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PAM1975005W00028-34ASummer has arrived in our part of the world–long days, heat on your back, first morning coffee on the front step, dinner out on the back deck–so let’s talk about rain, lest we forget.  Where we live, no one complains when the sky suddenly turns bright and fills with sunlight, but being surprised by a splash of rain, caught unexpectedly, under-equipped, predictably brings a cry of “no fair!”. This photo by Martin Parr from Bad Weather.

When it rains on your parade, some of us handle it better than others.

caught in th rain_glastonbury-85-ely-wet The music may have stopped, but the beer is just as tasty and mud between the toes can be quite lovely.. sometimes.

Caught in the Rain flower standThe flowers are still lovely too, and these two know that although the rain may keep some customers away, in the big picture, it’s fundamental to life, isn’t it luv?  Eau de vie as they say.

If flower sellers and festival goers tolerate rain, some photographers seem to absolutely adore it–a gift from the sky every bit as precious as light.

caught in the Rain ruipalha11 This Rui Palha photo above is an ode to geometry and rainfall.

caught in the rain Z_DWagner_Rolleiflex_64Beautiful image by Z D Wagner depends for much of its eloquence on the presence of rain (and wind)

 

caught in th rain New York Museum of MN117383-2 New Yorkers, of course, find ways to not just persevere in the rain, but to make something memorable of it, such as this wet-footed pas de deux.

caught in the rain james dean boweryAnd if you are James Dean, a rainy day gives you another part to play, another iconic image you’ll leave behind.

On the other hand…

caught in the rain_LOndon_voting day100180103_People_are_caught_out_in_a_heavy_rain_shower_in_Westminster_London_PRESS_ASSOCIATION_P_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqvzJnqpVGpnfyf5cbbtTpCfeont4dPw4tRGY Unexpected rain isn’t just a photo op, is it?

caught in rain HK 2012 typhoon 600_qpyxyat2jcj1nznmtmwptmdgoka6yhaxSome of us caught in it will face nasty and possibly dangerous conditions.

Caught in the Rain Medicine HatFlood is more than an inconvenience.  It can bring daily life to a stand still. Immobilized. The very water that gives life to us all can take it away.  Without much warning.

We are the water planet in a thousand different ways.  Try as we might, we cannot (yet) control when or how much water will fall from the sky.  What we can control is how we react to rain.  If the warnings go out to take cover, then by all means run for shelter and batten down the hatches.  But otherwise, look up, be grateful, we are born water babies.

caught in the rain downpour Katherine Australia r1073_788_2991_2630_w1200_h678_fmax

FRANCE. Paris. 1989.Joie de vivre/eau de vie caught by Elliot Erwitt, Paris.  Salut!

 

 

 

 

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There is a lot to say, we think, about the value and attraction (and sometimes strangeness) of smaller things.  It seems only right to dish out the goods in portions.  Welcome to sm2.

small towns F-Den Haag-MadurodamIn 1952, the Dutch launched a good-hearted campaign challenging the notion that bigger must be better by building something grand on a very very small scale.  Madurodam in the Hague is a mini-representation of Holland as a whole that can be wandered through in half a day.

small town Muadurodam colourHouses, public buildings, canals, canal boats, railways, airport…tiny tulips and cheeses. The effect on the Dutch and the zillions of visitors seems to be calming, amusing, reassuring.  So cute.

The idea has spread. There are now “miniature towns” all over the place–many in the UK, many in Asia, maybe one down the road from you. Their success says something about what appeals to us, almost all of us, for escape and amusement.

But how about the real spaces we need to live in and work in.  How small is just right?  Well we live at a moment when smallness is all the rage in houses.  You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve found yourself cooing “ahhh, look at that!”.  Here’s a few we found at our fingertips:

swedish-red-spackhuggaren-bornstein-lyckefors-architecture-residential_dezeen_hero-1-852x479.jpg             Swedish interior spackhuggaren-bornstein-lyckefors-architecture-residential_dezeen_2364_col_13-1704x1278

olsen kundegfalse-bay-writer-s-cabin-olson-kundig-architects-small-house-bliss              Kimihiko Okada 63371309231

Tetsuo Kondo 63364985428    winter-black-house-03b_oisterwijk-brouwhuis-1024x694-e1529458837608.jpg

Aren’t they adorable?  We are as smitten as anyone by these diminutive domestic dwellings, but being of the wondering kind, we wonder if this craze might just be an economic necessity wrapped in a personal preference, dusted with big dollop of copy-catism, and bound together with quite a large dash of moral superiority.

But hey, it is also entirely possible that these are, in fact, just what we all need

johannesNorlander scandinavian-house-exterior-290117-504-10

But but…OK just one more, inside and out, from Brazil, all white.estudio brasBrazilFOTOS

Estudio-BRA_Residncia-Sorocaba-2280-21_670

Our local art gallery is currently presenting a show called “cabin fever” running all summer if you are in the area.

Images of these houses rarely show any people in them so it is hard to gauge how effectively they serve the real needs of actual living and working.  But there is strong evidence to show that great things can be achieved in modest surroundings.

small Workspace-18 EBW

E.B. White (the New Yorker, Charlotte’s Web, The Elements of Style, etc etc) hammered out some of the most graceful, beautifully realized sentences in any language on a bench in a tiny cabin with a view of salt water.  The spare, plain, durable qualities of the cabin and everything in it perfectly match the products of Mr White’s mind and fingers.

Producing great work, it seems does not (always) require a lot of space. joan miro at workJoan Miro at work, no bench, no table, no window, no ocean, no net.  Art needs only the artist.

 

So maybe we can live smaller, a lot smaller, without giving up the dream of doing great things. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Adorable small houses designed by:

bornstein lyckefors architecture

Olsen Kundig

Kimihiko Okada

Tetsuo Kondo

Oisterwijk-Brouwhuis

Johannes Norlander

estudio bra.

 

pig topiary

As everything around us seems to be getting bigger, we are feeling the pinch and reminded of the inherent virtues of smallness.  Doing more with less continues to be a powerful idea–and an admirable choice for those who can well afford to have more.  Artists from far and wide and then and now have shown us, over and over, the magic of small productions.

Alexander Calder, best known for very large sculptures in front of very large buildings in very large cities, never lost sight of the special charm of small work you could hold in your hand intended for a small audience.

calder small pieces gift414-1024x803This set was made by Mr Calder as a gift for a friend.

Glass is a perfect medium for making hold-n-your-hand-sized sculpture.Glass figures Amsterdam thumb_IMGP2868_1024These little creatures made of glass are on display in a gin joint in Amsterdam.

The glass menagerie below was dreamed up by Kiki Smith and the critters were made by Venetian Pino Signoretto.  It is at home at the Corning Museum of Glass in NY.   Glass KikiSmithFull

But this devotion to smallness is not an invention of our time. We humans–all over the world– from our earliest days have dedicated time and talent to making small versions of ourselves.

terra cotta Denmark thumb_2017-08-05 05.09.31_1024

terra cotta 2 Denmark thumb_2017-08-05 05.09.14_1024Each just a few inches tall (the wall behind them is made of standard sized bricks), these ancient little men are captivating to modern eyes.  Conceived long before the electric light or glass shelving, they are now at home in a Danish museum.  Meanwhile, in Canada, visitors to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts can have their mood swiftly elevated by the little man below.

Smiling figure Montreal IMGP2736

Small scale also works wonderfully for two dimensional art.  In 16th century England, the Kings, Princes, and their pals, who could afford just about anything, any size, found they had a deep attraction to the smallest of paintings–miniature portraits.holbein jane small v & AMiniatures7That’s the eighth king named Henry, no Tiny Tim he, and a woman fittingly named Jane Small.  North Americans in the 18th century took to the same notion, not just Kings and their social circle this time, but plain proud people wanting a keepsake. This is Lottie Hills aged 15 painted by Rufus Porter, “inventor”.

miniature Rufus Porter Fig10

Stamps!  Engravers, mostly anonymously, spend their working lives and eyes to give us this to put on our envelopes for delivery near and far.  From the 20th century, however, the artists were more frequently acknowledged.

Stamp LacaqueMonaco-1119-LittleRed-Perrault-MG-11-8-78-PLambertStamp LarriviereMonaco-1116-PussBoots-Perrault-MG-11-8-78-PLambertStamp JumeletMonaco-1121-TomThumb-Perrault-MG-11-8-78-PLambertThese three above were all issued in 1978 by Monaco to celebrate Conte de Perrault who collected and published versions of these famous ‘children’s stories.  Artists top to bottom are Eugène Lacaque. Jacky Larrivière. and Claude Jumelet depicting tiny boy Tom Thumb.  Stunning images found here.

Wow, this love song to small is getting more than a little long.  Out of respect for the theme, we’ll stop here for now and pick it again after a small break.

duke-snider
Our heroes are by definition magnificently far above us in what they do and how they do it. If you take a moment to look at the heroes of baseball, it seems not so impossible that you too might someday do what they do.

baseball best switch hitters
The costumes (simple, soft, comfy) and the main actions of baseball (swing, run, throw, catch, run, slide)  tell you how sweetly uncomplicated it all is.

For a kid looking on, enthralled, obsessed, it almost looks possible.  I can wear  a uniform like that. I can swing like that. I can feel it.

 

Baseball hero 2
At least that’s how it seemed in 1959, and we can hope that it is not far from the truth today.

eddie matthews and hank aaron
Of the many who played the simple game at the highest level, these two Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, twin gods of the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, represented to the kid just about everything that was worth being if you were human–including approachability.  Yes, you could imagine them coming to your house and throwing the ball around.  Yes you did imagine it, over and over.

HOF Weekend 1967 Robinson w Aparicio 3530.2000_NBLAnd those Milwaukee heroes didn’t seem to mind that you also worshipped others, like these two Baltimore Orioles, Brooks Robimson and Luis Aparicio (1967).  Real heroes understand that.  They know it is not betrayal, it does not diminish them.

mickey-mantle-si2Mickey Mantle (the Marilyn Monroe of baseball ?(without the tragedy), seemed to understand that as well as anyone.  There seemed to be no envy in his rivalry with other players, no bitterness in his blazing competitiveness.

The best in baseball, at least in those days, always had time for the kid who worshipped them.

batboy balt orioles
Brooks Robinson, sitting down, taking time.  The kid is the batboy for the team.  The BATBOY! Baseball even has a JOB for a kid, a JOB among the gods, a job in heaven itself.

watertown_lakesox

What a game.

batboy 1950_wachowich_allan2
This batboy became a Chief Justice in the Court of Queens Bench in Canada, but we bet he never felt more glad to be alive than right there, the boy in charge of the bats.

Found here

If you are lucky, there is a game going on soon near you, and if you are super lucky, it unfolds in a place like this bit of heaven.

nat baileyNat Baily Stadium, Vancouver, BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

blu james t

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

 

blu 346_1motherBluHoriz

 

blu Robert_Motherwell_London_Series_1_Untitled_Blue_AP_1971

blu picasso self-portrait

blu Tom_Burrows_Liv_Glacier_25957_360

blu Tom_Burrows_Clupeosoma_Orientalalis_10969_375

 

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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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