Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Triptych For Christmas

 Nardo di Cione was considered the least-talented of three brothers. In his time, artists were seen more as craftsmen than "fine artists." Their skills often encompassed  several types of media. You can still see the frescoes of Nardo and his brothers in the Strozzi Chapel in Florence’s Santa Maria Novella.  "Madonna and Child With St Peter and St John the Evangelist" resides in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. He painted it in about 1360, when artists were transitioning from a stiffer Byzantine style to the more realistic Renaissance style.  Nardo and his brothers lived through the Great Bubonic Plague of 1348. Surely there was a sense of gratitude and relief in every artwork he created after surviving that. Hopefully, artists of today will carry those emotions in their hearts once Covid has subsided.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Candy Canes

 They appear right after Halloween; out with the candy corn and in with the candy canes. Peppermint is a signature flavor of Christmas. But do we really need organic candy canes? How many candy canes does the average person consume during the holidays? Most are given out to children after their visit with Santa at the mall. Adults might stir hot chocolate with one, or have a delicious encounter with candy cane rubble topping peppermint bark. But I suspect that most candy canes hang from tree branches or decorate centerpieces and wreaths. Their sturdiness and stripes make them a graphically and structurally important part of gingerbread house architecture. Whether or not we eat them, it wouldn't seem like Christmas without candy canes.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

All Lit Up

 Every December, we look forward to seeing one particular house, a stellar example of Design Maximalism. Snowmen, elves, Santas, penguins, deer, stars and trees congregate on every inch of the yard. A sleigh waits for children to sit in it and pose for their parents. The display changes and grows each year. Neighbors might donate a deer or a candy cane. A string of stars may have died since last Christmas. It’s always a beacon of joy and festivity. But only until New Year’s Day. That’s when the disassembling process begins. That’s when we can begin looking forward to next December.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Chrysler Building, Night View

 In a normal year, I would be in New York, joining friends for our annual festival of museum-visiting and gawking at holiday displays. But Covid has made this another not-at-all-normal year. We always start with a three mile trek up 5th Avenue, hatted and gloved, immersed in the energy of the city. This is the view of the Chrysler Building from the corner of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. I was surprised and delighted by the ghostly image of the city bus rumbling through the intersection. Hopefully, next year we can stand on this same corner, waiting for the buses to go by.