Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



April 2010

"If it is improper to speak as a poet, it is equally difficult to speak on the subject of education. The point, I think, would be to speak of what has left indelible impressions."


Louise Glück, First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems that Captivated & Inspired Them. Carmela Ciuraru, editor, Scribner, New York.

Let's Go to the Movies

Dear Reader,

I was eight-years-old the first time I remember being indelibly impressed by the arts - it happened during and after a Saturday matinée shown within walking distance of my house on Roma Avenue in Buffalo, New York. The movie was Vincent Minnelli's An American in Paris.

Six decades have passed, but I can still remember how I felt seeing the whirls of color, the dancing, the art-inspired costumes and sets, and of course, hearing George Gershwin's music. During my stunned walk home, I recall noticing for the first time puddles with motor oil swirling in Technicolor patterns - all for me, all meant to sustain the most beautiful experience of my life.

Performing and visual arts have been my mainstay. Thank goodness I grew up in Buffalo, a city rich with artistic opportunities. Then moved to central Massachusetts, an hour from Boston and four hours from New York City. Double thank goodness that VHS and DVD's were invented during my lifetime! Access means everything in this fabulous forum of higher education.

I will do something very simple: share a list of movies about the arts and those blessed (and sometimes cursed) human beings who make art. There will be several types of film folded into my recommendations: bio-pics (think Frida: A Film by Julie Taymor)and documentaries, such as Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch, as well as inspired adventures in filmmaking which qualify as pure art in and of themselves (Powaqqatsi).

The list is not chronological, alphabetical, sorted by genre or by any means exhaustive. Poets, writers, musicians, choreographers, composers, painters, sculptors, performance artists offer one focus: a look at creativity.

Gustave Caillebotte or the Adventures of a Genius
Cézanne: The Man and the Mountain
Chagall: Portrait of an Artist [series includes Bonnard, Hockney, Magritte]
Edward Hopper: The Silent Witness
Who Was Modigliani?
Hans Hofmann: Artist/Teacher, Teacher/Artist
The Great Women Artists series
Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon
Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides/Working With Time
M. C. Richards: The Fire Within
Russian Ark
Goya: Crazy Like a Genius
Absolute Wilson
Ballets Russes
The Beaches of Agnès
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Glass: Portrait of an Artist
In the Realms of the Unreal
James Castle: Portrait of an Artist
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance
Louise Bourgeois: Spider/Mistress/Tangerine
A Man Named Pearl
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye
Dance for Camera (series)
Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet
Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer
The Giant Buddhas
The Inner Life of Martin Frost
Music from the Inside Out
Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037
Phoebe in Wonderland
The Rape of Europa
The Soloist
Voices in Wartime
Bright Star
Bringing Back Ballanchine
Oscar Peterson: Music in the Key of Oscar

That's the compete incomplete list. Are you sitting there, thinking, "How could she not include…?" I would like to find your favorites and/or suggestions, dear reader. You can email me: