PLACE: Greenport, NY

R.I.P. S.Neil Fujita

S. Neil Fujita


S. Neil Fujita

Graphic design great S. Neil Fujita died last Saturday, at age 89. I'm sorry I never got to meet him. He lived in Southold NY, just down the road from Greenport, where I summered for several years. I had no idea he lived there until I did some research on him last year for another post.

See last year's See Saw post on Fujita and Dave Brubeck

NY Times obit

So sad to see another great gone to Heaven, but I'm sure he will make it an even more beautiful place.


TRAVEL

 It's probably a good omen when a car trip starts out with seeing a truck with your name on it.

Cowan truck
Cowan truck. Vermont Rt. 89.

I took some time off last weekend with my parenting partner, Laurie Essig, and our two kids to visit our old house in Greenport, NY. We sold the house about five years ago and none of us had been back since then.

Naturally, we visited the carousel.

I hadn't remembered that there are several Charles Dare horses on the Greenport Carousel, which was a wonderful surprise for me.

Charles dare horse carousel greenport
Charles Dare horse, Greenport Carousel. Liza Cowan photo.


I got to spend a little time at the Greenport Shipyards, site of my Shipyard Archeology photo series. I only had my point and shoot camera with me, and I just can't get the same quality I got from my trusty Nikon F100 and a roll of film, but still it was nostalgic just walking around.

Shipyard
Siding and Rudder. Greenport Shipyard. 2008. Liza Cowan photo.

On our way home we stopped for a few hours in New York City so Laurie could tape a TV Show about Gay Marriage. (No, we're not. Families have all kinds of shapes and configurations.) The show was the Laura Flanders show on GRITtv, and although the kids wanted to go shopping during the taping, we did manage to catch the last few minutes and hang out in the control room to see the backstage operations. You can watch the segment here


Control room laura flanders show
Control Room - taping the Laura Flanders Show.

And then a quick hello to the panel and Laura.

Laura flanders show
Laura Flanders, left.  Laurie and kids, right. Not in this picture is panelist Kenyon Farrow, whose excellent blog is worth taking a look at.


So if you watch the show and Laurie briefly mentions her kids and parenting partner, that's us. I'm in the Vermont media fairly often, usually about art, so it was fun to be on the sidelines and out of the spotlight.

The best part about travel, when you know things are going really right, is when you are happy to get home. We were all glad to cross Lake Champlain and be back in Vermont again.

Lake champlain, ferry, charlotte vermont, essex ny
Charlotte, VT and Lake Champlain from the Lake Champlain Essex/Charlotte Ferry.


SHIPYARD ARCHEOLOGY PHOTOS BY LIZA COWAN

From the Liza Cowan archive:

I took these photographs from June 1999 to July, 2001, in Greenport, a small town on the end of the north fork of Long Island, NY. Greenport is an old whaling port as well as the site of a shipping industry that waned after its large role in W.W.II.

Liza cowan, shipyard archeology, ship hull, turquoise, rust, zinc,

Poster for a showing of Shipyard Archeology. June 2002. The photo is "Zinc"


 

The Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding Company sits on the bay, tucked away just behind the vibrant and modestly upscale center of this tourist town. The beauty of the shipyard is complex and fascinating. The details I focus on show the effects of time and weather on the human made objects and the landscape that surrounds them. The industrial objects I was shooting were becoming more beautiful as they were exposed to the elements. As the usefulness of each thing leaked out, as the object evolved, or devolved from its state of creation, it became more of an artifact , more purely form. This process is exaggerated by the abstract vision of my pictures.


View to miss N, liza cowan photograph, greenport NY, ship, old window, harbor

View To Miss N. Photo copyright Liza Cowan 2000


The objects tell stories. Beyond the biological story of rust, corrosion, and oxidation, is the human story. Industrial practices change. What we need and how we buy and sell has an impact on the life of a town. Prohibition is over and there are no more rum runners. We no longer need whale oil. Gasoline tankers mercifully do not stop on the peconic bay. Nor do war ships.

Icy handle, liza cowan photograph, greenport ny, shipyard,

Icy Handle. Photo copyright Liza Cowan 2000

Many things made of wood, steel and glass that were once state of the art are now outstripped by microchips and polymers. Nevertheless, fishingpeople still haul their catches in wooden boats, the little ferries still chug across the bay, tankers haul their cargo.

Blue rudder, liza cowan photograph, shipyard, cobalt blue,

Blue Rudder. Photo copyright Liza Cowan 2000

Welders weld, painters paint, machinists fix the cogs and wheels.

In:out, liza cowan photograph, shipyard archeology, old machine, greenport ny, ruins,

In/out. Photo copyright Liza Cowan 2000

Ships that are showing the signs of age come in for a rehab and the process reverses. Old layers of paint are stripped off, corrosions are blasted and smoothed, metals are burnished. New paint goes on, new cogs and wheels are attached. Boats roll down back to the sea.

Foggy view to the bay, liza cowan photo, greenport ny, shipyard, fog, rust


Foggy View. Photo copyright Liza Cowan 2000

 

CAROUSEL HORSES: HERSHELL, DARE, CARMEL

The amusements of Atlantic City in the last post made me think of carousels. I have spent periods of my life obsessed with carousels. In my own childhood I rode the Stein & Goldstein horses at the carousel in Central Park in New York City. But more than that, we had our own carousel horse on our lawn in Redding Connecticut in the early 1950's. Nowadays, nobody in their right mind would leave a vintage wooden carousel horse outdoors, exposed to the elements and gaggles of rowdy children, but in those days the discarded horses were not particularly valuable or appreciated as works of folk art.
carousel, charles dare horse, carousel horse on lawn Liza Cowan, circa 1951, Redding, CT.

charles dare, carousel horse, carousel horse in private collection, children on charles dare carousel horse

Photo by Mary Morris Steiner

My sister just sent me this. Sorry about the quality, it's a many times scan, but here is my mother, Polly Spiegel Cowan, with my sister Holly and brother Geoff on the carousel horse.  I don't understand the seeming discrepency in the color of the mane, but I guess that between the time of the picture with my mom and sibs, and the one of me, the horse was painted. Ouch.

The horse  sat on our lawn for years. The mind boggles. I rode this horse until my early teens, when we sold the house. And by "we" I mean my parents. Years outdoors exposed to the elements runied this fine piece of sculpture, and I regret that more than I can begin to express.

Carousel dare carousel NY State Museum
These horses are in the New York State Museum in Albany.  Armitage/Hershell machine probably carved by Charles Dare in the 1890's.

Carousel Charles Dare
Attributed to Charles Dare. Photo from James D. Julia Auction, Maine.  This is the horse we had. The breastplate and saddle on ours was simpler, but otherwise they match up. My heart is breaking.

Moving on from my heartbreak...

When my daughters were little, we were lucky to have a house in Greenport Long Island, where there is a beautifully restored Hershell Carousel right on the water's edge. I got a call one evening at dusk that the horses were about to be moved to their newly built pavillion, so I raced over and got this shot of some of them stacked up and ready to go. The light was fading too fast, so I only got a couple of good images.

 

Carousel horse, carousel greenport ny, allen herschell carousel horses, hershell horse,


Liza Cowan Photo 1999, Hershell Horses, Greenport NY Carousel

 hershell carousel horse, greenport LI


This Hershell beauty was up and rolling when I took the picture. The Greenport Carousel actually has a brass ring, which makes it even more exciting and historic.

 

 

 

Liza Cowan Hershell carousel horse painting on photo copy of cowan photo


Mixed Media by Liza Cowan.

 

This is a painting I did on top of a photocopy of a photo I took of a Hershell horse at the Greenport, Long Island Carousel. If you've never tried painting on top of a photocopy you should. It's really fun and easy. Best if you put down a coat of clear medium first.

 

charles carmel, carmel carousel horse, carousel prospect park, child on carousel horse, restored carousel, carmel jumper


Photo by Liza Cowan. WG riding a Charles Carmel jumper, Prospect Park Carousel

 


The carousel in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY has beautifully renovated horses carved in Coney Island sometime between 1910 and 1915 by Charles Carmel. We spent many an afternoon there. The American Folk Art Museum in New York recently had and exhibit, which I missed, called Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses, The Synagogue To The Carousel, which traced the art of Jewish immigrant carvers "inspired by their memories of the  symbols and forms they left behind. Some of the same Jewish artisans who arrived in America at the turn of the twentieth century and carved for their local synagogues also found work carving horses and other animals for the flourishing carousel industry."

Cover
"Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses" Exhibition Catalog, American Folk Museum with Brandeis University Press. 2008
Listed on my Powell's Bookshelf (under MY WEBSITES on upper right of sidebar.)

 


carousel paris france, carousel france, carousel luxembourg, child on small carousel horse, child on paris carousel
Photo by Liza Cowan

This turn of the century carousel is in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. The children can take sticks and try to spear the wooden hoops. This must hark back to when carousels were used to teach jousting to knights. It's as much fun for the children as grabbing for the brass ring. Notice how petite these horses are.

mechanical horse, child on mechanical horse, child on amusement park horse
Photo by Liza Cowan.

And then, sometimes, a mechanical horsie -ride -for- a- quarter is just as much fun. Although GW is wearing the same dress as in the Paris photo, it is not the same day, or even the same country. She just adored the dress.


Carousel at Shelburn Museum  
Carousel at Shelburne Museum, Shelburne VT

Now we live only a few miles from the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Vt. They also have a working Hershell Carousel. They also have an amazing collection of historical carved carousel animals. It's worth the trip.