Across The Commons

Creativity in the Woman Artist

Women artists gifted with the tool of creativity frequently have extended lives, remain in good health to the end, and experience a blessed sense of fulfillment. There is nothing like being a creative artist to enable us to experience life’s blessings all of our days. This post relates to Creativity in the Woman Artist and the many pictures that are proof of that. Expressing creativity is the closest humanity can come to the Fountain of Youth.

The great Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, and has been a major figure in American art since the 1920s. She worked successfully and prolifically for over 50 years, but by the early 1970s, her eyesight was eroded by macular degeneration.

Nevertheless, she did not abandon art, but turned instead to working with clay and to writing her autobiography, as well as making a video, Georgia O’Keeffe. She worked unassisted in watercolor and charcoal until 1978 and in graphite until 1984 when she reached the advanced age of 96. She died at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Santa Fe on March 6, 1986, at the age of 98.

Self Love September

I can’t believe it’s September already! Where did my summer go? And certainly, when will it start feeling like fall? I am pretty much over the humidity, and last week I felt like I was borderline heat stroke every time I set off for my early morning 10 a.m.-ish runs.

Either way, just as I always do, I am taking the opportunity to start off a fresh month with a fresh new set of goals.  This month though, I’m doing things a little differently than I have in the past.

This month I’m not focusing on miles or pounds. I’m not thinking in calories or macros, “after pictures” or visible abs…

This month, my sole focus is on learning to love myself no matter what phase of my “journey” I’m in. Nurturing my mental health as well as my physical well being. Taking time to take care of me! And I encourage you to do the same!

Collection of portraits of women scientists

One of my favorite times of the year in Flickr Commons is March when the Smithsonian used to roll out more wonderful images from the collection of portraits of women scientists. In the fifth year they did so, there were so many photos to share. These are from the first batch in that fifth year:

Ethel Grace Stiffler (c.1900-1995) was an American trained botanist, taught biology at several universities, and was married to astronomer Edwin Carpenter.
Biochemist Lina Solomonova Stern (1878-1968) was born in present-day Latvia and studied the blood-brain barrier in the Soviet Union.

Gertrude Van Wagenen (1893-1978) was an American research anatomist at Yale University.

The Real Brooklyn (Museum)

What’s it like to be neighbors with one of the finest museums in the country? Nine years ago (almost ten), when I moved into my apartment, I became one of the lucky people to find out.

Every night, when I come home from work, I’m greeted by the Brooklyn Museum. As I walk up from the subway, first I see architectural remnants from the Brooklyn Museum lining the upper subway walls, neatly surrounded by brilliant blue mosaic — heads of gods and goddesses, cornerstones and bits from buildings, grandly telling me (as many subway stops do) what awaits upstairs. When exiting the subway, museum visitors go to the right, while locals exit to the left.

As I come up the subway stairs I’m greeted by big skies. Eastern Parkway, the first parkway in the country, leaves a large swath of sky to greet those who rise out of the subway at the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop on the 2/3 line. First the sky, then the trees straight ahead, then, to the right, the Brooklyn Museum.

The building is massive, ornate, grand. It was built grandly to match the history of Eastern Parkway — built as a gateway between the city of Brooklyn and its parks and, for a time, called Doctors Row. It is lined with fine old apartment buildings, with beautiful marble lobbies.

Interview with Paul Hagon, Developer

Paul Hagon is the mashup developer whose amazing mashups of Google Maps and images from the Commons were featured on Indicommons recently.

   Could you tell me more about yourself?
My first coding experiences were back in high school when I learned the basics of programming on a VIC-20 and a TRS-80. This sparked an interest in computers, but my real passion is in design. I studied Industrial Design at university.

I was still involved with computers then, but mostly doing a lot of CAD drawings, renderings, Illustrator and Photoshop work (this was back in the days of Photoshop 1.0). After graduating I worked in the furniture industry for 7 years before moving into the web world.

I always had a fascination about how people interact with things. Industrial design was perfect for feeding that fascination — it has an extremely personal scale of interacting with an object. Designing for the web is so similar, it’s interaction at a personal level.

Tips for doing a Then and Now photo series

Glen Lowry (Vo0Ds), a Flickr user who lives in Edinburgh, re-shot some of the old photos from the National Gallery of Scotland (”as closely as patience and access allowed,” he says) to see exactly how much or how little the city had changed.

Tollbooth and Canongate, Edinburgh:

   Glen, what prompted you to take on this project?
I decided to reshoot these particular photos because they were interesting and the places they were taken from; I was sure that I could get to pretty much the same place today. There were, however, a few shots that I would have liked to get, such as the picture of Lothian Road.

On the notion of The Commons

In 1968, Garrett Hardin published a seminal treatise on resources and scarcity, The Tragedy of the Commons. In that treatise, whose title is often quoted, Hardin explains that communal areas such as public grazing lands are depleted by self-interested individuals, overgrazing the limited resource and destroying the public good. Hardin uses a Hegelian notion of positive liberty. As Friedrich Engels said, “Freedom is the recognition of necessity“: there is a moral necessity that government regulates public goods, restricting individual liberty for the sake of individual freedom.

However, as far as culture is concerned, the “tragedy” does not, in fact, exist. Culture is not a finite resource. Greater participation in shared culture enriches that culture; it does not deplete it. Freedom in this digital age includes the ability to have unrestricted access to public goods, which in turn produces more public goods.

Laurence Lessig (among other things, founder of the Creative Commons) has explained this phenomenon at a TED conference on the strangling of creativity by protective intellectual property laws. Lessig frames the problem as a war between the read-only culture induced by copyright laws and an emerging read-write culture wherein creativity is democratized by access to and re-use of prior artistic works (see the video above).

Inaugurations Past and Present

The Smithsonian Institution has a long tradition with inaugural events, with its museums serving as the sites for many of the inaugural balls, festivities, and exhibitions. A few years ago, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative wanted your contributions to click! photography changes everything: History in the Making.

You could submit your photographs and stories of recent US elections and inaugurations that explore how photography influences our understanding of the world. It’s exciting too that the Smithsonian is on the forefront of encouraging a populist inclusion of modern times in their storied archives. People were encouraged, if they had any images and stories, take a trip to their website and submit them!

One of the activities we hold in our Flickr group, Flickr Commons, is a Tag/Research/Explore (TRE) campaign, where we focus on a sub curated collection and ask our members to add descriptive tags to the images, as well as notes and independent research. We also encourage members to present their findings in the group. This weekend, we started a TRE campaign for the Smithsonian’s Inauguration set, which we invited into our group’s photo pool for our member’s ease of access.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

Lately, I’ve been forgetting to take my medicines – Zoloft and THE PILL – before bed. It shouldn’t be so easy to forget them. But they’re right there, next to my contact lenses, in the medicine cabinet, looking at me while I’m plunging myself into blindness in a weird sort of nightly ritual.

It should be pretty simple. Take out my contacts, put the case in the cabinet, and grab the prescriptions from the shelf. But it’s not. I keep forgetting and this has now gotten worse since this academic year has ended.

There are some obvious downsides to this forgetfulness. For one thing, I’m (close but) not quite ready to start on Bebe le Deuxieme. Did you hear that, Subconscious? I’m not quite ready yet. Give me a few more months, and then we’ll talk.

Side note: I even called to schedule my annual girly parts check-up, and they couldn’t fit me in until late August. Ain’t nothing happening in the uterus till after that appointment!

American Presidential Inauguration photos

I’m a bit too excited (such a Eufemia) about our current Trump administration to make smart remarks. Here’s a look through time of American Presidential Inauguration photos in The Commons — mostly from The Smithsonian! All of these images — including recent ones — are available with “no known copyright restrictions“. I guess later inaugurations, after Bill Clinton, are still fresh in your memory so no pictures.

We began eight years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He’ll be the arc to our story.

The gown was worn by Julia Dent Grant (First Lady to Ulysses S. Grant).

Grant was a General under Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Smithsonian Institution
The Arts and Industries building is ready for James Garfield’s bash. Within the year, Garfield would be assassinated, as was Lincoln.

The inauguration of Woodrow Wilson at the Capitol Building.

Construction on the Lincoln Memorial began the following year on the opposite end of The Mall from the Capitol. As a symbol of presidential excellence, it would become the site of “kick-off” events leading to the inaugural oath.