Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol

Warhol was a poor coal miner’s son from Pittsburgh

The notion that the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA was going to have an exhibition comparing Rockwell with pop art icon Andy Warhol may have sounded strange to many people. When I bought the catalog for the exhibition – and I almost NEVER do that! – even the saleswoman in the gift shop had thought it didn’t seem obvious. Yet we agreed that, somehow, it really worked.

Both artists were cultural icons who worked a great deal in commercial art. Some of their subject matter – Jackie Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Judy Garland, for example. Warhol owned at least a couple pieces of Rockwell art, including her Jackie piece and the Christmas piece Extra Good Girls and Boys.

They were both considered apolitical, yet there were partisan glimmers in some of their works. It was clear that Norman had some influence on Andy; see the Razor’s edge picture of Tyrone Power by Rockwell (left) compared with the male fashion model by Warhol (right).


They were both city kids. Rockwell grew up in Manhattan’s West Side, which he did not enjoy, preferring instead his summers on Long Island or upstate New York. Warhol was a poor coal miner’s son from Pittsburgh; his parents recognized that the youngest of three sons had talent and scraped to send him to art school. Eventually, he found his way TO New York City, where he thrived on the Upper East Side, living with his mother for the last two decades of her life.

Of course, they did have their differences. Rockwell was a generation older, e.g. But they were both misunderstood. Rockwell was supposedly doing treacle, Warhol simplistic items such as soup cans, when both their bodies of work were far more complex.
The third artist represented in the exhibit is James Warhola, Andy’s nephew, son of Andy’s brother Paul; the family kept the final A. He has done everything from paperback book covers for science fiction books of Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke to Garbage Pail Kids cards (asked to do so by Art Spiegelman of MAUS fame) to MAD magazine.

He was also a devotee of Rockwell, but of course was affected by Uncle Andy. In fact, Paul and his family would surprise Andy with their visits to New York, when James and his brother would end up stretching canvases.

The show continues through October 29. It is HIGHLY recommended!

Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs at Norman Rockwell Musuem

As spring ended, I told the family that the one thing I really wanted to do during the summer was going to the Norman Rockwell Museum to see the work of cartoonist Roz Chast, having loved her material in the New Yorker magazine for decades. When my friend David Brickman reviewed the show, which had opened on June 6, in July, it just intensified my desire.

Life being what it is, we didn’t make it to the Stockbridge, MA site until October 24, a mere two days before the close of the Chast exhibit, even though it’s only an hour away from Albany, NY. As it turned out, they were having a show outdoors featuring vintage cars; it cost $10 per carload, but the price would apply to going inside the museum, so no big deal.
roz chast
The linchpin of the Chast portion of the exhibit was her first graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (2014), about her aging parents, “who were in the same fifth-grade class.” There was “her gentle, worrywart father, George” (d. 2007) and “her strong-willed mother, Elizabeth” (d. 2009), educators both, “who subscribed to The New Yorker and inspired” their only child’s “art and world view.” I could have read the whole book right there, on the walls, but I perused enough to know that it’ll be on my Christmas list.

The Daughter preferred some of her other work, such as What I Hate from A to Z, also shown in its entirety. The video about the Brooklyn-born artist was quite entertaining as well.

We’d been to the museum at least twice before, but there were works by Rockwell I had never seen before, notably Glen Canyon Dam; the texture of this painting is lost in the photograph, because, up close, this is a STUNNING piece.

Oddly, a section called Love a Vet: Honoring Our Veterans was already open; the website had given the dates as from November 7, 2015, through January 5, 2016. The playing card format of the works from various artists was very effective.

Finally, I checked out the vehicles outdoors, which were of many makes and models from the 1930s to the 1980s. I’m not a “car guy,” but the 1936 Rolls Royce was, as they say, sweet.

August rambling #1: Jon Stewart, and Roz Chast

the root of all evil
Nuclear arsenals.

Thanks to Reliance on “Signature” Drone Strikes, US Military Doesn’t Know Who It’s Killing.

John Oliver: Subpar Sex Education in U.S. Schools. Plus: DC Statehood; stay for the song at the end.

Here are 7 things people who say they’re ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal’ don’t understand.

Senator Elizabeth Warren to the GOP: This is 2015! Also, Jeb Bush’s Grandfather Was A Founding Member Of Today’s Planned Parenthood.

FactChecking the GOP Debate.

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

Children’s illustrator Mary Engelbreit is losing fans because of her anti-racist art. “There are no words to express how little I care if I lose every bigoted, racist, homophobic and/or sexist follower I have.”

Key & Peele: What if we were as crazy for teaching as we are for sports?

The Cop: Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Many people question whether justice was done.

Is this true? 2015 is the year the old internet finally died.

Michael Moore talks about his new movie.

Dealing with Diversity: Awesome Kid Graphic Novels.

David Brickman reviews Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs at Norman Rockwell Museum.

Dan the Man writes about Her Eighth Triathlon. The Wife competes in what might be the last Pine Bush Triathlon, but she did not compete barefooted like some.
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Jaquandor’s tools of the writing trade.

1000 Candles, 1000 Cranes by Small Potatoes.

Jon Stewart Started Small, Became Voice Of A Generation, and Exit, Stage Left. Also, from the last episode: Uncensored – Three Different Kinds of Bulls**t, and Our Moment of Zen.

Bob Crane, radio legend.

Cannabis discovered in tobacco pipes found in William Shakespeare’s garden

After Frank Gifford died last weekend, someone wrote, “Many happy memories sitting on the couch with my dad watching Gifford and the New York Giants on a Sunday afternoon.” True of my dad and me as well. Later, I watched him co-host Monday Night Football.

SamuraiFrog’s Weird Al rankings 20-16. I missed this: Weird Al gets Whiplashed.

From Bill Wyman, (correction) NOT the bassist for the Rolling Stones, All 74 Led Zeppelin Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best. And The ESQ&A: Keith Richards Explains Why Sgt. Pepper Was Rubbish.

One of the very first CDs I ever bought was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits, but this commercial for Farxiga, a Type 2 diabetes medicine, is wrecking my enjoyment of the song Walk of Life.

An escalator for a Slinky.

Muppets: Sesame Street on HBO. Plus Harvey Kneeslapper and Jungle Boogie and Cookie Monster in “Jurassic Cookie.” 1974: Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog visit Johnny Carson’s show. The new Muppet TV show is a top pick for the fall, even though Kermit and Miss Piggy have split up. Not to mention a PBS special, An overview of the highlights of Muppet creator Jim Henson’s life and career, which premieres Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 8 p.m. ET. Check local listings.

K-Chuck Radio: Tony Burrows versus Joey Levine versus Ron Dante.

Dancing with the Renaissance Geek.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are being chased by Elmer Fudd and escape into paintings in a museum, from the 2003 movie Looney Tunes Back in Action.

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

Arthur answers my questions about seeings things from the other side of the political and philosophical spectrum.

The near-twin is taking questions for Ask Gordon Anything through August 24.

I made Jacquandor’s brief trip ’round Blogistan, along with some other interesting pieces.

Dustbury notes The bigot on the front line.

Last Week at Trouble With Comics, plus this week’s edition.

Dustbury: Our fits grow ever hissier.

January Rambling: looking for good news

Ever confuse palate, pallet and palette? I did this month.

attemptedmurder Arthur’s article Why we think the news is worse than it is. This led to a thread that I wrote about finding good news amongst the bad which are here and here and here.

People I know personally, at least one artist, seemed really irritated that a Norman Rockwell painting fetched a record price last month. This antipathy seemed to be tied to the notion of Rockwell as artistic pablum. Another view of the artist is Closet Case as Gay Icon. I find these assumptions interesting, but highly speculative.

I am tired of being the T in LGBT.

Albany, NY has been a city since 1686; got its first woman mayor in 2014.

The Albany Symphony Orchestra Wins a Grammy Award! And I went to that ASO concert the week the recording was made.

In the small town of Binghamton, New York there spins a 1925 carousel that once inspired Rod Serling and has since become a portal into… the Twilight Zone.

Re: the Chris Christie/George Washington Bridge story, Stereotypes still caught in gridlock. You’ve probably already seen the take by Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of whom, an NPR interview with Springsteen.

Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic.

My Pete Seeger obit, which is a rewriting of what I wrote when he turned 90.
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The first obituary I saw for Amiri Baraka, formerly LeRoi Jones, whose Blues People book I loved, was a prolific author. Later stories focused on him being polarizing and controversial. I prefer the balanced NPR report.

Morrie Turner, R.I.P., creator of the comic strip Wee Pals, revolutionary in its own way.

Growing Up Unvaccinated. “I had the healthiest childhood imaginable. And yet I was sick all the time.”

In 1919 wave of molasses in the North End of Boston killed 21 people.

Because dictionary.

The Decoy Effect and, re: Fidel Castro, Elimination by Illumination, and early phone service via barbed bells and the medical wonder of tiny sideshows.

Lefty Brown is open-sourcing his weight loss and exercise.

About the new Presbyterian hymnal, written by my pastors’ niece.

50 Shades of Smartass, Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 and Chapter 12. Plus SamuraiFrog explains his visual autobiography.

Jaquandor is killing his darlings, so to speak.

The New York Times’ Most Popular Story of 2013 Was Not an Article.

Dates you won’t find on your calendar, such as January 0.

Happy introverts day was January 2. I so relate.

Melanie’s A Bit of Happy: Reading, Russian, and the Soviet Union and The Memory is in There.

Ever confuse palate, pallet, and palette? I did this month, but I had the good sense to stop and look it up before sending it.

The Official Website of William Schallert. He’s a character actor I know best as the dad in The Patty Duke Show.

The new and ugly Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Fables, Elfquest, Marvel’s Conan, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman are the best fantasy comics of all time, according to Comic Book Resources.

Ever since two Atlanta Braves pitchers got elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame this month, people have been telling me about this commercial, which also features a former player NOT yet in the HoF, and who may never be.

Alex Trebek raps clues on ‘Jeopardy’, sort of.

Robert Downey Jr. sounding more like Sting than Sting does.

Leon Theremin playing the theremin.

Between the music and the history, well worth watching; I will say no more.

The history of Amazing Grace with Bill Moyers from 1990.

Quaker Parody: What Does George Fox Say.

We have two felines and can’t argue: Sorry, But Your Cat Is Actually A Total Jerk. It’s Just Science.
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GOOGLE LINKS (not me)
The website is the brainchild of Roger Green, founder, and owner of £10m national office cleaning contractor, Spotless Commercial Cleaning Ltd.

Re: Statistically speaking: ‘Anti-mayor’ voting block overstated. Brighton Independent By Greg Smith and Roger Green.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Norman Rockwell Museum

“It was prophesied that nobody would sit through a cartoon an hour and a half long,” Walt Disney said. “But we had decided there was only one way we could successfully do Snow White—and that was to go for broke.”

The day after our trip to Tanglewood, we decided to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum. It was showing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic,” which had opened on June 8 and would be available through October 27, 2013.

The exhibition “features more than 200 works of art including conceptual drawings, early character studies, detailed story sketches, and animation drawings. Also featured are delicate thumbnail layout watercolors, meticulously rendered pencil layouts, rare watercolor backgrounds, colorful cels, and vintage posters all illustrating how Walt Disney advanced the creation of an entirely new art form.

“The exhibition is organized by sequence through the progression of the movie, featuring some never-before-seen works of art.” Among the most interesting were the deleted scenes such as the soup-eating segment, which had a song attached to it, the bed building scene, and a fantasy sequence of Snow White dancing in the stars. These were fine scenes but detracted from the narrative. Dopey had a long piece when Snow “died” which also was scrapped.

It was fun looking at Marge Champion modeling for the dancing scene with Dopey and Sneezy and drawing water from a well. The exhibit, which can usually only be seen at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco came to Massachusetts because of the historic friendship and respect between Rockwell and Disney.

One cannot overstate the importance of Snow White. “It was prophesied that nobody would sit through a cartoon an hour and a half long,” Disney said. “But we had decided there was only one way we could successfully do Snow White—and that was to go for broke—shoot the works. There could be no compromise on money, talent, or time.” He also suggested that it was not aimed at children, and that, indeed, children under the age of seven or eight ought NOT see it; instead, it was targeted at the childlike part of the adult heart.

Did I mention that when we went, it was FREE? It was part of Free Fun Fridays of cultural venues. “Highland Street is giving out a total of $650,000 in grants to open up 60 venues across the state for one Friday,” 10 in the Boston area, but the rest across the state of Massachusetts.