Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrate Mary Cassatt and a Memorial Day Meal from the Seasonal Plate

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (May 22, 1844-June 14, 1926) was an American painter and printmaker. She defied the conventions of her time pursuing her dream to become an artist. She lived much of her adult life in France. In 1877 Mary met another artist called Edward Degas. He introduced her to other painters who were known as Impressionists. Cassatt was an individualist who despite using some of the Impressionist techniques developed her own unique style. Her innovations in printmaking utilized color, images and techniques from Japan that set her apart from other artists of that time period.  

Cassatt painted this self portrait in 1878 using lighter colors and looser brush strokes. While most Impressionists painted outdoor scenes, Mary used the Impressionist ideas but painted indoor scenes. Most of her paintings were portraits of her family, friends and neighbors. Cassatt never married nor had any children. During the last years of her life, Mary’s eyesight failed and she could not paint. Mary Cassatt died on 14th June 1926. She was 82.

This self portrait was chosen as the cover of Nancy Plain's book "Mary Cassatt An Artist's Life"
This biography is targeted for the YA market but I found it to be quite absorbing and engaging to read. Cassatt's life is a fascinating read about a woman who showed strength of character and a risk taker for the expected norm of woman. The book is packed with lots of information. The author deftly provides the reader with a clear explanation of artistic techniques but the narrative focuses more on Cassatt's life in France with fellow painters, the social conditions in France for struggling painters and importance of family relationships. 
"Mary Cassatt An Artist's Life" was selected for the New York Public Library’s 1994 list of “Books for the Teen Age.” 

The following is brief synopsis of the book written by Nancy Plain. 
Mary Cassatt was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, in 1844, a time
when women were expected to dedicate their lives to home and family.
But this spirited young woman followed her passion for painting to Paris,
France. There she met Degas, Monet, Renoir, and others in the revolutionary
art movement called "Impressionism." Cassatt became the only American
to join the Impressionists and is especially famous for her glowing
paintings of mothers and children.

Mary Cassatt
Check out this link to order.!mary-cassatt/c81n
Seasonal Plate Memorial Day Menu
Cook's Notes:Grilling season is here so dust off your barbecue, fire it up and get your grill on! Savor the flavors of the season with tasty grilled skewered chicken marinated in a Moroccan style spice blend. As a time saver use a prepared box of herb couscous or Basmati Rice. Tzatziki sauce served as a side for the kabobs, a simple fresh fruit compote drizzled with a squeeze of lime juice topped with fresh mint and Sea Salt Brownies round out this meal. Wine pairing: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or Red Zinfandel.
All recipes previously posted
Moroccan Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce
Almond Toffee Sea Salt brownies

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