The Book: Carl Little, EDWARD HOPPER'S NEW ENGLAND. Pomegranate Books, 1993. Fine condition; inscribed from Keith and Vikki Bea to the current owner.
First read: Still reading
Owned since: 2007
The visual arts are a major gap in my education; I never took an art history class, never had any skill in drawing or painting, and have never been much of a photographer. But I love painting and sculpture, go to museums when I can and keep meaning to take a class, one of these days.
In the meantime, I rely on the generosity of friends who give me books like this one. It is a beautiful, oversized book that discusses the work Hopper did during more than 50 summers in New England, several of them in Maine. Hopper's 1927 watercolor "Captain Strout's House, Portland Head," is a scene I recognize from real life, and the 1951 oil "Rooms by the Sea" is a fantasy of summer living: a white hallway that opens directly onto a calm blue ocean.
Hopper, interestingly, is the artist whose works my friends give me most often (as prints and books, not originals), without my ever having said I particularly liked him. They're beautiful but not pretty, his paintings; they are austere and rather formal, grounded in a profound solitude. I'm not sure what it says that my friends see his work and think of me.
I am in Washington for one more day, delayed by reports of more snow along the I-95 corridor. Tomorrow's supposed to be clear. I'm anxious to get home, and back to some kind of routine.
Five Random Songs
"When We Ran," John Hiatt. This song was a hit (as "We Ran") for the country music singer Katy Moffatt, but I like Hiatt's version better.
"Man in Mind," Ida. This album (Will You Find Me) is several years old (released in 2000), but I just bought it with the iTunes gift card I got for Christmas. It's beautifully clean, harmony-based folk-rock, and Ida is my favorite discovery of the past year. Thanks, Chris!
"The Lost City of Refuge," ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. One of my favorite albums (Worlds Apart) of 2005, lavishly produced art-rock with an undertone of menace.
"The Only Child," Jackson Browne. From The Pretender, which may be my favorite Jackson Browne album.
"Stephanie Says," The Velvet Underground. A classic ballad of alienation -- "Stephanie says that she wants to know/Why she's given half her life to people she hates now."