blu james t

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blu lee krasner.interior02 blu matissepalme blu miroBlue-III-1961 blu moterwel open

 

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blu picasso self-portrait

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blue James T sitting

Thank you James Turrell, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Robert Motherwell, Pablo Picasso, Tom Burrows, Yves Klein, and back to James T.

All for you, blue.

If you want the music too here it is.

 

 

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clowns 3 clowns phunny

Clowns tell us a lot about ourselves and our lives. The best of them reveal some sadness or strangeness or both while doing their best to amuse us.  The overall message is: you might as well laugh because, well, life isn’t always a piece of cake, sometimes it’s a pie in the face.

clown handstand   clown_gum_display

 

clown toy crawling

Clown figurines of tin or ceramic seem to carry an extra layer of sadness and oddness after a few years.  Maybe there is a contradiction between what we see now and the smiles the little joker was meant to induce.  Crawling clown toy, 1900, from here

clown rolly dollys

But for all the contradictions, we can’t stop smiling at this little gang of kidders.

clowns mini rolly dollys

According to Tracey’s Toys:

“The Rolly Dollys first appeared in 1902 and were produced through the 1920s in over 70 different styles. Some were based on advertising or cartoon characters like Buster Brown and Foxy Grandpa, while others represented children, clowns, police officers, and more.”

Foxy Grandpa??

Is this him?

clown cookie jar

All in all, the clown whether he is a comic actor, a circus performer, a tin toy, or cookie jar (above) has a long history and a continuing important function in human society.  Is there sadness underneath it all?  Is there misery and madness?

 

clown group photo1916_clowns

Well…maybe.  But we all have a choice to see the soda spray bottle half empty or half full.  Is the whoopee cushion a cry for help?  Or just a perennial boyish prank.  We come down on the side of mirth.  Release the clowns!!!

Digital StillCamera

Play on fellas.  Do you know “My Funny Valentine?”

 

shops milan dela spiga

Shopping, like a lot of things, can produce a smile and a sweet memory or it can make you grumble for days and hate yourself.  A lot of the difference lies in the attitude of you and me, the shopper.  But much depends as well on the shop itself, and the face it presents to the street. Above is a shopper’s street of dreams, Rue Manzoni in Milan.

 

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Still in Milan, where commerce takes place in settings suitable for an opera or the overthrow of the government.  The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele is centre stage, a shopping mall where you and everyone else is part of a performance–comedy, drama, money changing hands, loyalties tested.

 

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Italy is more than Milan of course, and if you find yourself in Naples, for example, at the other end of the country, you won’t lack for chances to exercise your shopping muscles and the offerings may be quite different than Milanese high fashion.

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Above is a windowful of Neapolitan wood carved figures,  a product of this ancient city that can be found all over the world (e.g on the giant Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum in New York).  Nicely photographed by this perceptive shopper.

 

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But its not just Italy that has a history and a culture of shops and shopping.  England too is what it is because of trade and traders, goods and wares, purveyors and shoppes.  our life as a shopper isn’t complete until you’ve treated yourself to London. This is Regent Street, a shop front done up by architects in 2013.

 

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This looks to us very English too, but it is in New York, via Copenhagen, albeit on “Prince” street. Nice job by Han Kjobenhavn, is a “playful” Copenhagen-based eyewear brand.  Fits right in and stands out all at the same time. Found here.

 

 

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Awwwwwww.  Cute as a box full of budgies. How much for those red lips, Mr Pucci?  This store is up on Madison Avenue in NY where they’ve been setting up shops to feed your eyeballs since way before there was QR code or a #.

 

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Still on Madison Ave, this fellow and his fluffy companion have, I guess, seen it all before, but those gals in the window seem to be looking at him with intent. Nice photo.

 

MARNI 67th Street by MARNI

If you want to join the show on Madison, you better have your act together, and this is just about perfect, we think.  Nicely done Ms Marni.

 

Paris Pencils

We’ll give the last spot to Paris, not the fashion houses or perfume shops, but this little stationary shop between the Marais and the river.  Mmmmmm.  Wish it was just around the corner.

With shopping, as with dining, the best moment is often before you take the first bite.  Give yourself an eyeful next time you go shopping.  It won’t show up on the credit card statement and it won’t wear out.

Painters, photographers, and law enforcement officers have shown a lot of interest in capturing just one side of us, a side of us we don’t usually see.

Potrait double Piero_della_Francesca_-_Portraits_of_Federico_da_Montefeltro_and_His_Wife_Battista_Sforza_-_WGA17626

Portrait Paolo Uccello (1397 - 1475)  Roundel with Head, ca. 1435

Italian artists working 500 years ago and more gave us some of the most arresting one-sided portraits we will ever see.  Up top, that’s  Federico da Montefeltro giving his wife Battista Sforza the eye, courtesy of Piero della Francesca.  And that beautiful face in the round frame belongs to an unnamed Florentina painted by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475).  More here

 

Portrait Fra Filippo Lippi (Italian Renaissance painter, c 1406–1469) also called Lippo Lippi, Portrait of a Woman with a Man at a Casement

Here’s a lady caught at the window by Fra Filippo Lippi (c 1406–1469).  Her eyes don’t quite meet his, and maybe that’s the story here.  From this nicely gathered collection of side portraits.

 

portrait Bernard exhibit_fivecenturies

Moving up the road to France and a bit closer to our time, we found this lovely drawing by Jean-Joseph Bernard, 1785, at Vanderbilt University. Just pen and ink with watercolor on paper.

 

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Staying in France for a moment, here is a carved profile of an homme who from this angle seems both aristocratic and capable of beating somebody up.  Image found here

portraits of lawgivers montage

This group called Portraits of Lawgivers lives in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building. Each of the men depicted is a person who, some say, contributed to the laws that now underlie the US justice system. We think that’s Hammurabi up there.

 

Portrait Sargeant Madame_X_(Madame_Pierre_Gautreau),_John_Singer_Sargent,_1884_(unfree_frame_crop)

Madame X, as she came to be called, was an American in Paris in the 1880′s who did well in marriage, generated much gossip, and attracted the attention of painter John Singer Sargent who asked if he could paint her.  She said yes and the resulting portrait of her, with her gaze averted stage left, was judged just s bit too, you know.  Despite the averted gaze and the “X” everyone recognized the woman in black as “that woman”.  See her here now, at your leisure.

 

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Jumping ahead to modern scandalous celebrity, getting your “mug” shot shortly after an arrest, profile on one side and full face on the other, is  almost a rite of passage for film stars and musicians of the last 70 years or so.  Mr Hendrix got out of the Toronto jail soon after and went on to play another day.

Portrait Man Ray of Lee Miller IMAGE-ONE-T

20th century artists like Man Ray rediscovered the power of the sidelong view even when no crime had preceded the shot.  This is Lee Miller in his Paris studio. Some of course thought it a crime that a woman this beautiful could also be a talented, brave, and prolific photographer.

portrait studio-portrait-movie-star-billie-dove-profile-in-silky-robe-and-heavy-jewels-hair-french-short

Isn’t she lovely, actress Billie Dove.  We don’t care what she’s done.

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Audrey Hepburn photographed by Yousaf Karsh and, bless her, she turned just a little toward us.  From Boston.com

Portrait silhouette ProfileBrightonMahomed

The silhouette was not just a fad, it was an obsession at a certain point.  If you hadn’t been caught from the side on black paper with scissors well you just hadn’t arrived.  This nice example from England found here

 

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Many got the whole damned family scissored and pasted. This is the Sturge Family, ca. 1820 presented in the collection of the Library of the Society of Friends (The Quakers)

 

Portrait sillhouettes book

Some silhouettists snipped black images of everyone they met, apparently.  Here’s a book of hundreds of them at the Smithsonian Institute

 

ghirland 2 giovanna

Back to where we started, in Italy, this must be counted among the most beautiful portraits ever produced, and it is amazing how much it conveys while only showing us one side of this woman’s story.  Her name is Giovanna Tornabuoni, and she died in childbirth.  Painted posthumously by Domenico Ghirlandaio about 1490. She now lives in a museum in Madrid and was recently the star of an exhibition there reported here.

 

portrait Johannes_Vermeer_(1632-1675)_-_The_Girl_With_The_Pearl_Earring_(1665)

Much as we love the profile portaits we found, we are very very glad that Jan Vermeer (go here) coaxed this lady to turn toward his canvas and to us.  Perhaps the gift of her gaze is all the more powerful because we have been deprived of it.  Maybe that’s the power of the profile–to increase the appetite for more of her face.

 

 

 

 

Living by the sea can be a swell thing. Where we live, the breezes are mostly mild and scented with salt, sea shells, and mermaids.

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People, lots of people, choose to live in coastal cities, and they always have.  And those who don’t or can’t, come for holidays. Many of the benefits are obvious. Lovely pic of a coastal guy on his lunch break from here.  Experts from all over (e.g.) say that just breathing sea air allows us to sleep better, and that can have real benefits to how happy and healthy we are.

But of course we can’t be blind to the other side of living with the sea as your neighbour.  Our salty benefactor that serves up so much pleasure and good health can also serve up destruction and death. The truth is, sometimes, the bountiful sea doesn’t stay put. Sometimes, it comes calling.

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Venice is the most famous and photogenic example.  And though Venetians are justly famous for just carrying on and wading about their business,  the government is spending a fortune (even by Venetian standards) to try and keep the Mediterranean out of the piazzas and palazzos. One story here

 

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New Yorkers got a taste of life with the Atlantic ocean too close for comfort during and after Hurricane Sandy Oct 2012.  Since then, the city has been re-thinking the way Manhattan works in order to prevent similar damage from future, inevitable storms.  Here is one of many reports on the plans.

It is not just New York’s problem. This is something all great and small coastal cities should have on their agenda.  Because there is more water in all the seas than there once was, and the only place it has to go is up, where we are, by the sea.  Why?

ocean iceberg Scientists-Renew-Their-Warning-of-Rising-Oceans-From-Polar-Melt

The ice at the top and bottom of our planet is melting fast enough to cause measurable changes in sea level around the world.  Whether you think the reason is man-made climate change (we do), natural cycles, socialists, or alien misbehavior, the melting of arctic and antarctic ice is real.  It is not a theory or a political platform.  It happens daily, sometimes in dramatic fashion.

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This berg is about to shed a wedge of ice the size of warehouse.  Beautifully photographed in Alaska by Betty Sederquist.  More here.

 

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At the other end of the earth, this is a giant iceberg in Antarctica about to leave the mother ship.  It was deemed separated in April of this year and weighed in at “the size of Chicago”  or “as big as Singapore”, depending on your source.  Lots of video coverage via this site

What this event means for those of us who live by the sea now is not much, in terms of our day at the beach.  Even if it drifts into warm waters and melts completely, even when Chicago melts, you’d need more than an eagle eye to spot the rise in sea level.  But there are lots more city size ice cubes breaking away and melting.  This is a recent summary report from the NY Times

Camille_Seaman_Giant_Non_Tabular_wedge_Iceberg_Weddell_Sea_Antarc_1405_97

This beautiful object (wonderful photo by Camille Seaman) may not be much of a threat to modern ships or tomorrow’s day at the beach, but it and its kin are slowly raising the tideline around the world.  Choice property will be lost–some quickly in murderous storms, some slowly over generations.

We can’t stop it, but we can do what we do when we are at our best: we can start thinking differently about how we respond to this force of nature.  We in coastal cities can start planning–as New York is doing–for dealing with higher water when it comes, taking preventative action, reducing the destruction.  Instead of pure admiration or pure fear of the ocean, we need to get more realistic and show more respect for the ocean we love.  As sailors always have.

 

ocean hurrican sandy carousel brooklyn

It’s time to move the carousel.  Pic from Brooklyn Oct 2012.

 

 

 

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