Art that can be construed as supporting LGBTQ+ rights
Stephen Lauf


From The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project:
3 May 2023   Wednesday
"The exceptional conditions of the Napoleonic Wars brought new American merchants to St Petersburg. Miers Fisher [Jr.] of Philadelphia was one of them. He came to Russia in 1809 as a business associate of his father and Josiah Orne of Salem, and he started his own commission business under the protection of the originally German house Meyer & Brüxner. Later he set up a joint venture together with John Venning, who had been active in St Petersburg since 1793 and concentrated on trade in linen with England. According to Fisher himself, it was because of Venning's expertise that he managed to sell manufactures to the Americans more cheaply than anyone else. Fisher claimed to have set up the first American trading house in Russia, and the firm did business under the name Miers Fisher & Co, from the summer of 1810.
Being versed in languages as well as sociable, Miers Fisher was a popular character among both fellow countryman and the Russians. The important merchants Joseph Peabody and Gideon Tucker became his firm's customers. A fabulous career was predicted for Miers Fisher, and the capable analyses of commercial prospects that he sent to Josiah Orne in Salem support these expectations. Fisher himself considered his chances to be good, and fifteen to twenty vessels had become his customers by mid-August 1811. Fisher could not handle more as he did not have enough cash for payments in advance the importers required. Even so, he estimated his profits at $20,000 in 1811. Fisher's rivals were unhappy about the firm's methods, especially with the rates of commission, which were lower than average. Fisher himself claimed that Consul Harris in particular was hostile to him. The short history of the firm came to an abrupt end with Fisher's sudden death in June 1813."
Kalevi Ahonen, From Sugar Triangle to Cotton Triangle: Trade and Shipping between America and Baltic Russia, 1783-1860, 2005.

"On 1 July 1809, a young Russian nobleman, Andrei Iakovlevich Dashkov (1777-1830), arrived in Philadelphia as the Russian Empire's first diplomat in the United States. Dashkov represented Emperor Alexander I in America during a turbulent decade of shifting alliances, blockades, embargoes, and wars and watched with a perceptive and sympathetic eye as the new republic was tested by party factionalism, sectional rivalry, and the War of 1812. Shortly after returning to St. Petersburg in 1819, Dashkov distilled his professional service, private encounters, extensive travel, and wide reading into a comprehensive 70-page analysis of America. Written in French, this unpublished manuscript is preserved with Dashkov's other papers in the State Archive of the Russian Federation. Although Dashkov's "Survey" for some reason remained unfinished, with crossouts, marginal notes, and occasional repetitions, when read together with his diplomatic reports and other writings it offers a fresh perspective on the early United States and is a testimonial to the sophistication and openness of Russian educated society in the early nineteenth century."
Daniel L. Schlafly Jr., "The First Russian Diplomat in America: Andrei Dashkov on the New Republic," 1997.

Believe it or not, Mr. and Mrs. Dashkoff were at Ury 20 June 1812 when they found out that Congress had declared war against Great Britain.

20 June 1812   Saturday
This evening M. & Mrs. Dashkoff and M. Cor[r]ea came hither [to Ury]. They had lost their way and got wet in a heavy shower at 6 o'clock. About 8 S[arah] and S[amuel] Longstreth came and brought me the newspaper with an Act of Congress declaring War against Great Britain!!!

Excerpt from an email sent today:
Yura and Katya, perhaps someday in the future the two of you can reenact the first Russian diplomat’s visit to Ury, i.e., where I live right now.


Minimalism in Architecture
I visited the ICA [The Big Nothing] exhibition and two of the 36 projects. My favorite was at the Arcadia University Art Gallery. Although not a very large space (approx. 30' x 55', white walls and light gray floor), when first entering the space it appeared as if empty. It was fun and even enlightening to ultimately see the 50 odds works exhibited--kind of nothingness in the extreme.
Going back to the original post, could it be that McMansions really don't have any real competition from the architecture field? Are today's architects even capable of offering what most people want in a home without going against what they are taught? My graduation from architecture school [1981] coincided with my parents moving to a new house, and I was given the old house. One of the first things I did to makeover the place was to strip off all the wallpaper, and I found 'virgin' plaster walls. I then decided to not paint any room white [except for the wood trimmings], which is when I realized I knew/was taught virtually nothing about color. It took a lot of effort and many hours studying paint chips, and even some repainting, but eventually I learned how to judge color with respect to rooms. Granted, painting rooms different colors isn't architecture, but the experience did demonstrate something that I wasn't taught in school with regard to 'designing' a living environment.
Here's another anecdote:
Back in 1977, I and a small group of fellow architecture students got a private tour of Kahn's Esherick House. You could say it's a nice little minimal work, inside and out--I'd move in in a minute. What was shocking, however, was the kitchen, which is totally a design by the wood sculptor Esherick (who was somehow related to the original owners). The whole room is like a room size free-flowing and curvy wood sculpture. The then owners said they had known Kahn when they bought the place, and whenever he visited he couldn't stand to stay in the kitchen more than a few seconds, and being in the room always made him say something nasty.


Re: opinions, please
Bill asks:
Can you eat the corned beef after it has sat (wrapped up) on the counter overnight?
Steve replies:
And I always wonder whether I'm being a voyeur when I look at the salad dressing.
Anyway, make sure you don't eat the corned beef because it may be a valuable piece of perishable art at this point (being visualized by people all over the globe, you know, it's now famous). Better just sign the wrapping and leave it at that. Better yet, start a line of plastic wrap called Readymade. Just think of it--the household refrigerator as an art museum. Is there even a better place for display and preservation?
Suddenly I can't wait till it's lunchtime.


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Stephen Lauf © 2024.05.03