Category Archives: Art

Ahhh the smell of racism in the morning

So I was just informed that it’s basically ok when my traditions are co –opted by pop culture because any harm that comes from that doesn’t matter because I’m white. But oh, I should be up in arms every time an artist is inspired by a Native artist and utilizes elements of that art style in their art. Doesn’t work like that, sweetheart.

Anyone who thinks like this, by the way, can go fuck yourselves. Please. Preferably with a chainsaw dipped in salt. Normally I might try to frame that in less offensive language, but nope. Not today.  Racism works both ways, bubbele.

Over on my facebook, I’m having an argument/discussion with several people about an incident that recently happened in Canada. Here’s the link go read it for yourselves.

This is way too similar to what happened in NY last month. Read about that here.

There is only one question I ask about art: does it move you? Does it turn you inside out? Does it make your heart weep or rejoice? Does it evoke something? If it does, then good. That’s exactly what art is supposed to do. It doesn’t belong to any one people or culture. It is universal and I care a hell of a lot more about good art than I do about any group of people. Art does not provide you with safe prepackaged answers either. The arts are the best our humanity has to offer. They are the collected genius of our people. The best art is more important than any one of us.

I have a huge issue with pop culture taking the stories of my Gods and turning them into entertainment that makes a mockery of those Gods. I don’t however think that those things should be destroyed. I simply choose not to see them. The day we start calling for the destruction of art and the silencing of artists – especially those we dislike or disagree with — is the day we lose part of our humanity, the best part; and the day that call goes forth and is not challenged is the day we’re doomed as a species.




Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.


Apollo and Marsyas: The Nature of Art


(Bartolomeo Manfredi’s “Apollo and Marsyas.” Source: wiki commons)

I have a fascination with operatic castrati and since I’m currently doing quite a bit of research for an academic project that involves them, their music has been the subject of much conversation in my house lately. Add to that a meme a friend of mine posted on facebook wherein one of the choices was “because a human did something better than a God and that God threw a hissy fit” and I knew I had to write about the conversation my husband and I had the other day.(1) Somehow the subject of the contest between Apollo and Marsyas came up and the lessons this might hold for musicians.

In this story, Marsyas, a satyr and master musician hubristically challenges Apollo to a music contest. The contest is to be judged by the Muses and the winner would then be permitted to treat the loser anyway he wished.(2) Both God and satyr play, Apollo wins, and in punishment for his hubris Marsyas is flayed. Customary interpretations of this story revolve around the flaying specifically as a punishment for hubris, for the satyr daring to challenge a God (and thus to put himself above the right and natural order of things) and this is not an incorrect interpretation but there are other lessons to be had in this tale as well.

Allowing that one of the major lessons of this story is in fact the need for piety and humility before the Gods (amazing how “don’t be an asshole” covers so many situations in which we might find ourselves, devotionally and otherwise), I’d like to discuss here one of the other lessons, and this is where the castrati come in.

In my research I’ve noticed that there is a standard way in which historians seemingly must approach this material. Before they go into whatever it is that they want to discuss about the castrati, they must first state how barbaric or inhumane they find the practice.(3) They must first separate themselves from any hint that they might approve of the process, particularly if they are writing positively about the result (and given that the influence of the castrati pretty much defined opera for two hundred years and shaped contemporary opera too, there’s quite a bit to celebrate there).

The question is endlessly asked (by academics and other researchers): why would someone do that to himself? Why would someone allow that to be done to a child? What was the allure of the castrati (they were the equivalent of sex symbols and rock stars)? I find these questions boggling: for the voice. Are you people deaf? Have you never listened to a top-notch counter tenor? It’s like listening to the voice of God. It’s like having the heavens crashing down around you and these men don’t come close to the vocal quality of a well-trained castrato superstar.(4) I completely understand why someone would have sought to become a castrato and certainly why they were so attractive to their listeners. I mourn the fact that we can’t hear them today.

If the sounds harsh, consider my own background: I was a professional ballet dancer for the first part of my adult life. I started working with a regional company at thirteen and retired in my early twenties. I retired with crippling injuries. I knew at thirteen that I was choosing to commit to a career that would likely leave my body broken irreparably. I knew that I would have to make health and nutritional choices that were ultimately damaging. I didn’t make this choice blind and I did make it over parental objection. The call of that daimon – dance – was too strong. I have crushing pain now and very limited mobility and while I did soloist roles in the regional company for which I worked, I didn’t make it past apprentice in the New York company. I’ll go down in no history books as a competent dancer and…I would make exactly the same choice again.

I suspect that is incomprehensible to someone who hasn’t been infected with that hunger, been taken up by that daimon, felt what it is like to push the body past its limits, past pain, to fly. I know that if at twelve, someone had said to me, if you mutilate your genitals you’ll have a chance to be one of the truly great dancers, I’d have done it without question. I would have considered it a worthy trade. There are things more important than what’s between our legs and far more important than our ability to procreate or the limits of our bodies. Being in service to art, in service to something far bigger and more important than ourselves supersedes all of that. That’s what moderns don’t comprehend.

Of course, that the castrati had to be castrated before puberty complicates things. There are questions of a child’s ability to make such a long-term choice for himself (see my comments above for where I stand on that) and certainly there were children sent under the knife against their will. The consequences of early castration are not just loss of fertility. (5)I also find the way Castrati were treated socially by the same communities that idolized their voices to be repellent (the church, for instance, forbade them to marry and in regular society they were often viewed as freaks, mocked for the very procedure that gave them the angelic voices so celebrated). By the nineteenth century with “enlightenment,” industrialization, more focus on binary gender roles, more focus on ‘nature’ as opposed to constructed brilliance, and certainly the elevation of both childhood and the individual over any common good the castrati were fast becoming a thing of the past. The last operatic superstar was the castrato Giovanni Velluti for whom both Rossini and Meyerbeer composed but operatic tastes were changing along with everything else and by 1913 not even the Vatican choir allowed for them. (6)

So what does all of this have to do with the story of Apollo and Marsyas? One of the many ways that I interpret this story is as a clear indication of what is required for excellence in an art. It doesn’t matter what the art form is (dance, singing, music, painting, etc.), to truly reach the heights of greatness, sacrifice is not just required, it is demanded. Excellence has a price. Art brings us into communion with the Gods like nothing else can. The Platonic philosophers wrote about the ennobling effects of Beauty, how it had the capacity to elevate the soul and I very much believe that is true. To be in service to the arts is to be in service to the Gods when it’s done right. It’s to move in sacred currents. That carries a demanding price and sometimes the consequences are irreparable. Devotion is like that too, if one wants to do it well.

We are owed nothing, yet opportunities are given. Devotion is an art just as much as dance or opera. It’s the art of the soul and it often carries as great a price as that any performer will pay. Excellence requires sacrifice. Mediocrity doesn’t. Make a choice. I read once of one castrato (and I can’t recall which one at the moment. I’ve been reading * a lot* on the topic) who was once asked if he regretted having been cut. He laughed in the interviewer’s face. He was one of perhaps half a dozen men who could do what he did at the level at which he performed in the entire world. He was feted across Europe. His name would go down in music history. He was as close to a god as a mortal has any right to be (barring apotheosis!).

Ironically I have seen some of the same criticisms of ballet children that I’ve seen about the castrati: it’s abuse. How can a child make that decision, etc. etc.(7) One such included a documentary about a leading Russian ballerina. The narrator could not stop talking about the brutality of the training and the sacrifice required. Yes, and she’s one of maybe ten women in the world who can do what she does. She had some of the best training in the world, and it’s training she herself wanted. I find it far more offensive that a second rate film maker is complaining about her sacrifices than that she’s consciously making them. Excellence requires certain choices and sometimes those choices hurt.

I think that’s the second lesson to be found in the story of Marsyas and Apollo. It’s not just a warning against hubris, it’s also telling us what is required to reach the heights of a practice: sacrifice. Perhaps it’s a warning against the hubris of assuming we can find greatness without the work or the cost.

Far from being appalled by the castrati, I rather think that when we as a culture began putting the mediocrity of the individual over the glory of art, over arête, over those things that represent the best of who we are as a people, that was when the real moral and cultural decay began and that’s what horrifies me the most because it’s not just sacrifice for the arts that modernists find problematic, it’s veneration of and sacrifice for devotion too and yet, if we wish to truly find excellence in our devotion, it’s going to require hard work and sacrifice on par with that of the best of the castrati or the best ballet dancers. We should be willing to bleed for our devotion, to bleed for our art, to bleed for our dreams. That’s Marsyas’s lesson: nothing is free, and one doesn’t reach the top of one’s game without painful hard work. We all have those talents and skills that we were given. The gap between that and excellence is what we choose to do with them and how much of ourselves we’re willing to bet in the bargain.(8)


1. The meme in question meant to be humorous, and I found it funny but it edges well into territory that while not impious necessarily bears watching. Humans do not do things better than the Gods and I think to allow that idea to take deep root in our minds is problematic. A joke is one thing but we’re constantly being bombarded by pop culture movies and tv that even when entertaining put forth the idea that humans are superior to the Gods and it’s important to recognize when that’s happening.
2. One source implied that of course the Muses would vote in favor of Apollo but I think that rather They would vote for the better musician. To do otherwise would be to violate the very Arts whose mysteries They govern. It is also to ascribe to Gods our own pathetic lack of integrity.
3. The Castrati were the rock stars of the 17th and 18th centuries. Castrated before puberty (often by their own request), they were men with pure, powerful soprano and alto voices. They commanded great applause and even greater fees and dominated the opera stage for two hundred years. The phenomenon began in the Byzantine church (the earliest recorded castrato singer that I’ve been able to document so far is a Byzantine choir master in 400 C.E.) and ended in the Papal Choir of the Vatican in 1922. We actually have recordings of the last known castrato: A. Moreschi. Unfortunately, they don’t give any sense of what his voice was actually like. Not only was he never an operatic virtuoso, but the recording technology of the time was in its infancy and could not capture the main bulk of his range. You can hear this with contemporary recordings of female stars like Nellie Melba too: the main part of the tessitura, its frequencies couldn’t be recorded so the voice sounds thin and given the limitations of recording, also out of tune. It’s unfortunate but early video recordings of the great dancers of the imperial ballet, like Pavlova and Spessivtseva show similar issues and in no way do justice to their subjects.
4. A couple of my favorite counter tenors include F. Fagioli, P. Jaroussky, A. Scholl, and the winner of this year’s Metropolitan Opera prize, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. Then there’s natural soporano M. Maniaci, who is in a class by himself. Each of them is singing work originally written for the greatest castrati of the baroque age and a the recent interest in baroque music has allowed for a mini-renaissance of counter tenors. 🙂 The counter tenor voice is a very different voice from that of the castrati, and both are different again from female sopranos. They’re very different instruments.
5. The ends of the bones don’t harden and so most castrati were, for their time, very, very tall. Depending on when the castration was done, they may or may not be able to have sex. If the operation was performed when they were very small, their genitals might not have grown to adult size. The results, according to way too much medical literature that I’ve had to read for my research, varied significantly. If their voices didn’t hold, if they didn’t have what it takes to be truly great, they were resigned to church choirs. Some became priests. I think it’s likewise important to note that ‘childhood’ was not then the cossetted state that it has become now for better or worse. There were different expectations of children and many parents gave their children over to the knife so that the boys would have a better future than the parents could otherwise give them.
6. I often wonder what it must have been like for Velluti…a generation before him, castrati were super stars and while he had an extensive career, he was the last of his kind and knew it and was often greeted as much with horror as acclaim…not to mention Meyerbeer and Rossini don’t hold a candle to Porpora and Handel when it comes to showing off a high voice.
7. Like with castrati, there is a time limit to the training. If a dancer doesn’t make that decision young, they’re not going to have a career and they certainly aren’t going to reach the heights of that career. A childhood is a small sacrifice to pay for such an opportunity, in my opinion (having made that choice). There are rare exceptions. Melissa Hayden for example, one of Balanchine’s stars began dancing at sixteen. She is a rarity and frankly not in the same league as the best Russian or French dancers who began as children. I began my ballet training at ten and that was at least three years too late. There’s a sweet spot with certain elements of the training too. If a girl, for instance is planning to go on pointe, that should happen after two years of near daily training (in the west, I’d say around 12, but in major ballet schools, if they’re training for several hours a day from the time they’re seven or eight, you might see it earlier, around ten. Without that multi hour daily training regimen though, putting a child on pointe before twelve is criminal. The bones just aren’t ready.). Going on pointe too early without proper preparation can severely damage the feet but going on too late, after say 15 can also be problematic. It is much, much more difficult to develop the competence and fluidity on pointe that one needs for professional work if the feet aren’t broken to it young. As the bones harden, it’s that much more difficult to gain that combination of strength and flexibility that makes proper pointe work possible.
8. Here is a BBC documentary on the castrati that is useful for those with no prior knowledge. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI. The whole thing is about an hour.


Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Censorship is Never Ok: Whitney Museum and Artist Dana Schutz Face Attacks Over Key Piece in the Whitney’s 2017 Biennial.

Apparently there is a small furor brewing over at the Whitney Museum in New York City. It all centers around a painting featured in their 2017 Biennial: “Open Casket 2016” by artist Dana Schutz.

Firstly, here is the painting in question:

dan schutz Open Casket 2016

(“Open Casket 2016” by Dana Schutz)

It is a memorial piece, her interpretation of the horrific murder of Emmett Till, which helped spark this nation’s Civil Rights movement.

The photo of Emmett Till in his casket has become iconic, a symbol of the fight for justice that galvanized this nation, a fight that is still going on. Till’s mother, having lost her only son in a most horrific manner, insisted on an open casket saying, “Let the people see what I have seen.” He was murdered for supposedly whistling at a white woman. The woman in question admitted that her accusations were false just this year.

I still remember my own response when, early in my twenties I first saw the iconic photograph of Mr. Till in his coffin (it is extremely graphic and I am not posting it here, but this link will take readers directly to the photograph). It was like a punch in the gut. It leveled me. It apparently left quite an impression on Dana Schutz too, and her painting shows that the death of Emmett Till still has the power to affect us today. When I saw that she titled it ‘Open Casket 2016’ I was even more moved, because it’s a clear statement that what happened to Till is still happening. It’s an acknowledge of the pain of ever mother who has ever lost her child to racism and violence. The artist herself said that she responded viscerally as a mother to Emmett Till’s death.

Art critic Hannah Black has a problem with that and has started a campaign not only to have the painting removed, but to see it destroyed. Not only has she started a petition to that effect (recently amended to show only the names of black signatories) but she is also encouraging her non-black supporters to vandalize the painting having recently updated her post to say the following, “Non-Black people super very welcome to help get painting destroyed tho [sic] in other ways.”

She doesn’t like this piece and she is calling for it to be destroyed. She is advocating for others to try to destroy it. She is calling for the willful silencing of an artist and the destruction of that person’s art. She is willfully trying to shut another artist down.

Hannah Black and those signatories are saying this painting is exploitative because the artist isn’t black. From the day of the opening last week, there have been protestors lined up in front of Ms. Schutz’s painting purposely blocking it from being viewed by those attending the exhibit. Its sole offense? The artist isn’t black. I’m not a fucking basket of fruit but that doesn’t stop me from painting the occasional still life. Art is that thing which crosses all boundaries after all. One does not need to be a particular anything in order to paint it.

Apparently “Open Casket 2016” is racist and exploitative though because the artist isn’t herself black. That is the objection, not the nature of the art itself. Seriously, if you would find this piece acceptable if the artist were black, then you’re not worried about exploitation, you’re just a racist. You, Ms. Black, are the worst kind of racist and I sincerely hope that you are arrested for attempting to promote vandalism and destruction of Museum property. You are a disgusting human being.

I also hope the Whitney doesn’t cave here and I hope to Gods they have security on this painting, which represents one of the most horrific events in the American Civil Rights movement. We should remember this event. We should be struck and moved and rendered by art. What we shouldn’t do is censor it. Ever but most especially when it upsets us.

We’ve seen this play out before. How many cultural icons do these deluded people need to destroy before we learn our lesson? Can anyone say Inquisition, Cultural Revolution, Soviet Russia? The moment you begin advocating for the destruction of artistic freedom, you lose. NO SUBJECT SHOULD BE OFF LIMITS TO AN ARTIST. I hope this makes Dana Schutz’s career.


Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Sneak Peak at the Art in my Etsy Shop

Check out some of the pieces currently for sale in my Etsy shop.

colliseum on aluminum 1

Forum I: an original photograph of the Roman Forum printed on aluminum (11×14)

Krasskova_Shaman copy

signed and numbered prints of Shaman in Blue

Krasskova_Shamaness NFS

and Shamaness

7-krasskova-still-life-with-teapot151211_galina_watercolor_046-krasskova-sunflowersstill life with fruit

as well as assorted greeting cards (more images are available, including cards of my shaman series, like Shaman in Ochre below. They may also be purchased for a discount in sets of five):

shaman in ochres

(the original painting is for sale at The Gallery in Rhinebeck)

Check it out. I’ll be posting new stuff daily.


Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Forthcoming Art Sale

I’m going to be posting quite a bit of my art – paintings and photography—for sale in my Etsy shop over the next couple of weeks. I will be offering a 20% discount on all of it through April.

It’s going to take me a couple of days, if not longer to get everything photographed and properly posted, but here’s a sneak peak (and if you’re interested in these email me at Krasskova at The discount is worked into the pricing here). Everyone should own a piece of original art. 🙂


Title: Dancer in the Nude

Technique: acrylic on canvas

Size: 15×30

Price: $250






Title: London Eye

Technique: Photopgraphy

Size: 16×20 framed (this piece won an award from Professional Women Photographers in 2014)

Price: $110





An assortment of 5×7 cards ($5/each or five for $20 – no discount on cards)




Title: Maenad

Technique: Acrylic on canvas board, framed.

Size: (I think it’s 16×20—will measure tomorrow)

Price: $110


Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.


Even More from the Met

I want to share these photo as well. I already did on facebook. These are also from the Metropolitan Museum, part of their permanent collection. 


firstly, the head of a young athlete. I adore this image because it just screams Hermes to me. It reminds me of the Hermes Praxiteles image i have on my shrine and it’s one of my favorite things in the Met’s Greco-Roman collection.


Then there is a dancing Maenad with the most awesome Thyrsus ever. 


And the Kharites, the Three Graces


and finally, Herakles.


(all photos are mine, copyright 2017. Do not use without permission)

A Sneak Peek into My Art Studio

My oath sister is visiting this week and one of the things we did (between spending a day shopping in Rhinebeck and visiting the Harney and Sons tea shop in Millerton, NY) was stop by my studio. She hadn’t ever seen it and was curious about where I paint. For those of you who might be curious, she took a couple of photos and posted them on her facebook (with my permission) and gave me leave to post them here. (the two bottom photos are by Wyrd Dottir. The first photo is by Mary Ann Glass)

I have this ongoing series of what a friend called my ‘creepy shaman series.’ Two of them  and an abstract figure painting are on display at The Gallery@Rhinebeck.


(this is my display at the Gallery)

Wyrd Dottir took a photo of my personal studio and one of my works in progress, which is probably going to be titled “Ariadne.” It’s nowhere near done, but here’s a peek at it so far. 


And then she took a shot of a still life in progress. One of these days I’ll figure out how to organize my paint in an efficient, workable fashion. That day is not today. LOL. 



You can see a bit of the small, simple shrine I have set up. There’s Hermes, Sarasvati (I don’t have much of a devotion to Her, I”ll admit, but a friend gave me the statue and I got a feeling She might like to be represented in an art space so She gets Her share of offerings), and Dionysos. My Norse Gods have space in the reception area of my studio, but I don’t have a photo of that.


Shout Out to Prayer Card Artists: Two Graces ^_^

Grace D. Palmer is a professional illustrator who has always been drawn to myths, stories and traditions. In her imaginings of the gods, she focuses on depicting their essential connection with humanity and the historical backgrounds from which we know their worship.

She places a high priority on non-standard ideals of beauty, exploring a more diverse range of human aesthetics. Her influences include the masters of the Northern Renaissance, and early 20th century golden age illustrators.

You can see her work at her primary portfolio site, on DeviantArt, or on tumblr. She is open for commissions or for private print sales via email or messaging at either site.

cybele painting 2x4

(Here is Grace Palmer’s beautiful Cybele card)

Grace Ibor says that: “My art is a hobby more than work, per se, so the only website I have is the DeviantArt page I just set up.  I have done a few commissions for folks, so if people are interested, I’m happy to hear from them. Grace may be contacted via her deviant art page. 


(Here is Grace Ibor’s wonderful and fierce Juno Curitis)

If more people were out making art, maybe we’d have less agony in the world. Art is sacred and I am deeply grateful to each and every one of the artists working with me on this prayer card project for helping to bring more sacred images into the world. A huge thank you to you all.

(all prayer cards pictured are available for purchase here.


A Polytheist Artist Proposition…

Markos Gage, the Dionysian Artist has written a powerful call to creative and  artistic arms here. He talks about the importance of art, the jadedness that comes of being saturated to overflowing with crap mainstream images, and the possibility that we can reverse this trend, offering us the rallying cry:”Maybe, just maybe, if we can work together to produce good art for our gods we can break the jadedness of mainstream culture…”

Food for thought, folks. food for thought. This is partly why I’m so committed to my prayer card project. 

Shout out #3 to Prayer Card Artists

Brandon has the honor of having created the very first prayer card in the collection, a card of Mani for which I have the original icon. You might find his artist’s bio strange coming from me, but I know him personally and he walks his very respectful talk. 

Moon Flautist

“Brandon E. Hardy is a spiritworker and follower of Jesus, but has not found it to be an exclusive relationship. He creates devotional art with the intent of returning even a few likenesses of the Gods to Their devotees after the many centuries of destruction done by Christians. Some of his art can be found on a far-too-infrequently updated DeviantArt profile here and due to the nature of his work he takes commissions on a widely sliding scale, including barter.”

(the very first prayer card, Brandon’s “Mani.” One day soon, i’ll get around to having a card made of his icon of Mani and Unn. It’s currently sitting beneath my Mani shrine, in a place of honor. Must. take. to. printer. :))