ART | Sorting out an heirloom by Arthur Parton

PartonThis oil by Arthur Parton has been in my mother’s family for 80 years or so.

Though they aren’t serious about it any way, shape or form, my parents have amassed a nice little collection of art that includes watercolors, oils, sculpture, pastels and prints — none all that expensive or valuable.

Since my maternal grandfather’s death in 1984, a nice little oil has hung in the front hall of my parents’ house. He’d inherited the painting from some distant cousins in the late 1920s or early 1930s and my mother, his only daughter, kept it after she broke up his house. We’ve never given it much notice. Earlier this summer, spurred by the appearance of a Jasper Cropsey painting on “Antiques Roadshow,” I decided to check our painting out.

Before I share the results of my query, let me also say that my parents are also avid Hudson River School fans who’ve probably been to every major art museum in this country. For my own part, there are days when I wish I’d pursued a career as an art historian — my St. Lawrence thesis explored Frederic Remington’s various depictions of Canada.

It turns out our little oil was painted by Arthur Parton in 1872. Parton, born in Hudson, N.Y. in 1842, was a member of the Hudson River School. Here’s a biography, courtesy of the Pierce Galleries:

Arthur Parton was born in Hudson, N.Y. and along with his brothers Ernets (1845-1933) and Henry (1858-1933), he wanted to become a painter from an early age. Arthur Parton became a prominent 19th century landscape painter after studying with William Trost Richards in Philadelphia and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and after a trip to Europe where he was highly influenced by the Barbizon painters (1869). In 1872, his view of the Shenandoah River (Virginia) was published in Bryant’s Picturesque America and that publication gave him instantaneous recognition.

During the reign of the Hudson River School Parton became an Associate of the National Academy of Design (1871) and a full National Academician (1884). He was a leading member of the American Water Color Society and the Artist’s Fund Society. He exhibited at the National Academy (1862-1914), winning a prize at the NAD in 1896; the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC (1907, 1908, 1910); Brooklyn Art Association (1866-1885); Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, 1876; Boston Art Club (1882-1909) and more. Awards include one in New York City (gold, 1886); Temple Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1889); a medal at the St. Louis Exposition (1904) and more. His work is represented in the Brooklyn Institute Museum; the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.

Parton painted throughout New York state and is known for his paintings of the Catskill and Adirondack mountains. He was a well-known artist and well-liked, having exhibited for over a half-century at the National Academy, and moving from a tight academic Hudson River School palette into Impressionism.

From 1874-1893, he maintained a Tenth Street Studio at 51 West 10th Street, alongside William Merritt Chase in New York City, and he probably was highly influenced by Chase’s impressionistic canvases of Shinnecock.

We’re in the process of having the piece appraised. Stay tuned!

HUNTING | The Reynolds Clan’s fall campaign begins

Brooks, Steve and Finn have begun their fall campaign. Here, they display a take of ducks.

Fall is a holy time of year for the Reynolds family.

Steve, Brooks and Finn — and soon, we hope, Thomas — take to the waters of the Adirondacks for bird shooting. In a recent dispatch, Steve shared the details of a spectacular duck shoot with longtime friend Chris Williamson of Jones Outfitters.

The take was epic — as you can see in the gallery below:

DEBATE | Baldwin and Buckley, 1965

Waiting for Mrs. F. to get home last night, I had a drink and watched Martin Scorsese’s “Public Speaking,” a documentary on noted New York wit Fran Lebowitz.

Another Morris County native, Lebowitz shares her introduction to the American intellectual conversation with Scorcese — speeches by the author James Baldwin. Scorsese then cuts to the seminal 1965 debate between Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge.

Baldwin and Buckley undertake the question, “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”

Baldwin’s answer to the question, which he described as hideously loaded, is one of the great speeches of the civil rights era. And Buckley, of course, is Buckley in all his erudite glory.

It is, naturally, a remarkable debate. Baldwin and Buckley are simply joys to listen to. It’s also a bit sad, as such a debate would probably not be possible in today’s America.

Here’s a clip of Baldwin’s performance:

The library at Berkeley has digitized the entire debate.

ARCHITECTURE | Exploring Don Hisaka

Hikasa_leadThe Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University. The main wing, designed by Don Hisaka, was completed in 1980.

More than 30 years after it opened, the Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University continues to be a polarizing building. Set amid a campus that developed in two bursts — the first between 1856 and 1915 and the second between 1925 and 1930 — the international-style, cement behemoth seems incongruous to many. Indeed, its brutalist exterior is a stark contrast to its gothic and neocolonial neighbors.

Once inside, though, one can realize that architect Don Hisaka wanted the library to complement its neighbors. Windows on the second floor frame terrific views of Richardson Hall, Gunnison Chapel and other older campus buildings. Hisaka also intended the building to stimulate — its original furnishings included a spectrum of primary colors. In the 1999-2000 renovation, those were replaced with more muted and earthy tones. Among the library’s other features are a massive indoor garden and raised study carrels known as treehouses.

While ODY can be interpreted to be severe and uninviting, Hisaka’s houses are charming. Based in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s and later in Massachusetts and California, Hisaka’s work pays heavy tribute to the international style. Again, though, I find his domestic work very approachable. Check out this house, built as a summer residence in Peninsula, Ohio, in 1965:


And this is the courtyard of Hisaka’s Shaker Heights home, built in the late 1960s:

More Hisaka here.

ESSAY | My Sept. 11

I wrote the following thinking I’d submit it to The Hill News, but I ultimately decided against it. My readers here may enjoy it:

By Ed Forbes ’02

St. Lawrence is not really fully in gear, in my experience, until noon and as news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon broke, much of the campus was just waking up.

News organizations were still adjusting to the Internet and I recall most students following the story via television reports. My roommate, Matt Lavin ’02, and I were living in a suite with Tim Furnary ’03 and Leif Skodnick ’02. All of us were on The Hill News and I was the editor.

Lavin was watching “Today” when Matt Lauer broke away from an interview and footage of the Trade Center appeared at 8:51 a.m. I was in the shower and he shouted in that a prop plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Of course, it wasn’t a prop plane, it was American Airlines Flight 11. By 9:03, when United Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, it was clear what was happening.

We immediately tried calling Carl Juers ’99, a good friend who was working as a trader for CIBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Juers was based in the World Financial Center and so, too, was Skodnick’s father, Joel. Telecom infrastructure was swamped.

On campus, word of the attacks spread by word-of-mouth. Few Laurentians had cell phones in 2001 and, if they did, they didn’t work anyway. Students in 8:30 classes emerged from academic buildings to a landscape of rumor, hyperbole and fear.

Just as classes changed, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. I had left our room and had gone up to the Noble Center to see if any murmurings about canceling classes had been heard form Vilas. Craig Harris, a member of the Student Life staff, and I watched footage from Washington. Not long afterward, Lavin and I went to the President’s Office to see how St. Lawrence would handle the attacks. Classes went on; the University was to gather for a vigil at 8 p.m.

Counseling staff set up a center for students to grieve. At noon, the Bacheller Memorial Chime rang 12 times to honor the victims. The Rev. Kathleen Buckley, just arrived as University Chaplain, led her new flock through the evening service of compassion.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, after having established that both Juers and Mr. Skodnick were safe — both had fled northward from Ground Zero and Juers had witnessed Flight 175’s impact and the horrific scene of bodies falling from both towers, we set about publishing The Hill News for Sept. 14.

Lavin wrote a main story that detailed the University’s reactions. We carried a two-page photo essay comprised of images taken our imcomparable photo editor Dustin Williamson ’02. Every member of the Editorial Board wrote his own editorial or column, which we published on pages 2 and 3. The big get, as it were, was an interview I did with Juers, who relayed his horrific experience. Further inside, we ran a list of alums who had reported themselves as safe in both Washington and New York.

We would know for sure that five Laurentians — Robert J. “Bobby” Coll, Catherine Gorayeb, Christopher Morrison, Michel A. “Mike” Pelletier and Richard H. “Richie” Stewart Jr. — until after the paper went to bed.

Steve Knight ’12, editor of The Hill News today, asked me earlier this week if I worried then or now about a ROTC ad that appeared in the Sept. 21, 2002 issue of the paper. At the time, The Hill News supported itself significantly on advertising revenue and ROTC was likely under contract before the attacks. Even so, “United We Stand” were the watchwords that week and really for the rest of the semester. Every student organization, it seemed, was doing something patriotic. American flags were everywhere. There was seemingly a genuine unity — among students, at least.

When my parents, northern New Jersey residents, came to campus at the end of the month for Parents’ Weekend, they were shell-shocked. Canton hadn’t received the full barrage of coverage that the metropolitan market had and my understanding of how badly the attacks had altered so many communities became instantly clearer.

As the fall wore on, my class made plans to erect a monument to the Laurentian victims of the attacks. Our foray into Afghanistan grew into a real war. Our coverage of these events was certainly green at times and maudlin at others. The opinion pages, in particular, grew crowded with debate about the war and American foreign policy.

When the spring semester opened, that debate continued in earnest. The government department sponsored a February panel that examined the media’s coverage of the attacks and the American response. Fred Exoo, John Collins and Karl Schonberg all shared memorable perspectives. Student sentiment against the war on terror began to grow and fully blossomed in the 2002-2003 year.

Vigorous conversation about the attacks and the American response went on to define a decade and a generation. Some Laurentians were called to national service while others gave themselves to activism. We should be glad of both.

As a journalist, Sept. 11 has been a constant. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had a hand in stories about troop deployments, peace vigils, soldiers’ funerals, charity events and tolerance. Even now, we at The Journal News are putting the finishing touches on a special section that includes vignettes about each of the 230 victims who had connections to Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

It’s a story we’ll never stop covering.

CLIP | Nina Simone, “My Baby,” 1980s

TRAILER | “Downton Abbey,” Season 2

Hap tip to Will Briganti, who passed along this trailer for the second season of “Downton Abbey” earlier today.

“Downton,” which you may have seen on PBS earlier this spring, chronicles the fictional family of the Earl of Grantham and was the brainchild of Julian Fellowes, the auteur behind “Gosford Park.” While British audiences will get the second season on Sept. 18, we Yanks have to wait until January.

Take a gander. And, for what it’s worth, the first season is available on iTunes.

COCKTAILS | Rob Roy rallies

Rob RoyWe had a couple of Rob Roys last night to warm ourselves from the damp chill that’s been hanging over Cheever Country this week. The glasses are old Waterford coupes we scooped up at a junk shop in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake earlier this summer.

Though we’ve made them before, it’s been quite some time since we indulged in the company of the Rob Roy, the classic Scotch cocktail that is a perfect antidote to cool, damp evenings.

Plus, it’s made with Scotch, our house liquor.

We turned to Dale DeGroff, whose recipe is simple — Scotch, Italian vermouth and Peychaud’s bitters. He tops things off with a lemon twist, which was a very nice touch.

Here’s the deal:

2 ounces blended Scotch (We used Cutty, naturally.)
1 ounce Italian vermouth
Peychaud’s bitters
Lemon twist


Gather the Scotch, vermouth and bitters over ice in a shaker and shake vigorously. Serve up and with a twist. Enjoy.

UPDATE | Back in the saddle

bathroomWe’re nearing the completion of the renovation of our guest bathroom, one of the many distractions that’s kept me away from regular blogging here.

I’ve been quiet for too long.

It’s been a busy year. I’ve been consumed by our new home, 67 Grandview Drive in Mount Kisco, and by writing a centennial book for Mrs. F’s family business.

With Labor Day passed and the book put to bed, it’s time to blog again. I will confess that I don’t honestly know if I’ll ever be able to keep up with my 2008-2009 pace here. I’ve tried to mimic that sprint on North Toward Home, my Tumblr, but I don’t think it’s comparable as I don’t do much writing there.

Still, there’s lots to discuss. We’re just completing a renovation of the guest bathroom and will be rebuilding our crumbling excuse for a driveway in the next month or so. We’re still drinking, so the cocktail reports will return. I’m still concerned with art, style, literature, ocean liners, “Mad Men,” matchbook, the 1960s and other leisurely pursuits. Reynolds will probably be firing weapons soon, so we’ll have reports about that. I might be able to cajole other contributors like the Brothers Briganti, Leifer and Maxie to take a turn from time to time, too.

And there will always be jazz videos, though YouTube’s embedding codes no longer seem to work in the player queue. I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I hope Sarge Shriver has kept you good company.

FRONT PAGES | The demise of Osama bin Laden

Newspapers (or at least those whose press deadlines weren’t extended to accommodate the news) across the land heralded the news in Monday’s editions that a U.S. Navy SEAL-led strike team killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday in Abottabad, Pakistan.

Reaction to the story led today’s papers as well. Here are galleries of front pages from Monday and today:

And today:

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