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 a bison, not a 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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Good morning!

When the autumn leaves had all fallen, I began leafing through old photos.

And…here’s a random closeup.

Not a thing of beauty, but just kinda interesting.  Can you guess what it is?

(I show the answer in just a minute.)

This fall, turning over a garden bed (but not a new leaf), this odd stratified object was unearthed.  It looked pretty ancient, but isn’t – based on a couple minutes of research on the manufacturer’s stamp, it was made sometime after 1929.  Because it’s stainless steel, I think these veins and patterns are some sort of mineral deposits on the surface, rather than corrosion, but basically just thought it looked kinda interesting.  Some sort of tiny electro-chemical mystery, transpiring down there in the dark substratum beneath the innocent-looking cabbages.

Here’s some other archaeological treasures from the garden:

 

 

 

An old medicine bottom, fragments of china, stoneware, and glass. I think the metal ornament isn’t a toy, but a kind of hood ornament – we’ve never had a snowmobile, but one of our neighbors enjoys fixing up vintage Ski-Doos, and sometimes rides around the neighborhood, so that probably explains that.

Here’s another picture of the strata:

 

 

Yes, an old spoon.  Who would dare say, we don’t have an exciting time of it in my hometown.

When I was a kid, I was excited to dig up a couple of horseshoes.  Although it was sad to think of some horse years ago, limping around, or left jacked up on blocks by shoe thieves.

But the artifacts turned out to be stragglers from the lawn game, not actually from shoeless horses.  (Un-shod horses?  De-shodded?  Slipshod?  Shoe-eschewing?)

Yes, people still play horseshoes in my town, and the previous residents of our house had installed lighted, sand-filled pits in the backyard.  I did wonder, since they had this opportunity to practice whenever they wanted, why I found the horseshoes buried in a flower bed twenty feet away.  Excess enthusiasm, I guess, or evidence of some long-forgotten domestic tiff?  And I also wondered, if a pit is filled up with sand or sawdust, is it still a pit?  You have time to contemplate such deep thoughts, while you’re throwing pieces of metal at a stick.

There have been people living in this house for 150 years or so, all of them pretty steadily dropping things in the yard.  My dad’s thing is coffee cups, left half-full in odd places – behind some tomato cages, in the crook of a tree, under the pole beans –  we usually harvest them all during the fall cleanup, but probably a few have ended up sinking beneath the sod.  Kind of a mug’s game, and some future generation will find all these ceremonial chalices, and be wondering, who exactly was this nameless World’s Best Dad.

An old lady used to live across the street.  Mrs. Z told me her uncle and aunt lived in our house, in the ’20’s, when there was still a barn, chicken coop, and grape arbor – all of those long-vanished – and that explains the rusty plowshare, bits of chain, etc. I sometimes dig up.

So – getting close to New Year’s – – out with the old, and in with the new.

But instead of throwing this stuff in the trash, I’m going to (if the ground isn’t frozen too hard!)  find a spot at the base of a maple tree, and bury these fragments of history, for some kid to find in the future.

I’ll throw something into the treasure trove, too.

Trying to decide between a fork, a subway token, or a Jabba the Hutt figurine.

Heck, all of the above, I’ll just dig a bigger hole.

 

History, Uncategorized

A strata gem for the new year

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Random thoughts for 2020, looking through snapshots from 2019

 

Finish what you start ~ ~ Don’t bite off more than you can chew ~ ~  Floss ~ ~  Strive for consensus (don’t support splinter groups)  

 

Get up and watch more sunrises.

 

Take a nap once in a while.

 

Use sunscreen

 

Don’t nitpick

 

Use less plastic ~ ~ Recycle ~ ~  Eat less beef

 

Make a “to-do” list and do everything on the list

 

Try fixing something instead of throwing it away.  (A P-40 Warhawk under restoration at the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY)

 

Drink more water. It’s good for you. And in Wisconsin, even though we prefer beer, we need to drink up the water, or it accumulates, freezes, and becomes a hazard — folks, this is a matter of indisputable, rigorous scientific thinking – – see the above illustration of the Titanic. Too much water + too cold = trouble.

 

 

Go ahead and sing in the shower if you feel like it.

Random, Uncategorized

Random Resolutions for the New Year

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