If ghosts RSVP-ed, would they skip the party?

As Fiesta San Antonio returns to life this year, things have changed around the Alamo. Long the heart of the party, Alamo Plaza falls under new more exacting standards of proper etiquette.

According to Scott Huddleston of the San Antonio Express-News:

Fiesta’s two big street parades are set to resume in April, but people will need to quiet down when passing through Alamo Plaza, as it is now part of the historic site’s ‘reverent zone.’ Air horns, amplified music from floats and ‘shouting and other celebratory behavior’ will be prohibited for parade participants and discouraged for the public….

Continue reading “If ghosts RSVP-ed, would they skip the party?”

Postcard from Nervi, Genoa, Italy: Two modern art museums near the seaside

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

With one wall depicting sweets and attention lavished upon a good child and another the unpleasantness awaiting a naughty boy, Antonio Rubino (1880-1964) transformed a child’s room into illustrations seemingly plucked from the pages of a collection of nursery rhymes. The 1921 bedroom with a “City of Dreams” is but one of the unusual galleries encountered in Wolfsoniana, located in the seaside suburb of Genoa, Nervi. Here, among other things, we learned the Battle of Flowers is not unique to San Antonio; Ventimiglia is known for its Battaglia di Fiori.

The collection of art dating from 1880-1945 in this new museum reflects the interests of Miami-born Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. He opened the first museum showcasing his passions in 1995 in the Art Deco District in Miami Beach. As Wolfson became increasingly attached to Genoa, he moved some of his immense personal collections there. He considers himself, according to the Wolfson Collection website:

…a conservationist because of my desire to discover, but not possess. The challenge is to save endangered objects that are ignored or not held in admiration by others….

Before I decide to buy an object I think whether it belongs to the narrative or not. Truth and beauty don’t interest me particularly. I am interested in the language of objects….

It is the goal of my collection: “to make people think.”

…but I’m not interested in what you think: I shall simply be happy to have stimulated the birth of an idea within you, of a souvenir, a dream.

Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.

Nearby in the 15th-century Villa Saluzzo Serra, the Galleria d’Arte Moderna focuses on artwork from the beginning of the 19th century to contemporary. The base of the museum’s holdings came from Prince Oddone (1846-1866) of Savoy’s collection. The avid collector, a son of King Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878), was sickly and died at the young age of 19. The City of Genoa actively acquired art between 1912 and 1950 from the Venice Bienniale and Rome Quadriennale exhibitions, and some of Wolfsoniana’s overflow is on display in the villa as well.

Fiesta San Antonio: Time to throw off “the musty garb of dignity”

Her Gracious Majesty, Mayme, of the House of Story, Queen of the Court of Spring
Her Gracious Majesty, Mayme, of the House of Storey, Queen of the Court of Spring, 1913

Within the sacred shadow of the Alamo, flaunting their gaily colored banners beneath the beguiling front of San Fernando, or trespassing jauntily upon the public thoroughfares about the city hall and the market house, the canvas palaces have claimed the right of “Eminent Domain” in the name of the mighty monarch, King Rex. Once more the hobby-horse, the Ferris wheel and the steam calliope are bidding the staid and sober citizen to yield to the importunities of his “youngest” to throw off for a little the musty garb of dignity….

The San Antonio Light, April 21, 1913, page 5

Fiesta madness is seizing the city and will control it throughout the week to come.

One-hundred years ago it did the same. I hoped, before discarding any dignity I might have remaining (questionable indeed), to round up a story of the events of a century ago from the Mythological Parade led by King Rex to the Burlesque night parade, “the funniest parade of the week, with a suffragette band in line.” The accounts throughout the week are quite entertaining to read, but, alas, I have not time to summarize.

I would recommend if you missed it last year, that you refer to my post from then to get a glimpse of the historical festive pageantry. If short on time, skim to the bottom for the hysterical newspaper description of the mayhem erupting during the first Battle of Flowers Parade – details not reported, or purposefully ignored, in the official history on the official Battle of Flowers website.

While trying to avoid delving into details from Fiesta San Jacinto 1913, the names of two of the Mister’s relatives leapt off the page, crying out for me to notice. One of his grand uncles on his paternal side, Willard Eastman Simpson (1883-1967), designed the elaborate scenery for the coronation ceremonies for the Court of Spring, and one of his grand uncles on his maternal side, Lucius Mirabeau Lamar, III (1898-1978), appeared as one of the “men from Mars” in the opening Fiesta Fete operetta, Much Ado.

Hope you fling yourself into Fiesta with wild abandon.