When we think of graffiti, we usually think of spray painted signs, walls and doors with anything from a symbol or word, a hodgepodge of designs to a unified mural. In most cases, graffiti is considered bad, disrespectful, and ugly.
What about graffiti from 1,850 years ago?
These two profiles were etched into a column with other signs and symbols in front of the Southeast Building (built ca. 150 CE) in the agora in Athens, Greece. The profiles could have been drawn by anyone living today. However, they were not.
These copies come from an American School of Classical Studies at Athens agora excavation report. When I saw them I got chills. Who were these people? (I assume at least two, as probably the latter one was added close to the earlier profile.) Were they students at a school? (The Library of Pantainos was next door to the Southeast Building and apparently had similar graffiti on its columns.) Did these people know each other? Did they end up as artists? As philosophers? There is no way to know.
Nonetheless, these doodles are a bridge to people who lived in another time and place.
On January 21, I marched to support the rights of women in Poughkeepsie, New York. A close friend of mine braved the trip to Washington, D.C., which I did not want to try and do. So, when Tara, a friend from the Historical Society, suggested Poughkeepsie, I liked the idea. Poughkeepsie, after all, may not be a major city of the United States, but it is still a city with a statement to make. Why not help them make it?
It was cold, but not as cold as it was walking across the bridge over the Hudson. It got colder as soon as we neared the other side, and remained cold until we crossed back over. There was a lot of positive vibes from the participants, and the march was upbeat. I got a cool tee-shirt to mark the occasion.
Besides Tara, her friend Joanie came along. We took Metro-North in the wee hours of the morning and then walked over to the site of the march. There was no parking anywhere close to the sight as the lots were packed with participants, with many more looking for places to park.
The pics are of the crossing, of Tara and Joanie, and of a Christmas tree that was still decorated at this late date.
I can’t take any real credit for decorating the Historical Society. I did do some additional touches, but the majority of the work had been done in the weeks before by other volunteers. They did a great job in getting the place ready for the holidays.
The recent gift of a rope bed became the centerpiece of a festive display. Rope beds were what they are called. Instead of boxe springs or a mattress, which is what are modern beds are made of, a rope bed was a bed frame with rope being used to create a web in the frame for someone to lay upon. It is possible that some type of mattress would be put on top of the ropes, but in this case the mannequins were placed on the ropes.
The rope bed was a central piece in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas display. Two adult mannequins were dressed for “a long winter’s nap,” except the children were up and standing next to their parents’ bed. The baby was asleep in the cradle. A corner of the bed covers were pulled back so visitors could see how the ropes were strung to create a surface. I do wonder how comfortable the bed would be. While in Scotland, I slept in a twin rope bed that did have a mattress on it. As I remember, it wasn’t that comfortable. I didn’t sleep well in the bed.
In one of the front rooms is a display to Virginia O’Hanlon, the little girl who wrote to Francis P. Church, the editor of the New York Sun, one of the prominent newspapers of the city at the end of the nineteenth century. The eight-year-old wanted to know if there was a Santa Claus. Church’s famous editorial defending the existence of Santa Claus is known throughout the world. The display also included a copy of Church’s reply.
Following are some images from the society. I wanted to get these posted before the year ended and the holiday season fades from memory.
Oh, the photo here is of what has become known as the “Evil Clown.” There’s a debate among the volunteers of whether or not this toy is scary-looking. I think that everyone would agree that no one would give such a painted toy to a child of today. At some point in the distant past, this toy must have been beloved by some child. Nonetheless, by today’s standards this clown has scary-looking features. What do you think?
This pumpkin-headed scarecrow is at the top of Beekman Avenue in Sleepy Hollow, standing in front of the clock. I snapped it last Saturday, during the fall festival on the street.
It’s that time of year again.
A bronze shield from Pontos, 185-160 BC
Though it closed at the beginning of July, I was able to see the Pergamum exhibit over the Independence Day weekend. I went on a Friday night, rightly assuming that the crowds which make the Met so hard to explore would be out of town. Most of those in the museum were the clueless tourists, most of whom got in the way, talked loudly, and flew through the exhibit probably because they had no idea what they were looking at. Fine by me.
An “old friend” from Athens
The Met gathered antiquities from across the world to create the exhibition, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World. I was surprised and pleased to see some “old friends” from the Antikytheria Shipwreck exhibit (and redux) that the National Archaeological Museum in Athens had held in 2013. I took a few pictures, but I already have photos of the pieces.
I took 184 photographs, some of which I later deleted (bad photos, duplicate photos, etc.). I just managed to get through the exhibit right before the museum closed at 9. I bought the exhibition catalog–hardback. I usually buy the paperback copy because it is cheaper (and sometimes I wait for a few months and hope that the catalog is put on clearance, which sometimes happens if any are left over), but I was told that too many people complained that the paperback copies fall apart. Now the Met only prints its catalogs in hardback.
Overall, it was a wonderful exhibit.
Gold myrtle wreath, ca. 350-325 BC
Statue of Demosthenes, Athenian orator
King Pyrrhos of Epeiros
Colossal statue of Athena
Gold diadem, 200-150 BC
Onyx cameo of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II of Egypt
Glass plate, 225-200 BC
Apotheosis of Homer, late 3rd-2nd century BC
Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar, side by side
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.”
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.