Over the holidays, I visited Corning, NY – – famous for its glass museum, the largest collection of historical and art glass in the world.
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.
A lot of the art relates to the American West.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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