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Culture 2.0

Posted by kurtwood on August 21st, 2010


This past Tuesday I was in the city. Seattle, that is. I needed to leave the Island for an appointment, even though it was the height of summer and I am loathe to leave my sunny spot of a farm. As I had a few minutes to kill, I walked over to the Frye Art Museum, a few blocks from my tardy meeting.

The Frye is a relatively unique museum. It was founded at the turn of the earlier century by a wealthy Seattle industrialist. Actually he sold a lot of pork products. His new found wealth gave him the ability to purchase a trove of European paintings: some quite good, others rather dull.

Upon his death he willed his home and art collection to be a museum open to the public. Only a century later did it become an interesting vibrant place. Now it is my place of refuge in the city; calm, quiet and filled with some lovely paintings.

I spent the mid day walking among a great exhibition. I relished the Sydney Lawrence views of Alaska, enjoyed the lush Bougereau and was rather bored by the lesser Renoir. And then I stepped back into the middle of room and pondered the message as a whole.

Here were a dozen beautiful paintings — essentially no different than paintings created over the past thousand years. They represented our collective Euro culture. Scenes of daily life, the artists impressions of the world around us, snapshots into feels, emotions and vibes.

What I am most curious about is if this chapter of history has been eclipsed by our present digital, ephemeral world. I am trying to imagine an artist spending days, weeks, months creating a single, one off image. Even more unlikely is the idea that we will save and catalogue and display those unique, single images and cherish their vision.

We have moved to a time of scaling; of distributing information to the broadest possible audience, in the quickest amount of time. As I sat there in the middle of the gallery, the idea of a museum of our present generation looking anything like these fine canvases seemed distant and unlikely.

My pondering fiinished, I left the cool, calm Frye and headed back to the city, to the ferry and back to my verdant pastures.

Learning from the Beasts

Posted by kurtwood on August 3rd, 2010

It has been a dry summer even if it hasn’t been particularly sunny and hot. The pastures have dried up and the grass growing is slowly down. As I have eleven cows that need to be fed daily, I have stepped in and begun to feed them hay, to save the remaining pastures from over grazing.

I have decided, however, to leave the three cows in milk in the pastures so that they can have the last remaining fresh grasses to eat. Seems like a good plan — the milkers on the high quality pastures, the dry cows in the barn paddock eating hay.

The three milkers — Baby, 4×4 and Dinah 2.0 — think otherwise. Their ability to reason and view a complete scenario is limited. They are presently standing at the fence line staring at the rest of the herd locked in the barn eating last winters left over hay. They have been stationed there for the past four hours, bellowing loudly. They feel that they have been cheated; that they got the short end of the stick. In reality, they have ten acres to roam and find great, fresh, pasture grasses.

It is tempting to fall into the old axiom of ‘the grass is always greener…’ but I will try to steer away from that. I am myself often that milker standing at the fence line looking forlorn at those beasts locked in the barn. It looks so nice. It must be better than the pasture under my feet.

The thing that I have taken from this morning experience is not that you think it is better on the other side of the fence, but rather, even though you eventually learn the truth, it takes a bit of time to do so. The trio of milkers will eventually get tired of complaining and turn around and begin to forage for themselves. It will take some time though. They could have been eating their bellies full all morning long.

And so I am trying to appreciate the pastures beneath my feet. Sure, that barn looks great from a distance, but in reality it is the distance that makes it appealing.