Margaret Walker, African American poet

Margaret Walker (1915-1998) was a highly accomplished woman. She was at college student at the young age of 15 when she begin writing poetry. In 1936 she joined the Federal Writers’ Project in Chicago, befriending Richard Wright. BA from Northwestern 1935, MA and Ph D U of Iowa 1945. Her dissertation was published as a novel, Jubilee 1966.

margaret walker portrait conte
Dr. Margaret Walker, Conte pencil, 32 x 50 cm/ 12.5 x 19.5″ on gray pastel paper

Walker was the first African American poet to receive the Yale Younger Poets Prize, penning For My People 1942. She published This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems , October Journey and Prophets for a New Day .

In 1949 she joined the faculty at Jackson State College. She returned to the University of Iowa for her doctoral studies and received a PhD in 1965. In 1968 Walker founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People at Jackson State College.

As what became the Margaret Walker Center, she organized the 1971 National Evaluative Conference on Black Studies and the 1973 Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival.

In 1979 she published On Being Female, Black, and Free, a collection of personal essays, and Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius.

Umberto Ecco

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Umberto Ecco, Conte pencil, 32 x 50 cm/ 12.5 x 19.5″

Umberto Ecco (1932-2016) was a medievalist, philosopher, semiotician, novelist, cultural critic, and political and social commentator. He is best known for his popular 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, made into the movie with Sean Connery playing the leading role. The novel is a tour de force of intricacies of medieval theology. Foucault’s Pendulum pokes fun, again intricately, at conspiracy theory, while Prague Cemetery revisits the plots of the Risorgimento. Another of my heroes. He taught at the University of Bologna, which we visited along with the Focault pendulum then swinging in the cathedral. Portrait in Conte.

Pianist, Singer, Ballerina

Pianist, Dance, SInger dones picanya final
Pianist, Singer, Ballerina, acrylics on canvas, 1.5 x 1.3m/5′ x 4′

This expressionistic piece combines imaginative and realistic elements such as we see in the dancer, from the performer’s point of view. The stained glass look continues, muted in the dark theater as is the audience. It’s about the challenges of cooperative performance. Without an audience there is no performance.

Light and dark interplay. Shafts of light downpour, adding to the pressure. The spotlight’s on you. Do it. There is one escape: that open door. But to get there you are judged more harshly.

Last year’s event here Dones de Picanya 2023 and 2022 here Dones de Picanya 2022

Portrait of Dame Judi Dench

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Dame Judi Dench, actress (b 1934), conte pencil drawing 30 x 50 cm/ 12 x 19.5″ on pastel paper

I’ve watched Judi Dench perform since the 1990’s in the BBC comedy ‘As Time Goes By.” She’s a natural on the stage. I am not alone in singing her praises. She has been awarded an Academy Award, a Tony Award, two Golden Globe Awards, four British Academy Television Awards, six British Academy Film Awards and seven Olivier Awards. She appeared in eight James Bond films. Starting in 1968 she had a long run as Sally Bowles in ‘Cabaret.’ Her accomplishments are almost too long to list.

Mona + X

My take on two famous portraits. I gave Mona a gaunt look with a square jaw. I interpreted the profile of Sargeant’s fabulous Madam X.

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Mona + X, acrylics on Canson 300# paper, 70 x 50 cm, 28 x 20″

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