Human Flower Project
Sunday, November 09, 2008
The American Presidency and the English Garden
In the U.S. we call it “taking the bull by the horns.” In England it’s gardening over dumping spots. For, John Levett, it’s also remembering Uncle Syd.
A garden at Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home in Kent
Photo: John Levett
By John Levett
I was up all night awaiting the Second Coming buoyed by the post-modernist assembly of disparate, conflicting, transcendent, gutter-crawling elements making up the BBC’s election coverage: Gore Vidal fired by gunpowder & bourbon; John Bolton restrained from leaping through a screen to get at a Beeb reporter giving the Colorado Republican chief a hard time; Simon Schama fresh from hospitality morphing more and more into a Lewis Carroll caterpillar; Christopher Hitchens rubbishing Palin in absentia with a venomous hilarity he ought to franchise; brave microphone thrustings towards naffed-off red staters who clearly use Deliverance as a training film; anchor David Dimbleby refusing to call the obvious the obvious despite the arriving outcome being obvious (“What a wuss,” said Schama). Family fun from midnight to almost dawn. I missed the moon landing; I wasn’t going to miss another (metaphorical) one.
Clearing out the utility room a few weeks ago, which involves taking everything out and putting it all back without getting rid of anything, I came across the mostly-forgotten The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H White; I remembered it from a course on American politics in my first year at university. Now I read it prior to the current ‘making,’ with remembrances of Hubert Humphrey smiling-whilst-falling through New England snows.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Zurbaran: Flowers by Scorpio
When is a rose not just a rose and not a symbol of anything beyond a rose? When painted by one 17th Century Spaniard.
A Cup of Water and a Rose on a Silver Plate
by Francisco de Zurbarán, c. 1630
Collection: National Gallery of Art, London
For your consideration, “A Cup of Water and a Rose on a Silver Plate” by Francisco de Zurbarán (b. November 7, 1598, in Sevilla, Spain).
This small painting, in the collection the National Gallery, London, may be the most stunning of Zurbarán’s floral works, and to our knowledge the only stand-alone version of this still life combination. According to the museum’s curators, he added this compositional detail to two religious paintings (Is this one of them?) and included a nearly identical set in his Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Rose, now at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. (We want to call it a triptych.)
Monday, November 03, 2008
New England Flower Show, Not Next Spring
With finances deteriorating, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society won’t hold its 138th flower show next spring. Is this one example of poor management or a more widespread change in “leisure” American style?
Judges Jeanne Leszczynski (clockwise from top left),
Holly Perry, and Sheila Magullion work over an arrangement
at the New England Flower Show, 2008.
Photo: David L. Ryan, for Boston Globe
We’re now back on daylight-spending time, feeling afternoon-deprived. Our sympathies go out to those in New England (we’ll never forget a November there in 1970, the sun going down at what seemed about 3:30 p.m. on the exhibitionists in Harvard Square).
What a tough time for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society to break the news: the Spring Flower Show, a pushback against the long New England winter, has been cancelled for 2009. This would have been the 138th show.
“There’s no sense in doing it if we can’t at least break even,” Betsy Ridge Madsen, president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, said. “This is an economic season in which not only are we having trouble to afford the show we did last year, but a lot of growers are feeling the pinch, as well.”
“Pinch” hardly describes the horticultural society’s situation. Back in 2002, it sold off part of its legacy, rare books and prints worth $5.25 million, to keep in operation. With that major evidence of institutional weakness, donors began withdrawing.