Monday, December 28, 2009

Strong drawing

Some artwork seems to vibrate with energy, like this Dilmus Hall drawing. Hall, who lived in Athens, Ga., and died in 1987, actually shows energy with dashes around Sampson and above the onlooker's head. The dashes were a hallmark of his work. This drawing is typical in that it shows Hall's Christian faith. He writes on the drawing, "Sampson prayed to god give him his stringht one more." And, "He bowed his head with his giant waight."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'd like a bowl of turtle soup

What kind of turtle was this? The shell is quite large, 14 inches by 13 inches. I'm guessing the sign dates to the Great Depression, judging from the price. It once hung in a restaurant in the upper Midwest.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

19th century gunpowder bottle?

This is a dark magenta wood bottle covered in tree resin, with a leather bottom. Inside there used to be a black powder residue, indicating it may have held gunpowder. The bottle is a foot tall and comes from the Midwest. It has a broken cork stopper. H is inscribed on the handle and on the base.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Family portrait

The holidays are all about family. And nuts are a holiday food. So here you go, the personification of the holidays -- the nutty family, headed by Brazil and Wall Nut. Signed Nora Burton.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hey, troublemaker, move on

Saw this sign next to a construction site while taking a stroll in Kolkata. Not sure what nuisance it is referring to. Adding to the puzzlement, why is the sign in English? Only the educated speak English in Kolkata. So if you are educated you are more likely to be a nuisance?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gates and grills

Many buildings in Kolkata feature ironwork to provide security. That's understandable given the city's huge population of desperately poor people. But who says protective gates and grills have to look boring? Throughout the city are numerous examples of fancifully designed iron. One residential building I saw was covered with grillwork showing scenes populated with human figures; unfortunately, I did not have my camera. But I did take a picture to prove there are penguins in Kolkata.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An American in Kolkata

Kolkata assaults and delights the senses. Crowding, pollution and poverty make the huge eastern India city a challenge for anyone who wanders its streets. At the same time, the people -- with the exception of the occasional gruff state-bank employee or cheating cabbie -- are most hospitable. And the spice-laden food is mighty tasty. Shops displaying gorgeous saris, gold, bangles and handicrafts entice the middle-class and the wealthy. I've journeyed to Kolkata seven times to visit my wife's family, but this month's trip was the first where I made it a point to snap some pictures.
1. A beggar peers into our cab. We gave her enough money for a cup of tea but she said it was too little and gave it back.
2. A woman dries clothes along Kolkata's well-used rails.
3. and 4. Mutton is fairly pricey and nothing is wasted. A butcher trims a head that will be sold. The buyer will eat the goat's brain. Flies takes their fill of other heads awaiting the knife.
5. The lobby of a door company features a statue honoring a deceased Hindu priest.
6. Two weathered Hindu deities sit at a roadside shrine.
7. At the Gariahat shopping area, a mehndi artisan decorates hands and arms.
8. Gariahat is packed with shoppers on Saturday night.
9. Lakes built during British rule offer serenity in the heart of the city.

An American in Kolkata II

1. Dozens of bricks are not too many for this carrier.
2. and 3. A man sleeps on a traffic cop stand at a busy intersection.
4. Traffic is chaotic in Kolkata. Drivers communicate with blaring horns, and pedestrian rights are pretty much nonexistent. The kind of jostling that in America sparks road rage is the norm there.
5. A decorated carp (rui maachh) displayed at the home of a bride is an offering of goodwill to the groom and his family.
6. A poor man's home has its own beauty.
7. Even in the narrow passageways of Kolkata's slums, people remove their shoes before entering a home, which often is just one room. I visited a family of six living in one room. Two brothers sleep atop a platform bed and their father sleeps below it. The mother and two daughters sleep on the floor.
8. A weary woman folds up on the sidewalk along Southern Avenue.
9. A duster salesman uses sing-song to draw the attention of residents.