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Archive for January, 2009

Amtrak Regional 147

It is January 3, and I am taking the Amtrak Regional 147 home today.  I am happy that for the trip home, the business class car does not reek of air freshener.  It is quiet, too.  Delightful way to travel.

 

Yesterday we (Gary, Cindy and Carmen) went to Home Depot for paint samples.  My sister-in-law is thinking of repainting the living room to coordinate better with their new carpet and couch.  She is also having some chairs re-upholstered.  I admire her ability to think about decorating.  I can’t do that, and I possibly am kidding myself that I will do it when I move to Colorado.  Until then, it is utilitarian use-it-up, wear-it-out for me. 

 

After Home Depot, we headed to downtown New Haven to Yale’s British Museum.  The British Museum is an airy, cheerful gallery space with an open square atrium.  The admission is free.  Most of the exhibits are paintings. There are a few sculptures on the main floor and a few busts and some small sculptures on the 4th floor.  On Friday, there were two special exhibits, both closing on January 4th (sorry for the late review.) 

 

The largest special exhibit was of paintings by David Cox (1783-1859 – British of course), who painted mostly in watercolors with some oils.  The exhibit, titled Sun, Wind, and Rain, is the first US retrospective of his work, and honors the 150thanniversary of his death.  His paintings are very pleasant by and large.  I don’t mean that as an insult at all.  I didn’t take any pictures of them.  The subjects of the paintings do include quite a bit of weather.  It was the fashion of the time to paint (and to want) paintings that were evocative of the17th century, but very clean.  Accuracy was not highly valued — these were not documentary paintings.  Copying and segwaying off each other’s work seemed to be common among the really good painters (i.e., big sellers) of the early 19th century (and they copied themselves, too.)  Mr. Cox made a living – apparently a decent one – and was shown in the annual exhibitions of the other great artists of his time.

 

The Benjamin West exhibit was titled “Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret.  It was actually more about the secret – a great scandal of the time – than about Benjamin West.  Benjamin West was American-born, and was the president of the Royal Academy in London.  West and fellow artists yearned to discover the secrets of the oil painters of the Venetian High Renaissance.  In 1795 an “old” manuscript was “discovered” with recipes for paints and undercoats.  West and many fellow Academy painters fell for the manuscript and when the manuscript was revealed to be a fake, there was quite a to-do, probably a loss of business, and a loss of face as well.  The exhibit included a few paintings, the manuscripts and other documents, and a movie.  The movie was interesting but 10 minutes long with no seating.

 

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The permanent collection includes many portraits, plus horse pictures and boat pictures, which were a popular subject (marketable, that is.)  I especially liked a portrait of a the Lady with Roses, above.  This picture reminds me of Ms N, and I think of her dressed for an operatic role some day in the future.  My favorite of all was the picture of the seamstress at dawn, called For Just on Short Hour.  The picture publicized the poverty and suffering of poor women who took in sewing to barely support themselves.  

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After the museum, we went for lunch to a place near Yale called Claire’s.  Vegetarian, and the coffee was hot and fine.  I was mystified by the lack of flavor.  And the salad of tomatoes and peppers with cut up vegetarian hot dogs.  I never order the right thing at veg places, I guess. 

 

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We wandered about the Yale campus – quiet, with the students on break.  The central buildings all look like churches, with pillars and arches and virtuous words carved into the walls.  Any college campus makes me want to go back to school, but the Yale campus is so churchy it made me want to take vows. 

 

And then  we went to the Sterling Library, an over-the-top cloister-library from which leave was painful.  There will be a separate post with photos from the library.

 

Knitting for the Connecticut trip:  both pairs of men’s mitts completed and gifted.  One mitt cast on to work on the train.

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