The theme of my summer show is transcendent resurrection of the spirit. This revival of hope is open to all– atheist, believer and agnostic. I believe in beauty as the intrinsic truth. Here is my small new contribution to that truth. My muses are my grandchildren, Amanda, Ben, Lucy, Jack and Nora. (Amanda will be with me at WG this year!)

They are the lens through which death loses its sting for me. Painting is my expression of the peace I feel when I’m immersed in the lives I love best. Thank you for taking the time to share these moments with me by looking at my work.

I walk from my studio into the garden, pick a flower that was planted by my grandchildren (usually as a bulb the year before) and paint it. Really these are “portraits” of the moments of joy and grace I experience with the gifts of the children near and dear to me. See you at WG!

Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, American Moderns presents almost 50 artworks from its collection in a variety of styles that explore the depth and range of American modern painting and sculpture.

Museum director Tom Denenberg said, “While Shelburne Museum is best known for its early American paintings and vast folk art collection, at the end of her life, Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) planned to expand the Museum’s collection to include modernist paintings and sculpture. This exhibition not only allows visitors a rare opportunity to experience modern masters in Vermont, but it also completes what might have been Mrs. Webb’s ultimate vision for the museum. She wanted to present a piece of what Georgia O’Keeffe called, ‘this great American thing’ to Vermont audiences.”

This is the last stop on the tour for the exhibition. Forty-four paintings and three sculptures will be on view in Shelburne Museum’s Pizzagalli Center for Art & Education by such artists as Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Elie Nadelman and Norman Rockwell.

In the 50 years between 1910 and 1960 art and society in the United States was completely transformed. The U.S. took the leap from agriculture to industry before and after World War I. During the Great Depression the population became mobile and cities were on the rise. When the U.S. emerged from World War II as an international economic giant and the American people demanded equality and an opportunity: the American Dream. The artists who lived through these times in America were driven to find innovative ways to express the new conditions of modern life.

Shelburne Museum visitors will see in these paintings a range of themes such as the city, the body, landscape, still life and Americana. A common motif in this period was the rise urban life. From the gridded geometries of the modern metropolis, artists found new iconographic and aesthetic possibilities. But artists also captured the social impact that followed change: alienation, lack of privacy and the increasing independence of women. In addition, both the idea of the heroic laborer and athletes who embodied the new cult of physicality were also sources of inspiration.

Conventional genres such as landscapes and still life painting were revitalized by experimentation in new styles and compositions, and in the formal properties, or components of a work of art which include: line, shape and form, space, color and texture. Artists were drawn to the various extreme vistas offered in the continental U.S. including the southwestern desert and rugged sea sides. Still other artists explored American nostalgia for the past with popular images of “bygone days” in new modern styles.


After a CSI-style investigation and restoration spanning eight years, the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague has declared that one of its star paintings really is by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn.

The announcement should end years of is-it-or-isn't-it debate about whether "Saul and David" was a real Rembrandt.

Researchers used advanced X-ray techniques to peer through several coats of paint that had been applied during previous restorations and establish that the original pigments were the same as those Rembrandt used in the 17th century. Paint sampling showed that the primer used was typical of Rembrandt's studio in the 1650s and 1660s.

For decades, there was no question. A former director of the museum in The Hague, Abraham Bredius, bought the painting more than a century ago, but in the late 1960s Rembrandt expert Horst Gerson cast doubt on who actually painted the Biblical scene of King Saul using a curtain to dab a tear from his eye while David, kneeling below the king, plucks the strings of a harp.

Restorer Carol Pottasch said it was no surprise that Gerson questioned who painted the oil-on-canvas work, because previous restorations had added so much paint.

"I guess that was the biggest problem that he faced. He couldn't see a painting by Rembrandt because there was no painting to see," she said Tuesday. "And now we've taken off all these layers now you can actually see the original paint again and then there's no doubt."

Now newly re-attributed to Rembrandt, the painstakingly restored canvas is the centerpiece of an exhibition opening Thursday and running through Sept. 13 that goes into forensic detail on how the museum unraveled the mystery of who painted "Saul and David."

Part of the team that confirmed the attribution was renowned Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering.

Like many crime-scene investigations, the Mauritshuis probe had to deal with a "victim" that had suffered much abuse. Cut up, painted over and faded over time, "Saul and David" even had part of another painting stuck into its top right-hand corner.

"Before the painting was treated, before it was cleaned, it became clear that the painting had been overpainted a number of times, that the painting had discolored, that its original dimensions had been changed in the past," said Joris Dik of Delft Technical University, whose high-tech scans helped establish the painting's authenticity and guide restorers. "It's been really treated brutally, this painting, in multiple past restoration campaigns."

Emilie Gordenker, the director of Mauritshuis, said the investigation turned up plenty of surprises. Peering through the paint, experts saw a canvas that almost resembled a jigsaw puzzle.

"The analysis helped us to determine that the painting is in fact made up of 15 different pieces of canvas; three main parts — the Saul, the David, and an insert of a copy of an old painting in the upper right corner plus strips all around the edges. So it's a real patchwork," she said.

It remains unclear why the painting was carved up in the past.

One result is that the painting now hanging in pride of place in the Mauritshuis exhibition — "Rembrandt? The case of Saul and David" — is smaller than Rembrandt's original.

But, in keeping with the high-tech nature of the investigation, the museum also commissioned a 3D printed version of the painting in its original size that visitors can touch to get a true feel for the Dutch master's brush strokes.

Director Gordenker said the museum did not set out to prove that the painting was indeed a Rembrandt.

"In fact, we only came to the conclusion about a month ago," Gordenker said. "We would have been happy to do this show and come to the conclusion it wasn't

The Cheraw Arts Commission featured the work of artist and Cheraw native Taylor Chestnut in an exhibit opening reception at the Burr Gallery June 4.

The exhibit featured a wide array of work from the young artist including watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings photographs, ceramics, leather work and metalcraft.

The recent graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the arts and humanities will attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in the fall and intends to major in accessories design. Chestnut said her time at the Governor’s School helped her to expand her horizons.

“It’s really been a great experience,” said Chestnut. “After starting off with Miss Gloria Turner and painting, I went more into three-dimensional work after experiencing 2-D while I was here in Cheraw. The Governor’s School really opened me up to a lot of different other artists.”

Chestnut said the school gave her the opportunity to learn about other arts including drama, music and creative writing.

“I really formed an appreciation for all of the arts in general,” she said. “It’s really been a great experience overall.”

While at the school, Chestnut said she learned to produce other forms of art aside from painting, such as metalwork and photography. These pieces are also on display at the Burr Gallery. She credits her newly discovered passion for accessories design.

“I thin without having a metals concentration and without having that 3-D experience, I wouldn’t have found that I wanted to do accessories design for a college career,” said Chestnut. “I did do metals at the Governor’s School which is where I learned that I wanted to do fashion, like functional work such as jewelry. I wanted to see if accessories is really the path I wanted to take, so I went to New York and I took a class and I ended up really enjoying that.”

Chestnut said the hardest part of the Governor’s School was balancing academic work and her artwork. She said she feels that learning to balance the two has helped to prepare her for her collage career.

Chestnut said she is excited to begin her first semester in New York.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here and my time in Greenville,” she said, “and I am ready for a new experience.”

Chestnut said she began painting at around age 9 with art teacher Gloria Turner.

Turner expressed pride in her former pupil at the gallery.

“It’s wonderful!” Turner said. “It’s so exciting, I am so happy for her. I knew when she was a little child that she had this special gift. She had this desire to create and paint. She’s a pleasure to work with. I feel like we will all know her name one day.”

Spice-Rubbed Steak with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder (see Tip)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 teaspoon, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
1 pound flank steak, trimmed
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/3 cup Madeira or dry sherry
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

The Edible Gardening Exchange will be a busy place this week, as it will host its monthly meeting and a special Saturday workshop at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center.

On Thursday, the exchange will hold its monthly meeting on mushrooms, beginning with an informal open discussion at 5:30 p.m. before the actual 6:30 meeting.

The guest speaker will be Benjamin Dion, a local expert on the identification, use, and ecological role of various fungi in Southwest Florida.

Karen Harty, who runs the exchange, said she found Dion through ECHO.

"We're looking for professionals who will advise us on edible mushrooms. Many people are asking if they can eat certain mushrooms," Harty said. "I won't say because all I know is that some are good and some are bad for you. He will show us which is which and how we can grow them ourselves."

On Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m., the exchange will hold a special workshop on organic controls for the home gardener.

Attendees will learn how to use organic controls to tackle disease and insect pests in the home garden.

Harty will be the speaker for the workshop. She said many organic gardeners know about organic controls, but can't figure out how to do it or which controls are organic.

"It gets a little overwhelming when you look at the wall of pesticides when you go to Home Depot," Harty said. "This will help them understand what the products are and what they will do."

There will be a $20 fee for the program, which will include presentation, a laminated pest/ disease control guide, and workshops on making yellow sticky traps and an organic spray mix, which will be custom made for whatever needs the gardeners have.

"The last time people had to buy an entire kit, and nobody wanted to do that because they didn't all have the same issues. This will allow them to make their own educated decisions," Harty said.

Registration is required. Participants will have the opportunity to place orders for difficult-to-find organic controls at the workshop.

"We keep it fun and friendly. Our club has never had a president or vice president. I want to treat it as educational and that's what this is about," Harty said.

The membership fee for monthly meetings April through September is $10. In addition, a $10 Lee Parks and Recreation lifetime membership is required.

The Saturday workshop does not require a membership.


Cut new potatoes into bite sized pieces, boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain.

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and cook and stir the pine nuts until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove the pine nuts from the pan and set aside.

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms stirring, until they begin to give up their juices but are still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain the juices.

Wash potatoes and prick with a fork. Cook for 15 minutes in mircrowave. Allow to cool.

Scoop 300g of cooked cooled potato into a large bowl and mash.

Add 600g flour, salt and yeast. Work together with your hands.

Add yoghurt and water to this mixture slowly and combine.

Tip the shaggy looking dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes adding more flour as needed. The dough should become nice and smooth.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and set aside for a few hours in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This could take 1-4 hours depending on temperature.

If there's one thing that most permaculture and organic gardening enthusiasts agree on, it's the beauty of polycultures. Mechanized farming operations have to—almost by necessity—reduce the variety of crops they are harvesting from any one area in order to stay efficient. By keeping things on a human scale, however, it is possible to grow many different crops in the same space, making more efficient use of resources and encouraging a broader range of biodiversity in the garden or farm.

One of my favorite examples of this is mushrooms, which can grow in the shade of other crops and by breaking down organic matter can help provide valuable nutrients back to the rest of the garden. I'm particularly excited about this right now because last week, I got my first crop of mushrooms grown directly in the path that runs between by raised bed gardens.

They were. however, a long time coming.

I had experimented before with shiitake mushroom logs behind the garden shed, not to mention growing oyster mushrooms in buckets of coffee grounds. But when Iinterviewed Mushroom Mountain's Tradd Cotter about the power of fungi, he was kind enough to send me some spawn and get me hooked on another experiment: inoculating wood chip tree waste and using it to mulch my garden paths.

The process was actually remarkably simple. First, I got a big bag of king stropharia mushroom spawn (aka wine caps, aka garden giant). Then I talked my kind neighbor with a truck into picking up some wood chips with me. We mixed the two together. We watered it copiously. And then we piled the wood chips onto one of my two garden paths.

Then, to be honest, I pretty much forgot about them. I occasionally watered the path for the first few months. I occasionally poured cooking fats on it (because I didn't know what else to do with cooking fat, and fungi break down oils fairly effectively). And I waited. And waited. And waited.

While I saw plenty of mycelium (the white fibrous substance that is the main body of a mushroom) I had pretty much assumed that the wine caps had been out competed by other fungi, until last week. Following a heavy rainfall, there was a sudden crop of rather yummy looking deep red mushrooms poking out of the ground. Following a quick ID session with some friends on Facebook (seriously, you probably shouldn't ID mushrooms via Facebook - but I was fairly confident anyway), I cooked up some mushrooms on toast and dug in.

And I am still here.

The mushrooms have still been cropping up during this past week, and with more showers forecast for the next few days, I am hoping for at least one more feast before it gets too hot. (King stropharia fruit in spring and fall.) The next plan is to be nice to my neighbor again, pick up some more wood chips, and both replenish the existing bed and transfer some spawn to the neighboring path too—from there, if we can get a healthy bed going, I'll be gradually moving some wood chips to other garden beds, as well as those of neighbors and friends.

I'm also talking to the fabulous Rob Jones of Understory Farm about mixing spent oyster substrate with the king stropharia spawn. If this goes to plan, we might be able to get multiple crops of mushrooms out of a space that was once reserved for walking on—and we'll be creating compost for the garden in the process.

The deaths of four members of a KwaZulu-Natal family – including a child – and a friend who died last month after eating a curry made from wild mushrooms picked from a field in Mariannhill, have prompted the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs to compile a list of guidelines, facts and fallacies concerning the fatal fungi.

The Daily News accompanied scientists from the department to try and find samples of mushrooms in that area, but most of the pine forest had been cleared and burnt clean.

Two were found and were taken for further testing.

Neil van Rij, a plant pathologist with the department, said that only 32 species of mushroom had been associated with death worldwide, while 52 with bad reactions such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

“One of the myths we find is that poisonous mushrooms taste bad and smell bad when actually many poisonous mushrooms, say survivors, are delicious. Some also believe that insects and animals do not eat poisonous mushrooms.

“This too is a myth: many poisonous mushrooms are eaten by animals and insects without harm.”

Another common misconception, he said, was that poisonous mushrooms blackened silver spoons or old 50-cent silver coins, but none of the 32 worldwide poisonous mushroom species had any effect on silver.

Van Rij said that people also thought that poisonous mushrooms were brightly coloured, but highly poisonous were often a bland white.

“Some also believe that any mushroom can be eaten if it had been cooked but cooking does not destroy all mushroom poisons and cannot be used to make mushrooms safe to eat. Also, many poisonous mushrooms can be easily peeled, just like the edible ones.”