Hunting the moon

Saint-Gaudens' Diana

Diana, 1892–93; this cast, 1928
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848–1907)
Bronze, gilt (link)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Known for his realistic and often heroic portraiture, Saint-Gaudens found in Diana an opportunity to work in an ideal vein. His interpretation of the Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt eschews the traditional full-bodied huntress, instead focusing on simple, elegant lines and a strong silhouette reminiscent of a New England weathervane.

It’s quite lovely, yes?

Photo edited in Camera Genius for iPhone. I’ve started a set of Midtown Manhattan mobile photos on Flickr. I’m playing around with different effects, if it seems like the photos lack a consistent “look”!

Turkeys in the grass

Wild grass where lawn meets red maple swamp. Backyard, morning dog walk. (iPhone pic edited in Picnik.)

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away. – 1 Peter 1:24

Even the oak leaves have fallen now. Deer are coming into backyards because it’s a bad year for acorns, I’ve heard, and they’re hungry already and looking for other food. Like our hostas, Oh Deer.

Four shotgun blasts at 6:30 a.m. yesterday and seven blasts at 8:45 a.m. this morning. The hunter in the woods beyond our back field doesn’t seem to be a very good shot. I hope there are no wounded bloody deer staggering around out there. Or wild turkeys.

The slaughter of local farm turkeys is more precise and efficient, no doubt. One hundred twenty Seacoast families will eat a broad-breasted white turkey raised on a farm in Hampton this Thanksgiving. The turkeys were pastured on grass and presumably as happy as turkeys can be. No word on when exactly they will go to meet their baker. (OK, roaster or frier or smoker.)

As for the farmer…

The days are long, starting before dawn and ending at the kitchen table doing paperwork at night, but the rewards, he said, are great. After all, he is keeping the family farm, which just a few short years ago he wasn’t sure he would be able to do.

And if it takes all his waking hours and sometimes a bit of digging deep to find that smile for all his customers, that’s okay. “I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead,” he said with a smile.

Falling leaves

Occupy Autumn.

Instagram pic in Central Park, NY last Tuesday. We were wandering toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We were in a hotel in Midtown Manhattan when the police broke up the two-month-old encampment in Zuccotti Park. We wouldn’t have noticed except for the news.

Here are two of my favorite opinion pieces on Occupy…

Anne Applebaum: Occupy Protesters Undermine Democracy

In New York, marchers chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” but, actually, this isn’t what democracy looks like. This is what freedom of speech looks like. Democracy looks a lot more boring. Democracy requires institutions, elections, political parties, rules, laws, a judiciary and many unglamourous, time-consuming activities, none of which are nearly as much fun as camping out in front of St. Paul’s cathedral or chanting slogans on the Rue St. Martin in Paris.

Heather MacDonald: The Moochers of Zuccotti Park

While the number of people who commandeered Zuccotti Park was pathetically small—several hundred a night—compared with the weight of media attention lavished upon them, their sense of entitlement to take other people’s property, whether public or private, is unfortunately widespread.

11/20 update: This one’s good too.

Jim Huffman: Civil disobedience requires more than an illegal tent

The Occupy Wall Street movement lacks any legitimate claim to being part of the democratic tradition of civil disobedience. Disobeying a perfectly legitimate law as an expression of moral outrage at other laws makes no sense. Some call it “indirect” civil disobedience, but that is worse than a slippery slope. Can we express our moral disapproval of particular laws and claim the badge of civil disobedience by breaching any randomly chosen legitimate law? If not, how do we know which laws we can disobey as an act of civil disobedience and which we cannot?

IBD: The Occupation Should Be On White House Grounds

The Occupy Wall Street movement, with an incoherent agenda that rails against income inequality and the evils of capitalism, ignores the fact that what we are practicing is not true capitalism, the version where businesses and entrepreneurs are allowed to compete on a truly level playing field to reap the rewards or be allowed to fail.


Squares of New York

Some Instagram iPhone photos from our Monday-Wednesday New York trip.

On Madison Avenue.

New York Public Library and tall buildings.

Doors on Fifth Avenue.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Fifth Avenue.

“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.” – Robert Graves

Iconic Audrey outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Inside the museum, one of Degas’ dancers.

Knight-time fashion.

Window shopping. Fur shoes.

Gods, goddesses, girls and boys (and birds)

Welcome your duck god overlords.

These towering slit gongs of Vanuatu are among the largest freestanding musical instruments in the world.  When struck with wooden clubs, they resonate with the voices of the ancestors… according to the information provided by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we saw these yesterday.

The museum does a wonderful job, especially in large galleries like this, of not having too much on display at once to overwhelm (unlike Times Square). Then you can enter an airy gallery, observe things handmade, man-made, and be struck (like a gong) by the fantastic, the beautiful, the strange, the divine.

His hair was perfect.

Life-size bronze bust of a young Roman boy, A.D. 50-68 (early imperial/ Julio-Claudia period). It is a portrait of a real boy, but they’re not sure who. His name is lost but his likeness lives on in Gallery 166.

I adopt him as a museum favorite; I take him home with my camera.

Young Woman With Ibis, Edgar Degas

Originally conceived as a depiction of a pensive woman overlooking an oriental metropolis, the picture assumed a mysterious air when Degas added the two red ibises around 1860–62.

Like a finished and saleable picture by a skilled artist and then someone (a mischievous doppelganger of Degas) came along after, looked, and said, “I know just what this needs,” and slapped on a couple of scarlet ibises. Voila! Genius.

Leda and the Swan, carved from limestone by Michel Anguier in 1654

A human encounter with the divine. She appears to have the upper hand in this version of the story. (That swan seems oddly furry.)

My first encounter with this mythological motif was through a poem by W.B. Yeats. I was so young it was hard for me to read between the lines and know exactly what had happened, but the words and images were strong and lyrical and I had an intimation (as I do with a lot of good art still) that one day I would understand more, better.

The Sun Vow, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, 1899

During visits to several Native American tribes in 1895, he heard of a rite of passage that captured his imagination: before a boy on the threshold of manhood could be accepted as a warrior of his tribe, he must shoot an arrow directly into the sun. If the chieftain judging the boy’s prowess was so blinded by the sun’s rays that he could not follow the flight of the arrow, then the youth, here identified as a Sioux, had passed the test.

Be (a) brave and look into the sun.

Mad holy Joan in her moment of divine revelation in her parents’ garden.

Jules Bastien-Lepage painted St. Joan of Arc in 1879, just after the Franco-Prussian war perhaps to cheer up the French (who had lost Alsace-Lorraine to the Germans) with their national heroine.

His depiction of the saints whose voices she heard elicited a mixed reaction from Salon critics, many of whom found the presence of the saints at odds with the naturalism of the artist’s style.

But isn’t that part of what makes this painting worth looking at? Her godstruck eyes are wide open, pale and staring; she is at a still point between normal, natural human life and her burned-at-the-stake, sainted, eternal, iconic future.

Ready for take off.

I can’t find this on the museum site to provide a more thorough description (perhaps it is on loan from somewhere else), but I’d say this is Artemis (Diana), goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wild places, the moon, childbirth and virginity. We like it.

She is inside four walls in a grand, teeming city. But she seems a wild, free thing anyway.