Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ida H. Hyde

Ida H. Hyde, Headstone, Woods Hole, MA, 2015

We had time to kill in Woods Hole waiting for the ferry over to Martha's Vineyard, so we decided to wander around the cemetery there.  There were a lot of interesting grave markers, some with lengthy and very descriptive epitaphs, but it was this erratic boulder with a plaque affixed to it that really caught my attention and made me wonder:  Who was Ida H. Hyde?  It turns out that she was an astonishing woman of uncommon perserverance.  Her singular focus to study nature and biology weathered her through a lot of hardships, not the least of which was the nearly insurmountable gender bias she encountered at university.  In the end, her work and dedication spoke for itself.
I'm so glad that I came across her final resting place, and learned more about this extraordinary scientist.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nine, Ten days

Seneca Zombie Formalism, 2013, Romulus, NY

One last parting shot.  I will return to the blog in nine, ten days.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

C & B on the Beach, Prime Hook, DE, 2014

Well, tomorrow we leave on vacation.  A week on Martha's Vineyard.  For the first time since we went to Italy in 2006, the dog will not be joining us.  No, we're taking both of our mothers instead - and there isn't enough room to take the dog, not with all of the baggage, both literal and figurative, that the old ladies bring. 
I hope all goes well, but I'm packing plenty of wine in case I have to start afternoon drinking.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Denyse Thomasos

Yves Bleu, Denyse Thomasos, 1999

I will never be accused of being on the cutting edge of the art world, being, as I am, always late to the party.  In the case of Denyse Thomasos, I did not learn of her and her astounding achievements in abstract art until three years after her sudden death.  Her architecture abstract paintings are ideal in form and representation.  I've never encountered anything quite like them.  They are as close to perfection as the world can be rendered in the abstract.  The above work, Yves Bleu, is very much what a city feels like in the rain.
Thomasos taught at Rutgers University, coming to America via Trinidad and Canada, but like all truly great artists, she belonged to the world.   

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The Face of Liberty, New York Harbor, 1885

One hundred and thirty years ago today, the Statue of Liberty arrived in pieces at New York Harbor.  Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's masterwork, situated as it is at the gateway to New York city, has served as the welcome to millions of immigrants who've made their way to our shores.
I've been to NYC, and to Liberty Island and the nearby former immigration processing center, Ellis Island.  My Italian ancestors passed through Ellis Island in 1913.  My grandmother was then five years old.  Coming to America in some ways overwhelmed her in such a way that she never fully recovered.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Barbie Furiosa 2.0

Barbie Furiosa, Non-Mechanical Arm Attached, Pittsburgh, 2015

Now that fireworks are available, I'm tinkering more with the Barbie as Furiosa concept.  And yes, this is all as much fun as it seems.  It's been so long since I've dismembered a Barbie.  Wow, talk about bringing back memories of my misspent youth!  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jeff Gursky and The Hidden World of WWI

Jeff Gursky, The Hidden World of WWI

Growing up, and long into adulthood as well, it seemed apparent to me that much more attention was paid to WWII, the battles, the outcome, the lingering historical influences on the shape of global politics and machinations, than WWI.  Tragic, really, to so discount the precursor to WWII.  Now that it's been a hundred years since the war to end all wars began, it is being revisited in a more meaningful way, and I'm glad.  We have to remember and examine our history, lest we, and you know how this phrase ends, repeat it.
Doctor, artist, explorer (a self description per his website) Jeff Gursky  has rediscovered the "lost" tunnels of WWI in France and they remain much as how they were left a hundred years ago.  Like any space that harkens back to a time of conflict and massive loss of life, it's difficult to look at the photographs and not be overcome with a sense of wistful wishfulfillment that somehow we, as evolved creatures, are better than this.  I think that this is why we have a deep fondness for the ideal of time travel.  If only I could go back in time and save Lincoln, kill baby Hitler, stop the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, throw a bucket of water on Joan of Arc...there are too many to list.  I know that I can't change the past, that we can only look upon it and learn, if only we'd learn.  Yes, if only we'd learn then maybe all of those deaths would mean something.  As it is, the most lasting thing that emerged from WWI was/is an ongoing collective existential crisis from which we cannot escape.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Barbie Furiosa

Barbie Furiosa, Pittsburgh, 2015

Every year for the fourth of July I drag out a large, one-handed Godzilla (yes, he lost a hand years ago in a fireworks accident) and we do a mini fireworks display with an attacking, enraged Godzilla theme.  This year I'm really, seriously shaking things up by replacing Godzilla with a naked Barbie Furiosa riding atop a garbage truck.  Should be fun! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Stinging Nettle V. Jewelweed

Top: Stinging nettle  Bottom: Jewelweed

While on a a hike through Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve yesterday, we encountered stinging nettle, Urtica dioica.  The moment that our bare legs brushed past it a burning, indeed, stinging sensation radiated from that area of skin.  At first I thought, I'll walk it off, but then it became more intense, so I mentioned it to my wife.  She too had touched it and was experiencing the very same thing that I was.  So, I set about to do the only thing a reasonable person deep in the woods can do:  I searched around for jewelweed, Impatiens capensis.  Jewelweed isn't flowering yet, but I know that it has a somewhat succulent appearing stem, and the leaves are a bit distinctive, and there are no dermatologically hazardous look-a-likes.
After a few minutes of searching I found what I thought was some jewelweed.  I plucked a few stems with leaves, crushed them to get at the pulp and juice of the inner plant, and began rubbing it on my lower legs.  Immediately I felt a cooling sensation.  I repeated the same thing on my wife, and she felt immediate relief as well.  Jewelweed is good for almost any skin irritation, even poison ivy.  A good tip to know when you're in the woods.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Return of A Certain Darkness

Hannibal Mini Coloring Book Cover

Season three of the NBC show, 'Hannibal', kicked off last evening.  Of course I couldn't watch it in real time because who stays up until 10pm?  Who?  So, I streamed the show this morning on NBC's website.  While not as clunky and slow as CBS's website, it was still pretty bad.  More like 2004 than 2015.  I suppose upgrades are pricey and TV execs can't get their millions in bonuses if they're actually working on their infrastructure, now can they?
That miserable experience aside, the show 'Hannibal' is decidely NOT for everyone.  It's dark, both in tone and in how its shot.  I haven't seen a show with less lighting since the early years of the X-Files.  As for tone, well, suffice it to say that Hannibal is able to have a very enlightening conversation with what remains of the man he is ingesting, explaining that he is not a cannibal because no one is his peer.  That's one way to rationalize eating people, and further proof that even psychopaths employ a reasoning to their misdeeds.
Truth be told I'm not a big fan of the show, but I do watch everything that has Gillian Anderson in it.  Her Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier is the best thing about the show.  She knows who and what Hannibal is, and yet instead of being completely terrified, she's only slightly terrified and then intrigued.  Hopefully she lives to regret everything.
For your copy of the mini coloring book, click here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Radical Figuration and Jo Baer

Dusk, 2012, Jo Baer

Jo Baer is an American artist, born in 1929 in Seattle, WA.  Though beginning as a minimalist, her work evolved to be imbued with symbols, images, and words to become what she termed "radical figuration".  There's an excellent interview with her here.
Definitely an artist who marches to her own beat, I find her work effortlessly and endlessly engaging.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pacific Theater War Album


Inspired by what Dean Putney did with his great-grandfather's WWI photo album, I asked my brother to dig out our grandfather's WWII photo album.  Grandpa Herbie was a sergeant in the marines, serving in the Pacific.  I hadn't looked at the album in years, probably not since my grandfather died twenty years ago.  I noticed immediately that the photos are beginning to degrade and that we've got to restore each and every one of them (there are hundreds). 
So, that's what I'm thinking of under taking, since my brother, who always is full of good intentions but almost no follow through, because the integrity of the images is only going to further degrade.  If and when I complete the process, I'll start a campaign to get the album published.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Panza Gallery

Panza Gallery, Millvale

The Panza Gallery in Millvale, just outside of Downtown Pittsburgh, is an eclectic and vibrant space that showcases art of every stripe.  I stumbled upon this little side street gem recently and will definitely be going back.  Highly recommended, especially for the wanderer.