It’s a Digital Age

Just about everything we can think of is available to us digitally.  With technology evolving minute by minute, computers, tablets and cell phones, offer us a wealth of information at our fingertips.  Some may see it as advantageous; others dread using it. However we feel about it…it is here to stay.

Many of you have enjoyed our colorful printed catalog for the last 27years. In 2012, we decided to offer our catalog online for many reasons. As a result, we can all enjoy many advantages. For example, digital catalogs allow us to produce ongoing updates for you that are not possible with printed documents.  We are also able to provide more in-depth descriptions of our resources that in turn provide you with more information to make the best purchasing decisions for your program. The ability to share the document easily with other colleagues is another plus. By email, the link to the catalog disperses within seconds, and everyone making purchasing decisions or group orders can view it simultaneously. The popular Did You Know sections, formally in the old print versions, have returned because we have more space to include them! Another benefit of the new magazine/catalog format is that you are able to receive, via email, a new issue quarterly. The magazine section offers articles, activities, an artist spotlight and special offers.

We purposefully selected a simple format for our document that is compatible with older computers as well as the newest machines. If you do not have the capacity to use the digital format, please contact us.

CRIZMAC is dedicated to providing the finest quality resources for the best value. With our online magazine/catalog, we are able to offer more. We invite you to enjoy the benefits of technology and join us in discovering the possibilities in this exciting digital age.

All that Glitters…The Life and Art of Gustav Klimt

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Source: Wikipedia

This is no ordinary Golden Anniversary. In 2012, Vienna, Austria will celebrate the 150th birthday of a favorite son, Gustav Klimt with exhibitions, tours and events throughout the city. But he wasn’t always so well accepted; Gustav Klimt was one of the most innovative and controversial artists of the early twentieth century.

Early Years

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was born in 1862, the son of a struggling gold and silver engraver in a suburb of Vienna. He and his two brothers all displayed artistic talent early on. Gustav was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. His brother Ernst also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and a friend, Franz Matsch, opened a studio specializing in murals, which was quite successful. So Gustav Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings in the prevailing classical-realist style. In 1892, both Klimt’s father and his brother Ernst died, leaving him financially responsible for both families. It was also during this time that he met Emilie Flöge, who would become his lifelong companion. Flöge was the sister of his brother’s widow, and whether or not this relationship was sexual has been the subject of some debate among scholars.

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Being Fruitful or Vegging Out? The Bizarre Portraits of Guiseppe Arcimboldo

Rudolf II Painted as Verumnus, Roman God of the Seasons

Art critics have long debated whether the imaginative portrait heads of Giuseppe Arcimboldo (also spelled Arcimboldi), created entirely of representations of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, sea creatures and tree roots, are merely whimsical or the products of an unbalanced mind. The artist arranged these objects on the canvas so they formed a recognizable likeness of the subject of the portrait.

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Laughing Skulls and Dancing Skeletons: What’s with All that Weird Day of the Dead Imagery Anyway?

Grinning skeletons wave to the crowds from balconies high above the street. Others, life-sized or even larger, are positioned at the entrances to stores, hotels and other public buildings. Made of nearly every material imaginable—wood, clay, metal, papier-mâché—they bear no trace of malice as they cheerily greet visitors. Scenes such as this are common during Day of the Dead festivities, and the preponderance of death images is one reason that those not familiar with the celebration may view it as morbid or macabre. But the holiday has inspired a rich folk art tradition; the skulls and skeletons are intended to be humorous and are created in recognition of the fragility of life.

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Do You Hear Them? Sacred Places…like maybe Monte Alban…Are Calling

Monte Alban Photo credit: Raymond Ostertag

Monte Albán—the sacred ceremonial center of the ancient Zapotecs in central Mexico.

I have been here numerous times with our Days of the Dead tours to Oaxaca, and yet, for me, it never loses its mystique…

Once the holy city of more than 30,000 Zapotecs, Monte Albán (mohn-teh ahl-bahn) is situated on a mountain some 1300 feet above the Oaxaca Valley. Although valley had been occupied since about 2000 BCE, there was a new influx of people between 800 and 500 BCE. This new group, now known as the Zapotecs, began the monumental task of leveling the top of the mountain where they would build Monte Albán.

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“Corny” Rituals Stand the Test of Time

I’m as corny as Kansas in August…

Lyrics from “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy”

from the musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein

It’s a favorite summertime ritual—steaming ears of sweet corn slathered with butter. Corn–or elote–is a popular treat in Mexico, too. And there the ritual is even more elaborate, involving your choice of toppings such as mayonnaise, chile powder, cotija cheese, and maybe a squeeze of lime. Here’s a recipe for the Mexican version of this tasty treat.

I suppose it’s fitting that the whole corn-on-the-cob ritual in Mexico should be more evolved than in the U.S. After all, they’ve been doing it a lot longer.

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Fascinating Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo's Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. Source: Wikipedia

I’ll admit it. In the beginning, I didn’t “get” Frida Kahlo. Her paintings are often disturbing and, well, in some cases downright weird. And let’s face it, it’s a rare Frida painting that you’d look at and say, “Wow, I’d love to hang that over the sofa in the living room.”

But that’s just it. She wasn’t painting for me…or you…or for anyone else. In her relatively short life, Frida suffered a great deal both emotionally and physically. For reasons we’ll get into shortly, Frida spent long hours alone. and she began painting as a way to make sense of her life and to work through her pain.

There is already so much out there about Frida that I’ll keep this relatively brief. If  it whets your interest and you want to learn more, check out some of the resources I’ve listed at the end, including the fabulous movie, Frida, starring Salma Hayek.

So here, as a Frida for Dummies book (if such a thing existed), would say is the “least you need to know”:

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Here Comes the Sun!

Here comes the sun.

Here comes the sun, and I say

It’s all right…

From Here Comes the Sun

Written by George Harrison, Performed by the Beatles

It’s coming all right. Here in Tucson, we hit our first 100-degree day last week. (Actually, it was a little later than normal this year, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining about the delay). Sunlight is something we are “blessed” with quite a lot of.

Here in the sunny Southwest, we may take sunlight for granted (in fact—yes, I confess—we may even have been known to curse it on occasion), but many ancient cultures certainly did not. Especially after difficult winters, these agricultural societies depended on the sun for life and sustenance. It is no surprise, then, that the sun was often deified. The Egyptians honored Ra, the Sun God. He was the bringer of light and patron to the pharaohs. According to the legend, Ra drove his chariot across through the heavens. For the ancient Greeks, it was Helios, who was similar to Ra in many aspects. The cult of Helios celebrated with an impressive ritual in which a giant chariot pulled by horses was driven off the end of a cliff and into the sea.

But when it comes to celebrating the sun, the main event is the Summer Solstice. Occurring on June 20, 21, or 22 in the Gregorian Calendar, the Summer Solstice is associated with many ancient summer traditions and is still celebrated in modern society. The name comes from combination of two Latin words (sol + stice), meaning “sun” and “to stand still.” As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. The Summer Solstice results in the longest day (and thus the shortest night) of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the situation is reversed.

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Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

What do a sky-diving event in Canada, a celebration featuring Mexican beer on the Mediterranean island of Malta, and an air guitar competition in the Cayman Islands have in common? Why Cinco de Mayo, of course! While these are some of the more far-flung examples, they are representative of a Mexican holiday that is celebrated with more intensity in many places outside of Mexico than in the country where the events that inspired it actually took place.

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An Egg-stra Special Spring

As every young reader of Dr. Seuss books knows, Sam-I-Am was very persistent in his attempts to get a little friend to try green eggs and ham. And this little friend stubbornly resisted until—finally—he took a tiny taste and discovered that—lo and behold—he did like green eggs and ham after all.

Most kids aren’t so pig-headed. Around this time of year, they generally love eggs of all colors—and especially the bright plastic ones filled with jelly beans and chocolates.

Colorful, decorated eggs are very much a part of the season, and Ukrainian Easter eggs, known as pysanky (pysanky is plural; the singular is pysanka) are some of the most intricately beautiful. Decorated with a wax resist (batik) method, the eggs are not painted on, but written with beeswax (the name comes from the verb pysaty, which means “to write.”)

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