The I.W.W. was a labor organization founded in 1905 which basically promoted the rights of all workers. My understanding is that it was pretty radical for its time as it encouraged inclusion of all workers, even immigrants. My maternal grandfather Harry Maisel arrived in America in 1905. He pledged his allegiance to this country and disavowed any allegiance to Czar Nicholas. My grandfather was the proverbial immigrant who arrived with nothing and became the owner of a silk mill in Paterson which produced beautiful broad silks. He later lost it in the Great Depression of 1933 but continued to work in the silk industry.
On Labor Day I reflect on the hard working people who were my ancestors. They struggled to provide a better future for their children. I wonder what they would think if they could see our society today, which in my opinion is pretty messed up.
I’ve been a bit at loose ends this week, but I did pull out the gouache and make some painting attempts. A couple tubes were dried out (I haven’t used them in…15 years?) but most of the ones I tried were usable. Above is my second attempt, which reminds me a lot of Karel Appel, below.
Gouache is kind of in-between watercolor and acrylic, and I’m going to have to get used to it again. I wanted to pile it on like I used to do with acrylic (and I do want to get back to that, one thing at a time…), but I found out right away that I needed a differe
nt approach. Still, a start, and the results are interesting if nothing else.
I became aware of the artist Nancy Spero first through her subway art. Most of my New York residences have been somewhere on the #1 subway line, so I’m always passing through the Lincoln Center station.
The MTA website says the mosaics at 66th street were installed in 2001, but I remember them appearing gradually over a period of many years, finishing only a few years ago. At any rate, I saw them magically emerging and I wanted to know about the artist.
Nancy Spero. Never heard of her.
Since that time, I’ve looked at a lot of her art, in books and online, and I also got to see a show a few years ago in Chelsea. As is usually the case, the actual work is a revelation after seeing only reproductions. Scale! Hard to imagine from a small photo.
But the subway mosaics have always been live for me. They still never fail to delight. A few weeks ago, I decided to photograph them all.
In the 1970’s, Spero, who had always explored the role of women in her art, decided to make them her focus. Using a group of stock characters from history, art, myth, and the news, she celebrated the power of feminine creativity in the dance of life.
These mosaics reflect that focus, but also rejoice in the performances that take place every day in Lincoln Center.
The clothing will be changed tomorrow but this gives a better idea. It’s just long strips of burlap tied with shorter strips of different fabrics. It looked like an arts and crafts project when we were doing it but I think it has a lot of impact (even though you can’t see it too well in daylight.
I like to call myself the Artistic Director of my favorite boutique, Coco in Upper Montclair. In reality I just do the windows. The fall window is more crafty than arty but it turned out well. We also placed large branches in the window and scattered “leaves” which were the leftover fabric cut into squares. Happy Fall!
I posted one of these a while back. The technique is that you draw directly on the plate and run it through the printing press. This one reminds me of a detail from Kerfe’s “What is it good for” series, on the very bottom, where she writes “absolutely nothing”. It’s all connected, folks.
The blue whale is the world’s largest and heaviest existing animal. Hunted almost to extinction by whalers in the 19th century, it is currently endangered, like many other species, by habitat loss due to pollution and climate change. Toxic chemicals and the warming of the ocean disrupt migration and food sources, sonar disrupts whale communication, and whales also collide with ships and become entangled in fishing gear.
Humans have not been kind to whales.
A good, if depressing, compilation of whale and human history can be found in Philip Hoare’s book “The Whale”. My review on goodreads is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/118181104