art

Posted by Ellen

After Alabama won the Peach Bowl last Saturday, Ringo Starr apparently tweeted this picture of himself, along with the text "Roll Tide peace and love."

Ringo has been a Bama fan for thirty years now, thanks to his friendship with Fred Nall Hollis, a multimedia artist from south Alabama who uses the single name Nall professionally. The two met in 1986, when Nall rented a house he owned in the south of France to Ringo and his wife, Barbara Bach. They got to talking about the artwork hanging in the house, and then Ringo asked Nall if he would teach him how to draw and paint.

The art lessons continued off and on through the 1980s and '90s, and in recent years Ringo has launched an art career of his own, working in digital media.

Nall has painted two portraits of Ringo, who has become active in the work of Nall's foundation. The foundation focuses on helping artists and art students recover from addiction and create new sober, artistically vital lives for themselves.

One of Ringo's drumsticks sits among the paintbrushes in Nall's Fairhope studio.

The picture below, "Inside the Barn," is a recent creation by Nall.

For those among us who haven't been paying attention, the Crimson Tide face off against Clemson next Monday for the national championship.  Peace and Love!

Posted by Ellen

She sits by the waterfront in Trieste, Italy, apparently texting or checking her Facebook, but actually sewing, or maybe knitting.

Not seen here: the other seamstress of Trieste, sitting and chatting alongside her.

Posted by Ellen

Let's just not go there with the hypertension thing, though it's a real deal, all properly proclaimed. But today is way too remarkable for other reasons.

To start with, very close to home, we celebrate May 17 as the birthday of our little sister Carol, as well as the birthday, on the Stein side of the family, of our brother-in-law Bob, as well as the wedding anniversary of Richard and Arleigh Stein, as well as the 480th anniversary of the annulment of the marriage of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII of England.

Not only, not only. The very day of little sister's birth in 1954 is also known to history as the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, knocking the legalistic props out from under racial segregation in public schools, though of course failing to end racial segregation in public schools. And there's more, at least on a technicality: the Brown decision applied only to public schools run by the various state governments, not to schools in the District of Columbia, where everything was run by the federal government and also where, it so happened, our little sister was born. The Supreme Court needed to decide a separate case, Bolling v. Sharpe, to order desegregation of schools in Washington, D.C., but it efficiently took care of that detail on the very same day as little sister's birth. Eight days later, the D.C. School Board announced a desegregation plan, and thus, had little sister been smart enough to start school as a newborn infant, which she very nearly was, she might have enrolled in a newly desegregated classroom.

The photo above shows a bit of what Sis is up to these days: mosaicking the side of her garage to suggest a door and some pretty awesome windows.

Posted by Ellen

Americans know the birds of John James Audubon from prints of his work bound into books, notably Birds of America (1838). The prints were based on watercolors painted by Audubon over a ten-year period beginning in 1827; for some reason, all the paintings are owned by the New-York Historical Society, which rarely displays any of them.

We were able to see some of the watercolors, however, during a recent exhibition celebrating the sesquicentennial of their purchase by the Historical Society, and the great blue heron above caught our eye. It seemed awfully blue; the great blue herons we have seen in real life are all much more grayish; the color reference in their name always struck us as more of a wish than an observation. Audubon, of course, was a world-class observer.

Well, we looked this stuff up on the internets, and the internets all insist that, gosh, the mistake was ours, not Audubon's. The bird above is a little blue heron, painted in Louisiana and native to coastal marshes there and elsewhere around the Gulf of Mexico.

Audubon's great blue heron, below, is properly gray in color, and very, very cool.

Posted by Ellen

Ron Baron's "Lost and Found," bronze luggage and seating, was installed in 2010 in a plaza outside a new Long Island Railroad station in Hempstead, New York.

Posted by Ellen

My ship, your ship, everybody's ship's coming in, in this 1882 painting of the port of Bordeaux by Jean Baptiste Guiraud.

Posted by Ellen

The late actor Anthony Quinn does his thing on the wall of Victor Clothing Company.

His thing, of course, was, and is here, and always will be that thing that Zorba did. But artist Eloy Torrez, who painted this mural in 1984, titled the work "The Pope of Broadway" because . . .  because . . .

Well, Quinn did once play an exiled Russian bishop who became pope, in Shoes of the Fisherman. And the mural is located at 220 S. Broadway in Los Angeles. But really.

Posted by Ellen

Isaiah Zagar's Magic Gardens in Philadelphia is a compound of galleries and courtyards devoted to Zagar's obsessive mosaicking of every square inch of everything.

Here on the outer side of the wall surrounding the place, we see a sign on a drainpipe that clarifies what's important to life outside the magic garden

Posted by Ellen

The little guy here in the white apron, with a pencil behind his ear–that's Mr. 4, the grocer-mascot of New Zealand's ubiquitous Four Square chain of supermarkets.

The mural featuring Mr. 4 covers a side wall of the art museum in Christchurch. The museum is closed at the moment and has been for a couple of years. All the artwork currently on exhibit is out in the streets of the city, like this piece.

Perhaps you are wondering why in the picture below there's a crane on top of the museum? Hold that thought; we'll get to it soon.

Posted by Ellen

Among the happy occasions being celebrated recently while we were in New Zealand, in addition to the marriage of our niece, was the one hundredth anniversary of the invention of the zipper, as featured in the World of Wearable Art exhibition at Te Papa museum in Wellington.

Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, patented a zipper-like Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure in 1851 but was too busy selling sewing machines to get it to market.

Another zipper-like thingy, called a clasp locker by its inventor, Whitcomb Judson, was displayed at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. It was designed to close boots with long rows of hooks and eyes, and it attracted investors who built a company around the idea but couldn't ever make it work.

Then in the early twentieth century a Swedish-born electrical engineer named Gideon Sundback married the daughter of the company president and was named chief designer. He spent seven years refining a different zipper-like device that by 1913 actually worked. But the company was still stuck in boot-closure mode, and for the next twenty years B.F. Goodrich was the main customer for zippers, which were used on a style of rubber galoshes known as "Zips."

It wasn't till the 1930s that zippers were sewn into ready-made clothing: at first, in children's wear, then for fly closures in men's trousers, and eventually in coats, skirts, dresses, luggage, sports gear, and everything else.