Monday, May 16, 2022

Friends & Art

I hope you're having a nice weekend. I was in Baltimore visiting friends and looking at art. Friday I went to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA); yesterday I dropped by The Walters Art Museum in the company of my lovely friend Hillary and her delightful hubby. (Check out Hillary's superb Makeup Museum website.) Today I popped into Washington, D.C. to brunch with an old friend, Tanvi, whom I met blogging a century ago.

A highlight of the trip was a historic special exhibition of work by Joan Mitchell at BMA. The show presents over seventy of her paintings, showing the full range of her oeuvre (1950-1992).

Joan was a member of the Second Generation of Abstract Expressionists who came to prominence in the 1950s. Joan, like contemporary Grace Hartigan, started her career being promoted by John Bernard Myers at Tibor de Nagy Gallery in NYC. I met John once at a party in his house that Grace brought us to. 

I just finished re-reading John's 1983 memoir, "Tracking The Marvelous," which describes the heroic struggles of artists of that era to create new, innovative art -- and later how fame and money ruined everything. Today Joan Mitchell's paintings sell for $20 Million dollars, a price inconceivable to the artists living back then in cold-water flats on decrepit Tenth Avenue.

Almost from the start Joan found her home in abstract art; once there she never left it. Her paintings explore experiences, not appearances, and can initially be challenging. My goal this weekend was to travel and immerse myself in the work, like an ocean, and feel its impact. A month ago I visited MOMA in NYC and was startled at how powerful Jackson Pollack's painting is when approached in person. The same with Joan's work. Reproductions don't do these majestic pieces justice. They're large, potent objects brimming with life and meaning. They touch you in multiple ways beneath rationality. 

Artists of this period were recoiling from chaos and carnage of the Second World War. They looked for alternatives to human rationalism which had shown its limits. In today's increasingly anarchic world we need to continue that search in all directions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Monday, May 2, 2022

Hobnobbing With Genius

Last year I acquired amazing art from the most famous glass-blower in the world, Lino Tagliapietra. I'd seen Lino's work at the Corning Museum of Glass and was blown away by its beauty and his innovative techniques.

Lino's visiting New York this week for a public reception at the Heller Gallery. Of course I agreed to attend -- and today I was invited to a private dinner with Lino after the reception.

What do you say when hobnobbing with an artistic genius?



Friday, April 29, 2022

The Right Attitude

I learned in childhood that competition can sap all the joy out of sport. It's a lesson to be heeded at all stages of life. 

I enjoyed playing baseball in pick-up games around our neighborhood but dreaded playing it in Little League where adults yelled at small boys for ordinary play. I remember standing on the field hoping the ball wasn't hit to me for fear of making an error and becoming a target of abuse from adult coaches. 

There's intrinsic fun in all physical activity but you can ruin a good time by focusing on "winning." True winning is enjoying yourself. If you're not a paid professional (as none of us are) fun should the goal, not beating others in matches that don't matter. That's my attitude in billiards, motorcycle-riding and other activities.

I also use this insight as a spectator. Competition is okay to keep score of how your team is doing but shouldn't obscure the magic of their play. This year I went to ten hockey games. My team (NJ Devils) is one of the very worst in the NHL. Overall they lost more than two out of every three games they played -- yet I loved the excitement of attending. I saw young players developing promising careers, an old player savoring his remaining time on the ice, crowds roaring with delight at spirited play and a community wearing colorful jerseys to share their pride. Those games were highlights of my year and unaffected by whether the team won or lost. (In fact, they won seven of the ten games.)

We can choose how we live and think. Much modern culture, especially around sports, is wrong-headed and leads to unhealthy experience. Adopt the right attitude and sports can enhance your life.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

New Jersey

On the way home from a Devils game yesterday I took shots of a Jersey girl in Jersey.












Friday, April 22, 2022

Serendipity

I always carry a camera with me. Usually two (one film, one digital). 

This is why...



Thursday, April 14, 2022

New Adventures

The fun part of the year is beginning -- what are your plans for adventure? Travel? Hobbies?

I decided to switch my primary motorcycle-riding from the big, comfortable touring bike (BMW K1600GTL) to the more exciting sport-bike (BMW S1000R). The tourer is a two-wheeled RV with a windscreen, GPS and heated seat. The sport-bike is faster and more nimble. I always smile bigger getting off the S1000R but usually choose the GTL 'cause I'm lazy. This year I'm thinkin' I want the sport-bike's excitement even if my thighs ache the next day, which they always do. (You use them for body-positioning and as shock-absorbers.)

Yesterday I was riding down the street when two young guys in a truck shouted "Nice bike!" and gave big thumbs up to the S1000R. It felt good being applauded by folks literally half my age. Which made me reflect on aging.

When I was young, people my age now (64) looked OLD. And acted it. In contrast I feel vigorous now, on the doorstep to a new chapter in life. Years don't matter, attitude does.

The S1000R is set for the season: new tires, inspected and serviced. I'm also ready with new Sidi boots and aerodynamic backpack. In addition to spirited riding on the street I'll take this missile to the track before the end of the year. My last sport-bike (Yamaha FZ-1) hit 140 mph there and I know the BMW can reach 160 mph.

So what are your plans?! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

New Art


A painter and a sculptor met in the 1950s, started making glass art together, married in the 1960s and spent the next half-century making hugely innovative art for which they invented new artistic processes. The artists became world-famous despite a massive handicap: living in a Communist country (then known as Czechoslovakia) which rigidly limited artistic expression. The artists are Stanislav Libensk√Ĺ and Jaroslava Brychtov√°.

I'm going into NYC on Friday to view and buy some of their work. The owner of the gallery showing it met his wife at a museum exhibition for these artists in 1994; she was their interpreter. He gives me behind-the-scenes info about them.

You can learn more about the artists here (link) and here (link).

Monday, April 4, 2022

Delightful Surprise

You never know what you're gonna get with old cameras.

Two months ago a friend gave me a 1972 Kodak Instamatic 30. It uses tiny film in 110-roll cartridges. It's certainly the smallest camera I own and slips easily into a pocket.

Being 50 years old has a disadvantage: the camera can't work without batteries (electronic shutter) and they don't make those batteries any more. Fortunately I discovered a clever work-around last month.

I had very low expectations for the camera due to its cheap plastic lens and small film-size. I was thus delighted to see beautiful, sharp pictures come back from the lab. Good focus, nice depth-of-field and impressive contrast. 

This is now my favorite vintage camera and I plan to carry it with me everywhere. Morale: don't give up on something just because it's old!









Friday, April 1, 2022

1950 Census Records

Wow! The U.S. Government just released its census records from 1950. By law, those records were kept confidential for 72 years. Now they're available and you can search them by name.

I found my mother's family, shown in the detail provided. The entry identifies my mom as a "step-daughter" (which was a family secret; I wasn't told her "father" wasn't her biological dad until my adulthood). The entry also lists my mother's two younger sisters but doesn't include her youngest brother because he wasn't born yet. My mom was 13 years old when this form was filled out.

You can search for your family here: link 



Tuesday, March 29, 2022

New Motorcycle

I bought a new motorcycle! 

It's being hand-built right now and will be ready in a few weeks. The bike is made by Janus Motorcycles, a small American company in Indiana. I chose their newest model, the Halcyon 450. It's very light (360 lbs.) and offers nimble handing. The bike is designed for relaxed cruising, not fast racing.

Obviously the biggest appeal of the motorcycle is its retro-style. While most retro bikes today resemble 1960s motorcycles, Janus goes further back in time for inspiration -- to the 1930s. The Halcyon model recalls the famous Brough Superior SS100 which, in its heyday, was dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of motorcycles." The Halcyon comes with a name-plate on the front fender that can be customized; mine will be RH-104 which are my initials and the number of the house where I grew up.

The bike is olive green with gold pinstripes. Seat and matching saddlebags are made by nearby Amish craftsmen in natural brown leather.

The names? Janus was the ancient Roman god of time. Halcyon refers to the past when things were idyllic. Those words resonate with me now: I'm beginning a new phase of life and fondly remembering old times.

See ya on the road!













Monday, March 21, 2022

Personal Libraries

Have you ever wanted a library with ladders? (Note the plural.)
I never thought of it but, looking at houses in my favorite neighborhood (Lloyd Harbor), I ran across one. Now I can't not want one of these.



Friday, March 18, 2022

Resemblance

Has anyone ever told you that you resemble a well-known person/celebrity? If so, how'd you feel about the comparison?

It's happened to me twice; the second time today. I shuddered deeply both times. Because of that reaction I don't tell others about their resemblance to a celebrity even when it seems strong. I don't want them feeling bad like I did.

The first time was thirty years ago. I was helping my girlfriend move to Baltimore and a young Black teenager was assisting us. (We hired him through his church.) He said, "You look exactly like that white guy. You know, that white guy in the Eddie Murphy movie." He was referring to Dan Aykroyd and "Trading Places."  **shudder**

The second time was this morning. A bank teller said, "You must get this all the time. You look exactly like Bill Clinton."   **AARRGGHH**

How 'bout you?

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Paintings

I popped into NYC Tuesday to visit MOMA and saw some paintings. Today I went to the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook and saw more art. Here are my favorites.

Lydia Field Emmet, "Portrait of Cynthia Pratt" (1919)

Lee Krasner, Untitled (1963)

Elaine de Kooning, "Standing Bison, Cave #2" (1986)

Pat Ralph, "Heading West" (1998)

Grace Hartigan, "Cleopatra" (2004)

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Tragedy of War

War causes tragedy. We should never forget that.

Recently I walked through "Pinelawn," a U.S. National Cemetery near me. I saw the grave of a young man who was killed in Vietnam fifty years ago (shown below). 

Sadly, he died on the day before his 21st birthday. War robbed him of an entire adult life.



Sunday, March 13, 2022

Library or Museum?

I stopped in the City yesterday on my way to a hockey game. I heard the New York Public Library has a museum-like exhibition of historical documents and I wanted to see it in person.

Wow! Imagine being personally close to treasures from antiquity to modern times. Like 5,000 year old cuneiforms, Beethoven's draft of a symphony, Thomas Jefferson's handwritten Declaration of Independence, Karl Marx's handwritten "Das Kapital" and Bob Dylan's song lyrics. The collection is startling in its breadth. Honestly I didn't know the Public Library possessed such artifacts. The exhibition is free to see.

P.S., The Devils won in a shoot-out (2-1)!

P.P.S., Mourning the loss of Mamouns from Long Island, I stopped in at a NYC location to enjoy their incomparable falafel sandwich. New York has great stuff if you know where to look. :)


Beethoven's Music


Cuneiforms from Mesopotamia


Illustration from "The Wizard of Oz"


Thomas Jefferson's handwritten Declaration of Independence


Umbrella owned by the author of "Mary Poppins"


Bob Dylan's song lyrics


Photograph by Diane Arbus


Charles Dickens' writing desk, chair & lamp


Oscar Wilde's handwritten book-draft


James Baldwin's open letter to Angela Davis


Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities"

Friday, March 11, 2022

Berbere

Do you want to add flavor to buttered toast? Try what I do most mornings -- sprinkle toast with Berbere. 

Berbere is a mix of tasty spices used in Ethiopian cuisine. It's delicious and colorful. Berbere contains garlic, ginger, besobela seeds, korarima, rue, ajwain, nigella, chili peppers, coriander, and fenugreek. It combines a number of flavors I could never create on my own.



Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Old Magic

My 70-year old film camera still has some magic left in her...



Sunday, March 6, 2022

Hockey

Thanks to my good friend Emily (a former-blogger) the NJ Devils won today. They beat a top-notch team, the St. Louis Blues.

The score was tied 2-2. Before over-time started, Emily went down to the locker room, suited up and hit the ice. She scored the winning goal with a fiery backhand and the crowd went crazy!  :-) 









Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Sparkles

It's always exciting for me to wear an item that doesn't have a male equivalent, like a halter top or off-the-shoulder dress. Male garments don't bare shoulders so doing it makes me feel girly.

I explained in my last outfit-post that currently I'm forced to create new looks under limited circumstances. As a result, there are two problems with the outfit below which are obvious. First, it desperately needs jewelry but my accessories are all in storage. The choice was plain or not at all. Second, the short hem-length is obviously immodest. Most women's clothes are made for 5'4"-5'8" females and when a 6'0" tall person wears them, they fall short. You'll have to bear seeing a lot of leg. 

Hey, I do what I can and it isn't always perfect. :-)