Archive for the 'Art Culture Politics' Category

Rivers

RiversThe Rivers of America series started in 1937 and ended in 1974. Sixty-five books were ultimately published. I recently tried reading the volumes on the Hudson, the Colorado, and the St. Lawrence, but I couldn’t get past the first chapter of any of them. They were too Forties for me, a whitewashed, cheerleading view of history. Ah, well.

Anyway, here’s the listing as of the 1940s. Because the names of American rivers have a magic to them: Housatonic, Shenandoah, Susquehanna, Monongahela, Mississippi…. Many, of course, have Native American names (or European debasement of Native names); rivers often hold on the oldest languages.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

10354743_10152898315142628_1755413661377615099_nI’m excited to announce this event. Please join us as Zane York and I discuss art and nature, nature and art, the art of nature, and the nature of art.

Zane York: Curious Remnants

Zane YorkZane York at work. He’s having a solo show tonight through Dec. 14 at Causey Contemporary, 29 Orchard St. NY NY.ZYP0109-SwampDarner -800pxThe opening revels are from 6-8. I’ll be there.

Bärenfähigkeit

bear1On the liturgical calendar, today is St. Martin’s Day. In the late Middle Ages, “Martin” was often the name given to bears abused and belittled in circuses and other equivalents of side-shows. This is not coincidental, Michel Pastoureau shows in his fascinating The Bear: History of a Fallen King. bear3The Church waged a long war against bears, which in Europe were already being represented in Neanderthal and Cro-Magon painted caves, the very caves bears may have lived in. (These would have been cave bears, now extinct; Pastoureau is most concerned with the brown bear, now pushed to remote parts of Europe and threatened everywhere there.) The Germanic tribes who butted against Roman expansion were bear-worshippers. The Viking Berserkers wore bear shirts, which is what “berserker” means. Kings and other heroes once proved themselves by battling bears man-to-bear. The nurturing she-bear raised various Greek and other mythological heroes. The hyper-sexualized male bear threatened female humans, as did the quasi-bearish Wild Man, whose hairiness was akin to the bear’s. Bärenfähigkeit means the capacity to become a bear. Half-bear/half-human figures populated the old tales.

This all enraged the Church, who promoted the (foreign) lion as the true king of the beasts and painted the bear as a tool of, if not actually, Satan, in its efforts to stamp out old forms of non-Christian worship. St. Martin’s Day was laid over older celebrations of the beginning of bear hibernation, a sure sign of the coming winter.

Rich in cultural references, Pastoureau’s book reminded me of a couple of things. I’ve only dipped into Phillip Pullman’s Golden Compass trilogy, where giant bears play a critical role, an interesting comparison with the Christianology of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s character, Beorn, a sort of werebear. The name Beorn — and Bjorn, Bern, Ursula, Arthur, and many others — all come from various languages for “bear.”

Pastoureau has also written three books on the history of colors. I’ve read Blue and Black and and recommend them.

“In killing the bear, his kinsman, his fellow creature, his first god, man long ago killed his own memory and more or less symbolically killed himself.”bear2Bear ceramics at Cortlandt St. R train station by Margie Hughto. “Trade, Treasure and Travel” originally placed in 1997, survived the World Trade Center bombing and was reinstalled in 2011.

Boorujy: Passenger

boorujy.passenger.inviteWow! As I generally say when I see the large-scale paintings of George Boorujy. His show “Passenger” opens tonight and runs until December 20th at P.P.O.W. Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10011. Click on image for larger version, but above all go see this work on the wall.

I wrote this about George a couple years ago.

A Forest in Times Square…

.. but the beavers might take a little longer.
Rhus copallina
My friend, the botanist and all around urban nature superhero Marielle Anzelone, is fundraising for a PopUp Forest in Times Square.

Sounds crazy, right? A bit of forest in the resolutely artificial, corporate-gagged, light-pollution-bathed, Elmo-stalked, tourist-duped nightmare they’ve made of the ol’ Forty-Deuce? Precisely the point!

Click the link for more details: as you can imagine, there will be a lot of details to work out before this happens in the spring of 2016. This is a Kickstarter campaign, to raise the initial money for early programming, marketing, and overall concept design, so you can give as little as a dollar or as much as…. (and there are rewards for such things, if you need a bribe.)

People’s Climate March

The march is tomorrow, Sunday, starting at Columbus Circle at 11:30.

I’m posting this today because tonight at midnight I will be going on an fossil fuel fast, attempting to use the least amount of power as possible, including everything connected to the internet. Trying to shrink my small urban footprint even smaller; this is purely symbolic, but I feel marching isn’t enough. I figure I’ll leave the fridge plugged in, but not open it. Otherwise, everything’s being turned off; I’m even avoiding public transit.

So, I’ll be in the march tomorrow, but… really, what political efficacy will a march to nowhere have? It’s police-approved and corralled, not allowed to go anywhere near the UN, whose meeting later in the week is the ostensible reason for the march. The energy corporations have nothing to fear here. The “Flood Wall Street” after-party, so to speak, on Monday, is a much more direct challenge.

March organizers explain the march here.
For a more critical take on why a politics-free march may probably achieve little, read this.


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