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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

By Grier Horner

April 5, 2015


Photos by Grier Horner


Rising above the stairwell leading to the Crane Room at the Berkshire Museum, "The Lost Pleiad" scans in vain for her sister stars in the Pleiad cluster, while behind her on the left flames a sunrise by Jim Schantz of Stockbridge.



Here's a closer look at the Schantz painting in the first photo, "Atlantic Sunrise." It's a big piece and it lights up that large room. 




While in the Crane Room itself, Giovanni Cinselli's "Girl Reading," circa 1860, concentrates on her book and on holding her robe in place, never taking a peak at the Schantz paintings in this skylit room.






Nearby, "Judith" by Giulio Tadolini, hand on the hilt of her sword, appears more concerned with getting to Holofernes, the enemy general. She beheads him, saving Israel. The Schantz oil she is too preoccupied to contemplate is "Summer Dusk, Housatonic." Any effort she is making to maintain her modesty is failing. If only sculptors of this era had learned a gown could be held in place by thread and cloth far fewer breasts would have been exposed to public view.






Some 260 years earlier Caravaggio had figured that out, as illustrated in his famous and gory painting of "Judith Beheadidng Holofernes," who was so drunk he didn't put up a fight.






By 1901 Klimt folled the sculptor's lead rather than Caravaggio's in his "Judith with the Head of Holofernes." I'm afraid I wouldn't have noticed the head if it wasn't in the title.





Getting back to the Berkshire Museum, there is more locally produced art on display in the new first-floor space provided for that purpose. The first artists picked by the Museum to be shown there are those in the second floor gallery at the corner of South and West Housatonic streets noteworthy for the humorously ironic signs artist Michael McKay makes and places in the windows.




Here McKay is in an architectural mode. This is "Broadway & E 9th St (version 3)," 2012. Unlike Schantz, who was working in oil on canvas, McKay uses acrylic on paper. Because I had to take the photo from an angle to avoid the glare, the piece is distorted here. For that I apologize.





See what I mean. This was my favorite of McKay's, but I couldn't do it justice either head on or at an angle.






This one, "305 W 2rd St (brownout)" from 2010, I took directly from McKay's website to give you a better idea of what he's up to. I hope that's OK, Michael.



The other members of empty set projects are Monika Pizzichemi and Marcel Bova and they are also on display at the museum's new BerkshireNow space.





Here are three of Monika Pizzichemi's works, top to bottom, "Halo (Pink Cycle)", "Elephant Spots" and "Sleestak." All three were done in 2006 using eggshells, acrylic and wood.






Still working with eggshells, she has several similar to this one, "Southwest." It was done in 2008 and incorporates glass as well as acrylic and wood.




And here are six acrylics by Marcel Bova, the third member of empty set projects. A lot of other stuff is going on at the museum right now, much of it aimed at appealing to kids and their parents. Witness this incredible passsageway below:















March 28, 2015







This is the view of mountains in Northern Berkshire as seen from my vantage point above Partridge Road near the Mall Road in Pitttsfield (or maybe Lanesbough) yesterday afternoon. Photos by Grier Horner, All Rights Reserved.


Yesterday afternoon I parked on the fringe of the Mall lot and pulled on my boots, wrapped my camera strap around my right wrist and crossed the Mall Road to the skimobile trails on the south side.


That doesn't sound like a big deal. But for the last half year I've been doing all my tramping around the Swamp and decided I could do with a little elevation. So here's an invitation to join my on my hike.





We start climbing through the field where the corn is grown for the farmstand on Partridge Road and where Petricca stores the prestressed concrete panels it is making for the deck of the new bridge over the Hudson River at Tarrytown. The smoke in the background is from Pittsfield's garbage incinerator.


It's easy walking here. The deep snow has melted away to this as we reach the end of the cornfield with its magnificent birch.






Now for a little explanation on why my blog has dark since early January. I could tell you that NSA had silenced it for reasons of national security. That's the exciting - but totally false - answer. The real one is that I had switched over to a new operating system for my Mac and it turned out that my Adobe Contribute software was no longer compatible. For a while I was posting over a makeshift system, but it was so frustrating and labor intensive that I gave up. Now Adobe has updated Contribute and I can publish again. (How lucky can you, gentle reader, get?)




      At this point we cross Partridge Road beside the bridge that carries the Mall

Road over it. What a view you get looking under that bridge.





                                                       I was worried about the climb on the other side of the road because a few

                                                       days earlier it had been snowcovered and was icy in places. It's so steep

                                                       that on that earlier trip I slipped on the ice and fell once but was more

                                                       concerned about losing my balance and toppling over backwards.

                                                       The sun and warmer temperatures had taken care of that as you can see. Not                                               .

                                                       pretty but good traction.





Up here, well above the road, everything's coming up birches. What beauties.




eering off the skimobile tracks I hit this dirt road - it looked like the

                                                      Veering off the beaten path I hit a plowed dirt road - an Interstate in

                                                      comparison - that goes to a high cellular tower perched near the crest.

                                                      It was still and peaceful up here and I should have been thinking deep

                                                      thoughts. But I was just taking it all in. I still had a climb before hitting

                                                      the top of the Mall Road.




  After getting there I went back in the woods. I decided to take a different

way back because I don't like the idea of sliding down that steep, muddy

path to Partridge Road.

This eventually took me to two high hillside fields. I had to cross through

the band of trees in the photo above to get to the next field. It was tough

walking here because the snowmobile paths had gotten soft and the snow was

 deep here. I would be walking easily on top of the trackS when suddenly the

  next step took me up to my knees in snow. In the process I fell four or five

times. But what better surface to fall on than deep, soft snow. 



                                                       From the second field I got a view of the woods just beyond the crest of

the hill. Not far from where I am in this shot, I was out of the deep snow.

 It was all easy going from there to the car.



                                                       This is me back at the car. My jeans were soaked up to the yellow lines I

                                                       drew on the photo. My boots only shipped a little snow when I sank in deep,

                                                       but enough that my socks were wet. I was very tired and gulped down the rest

                                                       of my iced coffee. (Iced coffee is a good winter drink because it is

                                                       still cold when you get back to the car after a 1.5 hour walk.)

                                                       I was elated. I love going on small adventures by myself. It's a holdover

                                                                                                              from the days I used to ride my bike on obscure roads in winter.


                                                       So the blog is back, for better or worse. I hope I didn't bore you. Sorry

                                                       the paragraph spacing under some of the pictures is all screwed up. Don't know

                                                       what happened.                                                     










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