev's family has their roots in Japan.