Kyle Gann in PostClassic has a long post about American art and music, American Romanticism: Music vs. Painting, with a discussion of what was new and specifically American in the Hudson River School of painters, and then in comparison how little original their contemporaries among composers were:

“Their music is a pale imitation of the European aesthetic of their day. In vain one listens to their symphonies, tone poems, piano pieces, and string quartets, for a new feeling for melody, a new sense of form, a departure from Europe. They were timid. Their emphasis was not on a bold new beginning, but on a sense of correctness, a balance learned rather than created, and a desire to impress. At their very best – as in, say, Chadwick’s string quartets – one finds an energetic smoothness, but even here the music seems to plead, ‘Look – I followed all the rules. Isn’t that enough?’ “

F. E. Church: Morning, Looking East Over the Hudson Valley from the Catskill Mountains

When I told my friend Pat Ross-Ross that I have started to paint in oil, and thought both landscapes and portraits were interesting to try, he mentioned The Group of Seven, and suggested I looked at the works of these famous Canadian painters, to see if my idea of Northern landscapes resonated with theirs. Yes, maybe. And then I read that some of the painters in the Canadian Northern school were inspired by the Scandinavians of a generation before them… If I understood this right.

Tom Thomson: The West Wind

The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm will host an exhibition in the autumn 2006, with works by romantic and early 20th century landscape painters from the Nordic countries. (The exhibition is in Helsinki this summer, starting in Stockholm on 30 September, will be in Oslo in spring 2007, comes to Minneapolis in the summer 2007, and then last stop is in Copenhagen in the autumn 2007)

Edvard Munch: Moonlight

Chasing foxes

This morning, I watched two small foxes playing in the meadow between the village school and the old feldspar mines. At first I wondered why two cats were running like that — or was it martens? No, foxes. A beautiful chase, like two waves of red fur flowing over the field, and then rolling on over the road and into the wood.

Family outing

This Sunday, I was out on a boat trip for the first time this year. The combination of summer weather and spring season — sunny and quite warm, but with a chill from the sea and wind; an abundance of flowers in the woods and meadows, but sparse foliage on the trees; silence or just bird song, since very few leisure boats were out on the water ways, and with mass tourism as yet concentrated to just a couple of popular islands instead of spread over the whole archipelago — this all made the day with the family an enjoyable and relaxing experience in our incredibly beautiful archiepelago.

All 12 members of the big family were present. B’s four sons, who had given us this outing as a late birthday present to him: the first, with his wife and their daughter (2 years) and their son (8 months); the second, with his fiancée (who is a sailor and Coast Guard officer) – she was our hostess this day, and had planned the whole tour; the third son, with his girlfriend and their son (14 months); and my son, the youngest brother in the clan.

We boarded an island ferry in the morning, and went from landing-place to landing-place through sounds and over fjords for 90 delightful minutes. I was of course standing on deck, so I could see and name all the islands and
feel the wind.

The rest of the day was spent on a nice island, where we walked some kilometres on hot sand roads, had lunch (brunch with herring, herring and herring – and a blueberry pie) at an old hotel, and sat on the beach while the kids played.

Then we got home by a faster ferry (waterjet), which was fun at first, but a bit crowded after 196 silly sunbathers on their way home to Stockholm stepped onboard at the next stop.

[Tack för bilderna!]

Open sea

Last weekend, the ice disappeared almost completely – there is just a little of it left in the marina and in the inner, narrow creeks east and west of it. The ferries can sail the shorter course again, through the shipping channel near the mainland that was closed during the coldest winter months, so the ships don’t have to take the long turn around the eastern part of the fjord any longer. This has been a long winter!


Since I was unable to attend the opening on Saturday, I visited the art exhibition at the library today instead. My picture of two guys standing on a cliff in the archipelago landscape had good company of a grandfather-and-grandson portrait on the one side, but maybe the picture at the other side was not a good match: a small decorative thing with grapes and grape leaves. Anna’s own big pictures – one oil painting in blue colours, one pastel in yellow-orange colours with sketched figures – were of course the best at the exhibition, but many student works were technically skilled realistic pictures, and in some cases also interesting compositions. Too many were just exercises in the teacher’s style, for example studies of a dozen stones on a beach, or the non-figurative blue-ish paintings she has done a lot of, and which obviously has inspired some students.

Fireworks and ferries

I am watching the dark sea and the horizon. Soon the fireworks will explode everywhere – in the village, and across the water. Other lights in this dark winter evening are coming from the ferries – huge vessels slowly and almost silently moving half-hidden behind the nearest islands.

I wish all readers a Happy New Year 2006!