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summer reading

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on June 14th, 2017

Summer is here, and I couldn’t be happier about it! Yes, we still have a week to go before the solstice, but everyone knows that once Memorial Day hits, the season unofficially begins. Our thoughts turn to all the fun summer traditions we’ve adopted throughout our lives (Jaws, anyone?) and (ideally) our calendars fill up with leisurely activities. Summer reading lists are popular, but my favorite book to read in the summer is one that I technically haven’t read yet: Stephen King‘s The Stand. Let me explain.


Many summers ago, my husband, Terry, was trying to convince me to read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. “It’s a western,” I complained. “I don’t care about westerns.” “But it’s a masterpiece,” he insisted. We went back and forth like this for a while. I wasn’t budging and he wasn’t backing down. “Just give it a chance,” he said. “Let me read the first chapter to you…if you don’t like it, fine, but just give it a chance.” We sat on the couch, and he started reading aloud. In spite of myself, I was intrigued. Terry said, “See? Don’t you want to read this now?” I said, “Actually, I’m really enjoying being read to.” With that, Story Time was born. Weekend mornings were spent on the couch with coffee, open windows, and the words of Lonesome Dove in the air.


We both enjoyed the ritual so much, we kept it going through following summers with different Larry McMurtry books (Streets Of Laredo, Comanche Moonyes, westerns)…then, at the beginning of one summer, Terry asked, “Have you ever read The Stand? I’ve been thinking about reading it again…the story begins in early summer. It’s over a thousand pages.” No convincing was necessary.


2017 will be the fourth summer we will spend with Stu, Frannie, Larry, Nick, Tom (“laws, yes”), and the other complex (and relatable) characters as they navigate the country after most of the population has been wiped out by the Superflu. The Stand is a supernatural tale of survival, the struggle of good versus evil, and ordinary humans dealing with extraordinary situations. In short, it’s a masterpiece, and a damn good way to spend a couple of months. Read it…or find someone nice to read it to you.




inspiration is everywhere

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on May 31st, 2017

If you find yourself in the Boston area sometime soon (like I did this past weekend), please take the time to visit the Museum of Fine Arts! There are a ton of wonderful exhibits on display at the MFA right now, but the one that made me get there in a timely fashion is called Inspiration Is Everywhere: Matisse In The Studio. 




Inspiration Is Everywhere: Matisse In The Studio features original paintings, drawings, sculptures, and paper cut-outs sharing space with some of the actual objects you see depicted in those works of art. For example, here is a pewter jug that Matisse kept in his studio…




…and here is Odalisque, Blue Harmony, featuring said jug…

odalisque, blue harmony


…as well as Purple Robe and Anemones!



Here is a window screen that was hanging in Matisse’s studio…



…and here is The Moorish Screen!

moorish screen



Here’s Interior With Egyptian Curtain…

interior with egyptian curtain


…and there’s the curtain itself!



I love the concept behind this show, and I think the quote that greets visitors as they walk in sums things up rather nicely: “My life is between the walls of my studio.”




Inspiration Is Everywhere: Matisse In The Studio runs through July 9th. Catch it while you can…and get inspired!

randomly selected

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on May 17th, 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “random art” themed post, so maybe it’s time! Here is a little collection of some cool things I’ve seen while I’ve been out and about. Is it art? What is art, anyway? You be the judge…in the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes open for more unexpected visual treats!


Here’s a much-needed message posted on Congress Street in Portland…



…and a public service announcement at the Four Aces Diner in West Lebanon, New Hampshire!



Many street signs in Portland are pulling double duty these days: part traffic control, part canvas! Here’s an assortment:









Have you seen the funky figure hiding in the shadows on the mall in downtown Brunswick?



There is random art for all tastes, whether you prefer pizza…


…or carrots…


…or bananas!

banana on roof


Finally, this utility box in Portland has a message I can get behind: CREATE!



If you enjoy random art, I suggest you check out Acts of Random Art on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!