Jessica Crabtree

Author Archive Original Native American Cuisine

by on Jan.02, 2014, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

What a fantastic article!

“It seems that when we talk about the history of food in the United States we often look to Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia for the ingredients and techniques that are used extensively in our cuisine. On my recent travels to Southern Arizona I wanted to rediscover the foods of the original settlers, the Native Americans, to understand how these people survived and how their heirloom ingredients are used today…”

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“Birds of Paradise” Project

by on Feb.11, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Cornell Bird of Paradise InteractiveThis is a really great interactive from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, exploring the twin wonders of color science and the unique bird-of-paradise.

How does their fantastic plumage develop across the hugely diverse array of the species – and by what process do we (and the creatures of their own habitats) perceive it?

Enjoy the amazing footage in this project video:

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Wade Davis “River Notes”

by on Jan.21, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Lake Mead (Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Aldo Leopold was a conservationist who made important natural surveys of the Colorado River region in the early 20th century. His observations, and the stark warnings he made about the wanton misuse of resources and interference in its well-established eco-systems are a relevant prophecy today:

“Do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave?,” he asked. “Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter down river. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state. In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.”

What would he say to the fact that the Colorado is now so vastly overdepleted from supplying some of the world’s fastest growing metropolitan & agricultural centers in regions that could never support such populations?

USA Today – Study: Shortages likely on Colorado River by 2050

Wherever natural crisis occurs, human disaster is not far behind. That’s the cycle that Leopold recognized. His investigations, and the development of engineering works on the Colorado, are detailed in a new book from anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis. It reminds me of Timothy Eagan’s excellent work on the Dust Bowl, “The Worst Hard Time,” in its bleak forecast of needlessly repetitive history.

Wade Davis is an author & National Geographic resident explorer, better known to many of us through his tv documetaries delving into the daily lives & traditional philosophies of indigenous peoples.

Read more:
National Geographic: Wade Davis on Loss in the Colorado River Delta

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Peredvizhniki: Kramskoy, the Master

by on Jan.13, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Ivan Kramskoy (also Kramskoi, 1837-1887) was one of the leaders of the original student protest at the Academy, and a founding force of the Itinerant movement. He is known primarily as a portrait artist; beginning in the 1870s he compiled a series of portraits of famous contemporaries – writers, scholars and fellow artists – who formed the backbone of the cultural revolution.

Self-Portrait, 1867 One of several self-depictions

In keeping with his democratic vision, his portrayals extended to every part of the social spectrum, from the nobility to the most humble peasant classes. His portraits are outwardly simple, but full of a psychological complexity that reflected his prowess as a critic. His artistic style was bold, decisive, and masterful – a fitting reflection of his inspired and driven character.

Christ in the Wilderness, 1872 A thought-provoking portrayal of Jesus’ forty days, with a deeply human Christ weary and alone in a desert moonscape.

Portrait of Leo Tolstoy, 1873 One of the best-known portraits of the great writer and philanthropist. In many ways, his familiar literary works embody the philosophies of the Itinerants.

Mina Moiseev, 1882 One of Kramskoy’s best “peasant paintings,” an individual he painted again several months later:

Peasant with a Bridle, 1883 An outstanding example of the high degree of realism achieved in this style of art. Like many of his contemporaries, Kramskoy favored the dramatic contrasts of strong chiaroscuro that add gravity to an otherwise ordinary scene. The elaborate and careful detail elevates the subject to an almost sacred level.
Click here for a larger detail view)

Portrait of Dr. Karl Rauhfus, 1887 Kramskoy died while painting this portrait. The medium he used here, known as sauce (pronounced sow-say) is a partly liquid blend of pastels made with rich Chasov Yar clays. He used this method in black and white elsewhere, with a similar effect to charcoal:

Portrait of Painter Ivan Shishkin, another famous Itinerant artist

Sophia Kramskoy, the artist’s daughter – one of many famiy portraits

Ivan Kramskoy, the artist’s son

Josephine Kramskoy, the artist’s wife

Images courtesy of Wikipaintings. See more: WIKIPAINTINGS – Ivan Kramskoy Gallery

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Remember the last time the world ended?

by on Jan.11, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Check out this infographic from (Creative Commons BY/NC/ND)

“Supposedly, the world should have ended about a month ago, on December 21, 2012. If you’re like many other people who were at least kind of expecting the apocalypse to actually come through, don’t beat yourself up about it—the fact is, humans have a long, long history of believing wholeheartedly that the end is near, only to have the world stick around for another few thousand years…”

Final Apocalypse Infographic

See also:
This Day in History: Beginning of the Maya Long Count

Oldest known Mayan calendar found – Doomsday or not?

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Yosemite Winter Night

by on Jan.01, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Yosemite Winter Night

“Yosemite Winter Night” by Wally Pacholka, as featured on National Geographic and the fantastic TWAN website. Does anything give you chills like a gorgeous shot of the night sky? Feast your eyes on this panorama! I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in the new year than with a timeless view of the Milky Way.

TWAN (“The World at Night”) is an international effort to capture the universal wonder of the starry sky – an experience that humans have held in awe since the dawn of time, and sadly one that comes at a premium in urban areas where light pollution robs millions of this quintessential joy.

Here’s another from this outstanding gallery, a view of the Milky Way over a Chaco Canyon kiva:

TWAN  - Chaco Canyon

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by on Dec.29, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

The Peredvizhniki (Russian for “Itinerants” – think the English word “peregrine”) were a group of 19th century Russian artists who, like the early Romantics of western Europe, ushered in an artistic revolution that rebelled against convention, embracing nature and emphasizing the beauty and drama of common life.

What started out as a protest against restraints in the academic community evolved into a new genre where realism of staggering beauty met with the freedom of impressionism, firmly establishing Russian art talent as some of the foremost in the world.

peredvizhnikiIn 1863, fourteen students withdrew from the Imperial Academy as a protest against what they felt was socially polarized art. Several years later, they formed an artist’s cooperative that organized itinerant art exhibits all over the country. Their ideals about the democratization of art, and the traveling displays that earned their name, helped express the liberal principles they espoused, bringing the diversity and realism of freelance art to the public.

Right: An interactive collage of Peredvizhniki artists (WikiPaintings)

The Itinerant movement was loosely associated with a wider group of intellectuals, including many of the great literary minds of the era, and other intelligentsia who supported social reform and freedom of expression. While much of Western Europe was in the throes of political upheavals and intense struggles over censorship, Russia experienced a kind of cultural explosion, a brief window for a striking brand of individuality and creativity to blossom.

Among the great names of the Peredvizhniki, Ivan Kramskoy, Ilya Repin, Nikolai Ge, and others celebrated the expansive beauty of Russian landscapes – brought unparalleled drama to the portrait genre – painted Biblical scenes with a strangely candid new intensity – and made lowly, mundane aspects of peasant life into a poignant expression of fine art.

Next, KRAMSKOY: The Master

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About Me

I am a freelance artist living in Arkansas, US, specializing in historical portraits of American Indians. I blog about the portrayal and influence of Native Americans in art, history, and the media.

I am fascinated by history and world cultures, ancient and modern, and particularly indigenous peoples. My other interests include wildlife ecology, environmental issues & sustainability, journalism, photography, web design & development. I enjoy music and reading (see my book list here).

You can see some of my pastel work, and my drawings in charcoal and graphite, by visiting my online Gallery.