japonisme: 3/14/10 - 3/21/10

19 March 2010

1896: a big year (the calendars)

we've talked about the publisher volland,
and how it was one house (mainly children's books and postcards)
that seized upon the new principles of japonisme
and created much beauty through it.

let us now add the name of prang to this list.
with the japonisme in his nature publications, christmas cards,
and calendars, he too became known as avant garde
as did the artists with whom he worked.

on feb 26, 2010, 20.9 inches of snow falls
from the storm in Central Park,
pushing the city's total for the month to 36.9 inches
and easily beating the previous high of 30.5 inches,
set in March 1896.

The Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson,
rules that segregation is not discriminatory
provided that African Americans
have accommodations equal to those of whites,
establishing the "separate but equal" doctrine.

the magazines die jugend and house beautiful were born,
chekov writes the seagull, and
Oscar Wilde's play Salomé premieres in Paris.

jones' operetta the geisha opens in london,
h g wells writes the time machine,
and utah becomes a state.

james m black writes When the Saints Go Marching In,
puccini writes la boheme, and
john philip sousa writes stars and stripes forever.

x-rays, and helium, and radioactivity are discovered,
and Brooks Brothers creates the button-down collar for dress shirts.

By 1896, the Postal Service is making deliveries
to certain rural and urban homes six days a week.

in 1896 cracker jax and tootsie rolls are introduced
and athens holds the first of the modern olympics.

f schuyler mathews further demonstrates
his talent and versatility
with this calendar.

and we look like this:

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17 March 2010


16 March 2010

an education in colors

welcome to the world of f. schuyler mathews,
botanist, gardener and calendar maker.

today is just the introduction; next comes the calendar.
these images are from his book
the golden flower: chrysanthemum
and the words from his
field book of american wildflowers.

The chief beauty of the flower garden is its color. If we are inclined to consider color as only one of the essential elements of its beauty which attract us, we make a mistake; it is the color of the tulip, the rose, the dahlia, and the chrysanthemum which is the attraction as surely as we possess eyesight. The appreciation of beautiful forms and artistic arrangements, the perfume of the flowers, and their varied characteristics, are all matters of secondary interest compared with the golden yellow, the sapphire blue, the ruby red, and the royal purple which gladden our eyes when the spring flowers begin to bloom.

Imagine a garden bereft of every color but green; and suppose every flower presented to our eyes a variation of that one hue; what would we think then of the garden's beauty ? Would the bees find the flowers and continue to gather honey? I think the answers to such questions will compel us to place color first on the list of the attractions in a garden, and underline the word as well.

But it is necessary to understand exactly what the color is which we call red, or blue, or yellow. For the sake of something tangible I shall call the Portia carnation pure red, the zenith blue of the sky pure blue, and the wild mustard at its yellowest best, or the lemon-colored African marigold, pure yellow; the outside surface of the buttercup's petal is also near the pure yellow. The scarlet runner is exactly an orange-scarlet, the President Hyde chrysanthemum is a perfect golden yellow, and the bluest bachelor's button is blue inclined toward the ultramarine tone. There are powerful tones of purple in the cinerarias ranging right toward crimson and toward ultramarine blue ; the daffodils give us a wealth of golden orange, and also yellow tints reaching as far as greenish yellow, and among the petunias we may find varieties crimson and solferino in hue.

A perfect knowledge of the individuality of a certain color is, without doubt, a matter of education. When once we know that the scarlet vermilion of the artist's paint-box or the Madame Crozy canna is pure scarlet, when that color is before our eyes for days in succession and our memory of it is established beyond doubt, then we may be sure that we hold in our hands a key which will unlock the secret door of all knowledge of color.

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15 March 2010

a man for all seasons: 1912


Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,

Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods,
At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls
And the rattle and flap of sails
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.
Give praise with the humpback whales,
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas,
Give praise with hum of bees,
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over.

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.

Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river,
Wilderness river.

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities,
Far even from the towns,
With piercing innocence
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes
And four notes only.

Give praise with water,
With storms of rain and thunder
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar
That fills the seaside villages,
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.

Anne Porter

From Living Things by Anne Porter,
published by Zoland Books,
an imprint of Steerforth Press
of Hanover, New Hampshire.
Copyright © 2006 by Anne Porter.

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