We are not alone.

Pure science would say that since there is no evidence of life beyond our own planet, one can neither assume nor rule out life elsewhere.

Our place in the universe. Click to make massive.

Yet a mind open to surprises looks at the above schematic, factors in the existence of 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars (that’s 70,000 million million million) in the known universe, and that’s as of 2003, and wonders what kind of hubris allows for this incomprehensible vastness and beauty to exist solely to amuse us? As of 2012, Wikipedia reports, “Data from the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC) suggests that, of the 725 exoplanets which have been confirmed as of 14 January 2012, four potentially habitable planets have been found, and the same source predicts that there may be 27 habitable extrasolar moons around confirmed planets.”

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field image was taken of an area of the sky just a tad over 3 arcminutes across. That’s smaller than a 1 mm by 1 mm square of paper held at 1 meter away, and equal to roughly one thirteen-millionth of the total area of the sky; with the exception of one or two local stars in our neighborhood, every pinprick of light in this image is a galaxy. Every single spot. Add to that the fact that galactic scale is unfathomable; despite the existence of hundreds of billions of stars in a single cluster, when our own celestial home collides with its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, no two stars will ever come close enough to collide. (Watch the video at the link, it’s elegant.)

Using the Drake equation to estimate the number of civilizations with whom we might have communication is an exercise in futility, simply because none of the terms are or can be known, but I don’t need higher math to look out into such mind-bending vastness and see a result higher than zero. For me, life out there is inevitable.

No, I can’t get my head around the idea that we’re the only thing out here, or the best, or the brightest. Unless someone figures out how to void the laws of the universe, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know, but that doesn’t dampen my certainty: we’re not alone.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

More doctors smoke Camels™

Back in the day, not only doctors but babies, sports figures and Santa Claus would hawk tobacco products. My mother did Camel commercials, and I remember that for a while she would regularly receive a carton of Camels in the mail from the sponsor as part of her compensation. Small wonder I took up the habit when I went away to prep school – back in the day, it was still considered the cool thing to do. And, as I had no other claim to fame and fortune, I developed the knack of finding the nastiest, strongest brands I could – Gauloises, Players, English Ovals, and some Turkish abomination or other come immediately to mind. By 1969,  when I finally quit, I was smoking 3 packs a day of unfiltered anything; when I’d cadge cigarettes from my mother, who smoked Carltons (what an abomination they were), I’d have to rip the filters off.

Despite a sea change in conventional wisdom, today roughly 1 in 6 people still use tobacco worldwide; in the USA, 20% of adults still used tobacco as of 2010. Big tobacco and those who took payoffs to promote this deadly product shoulder a large part of the responsibility.

If you smoke, quit now. It will kill you.

The Old Wolf has smoken.

Great Shoals Lighthouse, 1952

The Great Shoals Lighthouse in Maryland was constructed in 1884 and dismantled in 1966. It was a screw-pile lighthouse, a lighthouse which stands on piles that are screwed into sandy or muddy sea or river bottoms. From the photo, the frame barely looks strong enough to support the weight of the structure let alone the force of wind and water, and yet it endured for over 80 years.

I love the outhouse hanging over the edge, reminiscent of certain medieval castles. Gardy loo!

Found at Frog Blog

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Hendrik Glintenkamp, American Artist

I became acquainted with the work of Hendrik (Henry) Glintenkamp through my father, who owned two of his paintings – “Mexican Mountains” (sold to a private collector) and “Sunlight in the Valley” (Donated to the Los Angeles County Art Museum). Father acquired these from Glintenkamp’s wife Chinnie, with whom he was acquainted. Glintenkamp was significant in a minor way, and many galleries have one or two of his works. The two signed woodcuts illustrated below are still in my possession.

Henry Glintenkamp, American Artist (1887 – 1946)

The painter and illustrator Henry Glintenkamp (1887-1946) is known mainly for his anti-war illustrations that appeared in The Masses and other publications in the early twentieth century.  As a painter, he was additionally successful, particularly in his landscape and urban scenes.  Born in Augusta, New Jersey, the son of Hendrik and Sophie Dietz Glintenkamp, Henry received his elementary art training at the National Academy of Design (1903-06) before his study with Robert Henri the two years following.  One student’s recollection of Henri’s classes, that of Helen Appleton Read, gives an indication as to the influence he effected on students such as Glintenkamp: “The old idea was to learn to draw the figure before the student had ideas.  Henri’s idea was to have ideas first, paint pictures, make compositions, which is the same thing; learn to draw as you go along.  He taught us to paint from the inside out so to speak, try to find out that inner thing that made one particular man or woman different from any other man or woman. (William Innes Homer, 1969, p. 150).

Henri consequently attracted artists like Glintenkamp interested in returning to a sense of human qualities.  Setting up his studio in the Lincoln Arcade Building with Stuart Davis and Glenn O. Coleman, Glintenkamp did work that reflects a preoccupation with urban scenes and landscapes.  These works are broadly handled with heavy impasto and rapid strokes, but all retain an enigmatic quality undoubtedly intensified by his use of a more tonal palette of misty shades.   His urban scenes appear through a sort of mist.  Despite his limited palette, there is no sense of quietude in the artist’s work, nor is there any predominance of figures as in a more popular genre scene.  Instead, the focus would seem to be the relationship not of man, but of nature to her environment.  Glintenkamp’s expressive works rely heavily on mood, attained from darkened tones, as well as a strained or unpredictable display of nature. “Henry Glintenkamp’s art is marked by a sensuous and vigorous paint surface which no doubt was the first encouraged and perhaps even inspired by the teachings of Robert Henri.” (Fort, 1981, p. 27).

In May of 1910 Glintenkamp exhibited his works as a student at the Henri School (Sloan, 1906-13, p. 418) and at the Exhibition of Independent Artists of 1910.  Two years later,  he accepted the position of instructor at the Hoboken Arts Club in New Jersey and in 1913, he took up with others in the organization of The Masses, designed as a publication devoted to humanitarian causes.  This publication stood in stark opposition to war, as its articles and cartoons reflected pacifism: “Of course some were more vehement than others in their objections to the ‘immorality of armed conflict’. . . not overly subtle in their artistic protests, which in some ways indirectly reflected President Wilson’s isolationist policy” (Love, 1985, p. 380).  Of his cartoon, paired with an article entitled “Making the World Safe for Democracy,” by Boardman Robinson, one noted that it might “‘breed such animosity toward the Draft as will promote resistance and strengthen the determination of those disposed to be recalcitrant,’ but it did not tell people that it was their duty nor to their interest to resist the law” (Young, 1939, p. 321).  At the Armory Show (1913), Glintenkamp exhibited The Village Cemetery.  In 1917, Glintenkamp moved to Mexico to avoid the draft, and remained there until 1924, supporting “the socialist agenda of Mexico’s new leadership.” (Boone, 1998-99, p. 66).

The period following 1917 marks a new phase in the artist’s development.  Brighter in color and compositionally more involved, his later works are more discordant than the artist’s earlier work. The artist sacrificed the atmospheric quality of the limited palette for the increased influence of modernist movements.  After extensive travels in Europe, Glintenkamp returned to New York in 1934, and became a teacher at the New York School of Fine and Industrial Art and the John Reed Club School of Art.  As chairman for the committee responsible for the organization of an Exhibition in Defense of World Democracy, in 1937, Glintenkamp continued his humanitarian purpose, though never really took up with the socialist rebels, many of whom followed similar groups and publications.  Indeed, Glintenkamp was instrumental in founding the American Artists’ Congress; he continued serving its needs as both the organization’s president and secretary.  A peripheral member of the impressionist-tonalist group in his early career, Glintenkamp had progressed through many American movements by the time of his death in 1946.

Sloan, John. John Sloan’s New York Scene. From the Diaries, Notes and Correspondence 1906-1913. Ed. Helen Farr Sloan. New York: Harper and Row, 1965, pp. 418, 606; Young, Art. Art Young, His Life and Times. New York: Sheridan House, 1939, pp. 320, 321, 324, 332-33; Homer, William Innes. Robert Henri and His Circle. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969; Fort, Ilene. “Henry Glintenkamp (Graham).” Arts Magazine 55 (June 1981): 27; Leff, Sandra. Henry Glintenkamp 1887-1946: Ash Can Years to Expressionism. Paintings and Drawings 1908-1939. Exh. cat. New York: Graham Gallery, 1981; Zurier, Rebecca. Art for the Masses: Radical Magazine and Its Graphics, 1911-1917. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988, p. 165; Boone, M. Elizabeth. España: American Artists and the Spanish Experience. Traveling exh. cat. New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 1998-99, pp. 66-67.

Published: April 10, 1981

The New York Times

PAINTINGS and drawings by Henry Glintenkamp make up the latest in a series of revivals at the Graham Gallery (1014 Madison Avenue at East 78th Street). Glintenkamp, who died in 1946 at the age of 58, was a student of Robert Henri from 1906 to 1908, which places him at the very heart of the New York scene of those days.

The Henri School, as one of its most distinguished alumni, Stuart Davis, remarked, was ”radical and revolutionary.” Commenting that the lectures of the school’s head ”constituted a liberal education,” Davis noted ”enthusiasm for running around and drawing things in the raw ran high.” And, like today’s models in soft-drink commercials, the early 20th-century realists played as hard as they worked. Davis mentions frequent visits, with Glintenkamp and Glenn Coleman, to the saloons of Newark and Harlem, where, ”for the cost of a 5-cent beer,” black pianists could be heard turning ”the blues or Tin Pan Alley tunes into real music.”

The Whitmanism of the time certainly left its mark on Glintenkamp, who, unlike Davis, remained a representational painter. His 1911 portrait of a newsboy is very much in the Henri style, with the head and shoulders emerging from glossy blackness and the lips, nose and protruding ears heightened theatrically with red. City-scapes of roughly the same time, like those depicting the waterfront in winter and on a wet night, are also pretty robust.

Even so, Glintenkamp managed to develop a personal style with a palette knife, particularly in his views of snowy fields. The technique makes him seem more advanced than he was, as Sandra Leff indicates in her catalogue to the show. Not that the artist, a participant in the Armory Show, was immune to modernism; there is evidence of his having glanced at Matisse and, in the faceted, overlife-size head of Muriel Hope Eddy (1925), he is experimenting with Cubism.

But this is an atypical and embarrassing picture with a background filled with vignettes of a man and a woman at home and out on the town. Much better – probably the best work in the show – is the study of a woman in a black hat and coat that is classically simple but at the same time quite expressionistic.

Glintenkamp produced many prints – woodcuts and etchings, mainly – but none are included in the exhibition. Still, there are drawings, some of them humorous, that give an inkling of his graphic style. The artist was a newspaper cartoonist for a while, and like Davis and others contributed drawings to The Masses.

Once recovered from the effect of Henri, Glintenkamp produced several bold canvases such as the study of dark poplars on a snowcovered hill and the view of mountains and a red sky reflected in foreground water. He doesn’t resemble Marsden Hartley technically, but there is a kind of clumsiness in the best of his pictures that evokes the older master. (Through May 16).

“Mexican Mountains” (Opus 1, 1940)

Woodcut 1 – Untitled – Original – Signed

Woodcut 2 (Mexico) – Untitled – Original – Signed

Glintenkamp Christmas Card – Print – Notepaper used by Chinnie Glintenkamp, Henry’s wife.

Catalog from the Graham Galley
“Henry Glintenkamp, 1887-1946
Ash Can Years to Expressionism
Paintings and Drawings 1908-1939”

External link: Henry Glintenkamp and the Ashcan School of American Art

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Spring in New York!

Balloon vendor in New York, 1935. Photo by John Allbok.

Found at Frog Blog

The surprising thing about this photo is that aside from the vintage cars in the background (and the noticeable lack of traffic), it could have been taken today. Many  neighborhoods in the City still look just like this. I grew up in this town, and if I could afford it (think Warren Buffett or the Sultan of Brunei), I’d still live there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Coming Soon: Airmail

This painting by Harry Grant Dart appeared on the cover page of Literary Digest on 31 May, 1919, and depicts the soon-to-be initiated airmail service – although this is not quite how things worked out.

Today we deal with rising prices and ever-dwindling services, which – if my basic business classes do not fail me – is not the best model for increasing business and ensuring customer satisfaction. Only time will tell if the postal service can survive another decade.

While the picture is lovely, it’s clear that Mr. Dart had scant knowledge of mass and aerodynamics – a full mail sack with a parachute that small would squash the postmaster like a 16-ton weight. As one of the leading cartoonists of the day, however, we can forgive him for the application of some cartoon physics.

The Old Wolf has spoken.