30 Years of Snow: The Calligraphy of Anna Pinto is on view in the Upper Gallery of the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson Street, through December 31, 2017. The exhibition features holiday cards made by Pinto for family and close friends. They are mostly three-part creations: often a calligraphic interpretation of the word ‘snow’ (or a stencil or another mysterious method), an image evoking snow (sometimes combined with the word itself), and a few lines of text, often a haiku or poetry. The authors include Thoreau, Maya Angelou, and Wendy Wasserstein, and stretch back to the eighteenth century. The images are equally wide ranging and this year for the first time is a photograph by the artist herself.
Amazingly labor intensive, these cards were produced in good years and troubled years such as 2012 after Hurricane Sandy strongly impacted Pinto, her family, and her neighbors.
Shown at the Museum in chronological order, the cards are accompanied by preparatory materials. There is the stencil used to make the word ‘snow’ and calligraphy that was later reproduced, as well as notes that explain the processes used in making the final versions. In one of my favorites the letters of ‘snow’ were written in small dashes that look a little like the holes on early computer punch cards – the artistic masquerading as the mechanical.
The show is mounted in vitrines that allow the viewer to stand within inches of the fine detail work. It’s an amazingly attractive and user-friendly installation and fits the space beautifully.
On view on the first floor is World War I Centennial, 1917-2017, Heaven, Hell or Hoboken. The city was a ‘main point of embarkation’ for the US Expeditionary Forces headed for Europe. The exhibition explores the changes that the military brought as well as the experiences of one soldier, Hoboken-native Private First Class Peter G. Spinetto. His letters home, his uniform, and even his gas mask, are on view.
There is also a wire chair with a piece of stone from the bridge that crossed the River Marne at Chateau Thierry. That bridge was destroyed on June 1, 1918, to prevent the German Army from crossing it. It was the beginning of the American forces taking an active part in the war and is considered a major turning point as the French and Americans held off the German advance less than fifty miles from Paris.
The Museum itself is housed in the Bethlehem Steel machine shop building. The oldest section dates to 1890 and was constructed by the W & A Fletcher Company. It was enlarged in 1906 and again in 1944 and was in use until 1984. This is, well was, ‘On the Waterfront’ country. Hoboken is thriving and fashionable and charming. Shouldn’t need to add, but I will, that the Frank Sinatra tribute lives on at the Museum.
Link to Pinto’s page at the Gallery site: