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Art and Engineering

I have two bits of news today. First, last Friday Molly, Jessie and I


Tree women, three generations

went to the Whitney Museum to see the work of

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith


watercolor portrait of a woman artist

My dear friend, Morton Winston, gave me a rule for viewing art with kids--keep it short and immediately administer vitamin I (Ice cream). So then we met Arthur and Russell for lunch.


girl with dachshund puppy

I also gave Molly some homework. I'm a fan of Austen Kleon, who wrote Steal Like an Artist, a terrific read. We all take from each other, whether we call it inspiration, appropriation, stealing or imitating. My teacher Frank Mason said, "If you take from another artist, don't borrow, because you won't want to give it back."


In the work of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith you see references to many other artists which to me shows the depth and breadth of her life and work. I pointed out a few to Molly and suggested she look them up. She's off to camp now but maybe in the dog days of August I'll remind her.


Jaune Quick-to-See Smith United States map painting

Here's a map of the United States, with the state names that come from Indian, indigenous languages. Jasper Johns painted US maps but I don't think she's copying him. It's a big subject.


Museum wall, General Custer, Battle of Little Bighorn, Whitney Museum

This is a series of drawings she made about General Custer, who died in the Battle of Little Big Horn. His widow waged a PR campaign to create a heroic myth about his doings, but historians have disagreed with that view. On the bottom row, second from the right, Smith refers to Marcel Duchamp's

"Ceci N'est Pas une Pipe," which explores the difference between image and reality, but adds one word to make it "Ceci nest pas une Peace Pipe."


Marcel DuChamp, clay pipe, Ceci N'est pas une pipe

Then there's Picasso. It seems like we can't get away from his influence. Here, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

adds two iconic details from his Guernica, made in1937 for the Spanish Republic Pavillion at the Paris World's Fair to protest German bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.


Details from Picasso's Guernica

Picasso, Guernica, Black and White

This pretty much says it all about the horrors of War.


Okay, Molly. Finish braiding your lanyard and get to work. You have some learning to do.

I think everybody should get to the Whitney at Washington and Gaansevoort to see this wonderful artist.


Here's something else that's exciting. My brother send me this from The Washington Post.


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How do you dig a 2-mile tunnel under a river? Inside the $615 million effort to clean up the Potomac. A massive drill is digging a tunnel deep beneath Alexandria that will keep millions of gallons of raw sewage from seeping into the Potomac River.Read in The Washington Post: https://stocks.apple.com/ARFnPndORSo2gfIXcBMQIkw


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We're getting so much scary news about the climate that I look for anything to give me a little hope and this is a big thing. They're cleaning up the Potomac! And look who's watching over the Project!


Saint Barbara in the mine,

A wooden statue of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners, watches over the workers. It's traditional to name mining equipment after women so this drill was named for Hazel Johnson, a Chicago activist known as "the mother" of the modern environmental justice movement.

Mother Earth has suffered a lot from mining so we, and Barbara have a lot to atone for. This is a good start.

and speaking of doing good, I thought Alan was sending me news of his son, my heroic nephew, Danny, who is just retiring after 17 years of working for Senator Dick Durban, ending as general counsel to the Senate Judiciary committee. I call him Danny because I'm his aunt but he's actually Dan. He's one of those people you never hear about who do stupendously hard work to make life better for everybody. He's my hero. You can view Senator Durban's tribute to Dan on the Senate floor on Youtube right here.




July 13, 2023

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