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Monthly Archives: August 2019

The World is too much with me

The World Is Too Much With Us

by William Wordsworth
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Anyone know where I can get a wreathèd horn?
Oh, and the painting is “The Apotheosis of Aeneas” by G. B. Tiepolo (1762), at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The World

Świat is a collection of poems by Czesław Miłosz. They were written in the author’s native Polish, which I regret not being able to enjoy; they were at least translated by him. Poetry, like narrative story-telling or the contract you signed to get a mortgage, is a form of language, but as far as I’m concerned it’s no more artificial than the notarized legal document which committed you to three hundred and sixty monthly installment until that house is really yours (though it’s likely to be owned by your kids, who will feel vastly different about it than you do).

Portrait of Czesław Miłosz by Jim Dine

I should probably have mentioned that świat derives from the proto-Slavic word for light or world. That pairing offers unexpected comfort, doesn’t it: the association of the world with light, a far cry from our experience lately. I wonder what Miłosz was up to; he translates it as “the world”.

Cyrus Leroy Baldridge [1889-1977]

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

BALDRIDGE, Cyrus Leroy (1889-1977)

“Peking ’25”

color woodcut / 9 7/8 inches by 14 5/16 inches (image)

1925

This ukiyo-e or floating world woodcut is typical of Japan, while the subject is Chinese. It is also representative of Japanese influence in Western art at the turn of the 20th century, especially on art from Britain and the United States.

One of several woodcut prints from the 1920s by Cyrus Baldridge, Midwestern artist and illustrator. According to an on-line source:

Cyrus Leroy Baldridge (1889–1977) was a noted illustrator, painter, printmaker, and writer. At the age of 10, he became the youngest student at Frank Holme’s Chicago School of Illustration.  In 1907, he was accepted at the University of Chicago where he continued his art education and graduated in 1911. Following graduation Baldridge worked as an illustrator, later becoming a war correspondent on the battlefront during WWI. After the war, he settled in upstate New York and continued to work as a writer and illustrator while traveling the world with his wife Caroline Singer who was also a writer. The couple traveled from Africa to India, and to Japan in the 1920s. Japanese art had a profound influence on his Baldridge’s work—during his time in Japan, he met the famed Shin Hanga print publisher Watanabe Shozaburo in Tokyo. He produced a number of woodblock prints for Watanabe during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1952, he and his wife retired to Santa Fe, where he found inspiration hiking the mountains of New Mexico and painting the landscape in oil and watercolor.

Quite aside from its qualities as an example of period, style, and a challenging print technique, “Peking” has close personal ties with the Tennant family: twins Ella Rose and Phyllis Tabor were great-granddaughters of Agincourt founder Horace Tennant. Though their story is told elsewhere in greater detail, Ella Rose became a pilot who flew in China during the Revolution and acquired this print some time before her disappearance in the 1930s. The print has been given in her memory.

Hansa House

The German-American Mutual Insurance Co. maintained office in Fargo from 1892. They built their own facility, “Hansa House”, at 10 North Broad Street five years later, with income producing rental space on the ground floor (occupied for several years by a company that sold pianos and other musican instruments) as well as on the third floor. The top floor was reserved for a lodge meeting room which could be used for other events–though those three flights of narros stairs were an effort for our older citizens. For some time, it was the headquarters of a men’s singing froup and eventually the Commercial Club called it home, as well.

It’s tempting to write the history of a major business like the G-A, but that would require me to actually believe in capitalism. As an undergraduate, I took ECON 151 and failed miserably to understand the whole “Guns and Butter” analogy. The building, on the other hand, has already been designed, and I can imagine the lodge meeting space-cum-auditorium-banquet facility and lot more readily.

Lodges were important social settings in towns like Agincourt. Membership in the AF&AM Masonic Lodge, the BPOE, or any of the other “animal” societies was a necessity for business purposes. In the midst of all that mumbo-jumbo and brotherhood, deals were done, marriages made, horses traded, and the like. If you had a business on “Main Street”, fraternal membership was a must. What actually went on in the room as ritual eventually leaked out and became common knowledge. But for yourger members it enjoyed a vague mystique. The Masons, incidentally, had their own building across the street; it burned in 1912 and provided the building site for Agincourt’s new public library.

That fourth floor meeting room hosted the monthly Commercial Club dinner in 1895 when Mayor Ed Flynn clutched his chest, fell face-first into a place of sauerbraten, and died—testily. Hizzonner was of a substantial girth and negotiating his corpulence down three flights was a tale told for several weeks around the fire house.

 

Siobhán McKenna [1889–1948]

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

McKENNA, Siobhán (1889–1948)

Paris Street Scene

ca1912-1914

oil on paper / 9.8 inches by 9.5 inches / #204 of an unstated edition

Siobhán McKenna Montplaisir was born in Cork, Ireland and studied at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin prior to settling in Paris. This Parisian street scene is representative of her late Impressionist tendencies on the eve of World War I. She continued to paint during the war years, while devoting herself to husband and family, and returned briefly to Ireland following establishment of the Republic in 1919. Her work is little known outside Ireland.

“Paris Street Scene” came to Agincourt with Kurt Bernhard when he married Grace Tabor.

John Ivor Stewart [1936-2017]

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

STEWART, John Ivor (1936-2017)

Vétheuil” [top]

oil on board / 11 inches by 11.2 inches

“Blackthorn Wind” [center]

oil on board / 9 inches by 9.2 inches

“Abstract Landscape” [bottom]

acrylic on board / 10.9 inches by 11.1 inches

all ca1970

Maureen and William Bendix built a mid-century Modern home in the Riverside Addition on the west edge of the city and furnished it with pieces which quickly became classics. Today their home would be featured in Modern magazine as a de facto museum for the period—were it still intact. The Bendixes have passed away and their daughter Estelle Bendix Morreau lives elsewhere. But we have the benefit of four mid-century Modern artworks she has given in her parents’ memory.

How the Bendixes became aware of British artist John Ivor Stewart (a near contemporary of Maureen Bendix) is a mystery. They became enthusiastic collectors of his work, however, acquiring more than these three small pieces, each less than the size of a long-playing record jacket (a comparison for those with an equally long memory). “Abstract Landscape” is particularly representative of a later mid-century color palette and aerial landscape distilled but still clearly recognizable.

“[John Ivor Stewart] studied at Belfast College of Art 1956-60, Reading University for his ATD in 1960, and later the Cardiff College of Art for his ADAE 1973-74. He was a founder member of the Society of Botanical Artists 1982, and was elected a member of the Pastel Society in 1987. He won the Major Prize as a non-member in 1986 and twice again as a member in 1992 and 1997.”

 

Stanisław Raczyński [1903-1982]

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

Raczyński, Stanisław (1903-1982)

“Barbakan” (from the Kraków Series)

ca1940

monochrome woodcut on paper / 5 inches by 7 inches

Woodcuts and other print media form a significant part of the Collection, perhaps because they are comparatively affordable. This woodcut by Polish artist Stanisław Raczyński comes from a series based on Kraków, an historic city in the southern part of the country and also the home of the artist’s wife.

Stanisław Raczynski studied painting at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in Poland, in 1920s. Before World War II his artistic interest focused on graphics and, in particular, wood-cutting, lithography and similar techniques. His early works were influenced mainly by the modernistic style in painting and wood-carving. His admiration for Salvador Dali was notable, though he did not follow the surrealistic style in graphical art. Among more classical authors, he was en enthusiast of El Greco and Albrecht Durer. He was also influenced by Polish groups of artists like Skoczylas and Pronaszko. Between late 20s and 1939 he was a successful young artist with great expectations. He married Bronislawa Gawin, a girl from an old Krakow family, who went on to become his great partner and supporter in all his life. The World War II dramatically interrupted his career.

A barbican (in English) is the outer defense of a castle or walled city. Large portions of Kraków’s medieval fortifications remain.