Showing posts from June, 2019

Remember The Ladies

Here are three artists I adore—I love them so much I’d like to be them but, oh, right, I gotta be me.  What I mean is, I look at their work and think, “Gee, I wish I’d thought of that.” But I didn’t, so I stick with what I do, inspired by all the different ways there are to make art. First, Rest in Peace, Gloria Vanderbilt.  She personifies this quote from Robertson Davies, “Money can’t buy happiness but it allows us to endure unhappiness with exemplary fortitude.” She endured unhappiness beyond what most of us can imagine and her fortitude was more than exemplary. She just kept on keeping on. I love her aesthetic.  I had trouble finding images of her paintings but she was often photographed in the midst of her creation. Like Aunt Connie, she made her home her magnum opus. A wealthy woman who showed that money is nice but not everything, she was classy and not snobby—she’ll always be an inspiration.  Florine Stettheimer 1875-1944 Born into a wealthy Je

The Sea

My friend, Jim, took his elderly father to the beach.. The old man sat all day watching the waves and as the sun began to set he said,  “It never gets tired.”  That makes me think of this poem by Mary Oliver: I go down to the shore in the morning and, depending on the hour, the waves are rolling in or moving out, and I say, Oh, I am miserable, what shall-- what should I do? And the sea says, it its lovely voice: "Excuse me, I have work to do." The sea may never get tired, and it may have work to do, but we’re putting an enormous burden on it.  It’s choking to death on plastic garbage. What can we do about it?  When I walk on the beach I try to remember to take a bag and pick up trash.  People see me and thank me and I think, “You could do it too.”  But what do I do with what I pick up?  I put it in a trash can but can I trust the ones who empty the trash to dispose of it properly?   And what’s proper disposa

June is the Month of Dads and Brides

Sunday is Father’s Day,  so here’s an album of some of my favorite Dads. This is my grandfather, Harry Brown, with my mother and her big brother, Alan.  Sorry it's so fuzzy, but I love this picture. Note the Model T in the background. My Dad and his Dad, Robert Swanson, Sr. and Jr. I can tell by the shadows and their clothes that it's early morning and they're about to start a big work project. Dad and his three sons, clockwise from Dad, Alan, Robby and Larry. Arthur with Jessie and Sam. My brother, Rob, and his daughter,  Katie. Last weekend the Bob and Ginny branch of the Swanson clan met on a mountaintop in Vermont with the Pratt family and a multitude of friends to celebrate Katie and Eben’s wedding. As Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, t

June 6, 1944

One of the highlights of my week is opening the mailbox and seeing the New Yorker cover.    It’s alway a treat.  Sometimes it’s just a nice picture but more often the artist pinpoints a moment in our collective consciousness.    Like the silhouette of Notre Dame cathedral before a fiery background, titled “Our Lady.” It makes universal a grief that transcended national and religious differences.    Our Lady survived the fire and the people are already at work restoring her.    There are flames behind her but the orange and yellow could also be the sunrise and we’re reminded that “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.” As Francoise Mouly, the New Yorker’s art director, said in an interview with Lawrence Weschler, “The artist doesn’t function in a vacuum.    He doesn’t create the feeling that is in the air, but he has a way of catalyzing it and forcing one’s attention to it.” I have a book of all the New Yorker covers from the very first, Februar