Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Four More From the Fair

I replaced my water heater Monday so today, as a reward, I treated myself to another go-round at the Minnesota State Fair. Upon entering, I was greeted with this sight:

I suspect it was something less than Bob Marley's idea of redemption; the callow youth inside didn't appear to have much of a spiritual bent. One fair performer who did raise my spirits is the new "Fresh Fries Fairy", shown here sprinkling "fairy dust" (or was that salt?) on some of her fans:

Speaking of salt, a couple of old "salty dogs", Chris Hillman and his pal Herb Pedersen, were holding court on the Leine Lodge Bandshell. They were in The Desert Rose Band together and Chris is also an alum of The Byrds, Manassas,  and The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. He was also in the legendary Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons. A shiver went through the crowd when they performed Eight Miles High:

On a more melancholy note, the horse building seems to have fewer and fewer horses each year; several sections of the horse barn that held horses last year were completely empty:

It is a marked contrast to the other livestock buildings, which seemed full of life.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #74

Perlan, the strange structure on Öskjuhlíð hill, is all curves:

It was made to be photographed with a fish-eye lens:

Even the service entrance is beautiful.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Four From the Fair - 2016

State Fair Special! Photographic impressions of that venerable Midwestern Institution, The Minnesota State Fair.

Somehow, New York is hot as a Midway attraction:

What is cool is this Hawk who is undergoing rehab at the DNR Center:

I am glad I'm not the person who has to decide the ribbons for the honey competition:

The food building is the pinnacle of refinement and good taste:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts 2016

It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that I posted about the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit. A whole year has passed, last night was preview night. The Weaver and I joined our friends Nicole and Kip in casting our collective eyes at what we hoped would be a better showing this year. Our expectations were not high; the last couple of years were, to put it mildly, disappointing. Hope springs eternal, however, so here are my impressions as well as some of the highlights:

Country Club Barbie, Nicole Houff

The world's greatest Barbie® photographer returns to the Fair as an artist in residence. She will be there for 12 hours on September 3rd, doing her Barbie magic.

The photography is much improved over last year's debacle. There were many finely printed images, although their subject matter was generally "safe." There were some challenging images, however:

La Muerte del Chauro, Leslie Parker

Sculpture is always strong at the Fair, this year was no exception:

Big Daddy Hum and Mum, Fred Cogelow

Nude in the Key of G, Allen David Christian

Of course, people watching is as much fun as the art:

Renee Lynn Brasuhn and friends pose by her steel and fiber construction.
And I just may have captured my image for next year's fair:

Overall, I'd have to give the Exhibit a "B-", the painting was fair to poor, with only a few fine examples. Watercolor and drawing was OK but it has been better. Textiles, ceramics and printmaking, sort of the "poor cousins" of the exhibit had a higher rate of quality work, but were hard pressed to make an impression in the overall cacophony of mediocrity. A big plus for the photographs, however, as there were only a few clinkers (out of more than 100!)

Check out my other Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts reviews.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #73

More from Reykjanesfolkvangur, Krýsuvík

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Makes Me Laugh

With all the bad, stale or just plain stupid content on the internet, I get a special 'thrill' from finding something fresh, witty and funny. Worst of McMansions fills the bill, it is a politico/economic exposé of the bad taste that prevails in modern home architecture:

The more you explore the site, the better it gets:

I find it to be simultaneously hilarious and depressing.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Autumn Getaway

Jumping the season, we're looking forward to a mini-vacation on the Gunflint Trail in the first week of October. The cabin pictured above is our "home away from home", we've been going there for over a dozen years. We put in a rental reservation a month ago but have yet to hear from Barbara and Ted, the owners.  It might be our last trip, it is for sale,  it just may be that they have a buyer lined up, and don't want to commit in case the sale goes through. It isn't a big deal, there are plenty of places near there we can stay. This place, "Little Ollie Cabin", is kind of funky (pictures at the link), but very comfortable and private. It feels as if it is our own, without the hassles of upkeep and property taxes.

Maybe we'll even see Jono and his crew again!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, August 15, 2016


The opening for "The City Girls" photo exhibit was held last night at The Grand Café in south Minneapolis:

A nice turnout, people enjoyed the pictures and were entertained by the intrepid "Lewis Family Fun Time Band:"

You could feel a lot of love in the room:

And, of course, the fabulous City Girls were there:

As irrepressible as ever!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Still Ahead of the Curve

Image: PetaPixel

Just announced by Nikon, this camera is somehow familiar…

Six years ago on FITK!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #72

Mars on earth:

Reykjanesfolkvangur, Krýsuvík, 2004

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, August 05, 2016

Missives from the Jazz Age

           This Side of Paradise            The Letters of Adolf Dehn
          by F. Scott Fitzgerald           Archives of American Art

   The last light fades and drifts across the land–the low, long land, the stony land of spires; the ghost of evening tune again their lyres and wander singing in a plaintive band down along the long corridors of trees; pale fires echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that dreams, and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus flower something of this to keep, this essence of an hour.
    No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale of star and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to time and earthy afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire and shifting things the prophecy you hurled down the dead years; this midnight my desire will see, shadowed among the embers, furled in flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.

~F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1920

Dear Lost Lover,

    I received your letter. But we will not talk of that now. I want to talk of myself–that funny little thing they call Wanda Gäg—that far from dazzling creature who, many years ago, made the great mistake of falling in love with you… I insist that I have loved more deeply and intensely than anyone else can, Mushka included. As I have said before, I certainly do not blame you for what has happened. But that does not lessen the torture in the least. The fact remains that I am the superfluous quantity…

   Thoughts, like beaten hounds, parade apathetically away before me… So, we are not to be the companions we tried for seven years to become. We are not to wrangle with the big forms of mountains, which we were to bring in more closely together… That indefinable thing between us does not exist after all; I had organized my life around an illusion, we do not belong together. You are Adolph Dehn, and I am Wanda Gäg, a separate thing…

~Wanda Gág, 1922

I've been in a time warp lately, exploring the early "Jazz Age", 1915-1922, via the written efforts of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his exact contemporaries: Artist Wanda Gág and her friend/lover/fellow artist Adolf Dehn. Fitzgerald through his breakthrough first novel, and Dehn and Gág through their correspondence.  In each cases I was struck by the brilliance of the writing.

The Paradise quote is about leaving college (Princeton) before Scott's protagonist, Amory Blaine is about to enter the Army. It is an interjection—not a spoken quote—just a few paragraphs directly from the author to the reader. Fitzgerald was justly heralded for his innovate writing, although he was also criticized for abandoning strict plotting and exposition; departures which would be scarcely commented upon in a modern novel.

The second quote is a reply to Dehn's break-up letter to Gág; he was living in Europe and fell for a 19 year old Russian dancer. Little wonder that she was upset! Nevertheless, after the breakup they remained friends. Their split was evidently a catharsis for Wanda, her art blossomed and she finally managed to field satisfactory relationships.

The letters were on microfilm in The Minnesota History Center, a great resource. Just up the hill from the Center is Summit Avenue. It is where Fitzgerald lived when he completed Paradise, in the third floor garrett. His brownstone townhouse is still there, and it is for sale:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


It's been too long a time since Pascal Pinon released a new CD. The Ákadóttir sisters have, for the most part, been living apart from each other for the last few years, Jófríður is the singer of the popular electronica trio Samaris, as well as working on her own music. Ásthildur has been studying composition in Europe.

Here's a review from Peek-a-boo Magazine, a Dutch music site, along with 53, a cut from the album. The UK-based eclectic magazine, has also reviewed Sundur, as well as featuring  another cut, Orange. It will be released by Morr Music, August 16th.

While it is hard to get a sense of the whole thing from these two tracks, it is obvious that Pascal Pinon is not afraid of exploring new musical motifs. Their father, noted Icelandic musician Áki Ásgeirsson, has contributed percussion effects as well, making this a true family affair. There are more sisters at home—they've performed with Pascal Pinon in the past, when they were girls:

They've grown up now, whether they will follow in their older siblings footsteps or not remains to be seen, but I would certainly love to hear the music they would produce:

Image: Jófríður Ákadóttir, Instagram

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, August 01, 2016


When one hears pretty girls talking, one cannot help thinking that even their most light-hearted replies contain some deep, deep meaning: yes, even some hidden wisdom, and perhaps they do; perhaps it is only beauty that contains the highest wisdom—that remains to be proven.

~ Halldór Laxness, World Light

   An exhibition of photographs by Professor Batty's alter-ego, Stephen Cowdery.

These pictures (several of which have appeared on FITK) are from the mid to late seventies, centered on a group of young women with whom I had become acquainted. They invited me along on some of their adventures, excursions that were low-key and pressure-free. I once thought that the center of my social scene was the band that I hung out with (and worked for), but over the years I’ve realized that these “City Girls” were the true hub. This is a look back at our youth—at a time before careers, marriage, and children,a time when these young women were creating the bonds which have only strengthened in their maturity.

Everyone is invited, if you can't make the opening, the show will be up in The Grand Café in South Minneapolis from August 9th until September 4th.

FaceBook Event Page

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

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