Monday, September 9, 2019

I'm Not On Your Vacation

The New Yorker ~ David Borchart
Which reminds me of this bumper sticker one finds on occasion on Martha's Vineyard.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Renoir's Nudes in the #MeToo Era

Pierre-Auguste Renoir ~ Blonde Bather, 1881
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williams College in Massachusetts has long been one of my favorite museums – small, intimate, uncrowded, lovely grounds, and most important, world-class art. Now known as The Clark, our last visit was two years ago after a week of yoga at Kripalu in nearby Stockbridge.

Sterling Clark was an heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune and used this good luck to live in Paris in the early 1900s, where he and his wife Francine became admirers and investors in French Impressionist artists, especially Pierre-Auguste Renoir, acquiring more than 30 of his works.

On the centenary of Renoir's death, The Clark is featuring an exhibition Renoir: the body, the senses, comprising some 70 paintings, drawings, pastels, and sculptures, mostly nudes.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir ~ Bather with Blonde Hair, 1903
And there's the rub. While Renoir's nudes have historically been revered as adoring, modest, beautiful, and innocent, today's critics tarnish history with contemporary political grievances. Martha Lucy, author of the exhibit's catalog, sets the tone with her description of Renoir as a "sexist male artist."  Peter Schjeldahl, art critic at The New Yorker, kicks the #MeToo door wide open in his review - Renoir's Problem Nudes.
"Who doesn't have a problem with Pierre-Auguste Renoir? A tremendously engaging show that centers on the painter's prodigious output of female nudes, "Renoir: The Body, the Senses," at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, sparks a sense of crisis. The reputation of the once exhalted, still unshakably canonical, Impressionist has fallen on difficult days. Never mind the affront to latter-day educated tastes of a painting style so sugary that it imperils your mind's incisors; there's a more burning issue. The art historian Martha Lucy, writing in the show's gorgeous catalogue, notes that, "in contemporary discourse," the name Renoir has "come to stand for 'sexist male artist.' " Renoir took such presumptuous, slavering joy in looking at naked women – who in his paintings were always creamy or biscuit white, often with strawberry accents, and ideally blond – that, Lucy goes on to argue, the tactility of the later nudes, with brushstrokes like roving fingers, unsetttles any kind of gaze, including the male. I'll endorse that, for what it's worth."
Roving fingers? Unsettles?

Hopefully, this is little more than a couple of art critics conspiring to create some attention, controversy, and ticket sales. Though the risk, of course, is that Williams College students will swallow the #MeToo bait, protest, boycott, and demand the college sell off the collection, or worse, burn them in a censorious bonfire.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Martha's Vineyard Summer Traffic

The Vineyard Gazette recently ran an online survey to solicit opinions about summer traffic. 2,200 residents and visitors responded. There weren't any surprises.
"The online survey, designed to gauge the impact of traffic on the island's quality of life, elicited a variety of reactions, but most agreed that surging summer traffic had negatively affected their enjoyment of Martha's Vineyard. As to what should be done, no clear consensus emerged."

For a hint of what's to come, the Steamship Authority continues to break traffic records and they're spending $80 million on more ferry slips and a new headquarters building in Woods Hole. And the Obamas just bought a home on Edgartown Great Pond for $15 million

Jimmy Cagney said it best more than 40 years ago in a telegram to Senator Ted Kennedy.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Oak Bluffs Fireworks

The annual August fireworks in Oak Bluffs Friday night were scintillating.

My iPhone tried to capture it below but not nearly as well as the second and third photographs by Vineyard Gazette photographer Mark Alan Lovewell.

Vineyard Gazette ~ Mark Alan Lovewell
Vineyard Gazette ~ Mark Alan Lovewell

Cape Cod - More Seals Mean More Great White Sharks

According to The Wall Street Journal's article, Cape Cod's New Normal - Sharks are Everywhere, great white sharks are as much a way of life now as the protected and flourishing grey seal population in Cape and island waters that's estimated at more than 50,000.
"Many people grew up or summered in the Cape without fear, lulled by an artificial environment cleansed of seals and sharks because of human hunting. Until last year, great whites hadn't killed someone off the Massachusets coast since 1936. The federal government passed a law protecting ocean mammals in 1972, bolstering a state halt on bounty hunting, and the seal population has flourished."
Another consequence of all the seals is far fewer fish for recreational and commercial fisherman.

Wayne Davis ~ Ocean Aerials
Wayne Davis ~ Ocean Aerials