Saturday, September 13, 2008

Escape From Contemporary Art And Other Little Events

I picked up the kids after school on Friday and we all then went a little further south, to Stowe. The Understudy, like me, has bonded with the Stowe Library and she wanted to pick up a few books. The Stowe Library, you few regular readers will recall, is housed in the same building as the local Arts Center ("Helen Day Art Center" to be precise). Hence, you cannot enter the library without running a gauntlet of art. (I always feel sorry for whomever has to mow the lawn. One installation this summer looks like a collection of rusty croquet gates arranged in rows). Shackleton, upon exiting the Camry, struck this pose in front of these interesting wooden items and demanded I take a picture. I think he was thinking Indiana Jones.

I liked these sculptures, or installations, or whatever they are. I think Shackleton liked them too, though he picked up on some hint of menace.

Today, though Saturday, was a semi-sick day. Shack and I are still recovering from a rotten cold and the Understudy seems to be coming down with it. Drat. We did come to consciousness briefly this afternoon and got over to the Pick & Shovel in Newport so the kids could get a Creemie and I could get odd-sized lightbulbs for a chandelier and some bubble wrap. They have everything at the Pick & Shovel, as you might suppose given that shopping list.

We had Maisy along on this trip, so we went to the beautiful Newport Bike Path for a very brief walk. Ooops, I had said there would be a moratorium on bike path photos, didn't I? Well, this is the Newport path, not the one in Stowe, at least. Months ago I had written a little about the contrast between the two bike paths and the two communities (i.e., Rich Town[Stowe]/Poor Town [Newport, duh] and great striking original thoughts like that)and promised a few Newport photos. So, let's not think of this as me breaking my recent promise but keeping an old one. Anyway, here's a shot of Shackleton, The Understudy and Maisy, on a little bridge on the Newport path where it traverses a swampy edge of Lake Memphremagog. What it lacks in parking areas, paved surfaces, contemporary art, benches, signage and porta-potties (all things they have in Stowe), the Newport path makes up with scenery.

Also, on Thursday, my neighbor and I traveled into Burlington together for various and several reasons. I wanted to do some research at the University of Vermont about Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan Am. I got a box lot of Trippe memorabilia at auction last week and this has presented some mysteries. Unfortunately, two hours in the library were not enough for the box to yield up its secrets. Drat, again. I did however, renew the exorbitantly costly UVM library card and with my new card in hand, I found a couple of satisfying photography books to bring home to the Last House. Mine now for four weeks.

One is a nice big folio book called: Cecil Beaton: A Retrospective Edited by "Dr." David Mellor (Little Brown, Boston 1986). The courtesy title suggests to me that the editor is a pretentious pratt, but I got it to look at the pictures and I don't much care what Dr. M and his ilk have to say about them. I had a brief look today and the pictures are really wonderful.

I had wanted to have a look at this book last year when I was at UVM to do some Gladys Peto research (see the sidebar). Beaton wrote about her in a book called The Glass of Fashion. There seems to be one copy in Vermont and they have it at the U. I couldn't find this book of photographs last year while wandering through those wonderful stacks, but I snagged it Friday.

Near it on the shelf was an intriguing volume called: Sixties London Photographs by Dorothy Bohm. (Lund Humphries 1996). I brought it home too and had a nice, long look today. Ms. Bohm is a famous photographer, though this is the first I have made her acquaintance. All very tight copyright protections on this kind of thing, so I can't put up any photos here, of course, but you may like to have a look at her things yourself. Q.v. So, really, not escaping from Contemporary Art at all, are we?