Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tarte Chasseur

Earlier on in The Beret Project, I wrote a post "Size Does Matter" and everyone familiar with berets would agree - it makes a huge difference whether you have a 25 or a 35cm (9.5" or 14") on top of your head. I have a liking for the larger diameters, 28cm (11") as an absolute minimum, but then, I am blessed, or not, with a rather large head. 
Little choice when you are in the military and, if you happen to have a small head, you can question your luck when you are placed with the Chasseurs Alpins. I can't help admiring this French captain, instructing Afghan soldiers in pistol shooting; I guess he's a size 55 or so, but despite that, he manages to wear his "tarte" with style. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Berets Rock!

It is one thing to create a statue or a sculpture of a man wearing a beret in papier maché,

stone or even glass, 

but personally I am more impressed by what Nature manages to create without human help, like this sharp-nosed Basque in Goblin Valley, Utah (USA).

Or the next picture, from an unknown location in Spain:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Henry Heerup

Henry Heerup (1907 - 1993) was a painter and sculptor born in Frederiksberg, Denmark.

He studied painting under Axel Jørgensen and Einar Nielsen at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. He also studied sculpture there under Einar Utzon-Frank. He painted The Old Oak in Wolfvalley in 1924. This was his first oil painting.
Henry Heerup married Emilie Westh in 1933. During the 1930s he developed his trash sculptures. During the 1940s he became a member of Corner and Høst and exhibited with them.

In 1949 he joined COBRA and participated in some of their exhibitions. He developed an international reputation exhibiting across Europe and North America. The film A Year with Henry was made by Jens Jørgen Thorsen and Jørgen Roos and premiered in 1967. Heerup was made a member of the Order of the Dannebrog in 1968.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I was quite taken by this watercolour by Californian artist Susan Cornelis; something tragic, melancholic about the picture that I find hard to pinpoint.
Susan says:
I think she (the model) said she named herself Nemea after the Greek town where the games were held (in the nude).

nemea2Nemea said she needed a beret, so one of the artists ran out to their car and brought back the hat. 

Friday, March 26, 2010


Colleville-Montgomery is a "commune" in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northern France and, as far as I know, the only municipality in the world with a beret in it's shield of arms (correct me if I am wrong, please). 

From the commune's web site:

The momentous events of June 6th, 1944 transformed Colleville-sur-Orne from an unassuming village on the plateau to the north of Caen into Colleville-Montgomery, the celebrated site where Commandant Kieffer's French commando landed on the D-Day beach alongside the Allies.
Since those times, the village has continued to develop and grow...
Today, proud of its cultural and historical heritage and its unspoilt natural environment, the village offers visitors who stop by both the simple pleasures of the seaside and the charms of the countryside.
Statue of 'Monty' at Colleville-Montgomery, Calvados, France (close to 'Sword Beach'). In September 1944 Field Marshal Montgomery decorated Corporal Jim 'Marra' McGuinness with the Military Medal for his part in the attack on Merville Battery, D-Day 6 June 1944.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Breton Style Sailors Shirts

Close to the beret in origin and rapidly adopted by a similar group of followers is the Breton style striped sailors shirt; a classic that originated in France and even went on to become the regulatory uniform of French sailors (the 27th of March 1858 Act). The thought behind the stripes was that it would be easier to locate sailors that went overboard. Originally the shirt counted 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon's victories.
Like the beret, the Breton striped sailors shirt has a lot of history to tell, enough to justify another blog: I Sea Stripes

And, since a number of The Beret Project readers commented on or asked for these striped shirts, they are available through the South Pacific Berets site! 

Penman Gary Blehm

Since 1977, sitting in a one room mountain school house near Aspen, Colorado, Gary Blehm has been drawing PENMEN® enjoying outdoor adventure and recreation and music. Gary still has early drawings of PENMEN® outdoors hiking, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, fishing, camping, playing guitar, music, campfires, tents, backpacking, hang gliding, scuba diving, skydiving, biking, barbecuing, horseback riding, motorcycle riding, hiking, and throwing out peace signs influenced by a hippie that worked for his father at summer camps in the early 1970's.

Penman stands in front of the wall mural from his 1980 dorm room.
Since Gary livedon a mountain ranch, he spent a year and a half of high school at a boarding academy. 

Everyone in the dorm would stop in and point out their favorite PENMEN® characters.

Images from the wall mural above

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ray Kass

28 Trays

Ray Kass is an American painter and writer. His paintings have been widely exhibited and have been represented in New York City by the Allan Stone Gallery, A.V.C. Contemporary Arts GalleryZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts, and for the past 17 years by Reynolds Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. He has received numerous grants and awards, including individual artists grants from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and from the National Endowment for the Arts. Ray Kass’ paintings reside in many public and private collections.
Ray Kass
He lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, and maintains a studio & residence in New York City. He is Professor Emeritus of Art at Virginia Tech, and founder and director of the Mountain Lake Workshop, a collaborative, community-based art project drawing on the customs, and on environmental and technological resources of the New River Valley and the Appalachian region.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sir Terry Frost

Sir Terry Frost RA (born Terence Ernest Manitou Frost) (1915 - 2003) was an English artist noted for his abstracts.
Born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, in 1915, he did not become an artist until he was in his 30s. During his army service in World War II, he met and was taught by Adrian Heath while a prisoner of war. Subsequently, he attended Camberwell School of Art and the St. Ives School of Art

In 1951, he worked as an assistant to the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. His career included teaching at the Bath Academy of Art, serving as Gregory Fellow at the University of Leeds, and teaching at the Cyprus College of Art. Later he became the artist in residence and Professor of Painting at the Department of Fine Art of the University of Reading.

In 1992, he was elected a Royal Academician and he was knighted in 1998.

He married Kathleen Clarke in 1945. They had five sons and one daughter. One of his sons, Anthony also became an artist. A second, Stephen is a comedian.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bobby Seale

Robert George "Bobby" Seale, is another American civil rights activist and revolutionary, who along with Huey P. Newton, co-founded the Black Panther Party For Self Defense on October 15, 1966 (and see last week's post on Richard Aoki). 
He also ran for Mayor of Oakland, California.

Born to a poor African American carpenter and his wife in Dallas, Texas, on October 22, 1936, Robert George (Bobby) Seale and his family moved to Texas, before finally settling in Oakland, California during World War II. 

Attributing his failure to make the basketball and football teams to racial prejudice, Seale quit Oakland High School and joined the U.S. Air Force. After three years in the Air Force, Seale was court-martialed and given a bad conduct discharge for disobeying a colonel at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Seale greatly admired Malcolm X and was particularly impressed with his teachings, especially by the idea that Black people had to defend themselves against white brutality and inaccurate education. The assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 pushed them to adopt Malcolm's slogan, "Freedom by any means necessary," and Seale and Newton  founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in October 1966.
In recent years, Seale’s actions differ greatly from the radical ones of his past. In 1987, he authored a cookbook called Barbeque'n with Bobby and was also a spokesman for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. In the early 1990's Seale appeared on the TV documentary series 'Cold War' reminiscing about events in the 1960s. 
In 2002, Seale began dedicating his time to Reach!, a group focused on youth education programs. Also, he taught black studies at Temple University in Philadelphia and is currently launching an instructional, nonprofit group helping people develop the necessary techniques and tools to set up community organization within their neighborhoods.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Richard Oaki

Richard Aoki (1938 – 2009) was an American civil rights activist. He was one of the first members of the Black Panther Party and was eventually promoted to the position of Field Marshall. Although there were several Asian Americans in the Black Panther Party, Aoki was the only one to have a formal leadership position.

Aoki was born in San Leandro, California in 1938. He and his family were interned at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah from 1942 to 1945. They moved to Oakland, Ca after World War II ended. Aoki spent eight years serving in the US Army, first as a medic and later in the infantry. He attended Merritt College for two years, where he became close friends with his longtime acquaintances Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the founding members of the Black Panther Party.
The organization was founded in October 1966, one month after Aoki transferred to the University of California in Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1968 and a Master of Social work degree in 1970.
Aoki died at his home in Berkeley from complications from dialysis. 

Aoki's life was chronicled in the 2009 documentary film, Aoki.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Viña Rock 2010

In times where the beret is declining among the younger generations, it is heartening to see that numerous rock festivals (in Spain) adopt the boina Vasca in their logo and promotions. 
Like at the largest Spanish rock festival Viña Rock 2010 in Villarrobledo. The festival organizers joined up with the  Kukuxumusu Studio to come up with this graphic design of a vulture with a beret.  
Or, how about this poster for the 2009 Petroleo Rock festival in Miranda de Ebro

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ramón Acín Aquilué

Ramón Acín Aquilué (1888 - 1936) Spanish anarcho-syndicalist, teacher, writer and avant-garde artist murdered by fascists in the first year of the Spanish Civil War.
From 1913 on, Acín was engaged in the Spanish anarchist movement, particularly in Barcelona and his home region of Aragón. He wrote for several anarchist magazines in Aragón and Catalonia and took part in several congresses of the anarchist labour union CGT in Huesca. 
Acín  was a non-violent anarchist and very much engaged in workers' education matter's; e.g., he gave drawing lesson's to workers in evening school courses. His own artistical works were presented in Madrid in 1931.
Until the beginning of the spanish Second Republic he was imprisioned several times for his writings and spent some time in the later 1920s in exile in France. When he won in the lottery, he gave an amount of money to Luis Buñuel for the production of  Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan, that's how he made his way into film history.  
When the spanish Civil War began, Huesca was soon taken by nationalist forces. 
Acín and his wife, Conchita Monrás, were among the many victims of illegal executions at that time. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bike Series #2 - Willie G

William G. Davidson, better known as Willie G., is the grandson of William A. Davidson, one of the original founders of Harley-Davidson.
Willie G. is best known for shaking up the staid design department at Harley-Davidson with new and innovative ideas that helped usher in a new era for the Milwaukee-based company. He was part of the group of employees that bought the troubled company back from AMF and helped guide it to financial health during the 1980s.

Davidson, naturally, grew up around motorcycles. He remembers as a young child the excitement of being given rides in the sidecar of the motorcycle his father was riding. Davidson graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in graphic art and then attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

In 1963, he was asked to join the design department at Harley-Davidson and he accepted the position. Early on, Davidson often met with resistance from upper management because of the design direction he wanted to take the company. The older and more conservative managers saw young Davidson’s designs as radical and unpractical.

Davidson was promoted to Vice President of Styling in 1969. Today, Davidson, with his black beret is highly visible at numerous rallies across the country and has become a legendary symbol of the family and of Harley-Davidson.

Thanks, Andy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

And again: Bosnia

I had to question myself about it being right to post these pictures on this blog and decided that, with the respect I feel for the people pictured, yes, I can.
The Bikavac fire was an atrocity perpetrated in Bikavac, near Višegrad, eastern Bosnia, on 27 June 1992 in which at least 60 Muslim civilians, mostly women and children, were killed after the house in which they were confined was set on fire. Vasvija Bajic (left) and Ramiza Bajic Dudojevic (right) were killed during the massacre.
Zijad Subasic was a young member of the Patriotic League (PL) and the PL leader in Višegrad.  In late ‘91 and early ‘92, he and a couple of other young Bosniak men bought and transported small arms to Visegrad from Sarajevo via Gorazde. Zijad and his men managed to stop the Uzice Corps in Dobrun (outskirts of Visegrad near the Serbian border) and capture 40 “White Eagles”. They held this position for five days and thus allowing many Bosniaks in the village areas to flee.  Zijad was injured during one street fight and sent to Foča  (which was not occupied by the JNA yet). After the occupation of Foča, Zijad was taken from his hospital bed by some local Serbs from Visegrad and slaughtered on the Mehmed-Pasa Sokolovic bridge.  R.I.P.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bosnia -again-

I wrote about Bosnia before and this post is one of the most read on this blog (thanks to webstats). And of course, there is much more to find on berets and Bosnia; most of it doesn't make very pleasant reading though. 

The Basque beret was indeed a symbol for the intellectual elite in multi-cultural Bosnia, but dominant among the Muslim (Bosniak) population. 
For the intellectuals it signified culture, 'belonging to Europe', affiliations with writers and artists; for the Muslims there was a more practical reason: when the communists came into power after 1945, the traditional Muslim fez was not outright banned, but it's use was very much discouraged (to say the least). 

Bosnian Muslims, not known for religious fundamentalism, adopted the Basque beret as a practical hat to cover their heads, suitable while performing prayers and the added bonus of keeping the Partisans happy (the beret was, of course, a partisan-symbol as well) and the percentage of Partisans among Muslims was the highest in Bosnia during WWII.  

These days, after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990's, the fez made a return in Bosnia, but still, many Bosnians (Muslim, Croats and Serbs) stay faithful to the beret. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Iberian/Celtic Beret

This photograph of a stone carving depicting a man wearing a beret, comes from this web site on Celtic / Iberian finds.  Apart from the description (below), no information on it's age and exact origin, but if this is a real prehistoric artifact, the story of the beret's origin through Noah's arc becomes a lot more acceptable...

 "The figure is 64 cm high: the head is spherical with strong chin, straight nose and eyes bulging, the mouth is formed with incised lines. On the head a circular cap  with irregular thickness and a circumference of 56 cm. shows, very similar to a beret.The body consists of a flat block in the back and curved front of where the arms stick out in an arc coming together of 21 cm each."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Antoñón Romero - Guardian of Buenos Aires' Fishing Fleet

Antonio Romero Garcia, 'Antoñón', was born at the end of the 19th century and lived in the Customs House (formerly the "Arguardientes and Liquor Factory") in the port and grew up to become the 'guardian' of Buenos Aires' fishing fleet. 
Antoñón was an honest man, much loved by the crews of Buenos Aires' fishing boats. He died at the age of 61 years, about the same time that the fishing fleet in Buenos Aires started to diminish. But Antoñón and his beret are still remembered by the people of El Pue.
'Antoñón' (left) and skipper Vicente Gomez Meseguer with his 'excellent seadog' in the middle (in an era where dogs were still allowed to roam the fishing facilities and fish markets...).

Antoñón's family was related to the sea. His father, Manuel Romero and his brother Manolin Castilian, just 9 years old, drowned in 1947, when sailing on a boat in search to make money for the family. Antoñón, who was18 years old, couldn't do anything to save them, his own life saved as by a miracle, arriving exhausted at the edge of the riverbank. Antoñón rarely mentioned this event, but it marked him for life - staying in port, working as a link in the chain of getting the fish to the people, but not going out to fish himself anymore.
Fisherman Manuel Núñez, 'the Picha' and 'Antoñón'. Late 40's, near the building where the Fisherman's Association was located.