The Power of Women for Philanthropy

romainebrooks:

WEll Romaine and Natalie and Lily were all patrons of the arts and Women were as my book’s dedication makes clear supported modern art. Credit where credit is due–over due.

Originally posted on Living For Purpose™:

We_Can_Do_It!

During the course of the last few days, I came across an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy entitled, “Lack of Women in Top Roles Hinders Nonprofits, Female Nonprofit Workers Say”. It was based on a Harris Poll commissioned by The Chronicle and New York University’s George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for Philantropy and Fundraising. What piqued my interest was the quote by Debra Mesch, Director at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana University, which was that based on her research, women “are not considered as major donors or perceived to be the decision makers”.

I was fortunate in my career to have been surrounded by brilliant and intelligent businesswomen – both who were on staff and were leading major donors. I have been surrounded by strong women all of my life and consider myself a member of that elite club. So, it is disheartening when I read that…

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Where are the lost works

So much is hidden

Always one for secrets

I am wondering where Romaine Brooks’ lost drawings and paintings are. There are so many intriguing clues scattered throughout her letters, papers and her last audio interview. Early works from the Capri period, portraits and still-life pictures such as the one Freer bought from her during the time when she was still painting in bright colors. And what of the drawings she refers to in her interview from late 1967 or 68? What were they of–nudes of Natalie? portrait sketches? We now know of works from only two periods and yet she tells us she drew all the time and Natalie Barney inquires in their exchange of letters if she is drawing to amuse herself.

Despite the many masks I have removed from Romaine it seems more mysteries remain for future researchers to discover.

All or Nothing: Romaine Brooks 1874-1970

is now projected to be available in 2015 from University of Wisconsin Press. I will be presenting some of the new research on Brooks at the Biographer’s International conference in Boston, May 17th at 8:30 on a panel dealing with the challenges of writing and researching biographies of Gay and Lesbian subjects.

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Romaine Speaks

ImageJust back from listening to long lost analog recording of an interview with Romaine Brooks, age 94. What a fabulous experience. It’s in French but getting it transcribed in English through the generosity of another researcher, translator Suzanne Stroh–link to http://suzannestroh.com/home/lost-recording-romaine-brooks. What an incredible thrill to finally hear the voice of a woman who was celebrated for her speaking voice. She spoke French with what people said was a charming American accent and it is perfectly clear that despite living in Europe, mainly France and Italy for most of her adult life–she always thought in English and titled her drawings in English in her notebooks. In the interview when asked if she had drawings other than those that appeared in the 1968 Bizarre issue with essays by Paul Morand, Edouard MacAvoy Michel Desbrueres devoted entirely to her by MacAvoy–she said I’ve drawn throughout my life. So folks where are the other drawings??? We only have two period of her entire drawn output. Where are the rest??? We really don’t know–Did she destroy them? What would they have looked like? Was her style consistent? LIke Frida Kahlo–Brooks is on the threshold of a total reassessment. Who knows what works may still be out there. Treasure hunters unite. We need to ferret out her other works. Here you see Lily de Gramont and Natalie Barney on their honey moon at Niagara Falls prior to returning to France where the two united with Romaine Brooks to form a stable three way family of choice that lasted until Lily’s death in 1954. Who knew but my book tells all.

FYI I will be on a panel at the International Biography conference presenting new information on Romaine Brooks that will turn Romaine Brooks studies on their head. 

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What’s up with Romaine Brooks

ImageImageSo people keep asking me about the forthcoming Romaine Brooks book that I am doing some tweaks on in light of all the startling new information about her personal relationships that has come to light recently while I was waiting to try and determine the proper copyrights issues.

My book contrasts Brooks’ work with the political, social, and interpersonal environment within which Brooks painted, whether during war, while living separately or in communal houses with her partners who included Natalie Barney and Lily de Gramont, or during her prime years as a socialite in Paris.  The Many Masks of Romaine Brooks (new title the press wishes to foreground) proceeds chronologically through Brooks’ works and the documented interactions with both her subjects and her peers to persuasively emphasize her struggles and change the current perception of Romaine Brooks. Here is  the key to finally restoring Brooks to the history of American and International art that is her rightful place in the development of art. Although a conservative modernist in her chosen style in content and approach she was decidedly modernist in that she documented a lesbian and bi-sexual subculture and she applied a new musicality to her work by developing a unique approach to both monochromatic harmonies and tonal scale in her use of paint and its application to the canvas.

Her recognition for the originality of her work, her courage in demanding to be seen and the quality of her work as an artist are long over due. My book will establish once and for all how important and innovative her contributions to art were. I firmly believe that had she not been a conservative modernist, expatriate and sapphist-lesbian she would not have as neglected as she has been. Much work remains to be done clarifying the details of Romaine’s life and art. It is my hope that a new and younger generation of scholars will take up the mantle where I have left off.

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Revelations in Gay and Lesbian history

Much has been made of heterosexists models of relationships as applied to gay and lesbian lives. Recent publications have done a lot to over turn these stereotypes of gender and relational norms. With the marriage debates and GLBTQ rights the focus has been mainly on gaining equal rights through heterosexists institutions. Perhaps one reason so many of us are signing on to the idea of marriage as aberrant as it may seem to some of us.

Romaine Brooks, Natalie Barney and Lily de Gramont never signed on to the notion that women were somehow the property of men to use and abuse as they saw fit merely because they had the brute strength to subjugate women and possess them. Nor did they believe in laws that allowed men to oppress women. They believed women were superior to men and lived their lives in this belief.

Blue is the Warmest Color recently exploded off the screen garnering a number of prizes and rave reviews. I just saw it and have to say it is a film that promised much and failed to deliver on these promises. First off, it is a primer to lesbian sex 101 from a

Here is the book you must read

Here is the book you must read

POV. It’s fine for as far as it goes which is not nearly far enough. It is a male perspective and plays out as two women acting out a male notion of what lesbians do in bed. It’s not half bad but it certainly in no way captures the true depth, playfulness or sinuosities of lesbian love or sexual practices. It is shallow and surface despite all the huff and puff and penetration. What does come across is how focused on butt the film maker is. I wonder if he has been studying artist Joan Semmel’s nudes which she has been creating for the last 40 years or so?

Open, on-going, multiple relationships are what the trio above had, committed, eternal and flexible would best describe their interrelations. We need to realize that these three women did not have the right to vote, had more than enough money for multiple residences and formed a unique series of linkages and entwined households during their lifetimes. This seriously impacts on how we relate to them and their times. I will outline and flesh out more in my forthcoming book Romaine Brooks: Behind the Mask–

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Check this out

 you might be interested in the online event I will hold on Thursday, October 31, at my web site www.suzannestroh.com

 
It’s a virtual party to celebrate the 137th birthday of expatriate arts patron Natalie Barney (1876-1972). A major reappraisal of Barney’s life and legacy is underway, led by my translation of Francesco Rapazzini’s biography of the woman Barney secretly married in 1918, author and sculptor Élisabeth de Gramont (1875-1954). Forty years after Barney’s death, her secret 1926 novel has finally been published in French. It details the household both women established with American painter Romaine Brooks (1874-1970).
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New Event and interview with me about Brooks

Hi all: just to let you know about a great on-line event put together by a colleague of mine. Please tune in for Suzanne’s site reopening. See below

 you might be interested in the online event I will hold on Thursday, October 31, at my web site www.suzannestroh.com

 
It’s a virtual party to celebrate the 137th birthday of expatriate arts patron Natalie Barney (1876-1972). A major reappraisal of Barney’s life and legacy is underway, led by my translation of Francesco Rapazzini’s biography of the woman Barney secretly married in 1918, author and sculptor Élisabeth de Gramont (1875-1954). Forty years after Barney’s death, her secret 1926 novel has finally been published in French. It details the household both women established with American painter Romaine Brooks (1874-1970).
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