Hilde KAYN [1894-1950]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

KANE, Hilde B. (1894–1950)



oil and tempera / 11 3/4 inches by 15 3/4 inches

Hilde Kayn is a case study in why the internet shouldn’t be the only source. Hilde Kayne’s on-line biographies are remarkably short and repetitive; and their tidbits of information seem to have been routinely cut and pasted from one page to the next. Her dates, for example, are most often given as 1903-1950, and there is nothing particularly earth-shattering about her death at age forty-seven. But on further investigation, the 1903 birth year doesn’t hold up.

Other genealogical sources almost consistently suggest a birth year closer to 1894-1895. A 1935 passenger list for her arrival at the Port of New York gives her age as forty. Another, from ten years previous, gives her age as thirty. Her petition for naturalization offers a birthdate of 19 September 1894. The smoking gun for “1903” appears to be the Biography & Genealogy Master Index (BGMI), and until that can be consulted, their source remains a mystery. Saying more about this enigmatic artist is difficult because, by some accounts, she was shy, refusing even to do gallery talks as part of her many exhibits.



The Buses Headed for Scranton

The Buses Headed for Scranton

by Ogden Nash


The buses headed for Scranton travel in pairs,

The lead bus is the bolder

With the taut appearance of one who greatly dares;

The driver glances constantly over his shoulder.


The buses headed for Scranton are sturdy craft,

Heavy chested and chunky;

They have ample vision sideways and fore and aft;

The passengers brave, the pilots artful and spunky.


Children creep hand in hand up gloomy stairs;

The buses headed for Scranton travel in pairs.


They tell of a bus that headed for Scranton alone;

It dwindled into the West.

It was later found near a gasoline pump—most grown,

Deserted, abandoned, like the Mary Celeste.


Valises snuggled trimly upon the racks,

Lunches in tidy packets,

Twelve Daily Newses in neat, pathetic stacks,

Thermoses, Chicklets, and books with paper jackets.


Some say the travelers saw the Wendigo.

Or were eaten by bears.

I know not the horrid answer, I only know

That the buses headed for Scranton travel in pairs.

Commerce and Industry

Agincourt is likely to have enjoyed both, the buying and selling of things and, perhaps, even the making of them. Many of these activities would have been manifest in the CBD, the four blocks of Broad Street and the few lots east and west on the avenues. Now and then I run across examples of commercial fronts (like the auto dealership posted a few weeks ago) and glom onto them simply because they’re so iconic or curious or some other eye-catching justification. Such is the case with this not-so-clear photograph of Benson, Minnesota, and its auto garage in the heart of the community’s “Main Street”. The jaunty brick-and-stucco material palette puts the building some time about WWI I should think.

In the early years of the automobile, it was often treated as both status symbol and source of potential disaster. Recall that the internal combustion engine and the fuel that ran it could, and often did, explode with serious consequence. Hence the detachment of the garage from the house.

It was just as likely, though, that storage of the family auto would have been outsourced to a garage such as is shown here in downtown Benson: the car was stored, serviced, and isolated from domestic life, until such time as it was needed and delivered by someone acting very much as a valet. What were the costs of such service, I wonder?

Somewhere in the unstructured blog there is a similar facility for the storage and care of horses—which became Equus & Co.—and might easily have morphed into the comparable facility for cars.

Why do I seem to have such a talent for explaining the obvious? And taking a measure of pride in doing so? Sorry about that.

Graham Hyde [1874-1951]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

HYDE, Graham (1874–1951; British)

Figure in a Wooded Landscape 


oil on canvas / 5.5 inches by 7.5 inches

British artist Graham Hyde was born in the northern industrial town of Sheffield, Yorkshire, sixth of ten children. The course of his life and the circumstances surrounding his education as an artist are still a mystery, however. This small painting was found at the Portobello Road flea market in northwestern London.

Constance Tippet [late 20th century]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

TIPPET, Constance (British / late 20th century)

“The Wharf” (top)


etching / 6.7 inches by 8.2 inches / A/P


Landscape, Rolling Hills (bottom)


etching / 7.8 inches by 8.9 inches / A/P

Ten years separate these two etchings by British artist Constance Tippet. Each offers a fragmentary landscape rendered in voluptuous undulating surfaces in a rich warm black, but the earlier print is a gently textured composition in the spirit of our own Grant Wood, while the second depends to a much greater extent upon bold line work and higher contrast.

Michael Stokoe [born 1933]

michael Stokoe.jpg

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

STOKOE, Michael Arthur (born 1933)

“Summer Vines”


etching / 17.3 inches by 12.8 inches (image)

Michael Stokoe’s recent work, represented by this nearly monochromatic print, is almost unrecognizable compared with his early output as a young artist fresh from art school. The crisp minimalism of flat primary geometries and repetitive patterns at mid-century have yielded by the late 1980s to a gentler representation of landscape and the human presence.

Unusually, this piece came from neither a gallery nor the artist himself: It was part of an exhibit at a California winery, linking the visual arts with those of the vintner. We hope the vintage that year has remained as fresh and subtle as the art.

The weighing of the heart

“May your life be over before it is finished.”

No, that’s not an old Irish aphorism. Neither did it come with the check at a Chinese buffet. I actually coined it myself, though I doubt seriously that it will have much traction in popular culture or conventional wisdom. And though it may sound a bit grim — maybe even doubly so — I had intended it in an upbeat hopeful way, but wonder now if it ought to be reversed.

Something that is over (as in “over and done with”; “water under the bridge”) is irretrievably lost, behind you, beyond reclamation. Toast. Whereas, to finish something is to bring it to fruition, to completion; dot every “I”, cross every “T”. So what I had meant to say was simply this: It is my earnest and genuine hope that, when the time comes, as it will for us all to push back from the table, it will be with the satisfaction of a job well done, a work complete, a life well lived. There is more that I might wish to do, you say to yourself, but in the cosmic scheme of things, what I have accomplished ranks high enough to matter. When Anubis weighs my heart against the Feather of Truth, of Ma’at, Ammit will have to wait to claim another.

Now, since it is unlikely that the end of our lives and the completion of our most cherished goals are likely to coïncide, which of these would I rather accept? 1) Unfinished work, or 2) the dilemma of nothing left to do?

Option #1 still looks good where I sit.