Reflections from Boston: Wednesdays with Arthur #11

June 20, 19

Yesterday’s Wednesday was a cloudy/bright Boston Day for errands, but it’s still about books all the time with me.  I didn’t notice it so much until I was not writing directly from my JCBA experience, but it’s a home truth. 

Before getting to book stuff, however, I had to find out why my otherwise exemplary Apple Watch had determined last week as I was driving on the Turnpike at 70 miles an hour that I had had a ‘hard fall,’ and gone into emergency mode, SOS, beep, beep, jumping on my wrist and barking at me, I didn’t dare look at it to turn it off, but the calm 911 guy who called to ask if there had been an emergency seemed neither surprised nor disappointed.  

So I took a trip to the Apple store (I love that glass-fronted, busy place; it’s like an ant-farm) where a kind young man with a handsome widow’s peak assured me that the emergency function was working.  Having checked everything out, he dropped it on the floor where it did what it was supposed to do. 

Barry Moser

So that set my mind at ease (maybe) and freed me to walk up Bolyston Street to Bromer Booksellers to see an exhibit of the work of Barry Moser, an artist I have admired since I saw his striking illustrations for Moby Dick, (Arion Press 1979, limited edition of 250 copies), perhaps the first fine-press book of which I was ever aware. I liked it because it was boldly illustrated with pictures that sang of the sea instead of portraits of the characters.  I like my imaginary characters to stay in my Melville-inspired imagination; I don’t want to know how you think Ishmael and Queequeg look. 

Bromer is on the second floor of a glossy bank building. I feel privileged to know it is there, and to walk into the shop/gallery of fine editions, rare imprints and especially of miniature books for which the gallery is renowned.  If it weren’t for Arthur, I wouldn’t even know these kinds of treasures exist. I admired the Moser works on display including the antic children’s book illustrations that were entirely new to me. Moser’s colorful watercolor washes seemed unrelated to the severe black-and-white of his prints until I saw the video Bromer sponsored to accompany the exhibition.  If you watch it you will hear the artist explain the connection and other wonderful secrets of his trade.  

Barry Moser on “Barry Moser: The Storied Artist” – YouTube

Moser mentions being influenced by Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press; there’s a clear link to his style in the numerous Baskin works Arthur purchased so that JCBA has a notable collection.

Outside of the Bromer, I was in Full Copley Square Mode, with the august Boston Public Library diagonally across the street and Trinity Church directly in front of me where, for some reason, they had just planted some raggedy-assed palm trees. I bought a Banh Mi salad and enjoyed it on a bench there anyhow.  

I can’t leave this post without two end-notes:  one, my first full-on PowerPoint presentation last week given by my roommate defending his dissertation.  Because he is so articulate and smart, I actually could follow some of what he said, but mostly I just loved the spidery images that jumped and magnified themselves and grew new heads and limbs on the screen.  Here’s the topic:

my roommate defending his dissertation

“Rules of the cytoskeletal regulatory protein Farp1 in forebrain development and activity-dependent synapse remodeling.” 

 Don’t you love it?

The other thing keeping me occupied is an up-coming presentation on Boston Common of Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline.”  Every summer the excellent Commonwealth Shakespeare Company presents a free production for a couple of weeks, and I have some fun beforehand working up an explanation for friends and patrons at the local library.  “Cymbeline” is very, very rarely performed because it is a terrible play. I can’t wait to see how CSC will make it magnificent; they always do. 

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