1970s-Era Denim, Counter-Couture at the MAD Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Textures

Downsizing got a little all-consuming around here this spring. This week’s ‘Textures’ challenge reminded me I hadn’t shared pictures from Counter-Couture – Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture, a show we saw at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York in March. And who wouldn’t want to see, or wear, a flaming horse (or chicken!) flying in the sky —

MAD Museum - Embroidery Detail - Anna Polesny - Fancy Jacket 1974

Detail: Anna Polesny – Fancy Jacket, 1974

These pieces were in the Levi’s Denim Art Contest of 1974. Anna Polesny was born in Czechoslovakia. This embroidery tells the story of her life and travels.

Here’s the winner of the 1975 Levi’s contest —

MAD Museum - Billy Shire - Welfare - Sneed - My Personal Belt - Detail

Billy Shire – Welfare – Sneed – My Personal Belt

The artist’s clothing has been worn by musicians in the bands Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, and by Elton John.

This is an 11-pound jacket. Rockers work hard. Some materials: upholstery tacks, handset studs, rhinestones… and yes, that’s a desk bell, meant to chime when the jacket is worn. There is also purportedly an ashtray, but I believe I remember it was on the back. On the belts: bicycle reflectors, rivets, and luggage-bottom studs.

MAD Museum - Billy Shire Denim Jacket detail

MAD Museum – Billy Shire Denim Jacket detail

Counter-Couture, Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture is on display at MAD through August 20, 2017.

Now back to downsizing — remember downsizing? I thought I’d donated or recycled all my oldest jeans, but here’s some denim I found in the depths of the closet this spring. My oldest jeans This isn’t even all the old jeans. No embroidery here, but the green jeans are 1970s era bellbottoms. As for embroidery, I do remember having some small well-behaved embroidery patches over holes, but of course nothing on the scale of the wonderful show items. I can offer this colorful inside label —

Green jeans vintage label

Vintage rainbow label in my 70s-era green jeans…

I guess having these makes me Ms Green Jeans. Is anyone else old, um, vintage enough to remember Mr Green Jeans?

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The Best Way to Find Lost Things, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

The best way to find something lost is to lose something else.  It’s a complicated dance. It’s as if, in order to find the lost thing, something else must go missing to leave room for it to waltz back into my life.

A few weeks ago I needed my old TWA employee number and guess what, I’d just shredded a file cabinet full of paperwork.   Still, I knew I’d seen an old access badge somewhere. Could  the number be on it? I looked everywhere I could think of, but it remained stubbornly  lost.

Then I needed a pre-phone address book but couldn’t find it.  That must have triggered a call for the badge to come back. I took innocent hold of a dresser drawer handle and the entire drawer jumped out and emptied itself at my feet.

Dresser Drawer Collapse

No, “Up Your Kilt” is not what I was looking for.

And guess what was in the drawer — my badge. I found the number, but my old address book is still lost.

I’d forgotten this dresser drawer and it yielded some crazy stuff.  Among the old employee-anniversary pins, notebooks, and archived glasses were these three kinds of cards.

Computer punched cards

Punched cards! This dis-assember deck would have been Bob’s

Punched cards are nice to for turning over and writing lists on the back.  (In case you’re a compulsive list maker)Grannie Smiles card

This tiny playing card must be leftover from a long-ago and now forgotten deck. That bird looks a little predatory to me, but Grannie seems happy enough and has a cat to keep her feet warm. TWA Term Pass From my TWA Term Pass – I thought I’d hit the jackpot with this card BUT it doesn’t have my employee number on it.

I wanted to photograph the badge I found when the drawer leapt out at me, but now it’s disappeared again. I guess that means it’s time for the lost address book to come back.  But never mind, I’m satisfied, I found the number I needed  — or it found me — and have already sent away for my retiree standby card.

How do you find lost things?

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Travel Like a Pig Enthusiast – Catching Up with a Past Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

My best travel tip? Always keep an open mind in trip-planning. Sometimes our favorite adventures are things we discover along the way.

On a Southwest Airlines flight to New York City in March, Sam opened the inflight magazine straight to the puzzle page and found this note from a previous passenger. I was charmed and took a photo, but didn’t know until later that there was serendipitous magic afoot, working to set a theme for our trip.

'Pig Enthusiast' note: Sudoku Page/ Southwest Airlines

Archie, pig enthusiast, wishes us a wonderful life. Thank you, Archie.

I didn’t think about this note again until the next day, when we got to the Guggenheim. Here’s what reminded me –

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai - Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai – 1891 – Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

What? Gaughin? Pigs? I must have seen this painting many times, but it was never so memorable before. Backing up for the long view –

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai  (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

At the Metropolitan Museum show Age of Empires, Chinese Art from the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C – A.D. 220) we found these ancient porkers–

Two Pigs - Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9)

Two Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9). Stone pigs, symbolizing wealth, were placed in tombs in the hands of the dead.

The next pigs-in-show were photo bombed by a chicken –

Pair of Pigs - Western Han Dynasty

Pair of Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206-B.C. – A.D. 9). Earthenware with pigment. Yangling Mausoleum.

While Sam worked the puzzle page during our flight, I was reading a New York Times review of an exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center and Museum: A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD. We’d never been to Onassis Center, and made a note to go. Now it’s definitely on our list for future trips.

Not long after we walked in, we discovered that even classical antiquity could be home to serious pig-enthusiasm.

Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.

Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.

“Here lies the pig, beloved by all, a young quadruped.  I left the land of Dalmatia, when I was given as a gift. I reached Dyrrachion and yearned for Apollonian. I crossed every land with my own feet, alone undefeated. But now I have left the light because of the violence of wheels. I wished to see Emathie and the wagon of the phallus, but now here I rest, although I was too young to pay my tribute to death.”   Pella, Ephorate of Antiquities.

In the words of another (famous) pig enthusiast, this must have been “some pig”.

I was prepared for gods and mortals, love, anger, and courage, envy, and the range of human emotions we know throughout history and mythology. What I didn’t foresee were the many touching tributes to animals. Dogs, geese (“Aphrodite’s sacred bird and a symbol of weddings”), and of course, the lovable pig. It reminded me of how far we’re removed from nature in our modern lives.

Sam wondered if the pig had a name, and if so, whether it was lost to the centuries or part of the original inscription but not translated. For synchronicity’s sake, we’d like to think its name was ‘Archie’.

 

More on the past weekly photo challenge: Wanderlust

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Boy Scouts, Gargoyles, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

I wasn’t prepared to find a surprise tucked behind the last row of Bob’s boxes on the shelves in the basement …

Detail: Vintage Boy Scout backpack

Vintage Boy Scout backpack, lesson: “Be Prepared” for anything (especially surprises)

It’s big… did kids really carry these? There’s no knowing now if it was his own backpack or if he just collected it at some point.

Vintage Boy Scout backpack

Vintage Boy Scout backpack – 1950-something?

I’d never thought to wonder whether he’d been a Boy Scout. I don’t remember him talking about it. But, right after the backpack surfaced, I found this.

Astronomy Merit Badge

Get your Astronomy merit badge here…

And the morning after that I found a photo of Grade-School Bob in his scout uniform. Synchronicity strikes. But alas, I’ve already misplaced the scout photo. Since I am temporarily out of proof of that instance of synchronicity, I’ll submit the following instead.  Here’s a photo of Bob’s father that I found the same day. I first met him just before we three took this trip to Paris in the 1980s.

Ted (Bob’s father) with Notre Dame gargoyles — Paris, mid-1980s

Later on my same day of unpacking, this mouse pad showed up (remember mouse pads?).

Mouse Pad - Notre Dame Gargoyle

Do you recognize this face?

Little surprises like this keep me going. And, now there are only a few basement boxes left, then I’m moving on to closets and file cabinets.

Wish me luck on finally finishing?

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Art Museum Eyes, A Jackson Pollock in the Wild? — and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

A walk in Central Park, and one look out across the little lake and into the trees. The branches were dense, with a tracery of white among the dark.  Something started to look familiar.  Here’s a progression…

Central Park, first sight: Trees across the water

Central Park, first glance: Trees across the water

How do you know you may have been spending too much time in art museums? —  Everything looks like a painting. Zooming in…

Central Park: Trees across the water

Central Park: Trees across the water.

And a little closer, it’s getting more abstract…

Life imitating art?

Life Imitating Art?

One more time, adjusting the color balance a bit.

I’m sure it’s just a case of “art museum eyes” on my part, but here’s the painting I thought those trees were channeling. The dense pattern of branches, dark and light, makes a nice allusion to the meandering surface lines in the painting. Or, is it just my art museum eyes tricking me again?

Pollack at MoMA - One Numbber 31

Pollock at MoMA – One Number 31  (photo from MoMA)

How about it, have you seen life imitating art lately?

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Patina, Qin & Han Dynasty Bronzes at the Met Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS easy Being Green

Home from traveling, I’m catching up on last week’s photo challenge. For green, I’ll take verdigris. If you’re bronze, it’s plenty easy being green. All it takes is time for the “bright bluish-green encrustation or patina” to form by atmospheric oxidation.

This elegant green goose is from the Met Museum show Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties. Don’t you love the way that curly little foot is tucked underneath?

Age of Empire, Qin and Han Dynasties, Bronze Goose

Life-size bronze goose from the Mausoleum of the First Emperor, Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE)

The note on this bronze warrior indicated that the attention to anatomy is characteristic of the work that Alexander the Great introduced to Central Asia, perhaps to the Sythians, in the 4th C. BCE.

Age of Empire, Qin and Han Dynasties, Kneeling Warrior - China or Central Asia, 5th-3rd century BCE.

Kneeling Warrior – China or Central Asia, 5th-3rd century BCE.

Next is a water clock — the note on this piece indicated that it once had lines marking intervals of time, and a gauge that floated on the water.  “As the water drained at a constant rate through a tube at the bottom, the gauge sank steadily, allowing the time to be read at each mark.”

And get this: “Water clocks were kept at every office throughout the empire. Beginning in Qin times, officials were required to note the date and time of all incoming and outgoing correspondence, and to record this information on the documents themselves.”

Age of Empire, Met Museum. Water Clock - Western Han Dynasty, Bronze (206 BC - 9 AD)

Bronze Water Clock – Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD)

Thinking of the time it takes bronze to patina, I realized it’s probably not much more than the time it’s taking me to get my house cleared out. Now that I’m home again I’m back on the job, even if am still in that just-back-from-a-trip mode of catching myself thinking about where to stop for coffee.

One more photo — is it sacrilegious to say this beautiful ancient bronze horse reminded me just a little of Donkey from Shrek?

Met Museum - Age of Empires - Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties - Horse and Groom - Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 - 220)

Horse and Groom – Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 – 220)

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Brussels, Art Nouveau, Musical Instruments Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop

I’ve been downsizing travel books this week.  They’re some of the hardest to let go, maybe because I equate releasing a travel book with releasing the possibility of going back to a place I loved touring.  This week I listed Rick Steves’ Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent on Amazon and it sold by the next morning. I love it that someone is going.

In honor of releasing books, I’ll post some photos from our 2015 trip to Belgium. That’s October 2015, in the days of innocence BB, Before Bombing.

On the first morning there, we walked up to the Musical Instruments Museum.

Brussels Belgium

Brussels, looking up the hill toward MIM, the Musical Instruments Museum…

Brussels Belgium, up the hill toward MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

It’s the one with a tower and a turret, on the left.

Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Art Nouveau splendor: MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Art Nouveau splendor: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments MuseumNow that we’re here, we can go atop —

Art Nouveau: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Here’s a view out from behind those Art Nouveau curves…

This Art Nouveau building was originally the “Old England” shops. It was designed by Paul Saintenoy, built in 1899.

View from atop: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

The view from atop MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

There’s a restaurant up top. Sam had the crème brûlée, and I became a person who takes pictures of our food.Crème brûlée at MIM, Brussels Musical Instruments Museum

Art Nouveau: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

More on MIM: gorgeous elevator and stairwell

Art Nouveau: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Sam checks out the bagpipes… I’m still gaga over the architectural details.

Brussels Belgium, night view

What goes up must go back down the hill. This is a popular view… I love taking pictures of people taking pictures, especially when I can see their phone screens glowing…

Here’s the picture we all took from atop the steps —

Brussels Belgium tourist view

… and now it’s noon on a Wednesday, time for the next photo challenge. Why am I always late with the Weekly Photo Challenge?

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