Andrew Wyeth: Close Friends, The Book

My local library had Andrew Wyeth: Close Friends, the book I wrote about in this post where I wondered why Wikipedia doesn’t mention his African American friends, models, book, touring show, collection. It’s as if they are whitewashing his legacy. Do you think it is inadvertent?

Book cover.

One thing I’ve learned about Andrew Wyeth: he painted. That’s what he did. He painted from a very young age, even before he was a teenager. He didn’t go to school (he was home-schooled), he didn’t have a job, he didn’t prepare meals, he didn’t wash clothes or repair fences or scrub floors. He painted almost every day. It was his life. His father, N.C. Wyeth, was instrumental in that.

Andrew Wyeth’s African American Friends

From Wikipedia’s entry for Andrew Wyeth, the son of the famous illustrator Newell Convers Wyeth (N.C. Wyeth):

Andrew Newell Wyeth (1917-2009) was a visual artist, primarily a realist painter, working predominantly in a regionalist style. He was one of the best-known U.S. artists of the middle 20th century.

In his art, Wyeth’s favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine.

Andrew Wyeth with his friend Ben Loper, the subject of Wyeth’s painting “A Crow Flew By.”

I noticed that many of the people Wyeth painted were black, but Wikipedia said nothing about them. I found this, from Wyeth’s Black Models:

“I’d go over to paint H. F. Dupont in the morning. I’d have to be let into Winterthur [the Dupont mansion, now a museum] by guards, and be ‘received.’ Then, in the afternoon, I’d walk over to Ben Loper’s house in the community,” recalls Wyeth, “and would be so much more relaxed, so much more natural.” The Loper portrait, A Crow Flew By — the words uttered by the subject as Wyeth painted him in 1950 — is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and numbers among the 74 paintings, watercolors, and drawings in the traveling exhibition “Andrew Wyeth: Close Friends,” which debuted at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, where it can be seen through the 13th of this month.

That month was May, 2001. So, there is a book (Andrew Wyeth: Close Friends), a 100-plus collection, and a traveling exhibition dedicated solely to Wyeth’s African American friends. It was assembled by Wyeth and his wife while Wyeth was still alive, over 16 years ago. Why doesn’t any of this appear in Wikipedia?

It is the first public overview of the artist’s depictions of the people and sites in a small African American community in Chadd’s Ford, which had been known as “Little Africa” and originated as a Quaker stop on the Underground Railroad. As a child, Wyeth played with the descendants of those men and women who settled in the region, and throughout his adult life, he painted them. His sensuous depictions of Moore, who began posing for him in 1997, bring to mind the nude images of the blonde Helga Testorf, a German neighbor Wyeth secretly painted between 1971 and 1985. “I’m involved with the people I paint,” he says. “They become my friends.”

The book’s text consists of brief captions in which Andrew Wyeth comments on the subject, circumstance, and experience of creating the images. “They were easy friendships,” he says of his relationships with his models. “They posed whenever I asked them to. How pure it seemed, to be able to paint where they lived. It was not studio painting.” In Chester County (1962), for instance, Tom Clark, an elderly black man, is shown upstairs in his bedroom. Bald with a white stubble beard and strikingly high cheekbones, he is depicted in profile, seated in a wooden armchair beside a quilt-covered bed.

Recently, the Wyeths laid out and examined more than 50 watercolor and pencil drawings of the late Tom Clark. “He welcomed me so easily. I painted him in every angle — seated, lying down, bending over. I lived with him for almost a month,” Wyeth says. “He would cook for me.” The artist gave a study he did for That Gentleman (1960), which also features Clark, to the actor Morgan Freeman, who was so moved by the “Little Africa” images that he volunteered to narrate the show’s accompanying audio guide without pay.

Below are some portraits of Tom Clark. There are a few more in the “Close Friends” collection from the Mississippi Museum of Art’s show at the Traditional Fine Arts Organization.

“That Gentleman” 1960

“Chester County” 1962

“Tom Clark” 1962

“The Garret Room” 1962

I like what Sherry Howard says about this last one: “Tom Clark was a tall stately man who was a fixture in the community. Wyeth painted him napping, his long frame looking as weary and fragile as the bed he laid in.”

The Mississippi Museum of Art Director R. Andrew Maass said, “These works are, perhaps, among the artist’s purest paintings, ones that are virtually devoid of metaphor and symbolism.” There is something different about them, more raw, unlike his famous Christina’s World. I think that’s why I like them.

PURE Study Couldn’t Tease Apart Affects Of Poverty And Diet (Dr. Katz: PURE Diet Nonsense)

I included a link to the actual PURE study in my prior post, the study that said carbs cause people to die sooner. I was curious if anyone would see the aspect of this study which would call into question its findings.

The PURE study analyzed data from 135,335 participants who were followed for 7.4 years. Notably, individuals from 4 low-income countries were included: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. Poor people in low-income countries experience poor healthcare, lack of education, poor water quality, poor living conditions, increased risks for communicable diseases … as well as poor diets. How do you know it wasn’t their poverty and not their diets that contributed to their early death? How can you say it was their high-carb diet that killed them?

Right now, South Asia is experiencing some of their worst monsoon floods. Do these populations have higher mortality because they eat rice?

Photo from the Guardian.

Monsoons hit South Asia every year between June and September, but the 2017 monsoon season has been far worse than average,[1] bringing flooding, and associated landslides, of a scale unseen in recent years. Experts have called these the worst South Asian floods in decades, with long-term food supplies in question due to ruined farmland.[2] As of 2 September, 1,288 people have been confirmed killed, and more than 45 million affected.

Dr. Katz said the same. I’m including his essay in its entirety because it’s good.
Preventive Medicine Column, 1 September 2017, PURE Diet Nonsense

A massive diet study called PURE, just published in The Lancet, seemed to receive only slightly less media attention this past week than Hurricane Harvey. And yes, in a sense, the two are connected- as I will explain. PURE stands for Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology. I think, however, to provide a quick understanding of what the study really means, it could have meant: Poverty Undermines Reasonable Eating.

Media coverage of PURE has ranged from mildly hyperbolic to patently absurd, including the assertion that vegetables and fruits may not be good for us this week. That is pure … nonsense.

In brief, PURE was designed to look at health outcomes associated with variations in diet in countries not well represented in prior research, and across the range from high to very low socioeconomic status. A total of 18 countries –with a particular focus on the Middle East, South America, Africa, and South Asia- and about 135,000 people participated. Dietary intake was assessed with a single food-frequency questionnaire at baseline.

There were two main findings that have spawned most of the mainstream media coverage, and social media buzz. The first was that, while health outcomes improved and mortality declined with higher intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes- in multivariable analysis adjusting for other factors, that benefit “peaked” at about 3 servings per day. This has been widely interpreted to suggest that, at odds with conventional wisdom on the topic, more is not better with regard to vegetables, fruits, and beans.

The second finding garnering media attention was that across countries, the higher the intake of carbohydrate as a percent of calories, the higher the rates of disease and death; whereas the higher the percentage of calories from fat, the lower these rates.

Roughly 8% of those in the lowest intake group for vegetables, fruits, and legumes (VFL) died during the study period; whereas only 3% of those in the highest VFL intake group died- despite the fact that the highest VFL intake group was slightly older at baseline. Overall, and rather flagrantly, mortality was LOWEST in the group with the HIGHEST intake of VFL. The lowest levels of heart disease, stroke, and mortality were seen in those with the HIGHEST intake of VFL.

What, then, accounts for the strange reporting, implying that everything we’ve been told about vegetables, fruits, and beans is wrong? These benefits were “adjusted away” in multivariable models. Those people in PURE with the highest VFL intake were ALSO benefiting from less smoking, more exercise, higher education, better jobs, and quite simply- a vastly better socioeconomic existence. A multivariable model enters all of these factors to determine if a given outcome (e.g., lower death rate) can be attributed to ONE OF THEM to the exclusion of the others. The exclusive, apparent benefit of VFL intake was, predictably, reduced when the linked benefits of better education, better job, and better life were included in the assessment.

This no more means that VFL was failing to provide benefit in those with more education, than that more education was failing to provide benefit in those eating more VFL. It only means that since those things happen together most of the time- it’s no longer possible to attribute a benefit to just one of them.

Unlike dietary fat, which the investigators examined in all of its various categories, carbohydrate was all “lumped” together as a single class. This produced an apparent paradox in the data: disease and death went down with more intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes- but up with carbohydrate. What’s the paradox? Vegetables, fruits, and legumes are, mostly, carbohydrate!

What explains away the apparent paradox is that vegetable, fruit, and legume intake was apparently highest in the most affluent, most highly educated study participants- while “total carbohydrate” as a percent of calories was highest in the poorest, least educated, most disadvantaged. In those cases, carbohydrate was not a variety of highly nutritious plant foods; it was almost certainly something like white rice, and little else.

The conclusion, and attendant headlines, for PURE might have been: “very poor people with barely anything to eat get sick and die more often than affluent people with access to both ample diets, and hospitals.” One certainly understands why the media did NOT choose that. It is, however, true- and entirely consistent with the data.

These papers were released concurrently with the devastation in Houston, and the Gulf Coast, of Hurricane Harvey- the greatest rain event in the recorded history of the continental United States. The unprecedented rainfall is related to climate change, which in turn is monumentally influenced by global dietary choices. How appalling that the PURE findings were not merely misrepresented to the public in irresponsible reporting pertaining to human health effects, but in reporting that ignored entirely the implications of that bad dietary advice for the fate of the climate, and planet.

This week as last, whole vegetables and fruits are reliably good for you, and for the most part, the more the better. The benefits of that produce, however, do not preclude the benefits of an education, a job, and medical care- nor vice versa.

This week as last, most of the hyperbolic headlines about diet, telling us everything we thought we knew before was wrong- are pure nonsense.

PURE found that the lowest levels of heart disease, stroke, and mortality were seen in those with the highest intake of vegetables, fruits, and beans. All of those are high-carb.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency In Americans Is Nonexistent

I want to back up a quote I used in this comment to Melinda. Melinda posted a link to an article that said most Americans aren’t getting enough omega-3. The National Institutes of Health say Americans are getting enough omega-3.

From National Institutes of Health, Omega-3 Fatty Acids. (Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids meaning the human body can’t make them, they have to be obtained from the diet.):

Classical essential fatty acid deficiency in healthy individuals in the United States is virtually nonexistent [5]. During periods of dietary-fat restriction or malabsorption accompanied by an energy deficit, the body releases essential fatty acids from adipose-tissue reserves. For this reason, clinical signs of essential–fatty-acid deficiency are usually only found in patients receiving parenteral nutrition that lacks PUFAs. This was documented in case reports during the 1970s and 1980s [5], but all current enteral and parenteral feeding solutions contain adequate levels of PUFAs.

That reference number 5 is:

Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2005.

Which says on page 470:

“… a deficiency [of omega-3 fatty acids] is basically nonexistant in noninstitutionalized populations (Appendix Table E-11).”

Is Dietary Fat Really Good For Us? Are Carbs Detrimental?

Update, 7 September 2017: No, carbohydrates are not detrimental. People who eat vegetables, fruit and beans (all high-carb) live longer than people who don’t. That’s what the PURE study found. See my follow-up post: PURE Study Couldn’t Tease Apart Affects Of Poverty And Diet (Dr. Katz: PURE Diet Nonsense).

This is the fat study that everyone is talking about. I’m short on time so I’ll just throw it up here. What do you think?

Associations Of Fats And Carbohydrate Intake With Cardiovascular Disease And Mortality In 18 Countries From Five Continents (PURE): A Prospective Cohort Study, The Lancet, Online 29 August 2017

High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings.

Here’s the full text, pdf, from sci-hub:
Associations Of Fats And Carbohydrate Intake With Cardiovascular Disease And Mortality In 18 Countries From Five Continents (PURE): A Prospective Cohort Study

And here’s an interpretation in the media:
Study Challenges Conventional Wisdom On Fats, Fruits And Vegetables, Reuters, 29 August, 2017
Huge New Study Casts Doubt On Conventional Wisdom About Fat And Carbs, STAT News, 29 August 2017

People With Crohn’s Disease Should Minimize Yeast (Baker’s, Brewer’s, Nutritional) In Their Diet

The latest video from Dr. Greger at

Check here for the transcript:
Is Nutritional Yeast Healthy For Everyone?

It appears that baker’s yeast, which is the same yeast as brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast, may indeed have disease-causing importance in Crohn’s disease.

The bottom line is that people with Crohn’s disease should not go out of their way to add baker’s, brewer’s, or nutritional yeast to their diet. – The Future Of Weather Maps

If you like weather sites, you’re going to love

It was developed by Ivo Lukacovic, a programmer, kite surfer, professional biker, and pilot from the Czech Republic. He’s also wealthy, $500 million wealthy, which he made in another of his ventures, – a search engine which rivals Google in its local market. Says Lukacovic,

“I am a pilot and a kiter. I literally did it for myself. It is my pet project.”

The site is free and non-commercial: no ads! It loads fast and is amazingly detailed for its sprightliness. You can zoom in and out, click anywhere for a detailed forecast, scroll through the menu on the right for specific conditions, change units in a click …. I warn you, you’ll lose time here. I bet you end up bookmarking it.

Thank you, Bill.