INCLUSION

ABSTRACT IN THE COUNTRY’/acrylic-canvas/gunther

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

There is no reason why art in abstraction cannot co-exist with the figurative, an old barn with a window of shape, form, color, line. As in a nation, if it chooses to be celebratory of all its people.

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

EDWARD HOPPER’S LIGHT

 

 ‘EDWARD HOPPER’S HIGH CHAIR, BATHED IN LIGHT’/acrylic-canvas/gunther

February 17, 2020

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

Edward Hopper, the famed American realist painter, was born in the family home at Nyack on July 22, 1882, in a second-floor bedroom that is often bathed in the special luminescence which bounces off the Hudson River and straight up Second Avenue.

Young Hopper saw this light on his first day of life, and it surely and deeply influenced the artist, who proclaimed, “… what I wanted to do was paint sunlight on the side of a house.

Today, at 82 North Broadway, at the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, the artist’s high chair can be found sitting in natural and dramatic light in the upstairs hall.

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

HOPE

‘HOPE’/on canvas/gunther

February 10, 2020

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

After the man left, the White House was dark, in black again as when the British set fire in 1812. But inside there was bright light, and the nation gradually returned to hope.

 

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

‘UP OR DOWN?’

acrylic on wood/gunther

January 27, 2030

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

Up or down?

Does the nation, its folk working or not, in health or not, in hope or despair, of diverse belief surely go forth from the aspirations of Roosevelt, Kennedy and King or retreat to lynchings real or implied, prejudice, inequality, intolerance and no compromise?

That may be the real trial decision in the Senate. 

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

‘NEVER A BLUR’

January 20, 2020

 ‘NEVER A BLUR’/stylized photograph/gunther

     By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

Whenever there is war, and Washington adds horsepower to its response and a four-cylinder becomes a forever V-8; whenever there is peace yet troubles in the land are on the boil, the stove unwatched; whenever the elected and appointed think posturing and pensions and not of iJoe and Jane back home, a marble likeness, through it all, faces the Arlington Bridge and the dead who have been the currency of a nation “conceived in liberty” and offers a reminder of  “the great task remaining before us.”

    Unfinished work — conscience set in stone. 

 

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

                              –30–

‘HUMANITY’S ULTIMATE GOODNESS’

‘RORSCHACH ON HUDSON’/photograph/gunther

     By Arthur H. Gunther I I I

thecolumnrule.com

     If Rockland County, N.Y.,  were to take its own Rorschach Test, it might look at the Hudson River pilings at Piermont that once supported a wooden pier from which more than a million men and some women left to confront Hitler in the European Theatre, World War II. 

     The horrors of that time, including the Holocaust, were born and fanned by manipulated hatred derived from prejudice, itself a product of inequality. That a madmen could freely steer the ship of state with so many willing countrymen at the oars is a reminder that the inclinations of history can repeat themselves.

     For thousands, the Piermont pilings were among the last sights of the USA, never to be seen again. Whatever was in the hearts and minds of those civilian soldiers off to lose life and limb and to suffer bruised emotion forever, this truth was certain: By and large these people were good and decent, from communities across the nation, from Rockland, too. 

     Those pilings remain at Piermont, no longer carrying the weight of men and women off to war against Hitler. Now, in approaching 2020, other good citizens stare at the pilings symbolically, knowing that Rockland, and the nation, hold mostly decent people, as before. This time their enemy is the hatred of anti-Semitism, the hatred of Muslims, the hatred of non-whites, the hatred of immigrants, the hatred of anyone “different.”

     Hatred again fanned by self-interest. Yet, as in 1945, the victory will go to those who stand up and do battle.

     The pilings will endure, as will the ultimate goodness of humanity.

    The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

                           –30–

THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

December 22, 2019

Each Christmas, my son Arthur 4th takes over my now 38-year-old column. Here is this year’s installment.

By Arthur H. Gunther IV

    The clothes were still piled up in the ice cream truck.  That was as far as he made it.  It had taken all his effort to actually clean out the closets in his dad’s room.  He hadn’t meant for the truck to become a de-facto museum of his father’s clothes.  It was the only place he had with enough room to contain everything.  His plan had been to gradually go through the pants, shirts, jackets, coats, hats, and gloves, keep a few things, and donate all the rest.  He had chosen a few things to keep, but the giving-away part had been too much to bear.

     The sheer volume of clothes his father owned wasn’t due to his dad being some kid of hoarder.  In fact, he had only acquired a few new items every year.  It was just that the few things he did buy were quality-made items.  His father tended toward classic styles that never seemed to be quite in or out of style.  Over the years the collection built up, and his father never seemed to quite wear anything out or give anything away.

     The only things the man did buy several of each spring, and subsequently wear out by the end of the summer, were the ice cream man uniforms he donned each morning from Memorial Day to Labor Day without fail.  There was no evidence of the 65 summers of selling ice cream anywhere in his closet.  He had made it to Labor Day this year and then that was it, for the ice cream and him.  His son had the truck packed with the clothes by Halloween, but that’s where it ceased.  Now it was Christmas Eve, and the truck just sat there in the driveway, filled with too many memories to move.  If the younger man had any delusions that Christmas, and everything that went with it, would get him to finally make a move, then time was just about out.

    Christmas morning dawned sunny and cold.  Always an early riser, the man threw on an extra layer and jumped in his car to run his usual morning errands.  Turning the key in the ignition, he was greeted by the unsettling silence of a dead battery.  He could have simply turned around and gone back inside, but being a man of routine, the notion was only a passing thought.  His only other choice, other than walking the five miles to his first stop, was to take the ice cream truck.  He grabbed the key where it hung on the hook by the side door and jumped in.  Within a minute he was rumbling up the hill in the truck with only his father’s clothes and the radio as company.

     As he drove through the center of town and headed up the hill away from the river, he noticed two men, one maybe 17 and the other twice that, walking toward the convenience store that bordered the highway overpass.  It was here that 20 or 30 men gathered each morning looking for work.  Christmas appeared to be the exception because as he passed there was no one waiting to be picked up for whatever jobs and wages awaited.  He drove on.

     About 30 minutes later, his errands completed, the man drove the same route in reverse.  Passing the convenience store, the driver noticed the two fellows from before sitting on a bench, seemingly waiting.  Letting his curiosity get the better of him, the man pulled the truck into the parking lot and got out.

     Sitting in the truck, it appeared that the two men were indeed waiting for work.  On top of that, they were underdressed for the temperature.  Without really giving it a second thought, the ice cream truck driver got out and walked toward the two men.

“Hi,” said the driver.  Both men nodded in reply.

    “Are you looking for work?”

     “Yes,” said the younger of the two, perking up a bit.  “We can do anything.”

Now, in the moments that passed before what happened next, perhaps some generalizations were made.  It’s more likely that a leap of faith was taken.  But, then again, it was Christmas, and if you couldn’t make a leap of faith today, then it wasn’t likely you ever would.

     “Here,” said the driver, handing the older man the keys. “It runs well and can make you a good living. It sent me to college.  Just do me a favor, make good use of those clothes in the back.  Merry Christmas.”

With that, the man turned and began walking downhill toward the river.  Back home. 

     The writer is a teacher at the William O. Schaefer Elementary School in Orangeburg, N.Y., and is also a writer.