My latest piles of leaves, branches, and weeds, along with a roll of ancient, rusty chainlink, ready for the town crew to pick up, as per arrangement. But do they realize that a 70-year-old, 111-lb. woman is doing the work with hand tools (rake, clippers), nothing more? Someone walking by said his sister's goat would be a good one to help me, even with the chainlink. I said, "Bring it on." But actually I like working alone here. I feel a sense of accomplishment after each session. In contrast to other long-term projects of mine, with this one I can easily see how far I have come (and, alas, how far I have yet to go).
I became familiar with Luigi Lucioni (1900-1988) while covering art auctions and shows in Boston for Maine Antique Digest, but I had never seen such great examples in person until I went to the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, for the Lucioni retrospective exhibit on view there through mid October. Since we were staying at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, I was naturally drawn to this rendering of the place by the Italian immigrant (he arrived here at age eleven) who is associated both with Vermont and New York. Designed by Robert H. Robertson, the Queen Anne style manse was completed in 1899 for William Seward Webb and his wife, Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb. With grounds landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, the 3,800-acre estate was originally meant to be a "model farm" for the breeding of Hackney horses for Vermont farmers. Today it's still a working farm. In the dining room, the manager told us, about eighty percent of the foods served are sourced from the very place. That includes cheeses, which we saw being made in the dairy. You know you're in the right place when you see a guy using a scythe instead of a weed whacker to cut away tall grasses around the bases of trees. And this is no Williamsburg. He wasn't in period dress. He was just someone doing his job noiselessly in the twenty-first century.
A few weeks ago, I decided I was tired of waiting for the town to clean up the small park across the street from my house, at Hussey's Pond. And so I have begun to clean it up myself. I alerted the Department of Public Works that I was going to make piles of dead leaves, branches, and debris that I hoped they would periodically come cart away. The DPW's Amy Salvi said she would send a crew whenever I called to tell them I was ready.
Twice now I have filled up three wire bins (one shown here) and twice a couple of guys have indeed carted it away in a town truck. So my plan is working.
While I was raking over there one day last week, a neighborhood friend came by. She was wearing a baseball cap that said "F of H P." It stands for "Friends of Harold Parker" -- Harold Parker State Park, that is, which is partly in Andover and partly in North Andover. She does volunteer work for the organization. But I realize I could wear the same hat myself, because the same initials could stand for "Friend [singular] of Hussey's Pond." That's me.
Sunday afternoon, June 5. A conversation on stage at the MFA between Art Spiegelman and Hillary Chute of Northeastern University. Spiegelman was brilliant, as was the interviewer. Together they discussed and illustrated with side by side images the affinities between Spiegelman's work and Philip Guston's, as well as the similarities between the trajectories of their personal lives. The program was in conjunction with the Guston show, still on view. Not to be missed.
Thomas More, whose portrait by Holbein hangs at the current exhibition at the Morgan Library, was insufficiently loyal to Henry VIII, so he was executed. James Comey did not consider any level of loyalty to Donald Trump to be something he needed to concern himself with, so he was fired. That analogy was what occurred to me while seeing the exhibit, after having just finished watching The Comey Rule on Netflix... Below, Holbein's Mary, Lady Guildford, 1527. She and her husband were among Holbein's most important patrons. Note the rosary beads wound around her hand, and the rosemary tucked into her bodice.
I went to the press preview of the Guston show at the MFA. Intense, illuminating, fascinating. It is not a conventional retrospective that goes chronologically, exploring, for instance, an artist's various influences, which in Guston's case range from Giotto and de Chirico to Krazy Kat and R. Crumb. Instead, the show is organized to make clear that while his manner of painting changes dramatically over time, his concerns are consistent, lifelong. To wit: Evil lurks in the world, and what is a mere artist to do about it? The only thing he or she can do: keep on painting.
I visited Ridgewood Cemetery again, in search of the grave of Joseph W. Poor (1830-1910). Still no luck, and again failed to go there when the office was open. (M-F, 9-noon.) I have now left a message on the office phone, asking about how to get directions to the site. Meanwhile, I saw the sign pictured above at the entrance to the superintendent's building. We should all have a similar sign posted on our office door, to remind us of what's coming. I also like the philosophical message not well seen in this photo, behind the glass: "We are not inside." Indeed!
The "Commentaries" portion of this website is a record of some of Ms. Schinto's cultural experiences, e.g., books read, TV series watched, movies seen, exhibits visited, plays and musical events attended, etc. She also from time to time will post short essays on various topics.