Saturday, August 18, 2018

Coast to Coast

On our last day in NY we walked along the High Line to the Whitney Museum. Two and a half miles of a former elevated railroad was repurposed to green space with gardens everywhere {and active volunteers working diligently}, outdoor theaters, seating areas, cafes, small shops, and this charming wading puddle. About an inch deep, the water flows two-three feet from the edge towards the center. Yes. I took my shoes off and enjoyed the experience.

The High Line, NYC

The Whitney concentrates on works by artists who work in America. Each floor had a different exhibit; Where We Are focuses of visions of 1900-1960 community, work, home, the spiritual, and the nation.

Of course, I noticed this painted map of the Brooklyn Bridge. The multiple perspectives and the highlighting of decorative elements remind me of Valerie Goodwin's work. Other's thought so, too. A large class sat in front of the picture while their guide discussed it multilingually. Stella used single point perspective but that point moves up and down along a center line. The angles of his linear features - buildings, support wires, light beams - is masterful. Especially interesting to a quilter, I think.

The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme by Joseph Stella, 1939.

Somber pictures painted in tempera on composition board mark Jacob Lawrence's service in WWII Coast Guard. The sailors in open air marching up the gangplank for another patrol carrying supplies as big as they are complements the stifling closed deck sleeping quarters as they are shipped out. You can feel the cool breeze in the first and the humid, stifling heat of the second.

War Series: Another Patrol, 1946 and
War Series: Shipping Out, 1947 by Jacob Lawrence.

The exhausted soldier packing all his gear drops his head. No exuberance here; he's experienced too many horrors and lost too many friends. All he feels is relief the mayhem is over.

War Series: Victory by Jacob Lawrence, 1947.

Photos of night scenes never come out for me but I'm almost always enthralled by painted views of expansive night skies contrasting strong moonlight with a small human-made light. Beautiul dark blue sky with many stars. A full moon reflected on snow brightens this Adirondack farm. The lit window in the deep shadows is both welcoming and tiny - having more warmth although only a pinprick against the moon's strength

Moonlight, Winter by Rockwell Kent, 1940

It reminded me of this picture from the Denver Art Museum last year. I wanted to include it then but he's smoking. Still, there are many features in common. Dark blue night sky full of stars; a full moon not visible in the picture reflects on the white horse and brightens all the land. The tiny human-made light, a cupped match, seems to add a much light as the moon by brightening the cowboy's face and shirt and drawing our attention.

Sadly I don't know the name of the painting or the artist. I've checked my records and the museum's. Please let me know if you discover either.

The rainfall differences are immediately apparent between the two paintings. Since John Wesley Powell identified the 100th meridian west as the divide between the humid east and the arid west this line has been a visible boundary between rainfall and desert, between corn and wheat, between population density and scarcity. Recently the line has moved east. Only one degree of longitude. Just to the 99th meridian west. Guess what? That's about 78,000 square miles in the US alone.

Only fifteen of our states have more area. Or... 82 of 192 countries. Not an insignificant effect of climate change. What will we leave for our grandchildren?

Once again the San Francisco airport has a unique exhibit in the terminals. This time it's Maneki Neko, the Beckoning Cats of Japan.

Meneki Neko, the Beckoning Cats of Japan at the San Francisco airport museum

Scholars believe cats came to Japan from Korea in the 8th century. Valued because they killed rodents, cats quickly became pets and appeared in art and literature. During the late Edo period (18th & 19th centuries) artisans began making these figurines with upraised paw to attract people to businesses and homes. The left paw brings good fortune to a business while the right paw attracts fortune, health and happiness to a home.

The cats vary in color, size, facial features, tail length, and bib decoration. They are made of stoneware, porcelain, wood, stone, and metal. While playing Go, the wooden pair below imitate two of the seven gods of good fortune - Daikoku and Ebisu.

Perhaps you recall Google's AI program won against a Chinese grand champion last year. Artificial intelligence researchers like this game because it has many more outcomes than other board games such as chess. In fact, Google says "there are more potential positions in a Go game than atoms in the universe."

Enjoy the day, Ann


  1. Fascinating post - I always wondered about the raised paws on the cats. Now I know!

    1. I didn't know there was a difference until I read about them at this exhibit. Know we both know.

  2. I just love these posts, very thought provoking the way you group them, the questions you bring up.

    1. I'm glad you like them. I probably wouldn't have written so much but I'm not working on quilts right now. Well, just about 10 minutes each day.

  3. Some fascinating information! And mostly things I didn’t know to even wonder about. So glad you had such a wonderful trip! And that you took the time to share.

    1. I didn't know I enjoyed talking about museum exhibits so much. I probably sound like an educational tape. I have my own opinions, see relationships, and learn so much. I didn't realize Japanese potteries were built beside clay pits. Of course, why would they want to transport the clay? And then I read that you could distinguish each company's work by the type of clay. Of course. So interesting to me. Now there's more I want to see if I ever visit Japan.

  4. It is an interesting post. I don't remember when or in which magazine, but I've read about the High Line Park. It's on my must-do list should we ever get to NYC. I'm sure it will be summer, so this country girl will follow your lead and take the shoes off. lol It's the reason for the water, right?
    Now I want two cat pieces, each with a different paw up, of course. My favorite is that last piece with the cats playing Go. I learned several things from today's post--always a good reason to come back soon.

    1. I enjoyed walking along the Line. There were many volunteers that day, all in special t-shirts, weeding the beds. It was interesting to see how they added so much dirt, chose specific plants for weight, height, root structure. Lots of different sections including a small theater. Check their website before you go to see what events they have.
      Beckoning cats are definitely more interesting to me now. I didn't realize they'd been around so long.


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