This stand sells flowers and sweets for offerings outside of the Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai.
This portrait is remarkable because of who painted it. The artist is Prince Demah Barnes who was enslaved in Massachusetts. This and other works by the same artist are the only surviving fine art created by an enslaved person from colonial America.
Prince Demah’s remarkable story is movingly told in the Memory Place podcast episode: A Portrait (Met Residency Episode 4)
Listening to the podcast episode, I had a moment of confusion when I realized that Prince Demah was from Boston. The history we are taught often glosses over that slavery was legal in the Northern colonies as well. I looked up when slavery ended in Massachusetts: A 1783 decision by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ended slavery in the state.
This tomb effigy communicates so much emotion to me even as a only a photograph. Every time I look at it, I feel both the artist’s grief and this underlying love for his wife. My recollection from the description in themuseum is that artist who was a painter by profession took up sculpting just to make this which makes it all the more incredible. It’s located in the Met’s Gallery 700, a light filled and airy space, which creates quite a contrast to this monument to one mans grief.
Hamilton may have gotten a blockbuster musical written about him but Benjamin Franklin has always been the founding father that fascinated me the most. In the 4th grade, I wrote school report on him. That Franklin made so many important contributions in so many fields is just amazing to me. This bust is part of the Met’s collection.
These two statues, Hiawatha and Minnehaha, reside in Gallery 759 in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. One of my favorite podcasts, The Memory Place, has a series of 8 episodes each focusing on different pieces of artwork at the Met. I had wonderful time listening to these episodes while viewing the artwork at the Met and that’s best way to experience them. However, most of the world is shutdown right now and visiting museums is not possible so we need ways experience things beyond our homes without leaving our homes. And in that context, listening to these episodes while looking at photographs of the artwork is a compelling way to do a virtual visit to the Met.
The podcast episode Two Small Sculptures is about these two small statues. The episode is a masterpiece. In the episode, Nate DiMeo, the creator of the Memory Place, tells a beautiful and haunting story about these two statues, the then famous poem, The Song of Hiawatha, from which two characters originate and about the arist, Edmonia Lewis, who created the statues. DiMeo’s story vividly illuminates how culture myths, like that of Native Americans being noble savages, give cover to atrocities.
The National Museum of Atomic Testing chronicles the history of the Nevada Test Site in America’s nuclear weapons testing program. The museum is located in Las Vegas and the test site itself is 65 miles away. The actual test site is close of enough to Las Vegas that in 1950’s tourists could see bright flash from nuclear tests from Vegas hotels. Vegas actually marketed its proximity to nuclear testing as a tourist attraction. The museum does a great both documenting nuclear testing as well as probing the impact the Atomic Age had on American culture as a whole. The overall experience is pretty somber as it dawns the visitor that had these weapons been used, they could have easily wiped out the human race.
After visiting, I wanted to go visit the test site itself. Doing so requires an advanced reservation and tours are only happen monthly so I haven’t actually done it yet.
The other thing I’ll mention about the museum is the its well air-conditioned which makes a comfortable thing to do during the scorching daytime heat of the Vegas summer. I visited in June and few hours out of the sun was a welcome relief.
Almost every time I go to Vegas, I visit the the Bellagio Conservatory. The displays are always stunning and rotate seasonally. I’m looking forward to visiting again once this Coronavirus virus crisis has passed.
I’ve been to Las Vegas many times and the strip is alway bustling and crowded except for early in the morning. From pictures I’ve seen on the news, the Strip is now surreally deserted. Las Vegas, the perpetual party, is on hiatus which hasn’t happened in almost 60 years.
This week is going to a very tough one for New York City so I thought I’d share image from better days there. This is from a summer evening in July of 2018. Warm evening light lit up the sculpture at the top of the facade of Grand Central Station as I walked down 42nd Street.. I know New York City will get through this tough stretch, though the human cost will be high. I look forward to my next trip there.