Thursday, May 31, 2018

Inside The Whitney

The Whitney Museum of American Art isn't real big compared to, say, New York's gargantuan Metropolitan Museum, but it's big enough that there's always something interesting. The current main show is a retrospective of Grant Wood's work. His iconic painting is American Gothic, below, which made him an instant star. You can look at this link to the museum's website while it's still up. Wood, who spent most of his life in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had a distinct style and a definite dark side.

The other main show was about the photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard. Frankly, it didn't do a lot for me except for the witty sculpture (for want of a better word) seen farther down - a long line with stacks of old Kodak manuals for the general public.

And if nothing else appeals to you, you can stare at the wall - or read a placard describing a work - or walk your kids around while looking at your phone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

STL DPB In New York - We Always Go To The Whitney

Just about as much for what's outside as what's inside. We often make it the end of a walk down The Highline (which I may get to but which was bloody packed on Sunday). The Whitney Museum of American Art, in the Meatpacking District of southwest Manhattan, has such interesting architecture with its many terraces and overlooks that the views around the building are about as engaging as the art displayed inside.

Non-stop cameras around the place. The fourth picture is the museum's cutely named restaurant, Untitled, on the ground level.          

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


College graduations all have some degree of ceremony and tradition. The United States Military Academy has plenty. Above, the graduating cadets stand at attention while faculty and staff march in with precision. 

I'm not sure what's going on in the second picture. The younger cadets sit in the end zone of the football stadium. An officer stands among them with two fingers raised in the air and appears to be shouting. My nephew could probably tell me why.

The bottom image is a severe crop of a shot taken at the end of my telephoto's range. It wasn't very clear so I edited it to look like a 1960s news photo, B&W, a little blurry and showing action. Gen. Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff enters the stadium through a tent marked Antiterrorism-Force Protection. Here? I guess so.       

Monday, May 28, 2018

Lieutenent Joshua Kruse

Some time after the main graduation ceremony, each graduate participates in an unusual event. It's known as pinning. The young officers have changed from their cadet gray and whites to an officer's full dress uniform. He or she selects a favorite teacher who delivers the officer's commission and oath of office. Then the parents pin the strips on the shoulders that indicate rank.

This is done in a part of campus of the graduate's choice. Josh's sister and brother hold a flag that is given to him.    

Sunday, May 27, 2018

West Point Graduation

Our nephew from Kansas City, Joshua Kruse, graduated from West Point yesterday. Here, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the United States, delivers the commencement address. I have a zillion other pictures but it's late and I'm exhausted. More over the following days. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Little Island Where I Was Born

14 miles long. Two and a half miles wide at most. Manhattan  where all the world comes and where I came into it. Taken during final approach into LaGuardia Airport.

We're going a ways up the Hudson today for something special.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Photo Experiment

For most of the last five months I've set aside my trusty - and heavy - Canon 5D Mark III and have been using new equipment. The Canon was getting to be too much weight for my old neck, shoulders and back. I wanted something lighter that would maintain image quality. An old teacher recommended the Fujifilm X-T2.

It's pretty cool. Although it uses an ASP-C sensor (not full sized), I think the image quality is better than the Canon. An interesting feature is that it can emulate many Fujifilm film looks. They have developed many over the years. This picture of the Grand Basin in Forest Park emulates their Acros black and white film, with the addition of a red filter. I like it.

Early flight to New York this morning. Something very unusual to do outside of the city itself tomorrow. Reports by Sunday.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pharaohs, Maybe

From the Sunken Treasures exhibit. These may have been pharaohs or other high officials. The stylized cobra on the forehead is the giveaway.       

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sunken Treasure

The current main exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum is something special. Sunken Cities is a collection of objects found submerged in the Mediterranean, the remainders of two coastal cities that sank under the waters due to subsidence and geological events. According to the museum's web site
In 2018, the Saint Louis Art Museum will be the first North American art museum to tell the epic story of one of the greatest finds in the history of underwater archaeology, a story that revealed two lost cities of ancient Egypt submerged under the Mediterranean Sea for over a thousand years. World-renowned underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team discovered these submerged worlds and uncovered stunning ancient religious, ceremonial, and commercial artifacts, which has led to a greater understanding of life during the age of pharaohs.
The show is stunning. This small plaque from the 6th Century BC shows the god Amun in the form of a ram.  And it just keeps coming.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bite Me

Another scene from the St. Louis Science Center. Rexie here is semi-animated. The neck and head move up and down and side to side. The jaws open and close. It doesn't even bother the little kids.

This seems to be the STL T Rex district. The Science Center is connected to the planetarium by a bridge over a big highway. Just outside of that are a couple of life-size fiberglass dinosaurs, including a cousin of the one in the picture. Good thing the largest local emergency room is very close by.   

Monday, May 21, 2018

Madeleine Monday

We have a very good children's science center. Madeleine wanted to visit on Saturday so off we went. The amount of stuff competing for attention can be dizzying. General admission is free but all the stuff they really want to do has an extra charge. One small step for a kid, one giant leap for my credit card.     

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dinner And Opera

Last night was a big one in our annual calendar, opening night of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis season. This is our 40th or 41st - we've lost track. One of the delightful features is that it takes place on a suburban university campus, set up for picnic dinners before the performance. We usually do that and leave a bottle of wine on the table for intermission.

The first production was La Traviata. It's an old chestnut but we've never heard a better performance. Violetta was sung by the spectacular young soprano Sydney Mancasola. She worked her way up from the chorus to the foot lights, giving the role an emotional intensity that's hard to match.

Afterwards, the company invites the audience for a glass or two of prosecco under the picnic tent. I got a shot of General Director Timothy O'Leary, who will leave us after this season. He's been here for 10 years and has brought OTSL to ever greater heights.                

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Other Direction

Follow up to yesterday's photo. This is the view to the east from the top of the Arch, across the Mississippi to East St. Louis, Illinois.

The river is pretty high but not flooding. You can see how close it comes to its banks. The white vertical column in the center is the Gateway Geyser, a water jet directly across from the Arch. It goes off at 12, 3 and 6, and we were fortunate to be at the top at noon. How high it blasts depends of the wind. If the air is still it blows as high as the Arch itself. The water spreads too far when it's windy to go to full height. It looks a lot better from down close.


Friday, May 18, 2018

From Above

View from the top of the Arch facing west into downtown. The main development is that the the depressed highway lanes no longer act as a moat between the city and the park grounds. The new park extension covers the road and creates an inviting path to the entrance to the new and greatly expanded museum. That's the circle near the center.

Here's a link to a similar photo from 2015. Although the picture doesn't come as close to the feet of the monument, you can see how access has changed for the better.     

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fun Facts About The Arch

Since we were at the Arch anyway, the family of course took a ride to the top. While waiting in line to board the tram, streaming LED signs on the wall feed you tidbits of information, interesting or useless as you prefer. One passenger didn't give a hoot about the data and just wanted to get on with the ride.           

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I Could've Been A Contender, I Could've Been Somebody

So said Marlon Brando about his boxing career in On The Waterfront. The same might be said about our city. This was once a boomtown, the center of the great inland waterways and the fourth-largest city in America. Then the railroads took over and the mid-continent hub went to Chicago rather than here. Just heard that we slipped from twentieth to twenty first place in population among US metro areas. But, you know, maybe we're better off this way. We're big enough to have plenty of facilities and small enough to be manageable.       

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


The Finnish-Americam architect Eero Saarinen (in the center of the circle above, with glasses) was the principal designer of the Arch. He won a competition in 1948 for a monument to America's westward expansion. The engineering techniques that made construction possible did not come about until the 1950's. The structure was topped out in 1966. I showed up here for college in September 1967 and made a bee line straight for the riverfront. As with most teenagers in the 60's, my reaction was probably something along the lines of "oh WOW."  

If you are ever in this part of the world it is worth visiting the museum just to learn about how the thing was eventually put together. The statement in the third photo is completely true.

Gee whiz fact: the Arch is exactly as wide as it is tall. It's an inverted catenary arch.    

Monday, May 14, 2018

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome

The concept of the new meuseum under the Arch is very different. Instead of approaching through a narrow gorge at the monument's feet, visitors walk down a gentle slope from downtown to a sweeping curved glass entrance that seems to naturally pull you in from the city. What you might call a lobby is a bit barren, three levels of white down to the exhibits themselves. There may be additions before the general public opening.            

Sunday, May 13, 2018


After something like three years of construction, the new museum under the Arch had a sneak prview yesterday morning for members of the Gateway Arch Foundation. It opens to the public over Fourth of July weekend.The theme is American westward expansion. It is much bigger and more detailed than the old one. This time, the exhibits take a candid look at all the violence and cruelty involved, taking vast tracts of land from Mexicans and Native Americans at any cost.

More to come. We can consider whether Laclede and Chouteau, the French traders and explorers who founded our city, were right.          

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saint Louis Daily Photo In Detroit - Hip Hop Meets Diego Rivera

We had a little extra time on our last afternoon in Detroit and decided to go to the city's Institute of Art. By reputation, it is one of the best art museums in America. Frankly, we needed someplace calm for lunch, but we also really wanted to see Diego Rivera's renown murals about the city's auto industry and technology.   

On arrival, we found an improv hip hop competition for students, part of the Louder Than A Bomb poetry festival. These kids were good and the backdrop provided plenty of irony.  Ellie, though, as much as she loves music, was more drawn to the paintings. 

That's about it for posts from the Motor City. There are lots more images I want to edit and will post on Flickr here. But there's big stuff to shoot in The Lou today. After about three years of work, the museum of American westward expansion under the Arch reopens today. There is a special viewing for members of the Gateway Arch Foundation (of course I'm a member). And Mother's Day weekend brings one of our two major art fairs, this one at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Gonna burn up some batteries. 

Friday, May 11, 2018