Textiles printed using large, engraved metal plates produced finely detailed scenes.

Printed at Bromley Hall, England, 1774-1811

Printed at Bromley Hall, England, 1774-1811

Textiles printed using large, engraved metal plates produced finely detailed scenes. Blue threads in this fabric’s edge indicate that it was made for export to America or other British colonies. This was printed at Bromley Hall, England, 1774-1811

Crows' business model; river town

Crows, which are highly intelligent, if often associated with death,  have a very effective business model as scavengers.  Indeed, being a good scavenger of things and ideas seems essential for thelong-term success of most of us.  (A successful investor is a particularly good scavenger -- an outstanding opportunist.)

"Three Visions of Gloucester"

From left, "Howard Blackburn''(detail, egg tempera on board), by Peter Vincent; "Pavilion Beach'' (detail, oil on canvas), by Jeff Weaver, and "Gloucester Reveries'' (detail, woodblock reduction print), by Dor Gorvett, in the "Three Visions of Gloucester'' show at the Cape Ann Museum through Feb. 28.

Depends which way you look



"Bo Roberts (Reversed)'' (mixed media), by PETER COMBE,   in  a show at Lanoue Fine Art, Boston, Oct. 3-Nov. 1.

See detail below from the picture.


Mr. Combe uses punched or shredded household paint swatches and mostly makes three-dimensional art works. These works change in the viewers' eyes  as they shift vantage points.





William Morgan: New England's glorious temples of transport

A Sunday autumn afternoon ramble about an antique shop in Concord, Mass., produced the  two images below of magnificent but long-lost railroad stations.
For two lousy bucks, I got to marvel at the duo of huge temples of transportation and potent symbols of 19th-Century New England wealth. I could also contemplate the stupidity of our county nearly abandoning  passenger rail service as it engaged in the folly of tearing down  gorgeous parts of our architectural patrimony. The railroad station in the New Hampshire capital –a Victorian pile worthy an industrial city in the English Midlands – was razed for a shopping center in 1960. Once one of the most powerful companies in the region, the Boston and Maine Railroad went bankrupt a decade later.
Boston and Maine Railroad Station, Concord, N.H.
Union Station in Worcester was far grander, with giant covered sheds and a 200-foot-high tower that was a combination of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and a Hanseatic bourse. Built for the Boston and Albany Railroad in 1875, Union Station was torn down in 1911.
Although falling short of its abandoned predecessor,  and looking like the legislative building or presidential palace of a banana republic, the pompous new terminal at least attempted a civic statement. It would seem nigh on impossible to surpass the splendor of the post-Civil War cathedral of transportation.
Union Station, Worcester, torn down in 1911.
The current Union Station,  Worcester.

Entropy in the neighborhood




"Cosmos 1'' (mixed media), by CLAUDINE BING, in her show with Justine Freed, "Rhythms of the Universe: A Multimedia Collaboration,'' at Galatea Fine Art, Boston, Nov. 1-30.


There's a lovely little essay by Bill Miller in today's Boston Globe about life's flux and erosions, including of social relationships. This one is set in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley. (He now lives in the affluent exurb of Sherborn.)


"Like many events in our lives, we didn't see it coming. So we were kind of shellshocked when we exchanged sad goodbyes to the last family in the original neighborhood.'' Of course it is always coming, as is its analog death. Mr. Miller, like most people of his age, probably knows more dead people than living.

Something to think about walking  sidewalks  covered with yellow, crinkly leaves that have fallen more out of drought and  tree fatigue than cold.



Coming in


"Approach and Descent'' (drypoint on Japanese paper with hand drawing), by SERENA PERRONE,  announced to New England Diary by Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence, but in "The Big Picture Show''  of prints at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery, New York, through Dec. 5.

Autumn in New York, or Boston


This painting,  in a recent show by VINCENT GIARRANO,  seen at Susan Powell Fine Art, in the pretty town of Madison, Conn.,   on Long Island Sound, creates (for me anyway) a particularly evocative sense of being in a Northeast city as the weather turns cool and blustery at this time of year. There's an autumn busyness tinctured with sadness. I think of Vernon Duke's wan song "Autumn in New York,'' whose lyrics  and melody convey in turns,  joyful anticipation and a deepening melancholy.

But maybe Mr. Giarrano got the idea from a scene in the spring.

Love the bridge connecting the buildings -- old city.


-- Robert Whitcomb



Use everything



"Tangle'' (300-foot-long rope made with acorn caps), by BETH GALSTON,  in the show "Branching Out: Trees as Art,'' at the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, Mass.,  through Sept. 20, 2015.

She collected the acorn caps under a single red oak in Boston's Arnold Arboretum.


"The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we'll hang them.''

-- Lenin



Chief Ricci's suicide and other Cianci regime history

"Fragile Remains'' (collagraph and trace monotype print), by JOAN HAUSRATH, at the Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, Mass.
For new arrivals in Providence, and citizens with amnesia: Note  this excerpt of  an April 25, 2007 article by Bill Rodriguez in the Phoenix:
''Now that Buddy Cianci’s scheduled July 27 prison release date is approaching, Providence documentary filmmaker Cherry Arnold is getting around to a theatrical release of Buddy, following a successful victory lap on the film festival circuit....''

“'During the screenings outside of RI, in New York for instance, there were more gasps and audible reactions where people who didn’t know Buddy’s story were, I think, shocked by some of what happens, like the police chief [Robert E. Ricci] committing suicide [in 1978] and the assault details,' she notes. “'Outside of RI, lots of people ask during the Q&A why he was able to run for mayor again as a convicted felon. They’re very curious about that.”'

Then there are the sweetheart pension deals  and running City Hall as a criminal operation. But, hey!, nobody's perfect! The heavy price of statesmanship!

As H.L. Mencken's line goes:

''Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.''



William Morgan: A license plate worthy of Liberace

Photos (below)  and comment by WILLIAM MORGAN The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations has blessedly not joined the rush to offer dozens of specialty and charity license plates. And not least of all, the base Rhode Island tag was designed by a noted graphic designer, Tyler Smith, and is quite handsome.

States  such as Florida have scores, even hundreds, of affinity plates available for an extra fee. Rhode Island's paltry offering is only eight, including the Patriots and the Plum Island Lighthouse.

So far, Rhode Island has avoided any of the overtly religious, political and downright dumb plates that have made a mockery of the idea that a license plate is a nothing more than a way of identifying a vehicle–and not an opportunity to raise money for athletic leagues, Pro-Choice activists, or a big despoiling industry. Or as a Montana State Police captain said recently, "I need to see your number, not know what you favorite flavor of coffee is."

While one would not wish to discourage a few good charities from trying to raise money, I wonder if crowding a license plate with too much information and appalling design is really the most appropriate way to raise funds.

The Ocean State's latest affinity plate is for  a noble  aim  – to fight breast cancer. $20 for each tag goes to the state's women's cancer-screening program. Marvelous. But is not then the next logical specialty plate one that would raise money for prostate-cancer research? What color would the ribbon be?  The image of a little walnut-sized gland gracing the plate?

Hats off to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resources Foundation. But as an example of design from the "Creative Capital," this plate is a graphic disaster. The font for Rhode Island is too bland, for starters. Worst of all is the fading horizontal pink color scheme, as if the plate had been dipped halfway into a bucket of Pepto-Bismol. It looks like something Liberace ordered over the telephone.