Big Art Pottery collection heads to the Met

The Metropolitan Museum accepted the promised gift of a big collection of American art pottery – 250 pieces dating from 1876-1956. Lots of the usual names – Newcomb, Grueby, Rookwood – but the photograph at is, I have to admit, something that I would have put in the yard sale and cursed myself when it turned up on Antiques Roadshow. Click the above link and look.

Among the highlights are 16 extraordinary vessels by the renowned Biloxi, Mississippi, potter George E. Ohr (1857-1918), whose eccentric wheel-thrown vessels presaged abstracted forms by nearly half a century.

I’d describe it as “lumpy.” And probably “ugly.” But hey – tastes differ.
Here’s the earlier story from the New York Times – a little more about the collector and the exhibition space the collection is headed to.

Too big to fail – Greece?

“We knew this couldn’t last,” Vassilis Karatzas, a fund manager based in Athens, said as he sipped Greek coffee at an outdoor cafe in the city center. “There is fear about the euro zone, but I don’t think the commission will allow its periphery to go down. United we rise, divided we fall.”

That’s from a pretty depressing story in the New York Times.

Wind power

The Wall Street Journal summarizes the ironies of the Cape Wind Project – which will finally go ahead, if the Obama administration doesn’t reverse the recent decision (and without an extra Kennedy in the Senate they might let it stand). This is actually an infrastructure project that could start up quickly!

The sort of people who can afford to use “summer” as a verb are in favor of all that [heavily subsidized wind power]. Completely in favor, really. But they did want to raise one quibble. Unfortunately, the wind farm would create “visual pollution” in Nantucket Sound, particularly the parts within sight of their beachfront vacation homes.

Since I positively like the way windmills look I’ve never sympathized much with the forces of reaction on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I remember the first time I rode through a wind farm – somewhere east of Los Angeles (hey – I was 15 – I don’t know quite where it was!). I was enchanted. There’s a ridge full of windmills in Fenner, east of Syracuse that you can see from the Thruway. Go here to see some big ones in the Midwest.
There’s a lot of controversy south of Geneva in Naples, NY, over wind power. They don’t want them, either. One of our students slept under some wind turbines (I think the ones in Fenner) for a week to test the noise levels. Last I heard the town of Naples was not convinced, but they may have softened.
Which leads to one of my pet peeves. People in these stories sometimes use the horrid neologism “viewshed” to describe “the view.” They’re trying to piggyback on the word “watershed,” kind of like PETA is trying to popularize “sea kittens.” Icky new word, and an unfortunate (though well-documented) secondary meaning of watershed! When driving through Virginia one sees signs announcing that one is entering the Chesapeake Watershed or the Shenandoah Watershed. Nonsense! One is crossing a watershed! Ridges SHED water into basins or drainage areas. But it’s fruitless to argue with such usage, even when the most cursory thought about what the word parts mean reveals the illogic. One marks it and moves on. Viewshed, though – that’s a new word worth fighting.

Why did Paterson wait?

I’ve read a lot of people commenting about why the replacement for Hilary Clinton took so long. I think that Gov. Paterson was waiting to see if Clinton was actually confirmed as Secretary of State. I don’t think he was wrong to wonder whether or not she’d go through with the appointment, if WJC would actually submit his financial information, and whether she would make it past the Senate. He was being cautious, and I don’t blame him a bit.

Finally he appoints Kirsten Gillibrand
and people are asking “why not Andrew Cuomo?” Well, maybe two things are going on. First, he might not be as worried about Cuomo competing with him for governor as some people think. Second, he may not be worried about Gilliland and Cuomo – according to her wikipedia entry she worked for Cuomo back in the HUD days. SHE might have enough on him to keep him from running against her.
I’ve only lived up there for 9 years and don’t really understand New York politics; I’ll just watch and see.

Waiver policy for some lobbyists

Only the ones Obama wants to appoint. Otherwise, you lobbyists can’t serve in government for at least two years! Be sure to read the comments, one of which suggests that the unnamed senior White House official is either wrong or disingenuous about one lobbyist-appointee not needing a waiver. But hey – if you’re going to announce a policy and immediately offer waivers, why worry about the spirit or the letter of the policy?
Because I tend to read the press with an eye tuned by reading the same damn story over and over again (you know, world literature doesn’t have that many new plots) I’ve noticed two stories that could be written by pushing F11 in the last week:
1. New president pursues physical fitness despite pressures of White House (there was a bit of that towards the end of this story – I expect more of them over the weekend).
2. New administration the most ethical ever.
Haven’t we all read those before? I seem to remember video of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush running early in their administrations, and surely every president since Nixon has pledged to clean up the revolving door system. How long will Obama keep up his workout routine?

A vicious art critic

Harsh critic!

A former security guard who slashed a $1.2 million Art Institute painting on loan to a Pittsburgh museum has pleaded guilty to “institutional vandalism.”
Timur Serebrykov, 28, who was a guard at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art, reportedly told police that he cut the artwork with a key last May because “I didn’t like the painting.”

Best spam this calendar year

I just removed a bit of spam so good I almost approved it. Some auto insurance provider put in a spam comment. The url was transparent, the username was obviously spam, but the text – oh the text!

Man, don’t start talking 2010 elections just yet. I am so burned out from this last round.

See what I mean? I was tempted to break the url and leave the comment, spam though it was.

Want to know why Obama creeps me out?

Want to know why Cardinal Daneels felt he needed to say that Obama is not the Messiah? Followers like this. Watch the whole thing – especially around 3:54

Scary. And they call themselves Americans.
Further: I go on at some length in a response to a comment below. Short version – if you thought Bushism = Fascism, this particular video at least demonstrates a scary cult of personality among Hollywood youth role models. If rhetoric/advertising is important – and I think it is – this is bad stuff. If you think that rhetoric/advertising is unimportant, why do you think so many people voted for Obama? If you think the text of pledges is unimportant, why do you think Obama went to the trouble to take his again?
Further still: Parody, found via Mr. Tiemann. Best moment? “Oh come on, this is a practical joke, right? It’s an episode of Punk’d, and Kutcher picked a bunch of random hipster people out of a Santa Monica coffee house to play a part in some sort of elaborate prank to see how many people he could fool into thinking they were actually celebrities.”

Damaging the Kennedy Brand

I am very happy with Caroline Kennedy’s performance this last month or so – she has done more damage to the Kennedy brand than anyone since her Uncle Teddy in his youth. She is vague, a poor speaker, and indecisive. You couldn’t have said that with much credibility before yesterday – but the to and fro over whether or not she wanted to be senator makes it clear.
I’m not impressed with Andrew Cuomo as a human being, but at least he’s not a Kennedy.