No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, January 19, 2007

J. Seward Johnson opening

J. Seward Johnson opening

January 19, 2007

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting J. Seward Johnson

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Carol

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Sy, Florrie & Betty

If you can imagine yourself walking through a Monet landscape, hanging out in Van Gogh’s bedroom or appearing in a famous Renoir scene then the Key West Custom House was the place to be last night at the formal opening of the new exhibit featuring the incredible sculptures of J. Seward Johnson. The exhibit, “Beyond The Frame: Impressionism Revisited” will be on display until March 4th and I would urge anyone with the opportunity to check it out.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Michael Sheilds

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Hmmmmmm....

You no doubt noticed that we got a preview last weekend when the Key West Literary Seminar had a party at the Custom House which enabled us to see it before it officially opened, but the actual opening party for the exhibit brought out the usual collection of Key West glitterati to take in Johnson’s wonderful creations. The artist himself was there and seemed to be having a great time at the first showing of his art in his hometown of Key West.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Artist at play

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Steve

The recent foolish decision by the city commissioners that denied Johnson’s offer to place permanent sculptures at the Southernmost point seems even worse after seeing the delight that people appeared to experience when viewing the sculptures. Normally reserved people hopped into Van Gogh’s bed and there was a spirit of fun and playfulness that is often lacking with the wine and cheese set.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Beth

This being the height of the season, there is no shortage of events going on, many simultaneously, so after the Custom House, it was over to the Walk on White monthly gallery walk. It was packed as hoards of art and culture lovers scurried along White Street checking out art and each other in what is always an enjoyable ritual.
Today we are off to Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale with Kathy’s dad Jim, in celebration of his birthday earlier this week, we are taking him to see the touring Broadway play Spamalot at the Broward Center this weekend. We’ll be back Sunday to watch the Colts try once again to cast off that Gorilla known as the Patriots from their backs. Perhaps the third time really is the charm.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Steve & Chad

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Key West Literary Seminar

January 17, 2007

Key West Literary Seminar

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Billy Collins & friends

Of the two major literary events that Kathy & I attend annually (the Miami Book Fair being the other); The Key West Literary Seminar is by far the more intimate and thought provoking. In the three and a half days that the seminar visits Key West annually, the sheer volume of literary insights is so overwhelming that it is impossible to adequately address it in a simple blog entry.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Judy Blume & Lyn Kaufelt

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Paul Auster

This year marks the 25th annual seminar and the 14th consecutive that I have attended. Each year, about 400 devotees, pack into the beautiful and historic San Carlos Institute to listen and interact with many of the finest writers alive. This year hosted the normal dazzling collection of writers which included winners of all manner of literary awards including Pulitzer Prizes. The list this year included Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Aimee Bender, Rosalind Brackenbury, Michael Cunningham, Tananarive Due, Jeffrey Eugenides, Siri Hustvedt, Wally Lamb, Ian McEwan, Mary Morris, Joyce Carol Oates, Steve Stern, Amy Tan, James Tate, Michael Wood and Mary Kay Zuravleff. In addition to the noted writers onstage, the crowd at the San Carlos is always liberally sprinkled with even more great writers including the likes of Judy Blume, Billy Collins, Annie Dillard, Alison Lurie, Michael Mewshaw and Robert Richardson. The literary tradition is alive and well in Key West.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Joyce Carol Oates

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Michael Wood & Margaret Atwood

The seminar is presented as a series of lectures, readings and panel discussions interspersed with delightful social gatherings, dinners and parties which allow attendees to interact with the authors in any number of settings. It’s amazingly well organized and enjoyable. The writers love it and the audience is treated to some incredible moments. What has always struck me about the seminar is the casual informality that it brings out in the writers. More an intimate discussion among friends and colleagues than a dull dry series of literary presentations, the seminar brings out the best (and sometimes worst) in the writers. This year was relatively calm, but past seminars have featured heated disagreements and bouts of tears from the stage.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Mary Kay,Aimee Bender & friend

It’s near impossible to select highlights from such a consistently strong presentation. Certainly Wally Lamb’s presentation, “Wondrous Strange at the Connecticut Woman’s Prison”, which received a very rare standing ovation during the Sunday afternoon public session was one of the most impressive presentations of the week. My secret joy is not hearing from the myriad of familiar or famous, but in discovering a writer in the crowd that I was previously unfamiliar with. My hidden gems this year were Tananarive Due and Mary Kay Zuravleff. They were each delightful, enthusiastic and held their own among the more celebrated literati present.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Mary Kay Zuravleff

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Tananarive Due

The party Saturday night at the Customs House is always a special event, and this year with the delightful exhibit of sculptures by J. Seward Johnson the 25th anniversary celebration reached new heights. Johnson’s life size sculptures recreate famous paintings allowing patrons to literally put themselves in the painting. It was great fun. Almost as much fun as last year’s afterparty tour of drag shows and strip clubs with Billy Collins and Eddy Harris…but not quite.