Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rose of Roses Photo Exhibition and Love Poetry for St. Valentine's Day 2017

St. Valentine’s Day 
Evening of Poetry & Roses
at the “Rose of Roses” Exhibition
Hosted by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk 
The Back Door Bakery and Café
8349 Foothill Blvd, Sunland, CA 91040
February 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm

I'm happy to present my second solo exhibition of photographs, "Rose of Roses" that I could subtitle "Rose Photos for the Month of Love." The title is a tribute to the Song of Songs, of course.  

This exhibition is held in the Back Door Bakery and Cafe in Sunland (8349 Foothill Blvd.),   on display for a month, from February 4th to March 4th, 2017. The Artist's Reception is on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 7-9 p.m. after the Village Poets Monthly Reading at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. We will have live music, poetry readings and more...

Why is February the month of Roses? They are still dormant, without leaves or blossoms, cut down for an annual rest back in late December or early January.  It seems that the association of Love and Roses cannot be ignored in a month divided into two halves by St. Valentine's Day (the 14th). This month sees an endless parade of heart-shaped chocolate boxes topped with red or pink silk roses at the beginning, and Easter bunnies, eggs, and pastels at the end. 

The "Rose of Roses" exhibition features roses from my garden and from Descanso Gardens, as seen after rain, in the evening, in the morning, with sharply contrasted shadows, in the shade and in direct sunlight. I discovered an endless variety of patterns in their petals and decided to capture the blossoms for far longer than the five days they remain on the bushes. The result was my private collection of electronic rose photos, that I used on my website and on margins of poems. I also used them to illustrate my second book of poetry, Rose Always. It was fun. 

After showing a couple of these photos at the River Rock Arts Colony show at the Back Door Gallery in 2016, and a selection of about 10 photos at the Scenic Drive Gallery in Monrovia (my first solo photography exhibit in 2013), I decided it would be great to display a wider selection at the Back Door Gallery. It is visited by everyone in our neighborhood, and February being the Month of Love, it is the perfect time for roses.  The owners of Back Door, Reno and Debbie Goodale, are enthusiastic supporters of local artists and musicians, and this sweet and lovely exhibition is the result.

The motto for the exhibition comes from my poem, Rose Garland, seen below and posted on this blog a couple of years ago.  

Rose Garland

I thought roses.
I thought rich, velvet blossoms.
I thought a red rainbow 
from deep crimson to delicately pinkish.

The secret was underground
where the roots sustain 
the multi-hued orgy of sensuous allure – 
flowers opening to dazzle and fade.

The strength of the rose
is invisible – you see the blush
of seduction in each leaf and petal, 

You admire their charms.
Yet, you care for what’s out of sight,
not for the obvious.

I thought your love.
I thought how you adore me.
I went deeper down to the source.

The rose, Sappho’s lightning 
of beauty, breathes love,
laughs at the wind and wonders

how the mystic rosebush twirls, 
crowned with the royal 
garland of fire. 

Published in Rose Always (Moonrise Press, 2011, withdrawn in 2018)

I previously wrote many stories and poems about both love and roses, and the title of the Rose Always is the proof of the importance of this connection  to my concept of romantic poetry. I am so glad I am not an "academic" poet and can use the word "love" as often as I want, without being censored by politically correct and artistically crippled ultra-ambitious snobs.  How liberating!  It is so simple, not "precious" - but simple and basic , to be moved by the beauty of the rose, and to think, while admiring its petals of the beauty of a kiss... 


For you, I'm a pear
with persimmon flavor
bathed in vanilla milk,
my skin is smooth, electric
it tingles when you touch me
I sing -
Of all the gardens of the world,
all the orchards,
all the fruit-bearing trees,
all the roses,
I'm the richest.
my blossoms are most abundant,
my fragrance - the rarest,

beyond reach

From Rose Always (Moonrise Press, 2011, withdrawn in 2018)

Rose Window

I place you in the heart
of my rose, dark red one
with dew drops on its leaves.
Like a tricked-up baby
from Ann Geddes' postcard
you rest, snugly wrapped
in the comfort of my love.
"That too shall pass," they say,
"That too shall pass.
The rose will wither,
love will fade away."

Respectfully, I disagree.
I know the symmetry
of velvet petals
is but an opening
into a different universe,
a cosmic window,
I see it in the shyness
of your smile. Yes.
You are that lucky.
In the morning
when the curtains of mist
open above silver hills
carved from time
like a Japanese woodcut,
you taste freedom.
You found your true self
under the detritus
of disordered life.
Isn't it strange
that you've been saved
by the perfection
of just one rose?

From Rose Always (Moonrise Press, 2011, withdrawn in 2018)

All lovers should be happy, even if their love is gone, dead, or lost in the mist of time. It is the supreme gift of having been able to feel what generations of poets have felt, from the divine Sappho until today... Many entries on this blog were dedicated to the topics of Valentine's Day and the various types of love, and its poetic expressions. 

The heart has its own logic, its own math.... and a brain, too - as positive emotions create coherent rhythm and help us be healthy and happy... You can find a heart to love just about everywhere, and writing about love is not only NOT a vice, it is, indeed, a virtue... And that person you love is, well, entirely "Adorable..." "Amor 6," "Desert Rose," "Rosa Incognita," "Ellenai 6" - with a link to the interview with Susan Dobay.

At the opening of my exhibit of photography and poetry at the Scenic Drive Gallery in September 2013, I read  a selection of poems that were either unpublished or appeared in Miriam's Iris  (the ones with numbers in titles), or Rose Always. ...
with "A Portrait in Bracket" and "A Lesson for My Daughter"
Some people… wrap themselves in a thick blanket of irony of sarcasm and greet every expression of sentiment or affection with a sneer. We’ve all seen our share of these tough guys and gals, who curse or ridicule every expression of what really matters. “How banal, how boring!” they say, when they hear a sweet love poem..., with "The Smile of a Rose," "Rosier d'Amour," "The Rose Garland," and poems by Sappho and Robert Burns.
The association of roses with love goes back to the times of Sappho, an ancient Greek poet (or, rather as 19th century writers would say, poetess), whose fragments of love poems, have inspired countless poets with their vehement passion and colorful metaphors since her death more than two and a half thousand years ago. In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s translation, Sappho’s rose is “the eye of the flowers… the grace of the earth” and “the lightning of beauty that strikes through the bowers / On pale lovers that sit in the glow unaware.” Sappho’s rose “breathes of love” and its petals “laugh with the wind…”, with "Rose Garland" and "Ready to Wear". 

The photo included here, of a "Chicago Peace" rose covered with raindrops (or, rather, as the case may be, drops of water from the sprinklers), looks like candied confection, a marzipan...., with "Love Defined," "A Chocolate Kiss," "Lauda," "A Secret," "Rose Window," and "Always"
Love is a topic of so many country songs, so many romantic sonnets, so many tales and novels. It gave rise to new genres of literature (romance, troubadour poetry) and in other arts (rom com, or romantic comedy in film; the comedy as a classic theatrical genre). After centuries of efforts to describe it, we still do not know what it is. The taxonomies and definitions that I cited in the previous essay are just one way of approaching this elusive topic. 

Here's another whole blog issue dedicated to this topic. No wonder, my poetic friends called me The Dove of Love!

More on Love and Roses with links and comments may be found on  the  identically titled page of this blog. Let me finish this essay with another rose photo, this one featuring my Rooster Year Haiku, developed from my holiday wishes of a "feather-light heart" - quite appropriate for the Year of the Fire Rooster, with the fiery red rose. The "feather-light heart" of course, comes from ancient Egypt, the Judgment after death that includes comparing the weight of a heart to that of a feather. If it is lighted, the passage to the land of the Blessed is granted.  This, in fact is the opposite to the Christian tradition, where the heart heavy with good deeds, is the one granted eternal happiness in Heaven.

Heaven or not, roses have been multiplied by their fans, the famous "rosarians" to thousands of thousands of varieties, and I found and portrayed just a few... This one for the Year of the Fire Rooster (in a couple of versions, the latter above, the earlier in the haiga):

a sunburst - a smile
 a feather-light heart
the Rooster Year! 


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