Selfies With Hillary

Recently I saw some footage of Hillary Clinton campaigning, and it seemed like she was spending most of her time with a plastic smile on her face, stopping for “selfies” with people in the crowd.  The candidate would pose with an admirer who wanted a picture, walk a few paces, pose as another person manipulated their handheld to get their face and Clinton’s face in the shot, and that silly process continued, again and again and again.

If I were Hillary Clinton, this kind of  stop-and-go, photo-centric approach to campaigning would drive me nuts.  I also wonder what the Secret Service has to say about the physical security of selfies.  It’s one thing to have candidates walk the rope line, doing the grip and nod as they move steadily along before or after a speech, but the stop every few feet, cheek-to-cheek nature of constant selfies would seem to pose greater security risks.

I think the apparent obsession some people seem to have about taking “selfies” whereever they are, whatever they are doing, is curious — and, at times, off-putting.  In my view, the cell phone camera/selfie stick world has wrecked the experience at some art museums like the Louvre.  (I’m not alone in this; some art museums have banned selfie sticks because of their irritating, disruptive, view-obstructing tendencies.)

But I also guess I don’t understand why people want to take, and have, so many pictures of themselves. Is it simple Narcissism?  Is it a desire to have photographic proof that you were where you claimed to be?  Is it a desire to perfect your very best selfie pose?

The last time I was at the Louvre I watched a young man taking individual selfies of himself standing in front of every one of the dozens of paintings along one wall in a gallery.  What in the world was he going to do with them?  Was every one of those selfies posted to the guy’s Facebook page so that his friends could see dozens of nearly identical pictures of his smiling mug in front of a painting on their news feeds?  Was he going to have a mind-numbing slide show upon his return home?

Hillary Clinton, and no doubt other candidates who have to do the selfie stops, probably will end up being among the most selfie-photographed people in the history of the human race.  It would be interesting to get her unvarnished views about how she feels about it.

The Gardens Of The Cummer

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The Cummer Museum is a Jacksonville jewel that Kish and I visited yesterday while Richard was working and Russell was painting. It’s got a very nice collection of traditional and contemporary art, pieces that deal with Florida and its indigenous people, furniture, fine china, and even fashion, which made a ramble through its room a pleasant series of eclectic surprises.

Behind the museum are several gardens that back up to the St. Johns River. There is an orderly English garden, an Italian garden (pictured above), a tea garden, and an upper and lower Olmsted garden. All are beautiful on a sunny day. The capstone of the garden area, however, is a huge, ancient, gnarled oak tree that must be hundreds of years old. Its mossy limbs sprawl out in every direction, touching the ground and some even being partially covered by a layer of ground cover. It’s magnificent, and a picture really can’t do it justice.

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MONA, MONA

Museums tend to be pretty stodgy places.  Now there’s a museum in Hobart, Australia that is shaking up the dusty museum world.

The Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA, breaks just about every rule we associate with museums.  Instead of an imposing marble structure, it’s housed in a curious building.  Rather than ascending broad steps, you descend several flights of stairs to get to the exhibit floors.  There are no labels or informational signs prepared by curators on the walls of the museum; visitors get an iPod crammed with information about the exhibits and are asked whether they “love” or “hate” each piece.  And the museum has an on-site brewery and vineyard, too.

MONA features eclectic pieces, such as “living” art consisting of fermenting fruit and agar and a piece that replicates a digestive tract and produces, at 2 p.m. daily, a stinky piece of artistic fecal matter.

I’m not sure why anyone would want to see a turd, no matter how artistically it was produced or presented — we get to see them often enough.  But the idea of shaking up the museum world, and presenting art in different settings, is a good one.  I don’t think I’d travel to Hobart, Australia to see MONA, but I’m still kind of glad it’s there.