John La Farge in the South Seas

“John La Farge’s Second Paradise: Voyages in the South Seas, 1890-1891”

Maua, Apia. One of our boat crew from Somoa.

Addison Gallery of American Art

So who knew that John La Farge (an artist I am familiar with from his stained glass windows at Boston’s Trinity Church and some lovely paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) traveled to the South Seas before Gauguin? Not I until my friend called me to go on a road trip last weekend to see the show at the Yale University Art Gallery. The exhibit includes sketches and a few paintings, but the stand outs of the small show are his vibrant watercolors. These works are much more ethnographic than the paintings of Gauguin, who of course had an entirely different aesthetic, and La Farge seemed to me to present a truer vision of life on the islands of Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji. La Farge’s  naturalistic technique was used to  illustrate not only ritual dances, but every day tasks and children at play as well. On a cold and dark January afternoon, the beauty of the watercolors provided a stunning contrast.

The show has closed in New Haven, but is traveling to the Addison Gallery of American Art and will open on January 22, 2011.

Historic Inns and Estates of Moultonborough

I attended a tour sponsored by the Moultonborough Heritage Commission and the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance on Sunday, August 8, 2010. This was the first major event sponsored by the Moultonborough Heritage Commission (which is only a little over 1-year-old) and was organized by Cristina Ashjian, an art and architectural historian. She gave a flawless lecture explaining the  history of five properties on Moultonborough Neck and Long Island. There was a crowd of almost 300 at the Geneva  Point Center for the lecture before we dispersed for tours of the inns and estates. The gorgeous weather and antique cars some attendees brought made for a perfect Sunday afternoon.

The tour included the properties pictured below as well as an estate barn that originally housed both horses and cattle called Windermere on Long Island and the former Roxmount Poultry Farm (1890 – 1896), later converted to the Winnipesaukee Inn (1907 -1919) and now part of the Geneva Point Center.The Kona Farm was designed as a gentleman's country estate.

The Kona Farm was recently listed on the NH Register of Historic Places while the Swallow Boathouse, also a part of the estate, has been on the National Register since 1980.

The Long Island Inn (1874), a boarding house dating from the earliest period of tourism in Moultonborough  was added to the NH state Register of Historic Places in 2010.

It’s inspiring to see such dedication and public interest in historic preservation in the Lakes Region and I’m looking forward to my next trip north to do some more exploration at other historic properties.

Paul the Octopus

Lots in the news lately about Paul the Octopus and his correct prediction of 8 World Cup match results. He has his own Facebook page , he’s got a Widipedia entry and of course an iPhone app. According to the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, Paul has officially retired from his prognostications, but the endorsement deals are just beginning for this famous cephalopod. Enjoy the video and song!

Philippe Jaroussky at BEMF Benefit

I heard an amazing countertenor, Philippe Jaroussky, make his Boston debut last night for the Boston Early Music Festival at the St. Botolph Club. Not only is his vocal ability spectacular, but his emotional intensity during the performance brought the pieces he sang by Strozzi, Monteverdi and Vivaldi to vibrant life. This was a preview performance – he will be appearing in Boston during the 2010-11 season with the BEMF as well as in their June 2011 performances of Agostino Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe. He is not to be missed!

Dürer and Callahan at the MFA


 There are two recent exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts that you should check out. The Albrecht Dürer exhibit highlights his intensely detailed prints including engravings, woodcuts, etchings and drypoints. These are all choosen from the MFA’s own collection.  He was a vituoso draftsman and if you are not familiar with his work, the 45 prints that have been selected are a wonderful introduction to this German Renaissance artist.ürer

The second exhibit is in the room adjacent to the Dürer show – Harry Callahan is a talented American photographer, who worked in the the mid-20th century. The photographs are in both color and black and white and Callahan’s wife Eleanor is the subject of many of the works. I particularly enjoyed the images of trees and shadows.

Be sure to note Callahan’s color portrait of a woman entitled “Chicago” and Dürer’s engravings of women – the likeness is quite striking not only in the facial similarities of the women but in their head gear as well.

These tough economic times have stalled  many expensive loan exhibits and collaborations with distant museums, but the upside is the opportunity museums have to display treasures from their own collections.

Urban gardens

I attended the Landscape Architecture Symposium at the Build Boston conference put on by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) a few weeks ago. Though all four workshops were very well prepared and interesting, the one I enjoyed most was “Landscape and Urbanism.” The talk by Scheri Fultineer of Reisen Design Associates, reminded me of the exhibit I had just seen at The Laboratory. She discussed the edible food movement – the growth of the local food movement, farmer’s markets, and restaurants using local food producers. Fears of tainted food have driven some to seek out local foods in order to feel more secure about the supply. By visiting their community farmer’s makets, people can actually come to know food growers and thus are not as disconnected from their food sources. Fultineer also described community gardens which help feed local populations in Providence, RI and the urban farm which is a part of the Harvard Allston campus initiative (though much delayed at this point I fear).

About 100 years ago, 50% of the population of the United States lived in rural areas, that has now declined to 20%. As our society became more urbanized, we lost touch with our food sources. I believe I was only on a farm once as a child and I grew up in Wisconsin and Iowa. Though these are dairy and farming states, I lived in cities, not farming  communities. I was 15 before I saw green beans that hadn’t been pre-cut and frozen, so I asked my astonished Aunt Joan what the vetables were when I was confronted with them in her garden. Programs in Boston, such as The Food Project, can prevent that problem for our teenagers. Students selected for the summer program grow and distribute organic food to those in need.

Opening of THE LABORATORY at Harvard

On Sunday night I stopped by the opening of THE LABORATORY at Harvard. Located in the new Northwest Building at 52 Oxford Street (adjacent to the Harvard Museum of Natural History), this is a collaborative art/science exhibition and performance space in the lobby and lower lounge of the SOM designed structure.

There are two components of THE LABORATORY. The Idea Translation Lab facilitates transforming innovative student ideas into exhibitions that are shared with the Harvard community and the public. And the Artscience exhibitions feature artists and designers who create science-based pieces. One student project on  display, VERTIGROW, consists of modular units that grow food, compost food wastes and filter both air and water. The accompanying film uses a lively time-lapse sequence of tissue paper plants growing and origami fruits and vegetables being harvested by community members.  The first exhibit is on display from now until May 28, 2010.