Saturday, October 10, 2009


It is funny how the world of art has viewed the human body--and men and women as objects of art. While men have for centuries dominated as the maestros--frequently choosing the female nude as their object of choice--women artists were kept under wraps and the male form was more often than not kept discreetly cloaked or clothed. (Not always, granted--but why, if I were to ask you to name a famous male nude, would almost everyone gravitate to Michelangelo's David? Isn't it because after that they get harder to recall and name?) And while classical artists would at times revel in the architecture of the human body (mostly female), modern artists have seemed almost prurient when it comes to the male form. All too often, the male nude has been relegated to the category of homo-eroticism. (This is not to negate gay art patrons, mind you, who've always recognized beauty regardless of gender.)

Commendably, in the past two decades female artists of many stripes, generations and ages have been revealed. (Yes, there are more than just Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo, wonderful though they are!) A whole new generation of fans have finally begun to realize that posing was NOT the only contribution women have made to art over the centuries.

But with changing times, modern artists have also begun to be willing to look at the beauty of the male form, not merely as part of the gay subculture, but as part of our willingness to accept our bodies as a source of pride. (What religious guilt has done will take centuries to repair!) Finally, both male and female artists have been willing to view and portray the male form in all its glory and come up with as many interpretations as they previously have for the female nude.

Firehouse Studio has come up with a stunning publication of contemporary male classical forms, entitled POWERFULLY BEAUTIFUL: Classically Inspired Living Painters of the Male Figure. It is a stunning and beautifully produced collection of paintings by a talented coterie of 29 male and female artists--sensual, colorful and often provocative, ranging in style from the photo realistic to post-impressionistic. With a foreword by Grady Harp and an afterword by David Jarrett, it is a magnificent new publication and a valuable addition to the modern library of 21st Century art and ideas--and well worth your exploration. Currently available in a surprisingly sumptuous paperback format, the book is distributed through and CreativeSpace (an Amazon subsidiary) and is a great addition to any personal or public art library. It is not only a celebration of classical painting of the male form but a celebration of active artists displaying enormous gifts in the service of the beauty around us.

In the interest of full disclosure--no pun intended!--I do indeed know one of the artists quite well, but then again, this IS a blog and I'm NOT a journalist here! But rather than take my advice on this, check it out for yourself at or on the "Powerfully Beautiful" Facebook page ( which is And believe it or not, since this IS a blog, I can pass on a secret 10% discount code: BYJG6B5F.


Over the past five years, as a founding member (and frequent writing and directing participant), I have regaled you with invitations to events presented by the sterling Playwrights for Pets, the organization that raises funds for animal shelters in New York City through staging theatrical readings, drawing on some of the best and brightest writers, actors and other artists.

And I am again. But this time is a bit different.

Oh, yes, there's certain to be wonderful writing. And the performers scheduled (Brian Fuqua, Laura Gillis, Jonna McElrath and John Moss) are superbly gifted performers who are veterans of numerous PFP benefits. There will even be wine & soft drinks, plus 45-minutes of entertainment. And all the money will go to benefit Animal Haven, who will also be hosting the event in their lovely Soho adoption, training and boutique space.

The difference this time: POETRY. Poetry, versus short plays, will be the literary format of the evening. (Not being a poet myself, I'll be sipping and enjoying like the rest of you!) Sue Yocum, Executive Director of PFP, has rounded up works from talented poets old and new to create what should be a most enjoyable evening. So if you are a pet person and want to spend a lovely early evening with a glass of wine and good company, you could either sit in your corner chair with a Cabernet and your cat OR you could come and help others who hope for a home where they can keep their master/mistress company. (C'mon, your pet can spare you for one night!)

Poetry for Pets will take place on Tuesday, October 27th at 7:30 at Animal Haven, 251 Centre Street (between Broome & Grand). Donations are $10. Reservations can be made by calling 718 -768-4213 or e-mailing to