“Christina’s World” is artist’s Andrew Wyeth most famous painting. It shows a woman looking away from the viewer and looking towards a distant farmhouse, while lying in a tawny grass field. Christina, a real person, was actually crawling through the field, because she could no longer walk, because she suffered from a degenerative nerve disease. She was Wyeth’s long time Maine neighbor and was in her late fifties when she was painted and lived for another twenty years afterwards. Years after her death, upon his death, Wyeth was buried at the foot of the pictured hill, fulfilling his request “to be near Christina.”
It is painted in the style known as magic realism, where everyday scenes are imbued with poetic mystery. In the painting, Christina appears to be younger than she was. She also appears isolated, where even her home, the distant farmhouse looks far away. Initially, the picture paints a bleak and lonely picture, but learning Christina’s background recasts this artwork into one of human struggle and determination. MoMA has always owned this painting, but chooses to display it in a busy hallway and not a gallery. One’s viewing is distracted, with all of the passing people. Its location does not to the work justice.
Turning from Christina and Wyeth’s world of magical realism to Anne’s real world, finds her ever busy with her third graders. Highlights from this week include a visit by a delegation of Indianapolis teachers and a field trip to Powell and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra played a sports themed concert for the hall full of kids. Highlights included the Blues hockey team’s mascot conducting the symphony in a recital of the Saint Louis Blues March, a reading of Casey at the Bat and the playing of various baseball standards.
“The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh has always been one of my favorite paintings. Throughout college my dorm room was adorned with a poster of this art work. It was an unexpected joy to find it on display at MoMA last week. Mounted by itself on a divider wall in the middle of the gallery, it was mobbed. Dozens of people crowded in front of it. Many were taking pictures. A lone security guards stood beside it. Big and burly, his presences generally held the throng at bay. That and the occasional word remonstrated any overeager art patron. As art police gigs go, this one was a tough one to hold. My viewing was hardly the quiet and contemplative experience that one would hope for, but I was able to jostle myself close enough, with camera held high, and get the pic.
“Starry Night” captured the view from Van Gogh’s east facing asylum bedroom window. This morning, from our own bedroom window, Anne pointed out to me an astronomical conjunction involving Venus and the Moon, all backlit by the first light of the rising sun, our own little starry night. Since my return from New York, I have been rising before dawn with her and giving her a ride to school. The reason for this is that the battery died on her car the night that I returned. She had to walk home that night, like she has been doing ever since. I took MetroLink from the airport and Anne later picked me up in the Prius. Anne’s car is 22 years old, its license is up for renewal soon and it has been under a DNR order for some time now. We jumped her car to just get it home, but it has sat in front of the house ever since and again the battery is dead.
We had planned to become a one vehicle family soon anyway. This unfortunate occurrence simply advances our schedule a couple of months. We’ll jump her car once more and this time drive it a little further and see if it can hold onto a charge this time, but come January it will become an NPR donation. We might later buy a new car, either to supplement of replace the Prius, but for now it looks like our carbon footprint will be shrinking. Anyone want a bike roof rack?
Starting early on the morning of Columbus Day I set off on foot from my motel in Brooklyn to Manhattan. It was a long walk to the East River, longer than I had anticipated anyway, but as I neared the water, I had a decision to make. Should I take the Brooklyn Bridge or the Manhattan Bridge? Earlier this year, I had walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge and it was at sunset. I knew that I couldn’t duplicate those fine photographic conditions, especially on this dreary Monday morning. So, I took the Manhattan Bridge. As you can see in the photograph above, the view was not all that it could be, what with the low hanging clouds obscuring the tops of the taller lower Manhattan skyscrapers, but I did get a useable shot. Included in that picture and the close-up below is Jane’s Carousel, a parfait in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Both bridges have pedestrian walkways. On the Brooklyn Bridge, you walk on the level above the vehicle traffic, but on the Manhattan Bridge, you walk below the vehicle lanes and more importantly on the same level as four New York Subway tracks. It was very noisy. With the morning rush there was an almost continuous din. The noise began to feel unnerving after a while. The pièce de résistance came when I had almost completed my passage. A bicycle with a siren that mimicked a police siren came up from behind me. Such was the bridge’s decibel level, I did not hear his siren until he was upon me. Anyway, I soon exited the bridge and descended into the relative quiet of lower Manhattan.