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Posts Tagged ‘st. paul’

Poe-and-Raven-Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t take it with you.

One thing you can’t with you is your reputation, the reputation you want. Other forces take it over.

I’m told that F. Scott Fitzgerald would have hated the posthumous honors showered on him by his native city, St.Paul, Minnesota. And now an irritated Edgar Allan Poe is turning over in his grave with all the attention from Boston and the newly dedicated statue near Boston Common.

Katharine Seelye in the NY Times reviews the history. She reminds us that Poe was born in Boston “in 1809 and published some of his most famous works here. But he considered Boston writers self-important and preachy, and he said so. And Boston returned the sentiment. Ralph Waldo Emerson dismissed Poe as a “jingle man” for his simplistic style, as if the author of ‘The Raven’ were writing television ads for toothpaste. …

“Other cities have long claimed a piece of the itinerant Poe. Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Richmond, Va., all have Poe monuments or museums of one sort or another.

“Boston never bothered. Not without reason. Poe sneered at the city’s luminaries. Riffing off the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, Poe called the local swells Frogpondians,’ their moralistic works sounding like the croaking of so many frogs. As for residents here, they ‘have no soul,’ he said. ‘Bostonians are well bred — as very dull persons very generally are.’

“Now the city is burying the hatchet,” More here.

Poe-plaque-Boston

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Around the country, art is playing a role in improving the livability of cities and towns.

Peter Brewitt writes at Orion magazine, “Over the past decade, communities across the nation have taken to beautifying their roads and intersections with hand-painted murals, slowing drivers as they go. Murals like these come at minimal cost — just buy some street-grade paint, get whatever permits your city requires, and figure out how to reroute traffic for a few hours. As people motor through the neighborhood, murals catch the eye, situate the mind, and lighten the right foot.

“Many of these creations did not begin as traffic-control devices — the goal was often to engage the neighborhood with itself, to display its spirits and hopes for the future, and to embrace the spaces that bind people together. But art touches drivers as well as neighbors …

Paint the Pavement [PtP], a street-art program in Saint Paul, Minnesota … offers support and advice, but the groups of friends and neighbors creating the art are self-organized and volunteer-run.”

Learn more about enlivening your neighborhood with pavement painting, here. Hat tip to Mary Ann on Facebook.

It’s an interesting art form. More lasting than children’s sidewalk chalks — which doesn’t mean that chalk is passé. In my work neighborhood, grownups have been taking up sidewalk chalk art, and I can attest that people smile when they see it.

Video: Vimeo and Orion magazine

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And speaking of payment systems, community-supported agriculture has been around for years and, more recently, community-supported art. I blogged about the approach here in 2011, when the Cambridge Center for the Arts embraced the concept.

The NY Times has written about it, too. Randy Kennedy lays out the principles: “For years, Barbara Johnstone, a professor of linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University [in Pittsburgh], bought shares in a C.S.A. — a community-supported agriculture program — and picked up her occasional bags of tubers or tomatoes or whatever the member farms were harvesting.

“Her farm shares eventually lapsed. (‘Too much kale,’ she said.) But on a recent summer evening, she showed up at a C.S.A. pickup location downtown and walked out carrying a brown paper bag filled with a completely different kind of produce. …

“ ‘It’s kind of like Christmas in the middle of July,’ said Ms. Johnstone, who had just gone through her bag to see what her $350 share had bought. The answer was a Surrealistic aluminum sculpture (of a pig’s jawbone, by William Kofmehl III), a print (a deadpan image appropriated from a lawn-care book, by Kim Beck) and a ceramic piece (partly about slavery, by Alexi Morrissey).

“Without even having to change the abbreviation, the C.S.A. idea has fully made the leap from agriculture to art. After the first program started four years ago in Minnesota … community-supported art programs are popping up all over the country …

“The art programs are designed to be self-supporting: Money from shares is used to pay the artists, who are usually chosen by a jury, to produce a small work in an edition of 50 or however many shares have been sold.”

Read all about it, here. Could be risky if you really don’t want a sculpture of a pig’s jawbone. But if you look at it as supporting the arts, you are likely to be satisfied with that side of things — and there’s always a chance you will love what you get or find its value increase.

Photo: Zoe Prinds-Flash
Drew Peterson’s prints and Liz Miller’s collages were among the art for members of this C.S.A., community-supported art, in Minnesota.

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A couple Sundays ago, it was so hot that all we could do was sit. When we came to ourselves, we said: Who has air conditioning besides the supermarket? Where can we go to see something interesting or entertaining without wilting?

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is a place of wonder. It’s true that sometimes the wonder takes the form of “What the heck?!” But more often it provokes pondering and admiration. The piece below was both lovely to look at and food for thought. The artist filmed people moving obscurely behind ice. The work suggested ideas to me beyond the idea of ice (although ice itself was worth focusing on that day).

Ice often makes an appearance in art. I think of the First Night (New Year’s Eve) sculptures in Boston.  And I remember a whole ice wonderland in St. Paul one January when we lived in Minnesota. Then there is the ice story by a native of that city, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald apparently wanted to cut his ties with his hometown, but St. Paul had other thoughts, naming the theater where “A Prairie Home Companion” plays just for him, and conducting a posthumous reading of “The Great Gatsby” in his honor.

Fitzgerald’s short story “The Ice Palace” is about a southern girl who tries to adjust to the culture of her betrothed’s wintry landscape. She becomes lost and terrified in an ice palace that somehow reflects his family and his nature, and she decides her future should unfold back home in the South. I read that a long time ago, but I recall many meanings for ice in it.

Meanwhile, at the deCordova, the “Ice Cave” video seems to be about the limits of perception, about seeing through a glass darkly.

What are the people doing? we wonder. Even if we knew, would we know what it meant?

Please share your ice images with the blog.

Image from Daniel Phillips’s Ice Cave video is at the Dodge Gallery in New York.

 

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I blogged in May about the late Paul Nagel, the great biographer of the John Adams family and a friend from the years my husband and I spent in Minneapolis.

Today his son sent a lovely memorial piece by Paul’s longtime buddy Norbert Hirschhorn. Bert’s article appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Read it here. Bert is a physician who has written investigative medical articles on the real illnesses that likely killed historic figures. He is also  a poet. His website and photo are here. He divides his time between London and Beirut, where his wife is a professor at the American University. The following poem, written about a period he spent in Finland, might be an elegy for Paul.

Finnish Autumn

by Norbert Hirschhorn

Leaves flee their trees. Gold coins strewn across
woodland paths turn black, rain-smashed to dross.

Silver birches’ ciliate tips outside my window
incised against the sky like intaglio.

Bohemian waxwings rise in flocks, take flight –
maple leaves mottled by black-spotted blight.

Bone-white horizon, a full setting moon;
bone-white the sun rising into the brume.

I am worried, curious: the coming chill –
mythic, drear – augury of a world… gone still.

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