All posts tagged art

Soul Food at the Art Gallery

Published February 22, 2013 by Susan Woodward

It took three attempts to visit the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, but I finally made it in!   I really, really wanted to go on Monday because it was my birthday, but when I arrived, the museum was closed to the public.


I came back on Tuesday to find that it was also closed to the public that day as well.


Wednesday I had a lunch date and then watched movies with my son on his day off, so I didn’t even ATTEMPT to show up again.

But Thursday?  SUCCESS!!

My big thing was that I wanted to do something for my soul.  I have been working hard to reformat this body (and it really still needs a LOT of work…).  I have quit smoking, I’m changing my eating habits (that’s a bit on the hard side…), I am exercising (and not only at Aerial Arts, but actually using the fitness center where I live), and working hard to make myself stronger…but I really needed something more to nourish my soul.

One thing I did this week to help with that was to visit my friend and healer, Mimi.  I had a wonderful reiki session with her, and that also helps with the spiritual food.

I really felt called to go to the art gallery, though.  I am in no way, shape, or form any kind of an art “expert”… far from it!   I was thinking that maybe something there was calling to me in some way, begging me to come see it.  I figured that my soul would recognize whatever it was that was calling to me because I wasn’t quite sure if my eyes could do so!

I walked through the various rooms, hoping that something would speak to me and grab my attention.  While there were many interesting pieces, nothing said, “Hey, Sue…cop a seat and pay some attention to me for a bit!”

That was before I got to the far end of the building and could hear what sounded like the Phantom of the Opera (NOT Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version, but the one I imagine from Gaston Leroux’s novel) playing upstairs.  It was haunting and literally drew me up that marble staircase till I found the source.  It was coming from the Italian Baroque Organ in the Fountain Court.

I discovered a young man sitting at a bench, playing this massive 600 pipe organ.  (Ok…I’ll give you the info from the museum flyer):

Italian Baroque Organ

This fully functional instrument, with its 600 pipes and lavishly carved, painted and gilded 22-foot case, not only reflects the art, architecture and science of Baroque Italy, but its musical and religious culture as well.  With the original bellows dating from the late 1700s, this organ combines the technology of the eighteenth century with exquisite artwork, as seen in the crowning depiction of Saint Andrew.  The authentic pipework, keyboard, and case have been restored to their 1770 condition with as few alterations and additions as possible.  That this instrument was so well preserved is a testament to the continuity in Italian organ culture.  As tastes changed throughout the years, organs were enlarged but the original integrity of sound was never compromised.  The result is that visitors to the Memorial Art Gallery are provided with a unique window into eighteenth-century Italy.

The young man at the keyboard was Joel Kumro, who is studying privately with a professor from the Eastman School of Music.  I was so taken by the sound that I had to take a video to capture it…thank goodness I had my camera and it takes movies!


I have to apologize to Joel for the first video… I filmed it with my camera sideways, and YouTube would not let me rotate the view.  I will have to see if there is a way to fix that, but I can at least share the music with you!  The first piece is called “Tocata per le levatione” by Fresco Baldi:

Because of an error I made in transferring the videos to my computer from my camera, I ended up making a mess of the second video, and could NOT get it on YouTube.  I managed to save myself by getting it to FaceBook!  (I have to work on being more technologically savvy…).  You have to click on the thumbnail to get to it.  Sorry for the technical difficulties, folks…

This piece is entitled “Christae Alio Modo” and it is also by Fresco Baldi:

Italian Baroque Organ

If all else fails, click here:

Stupid video embedding technological mess-ups…   ANYHOW…

The litany of pieces played by Mr. Kumro kept calling me back to the Fountain Court, even after I began wandering around in the other halls nearby.  I decided that it must have been the music calling to me that brought me to the gallery to begin with.  I do not think that I would have been treated to an extended concert like the one I had today on any given day…I was meant to be there today and not earlier in the week.

What made me think that it was the music calling me was a comment that I made to myself while looking around in one of the other rooms.  I looked at a piece and thought, “Huh…this doesn’t resonate with me.”   At that point, the music from the Fountain Court got really loud and higher pitched…and it reminded me of that old Don Knotts movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.  I just decided to plant myself on one of the benches in the hall and allow the music to resonate with me.  I noticed a couple of different reactions within my body as I listened.

Tunes that were of the higher pitched, almost gratingly Gothic variety (the best phrase that I could come up with to describe it…and not to be meant derogatory in any way) literally caused the hair on the top of my head to prickle (again, not meant to be derogatory…just an observation).   Wondering if it was just a coincidence, I continued to listen as Mr. Kumro continued his repertoire.

When the music changed to what I can only describe as “churchy” sounding (lower pitch, smoother tones than the other pieces), I noticed a change in the resonance in my body.  I tried to sit as still as possible and just listen… and it seemed to resonate in my upper chest and throat area.

I continued to listen as the songs changed back and forth from the Gothicky to the churchy, and each time the resonance was experienced in the same way.  Top of the head for Gothicky…chest and throat for churchy.

So what did I begin to make of that?  I started thinking about how the singing bowls that Mimi used in the reiki session make me resonate with them.  The various pitches seems to reach different parts of my body, activating different chakras.  That’s what the experience with the Italian Baroque Organ was like… activating my chakras.  In this case, I felt the heart and throat chakras in the “churchy” lower pitched pieces, while my crown chakra literally buzzed with the higher pitched pieces.

Once I equated the organ with the singing bowls, my being there for the performance made much more sense on a synchronistic level.   This was my “soul food” that I had been seeking.  I felt more balanced and recharged as I left…a gift that worked well for going on to my aerial arts practice.

I love how the Universe works.


Published November 25, 2011 by Susan Woodward

I’d mentioned before that two cards kept appearing in my readings.  I’ve already talked about The Hermit, and today I want to examine the Nine of Pentacles.  Both have to do with solitude… but the Nine adds the element of gratitude.

This card is gorgeous.  I love the colors and the flowing lines.  I especially love how, although the woman is alone, she seems not to be concerned about that.  Life springs out of her creative expression, and the warm colors suggest that she is comfortable in her solitude.  Purple is a color of creativity, while green is life… my two favorite colors in the world.  With the water-based conch shells, it suggests that her world and music are filled with emotion, and the fact that she is seated on a conch suggests that she is comfortable in her emotional state.  She holds her head high while admiring the fruit of her talent.  The roots of the tree spread out wide on the earth, as do the roots that seem to spring from the shell.  She is grounded.   The branches of the tree reach high into the Universe, suggesting that her music is not meant to be kept to herself, even though she is alone in composing it.  Her hands seem relaxed as they are poised above the keyboard, and I imagine that if I could see her face, it too would be in a peaceful state.

I want that.  If I must be alone for now, I want it to be a peaceful solitude.  I want life to spring from my creative endeavors, whether it comes from my novel, my guided visualizations, my poetry, my music, or my theatrical performances… I want to bring life to my art.

I also want to find that sense of solace from being alone.  What I wish is to be comfortable in my solitude instead of feeling lonely.  Going from a house full of people to an apartment by myself is still an adjustment, even after a year and a half.   Sometimes it’s just too quiet.  What I am attempting to do is fill that quiet with the words of the my characters and the sounds of the world I am creating in my novel.

Snape could never be in this picture… and that makes me feel sad for people like him in this world.  My heart goes out to those who have loved and lost because I have been there.  However, the most important thing I can do for myself is not to get stuck in old memories.  I am ready to make new ones, even if I have to do it alone.  Would I be willing to accept someone into my world?  Of course… but not simply to alleviate any loneliness I feel.  When and if I were to be with someone, it would have to be a coming together of two like souls.  Convenience is not an option; that’s too easy.   I want something that has time to blossom and grow, like the tree springing forth in the picture.   Someone who also has a creative spirit who will help feed that tree, and not allow it to wither and die away.

I did that.  I allowed my creative writing to wither away because someone else didn’t appreciate what I wanted to do.  I gave in to doing what he wanted and stepped back from the things that were really a part of my soul.   Meditation and a soul retrieval ritual helped me to reclaim that part of me, and I will not let it go again.   A life of creativity is what I am called to.

And so I will write.  I will continue to write here, even if no one ever reads these words.   Like the tree, I give these words to the Universe.  I am perfectly okay with simply sending them out there.  Who knows where they will land, if they even do?

Today, as the sun streams in through the windows this gorgeous day-after-Thanksgiving, I will write.  I will be filled with gratitude that I have been given the gift of time to do so as well as a creative spirit.  I shall fill the silence with soft music and allow my imagination to fly me to the world I am creating through my fingertips.   Perhaps one day the world will share this imaginative journey with me when I finally publish the fruits of my solitary labor.

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