Friday, September 27, 2013

A mysterious painting

I didn't feel like I had much to say when I updated last night, but guess what!
A mysterious painting arrived in my office today! It's a beauty, isn't it?

It appears to be a watercolor portrait painted on fabric (likely silk) and is nearly as tall as I am. It isn't signed, in any language.
The outfit looks like traditional Korean or perhaps Chinese. It isn't Japanese or Thai. I don't know enough about other nations to know.

The traditional Asian portraits I've been looking at generally have no border or background, and include calligraphy. The subject is usually an Emperor or an ancestor (usually a middle-aged man). Is this person one of the thousand Chinese gods, or is this the son (or daughter) of a wealthy family? It's not typical for a girl to carry a cane, is it?

Since the mid-1700s, Chinoiserie seems to come into fashion every few decades. If this was European I'd say it was done in 1910-1920s Art Deco style, imitating traditional Asian art. Looking at the face, however, the portrait style is not Westernized.
Perhaps looking at portraiture wasn't the right place to start. It may have started life as part of a screen or wall hanging that was later framed. I don't like to base appraisals on guesses, so if anyone has a background in Asian art history, I'd love to hear from you.

Oh, and the donor commented that the frame was quite valuable. It looks quite average to me, so I'm not sure why... It's modern. She may have meant "framing it was expensive" which I'm sure it was. Since the truck crew know nothing about art, they couldn't pump her for information the way I would have.

Well, that's my little mystery.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Visiting Union Terminal in Cincinnati

I haven't felt like I have much to say for the last couple weeks, but I don't want this blog to fall by the wayside.

I was in Cincinnati over the weekend, and took my husband to the Museum Center at Union Terminal. My very first job was there, back in 1996-97. It's an amazing building, truly huge, and there is even more space behind the scenes than most people comprehend. Hidden space behind the fabricated walls. Blocked-up tunnels. Perhaps a few secret passages. I was a fervent Phantom of the Opera fan, so of course it all seemed awesome. There's a catwalk that goes over the 100' half-dome rotunda. I've been on it. They give that tour twice a year. Contact the museum for details- but only if you're not afraid of heights.

Anyway, if you can spare any time from checking out the paid attractions, there are two freebies you should take advantage of.

Climb Tower A, which overlooks the railyard, where you can watch the trains come and go. The tower is packed with railroad artifacts, and railroad enthusiasts itching to tell you about them.

There is also a free tour of the building; which, if you like architecture and historic preservation, is truly amazing. You go up to the second floor catwalk for a closer look at the murals. Then they take you to the building's original offices, beautifully restored to their Art Deco glory. The building was derelict for several years, so restoring them was no mean feat. The guide could see our interest, so he took us pretty much everywhere he had keys for, pointing out little details; the clamshell elevator; the room where men waited for the train; the fine dining hall with murals on the ceiling, the phone booths. I haven't seen a phone booth in years. The 30 minute tour stretched to over an hour, but it made our day.

For more about Union Terminal, accompanied by stunning photos, go here.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I fell in love with 7 notes of music.

Ah, children.... The charades are cute....
So long as you don't think too hard about what she's saying, it's all good, right?

Was wondering today what one wears to a wake. It's not a funeral, it's a party, so I don't know if black is in, or out.

Ah, I got nothing to add, so let me share my new favorite song:
Prince Rupert's Drop, from the Oscar & Lucinda soundtrack


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tintype, Marlboro Man, and antique camera parts; pieces of my life.

Today at work I was handed a coat ("just leave it on that stack of boxes over there would you?")  and told it was THE coat worn by Marlboro Man in the old ads. I have no way of knowing or proving whether this is true, but it made a fine story.

I reassembled a set of fancy Victorian candleholders dripping with crystal prisms, threw up my hands at a Ferris Wheel Erector set, sorted through a cart of this-and-that, most of which was chaff, but a few things were worth my time. The first was a 1860s tintype photo of a woman in mourning clothes. The other was a cigar box filled with PARTS from turn of the century cameras. Talk about "they don't make these any more"!

And I fell in love with the soundtrack to Oscar and Lucinda. I haven't seen the movie, but after reading the synopsis, I might have to.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fair at New Boston (2)

The Fair was glorious, I have a sunburn, and somehow my face made it onto the Springfield News website as I was examining at an 18th century apothecary kit.

I hope they roll it back to the 1700s next year, as I just don't find the Jane Austen era costumes to be all that appealing. Also, they can't go any later in time without losing Tecumseh, who was killed in fall of 1813, and it would be a shame to lose him as a speaker.

The food was nicely authentic, and what's more: mostly gluten-free. You have no idea what a blessing that is to people like me. I had turkey leg, chicken legs, garlic mushrooms in wine, New Boston stew, corn chowder, and ham&beans. Had to pass on the bread&butter, gingerbread, and peaches with pound cake, but I'm sure they were also amazing.

Of all things, people seemed most fascinated by REAL LIVE ANIMALS. There was a falcon in the Shawnee village who was drawing most of the attention, a Shetland pony carrying crated hens, and a goat tethered under a tree that the owner milked, as well as the usual horses and oxen.

Last year at the Fair, I discovered the pleasure of Bohea tea, a loose leaf black tea whose leaves are smoked over a fire. It tastes nicely smoky with milk and perhaps a little honey. I have never found this tea anywhere else, so I stocked up again this year. If you like a smoky taste, I recommend giving it a try.