Friday, January 31, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Gerald McDermott

American illustrator, film maker and author of children's books, Gerald McDermott was born on this day, 31 January, in 1941. He died in December 2012 at age 71. I knew nothing about Gerald McDermott, or his work, but in searching around the net have discovered he was an interesting personality, and good subject for this Arty Farty Friday, anniversary of his birth.

Writers paying tribute to him after his death have described him as "dream weaver, tale spinner, portrayer of visions, interpreter of the human spirit"; "had an unusual talent for reaching both kids and adults".

In another tribute article by a friend of McDermott's, Doug Cushman, after recounting some happy times together in Paris....
"But most of all he was a storyteller. He was one of the few artists living that continued the venerable tradition of passing on the old stories from generation to generation. He captured the heart and soul of each myth he illustrated. His writing process was jotting down a few lines of the myth and then walking around the room reciting them over and over again, changing the words slightly here and there and listening to them until they was distilled down to only a few, grasping the heart of the myth in its simplest form. Then he’d create the art, borrowing symbols and images from the myth’s culture. But there would always be some part of Gerald in there, some wink or nod that said, “This is serious stuff, but not too serious. Let’s have some fun.”
Gerald McDermott was born in Detroit, Michigan. His gravitation to art came early. At age 4 his parents, surprised by his blossoming artistic ability enrolled him in classes for children at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The rest of his education and career is outlined in a Profile piece by Priscilla Moulton.

He married fellow artist, Beverly Brodsky, in 1969; shortly after after they moved to the South of France for some years. McDermott was avidly interested in world mythologies. He created animated short films based on folklore, became a friend and colleague of mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, eventually he became the first fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation.

Books written by Gerald McDermott include: Anansi the Spider: A Tale from Ashanti; Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest; Arrow to the Sun: A Tale from the Pueblo; and Daughter of Earth. All include McDermott’s super illustrations, typically dominated by bright, stylized forms, and inspired by indigenous art. One obituary tells that, “his grasp of the cultural heritage behind his stories was impeccable, yet his books were never weighed down by his depth of knowledge. Every story is distilled to its essence; each one has a vein of humor that makes it accessible to even the youngest readers. And his artwork! Always stunning.”

A quick look at a 12 noon version of his natal chart. No birth time is available so Moon and ascendant will not be as shown.

A Grand Trine links the generational trine between Uranus and Neptune with Venus, planet of the arts, all in Earth signs. This manifests in his creativity, the blend of Neptune and Uranus (new ways of looking at old stories) linked to his talent for painting. Saturn and Jupiter conjoined in Taurus (ruled by Venus) reflect his work(Saturn) in the publication of many books(Jupiter). His gravitation to illustrate myths of other nations might be represented by Mars in Sagittarius (the foreign travel sign)in helpful sextile to his natal Sun.

A few examples of his art from his book covers. At YouTube there are several examples of his short animated films based on the book illustrations.

When Pluto wrongly takes Proserpina to be his bride in the Underworld, Ceres, mother of Proserpina and goddess of the Earth, withdraws into a cave to mourn and refuses to permit crops to grow.
Sources include:


mike said...

I went through a mythology phase in my 20s, which included Native American lore of creation. I believe I read his "Arrow to the Sun".

I became a huge fan of Joseph Campbell and particularly once I saw his PBS series, "The Power of Myth", exploring the world's historic mythology, condensing it into his monomyth, for a basis of all mythology. His OPUS foundation-collection was just up the coast from Ventura in Capenteria, CA, but I was never successful in visiting, due to the hours of operation.

Gerald McDermott's chart, like Herblock's chart yesterday with two final dispositors in mutual reception, has Venus and Saturn as final dispositors in mutual reception, too. Typical for a person of prominence and known for a very focused endeavor.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Joseph Campbell sounds like someone I should investigate.

Thanks for the dispositor information, again. It's true that both Gerald McDermott and Herblock were extrmely finely focused in their different passions.

mike (again) said...

Happy wood horse Chinese New Year, Twilight. Are you and anyjazz indulging in wonton behavior to celebrate?!

I haven't seen Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth" series on PBS for several was shown yearly, but maybe the viewing audience tired of it. It's excellent and timeless. I hope you can see it sometime. He was special.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Happy Chinese turn of year to you too mike! We're both Tigers if I remember correctly.
So a big "Grrrrrr" to you!!

Nothing in the least wonton or wanton (as if!) here - unless - we're about to watch a DVD I rented this afternoon-
the newest Woody Allen: "Blue Jasmine". I shall report back during the week if it's worth scribbling about.

I'll keep an eye out for "The Power of Myth" in the future.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Off subject, but I'm curious what you'll think of "Blue Jasmine". I'm anxious to see it and so is my husband - he's a big fan of Cate Blanchett and so am I, though for different reasons.:) At least one of the scenes was filmed just a few blocks from our apartment and another was shot at one of our former haunts - our stomping ground!

Twilight said...

LB ~ I enjoyed it, husband thought it was "alright". :-)
Cate Blanchett is excellent - she carries, in fact, makes the whole movie. Extra features (press interviews etc) also on the DVD were interesting too. I'll do a brief rundown on it in a post, maybe Tuesday next. :-)

LB said...

Thanks, Twilight. In anticipation of your (longer) upcoming review, maybe we'll try to rent it this weekend.:)

mike (again) said...

Re: Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine"...

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thanks, I'd probably not have seen that - or maybe I would, it's likely another cyber-storm will erupt today on the topic.

There's another article on the topic, with a different slant here, and I hope that people will read both, not just one or the other:

As I've already prepared a brief review of Blue Jasmine I think I'll still post it on Tuesday. I do not wish to jump on the bandwagon of outrage, but nor am I going to try to defend Woody Allen. In truth nobody can be 100% sure what happened so many years ago. Whatever it was, and however it came about, the child, now a woman, has suffered, there's no denying that.

mike (again) said...

Thanks for Weide's counterpoint essay, Twilight. What a sordid mess regardless of my personal choice for the innocent or guilty verdict.

I had a neighbor in Ventura that was the best father ever and was accused by his mother-in-law of sexually abusing his five year old son...the mother of the boy abandoned the family for another man...the MIL had to resort to the abuse charges in an effort to gain custody. The charges were unfounded and dismissed, but the MIL inflicted untold damages and thought nothing of it. I suspect she was proud of her custody efforts. She had a long discussion with me...why I should side with her and testify against the father, her son-in-law...I became her enemy when I told her I'd defend the SIL father.

I think these things happen frequently. Due to the nature of the purported crime, it's horrid for the victim if real, but equally horrid for the accused if false. But then, any false accusations of any type can ruin a life.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, sordid. Although we must acknowledge the good and humanitarian work Mia Farrow has done, and still does, I've never felt comfortable about her - hard to explain - just uncomfortable. Whereas I do not feel the same way about Woody Allen. Now, my inner antennae could be way off key on this, so I'd best shut up!

False accusations can indeed ruin a life - and even bring an end to a life, as in capital punishment, with which I disagree for that reason; or suicide.

LB said...

Twilight and mike ~ After reading Dylan Farrow's open letter this morning, I admit to having second thoughts about seeing "Blue Jasmine"; forgiveness is one thing, but there's just something about supporting the work of someone who hasn't ever been held accountable. I have mixed feelings.:(

The Daily Beast article was very interesting and informative - thanks for the link, Twilight. And while it sets the record straight on some of the controversy surrounding Woody Allen (assuming it's a factual account, particularly his relationship with Soon-Yi), it doesn't change the fact that one of his now grown daughters has stuck by her claim that she was sexually molested by her father as a child. I think it's important not to confuse the issues.

And on a *separate* issue, considering all that's happened (including Mia Farrow's public positions concerning Allen), I'm confused by her relationship with Roman Polanski.

Here's another good article written from another perspective:

Twilight said...

LB ~ As on the Michael Jackson stories, I'm going to remain a "don't know", whilst not ever forgetting the possibilities, though not taking any of them as proven, because they haven't been.

I long ago decided that I feel okay about enjoying the work of people with flaws (because none of us is perfect), as long as they are not convicted/admitted child abusers, wife beaters or murderers. WA has always strongly disputed the accusation, it was not capable of proof, and there are parts of the situation as described which make the full truth of it unlikely, as laid out in the article I linked, and the one you link.

I'd like to think that if ever I were wrongly accused of something, and had strongly denied it, that people wouldn't just accept the word of third and fourth parties with possible ulterior motives, without delving deeper.

LB said...

Twilight ~ I share your concern about not wanting to condemn or convict (either legally or in the court of public opinion) those who are innocent or who *may* be innocent.

Having said that, just because something can't be proven doesn't mean it isn't true or that it didn't happen. Sometimes those of us on the outside can discern the truth and sometimes we can't.

In the case of Roman Polanski, I don't think there's any question (at least in my mind) about what actually happened.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I think I read that Polanski was actually charged (Allen never has been) Polanski admitted to one of 6 charges, as a result of a plea bargain - then he fled to France before being in danger of serving further jail time, according to Wikipedia.

I have to admit I didn't follow the Polanski case at all, wasn't interested, so don't have any feelings about him or it. I've never even seen any of his films.