Neo-Nazis and International Workers of the World having a dustup at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is probably not something we want to come up in search engines, is it? So lest anyone think that brawling skinheads are rare at our local galleries, let me offer the following anecdotes to show how it’s part of a trend. Sorry, a disturbing trend. I’ve checked the archive and police blotters, and can report the following incidents.

May 12, 1982 Two strangers were standing in front of Chuck Close’ enormous self-portrait. Person A, according to onlookers, said “While the oversized scale of the picture is meant to impute a certain sense of intimacy, I still feel as if the artist is attempting to keep us at a distance by forcing us to stand back, lest we be overwhelmed. You might say -“

Person B, at this point, frowned, and said “don’t.”

“You might say it’s so Close, but so far away.”

At this point Person B slapped Person A and shouted “I asked you not to say that. Have you been standing here all day waiting to say that?

Person A: “Did we just have a Close Encounter?”

Person B, at this point, swung wildly, and missed.

Person A: “No cigar! Get it? Close, but no -“

At this point security intervened.

Jan. 6th, 1985 Roman statuary salon. Two female teens were looking at a bust of Crassius Magnus, which was on loan from the Italian Museum of Doing Something With All These Obscure Roman Stone Heads.

“Dude has no eyes,” said Teen A.

“Roman sculpture was painted,” said Teen B. “He would have had, like, painted eyeballs? And hair?”

“Gaaag me with a spoo-oon,” said Teen B. “That’s an assumption based on, like, spectrographic analysis of residual dyes found on Greek art from, like, the Hellenic era? No way we can presume the Romans painted their stone dudes.”

“So you think they, like, eschewed. The whole coloristic tradition. As if.”

The argument continued, and the teens were escorted outside; police were called, but were unable to answer the question about whether Cicero mentioned painted statues, so University Police were called.

No arrests were made.

July 6, 1998. A man in the modern art section declared he would give ten dollars to anyone who could explain what the hell painting was supposed to be. A patron stepped up and explained that Cubism was an attempt to study form and light from a variety of perceptual aspects, and represented a rejection of representational art, which still had vestigial influence in the Expressionists.

The man refused to hand over ten dollars, noting that he still didn’t know if the painting was a picture of a trees in a hurricane or a cat “barfin’ up broccoli.” The other man said he would not be cheated by “some bumpkin dullard from Stearns County,” and he gave the other man a third-degree Dutch Rub.

It would have been an Indian Burn if they were in the Indigenous Wing, but since they were in the Northern European wing, it was a Dutch Rub.

The rubbed man was transported to Hennepin General, where he was treated and released.

September 9th, 2004 Museum shut down for a day due to rumbles between two factions of Neo-Surrealists; many were sent to the hospital with injuries ranging from a fractured sense of perspective to minor burns from melted clockes.

This is why I never go to the MIA without a bat wrapped in barbed wire. Well, a picture of one, anyway.

I enjoyed Dr. Strange, a lot. I didn’t get that gidy delight you feel when something just hits you were you live, but it struck no wrong notes, had some moments that made me laugh out loud (who knew the Cloak of Levitation would be an actual character) and a brilliant fight sequence at the end that really sealed the deal. Cumberbatch brought something to the role that wasn’t in the comics - namely, a personality.

Dr. Strange is a seven on the Stark Scale of smart jerks, and the actor brings the trademark Sherlock aspect - a brittle, distant intelligence that covers a rather simple emotional character. I don't think Sherlock is emotionally complex; it’s the straightforward simplicity of his emotions that makes him construct an intellectual framework to manage them. Of course, that’s everyone - but when you’re incredibly smart, you over-manage and overbuild. There’s a bit of that in Cumberbatch’s Strange. Well, rather a lot.

I would have preferred Dormammu in smaller scale. You always want the stories you knew to make it up on the screen, and can’t understand why they didn’t do that! It was so cool! But it was. Dormammu was kicking Dr. Strange’s butt all over the place, but he drained his power, and the barrier that kept the Mindless Ones from overrunning Dormammu’s domain. Dr. Strange joined his enemy to repair the barrier, earning a promise never to invade Earth, although the Dread One found all sorts of loopholes to that particular bargain. Anyway, it made Dormammu honorable, in a peculiar way. Now he’s like Galactus who set his hair on fire.

I appreciated how they managed Mordo; you have to watch the movie to the end to see how they gave a cartoon character a substantial rationalization for his villainy. And of course, THOR. That’s what I love about these things.


One of the most popular columnists of his time, we're told. This was from 1915.

WELL THERE YOU GO THEN. It's better to be poor, than to be well-off and newly married, because you just don't know what to do with yourselves.

Are they all simplistic moral lessons? Tune in tomorrow.




From a 1905 magazine about home improvement. we get an interesting look into styles and concerns of the era. Spoiler: pretty much unchanged.

Women - the maker of the home ideal - will most appreciate this one-piece toilet. Indeed, it is a thing to be proud of, a status item, a sign you’re modern and clever and well-off.

So naturally the ad sticks it off to the side because it is all still SHAMEFUL.

When I was a kid I thought “Standard” toilets were from the same company that made Standard Oil, which was our nemesis because we were Texaco. A little history from the company:

By 1929, Standard had become the world's largest producer of bathroom fixtures.

That same year, the Standard Sanitary Corporation merged with American Radiator Company to form the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation.

American Radiator! Howells and Hood built their HQ, and I’ve always loved this building.

The Twenties seemed like such a fascinating era from my vantage point of Fargo 1976 - there's a solidity, romance, and mechanized beauty to its avant-garde work, and make no mistake this was that. New York’s skyline was smaller, but in a way it seemed bigger - no incomprehensible glass monoliths, but buildings of brick and stone spaced out so one could see the terrain of the smaller buildings. Now you look across the street, and half the time it’s another wall.

Anyway, nice toilet ad.

Cripples! What an interesting trade name.

No, it was the Fay company. Not just for men, ladies, an children, but people who can levitate!

It was called a Fairy, and while it was popular for a while, the pedal model overtook it. See also, electric cars, overtaken by internal combustion cars

Well, look who’s here:

It’s the classic Mercury pose by Giambologna, but there were many copies made, and I think there’s one in the National Gallery. At first I thought it was the statue on top of the Madison Square Garden tower, but then remembered no, that was Diana.

As for the company:

The firm changed names and owners several times, until William H. Mullins purchased it in 1882.  W. H. Mullins Company expanded its plant and product lines to include metal outdoor statuary, weathervanes and finials, metal boats and motors, and steel car body parts for the automobile industry in the early 20th century.  In 1925 Mullins introduced a line of stamped steel washing machine tubs that were coated in porcelain enamel.

And there’s where I come into the story, because they started making kitchen cabinets coated with porcelain enamel, and I know the ads well.

BTW: Mullins made the Diana for MSG. About that:

Diana was unveiled atop Madison Square Garden's tower on September 29, 1891. The 304-footbuilding had been completed a year earlier, and was the second-tallest in New York City. But the addition of the statue made it the city's tallest, by 13 feet. The figure's billowing copper foulard (scarf) was intended to catch the wind, but the statue did not rotate smoothly because of its weight. Diana's nudity offended moral crusader Anthony Comstock and his New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. To placate Comstock and to increase the likelihood of its catching the wind, Saint-Gaudens draped the figure in cloth, but the cloth blew away.

Soon after installation, both White and Saint-Gaudens concluded that the figure was too large for the building, and decided to create a smaller, lighter replacement. Following less than a year atop the tower, the statue was removed and shipped to Chicago to be exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Where it was lost in a fire after the Exposition closed.

BTW, here’s the street on which the Mullins factory operated in 1905. How about that.


There’s just no way you’re not hearing Rooberoid, is there?

Well, you are now.

Foster Munger:

The full catalog is on, and it’s spectacular. Not much info is available on the internet, aside from this.

That’s . . . my house.

Or almost so. We’re Arts & Crafts, right down to the floral decorations you see in the ad. It’s the solidity and rationality of the style I love, and the romantic touches of the stylized flowers.

“This is a rather good picture,” says the ad.

Five thousand dollars! That’s $128K in modern money.

Learn Agriculture - at home!

Machine transcription of his obit:

Noted Horticulturist- Succumbs to Long Illness— Resolutions of Agricultural Faculty. Professor John Craig, of the De.par ■ mem of Horticulture, died at his horn la Siasconset, Nantucket Island, en Au gust 10. He had been in poor healt for several years, but had continue f his work until last winter, when h had to submit to a serious operation

Brooks was the real thing, too; both men seem upright and full of probity, so this probably wasn’t a scam.

That'll do for today! Don't miss my MONDAY newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.

Bonus: it's Gazebo-riffic!


blog comments powered by Disqus