Thursday, September 17, 2009

RIP Mary Travers

We lost Mary Travers yesterday. (If the name doesn't ring a bell, she was the "Mary" of Peter, Paul & Mary.) She was diagnosed with leukemia several years ago, and underwent chemotherapy which allowed her to have a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, it was the side effects of the chemotherapy that killed her.

I saw PP&M several times—although only after they'd split up and then got back together again. Every concert was memorable.

They came in for a lot of criticism from "real" folk singers for having homogenized harmonies and too precise tempos, but their voices blended beautifully and their political and social beliefs literally resonated in their music.

They also came in for some criticism, especially after they got back together in 1978, for being anachronistic, part of a long-ago faded fad. But as Mary said during one concert, "Folk music is not a fad because you [the audience] are not a fad."

But they helped make history. They were invited by Martin Luther King Jr. to sing at the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech and they sang "Blowin' in the Wind" and "If I Had a Hammer."

Probably the most memorable PP&M concert I attended was in the early 1980s at the old Ontario Place Forum. The Forum was an outdoor venue with seating under its roof for about 3,000, and surrounding grassy hillsides that comfortably accommodated another 8,000 (although some rock concerts drew audiences of more than 20,000). The stage was 20.4 metres in diameter and rotated the full 360° every hour. Rain was forecast for this night, and many people sat on the hills in the drizzle. But then it really began to pour, and the masses moved down to try to at least stand under the roof. Instead, Mary invited as many as would fit to sit on the stage. I don't know how many people wound up sitting on the stage, but it looked pretty cozy. I don't know how the Ontario Place management felt about it, but it was a generous thing to do.

photo credit: Sally Farr

So hammer on, Mary. Keep an eye on us — we still need you.

photo credit: Barry Feinstein

One of my favourite PP&M songs is "Day is Done," which this clips shows them singing for a not-terribly enthusiastic Japanese audience in 1990:

One other note: this Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the death of Steve Goodman, the Chicago folkie who wrote "The City of New Orleans," among other songs you've almost certainly heard. He died of leukemia in 1984. Below is a picture I took of Steve—funnily enough, at the Ontario Place Forum in 1978—which my friend Clay Eals used in Facing the Music, his 2007 biography of Goodman.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Calgary Herald

These figures—from the cast of characters of newspaper newsrooms of old (i.e., even before I started my career)—were cast from the originals on the Calgary Herald Building that was demolished in 1972.

This trio is now located on the Alberta Hotel building on Stephen Avenue, but originally the Southams (then owners of the Herald) commissioned Royal Doulton in the U.K. to design and make 44 figures and masks for the exterior of the newspaper building.

According to information on a Calgary Public Library website, the gargoyles were the work of sculptor Mark Villars Marshall (1879 - 1912), who died shortly after the gargoyles were installed in 1912. Marshall had been a stone carver working on Victorian Gothic Revival churches before he went to work at Royal Doulton's Lambeth Studios in the late 1870s.

At the time of demolition, the Herald building was known as the Greyhound Building, and the gargoyles were scattered, including to other buildings including the Calgary Convention Centre and the University of Calgary.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maclean-Hunter Ltd. (RIP)

These aren't from a newspaper office, but from the building that used to be the head office of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. on University Avenue here in Toronto. It was built in 1961 for MH which published Maclean’s and Chatelaine magazines as well as a large stable of trade publications.

Maclean-Hunter had been on this site long before that — the company, including its printing plant, had been on the corner of University and Dundas since 1911. The printing plant moved — when? — to Yonge Street and Highway 401, and later to Aurora, Ont.; Maclean-Hunter moved to College Park (the former Eaton's College Street store) in 1983, and ceased to exist when it was bought by Rogers Communications Inc. in 1995. Rogers now publishes Maclean's, Chatelaine and a much smaller (and shrinking) stable of trade and professional publications (including the Medical Post, where I do my Day Job).

So this building was never actually a newspaper office, but it was the hub of a considerable proportion of Canadian periodical publishing. As I describe in Faces on Places, it features an incised naked woman floating in front of a long ribbon on one side of a building, and a naked man floating and holding a ribbon on the other.

When she won the commission for “exterior decorations” on the new MH building, Elizabeth Wyn Wood apparently thought the company had something more sculptural in mind.

“Symptomatic of the diminishing role and significance of sculptural decoration in modern Canadian architecture, Maclean officials agreed to only two simplified entrance panels on ‘Communications,’” said Victoria Baker in her examination of Wood’s life and work.

“Wood interpreted this theme in the form of female and male nude figures symbolizing ‘Sending’ [above] and ‘Receiving,’ [below] respectively.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicago Tribune

I'm still experiencing re-entry to the Day Job, after four weeks off, so forgive me (again) if I don't expound on the future of publishing just yet. However, I wanted to continue the series of newspaper office faces. These two are from Tribune Tower in Chicago.

"Souvenir of Tribune Tower," an undated booklet (looks as though it might be from the 1920s or 1930s) that gives the story of the building and the newspaper (and that I scored on eBay earlier this year), also describes the sculptures in and on the building.

It says that the "whispering man" (above) typifies "insidious rumour," while the "shouting man" (below) is the "spirit of open rumour or news."

Hmmm ... not sure I ever thought of news as "open rumour."

Monday, August 10, 2009

San Antonio Express-News

This is the second in a series of pictures of sculpture on old newspaper buildings. This is the San Antonio Express-News building. While a star marks Iowa City on the map on the former Iowa City Press-Citizen building, one of the figures here is merely pointing to San Antonio's location on this map. (See detail below, and click for larger)

The frieze, titled "Enlightening of the Press" and designed by sculptor Pompeo Coppini, allegorically describes the mission of a newspaper. The globe is connected to phone and telegraph wires representing news being communicated around the world. The six figures surrounding the globe represent Labour, Education, Knowledge (he's the one whose finger points to Texas on the globe), Enlightenment, Truth and Justice.

I'm still on vacation, so speculation on the future of journalism in general or newspapers in particular will have to wait for another day. It's too damned hot for serious thinking anyway.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Iowa City Press-Citizen

I'm just back from four days in Iowa City at my sister's wedding. I took more than 340 pictures at the wedding, rehearsal dinner, reception, visit to the county recorder's office, etc., so forgive me if I post some pictures I took from 2002. (That was the year she moved to the Midwest. She had fibromyalgia or something like it at the time and wasn't able to drive. So being the outstanding big sister that I am, I drove her (and her two cats and dog) from Blacksburg, Va., where she had been a math professor at Virginia Tech, to Iowa City where she was about to become a student again, in the University of Iowa's creative non-fiction programme. Yay me! I deserve a medal but will get one only if I bestow it upon myself.)

I shot these pictures on that trip — the sculptures on the former Iowa City Press-Citizen building, which include methods of newsgathering (above; there's a star on the map of the U.S. where Iowa City is), and these symbols of what goes on in Iowa City and environs:

This time I had other things to do in Iowa City than to contemplate the future of newspapers in particular and journalism in general, but as I post pictures of the sculpture on the buildings of other cities' current (and defunct) newspapers, I may do some musing on those subjects as well.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

STOP! Don't click away from this site!

This is still Terry Murray's blog, featuring gargoyles and other architectural sculpture from Faces on Places and elsewhere.

I just felt the need for a change.

What do you think?

They're everywhere! Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of a gargoyle at Denver International Airport, remarking on how gargoyles (generically speaking) seem to appear everywhere.

Guess where else they appear? How about on a mausoleum? This guy (above) is on the Massey mausoleum in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Yes, that's the "Massey" of Massey Hall, Massey-Ferguson, Raymond Massey (the late actor) and Vincent Massey (the first Canadian-born governor general of Canada).

It's not as though the Masseys couldn't have afforded a proper gargoyle. I mean, look at this spout (below) with all the fancy detail around it. With the face on the turret, why couldn't they have sprung for a face on the spout that would turn it into an honest-to-god gargoyle?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sculpture: from clay model to bronze statue

Earlier this week, I was one of 20 people on a tour sponsored by the Art Gallery of Ontario of the Artcast foundry in Georgetown, where Eric Knoespel (left) and his staff have been casting sculptures in clay and other impermanent materials into bronze and other metals for years.

We were walked through all stages of the process, from producing a rubber mold of the original (on the table in the picture at left), to making a wax duplicate which is then covered with a ceramic shell mold (which Eric is displaying, above and below).

(See the red wax inside the ceramic shell? Click on picture to see larger.)

The wax is then melted out of of the ceramic shell. The shell is fired for extra strength and then placed in a bucket of sand, at which time the molten metal is poured in the ceramic mold:


The mold and metal are left to cool, at which point the ceramic mold is chipped away, and voila! A bronze sculpture!
Okay, this is a very oversimplified explanation of how it's done — there are several additional steps throughout the process I've described, and afterward. For example, the Glenn Gould statue in front of the CBC Broadcasting Centre on Front Street was cast by Artcast, and a work that size has to be done in pieces, which means there are later steps in its reconstruction.
But essentially, that's how it's done. And Eric gave a great tour.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shaking Man

Back on June 22, when I posted the picture of one of Terry Allen's gargoyles in Denver International Airport, I mentioned "Shaking Man," his sculpture in San Francisco. Well, here it... I mean, here he is, from a couple of angles.

Isn't he great? Even though I think Terry did a particularly good job on the tie, I shot a close-up of the Shaking Man's extended hand. Those seemingly unattached fingers really contribute to the shaking effect.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

"Close enough," this girl seems to be saying to herself about the work of the artist outside Washington's National Cathedral.
This is the best I can do for a 4th of July picture. It's not a bad choice though - it's in the national capital, it's a building liberally festooned with gargoyles and it was taken during the summer. Well, truth is, it was mid-spring, but still...
More on the National Cathedral gargoyles later. In the meantime, Happy 4th!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Canada Day: The night before, the day after

These are not my proudest photographic moments, but I offer them in the spirit of Canada Day.
I've been in our nation's capital (Ottawa) for the last 10 days, covering a pediatrics conference for the Day Job and then visiting with my sister. We drove past Parliament Hill on the night before Canada Day (30 June would be the night before, and 1 July was the Big Day itself), and witnessed chanteuse Sarah McLachlan doing her sound check for the big show the next day.
I didn't have a tripod but got this picture of Sarah on the big screen, with a few adoring fans gathered below.
This is a blurry version of what the stage looked like:

And this is the overall view, with the Parliaments Buildings and Peace Tower providing the backdrop.

Next time I'll know to bring my tripod.
So that was Canada Day Eve, and because I was travelling back to Toronto on the day itself, I wasn't able to post until now. So a belated Happy Canada Day to everyone!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What is this man doing?

If there were no words, would this sign say "Hazardous bridge ahead" to you?
Or would it say "Watch the road when you ride your bike"?
I shot this while on a tram tour of Saguaro National Park outside Tucson in 2003. When I picked up the processed film (yes, it was in the olden, film days), the woman who had done the work pulled this picture out of the pack and said, "It looks like he's peeing!"
The picture could have been used to illustrate this story from Bloomington, Minn., last April about a man who was trying to pee off a bridge but fell to marshy area below. The awkward headline was "Man Falls Urinating Off Highway 77 Bridge."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mayflower madam?

Another picture from last fall's visit to Washington, D.C., and more sculpture on the Mayflower Hotel. Although I doubt this lady is a "madam."

Wide-mouthed lion

Having just covered another pediatrics conference for the Day Job, I'm taking a few days off to turn our national holiday (Canada Day, formerly Dominion Day, July 1st), which falls on a Wednesday this year, into a long, long weekend.
So, another post from a past trip. This one is a lion mascaron from the Mayflower Hotel (yes, that Mayflower - as in Mayflower Madam, and home base for former New York governor Eliot Spitzer's downfall) in Washington, D.C. I shot this when I was at an infectious diseases conference there last fall.

Monday, June 22, 2009

They're everywhere!

Even airports have gargoyles!
This guy—one of a pair called, collectively, "Notre Denver" by Terry Allen—watches over the baggage claim area at the Denver International Airport. He... I mean, they... were installed as part of the then-new Denver airport's ambitious art programme in 1994.
("Notre Denver"... geddit? geddit? As in the gargoyles on Notre Dame in Paris?)

I actually shot this guy back in 2003, but I've recently been going through my boxes of prints (from back in the 35mm film days) and scanning some of them. So for the next week or so, while I'm covering yet another conference for the Day Job (about which, more later) I'll be posting some older pictures.
Which reminds me — Terry Allen has a freestanding bronze sculpture in San Francisco called "Shaking Man" which I also shot. When I find that print, I'll scan and post it here. It is very shaky. Even the guy's tie. You'll see...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Silly putti?

Not a chance. These putti ("cherubs" is really simpler and doesn't sound as pretentious) seem to take their job very seriously. Whatever their job is. I think they're merely decorative. Who would give a gargoyle's job to an out of shape boy? Certainly not the architect of the Burrage mansion!
The Burrage House was built in 1899 as the winter home for attorney, businessman, philanthropist and copper magnate Albert C. Burrage and his family, so says a report by the Boston Landmarks Commission.
It remained in the Burrage family until the death of Burrage’s widow Alice in 1947. Since then, it has been converted, in turn, into doctors' offices, a clinic, a nursing home and condominiums. (In fact, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lived there until recently.)

Charles Brigham was the architect and Hugh Cairns is thought to have done most of the sculpture. Cairns was a Scottish artist who counted H.H. Richardson's Trinity Church in nearby Copley Square among his other significant projects.
With this mansion, Burrage and Brigham were hoping to achieve the opulence of New York's Fifth Avenue, where the Vanderbilt and Astor mansions were built in the chateau style. In fact, the Burrage House is said to be "the only fully executed chateau in Boston," inspired by Chenonceaux, a chateau built in the Loire Valley between 1513 and 1521.
A report by Otis & Ahearn Real Estate estimated that the house's exterior sports nearly 200 griffins, dragons, gargoyles and cherubs.

The American Institute of Architects' Guide to Boston called it "the one exception to Boston's avoidance of flamboyant architecture."
The Boston Landmarks Commission report also says it's apparent that for Brigham and Burrage, "complexity was favored above simplicity, magnificence above charm, and stimulation above peace."
However, this fellow seems to have found some peace and stimulation (of the intellectual variety).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wedged in at the Burrage

It was a bit tricky shooting this critter at the Burrage in Boston two weeks ago. He's located right in the corner (and in the right corner) above the front door. So the lighting was problematic as was his position. But I think I've managed to capture him well enough here.

This putto (below; putto is the singular of putti which is what chubby, winged male figures are called who aren't really angels; it's not wrong to call him a cherub, although it should be made clear that "cherubs" are not really related to the Cherubim. Got that?) and his lions are also wedged in a corner - more obviously than the griffin above. I mean, the poor lion on the right is roaring straight into the wall.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I spy...

Back at H.H. Richardson's Trinity Church, a gargoyle peers over the shoulder of a saint.

Both of them actually looked away when this fellow (below) came by to use the church wall just below them:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back to Boston

Well, not literally. I mean back to Boston for blog purposes. This fellow and his compatriot (below) adorn the doorway of Burrage House, formerly the Burrage mansion. The one clear day I had for shooting was intermittently brilliantly sunny (hence the deep shadows and warm tone to the first monk playing peek-a-boo)

and the somewhat duller but more even appearance of his buddy.
Burrage House was a riot of gargoyles, grotesques and other architectural ornament. I particularly liked this fellow at the base of a conical roof. Or maybe I just liked the colour and texture of those roof tiles.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Newspapers on the 1981

Way back in 1981, this report appeared on KRON-TV News in San Francisco. This not-young man who OWNED A HOME COMPUTER had dispensed with reading his daily newspapers on paper in favour of reading them online. It took only two hours to download the paper using his Radio Shack computer and acoustic coupler. "We're not in it to make money," says the editor from the San Francisco Examiner, and 30 years later, newspaper publishers still haven't figured out how to make their websites pay.
"Engineers now predict that the day will come when we get all our newspapers and magazines by home computer," says KRON reporter Steve Newman, "but that's a few years off."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Last glance at Baltimore

I didn't like Baltimore. I probably didn't see enough of it or at its best, but what I did see didn't really make me interested in going back. I spent most of my time at a pediatrics conference for the Day Job, but on the shuttle to and from it every day, I saw a depressed, boarded-up downtown. The skies were slate grey and rained much of the time I was there, which didn't help my impression either.
But I did see a bit of architectural sculpture. These figures on the defunct Hotel Junker caught my attention because this type of architectural ornament really doesn't appear anywhere in Toronto.

When these supporting sculpted figures are female, they are called caryatids, but males are known as telamones (singular: telamon) or atlantes (singular: atlas as in Atlas, who bore the sphere of the heavens on his shoulders.

Toronto actually does have one (below, as shown in Faces on Places), on the former Bank of Montreal that is now the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is mostly identified as Hermes, though - the god of commerce.