Showing posts from July, 2020

My Brother Alan

Tuesday was the birthday of my brother, Alan Richard Swanson. Here we are in our early days. I can’t say I greeted him with open arms, despite what it looks like here.  He was an unwelcome intruder in what had been a perfect family unit-just Mom and Dad and me. I tried to make the best of a bad situation. We disagreed violently on many things, and we fought.  When I had kids of my own and they fought I was careful not to complain to my mother; I couldn't take her gloating.  But over the years Alan has proved not to be as awful as I once thought. Occasionally I've come to see his point and maybe even agree with him. For instance, he made an excellent choice in his life partner and gave me a wonderful  sister-in-law, Donna, and three adorable nephews.  Here he is with our cousin, Alan C. Swanson.  But there’s one thing I will never understand. What is there to admire in the Three Stooges? Alan was a fanatic fan of that show which always came on opposite the Mickey Mouse Club, a

The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848

Last week we celebrated the one hundred and seventy-second anniversary of the Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York.  Here they presented the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, demanding, for women, equality with men before the law, in education, and employment. They wanted to add the vote, but many thought that was going too far.  Who was one of the only men at the convention?  Frederik Douglass.  That's him on the right, in the statue that stands outside the NewYork Historical Society here in NewYork City. The motto for the newspaper he published, The North Star, read, “Right is of no sex    Truth is of no color God is the Father of us all     And we are all brethren” On the left, I have the first monument to real women to be placed in Central Park. It will be dedicated next month. That's Sojourner Truth sitting with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  The or

A Great Trip

After my father died my mother said, "I'm not going to feel sorry for myself, I'm going to mourn him by having a good time and sharing it."  So she invited me and Jessie on a trip to a destination of our choosing.  Jessie wanted Australia, I wanted Italy, so we compromised on Greece.  We took a cruise from Athens to Istanbul, visiting the islands of the Aegean. When we got home I made some drawings.  This is Santorini, with our ship in the hands of the mermaid. A pair of pelicans roamed the streets, making us feel welcome. This is Rhodes. The little bronze owl actually sits at the top of a fountain in the middle of the city but I put him outside the gates, standing guard. Our last stop was Istanbul--we were so glad to leave Istanbul for the last because it was our favorite.  This is the gate of the Dolmabachi Palace, with two angels from a temple in Athens, and, of course, a pelican.  Here we are in Istanbul. Do you think we look alike?  Wherever we went, people looke

Another Artist I Love and a Happy Surprise

In February of 2018, I went to see Michelangelo's drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was overwhelming. I spent a few hours gazing at those lines, getting as close as I could.  How did he do that? The authority, the ease with which he created life on paper.   It was a privilege to get so close.  I knew I'd probably never get a chance like that again, so I gazed and gazed.  By the time I staggered out of those galleries I was almost blind. The exit from Michaelangelo led right into...David Hockney! What a juxtaposition! It was like an eyewash, like a bath of color.  A few years ago Mr. Hockney posed for pictures for I don't remember what publication, but it looks like he got really playful with the photographer. I cut up those pictures and got playful myself. Here he is with his muse. Here he is in a toy car with a few Rembrandts. Here he is in the desert exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. I gave him fancy shoes. In this shot, he was inside a box but I'

Milton Glaser

Rest in peace, Milton Glaser, who died this week on his ninety-first birthday. When I was in Vermont, dreaming of New York City and wondering how I'd ever get there, I hung this poster, Glaser's portrait of Bob Dylan, done after Dylan's near-fatal motorcycle crash to dispel the rumors that he was dead.   Then when I got to New York City and moved in with my buddy Valerie, I hung this poster on my wall.  It filled me with delight.  Maybe it was the "Rose in Spanish Harlem" vibe--that was a favorite song--maybe it was the dark sky, the mystery of something delicate and beautiful growing out of that solid concrete. When New York was in financial trouble in the seventies, Mr. Glaser came up with a design  that said it all and boosted our spirits. And after September 11, On Tuesday, the NY Times printed an interview between Glaser and Jeremy Elias.   New York is a mind-set, and we’re all arrogantly proud of what that represents. The word they’ve used is toughness, but