Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jews & African Americans on Beacon Hill

Leaving the posh south side of Beacon Hill I saw, by chance, the Vilna Shul built in 1906, when immigrant Jews lived on the north side of Beacon Hill, and Jews from Vilna chose this large bold stained glass window set into the facade.  

The shul on Phillips Streets is slowly being restored.  Earlier, in the 19th century, African Americans lived on this same steep north slope.  The house at 66 Phillips was the home of Lewis Hayden, once a fugitive slave.   

A map of the African American Heritage Trail is available at the Museum of African American History on Joy Street.  The museum is housed in the former African American Meeting House.  I was moved to see the pulpit where Frederick Douglas spoke.  

A creature of soft pleasures, I drank a glass of wine and ate biscotti to strengthen myself for the subway and bus ride home.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Save Us from Shallow

The artist Alex Katz likes painting women in black hats.  On Sunday, friends and I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see his work.  We were not enthusiastic.  "Shallow," one of us said.  Particularly shallow when there are multiple women in black hats.   Do we look as predictable when we all wear the same hat or dress or shoes?    

Black hats a la Alex Katz are for sale in the Museum gift shop.  We clowned around, trying on hats.  I tried for a hard look but ended up looking silly and enthralled.  The shop  also featured blouses, scarfs, beach bags, etc. copied from the Katz paintings.  I don't understand what one gets out of wearing such things.

We liked the "Paper Zoo" exhibit with this marvelous Picasso "Toad," here in black and white.  I wish I could find a copy in color.

We also liked the exhibit of early photographs, especially this sea scene by Gustave Le Gray.

Fat toad, gray sky, darker gray sea: they gave us so much pleasure.