Over the holidays, I visited Corning, NY – – famous for its glass museum, the largest collection of historical and art glass in the world.

 

Landscape – George Inness – 1870 – Rockwell Museum

 

But the town also has another excellent art museum, the Rockwell.

It’s not on the scale of the glass museum (where the gift shop alone is literally seven times bigger than my house)  but it’s well worth visiting.

 

“Clouds in the Canyon” – Thomas Moran – 1915 – Rockwell Museum

 

A lot of the art relates to the American West.

 

“Yakima Indian with Shadow” – Fritz Scholder – 1976 – Rockwell Museum

 

 

I thought this would be entitled “Put Your Best Side Forward,” but in fact it’s “The Winter Campaign” – Frederic Remington – 1909 – Rockwell Museum

 

Frederic Remington, one of the most famous artists of the American West, was a New Yorker.   He grew up in the “North Country” near the St. Lawrence river, so he knew a thing or two about cold weather, and that came to mind looking at these cavalrymen huddled around a fire in the snow.

His scenes and sculptures of the West were created in his studio in New Rochelle, about ten miles from Irvington, where Albert Bierstadt had his studio.

They have a big (I guess the only way he did things) landscape by Bierstadt, nearly 6′ x 10′, in place of pride on the top floor.

I suppose these formal landscapes in the “Hudson River School” style have been out-of-fashion for a long time, but personally I love them.

 

 

“Mount Whitney” – Albert Bierstadt – 1877 – Rockwell Museum

 

 

museum from the back

 

The collection is housed in a former city hall, a big brick-and-stone pile, done in a stalwart Richardson Romanesque style, almost medieval-looking.

It was built in 1893 so a contemporary of some of the paintings it contains.

 

“Green River” – Thomas Moran – 1877 – Rockwell Museum

 

There’s a rooftop terrace, which is where I took this cellphone picture of the slate roof.

 

I was thinking about the saying “clean slate,” to start off the new year.

I know the expression refers to chalk & blackboards, students’ handheld slates (and 19th c. bar tabs!) but these roof shingles are made of the same stuff after all.

 

 

Some of the other expressions that are almost-synonyms, like “square one,” seem like they’re usually used in a more negative sense, like “here we go again, having to start all over.”  “Breaking new ground,” speaking as someone who’s dug up sod and a few stumps, is just plain backbreaking.

“When one door closes, another opens” can be very true.  I grew up in a drafty old house built in the 1860’s, and that kinda stuff happened, until we got storm doors and better weatherstripping installed.

 

Wax tablet & stylus – Wikipedia – photo by Peter van der Sluijs

I remember some teachers were fond of using tabula rasa, but they always seemed to say “blank slate” when they were looking straight at me.  With the emphasis on blank, as I looked back at them blankly.  So I never much liked that.  And it seems a bit fancy and pretentious.

When I looked it up, the dictionary has rāsa as “scraped, erased,” and of course the Romans were using wax tablets, not slate.  (I guess in a pinch, they could toss incriminating evidence onto the nearest brazier or flaming martyr.)

And speaking of Roman gladiatorial-related stuff, Webster’s tells us “start from scratch” meant “show up for a confrontation,” like “step up to the plate” and they also see an origin in sports – – a line in the sand – –  for a race, cricket, boxing, etc.  So that all sounds horribly athletic and combative, so let’s skip it.

“Reboot,” which the Help Desk people probably say in their sleep, is kinda nice – – at least you have the mental image of applying the sole of your boot to the soulless stubborn computer.

But I like best “clean slate,” “fresh start” and “new leaf,” they’re positive sounding, aren’t they.

And “Start afresh” just has a nice sound to it.

 

 

So that’s all, no profound thoughts, just Cheers, here’s to a fresh new year.

 

N. C. Wyeth – Rockwell Museum

 

I thought this was in keeping with the theme of this post – a bison at Yellowstone – a symbol of the Wild West, and as they say in the wildlife biz, while it’s not gnu, it’s just as good as gnu.

 

19th century, 20th century, Art, NY, Upstate New York

Clean slate for the new year

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19th century, 20th century, Early American History, Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. Yates County. A one-room schoolhouse

 

 

It’s not uncommon to see colonial-era churches, and those from the early days of the republic, surrounded by burial grounds.  In those days, churchyards = graveyards, and no doubt it was a successful business strategy, helping to keep folks on the straight and narrow.   The “rural” or “garden” cemetery movement didn’t begin until the 1830’s.

 

But it always struck me as odd, driving by this schoolhouse, to see it with its own cemetery, like a perpetual after-school detention for wayward and recalcitrant pupils.

The epitaphs probably have misspellings and tell of fatal miscalculations and deadly grammatical errors, “died of a dangling participle,” etc.

 

John Smith ~ We’re Just Spitballing Here

“Billy Schmeider ~ Never Added Up to Much ~ And Has Now Been Subtracted” 

“Here Lies Nathaniel Johnson / Under This Slate /  Lies the Late Nate / Always Late / To Class”

Jane Jones ~ Death is a Debt to Nature Due / Which I Have Paid and So Must You / Altho Death / Could Not Thwart / I Still Owe a Book Report

 

 

 

Never send to know for whom the school bell tolls…kind of rang a bell with me, so I never stopped, just thumbed my nose and sped by.

But finally, one autumn day, I pulled over to take a few photos, and found the explanation for the strange combo – – the 1869 building was moved to this site, along Route 14A, in 1991.

 

 

After the move and restoration, the county historian wrote “The Baldwin Cemetery directly behind the school…has recently become active again,”  which sounds mildly alarming, if you believe in ghosts, but I suppose it just means, they’d resumed burying people there again.

 

 

The new setting seems appropriate, because when I drove out to the original site – – there was another burial ground there, too, the abandoned “West Woods Cronk Cemetery.”

So now I can’t pass by with mentioning  the Cronks, a name I’ve run across before, on farms and roads all around Upstate, and while reading about the early Dutch days of this state, when it was New Netherlands.

When I visited Pixley Falls (north of Rome, NY), there was a historical marker not too far away, for an old-time countryman named Hiram Cronk.

Even though he was a small-scale farmer, in an area that seems like the hind end of beyond, when he died in 1905, Hiram rated a funeral procession through Manhattan, and reportedly 50,000 people paid their respects as he lay in state in New York’s City Hall.

It was not just his extraordinary age.  When he passed away, at the age of 105, Hiram was the last veteran of the war of 1812.  He’d joined the army on August 4, 1814, as a drummer boy.

Another branch of the family kept a longer version of the original Dutch name, something like Krankheyt, and eventually produced a famous newscaster of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Walter Cronkite.

And that’s the way it is.

 

About 20% of people in Yates County are Amish, and many others are Mennonites. Two buggies going up the road in front of the schoolhouse.

 

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