Website alert: An update on the Getty Challenge. For everyone trapped at home by the coronavirus (or at work in hospitals!), Artnet offers Here Are 27 (More) Ridiculous Images of Bored People Around the World Using Household Objects to Recreate Famous Historical Artworks to supplement its earlier See 15 Ways Bored People Around the World Have Used Household Objects to Recreate Famous Paintings From Art History.
Picturing a World
In this troubled time, those of us who live in country towns are lucky to be able to get outdoors safely for exercise or contemplation or, oddly enough, a little sociability. One of my regular walks takes me down a back road where I see neighbors, working in their yards or walking like me. We chat as usual—only six feet apart. A couple of days ago, a friend from a different part of town stopped his car beside me. From the back seat, his nine-year-old son said, "This is the first time I've been in a car since March 8th." The last time I had seen them they had been on bicycles.
Experiencing real physicality directly is important for knowing the world fully, and slowing down helps. Terri Windling has pulled together what several writers have said about Living at a walker's pace.
More fun imagining Mattie's New York: My last post included a link to a jigsaw puzzle set made from Clara Miller Burd illustrations. I followed up the clue and learned from Bob Armstrong's website that the craze for jigsaw puzzles for adults began in Boston, moved to New York in 1908, and was dominated early by—get ready for this—women puzzle cutters! An important one, Margaret Hayed Richardson, called her company Perplexity. Just making up names for an imaginary company would be a hoot. And clearly, if Mattie's immediate artist and publishing friends aren't directly involved in it, they'll know people who are.
Oh, serendipity! A recent letter to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle about windows at the First Church of Christ (Congregational) in Pittsfield, Mass., reminded me of Clara Miller Burd, one of the women artists who designed stained glass for Tiffany & Co. Burd was also a children's illustrator, and a search for images of her work turned up examples at a site that features another of my enthusiasms, jigsaw puzzles (yea!)—and to the Children's Art page of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Wouldn't I love to visit that wonderful, futuristic building when it's done. Well, closer to my home is the Norman Rockwell Museum, which has featured article about a Burd magazine cover at its website. We all want to get back to physical, three-dimensional life when it's safe, but meanwhile, the internet does make armchair exploration easy.
Website alert: In 1852, Francis N. Watkins wrote of his grandmother in Virginia that she was possessed of great ingenuity "as displayed in her original calico prints (in advance of her time), of her silk manufactures, of the loom made by her directions, and of her homemade gamut for teaching her daughters the elementary principles of music." Well, doesn't that raise topics for research by an historical fiction writer?! Local manufacture of textiles? The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg seemed a good place to start looking this morning, and sure enough, they have an on-line exhibition, Printed Fashions: Textiles for Clothing and Home, with loads of high-rez fabric samples to help visualize the culture and possibly inspire a story. One more resource in these self-isolating days! If you like fabric, fashion, and everyday objects made of cloth, take a look.
Website alert: To get my week off to a good start: A new (to me) author. A book set in 1880. A jaw-dropping photograph to send the imagination soaring. What's not to love?! See the Guardian's review of A Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting as translated by Deborah Dawkin. For many more images of stave churches, including interior shots, see Stave Churches Are All Wood, Dragons, and Beauty at Atlas Obscura. And may just the right thing to get you going drop into your lap!
In these troubled times, gardens offer comfort and inspiration. Exploring the Museum Computer Network portal, I got to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento where where I found this painting by Theodore Wores. Wores, a San Franciscan who was influenced by James McNeill Whistler, went to Japan, learned the language, and brought Impressionist techniques to painting landscapes there. (Another example is his Street in Ikao.)
The Iris Flowers of Horikiri called to mind two things: First, the Asian-influenced garden, Innisfree, in Millbrook New York, where irises border a stream. Second, Natasha Pulley's Lost Future of Pepperharrow, most of which takes place in Japan in the 1890's and includes a Japanese estate with many gardens.
As a way to help us all cope with self-isolation, The Getty posted a challenge to recreate art in their collection using household objects. The Hammershøi response was so perfect for this blog (with its running motif of rooms as portraits without people) that I had to choose it for this alert. But really you should see the other colorful, witty examples at the Getty website and even better examples at Sad and Useless. (Now, is there a short story to be derived from some sequestered people using household objects to …?)