Art or Not–You Decide

(2016-05-10 002)This is a piece of modern art that is in Madison Square Park. I took the photos on two different occasions.

It’s called Big Bling and was created by Martin Puryear. It took me a while to get the photographs about Puryear and his creation because every time I passed by, tourists were reading the sign and I didn’t have time to wait for them to finish.

When I first saw it made with wood and chicken wire (fencing wire?), I thought “squirrel condo,” probably because of all the squirrels in the park, and there were many running around it.

Perhaps Puryear is commenting on “bling” and what it means to society–or what really makes up “bling.”

Enjoy.

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In Memoriam: Christina M. Rusnak

Christina Rusnak once worked at The Silver Tips Tea Room, which is where I met and got to know her. She was a very positive person and vibrant. She had a bubbly personality. I remember her waiting on the various people who came into the Silver Tips and she always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.

I have a tea cosy shaped like an owl hanging on my kitchen wall because of Christina. She was constantly trying to find homes for the “cute” merchandise that the Silver Tips would sell.  She also did this with my friend Lucye. Besides the owl cosy, I took a few other items home because of her. Christina had a great sense of humor, another trait that made her popular with people. She used to tell me about her regular visits with her grandmother.

The last time I saw her at the Silver Tips, Christina was hawking lemonade with Analisa, another employee who no longer works at the Silver Tips. I had come to say good-bye as I was leaving for Greece. When I returned three months later, Christina was gone, having made the move to Fortina, a restaurant in Armonk that I once reviewed.  Matter of fact, I went there to visit Christina, to see how she was. We hugged and she asked me about Greece. I asked her how her work at Fortina was going, and she was very happy there, and very busy. Before I left, we hugged again and she told me to keep in touch.

Her career took off at Fortina, overseeing all three restaurants.  Christina was a natural in the hospitality industry. She knew what she wanted to do, and she did it very well.

Sadly, life is truly unfair. Christina was only 30–far too young to leave this world.

Rest in peace, Christina. Your friends and family will never forget you.

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Irving’s Monument, and Rip Van Winkle

(2015-04-11 003)Way back at the beginning of the 20th century, a memorial/monument to Washington Irving was planned for Broadway, at the top of Sunnyside Lane. A local committee started raising funds in 1909-1910. Famous sculptor Daniel Chester French was hired to make a bust of Irving and some images of Rip Van Winkle and King Boabdil (from The Alhambra). The Headless Horseman is Irving’s most famous character, with Rip Van Winkle running second in popularity.

French worked on the monument for the next 15 years. Over those years, the costs of the monument, in French’s hands, kept going up and up. The local committee put on many fundraisers to try and keep up with the escalating price tag. In 1925, French designed this small statue of Rip Van Winkle for fundraising purposes; each sold for $500.

Unfortunately, the statue got no further than the model stage. French created a model to work from and started making preparations to build the statue. However, the money was not raised for the statue and the idea was scrapped. Still, the sculptor had to be paid. In order to recoup some of the money, the statue committee had copies made of the model and sold it locally.

The Charles T. Newberry Estate donated this statue to the Historical Society, where it peers out from a corner in the research room.

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Historical Society’s Valentines

(2016-02-13 001)Before the month is over, and wanting to have a posting on Leap Year Day, here is something at the Historical Society.

No, I have not changed my mind from my last post. I still think Valentine’s Day is for people with not a romantic bone in their bodies. However, in honor of the day, the Historical Society installed a display of Valentines from the past. Many of them look to be from the late 19th-early 20th century.

For those you who like Valentine’s Day, enjoy. For those of us who don’t, it’s still interesting to look at artifacts from a bygone era.

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The Month of Valentines

(2015-08-18 031)When I lived in Pittsburgh, I used to have “I Hate Valentine’s Day” parties. And people came. Men, women, couples, singles, straight, gay, all came because we shared the same belief: the sappiness of an insipid holiday.

I’ve always believed that one should be romantic and do nice things for one’s significant other–whether married or just dating–all the time. Why would someone need a holiday to do this once a year when one does it constantly throughout the year? My philosophy.

(2015-08-18 026)While in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, I went through some things in my storage bin (something else that needs cleaned), and I came across some of the decorations I used for the parties. So, I brought them back to New York with me.

Part of my contempt for Valentine’s Day stems from misinformation.  According to Catholic Online, not much is known about Valentine and there (2015-08-18 029)are various stories told about him; he may have been two men who were merged into one saint, like Saint Nicholas. However, none of them deal with him in a romance with anyone. The story I know best is that he was imprisoned for being a Christian and he made friends with his jailer’s daughter, to whom he taught Christianity. On the day of his death (which may have been February 14, although no one seems to agree on the year), Valentine left his friend a note telling her to be faithful and to continue to believe. It was signed, “Your Valentine.”

(2015-08-18 027)So, the story was one of conversion. Other stories talk of him marrying Christian couples and even trying to convert Emperor Claudius II, which did not work. In any event, besides being the patron saint of lovers and married couples, he is also the saint of beekeepers, the engaged, young people, epilepsy, greetings, fainting, travelers and plague. Because there was so little known about Valentine, the Roman Catholic Church removed him from their General Calendar, but he’s still considered a saint.

(2015-08-18 028)More intriguing to me is the assertion, cited by Catholic Online, of two 18th century English antiquarians that Valentine’s Day was established to off-set the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which is February 15. This makes complete sense to me.

I already did a post on Lupercalia. For that matter, I also discussed Valentine’s Day, but I fleshed it out a bit more by including Catholic Online information.

For those of you who need Valentine’s Day, enjoy. For the rest of us, it’s just another day.

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Technologically-created Art on the Moon

Charles Duke family pic on MoonAwhile ago, I posted an entry on the plaque that was left on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. It really wasn’t art per se, but it did contain a message to whoever finds it in the future.

Today I found this photograph on the Free York site. It’s of Charles Duke and his family that Duke left on the Moon in 1972 while on the Apollo 16 mission. Another photograph posted on Science Alert (which is a repost from Business Insider) is a copy of the photograph. According to the article, Duke had written on the back, “This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972.”

That photograph is still there on the Moon.

CharlesDuke_webNow a word about the Library of Congress classification. Photography is classed in T, for technology. This frustrates art affectionados, since art is classified in N. What they fail to understand is that the art of photography would not exist without the technology of the camera, which definitely belongs in T. Also in T, sewing, painting (as in walls, trim, etc.), and cooking–yes cooking. We tend to take cooking for granted, but it is a technology.

As Duke discusses in the article, conditions on the Moon are not favorable to preserving the photograph, and it has probably faded, but his message on the back is probably still there, which will always indicate what had been on the obverse.

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Christmas at the Historical Society

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Entryway decorations

Since the season does not end until January 7, at least for me, I thought that I’d share the photos of the decorations at the Historical Society. Last year, I helped decorate, but I didn’t have time to help this year. Actually, these past three months I haven’t had the time to volunteer at all, so it was nice to be back.

Unlike last year, there is a big tree in every room on the first floor. This is one idea that I embraced years ago. Although I did not put up a tree this year, I usually put up a tree in every room of my apartment. This includes the kitchen and the bathroom. The idea behind this is that the holiday should be reflected in every room. The trees are not always big. The bathroom tree is no more than six inches high with small ornaments. Actually, the main tree in the living room is only five feet; I have no large tree. I came up with this idea years ago, and I was surprised that the concept behind it had been popular in early America.

Though trees would not become popular until after Queen Victoria’s Prince Albert brought them from his native Germany to Britain, and the tradition made its way across the Atlantic, in Washington Irving’s day it was believed that the holiday season should be represented in every room. The people would bring pine tree branches, pine cones, holly and mistletoe in from outside to decorate their mantles, shelves, dressers, wherever. The house would also have a nice scent of pine.

Washington Irving's desk at the Historical Society

Washington Irving’s desk at the Historical Society

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend any of the holiday events at Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s home. The one year I went, they had the branches of pine and holly throughout the rooms of the house, as well as a wonderful bonfire in the yard. They had hot apple cider to keep the chill of the night at bay. (Too bad the temperature was close to 60 degrees. I fondly remember that trip to Sunnyside.

Happy new year to all!

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