Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tile Roof

You can find roofs like this all over Italy. Sturdy but brittle, the curved tiles can endure for many years, slowly acquiring their sun-baked patina of lichens and minerals.  If Hansel and Gretel had been an Italian fairy tale, I am sure that the witch's delicious house would have had a roof like this one, frosted just so. This roof  looks out over the wooded hills near Le Celle where Saint Francis used to stay. An everyday asphalt roof may keep out the rain and wind, but it just doesn’t have the magic of an old tile roof. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Prussian blue In the Peacock Room

One afternoon each month, they open the shutters in the Freer's Peacock Room, James Whistler's ill-fated masterpiece of a dining room re-do. The owner, Frederick Leyland, hated it, partly because Whistler's total repainting was a huge surprise, as was the bill. He said it was too dark. Whistler had covered the leather walls with prussian blue paint, then executed his Japanese theme of gold peacocks and chrysanthemums. Whistler probably knew that prussian blue was used in the Japanese prints he admired and collected. The development of this more light fast pigment had made it possible for Hokusai and Hiroshige to revive the art of the woodblock print. Now Charles Lang Freer's collection of ceramics from all over Asia sit on the shelves, set off perfectly by the despised prussian blue.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

World Trade Center Memorial

Fourteen years ago this week, the towers of the World Trade Center fell and everything changed. Now a memorial, a square waterfall within another waterfall, inhabits the footprint of each tower. It is difficult to grasp the true scale of what was lost until you see this in person. The sides are so deep, the distance across is so broad. Such a long way down...When the buildings existed, our thoughts were about what a long way up to the top it was. On a hot day, teenagers horsed around, taking selfies and slurping ice cream, oblivious to the 2,606 names cut into the surrounding parapets. They were too young to remember that day. I found their behavior upsetting. Yes, my own ache might have been eased by more respectful demeanor. But perhaps they are serving another purpose. Perhaps they are helping to drive the ghosts away for the rest of us.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Marks On The Sidewalk

The marks scurried here and there, spread out over a busy corner. Laid down by utility workers in a  language of symbols and colors, it's a language that I cannot understand.  Such a cacophony of marks, some following the direction of the paving stones, others  making a break for it on a diagonal, all of it punctuated  by the manhole cover. I thought about those mysterious earth formations high in the mountains of South America that some people insist were made by aliens and left as messages to future visitors. But now I see the pavement as stitched marks in big chunky yarns on top of pieced blocks. Perhaps it's time to add some florescent orange to my stash of fibers...