Friday, April 6, 2012

What It's All About

Life is lessons in how to uncover who we are and what we’ve been hiding from ourselves. Next, we need to understand, intimately, others who think, feel, and see differently from ourselves. My writings as a poet, art historian, novelist, and literary critic involve seeing and understanding how words may communicate what we sense, think, and feel, how to communicate what we understand, and reaching for what we do not yet understand.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Poem for Adrienne Rich.

This was written when Adrienne came to St. Louis for the River Styx P.M. Series, which I then directed.

Rubáiyát -- for Adrienne Rich
Youth in our prime, we were too busy
reading books to have spent much time
browsing among labels marking wines.
Of course, we knew Poe's cask of
Amontillado, the lure of aged perfection
that caused one vain man's demise when he
ventured into the cellar with his cruel host,
who buried him alive. The Rubáiyát of
Omar Khayyám was its opposite, an im-
possible dream love opening, inscribing
two hearts throbbing in harmony.
Thus we had read the downs and ups
of verses where a cask or a jug of wine --
and thou -- beneath aromatic trees --
marked the paths to danger, dalliance,
and the poetry of true romance.

Today we sat around an oak table
entertaining a famous poet, a poet for whom
I had bought two bottles of wine. The Mouton
Rothschild we served with the meal, which was
simple poets' fare -- perhaps fresh baked bread,
a salad, salmon -- yet poets seemed, in those
days, to live on air. With dessert, say
blueberry pie, we opened the Rubaiyat.
We should have let it breathe,
or lifted our glasses to our untutored nostrils,
but in youthful innocence, we simply sipped,
or drank. The effect was visible in an instant.

Before, we were simply friends; now, communion,
a meeting of minds, began. We could not stop
ourselves from examining, truly for my first time,
this wine enlivening us with its bouquet of flavors,
this gem alchemically opening our palettes
and schooling us to savor our own taste buds.
Nor do I recall any other wine tasting that good.
And now, when we uncork, toast, clink glasses,
and drink, there is the hope, in the
smiling way I dream before I sample, that
this glass will take me, if it is very, very
good, over the crest marked by a surprise
elixir -- the first taste of true love!

Here is a second poem on loss:

Rohan Kriwaczek on the art of the Funerary Violin
Dirge and drone
somber chords
weep in and out, plaint and swee:
chords splayed like mourners on a mound,
tone on tone, piercing ears and heart,
carving the niche where memory
may reside, chasing idle thoughts
with a sweep of bowstrings on strings.

And those born near this day
or who have died -- you, Adrienne; you, Father,
here you are once more, pierced through
yet filling air with a ripe rhythm.

Bodies of memory make air ring.
A mourner’s ribbon near the frets, the drone
pitched to bring us close to pure sound, as though
we could deliver ourselves from war, famine, disease, those
galloping horsemen in Darfur, Abu Grahib, Somalia.
Mourning fills the hole left by the flight of the soul.

Jan Garden Castro

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I am a freelance curator, author, and university humanities professor now living in New York City. I hope you will check out my website and my books! Let me know if you'd like a copy of Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne, which was published in Japan, and check out my stories in Sculpture Magazine. Cheers and best wishes to all! Jan

Art Historian and Arts Consultant
New York NY USA

A. Master of Arts, Washington University. Majors: Comp. Lit. & Art History.
    Thesis: “Visual, Literary, and Philosophical Readings of Sonia Delaunay's Art.”
    Advisors: Michel Rybalka (French), William H. Gass (Phil.), Rob Jensen (Art Hist.).
B. Publishing Certificate, Radcliffe College.
C. Bachelor of Arts, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Majors: English, History.

Professional Experience:
A. Guest Curator, Elements of Scale, International Arts & Artists.
B. Guest Art Advisor, Sculpture Key West.
C. Faculty, Touro College and Lindenwood University.
D. Guest Curator, Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne exhibition at four Japanese Museums
     and the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University.
E. Contributing Editor, Sculpture Magazine, Nov. 1996 to present. Sixteen cover stories.
F. Guest Senior Lecturer in Art History, University of Missouri, St. Louis.
G. Producer/host, "The Writers Circle," Double Helix, cable TV, St. Louis.
    Videotaped weekly program interviewing writers including H. Nemerov, W. H. Gass.
H. Founder, Margaret Atwood Society, Modern Language Assoc. Convention.
I. Lecturer, Literature and Languages, Webster University.
J. Editor, River Styx Magazine. Produced 21 issues.
K. Executive Director, Big River Association.
L. Founding Director, River Styx P. M. and R.S. Duff's Performance Series.

Art Writing:
A. Art Books:
Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne. Tokyo: Japan Assn. of Art Museums.
The Art & Life of Georgia O'Keeffe. New York: Crown and London: Virago,
       many printings and updated Three Rivers edition.

B. Literature publications with some art:
The Last Frontier, letterpress & computer poems with art, Eclectic Press.
Seeking St. Louis, Voices from a River City, 1670-2000. One of five editors. St. Louis: Missouri Historical   Society & U. of Missouri Press, Dec., 2000.
Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms. Co-edited with Dr. Kathryn Van Spanckeren. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

As a freelance writer: essays in many anthologies and in respected journals including The Nation, American Poetry Review, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Black Renaissance Noire, New York University; and belles lettres, Center for the Humanities, Washington University. Writers/artists include: William H. Gass, Chakaia Booker, Isabel Allende, Paul Auster, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Albert Camus, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Gabriel Garcia Màrquez, Andy Warhol, Margaret Drabble.

C. Sculpture Magazine (sixteen cover stories, many articles; see  Louise Bourgeois (2 cover stories); Ursula Von Rydingsvard (2 cover stories), Ilan Averbuch, Eva Hesse, Anselm Kiefer, Betty Woodman; Alejandro Almanza  Pereda, David Byrne, Jason Hackenwerth, Michael Heizer, Anish Kapoor, Judy Pfaff, Mai Westerlund Roosen; Kiki Smith, Swoon; Robert Smithson, Roxy Paine, Rob Fischer, Christian Boltanski; Claes Oldenburg. Yinka Shonibare (cover), Royal Tomb of Ur, A. Archipenko. Robert Rauschenberg; Gay Outlaw, Cao Guo-Qiang. Chakaia Booker, Andrea Zittel, Banks Violette; Petah Coyne, Marc Quinn; Nancy Graves, Serra & Brancusi; Mark di Suvero (cover); Adam Frelin; Robert Chambers; Christo and Jeanne-Claude (cover); Sue Eisler & David Helm; Sung Ho Kim; Mara Schrupe; “Art of the Osage.” Christina Schmiegel; Liza Lou; “My Reality"; Rebecca Horn;  “Globe> Miami < Island"; Bass Museum; Chakaia Booker (cover); Patti Cronin. Petah Coyne (cover); Maya Lin (cover). Louise Bourgeois (cover), “Wonderland”; Picasso’s sculpture in Paris; Joyce Kozloff; Blaine de St. Croix. Ginny Ruffner; Jo Stealey; Jane Sauer; Lewis DeSoto. Richard Serra (cover); Mary Miss; Storm King Sculpture Park; Moustapha Dimé; Japanese Aesthetic; Judy Pfaff. Richard Hunt; Judy Pfaff (cover); Martin Puryear; Richard Marquis. Laumeier Sculpture Park, Pieter Laurens Moll.

D.  Reviews in other periodicals, including: Fiberarts (Jane Sauer) and St. Louis Riverfront Times: Robert Lobe; Pieter Bruegel the Elder; Annette Lemieux.

E.  Art Talks include: Sonia Delaunay: Cultural History & Color, Jewish Museum & Pratt, NYC. “Anthropomorphic Signs in O’Keeffe’s Art,” Clayton Center, St. Louis. “Louise Bourgeois: Psychological Signs,” School of Visual Arts, New York. Tien Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo; Jane V. Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers U. Florida Atlantic University. Jury for Cedarhurst sculpture competition; Symposium, S. Ill. Art Gallery. “Women in Art from Cimabue to Louise Bourgeois,” Tampa University, Honors College; O’Keeffe’s Language, The Gatesworth. “Georgia O’Keeffe,” Kirkwood Public Library. Midwest College Art Assn. Conference; “Sonia Delaunay" at Parsons, Paris. St. Louis Art Museum; U. of Missouri, St. Louis; Chicago Public Library Cultural Center; U. of Tampa Honors Arts Division; Northeast Technical Community College in Nebraska, Tulsa Club; Lindenwood U. Alumni Lecture; Drury Convocation "Edythe West Memorial Lecture"; Springfield Art Museum; Wellesley Club, St. Louis; Keynote For Columbia C. Georgia O'Keeffe Centennial Conference; Keynote for Arkansas Art Center; St. Louis Women's Caucus for Art.

Awards, Honors, Professional Posts:
A. Visiting Scholar, American Academy in Rome.
B. Fellow, The Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France.
C. Art Advisory Panel, Conservatory and School for the Arts (CASA).
D. YWCA Arts Leadership Award, St. Louis.
E. National Endowment for the Humanities Institute, Johns Hopkins University.
F. National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles.
G. Editor's Award, Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, New York.
H. Arts & Letters Award, St. Louis Magazine.
I. Board, National Coalition of Independent Scholars. Member: PEN American Center.