There are at least 125, and still counting, damn good reasons to go see Impressionist France at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

“Fields in the Month of June” by Charles-Francois Daubigny is one excellent reason to visit France via an art exhibition at a museum in the American midwestern state of Missouri, the Nelson-Atkins. Who knew there was great art in and flowing through Kansas City, the home of a basically defunct public school district? Ouch, irony’s knife-edge is getting a tad sharp these days. No matter, the point of this missive is the wonderful art that has come to visit from October 19, 2013  to February 9, 2014.  The sheer size of “Fields in the Month of June” surprised me, as did the dimensions of a number of the other pieces you often view in print and sometimes online.  There are the LARGE Daubigny and Dore pieces to a small round photograph of a local regional girl in this exhibition. This serves as a certain metaphor for the entire show–large scope rendered with precise attention paid to small details in the same way painters used photographs to enhance their depictions of whatever was catching their image loving eyes. It’s all absolutely delicious eye feasting as far as I’m concerned.

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http://www.charles-francois-daubigny.org/145033/Fields-in-the-Month-of-June-normal.jpg

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The number one reason, in my opinion: Gustave Dore’s “Deer In a Pine Forest” (Vosges) 1865.  Which seems to have disappeared from cyberspace since I first found a version of it to serve as a tempting main course.  In lieu of that incredible image itself, just toss the red figure out of the image below, darken the light, heighten the trees, give the huge painting a wall to own all by itself and you’ll have some notion of why Dore’s painting alone is worth paying the price of admission to the current exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Impressionist France, Visions of Nation From Le Gray to Monet. Note: “Figures by a Woodland Stream,” shown below, is not on display. But it gives a decent notion of the painting that you can almost walk right into-though I wouldn’t turn my toes out of this one either. No way.

The exhibition concentrates on mid 19th century France’s city-scapes, forests, rural areas, trains, water-scapes, artists and the people they painted–no, not the wealthy upper classes wanting their fashionable personages preserved for posterity, but such as “Washerwomen of the Breton Coast,” 1870 by Jules Breton. Oh, yes, the washerwomen are another major reason to catch this exhibition. There’s also Breton’s “The Wounded Seagull,” 1878 and his wonderful take on his wife, “Elodie With a Sunshade”; Bay of Dourarnenez (Woman with Parasol), 1870-71.  Hmm, yes, I took a fancy to Breton’s paintings.  He has a way with the ladies’ eyes and how they engage the viewer.  The Mona Lisa smirks. So what. She’s getting her face done by a painter while she sits around doing nothing except, possibly considering the recent gossip regarding sexual scandals. Breton’s women are not passive objects of affectation. They’re engaged in the landscapes in which they’re consciously inhabiting. They’re magnificent in their own right.  Men make war. Women wash clothes. Which one really keeps the world in some state worth living in? So, got it, Jules Breton’s Women are another major reason to see this art show.

Here’s another major reason to go to the art show: a Wet-plate Field Camera w/ Dallinger lens, tripod and equipment from France circa 1870s. For all you digital camera junkies, this huge field camera is a sight to behold. Imagine hauling around over one hundred pounds of wood, glass, metal and what all else in order to take a few pictures. It’s a magnificent specimen of artistic creation you can walk around–no touching allowed–and imagine getting yourself up close to “click” this huge beast’s “buttons.” Yeah, dream on. The products of such burdensome camera beasts are also in evidence in this exhibition–and they are dazzlers in their own rights. Gustave  Le Grey’s “Factory,” Terre-Noire, 1851-55, Joseph Vigier’s “Saint Sauveur, Port de Sia, Gavarnie Route,” 1853, along with the photos of Charles Nigre and the unknown photographer Giraudons Artist offer much for the eye and the intellect to consider of times and people long gone, yet glimpsed because these men turned their huge cameras’ lens towards them and pulled the imaging trigger.

Oh and there’s Berthe Morisot’s “The Harbor at Lorient,” 1869. It’s a wonderful study in light, water, white, blues and browns all rendered in the bright light of day with her sister dressed in white. It’s a gorgeous work displayed with some seascapes depicting some seaside people notions modern bikini bathers may find incomprehensible. Those are by the usual Impressionist guys.

Of course you’ll get your fix of Monet and Manet–with more of each in the permanent collection on display for nada all the time.  But you will also get to meet and greet some artists you might not think of when wanting to wade into the famous “Waterlilies.” Discover Frederic Bazille, represented by his “Porte de la Reine at Aigues-Mortes,” 1867–a depiction of a 13th century gate to the city. There’s Paul Huet’s beautifully rendered lighting in “The Ruins of the Chataeu of Pierrefonds,” 1867-68. Yes, there are more than a few castles in temporary residence and they’re wonderfully depicted, complete with splashes of red and white to draw attention to the local people en route to other places beyond the paintings’ scopes.

This is a show about context of place and the place is France from her seashores to her Alps–and what a showing it is in the darkened exhibition area with plenty of something for everyone’s taste palette, in my view. There are bright lights, muted atmospheres, and quiet farm scenes complete with bovines.  There are even some digitalized art books of glaciers and river scenes. The large and weighty originals rest under glass while your oily human fingers get to flip the their contemporary counterparts by running your fingertips across the glass. What a wonderful statement about the evolution of the photographic art form this is all by itself.

A very nice feature of this show is that once your ticket is bought you can enter and linger as long as you like, go forage for food, and return for another go around the exhibition as often as you care to –on the same day, of course. This isn’t set up to be a line of pushers and shovers roped off from the offerings. You can wander and loiter through the thoughtfully walled spaces with whatever engages your heart and mind–including the pieces on the prehistoric forests which no longer exist as they once did. Theodore Rousseau’s “The Rock Oak” (Forest at Forentainbleus), 1860-67.

One other very lovely surprise for me was a delightfully refreshing street scene of blues, greens and whites by Renoir, “The Grand Boulevard,” 1875. It is simply gorgeous. Go see the exhibition paths for yourself. What are you waiting for? France to come to you? This is about as close to that as you’ll get. But don’t forget, most of these images are long gone. If not for the artists, they wouldn’t exist.

Oops, I almost forgot, in this exhibit there are 125 pieces to view. That’s 125 reasons to go, at the very least.  Every reason thereafter is icing on the French Impressionist Cake Walk.

Impressionist France at the Nelson-Atkins

http://www.nelson-atkins.org/art/exhibitions/impressionist-france.cfm

Spencer Art Library Guide
Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet

http://www.nelson-atkins.org/images/PDF/Education/Library/2013_Impressionist%20France.pdf

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Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet

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Grow! Don’t “Mow”! New Green Industry = Grow Forests

Seriously–forget cap-and-trade. Forget all the nonsense about expanding until all the Earth is covered in concrete. We all know concrete cracks. Nor does concrete produce Oxygen. Consider the increasing need for clean air. Think about the recent Urban Air Bamboo Billboards project. Now–imagine trees everywhere. Not just any trees planted helter skelter, but trees native to each landscape flourishing, thriving, expanding so that they produce oxygen–which ALL Homo sapiens require for life 24/7 year round–yep, even corporate oil executives need oxygen no matter how much they may deny it.  Hmm, with those trees will come other plants –and animals, insects, birds–all sorts of wonderful living things! Of course humans will have to learn a great deal about all their non-human living relations in order to adjust to sharing the Earth’s space in a positive non-destructive manner. There’s really no reason to fear those curious little skinks exploring the undergrowth.  We’re all much larger than any of them.  What is keeping us from growing more trees? Why don’t we pay the countries with rainforests to keep their forests intact and expanding? Let’s not just maintain the rainforests, let’s encourage their expansion. More Redwoods anyone? Hmm? Why not? How about oaks, cottonwoods, birch, aspen, pines? Think of all the jobs that would be created in order to educate humans about how the return of forests would benefit them –and owls, beavers, fish, elk, wolves. What new things could be learned and discovered about the medicinal properties of wildflowers, grasses, trees? Many biologists, chemists, surveyors, teachers would be required to deal with all the information starting with collection to distribution.  Imagine a world in which humans live amidst nature instead of outside, disconnected, and alienated from the web of life.  New urban designs for cities with more than city parks–but cities as “parks’–as greenways. How about some consideration for animals that need to migrate? Hmm? I’m sure some clever imaginative folks can devise all sorts of tunnels and bridges and other pathways for our animal relations to travel safely.

Imagine Earth alive and thriving with forests, prairies, cacti galore.  Imagine thousands of people planting trees, repairing removed mountaintops, clearing out the plastic in the oceans. Cleaning crews could be busy for decades.  Imagine a healthy planet.

The map posted at Greenpeace International is from 2006 so I suspect there is much LESS forest today than it depicts. But this offers a starting point.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/solutions/our-disappearing-forests/intact-forest-landscapes/

Isn’t it time to put an end to this:

And get some traction going perhaps this way:

Btw, goats will eat any plant that is not toxic to them.

I’m not entirely “pleased” with this post. Please share your suggestions, input, ideas, questions, brainstorms for improving it.

 

Patricia Gualinga Montalvo of Sarayaku, Ecuador speaks about The Living Forest, Laws, Oil Companies, International Allies and The Rights of Mother Earth. Translation provided.

Painted Hills, Grey @ eva wojcik

 Earth Day musing:   Yes, that little dark streak near the top is a human.  We are much like ants on Earth.  Unfortunately in many ways we’re lethal ants destroying everything in our path.

For those of you suffering from limited attention spans please do not let the length of this video deter you from hearing Patricia’s speech given at the Indigenous Environmental Network Conference on the Rights of Mother Earth Restoring Indigenous Life Ways of Responsibility and Respect.  There are several important things well worth learning in her speech and replies to questions. One very significant element is how a village of 1,200 has developed international alliances for support of all kinds.  I think it’s an art many others need to foster in their own communities.  We need to make the most of our common ground in order to protect Earth.  Respect, support, communication, tolerance for our differences  are not easy to acquire.  If the only thing we have in common is a love for Mother Earth–then we better make the most of it.  Unlike the Nature Conservancy I think we need to do a great deal more than enjoy picnics outside in order to ‘celebrate’ Earth Day.  The Tar Sands operation is just one hard harsh reality  we need to face head on.  Now, when it’s possible to picnic on the Tar Sands site then that would be something to celebrate indeed. We’re a long long way from that picnic. Presently I don’t think we’d be welcome at the Tar Sands site unless our baskets contained a few tons of solid gold currency.

Pachamama Alliance on fb  https://www.facebook.com/PachamamaAlliance

Pachamama Alliance website  http://pachamama.org/

Still confused about the Tar Sands Protest? Real News coverage can help.

Oh yeah, yet another Keystone Pipeline Protest Post from yours truly. It’s going to be a long week of such posts as I wade the web for coverage of what’s going in front of the White House. Daryl Hannah got arrested at the protest. Thank you, Ms. Hannah. Where’s that Al Gore and his “truth” crew? Gore has the funds to travel everywhere so that’s not an issue. Holding out for the big finish or just holding out, Mr. Gore?

Oh and somewhere along the way I learned that Obama still has NOT put solar panels on the White House roof. LOL. What does that tell Us? Hmm?

Can you imagine destroying 740,000 acres of forest for a pipeline to carry “crude” from Alberta, Canada to Texas refineries? Is there no end to the insanity? People go to jail for starting forest fires. Why don’t oil company executives go to jail for destroying forests?

Got Paper? Think about Trees.

97% of America’s Old Growth Forests have been destroyed. Think about that the next time you flip through a catalog, magazine, or telephone book.  Consider the children at Cancun who promote “Plant for the Planet” and their efforts to plant a million trees in every country.  In this time of Christmas Trees think about the gift of life that trees make possible for humans. How does that measure up to the latest electronic toy wrapped in paper from a tree, in a box from a tree, waiting under a tree?  In the midst of my historical research digging into the documents of Record Group 75 of the National Archives for reservations in the Dakotas I discovered that there was a constant quest for building lumber and the need for wood for heat and cooking fuel. The result was a virtual deforestation of the landscape.  When there are no more trees to support life, there will be no more of us either.

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