Down with Renoir!

Yesterday at noon, protesters began to chant: “Rosy cheeks are for clowns / Do your job, take them down.” Another: “God hates Renoir! God hates Renoir!” The number of people attending the protest in front of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts numbered in the middle-to-high single digits, according to reports.

Max Geller, a political organizer, hates Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the Impressionist painter who died in 1919 and never used anything but pastels in any of his several many famous and gigantic works. If one could type a sentence that used air quotes and then took them away and then replaced them again, one might perhaps begin to convey a sense of how completely almost serious and almost mocking and yet earnestly this hatred is felt.

Protest is important. In a free country, one ought to be able to protest anything and everything. This happens to be a free country, and the display of Renoir’s frenetically-dabbed pastel pastorals is as good an object of protest as many. (Not “any,” but many.) Two of his works have fetched more than $70 million at auction in the last quarter-century, so the received perceived wisdom in both the art world and the world world is that Renoir’s many giant works are good and valuable.
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My Favorite Cave

The aurochs is an extinct form of cattle that overlapped with humans for tens of thousands of years. It lived in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia; the last one died in 1627. We domesticated it: Our modern-day beef cattle and dairy cows are descended from the aurochs and some of them bear a deep resemblance to the extinct animal. (Picture a bull in a bullfight, but make the animal taller and even more muscular; this would have made a bullfight a bit more even.) The reason for the extinction of the aurochs is the all-too familiar one, and it can be summed up as: Humans have enjoyed beef for a very long time.

Early modern humans, homo sapiens, showed up around 100,000 years ago, and we really started to leave a mark on the landscape around 40,000 years ago. This is deep in our prehistory, and no one knows what our Upper Paleolithic ancestors were thinking. It just appears that thinking is something they were doing.
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You Can Help Opus 40; Here’s How

In November I wrote a column about a fundraising campaign to help restore one of my favorite places, Opus 40, in Saugerties, NY. There is a new fundraising campaign this month—and you can help.

Every year, Ulster Savings Bank, an upstate New York institution (it was my bank for years), holds an online vote to pick a nonprofit organization for a cash award. The top award is $3000, which is not much, but as I have explained in previous articles, every bit helps in the rebuilding of the damaged parts of the sculpture park. You do not need to be a Hudson Valley local to vote.

If you click on this link right here: (Mid-Hudson Heroes), you will find Opus 40 at the top. If you have a Facebook account, you can vote. Further, you can vote every 24 hours between now and March 6. Opus 40 is only one of approximately 150 nonprofit organizations being recognized by the bank, so every vote counts.
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