September 2012

Posted by Ellen

For those who've been wondering: this is what the landscape looks like in extreme northern Paraguay, near the Brazilian border.

Posted by Ellen

 

Five years ago, when the Comcast Center skyscraper was nearing completion, a lucky photographer had a chance to go 974 feet up into the open superstructure and see what he could see. He saw that the Comcast tower was already more or less as tall as the tippy-tip-tops of the Liberty Center towers that appear to be right smack behind it, thanks to the magic of a telephoto lens. When complete, the Comcast building would be the tallest in the city, about thirty feet taller than the taller of the two Liberty Center spires

Way far away near the top of the picture is the Delaware River, and way down below and all around is lots and lots and lots of Philly.

Posted by Ellen

Tanja Baker writes from Durham, Maine:

I could have sent some cute pictures of our cats; they turned 2 years old yesterday and had a blast with their brand new toys. But I figured our 4 quackers deserve some shine too.

Now that we own a house with a yard and we no longer have to ask a landlord where we can plant a garden or whether we can have some animals, we had to get some egg layers. Everyone can have chickens, which are messy, and we wanted more entertainment. So we got some Indian Runner ducks.

There are no breeders in Maine or New England, so we had to order them from Texas. Little did we know that ducklings do not need any food or water for the first 3 days of their life; they are still nursing on the egg yolk. All they need is heat. So they come in a cardboard box (yes, the one in the picture) with a heating pad, delivered overnight to your post office.

I did not believe this would work without any casualties, but those little birds are tough as nails. They arrived 3 days old  and happy to explore their new world. We had to keep them under a heating lamp and introduce them to water and cracked corn. Since then, they have been growing at an unbelievably fast pace. Now 5 months old and fully grown, they own the backyard, and we are waiting for our first egg. I will keep you posted, can't wait for my first backyard-grown breakfast.

Posted by Ellen

We all know that artists are often politically minded people, and that much art is intended, on some level or another, to communicate political ideas. But we all also know that works of political art, regardless of whether or not they succeed artistically, usually fail to directly accomplish much of anything politically. The paintbrush is not often mightier than the sword.

A couple of months ago, artwork on the streets of Yekaterina, Russia, a city of almost two million people about a thousand miles east of Moscow, got the political job done. The city fathers of Yekaterina–the regional governor, the mayor, and the vice-mayor–had all been elected on promises to repair potholes and other problems in the city's badly deteriorating roadways. Once in office, however, they seemed to lose interest; despite citizen complaints, the potholes just kept getting worse and worse.

One dark night in July, Yekaterina artists took to the streets of center city and painted portraits of the three well-known politicians with wide-open mouths surrounding three of the worst potholes. They documented their work with a video that they posted to a popular local website; an English-language video about their video is here.

The next day, the potholes were fixed and the portraits scrubbed from the pavement. Officials denied that the artwork had anything to do with the sudden burst of municipal maintenance.

Yekaterina was already a city with a certain artistic sensibility; in addition to their potholes, the downtown streets feature a bronze monument to Michael Jackson.

Kin

Posted by Ellen

At John and Bonnie's wedding this summer, guests were encouraged to pose for pictures in a photo booth. The people in these shots are pretty much all related to me in some way or another, most through marriage, either mine or my son's. 

Posted by Ellen

For the 2007 Prairie Art Festival in Medicine Bow, Saskatchewan, German street artist Edgar Mueller turned River Street into a serious river.

Posted by Ellen

In the archives of the old Harris & Ewing photo studio in Washington, D.C., is the glass negative for this picture, with no caption information whatsoever.

What think you? A posed shot to promote new lawnmowers with Ajax Ball Bearings? Political imagery to promote a candidate with hard-working American (grass)roots? Somebody's aunt?

1920s? 1940s?

Couple of thoughts: Years ago, we lived in a neighborhood of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where most of our neighbors were older people. By then, lawnmowers had gasoline engines, but I recall that pushing them was considered women's work. More recently, when we lived in Maine, I often saw older couples out in the morning clearing their walks with gasoline-powered snowblowers. The division of labor for this task was that the man walked behind the snowblower while the woman worked alongside with a shovel.

What I like best about this picture: the pearls.