Archive for the ‘Narcissus’ Category

Meaning of Friend

It is different to define friend from friendship. My friend would tell me to speak for myself. But, now that I am losing my friend, I speak for the two of us.

We met at an Intercollegiate Student YM-YW summer project. About thirty of us lived in the Hartford Seminary and worked in industry. We worked in different departmets of the Underwood Typewriter Factory. I had been active on campus (Spelman College), had attended regional conferences (my train was the only one going that way!), and had urged three others to attend.

Along the way, I had gained the name Boots. Whit came from an idyllic small town in MA with a waterfall in the yard, a river across the street and private school. She is two years older and had been a Danny Grad (Danforth Fellowship) and worked for the YWCA. Our friendship started with her pulling covers off each morning to get me out to the job. At night the group shared meals, high-jinks and serious seminars about labor.

Her giving nature recommended me for a Danny which had no diversity at that time. The president of my college was the main reference and she declined to support me. She had no knowledge of this program and would have preferred to submit a student of her choice. This was a deep disappointment to my friend. She went to Columbia to study religion and I was the only single woman in the Howard University School of Religion.

Our lives crisscrossed over the next many years. Short visits, quick notes, punctuated lives of marriage, children and family elders. She, the more understanding of her faith, used her quiet resolve to listen and act for justice in ways I never did.

Faced with the death of my in-laws and dissolution of a long marriage, her counsel gave me the ability to shape my days into productive years. When her husband and companion of more than fifty years died, she shared with me her fears. Fortunately, the telephone rates became manageable so that we could talk everyday.. We lived apart connecting through our friendship, concern for health and safety of the other.

There was more. I learned from her to ask myself: what were the skills you used to get through all the bad times in your life? That was like a splash of cold water in the face. She learned from me to use a computer to publish her writings, to be more confident in her art. She had always known about my life and I learned how parallel lives can be.

We both aged as gracefully as possible. Our daughters – and my sons – began to be more parent as we tried to maintain a standard of independence. She tried her best to get me to plan for the unknown future.

Last Tuesday, I had surgery and her every thought and prayer was for my health. I learned she did this for me even though, that same day, she suuddenly was nearing her own death. I protest but cannot, will not, lose my friend of over 64 years.

Please see Changes, a post in
December 2011

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encaustic class


Clowning AroundClowning Around

It seems true that we are never too old to learn something new. Encaustic painting is an ancient art form. The art form uses melted waxes painted onto a sturdy surface. Various materials are used to change the consistency and colors.

On Sunday, I took a class with a small group meeting in a  studio-gallery, one of many built behind the renovated Loveless Cafe, Nashville. I am embarrassed to think that I live very close to this historic site and was visiting  after many years (and the food is exceptional).

This medium was taught by Judy Klich. She has specialized her art education in encaustic. After demonstrating a few varieties of methods and the safety tips, she let us go. I think we all agreed it was informative and fun. Thanks, Toni!

I always wanted to learn how to do this, and needed the push of an instructor, materials to play with and a congenial group. The two photos above document where I started. We shall see where this leads.

Who knew?

Most art forms use the same principles. Composition, color, design, texture…each in moderation for success. Best of all is the work, the sharing, the learning.

Event upcoming – January 12 – February 10, 2013

Twitter art exhibit: Los Angeles is the third version of an international twitter postcard sale to support a local charity in the area of the show. This one accepts handmade-painted – postcards from professional and amateur artists. It is free to enter and unsold cards will be given to the organization to use as they see fit.

I have submitted four postcards. Deadline for entry is January 4, 2013. All of the details are on twitter or I can email them if you are not able to find the information.

Metallic watercolor

Metallic watercolor

Calm Sea

One of the cards.

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"In the Beginning"

How’ you doing?

I am feeling just fine, thank you.

"It felt like Sunday"
Birthday Decadence

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"Looking toward Fisk University"

The Shadow

Larsen Home, Front View
For details see Nella Larson written by Thadious Davis

"Little Theater, Fisk U.
Made using former slave quarters

"The Johnson House"
Built by Sinclair Oil for the Johnsons

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An example of work by Wade Guyton Untitled (20...

An example of work by Wade Guyton Untitled (2008) Epson UltraChrome Inkjet prints on linen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery

Noble Sissle photo taken by Carl Van Vechten, ...

Noble Sissle photo taken by Carl Van Vechten, photographer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wade Guyton was a featured artist in this Sunday’s New York Times Arts section. His evolving as an artist who designs on the MAC computers and prints his works out on the largest inkjet printer made by Epson.

It is always fascinating to learn about art as process and innovation through the growth of the individual. Guyton hails from a small place in TN. (Lake City) and yet has quickly become an artist to watch.

Who knew?

As late as the 1980s, art associations and museums grappled with “Is photography ART?”  It was impossible to exhibit paintings and photographs in the same association. There was passion on both sides. This was long before manipulation using the computer.  The blogs today post works that are light years past that period. Shoot and print is enhanced in the cameras leaving the clarity and beauty of black and white landscapes (Ansel Adams) and portraits (Carl Van Vechten) as antiques and collectables. The resurgence of typewriters by texters may bring back an appetite for film.

The history of art defines innovators who contributed to new schools of art. Guyton’s explorations are being viewed in this category.

To read the entire article:



Carl Van  Vechten was a New York photographer who had many friends in the Harlem Renaissance. He became a friend of Fisk University through artists like Aaron Douglas and Georgia O’Keeffe. The former gymnasium, now an art museum, is named for him.

One can live in a place like New York and never know this unique history.

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A Day's Outing

End of Summer

Now that the nights are cool and the mornings are foggy, it is time to put away the signs of summer. It seemed the heat would never end.

Who knew?

Cleaning out of a drawer had a hidden treasure – my

handwritten poems Narcissus, Hibiscus and Mandrake. With them are the research notes on the relationship of the flowers and trees used as the theme. And, as if that was not enough, notes from the Writers’ Conference my daughter and I attended.

I flew on People’s Express from Nashville to the hub in Newark. The daughter was in graduate school at Rutgers. Such convenience. We flew from Newark to Michigan for the conference.

Cesar Chavez & Audre Lord at Plaza 16 Public g...

Cesar Chavez & Audre Lord at Plaza 16 Public gallery at 16th St BART (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

Audre Lord, the outstanding poet, was one of those featured. Manuscript in hand we absorbed as much as we could and returned home the route we came by. Just ending a long marriage, I felt such a euphoria of independence (which had been lacking).

Read poems at


And Now

Just recently there was news that an unknown novel written by a Harlem Renaissance writer had been authenticated. It was found by a graduate student looking through some unopened boxes. Will my manuscript and notes have the same fate and be written about in the New York Times?

Related articles

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by B. W. Harwell

Dr. Howard Thurman

Image via Wikipedia

This painting was inspired by the preaching of Rev. Howard Thurman. His theme was often these words:

I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw the man who had no feet.

He was a very eloquent speaker and was available to youth groups, such as the college YM-YW conferences.

Some words stay with you and guide your thinking about life.

Who knew?

This painting, part of a group of works, was donated to a public housing community center in Nashville, TN. Other artists painted murals and provided a variety of their crafts when this building was restored. Local children and staff created tiles for the foyer.

Obelisk in front of King Chapel dedicated to H...

Image via Wikipedia

Howard Thurman's Great Hope book

Image by Fellowship of Reconciliation via Flickr

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by B. W. Harwell

"The House of Dead Flowers"

The artist does not always have control of the medium. When unexpected images enter like ghosts from the past, do you save them or push them back from view? This painting began (more…)

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Cover of the first edition of Poems of Passion...

Image via Wikipedia


A little housekeeping about Narcissus, Hibiscus and Mandrake. The entire book of poems and the table of contents have been posted. All will stay for you to read, comment on, or download. Please give the writer’s name, Bettye W. Harwell, as a copyright courtesy.

Any additional poetry will be posted on the After Narcissus page. It is listed as a category for easy access.

Journals and backs of envelopes  will be scoured and scrubbed for additional poems. Longer writings, such as A Date with James Earl Jones, will continue here on: leartisteboots.wordpress.com.

Please follow and subscribe to both if you like them.


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Albert Einstein

Image via Wikipedia

Happy Birthday+ 1
Do  you make promises to yourself? If you made New Year’s resolutions for 2011, how is that working out?

Birthday milestones are in reaching 18 or 21, 30,40, 50. Then it gets serious: 60, 62,65. These are numbers guided by Social Security, retirement and long term life plans.

That 65 number sticks out because we now begin to think in 5 year increments. Each celebration of our birthday is wonderful but those fifth years seem more special. They also hold out the promise that life will continue and get better. Wisdom is implied. Our younger friends listen for answers to their questions:

– How did you live so long?
– What was it like back then?
– What is left that you want to do?

Good genes, good health and curiosity are wishes for each birthday. Albert Einstein is said to have thought that imagination is a very valuable trait.

The day after your birthday, and all the days to follow, can be filled with joys only you can imagine.

Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

Image via Wikipedia

Who knew?
The posts on writersdocket.wordpress.com (reblogged) inform on self publishing. The blog is worth checking out.

Subscribing to leartisteboots.wordpress.com does not subscribe you to the poetry, narcissushibiscusmandrake.wordpress.com.

Soon additional poetry will be added to the Narcissus page, After Narcissus. Subscribe for updates.

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