I'm not entirely sure if the Gibson Girl was supposed to be the type of New York girl that spent her summers in Newport, R.I. but it certainly looks like she was. While I was there just a couple of weeks ago staring at where the Newport Boardwalk used to be, I could definitely picture her sunning what little skin she was showing and bits of sand blowing into her knarled hair.
I found Newport even more facinating than I thought I would. It was like a walk through history, but a long one! a 3 day vacation in the past, which if anyone knows anything about me, well you will know that is a slice of heaven for me :) Our hotel sat across from the cliffside mansions and where the boardwalk USED to be, that is before it washed away in a hurricane. I really wish it was still there though, I love old fashioned American boardwalks, the pictures that were up in the hallways though helped to picture it a little.
Now for the mansions. Yes I absolutely loved them, obviously, but found a few things about them particularly interesting. When I was a teenager a friend's family took me to Paris and Versailles, so honestly I feel like I've seen this royal french palace look before, but not this way exactly. First of all it was sea side homes, so there were a lot of sea lore related pieces and colors, like cream, mint and navy blue. Second these houses were built more than a century after Marie Antoinette's head was chopped off, by railroad tycoons and the rest of the united states most overly lavish, under taxed 1%. ;) (yes, look at the date on this blog, we're in the middle of occupy wall street) In a land where industry and democracy made all this possible for these families, not royal blood, it's kind of ironic that they seemed so taken with the reign of Louis XVI , even going as far as to put potraits of him up in their house. I think sarcasm and irony were just not something that these people understood. Apparently Mark Twain (who lived in a much more modest home, trust me I've been there) called this era the "gilded age" and meant it as an insult. Instead of being taken for what it meant the rich adopted it and refferred to themself as such from then on. So like I said, maybe they just didn't examine the irony much.
"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
I think the thing I found more beautiful than the mansions themselves was the decline of the homes. Again if you know me, you'll know that I find neglect and decay facinating. After WWII people most especially thought of these houses as "white elephants" which I can see why they were reffered to as such with all the far more important things going on in the world at the time. So they sat, empty and aging. That I would have liked to see :) apparently a pipe burst in a mansion called the "marble house" and froze large sheets of ice one winter across the all marble staircase. That really paints a picture in my mind. It's just the kind of Americana story that inspires my artwork, the ghosts of extravagant lifestyles haunting an abandoned property. :) It was a really fun adventure and I'm grateful that I got to go. I don't know how I got so lucky but it's pretty likely I'll be spending the later part of November fullfilling a long time dream...floating around a swamp in Louisiana.
A quick note on the tarot deck to finish this blog. :) I will be opening it up for pre sale on etsy November 1st. If you want to order ahead of time you'll give me an idea of how many I'm going to need before the Holidays hit hard :) and it makes sure you have one early December. You can either pick it up or
Hope everyone has a kick ass Halloween :)
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