23 June 2022

separated at birth: fisherman; Schiaparelli or Fortuny?


Japan, Meiji period (ca. 1869-1912)

Fisherman with basket and net

Carved ivory okimono

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Baekeland

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

Cornell University


(gallery label, June 2022)

04 June 2022

memories of my grandmother, inspired by Armistead Maupin

Armistead Maupin (Teddy, to his family) visited his grandmother at the nursing home and she did not recognize him.

"I was making a gloomy retreat from Grannie's apartment when I had an idea. Returning to her chair, I thrust out my hand with the palm turned upward for her perusal. She seized it immediately and began reading the lines in rapt silence, like a book she'd laid down the night before and couldn't wait to return to.

Then, without even looking up, she said, very softly, 'Teddy.'

'Yes,' I said, laughing. 'Yes!'

'You're in your thirties now.'

'I am indeed.'

When her eyes finally moved up to my own, they were as open and lively as the sea. 'And you've written a novel, you say?'

'Yes. And you're in it.'

'Oh, dear.'

I laughed again. 'Not literally, but your spirit is there. Your loving, accepting spirit. She's a landlady in San Francisco, and she's a little ... spooky about things.'" [ellipsis in the text]

--Logical family: a memoir by Armistead Maupin (HarperCollins), page 276-277 in the paperback edition.

The last time I saw my grandmother (Gram, we called her) was at the nursing home. I had recently come back from my first trip to Italy (1985, I think). She didn't seem to recognize me but I had a stack of postcards and was showing them to her. When we got to a picture of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, she spoke of her father's stories of his "grand tour" to Europe in 1902. He had accompanied the art historian and professor O.P. Fairfield on the trip after an unusually hard year's work as acting president of Alfred University. His doctor said that the trip would do him more good than a year's medicine. This is paraphrased from the diary he kept on the trip.

My postcard of a famous bridge had penetrated my grandmother's aged fog and brought her memories of her father as it brought me a connection to the generations of my family. And confirmation of why I still love travel in general, Italy in particular, postcards, and probably even Palladio.

By Veronika.szappanos - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Some years later, in 2004, 102 years after my great grandfather's trip to Italy, I traveled to Venice with Sharon Chickanzeff, livening up my life narrative by breaking my arm at about midnight, with water on the plaza, under a full moon, while peering across the canal at Santa Maria della Salute.

28 May 2022

shock and awe


When I turned the page of the T magazine and encountered this advertisement, I was almost as stunned as first viewing the famous dildo picture of Lynda Benglis in Artforum, way back in the 1970s. Stopped in my very thoughts.

Caption: Lynda Benglis by Juergen Teller. loewe.com

24 May 2022

separated at birth: flaws and scars

Andrew Garfield on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
October 12, 2017
talking about why we don't need movie stars:
they're a projection of perfection, we are all a lot of things,
dark and light, a collection of bad habits,
focus on perfection, need to accept ourselves in entirety,
beingness, not enoughness,
pretending to be real

Bridgerton, season 2, last episode
Daphne's confession in the rain to Simon
just because something is not perfect 
does not make it unworthy of love, 
you felt you needed to be without fault to be loved,
"I cannot pretend that I do not love you,
I love all of you, even the parts that are too dark
and too shameful, every scar, every flaw, every imperfection"

22 May 2022


In case you were wondering, Downton Abbey: A New Era has a credit for both Loop Group and Crowd ADR. The Loop Group again was Sync or Swim. But that's all I'll say here. No plot spoilers.

04 May 2022

catering by Hantsport Baptist Church Auxiliary

As you may know, I'm a fan of watching the credits until the very end of a movie. I just watched "Cloudburst," a 2011 Canadian-American film starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. The catering was done by several groups including the Hantsport Baptist Church Auxiliary. Here's the Hantsport Baptist Church in Hantsport, Nova Scotia.

(screen grab on 4 May 2022 from Google Street View, image capture 2018)

Hantsport is in the West Hants Regional Municipality. "Hants" is an abbreviation for Hampshire in England. The Wikipedia entry for Hantsport does not mention a connection with Hampshire but you wonder (or, rather, I wonder). The article does say that the native Mi'kmaq people called the area Kakagwek which meant "the place where meat is sliced and dried" and the town is still home to a small Mi'kmaq community.

02 May 2022

clipping files

Every month, Architectural Record runs a "Guess the Architect" contest. The May issue came in today's mail and the building looked familiar but I couldn't place it. The architect was identified as being known for his interest in brick and the building's shape alludes to its location in a harbor city and its ownership by a shipping company. I googled around with various things and finally put in "hamburg" as a fairly wild guess, and there it was.

By Esther Westerveld from Haarlemmermeer, Nederland - Chilehaus - Hamburg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33420849

The Chilehaus was completed in 1924 and designed by Fritz Höger. His Wikipedia page is linked under his name. One of the sources of information is the newspaper clipping files in the 20th Century Press Archives at the ZBW, aka the German National Library of Economics. The clippings are digitized and easily zoom in and out. We've had lots of sessions and discussions about artist files in ARLIS/NA circles. We finally got Artist files into the LC controlled vocabularies, specifically LCGFT.

The artist files were a very important part of our library resources when I worked at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, in the early 1990s.

By the way, when you look at the Chilehaus in context with the assistance of the little yellow guy in Google, the prow of the building is considerably less pronounced.

Bonus picture, aerial view of Chilehaus:

By Foto: Martina Nolte, Lizenz: Creative Commons by-sa-3.0 de, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26568634

16 April 2022

Hieronymus Bosch in the NYTBR

Twice during the past couple-three weeks in the New York times book review, writers have mentioned Hieronymus Bosch.

"'The Doloriad' evokes Beckett's plays, or, in its static depiction of misery, Hieronymus Bosch's paintings. But 'Endgame' and 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' are funny and don't take five hours to get through. Ultimately this book, for all its ambition, isn't for me. But, who knows, it just might be what your rotten little heart deserves." -- J. Robert Lennon, in a review entitled "Wicked by design" of The Doloriad, by Missouri Williams, MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York times book review, March 27, 2022, p. 10.

"One of my treasures is a book received long ago from fellow students as a present for my Ph. D. It is a beautifully illustrated volume about Hieronymus Bosch, the medieval painter. Many people find his art disturbing, but I was born in the city where he lived and worked, and grew up with his imaginative visions of heaven and hell. I like his attention to facial expressions while depicting humanity's sins and follies. There are also tons of animals in his paintings mixed with trees, fruits and figures that are half human, half animal. Bosch was the world's first surrealist." -- Frans de Waal, "By the book," New York times book review, April 3, 2022, p. 6.

I wonder if Frans de Waal's "beautifully illustrated volume" is the 1966 monograph on Bosch by Charles de Tolnay that has had a place of honor on my shelves for more than 50 years. I am much more taken by de Waal's image of Bosch than Lennon's "static depiction of misery." Flying to Madrid to see Bosch's paintings may take more than five hours but it is well worth the trip.

11 April 2022

restraint is relative

When you see a lovely rowhouse like this one in the 1300 block on North Dearborn Street in Chicago, you think about the extravagant window surrounds and variations in material colors. "Restraint" is not the first word that comes to mind, especially given the other houses nearby.

And then your mind drifts to those art nouveau houses you saw in Brussels:

Or to the multicolor exteriors of art nouveau houses in Turin:

Why, that Chicago house is almost classical in its quiet eclecticism.

03 April 2022

separated at birth: basalt churches

Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church
Baltimore, Maryland
(Thomas Dixon, archt., completed 1872)
Gothic Revival

Santa Maria
Randazzo, Sicily, Italy
(opened 1214, belltower completed in 1863)
Gothic / Gothic Revival