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Photo: Patrick Reynolds.
The Maori-designed “redevelopment of New Zealand’s New Plymouth regional airport is a finalist in the Prix Versailles Airports 2021 awards,” the Guardian reports.

A modicum of justice is seen in an unlikely place: the redesign of an airport by indigenous people from whom the airport land was stolen as recently as 1960.

Eva Corlett reports for the Guardian, “A tiny regional airport in New Zealand that weaves a Māori story of love and longing into its architecture is in the running for a prestigious design award, up against international heavyweights including New York’s LaGuardia.

“Unesco’s Prix Versailles recognizes architecture that fosters a better interaction between economy and culture, and includes a range of categories from airports to shopping malls. The finalists for the airport category include the New York LaGuardia upgrade, Berlin’s Brandenburg airport and international airports in Athens, Kazakhstan and the Philippines.

“The sixth airport finalist is Te Hono – meaning ‘to connect’ – and is found in New Plymouth, a town with a population of 85,000, on the western shoulder of the North Island.

“After six design options were floated, Rangi Kipa – a member of the local Puketapu hapū (subtribe) and lead figure on cultural design, settled upon a story. ‘The Ascension from the Earth, Descending from the Sky,’ tells the story of Tamarau, a celestial being, who was so captivated by the earthly beauty of Rongo-ue-roa, a terrestrial being, that he came down to meet her.

“ ‘This story aligns closely with the creation narrative of Te Ātiawa iwi [tribe],’ said Rangi. …

“The spine of the building is oriented to represent the journey from the mountain to the river – the main ancestral walking track in this area, and while visitors may notice these aspects of the architecture first, there are many subtle stories told through the details.

“Manaakitanga – the Māori concept of hospitality – also influences the design. Campbell Craig, the project’s architect and associate for design at firm Beca, said the project attempted to challenge western architectural practices that do not bear any relationship to Māori design.

“ ‘It was important for Puketapu to welcome and take care of guests in a place that is in many ways the gateway to the region,’ said Craig. ‘The faceted curved forms of the building at the entrance and airside “embrace” travelers, to shelter them from the elements.’

“In 1960, the land the airport sits on was confiscated from Māori, under the Public Works Act to build an aerodrome. This was a major source of grievance for the hapū, who had urupā [burial grounds] on the site. …

“Kipa said: ‘For the most part, we have been invisible in our own landscape for 160 years, so it’s amazing to have the chance to influence, and give life to, some of the things that make us who we are.’

“For Craig, the most heartening aspect of the project was the intensive collaboration between Māori, the airport and the architects, which enabled a sense of collective ownership over it.

“ ‘The experience at Te Hono provided a blueprint for working with tāngata whenua [people of the land],’ he said, adding that it would be an approach embedded into all of their future projects.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Photo: Cologne, Germany, police.
This painting by the artist Pietro Bellotti was found in a dumpster in Germany.

German dumpsters are yielding up treasures these days. In one case the rightful owners are unknown and being sought; in another, an owner realized in time that he’d left a valuable painting in an airport. (We all know how that can happen when our flight is called and we jump up. But we’re more likely to leave a sweater than a Tanguy.)

Naomi Rea writes about the unknown owners at Artnet News: “Police in Germany are appealing to the public for tips about the origins of two 17th-century paintings that mysteriously ended up in the garbage at a highway rest stop last month.

“According to authorities in the western city of Cologne, a 64-year-old man stumbled upon the two oil paintings in a dumpster at a rest stop near Ohrenbach on May 18. The man, who was taking a driving break at the stop at around 4 p.m., took the paintings with him and later turned them in to police in Cologne.

“After the paintings were examined by an expert, police concluded that they are both 17th-century originals, and have put out a public appeal to find their owner: ‘Who knows the paintings shown and / or how they got into the dumpster at the service area?’

“The first painting is a raucous self-portrait by the Italian painter Pietro Bellotti, dated to 1665. The other is a portrait of a boy by the Dutch Old Master Samuel van Hoogstraten, which has not been dated.

“The auction record for a Belloti is $190,000, achieved at the Swiss house Koller Auktionen in 2010, according to Artnet’s Price Database. There are multiple versions of the painting, and a very similar portrait, titled Self-Portrait of the Artist as Laughter, was put up for sale at Christie’s London in 2006 (estimate: $55,000–$91,000). … Other versions of the Bellotti painting are in the collection of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, the Pinacoteca di Brera, and a third was once part of the Scheufelen Collection in Stuttgart.

“Meanwhile, works by Van Hoogstraten, who studied under Rembrandt in Amsterdam, have sold for as much as $788,000 (at Christie’s Monaco in 1993). The artist is best known for his experiments with perspective.” More at Artnet News, here.

In related news, a surrealist work turned up in another German dumpster. Check out Jesse O’Neill’s New York Post article from December.

“A surrealist painting worth $340,000 was recovered from a paper-recycling dumpster in Germany, police say.

“The valuable artwork, by French painter Yves Tanguy, was accidentally left behind by a businessman at Duesseldorf’s airport. The flier had forgotten the painting, which was packaged in cardboard, at an airport check-in counter before he boarded a flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, on Nov. 27.

“By the time the man landed in Israel, realized what he’d done and contacted police, the 16-by-24-inch masterpiece had disappeared. The mystery was solved only after the businessman’s nephew traveled to the airport from Belgium and talked with police. An inspector was able to trace the painting to a recycling dumpster used by the airport’s cleaning company.”

More at the New York Post, here. At least in that case, the owner knew where to look.

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It took a little poking around on the web as neither the Rhode Island State Arts Council nor the Block Island Airport seem to have published any information on the airport’s new exhibit, but I can finally share some tidings of artist Neal Personeus.

From Cape Scapes: “Neal began his interest in driftwood sculptures as a young boy on the beaches of North Truro in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His original works were typically pirate ships in the sand made from the various flotsam and jetsam that Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean would return to the land. By the time he was in his early teens, his works began to change towards wharf scenes and typical seaside shops perched upon interesting driftwood base pieces.

“When Neal was in his early twenties, he became an architectural and engineering draftsman. He rented a beachside cottage with some friends during the summer of 1984, and spent the entire vacation working beachside on his sculptures while watching the Olympics. It was during this time that he honed in on the type of works he would ultimately settle upon. Utilizing his interest in architecture, he would scour the beaches and dunes for beautifully bleached and unusually shaped base pieces, and then picture the style of house that would blend into and compliment the environment of the base piece.” More here.

You can find lots of Neal’s work on Pinterest if you search on Neal Personeus. And check out this Warwick Museum of Art poster featuring the piece called “Yeah … but the view” here.

Art: Neal Personeus
This humorous piece, currently in an exhibit of Personeus sculptures at the Block Island Airport, is called “Yeah … but the view.”

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I make an annual carrot cake. I have an old, tattered newsprint recipe living in a Ziploc bag, but this year the recipe was on a shelf several hours away from where I needed to buy the ingredients (long story), so I’m putting them here for future Internet access.

2 cp flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½  tsp salt, 1-1/2 cp sugar, 2 tsps cinnamon, 3 eggs, ¾ cp buttermilk, ½ cp oil, 2 tsps vanilla, 1 8-1/2 oz can crushed pineapple, 2 cps grated raw carrots (no liquid), 1 cp chopped nuts, 1 cp flaked coconut

I will print the recipe, too, if you ask.

The question is always what to do with the extra buttermilk. I have used it for cornbread in the past. You can also put it in your blueberry pancakes the next morning. I don’t know anyone who likes to drink it.

Except Amelia Earhart.

I’ve been reading a 2010 self-published book called by Allene G. “Squeaky” Hatch, Real Pearls and Darned Stockings: Tales of the Hudson Valley, which includes a memorable visit that Amelia Earhart paid to Squeaky’s family when Squeaky was little.

Squeaky’s Uncle Clint was stowing away his biplane at the Hudson Airport one night when he saw storm clouds threatening. A woman approached him from her own plane, and he recognized the famous aviatrix. Writes Squeaky:

“ ‘Could you recommend a good hotel nearby for my co-pilot and me?’ Earhart asked.

“Clint’s answer was that the best place to stay was his farm.” He phoned the house, and Squeaky’s mother rushed madly around to get ready. Having heard that Earhart liked buttermilk, and having none in the house, Squeaky’s mom improvised, mixing viengar with fresh milk! At dinner Amelia Earhart took a polite sip of the “buttermilk.” She didn’t take a second, says Squeaky.

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