What We Talk About When We Talk About Nice Things
A good Sunday to you all! After last week's festival of weird AI-generated cat pictures, we thought we'd try to bring balance to the Nice Things with a feature on dogs (despite our ridiculously low midichlorian count). You'll be relieved to know that this time, we're not going to focus on creepy artificial-intelligence-created doggos, although they do exist. (We also want to play around with a tool that allegedly will morph your dog into a cat, vice-versa, or even other animals.) Instead, we're gonna give you some dog art, via the collections of the Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian Goes Walkies
We discovered this site a few weeks ago via a tweet by the Smithsonian that we didn't save, but wowie, what a fine collection of puppers! They are ALL good dogs, from a huge variety of collections.
Here's the image the Smithsonian twote: "Puppies in the Snow," by Isoda Koryusai (1778). It's an Edo-era woodblock print produced for the Year of the Dog, 1778, with this interesting note: "WWII-era provenance." Oh? Tell us more, huh?
Puppies in the Snow Woodblock print
From the Smithsonian American Art Museum, here's an untitled dachshund by Beatrice Wood (1932, watercolor on paper). We love its chill expression, the oversized tail, and the relaxed kittycat in the background.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
How about this lovely home decoration from roughly 1850, a lithograph titled "The Fisherman's Dog," by James S Baillie, from the National Museum of American History.
National Museum of American History & Smithsonian Institution Archives
The catalog notes are wonderful -- I wish every piece had a similar description! After some introductory comments on the popularity of lithograph prints in Victorian America and their construction of romantic sentimentalism, the description gets to the piece itself:
This colored print is a sentimental, outdoor scene depicting a young girl standing at water's edge. Next to her is a dog leaning over the water, sniffing a floating black hat. She is wearing a plain clothing. A thatched-roof clapboard house and rocky coastline is in the background. The reference to the fisherman in the title, and the black hat floating in the water may allude to a fisherman lost at sea — perhaps the girl's father.
This is absolutely the sort of thing we can imagine Mark Twain had in mind when he satirized the maudlin poetic and artistic endeavors of the late Emmeline Grangerford in Huckleberry Finn. It would fit right in with the other sentimental prints on the walls of the Grangerford home, and poor Emmeline's own works:
Another one was a young lady with her hair all combed up straight to the top of her head, and knotted there in front of a comb like a chair-back, and she was crying into a handkerchief and had a dead bird laying on its back in her other hand with its heels up, and underneath the picture it said "I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas." There was one where a young lady was at a window looking up at the moon, and tears running down her cheeks; and she had an open letter in one hand with black sealing-wax showing on one edge of it, and she was mashing a locket with a chain to it against her mouth, and underneath the picture it said "And Art Thou Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas." These was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn't somehow seem to take to them, because if ever I was down a little, they always give me the fan-tods. Everybody was sorry she died, because she had laid out a lot more of these pictures to do, and a body could see by what she had done what they had lost. But I reckoned, that with her disposition, she was having a better time in the graveyard.
From the Smithsonian Design Museum, there's this nifty dishtowel, ca. 1950-1955, by Tammis Keefe, with many dorgs. Cheer!
Here, have another Edo era zodiac woodblock, "Bravery Matched with the Twelve (Zodiac) Signs: Dog and Hata Rokurozaemon," by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. It's a bit less precisely dated than the puppies: "late 18th-mid 19th century," and it has another of those "WWII-era provenance" notes.
Bravery Matched with the Twelve (Zodiac) Signs: Dog and Hata Rokurozaemon Woodblock print
And finally, a more modern piece, from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center. "All Good Dogs" by Raya Bodnarchuk (1987, carved white pine).
And hooray, there are notes!
Luce Center Label
Raya Bodnarchuk emphasizes that she is more interested in animals as forms than as personalities. As the title of this piece implies, All Good Dogs is not a portrait of any particular dog, but represents all dogs. The animal is a "good" dog because it sits calmly, perhaps after being instructed to do so.
Luce Object Quote
"The shapes I like just happen to fit together in animal arrangements." Raya Bodnarchuk, quoted in Montgomery Journal, November 18, 1983.
You can easily spend hours looking through these images. And it's the Smithsonian -- these are allllll our dogs!
Also too, the Smithsonian just last week launched a new digital project, Smithsonian Open Access, featuring 2.8 free images and 3-D objects that can be downloaded and remixed -- yes, including via 3-D printing, for objects -- by the public.
Cool. And don't you dare go talking about the need to pare down government. This is what it does really well.
And if I ever come up short for Nice Things, I can just dive into some of the Smithsonian's million other digital collections!
OK Dok, Get To The Cute Twitter Stuff!
And of course...
From NPR, an important Bald Eagle story:
Officials in Tennessee got a message from a concerned caller - our national symbol was in distress. A bald eagle looked injured near a road in the town of Bulls Gap. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency says officers went to the scene and caught the eagle. It was fine, just full - officials say too full to fly. Yeah, the bird gorged itself. It was in a food coma, something we can all relate to. The officers put it somewhere to digest in peace.
Not a birb. And unlike the javelina, an actual piggie.
Jawrs. Assume Richard Dreyfus chose not to participate, or is holding out for the Goodbye Girl action figure, with realistic I don't! Like! The panties! Hanging! On! The rod! action.
Which reminds me: I needa remember to tell you all about Historians at the Movies every Sunday! Watch a movie on Netflix and chat about it on Twitter with the hashtag #HATM.
It's like History Science Theater 3000, on Twitter! This week's experiment:
Do you need to read this new series of blog posts on the history of Cyberpunk? PROBABLY! Excerpt:
* In a cyberpunk world, global megacorporations are more powerful than governments.
* Individual hackers and "high-tech low lifes" can wield disproportionate amounts of power within cyberspace and beyond.
* The new "stage" for the human drama has shifted from the "real world" to a virtual one, one inside our networks and our minds. The new frontiers for human society–technology, art, culture, and warfare– have moved into cyberspace.
* The "street finds its own uses for things" (Gibson). In a tech-saturated world, high-technology becomes folk technology, is present at every level of society and culture, and ends up being used in ways its creators never could have foreseen.
* We are all becoming cyborgs. Our technology daily grows smaller and smaller, ever closer to our person, and soon it will disappear inside of us.
* "The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed yet" (Gibson) — how rapidly stratifying economic and class divisions are creating a post-human world where the survival advantages of high-technology and bleeding edge science are only available to the rich and powerful.
* The world is splintering into a trillion subcultures with their own beliefs, languages, and lifestyles.
Check it out for "Max Headroom" flashbacks.
OK, that's all the cute we can handle today. Have a good day, you! This is now your open thread!
(Also: "Horrible Pourable," could you please email me at doktorzoom at-sign wonkette dot com? I would like to put together a Hamper Cat memorial, with your permission. I'm so sorry to hear he's gone. He brought so many smiles to all of us!)
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.