03 June 2014

We take Manhattan - and bit of Brooklyn

Detail, quilt by Mrs. Green McPhearson, 1861.

On May 23, we were in Manhattan for a very special event - our son's graduation from Columbia Law School (and yes, he does have a job.) We naturally celebrate our son's hard work and persistence, but also cheer as this marks the end of our career as parents of students. 


However, let's start at the beginning - the graduation ceremony began at 3:30 pm, so we had time to take in a ground-breaking exhibit at the New York Historical Society, an institution we had not visited before. Entitled Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts &  Context in the Civil War, this exhibit originated with co-curators Madelyn Shaw and Lynne Zacek Bassett as a response to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and was developed with support from the American Textile History Museum.

There's been an effluence of ink and paper - and video - documenting and exploring the Civil War; nevertheless this exhibit and the accompanying book fill an important gap addressing the role of textiles at war and at home. After all, King Cotton - a labor-intensive plantation crop - was at the root of it all.

My copy - already full of notes. ISBN 978-0-937474-05-1

Botanical Album Quilt, Esther Matthews, 1859.

The quilt above was made for Addison Blair Martz by his grandmother Esther. The floral designs are based on plants found in the Martz's native Virginia; like many loyal to their native commonwealth, Addison joined the Confederate army and died of wounds received at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Patriotic quilts.

In addition to quilts, many other types of textiles are displayed, amazing survivors from an era of upheaval, deprivation and loss.  Quilts and coverlets are show highlights, but a partial list of artifacts on view includes: an enormous cotton bale, uniforms and kit, children's clothing, mourning attire, slave cloth, "free cloth," a fully dressed camp bed, paintings, prints, etchings and political cartoons, daguerreotypes, a scrap of the flag from Ft. Sumter, regimental flags, letters and paper ephemera, a bandage roller and surgical lint, a hospital shirt, and even a Ku Klux Klan hood. 


Frankly, I am not much of a Civil War buff and skipped this show when it originated in Lowell, Massachusetts. However, I am very glad I had the chance to rectify my stupidity and catch the show in New York.

On our way to Columbia, we passed Jacob's Pickles and the gods of hospitality smiled on us. We'd never been able to score a table here before but that day, perhaps because of the rain, we snagged outdoor seats. What's a little drizzle to a foodie wanna-be?  As the name implies, this restaurant serves a lot of vinegar-y veggies as well as Southern-inspired comfort food. We sampled four types of pickles and shared a delicious order of shrimp and grits.

Pickled beets, cukes, green beans and carrots.

Right: proud parents line up at the gate. Left: graduation scenes.

We enjoyed the graduation ceremony and listened to a moving speech by Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who, basically, defeated DoMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in her successful appearance before the Supreme Court.

Couldn't end the blog or the trip without a photo of our stylish friend Elke, with DH, in front of statuary at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. DH is hiding the "naughty bits" of the sculpture with his coat, making sure this blog stays G-rated.

Elke, a vision in indigo.

01 June 2014

Guerilla Knitting hits the Newton Free Library

The lobby column has a "cosy," like a teapot.

On a recent routine visit to our library - quelle surprise!  The library had been yarn-bombed, or, as I prefer to use non-martial language, yarn improv-ed.  There was nothing in the monthly library newsletter about these knitted and crocheted enhancements to our public institution, so I do not know whom to credit. Good job, though, whoever you are.

Colorful and nondestructive personal expression.

Even the trees got into the act.

DH walks back to the car past warm and fuzzy light posts.