Esteemed thinker: Walker Evans

PH00604 Driving was once an activity that required a person to use two hands and two feet; one hand to shift and the other to steer, one foot to clutch and the other to break and accelerate. It was an activity that required the driver to pay attention to the sound of the motor, when to engage the car to another gear and when to stop….to operate the vehicle sufficiently meant the driver needed to know why and what they were doing. Those who were not competently trained did not get very far, finding themselves chugging along at a speed that was irritating even to the vehicle itself for the engine ached until it was put into the correct gear. Those who did not clutch appropriately found themselves stalling out with an abrupt and incredibly awkward thwart. Even steering the car took two hands and opening a window was laborious; all that cranking.

Fast forward to today where operating a car is so easy that some drivers often find time to shave or put on make-up at the same time. In fact, in order to manipulate a car takes less coordination or concentration than riding a bicycle. Cars of today do not even require the turning of a key; all it seems to require to get to your destination is a ridiculously simple act of … “mash and go”….

But then, it makes you wonder… who decided to design a car that is so automatic that it requires obviously very little from the driver. Not to belabor the subject, but maybe it wasn’t so bad when the driver actually had to be part of the driving process….


Today’s post introduces the esteemed thinker: Walker Evans (1903-1975 ) Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Evans began his career as a painter and writer however graduated into becoming one of America’s most prominent photographers. Evans recorded everyday life, creating a visual catalogue of contemporary America. During the Great Depression he worked for the FSA documenting the hardships and poverty of the era, with an emphasis on the rural south.

As part of his collection, I bring to you his photo, Wrecked Cars in Automobile Junkyard, Tampa, Florida (1941) His composition and subject matter is a visual reminder…driving is not for the “inattentive”!

2003.564.26

Second photo: Portrait of Evans (1941)

Esteemed thinker: Johannes Vermeer

pancake There are three times of the day that rally the attention of all people regardless of where or who they are; and though some enjoy one of these times more than the others, they are significant to both man and woman. These times are relegated to the sounding of a clock, watch, or grumble of one’s stomach…they are none other than breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There was a time where eating these meals was common place. Yes, true, some fanfare was made if it was a festive occasion however; the daily preparation was simply considered part of life’s chores. Bread was made from milled wheat, eggs were gathered or bought at markets, and meat was selected from butcher shops, produce squeezed and smelled to ensure it was ripe, and deserts rolled and filled. Meals were elaborate or simple, and those who prepared them went about their business in the same manner the accountant or mechanic would trundle off to work.

Fast forward to today and the preparation of a meal has become a spectator sport. It is marveled and ogled with the same degree of wonderment for the cook that one would think they were on a mission to space. Television shows are endless with audiences tuning in to watch. People travel around the world and viewers observe other people eating. One has to wonder what has happened. Has the 21st century become so conditioned to fast food and microwave heating that cooking a chicken is considered a heroic feat? The next thing you know, setting the table will become a national sport!

Self-portrait (1656)

Self-portrait (1656)

Today’s post brings to you the esteemed thinker: Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675 b. Dutch Republic of Delft ) a Dutch artist who lived in the era we now call the Golden Age of Dutch painting. Virtually self-taught, he is considered one of the greatest Baroque painters. He began his career painting large scale biblical and mythological themes, his later work are the pieces we are most familiar with, interior daily life. Throughout his career as an artist he experimented with techniques, his work with light and purity of form are what he is best known for.

And so I bring to you one of the masterpieces of the 17th century, The Milkmaid (1668: also known as the Maidservant). Johannes Vermeer, the extraordinary artist has captured the very essence of a domestic world that was considered quite an ordinary way of life.

Veneer the-milkmaid

When it’s Fall

For those of us who are in the throws of falling leaves and are waking up to trees exchanging leaves of green for colors of harvest, today’s post brings to you my poem… “When it’s fall”….

©nl avery

©nl avery