Today in Travel Writing– 2/9

Welcome back, intrepid travelers!

While the weather was terrific a few days ago (well, at least it was warm), today looks rough.

That’s o.k., though, because we’ll be spending a portion of our class in class.

I’ll give a lecture on some travel-writing/place-writing basics, we’ll briefly discuss Annie Dillard and Michael Chabon, and we’ll take a look at your travel blogs.

Not-Quite-Mid-Term Check-Up

Right now, your blogs should be live, I should have your blog addresses posted on our blog roll, and you should have the following posts completed:

  • Introduction
  • Strip District coverage
  • Reading response to Dillard
  • Maxo Vanko/Bicycle Museum coverage
  • Reading response to Chabon

During workshop, each of you will pick one of your coverage pieces (Strip District or Vanko/Bicycle) to share with the class for feedback.

Today’s Destination: Westmoreland Museum of Art

After our in-class work, we’ll head to the Westmoreland Museum. Admission is free. Don’t forget to visit the Westmoreland’s website for more information.

The Westmoreland is home to a preeminent collection of American paintings, sculpture and early 19th century furniture. The collection includes the works of famous American artists like Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and more, plus, powerful scenes from our region’s coal and steel industry. (We can relate these to our next reading, Out of the Furnace.)

The Westmoreland is the only museum dedicated to American art in western Pennsylvania.

I’m especially excited for you to see the photographs of Teenie “One Shot” Harris, and I’m hoping they’ll be on display.

If you’re not familiar with Teenie’s work, here’s a short bio:

Harris was born in 1908 in Pittsburgh, the son of hotel owners in the city’s Hill District. Early in the 1930s, he purchased his first camera and opened a photography studio. He freelanced for the news picture magazine, Flash. From the 1936 to 1975 Harris chronicled life in the African American neighborhoods of the city for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of America’s oldest African American newspapers. He was nicknamed “One Shot” because he rarely made his subjects sit for retakes. Harris took more than 80,000 images during his career. The body of his work constitutes arguably the largest and most complete photographic documentation of a minority community in the United States.

While the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh holds most of Teenie’s collection (we’ll be visiting there next time!), the Westmoreland’s permanent collection includes quite a few of his photos and offers a great introduction to his work.

Our Next Class – February 23:

For our next class, we’ll be visiting some Pittsburgh landmarks — the Incline, Mount Washington, and some Pittsburgh steps (all weather-permitting). Then we will head to the Carnegie Museum of Art, where among other things we’ll check out the work of Yuji Agematsu.

I’ve posted a New Yorker piece about Yuji’s unique work. Please read it because we’ll be replicating his art/technique during our Feb. 23 travels. I’ll explain in class.

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