Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gallery Taps Into Buy-Local Enthusiasm

by Zinta Aistars for Southwest Michigan's SecondWave

Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's all in how you look at it. And in an art gallery, looking is what you do.

When Midtown Gallery opened at 356 South Kalamazoo Mall in July 2009, some might have looked at it as business suicide.

Opening a new business in the midst of the most grueling economic times many of us have seen? Who will have a buck or a few hundred to spare for art?

Then, there's the way Terry Nihart, the gutsy owner of Midtown Gallery, looks at it ...

Visit Second Wave to read the full article.

See also Erik Holladay photography for art images.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lunch Hour Pickings

Photos taken with cell phone camera during a lunch hour stroll in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Zinta Aistars

(More photos on Facebook ... )

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Accord / Chorus Girls

by Zinta Aistars


I walk lunch hours, an office escapee,
snapping gum and pictures with my cell phone:
spring early daffodils, butter yellow, mustard golden,
drunken sunshine, tomorrow’s hope.
Lavender carpets of violets,
snug and close to the earth,
never far from their roots,
even while spreading over lawns,
under fences, beneath shrubbery,
between bricks, to emerge
like a purple haze
on the other side, uninvited,
knitting lawn to lawn,
block by block,
the one beauty bonding
neighbor to neighbor
who otherwise never speak.

Chorus Girls

Ruffled skirts tossed up
in flash and flair
over a slender stem—
a daffy flower, narcissistic flirt,
smearing a buttery dust
over glancing fingertips.
A golden floozy,
open-mouthed and lacy-lipped,
an invitation to throw all to the wind,
abandon all and everything:
work, home, family, friends,
to join a dancing chorus line.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Good Egg

by Zinta Aistars

Latvian Easter eggs dyed in onion skins

A Good Egg

“Nice guys finish last,” goes the worn-out saying. Whenever I hear it, I chime in to finish the sentence: “… because once a woman has found a nice guy, she can stop looking.”

Heading to Chicago to join the other half of my family to celebrate the Easter holiday, a time of renewal, I contemplated the concept of rebirth. There are many ways to live, and there are just (arguably more) as many ways to die. Our physical end-all, be-all death is probably the least frightening of those thousand deaths that pepper our lives.

I have been heard to say that I would die a thousand deaths for my children. I think I came pretty close to that number. It is not easy being a single parent raising two. Yet each time, with each of those thousand deaths, there was one more rebirth, and we would gear up for battle with life yet again. No matter how tired we would get, my two little musketeers and I, the third, we would find strength once more and go on. And things got easier. And better. And continue to do so.

Life has its share of rotten eggs, and we have all had to deal with a few, and some of us, with dozens. What a stink they can make! Those bad boys, they can be colored so pretty, but crack them open to see the hidden yolk, and you find it is nothing but vile.

This Easter, however, I’m feeling especially sunny. There are some new eggs among us, joining our family for the first time. Time is the best test of all, but all indications are that these are good eggs. Nice eggs. Yolk and all. Sunny side up no matter which way you turn them. These nice eggs roll in so smoothly that the entire family hardly notices. That is, they fit right in, instantly and without boiling the water, and we are all as we were, bumping around with sleepy eyes on Easter morning looking for coffee, sharing laughs, rubbing shoulders, the boy eggs huddling together to watch basketball in the afternoon and the girl eggs out for a long walk to twitter in the April sunshine, then all coming together again for a fine and hammy meal. We say grace as one unit, we break bread as one team, handling the world apart yet together: a family of good eggs.

Sitting around the fire pit in the backyard in the warm spring evening, we encircle the flames, feet to the fire. I watch the rosy dance of light across the circle of similar faces, feeling the warmth. The talk is lively, turning into discussion, flaring into debate. Differing opinions spark and blaze up. Yet no one is angry. No one’s feelings are hurt. Here, we bring our true selves, and it is fine to agree to disagree, as long as we hear each other out with respect.

What makes it all work is the nice thing. I glance at the new faces among us and I can see the glow of nice. It is the ability to put another ahead of oneself. It is the vein of kindness, taking a moment to bring pleasure and comfort to the other for no other reason than to see that other smile. It is the niceness of proving oneself dependable and trustworthy, no matter the storm, regardless the temptation. Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and no matter if anyone is watching or blind. Putting aside the flash, the intrigue, the ego, and being a good person instead. The older I get, the more bumped around on the road to get here, the more I value nice.

“You look a little chilled. Shall I bring you a sweater?”

“No, really, it’s not that important. I want you to have it.”

“Here, you have the bigger half.”

“No, no, no need to pay me back. You’ve picked up my tab many times in the past. It’s my pleasure.”

“Look at you. Aren’t you pretty. You are prettier every time I see you.”

“Don’t worry, I can wait. You take your time.”

“I can listen. Tell me all about it … “

“I’ll be here when you get back.”

“I picked these just for you.”

“You look tired. Let me do it.”

“Thank you.”

Good eggs, this bunch. Even when we wobble a little at times, even sustain a fracture—the other good eggs bring us back into the nest. Tired, we lean, we roll together, then point to the sky once again. Here, the nice guys find themselves among their own kind, good eggs only, respected, heard, supported, embraced. Welcome home. We like it nice here.