Maureen Mullarkey

Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday. Last day of the ancient carnival season and herald of Lent, it has dwindled down to a New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, Fasching in Munich, and not much of anything elsewhere. Does Mardi Gras have a purpose anymore besides showing off your bottom and getting drunk on Bourbon Street? Letting go—as the saying goes—does not mean much when there is little left to let go of. Jose Gutierrez Solana, Dance of Masks (1938). Madrid.   We are a long way from the spring customs of European peasantry. Continue Reading
Holly Tree, Holy Tree & Sukkot

In an earlier post I registered dismay at the sight of the annual Christmas wreath hanging from the foot of the crucifix in my local parish church. A careful reader familiar with the lore of holly wrote to ask: Would I still object to the placement of the wreath if it were made of holly? Yes, I would. And perhaps the reader would, too, if he had seen it. There is no way to know. Personal sensibility comes into play. Individual taste. Continue Reading
Still Touring

The Twelve Days of Christmas are over. But the Christmas season does not end officially until Candlemas, February 2nd. That leaves time to revel in images that have delighted me all of my life. The magic of their pictorial agility never flags. Their graphic intelligence—linear and compositional elegance, or what the old Italians called disegno—displays sensibilities that are rarely matched anymore in standard seasonal illustration. In part, that is because Christmas is no longer a spur, commercial or personal, to high imaginations. Continue Reading