“Women Take the Floor” The Series— Lonely Palette Podcast February 2020(in partnership with the MFA Boston)

In this time of cocooned self-isolation, I’ve been trying to keep up a semblance of fitness by treading the mill. While doing this, to keep my mind off the dreary drumming of the feet and thighs, I have been listening to some podcasts. An old favourite, The Lonely Palette, came up trumps. It distracted by feeding the brain with some interesting facts and ideas.

The series from The Lonely Palette, “Woman Take the Floor” took me on a lovely little journey, winding along gazing at a few iconic artists of the 20th century. Along the listen I discovered so much. Pictured right are some of the works highlighted.



I’m going to play a little game here—I’m not going to mention the names of these artists but I’m going to share with you some of the snippets from the podcasts that had me piqued.

The first picture depicts a mountain in New Mexico, Cerro Pedernal, of which this American artist famously said, “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough I could have It.” She spent her later years living beside this mountain.

The next picture shows a painting by the artist who is shown standing beside it. We all know of her, her of the ‘unibrow’. Who is this artist? She was married to Diego Rivera a fellow artist 20 years her senior. Her mother was much opposed to the union and famously referred to it as “a marriage between an elephant and a dove.”

The third picture is by an artist who is still very much with us aged 104 and who only sold her first painting at age 89. She has been creating art for a long time, an artist who largely produces minimalist works in which she is “eternally looking for variations on the straight line.” Of this late recognition in her art, she famously said, “If you wait for the bus, the bus will come. And I say, yeah, I waited almost a century for the bus, and it came.”

Incidentally, one of the other artists featured in this series is the French-American artist who is best known for her sculpture and installation art. One of her most famous sculptures is a mammoth spider, made of bronze, stainless steel and marble and is named Maman. This sculpture symbolises, according to the artist, the positive power of a spider and all the attributes that make it so adept and useful and by parallel, the artist is symbolising her mother.

Tamar Avishai, the host of The Lonely Palette, is the first podcaster-in-residence at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In this five-episode podcast series, she takes a close look at five works of art featured in their exhibition “Women Take the Floor”. This exhibition was conceived to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States in 2020. March, being Women’s History Month, means it’s a series well placed to look at these disparate yet similar women artists who all struggled, throughout their careers, to be recognised as just ‘artists’. An inspiring listen, well I found it so—you learn a little, discover old, or even gather new, favourite artists and have some real ‘retinal’ enjoyment.

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