Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pink and blue and a change of pace

with 22 comments


On June 3rd, after touring the exhibits inside Corpus Christi’s Art Museum of South Texas, I focused my attention—which is to say my camera—on the museum’s exterior. If you call these views colorfully and geometrically minimalist you’ll get no argument from me. And speaking of pink and blue, I guess this is a good time for my periodic reminder that before the middle of the 20th century blue was considered the color for baby girls and pink the color for baby boys.



✥         ✥         ✥


Here’s a passage from Luke Rosiak’s new book Race to the Bottom: Uncovering the Secret Forces Destroying American Public Education.

Beginning in 1985, a federal judge named Russell Clark tried to find out what would happen if money was no obstacle. He ordered a massive spending program that infused billions of extra dollars over twelve years into the decaying city schools of Kansas City, Missouri. This made Kansas City the highest-spending large school district in the country, adjusted for cost of living. It outspent similar districts around the country by two or three times. Clark said that he “allowed the district planners to dream.”

The district constructed laboratories, a planetarium, and an Olympic swimming pool, and it provided kids with computers, foreign language programs, and field trips to Senegal and Mexico. It added all-day kindergarten and aftercare, and every elementary school classroom had $25,000 of toys in it. It had a teacher-student ratio of one to twelve or thirteen and gave teachers 40 percent raises. Clark anticipated that Kansas City students’ achievement would match the national average within five years.

By 1995, the dropout rate had not decreased and test performance showed “no measurable improvement.” Over four years of high school, the average black student’s reading skills increased by only 1.1 grade equivalents. As Gary Orfield, head of the Harvard Project on School Desegregation, whose testimony helped spur the bonanza, later admitted, “They had as much money as any school district will ever get. It didn’t do very much.”

Most people would interpret the statements of politicians to mean that low-income students have less money spent on their education than their middle-class colleagues. This is because they do not understand the power of the word equity to distort reality. Only through such a word can people say that getting the most money for the worst results proves that they are oppressed…. But in reality, equity means writing bigger and bigger checks to the bureaucrats who run inner-city schools, until equal outcomes by students are achieved—even though there is little evidence that money will ever cause that to happen.

That’s because education is primarily about minds, not materials. As a Peace Corps volunteer in 1968 and 1969 I taught math for a year and a half at a school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where high school graduates pursued a three-year course to get certified as teachers. I was a brand-new teacher myself, only a few years older than my students, far from knowing as much and being as effective as I later became after years of studying and practice. My Spanish was adequate but not perfect. During my first half-year we didn’t even have a textbook. I made things up out of my head and used the school’s hand-cranked ditto machine to run off worksheets. The point is that even with those limited resources the students learned. It doesn’t take a lot of money. It does take a culture of knowledge, something American schools have been increasingly downplaying in favor of sociopolitical indoctrination and the excuse of eternal victimhood.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman








Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2022 at 4:24 AM

22 Responses

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  1. I couldn’t possibly choose one of these images over the other. They’re both beautifully evocative. The first evoked the Belt of Venus, although the colors have been reversed in your photo, just as girl-and-boy colors were reversed in the past. There’s more than color to appreciate, of course. The combination of horizontal and vertical is great, and the single cloud is perfect.

    And the second photo? A series of pyramids, rising up behind a huge, pink sand dune. The ‘wedge’ cutting through the middle adds to the overall effect; angularity never looked so good.


    June 17, 2022 at 6:04 AM

    • If I ever get a book of photographs published, I know who to come to for an enthusiastic blurb for the back cover. The change of pace that today’s pictures represent are a reminder that I was into abstraction long before I turned to native plant photography. The little cloud in the top view reminded me of Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud,” of course with dry yucca replacing fresh daffodils. Your interpretation of the wall as a pink sand dune reminded me of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah, where I also did abstract views, though entirely from nature:

      Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park landscape with clouds

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2022 at 6:23 AM

      • One of my favorite songs is Sting’s “Desert Rose,” particularly this version where he’s joined by Cheb Mami. Books are good, and I’ll provide the best blurbs ever, but if you paired your world-wide desert photos with that song, you’d be a YouTube sensation.


        June 17, 2022 at 6:49 AM

  2. Both eye appealing and well composed. Something of a change of pace indeed. Great color and shape.

    Steve Gingold

    June 17, 2022 at 12:50 PM

    • Thanks. I was doing pictures like these, primarily in black and white, for three decades before I began documenting native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2022 at 1:04 PM

  3. Really like that second shot – wonderfully geometric!

    Eliza Waters

    June 17, 2022 at 4:43 PM

  4. […] Corpus Christi’s Art Museum of South Texas on June 3rd as we were walking back to our car I noticed a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) […]

  5. Yucca?


    June 18, 2022 at 11:03 AM

  6. I had a couple of pink outfits when I was a youngster but thank goodness I wasn’t pinkified like today’s girls are. I like pink but it needs to be balanced out and harmonized with other colours as in your second photo which I think is wonderful.


    June 20, 2022 at 12:25 AM

    • Let’s say you’ve deglorified the pinkified (which is a good coinage).

      Apropos the second picture, I’ve mentioned to several people that I was doing abstract pictures of that sort (mostly in black and white) long before native plant photography entered my life.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2022 at 6:48 AM

  7. Yes, my room was blue because my parents were expecting a boy. So I didn’t wear a lot of pink in my early years. That may have messed up my brain, growing up I wanted to be a boy because they could do a lot of fun stuff and I was expected to play house 🙄

    Alessandra Chaves

    June 21, 2022 at 2:28 PM

    • And yet you seem to have grown up all right and gone on to do good things. Have you reconciled yourself to pink now?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2022 at 3:03 PM

      • Yes, of course. Today there aren’t as many restrictions to what a girl can do, I think it’s easier for girls who like to be active and adventurous. I liked climbing trees, playing soccer and riding horses.

        Alessandra Chaves

        June 21, 2022 at 5:17 PM

  8. A black and white conversion of this photo might work out well.

    Alessandra Chaves

    June 21, 2022 at 2:30 PM

    • It might, and yet I’m so enamored of the colors I’d hate to give them up. I just desaturated the second one to see how it came out, and my intuition was right about preferring the colors.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2022 at 3:05 PM

  9. excellent post, lovely pictures – comme d’habitude… @”American schools have been increasingly downplaying in favor of sociopolitical indoctrination and the excuse of eternal victimhood.” – alas! sadly and unfortunately true… 😦


    June 23, 2022 at 1:30 AM

    • Yes, what has happened to most of America’s schools is a real shame. I couldn’t teach a public school here now, nor in the many private schools that have also been going “woke.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2022 at 7:01 AM

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