Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jack Baron Exhibit

Last September I wrote a short essay on this ongoing exhibit at the Customs House. When I was there recently to see the Mario Sanchez show I took another turn in the gallery at the opposite end of he ground floor and I figured I wanted to show more of his astonishing art.

Art appreciation is a struggle for me. On the one hand I have the crude appreciation of "what I like" which puts me in the position of not feeling sure I know what exactly it is I do like. On the other hand my linear brain wants to know what it means before I can understand and therefore appreciate it. On the third hand I respect technique, considering every chip of a chisel that Sanchez applied to a piece of wood over several months. Or, in this case using wool to "paint."
Check out this detail from the pigtail. As far as technique goes this is way beyond me. Never mind having the required imagination to dream up such a style.

How do you think this up? Then how do you create such needlepoint? Amazing.

I photographed this last September and it remained in my ind ever since.

And here is a a"simple" painting, luminous and vivid.

Curiously Baron died the same year as Sanchez, where Sanchez underplayed his own technique his focus on Key West as it was gained him fame for subject matter as well as his folk art technique. I find this stuff fascinating, even if it lacks the historical context of the work down the hall.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Walking Elgin

I see this house in Old Town near Elgin Lane all the time and I never quite get over the fishing float decor. What I like in particular is the absence of any other overt decorative effects. Just the floats, thank you,  contrasting with the plain gray house. 
I have pointed out that Cheyenne likes to hunt and chase smells and seeks out anything remotely edible. I figure it's her time to walk and stretch her mind so as long as she doesn't make a mess or tear up a trash can I am pretty easy going about that. She is just a dog after all. Well, count me disappointed when she walked right past some of the most delicious trash I've seen in a while. Ripe mangoes rotting off the tree... had they not been squashed into the road I would have scooped them up. On that note my very  public thanks to Robert who doesn't like mangoes and keeps dropping off his excellent crop at my house. My own mangoes aren't yet ripe but I keep an eye on them. 
This house in the picture below is condemned according to a notice on the front, and it astonishes me how there are so many abandoned foreclosures around this town where housing is scarce and thus expensive. Perhaps that expense is what prevents these homes from being brought back into use.
Key West early in the day is a time of rest as the sun slowly rises. People are absent, the morning air is cool and fresh and the streets, lovely as ever, hold the promise of a new day and all that has to offer. 
Unless you are a cat, which means every day and every moment of every day can be yours to own. Unless a dog ambles by.
This welcoming sign on some innocent straight person's gate has provoked much hilarity among my gay friends. "Of course!" Noel told me giggling like a school girl "That's  always true!". I don't think that's what the nice Chinese artisans meant when they made this souvenir "dust catcher."
This town is positively overrun with lazy lounging cats.
This tag on a scooter I have seen previously but this time, within weeks of my vacation on Ocracoke it brought back memories for me. While it is true that there were actual real pirates on Ocracoke (unlike Key West where piracy is a tourist myth) I'm not sure that is the salient feature of that Outer Banks village.
I liked the peace and quiet and the immediate isolation of Ocracoke. Honestly though a short ferry ride puts mainland USA much closer to Ocracoke than does the endless miles of US Highway One followed by a day long drive across Florida...Isolation is relative. Ocracoke is  closer to the Smithsonian Institution in the District of Columbia than Key West is to Orlando's Magic Mouse. Make of that what you will.

Key West manages to retain a charming 19th century air, thanks to the small old homes, the narrow streets and a  slightly decrepit air that stands in contrast to the frenetic forced neatness of modern suburban America. And this is in a full service city in modern America.
This is a view of the entrance to Peary Court named for the famed Navy Arctic explorer whose direct descendant is a judge in this community. The courts have ruled that his former navy housing continues to get a tax break if the rented homes are occupied by military personnel. It's amazing that Balfour Beatty gets this tax break at vast expense to Monroe County taxpayers. And on top of that the military says they won't reveal which homes are occupied by the military for reasons of "national security."  This kind of crap in a country shredded by malfeasance and financial scandal and unlawful shenanigans by the one percent does not bode well for our future as a superpower and world leader. It feels like the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, where TV substitutes for circuses to distract the populace from the crimes of the elites and the oligarchy.
 The 19th century military cemetery is not dog friendly which is hardly surprising as they tell us dogs have no souls and I know lots of dog owners ignore their dogs crapping. My dog leads me into the crap as she likes to sniff where other dogs have been and where she knows where to put her paws I tend to step in it.
I saw this delightful front yard, neat as mine will never be, a page torn from a glossy magazine and I wondered whose idea it was to put in the rather odd sculpture at the far end, three silver hoops looking a bit like a discombobulated bike rack. I go for the all natural look, whether because I am lazy or because I like the artistic gene I prefer not to speculate.
I very much enjoyed talking to the paw of this sweet gentle retriever. Cheyenne was pretty standoffish as usual.
"Go Conchs" is a sign often seen in New Town yards. The High School baseball tournaments are closely followed and generate all sorts of comments in the newspaper about sportsmanship and lack thereof. High drama I prefer to ignore. It's not a fight you want to get in the kiddle of when Conchs disagree with each other. Parents have come to blows watching their kids playing sports!
The Key West cemetery looking lovely as usual.
She is a resident in my book:
I very much like walking the streets of Key West.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Visitor And I Discuss Parking

I'm not sure if Cheyenne leads me or if I lead her, but in the end we see everything it seems like, through my eyes or hers. I doubt she appreciated this rusty lump of metal for what it actually is. She can see but she can't read (I think). I thought about it for a while as my dog ambled happily around enjoying the grass.

You see a billboard announcing Mile Zero blah blah blah. I see my picnic spot denuded of benches and tables. It's a weird dance where the city gets too many complaints about the homeless napping and then they take out the park benches for a while and quietly replace them some time later when everyone has forgotten.

I carry a folding chair in the trunk for such occasions and for my motorcycle I have the compact and expensive Kermit chair. I try not to let public incivilities get me down, at least the ones I can do something about.

The county building offers a pleasant shaded space for someone with a coffee or an ice cream from the deli across the street. Cheyenne likes grass and there's lots of that here.

Had I needed a spare Hard Rock t-shirt the steps of the county building would have provided. As it was I could only wonder what happened here the night before.

After my wife pointed it out to me last week I also noticed that Mario Sanchez depicted no wild chickens in his portraits of the streets of Key West. That liberation is no longer true.

T-shirts misplaced I can understand in at own where alcohol flows like glacier run off and the temperatures are high and inducing sweating. But abandoning one's glasses? Like this? What

They say real estate prices are rising in Key West and I wonder what such increases are based upon as world wide unemployment sky rockets and all our bosses wonder how soon and in what manner China will implode. As though we in the Keys are immune to the vicissitudes of the world outside.

The monumental reconstruction of Bonnie Albury's house seems to be complete. I am reminded of the old adage of how best to get a small fortune, the answer being that one should start out with a large one. Never mind keeping it air conditioned.

However some among us are more worried about hydration. Water, they tell us will be the new gold on a plent of limited resources and unlimited human reproduction. How will we cope when we have to walk a city block without the ubiquitous bottle of potable water to hand? Cheyenne and I are practicing this sort of self denial early. We drink when we are thirsty.
As they should poinciana trees are blooming.

And car parking remains fraught with complexity for some people, even people who drive small cars. It can't be easy to spot those silly white lines when you're blotto.

This magnificent on sidewalk parking job cheered me and the dude on the bicycle asked what was up, "That's my car!" the visitor from North Carolina said. I love bad parking jobs I said but he replied, "My landlord said it was okay to park like this because I'm only blocking my own gate." Doesn't bother me I said, it just looks funny. I explained how neighbors complain all the time about parking. That and noise are the issues that make neighbors crazy. We get calls at two in the morning about parking issues and I wonder at how some people are even more obsessive than I.

Three wheeled scooters are getting quite popular. I suppose ease of parking has something to do with it. I just can't get over how funky they look. My wife says they are for tourists who are scared to ride on two wheels. I though that was what four wheeled electric cars were for.

Maintenance. Keep painting the bridge, end to end, as it were.

A study in white.

They call then Bahama shutters:

As uncomfortable and small and cramped as they may be factory worker houses are chic today. I wonder if in China one day they will label their factory worker apartments like this:

Changes are coming to Key West, new buildings, new owners, new uses but the fundamentals stay the same, heat, salt air, sunlight and shadows.

And here is another visitor to Key West. Oprygirl sent me this picture of her escape to Southwest Florida. All the sun and heat and none of the aggravation. Cheers!