Saturday, February 25, 2012

22 Ways to Fight Writer's Block

Since many of the regular readers of this blog write in some way or another, I thought that this infographic from Copyblogger would be useful. I know from personal experience that writer's block can be frustrating and emotionally fraught, and thought that these were good suggestions presented in a fun visual style.

Personally, walks on the beach help. Tea while reading something by an author that inspires me helps, and sometimes I re-read things I have written before (to remind myself that I have done it before and lived through it :-).  What methods do you use to get the words flowing? Leave me a comment.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Art, Academia and Victorians

Had a busy day this past Friday, visiting with fellow art historian Hannah Sigur. Together we visited the de Young Museum, went to a meeting of the Victorian Society in an amazing period house, and went to a party at the downtown offices of

Still Life with Grape Juice & Sandwiches (Xenia) 1994
by David Ligare, in the collection of the FAMSF.
Things were quiet at the de Young, as everyone's focus was on the Cult of Beauty exhibition opening at the Legion of Honor. We enjoyed the opportunity to wander around the nearly empty galleries, happy to spend some uninterrupted quality time with the art. One painting that completely transfixed us was Still Life with Grape Juice & Sandwiches (Xenia) 1994 by David Ligare. The wall text explains that Ligare often volunteered in a soup kitchen, and this is what they served to the people coming in for a meal. Xenia refers to the ancient Greek custom of gracious hospitality to guests, including bread and wine.  The details and the lighting in this painting were gorgeous. It's on display in a second floor gallery surrounded by still lives from the 18th and 19th century, as an example of how still lives and the often subtle messages they contain can still be relevant in contemporary art.

The historic home of
Richard Reutlinger
In keeping with the 19th century theme, next we went to a meeting of the Victorian Society in the absolutely astonishing home of Richard Reutlinger near Grove and Webster. From the Egyptian Revival parlor, to the themed bedrooms upstairs, every room is like an individual exhibit.  As I wandered the house, I noticed all the random period portraits he collected and wondered about them. I wondered if he invented stories for them, all those strangers, inhabiting his walls.

The Victorian Society meeting was in Reutlinger's basement, where he houses his collection of vintage player pianos (at least 6 plus 2 in the parlor).  The meeting itself was about the Society's Summer School programs in London and Newport, Rhode Island, featuring tours and field trips about the architecture and decorative arts of the period.  They include a through discussion of all classes of Victorian society from the home of the Vanderbilts to textile mills. The London tour includes fabulous gardens and the home of William Morris (among other locations). I previously posted about hearing the Director of the Newport program Richard Guy Wilson speak at the Walt Disney Family Museum about the "American Renaissance" and the World's Fairs. I hope, someday, to make it to one of these. logo
Moving on to something completely different, we dropped in on a party in the financial district at the offices of, who were celebrating their 1 Millionth member. On the whole, it was a typical dotcom party with wine and foosball. Everyone was really friendly, and we stayed long enough to hear Richard Price, Founder & CEO, talk about his goals for the company. He said that's mission was to make it easier for research to be shared, cutting the time it generally takes for traditional publishing (about a year and a half) to more-or-less instant. He hoped that this would open new dialogs in the sciences (see more about this). In conversation, he seemed amazed that two art historians would find the site useful, and wanted to hear all about it. We were also surprised when one of the staff members told us that they have heard of people using's stats as a way to justify their research, and that academia plans to expand this feature. It's a great site, I wish them continued success!