Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Deal Shellfish Art (5/5): "Blue Crabs"

Above: "Blue Crabs," a drypoint by George Constant (1892-1978), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1939. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: "Chris's Carry Out," a gelatin silver print photograph by Elinor Cahn, 1978. This was part of a project called the East Baltimore Documentary Survey. For long time, steamed blue crabs have been a delicacy in Maryland. They are usually sprinkled with Old Bay (or similar) seasoning, and salt, and then steamed over water and vinegar. When I was a kid, in the 1970s and 80s, my family went crabbing many times on the Chesapeake Bay, near the Chester River. We'd often come back with a bounty of crabs, like the ones you see above. In recent decades, crabs have suffered from over-fishing and pollution. However, in its 2016 report card for the Chesapeake Bay, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science highlighted the blue crab's revival - a revival that resulted, in part, from common sense regulations to protect pregnant female crabs. Looks like "big bad government" isn't always so bad after all. Imagine that. (See, for example, "Chesapeake Bay female crabs at their most plentiful since at least 1990," Baltimore Sun, April 19, 2017). Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, used here for educational and non-commercial purposes.

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