Michigan Part 3

Charlotte and I traveled the area looking for art galleries. We wanted to see what Michigan artists were creating and, perhaps, find galleries that might be interested in carrying our own artwork. As would be expected, we found many galleries carrying art that reflected the region, with varying degrees of quality of execution. We were pleased to discover some galleries featuring high quality art.

Here is Charlotte at Sleeping Bear Gallery in Empire, MI that carried her transformed organ pipes. For Charlotte’s website, click here.

One of the largest galleries in the region is Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor.

We spent a bit of time in Leland, MI, which is where I spent eight summers working to earn money to pay for my university education – an undergraduate and two graduate degrees. I waitressed at the Bluebird Restaurant, a popular, family-friendly restaurant with a reputation for great food, especially Lake Michigan white fish. It was so popular that we would stop taking reservations for weekend dining on Thursday! I worked really hard and played really hard! It was a wonderful place to work. I and the other waitresses lived in the apartment above the restaurant.

The restaurant is located on a river, so patrons can arrive by car or boat in from Lake Leelanau, an inland lake. The dining capacity has greatly expanded since I worked there.

The restaurant has been operated by the same family since 1927. I worked for Leone Telgard, her son, Jim, and daughter-in-law, Nancy. Now, one of Leone’s grandson’s , Skip, manages it. His older brother, Cris, operates a Mexican import shop in town. When I first worked there, Leone’s grandsons were seven and eleven. Now they are sixty-six and seventy! I was able to connect with Nancy, Skip and Cris and enjoyed reminiscing with them about when I was there in the 60’s.

Nancy Telgard and sons Skip and Cris.

Pictures from the mid-60’s: on the left are some of the waitresses in front of the player piano next to the jukebox in the dining room. On the right is Jim Telgard with waitresses behind the bar.

Left: L_R: Diane, me, Linda, and Nancy

Bluebird website

Leland is located on Lake Michigan and is small like other towns in the area. It has a winter-time population of 377 which grows many fold during the summer with summer residents and tourists. The commercial section of Leland takes up two blocks on Main Street. There is no stop sign or traffic light on Main Street. The harbor has been upgraded since my time there and attracts pleasure boats navigating the Great Lakes.

Leland is known for its quaint, historic fishing harbor, “Fishtown,” where commercial fisheries maintain shanties and dock their fish tugs. Many of the old shanties are now gift shops.

Once we arrived in Fishtown, Charlotte remembered that she and her late husband had stayed at the Falling Waters Hotel forty years ago.

Frames around which fishnets were strung to dry
Smoke house on the right

I used to take a hunk of bread and a beer and get fresh smoked chubs and sit on the dock and enjoy lunch. Yum!

Below is a Fishtown scene, dated 1965, that I painted. To this day, it hangs on the wall of the Bluebird.

Another art project that I undertook one summer was to make silkscreened posters. Mark Carlson, son of one of the local fishermen, and I made and sold collectable posters advertising the Bluebird and his father’s fishery. We charged $5 per poster, and after paying for expenses, we each made $50 on the sales!

Charlotte and I took our search for art into nearby counties and discovered another outdoor sculpture display. The Elk Rapids Art Walk, more modest in scale than the Meijer Gardens, is set in a woodland park. It was very pleasant strolling the trails along the beach and through woodland settings to view the sculptures.

(The orange Honda was our vehicle for the trip.)

After visiting Charlevoix, we returned to Traverse City and visited the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a unique collection of shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants in a cluster of cream-colored brick buildings in a Victorian-Italianate style surrounded by 140 acres of beautiful wooded grounds and a botanical garden. The buildings date to 1885 and were constructed as part of the Northern Michigan Asylum for mental patients. The main building is 1/4 mile long.

From the website: At the time of its completion, The Northern Michigan Asylum served 39 counties, including all of the Upper Peninsula, and almost immediately there was demand for additional patient rooms. Starting in the 1890s, standalone cottages  were constructed to serve the increasing patient population.

Just as Building 50 was segregated, so were the exterior cottages. Cottages to the south were for the men and the cottages to the north for the women. Cottages also provided spaces to separate patients from the larger population based on severity of condition, age or illness. For example, Cottages 19 and 20 were patient infirmaries, the “hospitals within the hospital” for patients recovering from surgery or contagious diseases.

Founding Medical Superintendent, Dr. James Decker Munson, had a very progressive philosophy regarding the treatment of mental patients.

Munson, believed If patients were surrounded by a beautiful environment, from the architecture to the campus grounds, their emotional and mental state would be uplifted. He made an effort to ensure that patients felt at home rather than trapped in an unfamiliar place. Use of physical restraints was forbidden, except for the most extreme patient situations. Meals at the hospital were served in dining rooms on fine china glazed with the State Seal atop white linen tablecloths. Fresh flowers and plants decorated dining tables & resting areas. Artwork and inspirational sayings adorned the walls of the wide hallways.

Renovation began in 2002 to preserve and repurpose the buildings. Today 30% of the project is completed and renovation continues.

Charlotte and I visited the 4 story, main building where we found interesting shops, boutiques, and restaurants on the ground floor.

It was as we began looking around that we met a delightful woman, Lucy, who offered to answer any questions that we had. She then offered to give us a tour of the upper stories of the building, which are residential, and to tell us about the renovation. We gladly accepted her offer!

These photos show you before and after views of the wide corridors.

Today, the residential units are condos, many used for AirB&B’s. Lucy invited us to see her unit, located in the attic. It was a spacious and well designed space with quality details and interesting angles. Some of the historical features were maintained like exposed brick walls.

This is Lucy in her kitchen. It had a very high, angled ceiling and skylights. She revealed to us that she was 92 years old, absolutely loved her condo unit, and her secret for good health was a tablespoon of cod liver oil daily and an exercise routine. We marveled at her enthusiastic attitude toward life!

Lucy was expecting a visit from her son and had made three batches of cookies. She insisted that we each take a cookie from each batch! We agreed that Lucy was one of the highlights of our trip!

On the return trip, Charlotte and I marveled at how well the trip had gone. We had perfect weather every day, experienced interesting art, met friendly people, had comfortable and clean accommodating, and great food. And our timing was right on – we left the area feeling we had seen everything we set out to see.

Charlotte did all of the driving, insisting that she preferred driving to navigating. I managed to get us to where we were going fairly well. I had maps on my lap and my new, first smart phone to help. I am grateful that Charlotte has a great sense of humor when it came to me leading her off track requiring U turns and backtracking on a number of occasions!

I still have the hankering to travel, just haven’t decided where next.

Michigan Part 2

In all, we traveled about 3000 miles roundtrip on our jaunt from Cleveland to Michigan. The focus of our travels was on Leelanlau County, which is the “little finger” peninsula of the Michigan mitten. It sticks out into Lake Michigan.

Our base was in Maple City at a comfortable apartment, and from there, it was about 20 miles to Glen Arbor, to Leland, and to Traverse City. We traveled the peninsula enjoying the scenic views as we looked for art galleries.fThe countryside in this part of Michigan is beautiful! As we toured we experienced rolling hills, lots of forests with very large trees, miles of cherry orchards, picturesque farms with wheat and corn fields, lots of vineyards, and, of course, the beaches of Lake Michigan as well as those of inland lakes.

Lake Michigan’s water is crystal clear and beaches are sandy above the stoney edge.

This is my favorite beach in the area. Here is where I spent eight summers many years ago sunny myself, swimming and walking the shoreline looking for Petsokey stones (petrified freshwater coral.)

Vineyards are increasing in the region where award winning wines are produced.

This region is the cherry capital of the US and cherry products of all sorts are sold – candies, pies and pastries, dried cherries, vinegars, jams, jellies, and preserves.

Along the shore of Lake Michigan near Glen Arbor is Sleeping Bear National Park consisting of 450 ft. high bluffs of beach sand along a shoreline of 65 miles.

From the park website: Although the Lakeshore is long and narrow, it still has the depth for excellent representations of several northern hardwood and conifer forest types, abandoned farm site meadows, wetlands, lakes, streams, and bogs and splendid examples of glacially caused landforms.

A popular site is Sleeping Bear Dune, a huge dune named from a Native American legend that told of a mama bear and two cubs swimming across Lake Michigan. Due to a storm, the cubs didn’t make it and they formed two islands off the coast, North and South Manitou Islands. The mama bear made it to shore and rests there for her cubs to return. The exhausting, but fun sport at Sleeping Bear Dune is to scramble up the dune, slipping back in the sand with every step, and once at the top, running and tumbling down! Great fun!! I did it many years ago, but not this time.

The National Park also includes the two off-shore islands. Charlotte and I took a ferry and spent a day exploring South Manitou. The uninhabited island measures 3 miles by 3 miles and consists of trails, abandoned farms, a lighthouse, and campsites. The island was settled in the 1830’s and eventually gained a population of 170 permanent residents. They practiced subsistence farming and provided cord wood to steamers passing by on the lake. When steamers began using coal, the population on the island diminished.

We encountered several abandoned farmhouses that the Park Service has kept by. I took this photo from inside the foundation of an old barn. The lower part of the foundation was made of stone, but the upper part was made with wood and mortar.

There is a wrecked ship on the other side of the island. We did not have time to see it.

We did learn about shipwrecks on the Lake Michigan at the Leelanau Historical Museum. Since the early 1800’s there have been 1500 ships wrecked by ferocious storms, fires, and groundings. As the water level in the lake recedes, more of these wrecks are visible.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Michigan

Michigan Part 1

I recently spent several days in the Leelanau County of Michigan. I traveled with my friend and travel buddy, Charlotte, who is a sculptor. So on our way north we spent a day in Grand Rapids visiting the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Neither of us had heard of the park and we only found out about it by Googling places of interest in Michigan, so we had no expectations. But, WOW, were we pleased with our visit there!

Frederik Meijer inherited and expanded a chain of stores in the upper mid-west. The stores are a one stop for all, much like Walmart, with groceries, pharmacy, home goods, etc. Even gas stations. He also collected sculpture.

From the garden website: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in April 1995 after 13 years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticultural Society. In 1990, Fred and Lena Meijer were asked for their support, and they embraced the concept of a major cultural attraction centering around horticulture and sculpture. The original vision has turned into a top cultural destination in the Midwest region, known internationally for the quality of the art and gardens.

On display are 300 permanent sculptures located both outdoors and in the conservatories. There are also temporary exhibits with work on loan. Charlotte and I strolled through the extensive gardens that spread over 158 beautifully maintained acres that includes lakes, ponds, streams and waterfalls along with specialty gardens such as wetlands, a large Japanese garden, children’s gardens, meadows, flowers, even vegetable gardens. They also have a huge outdoor amphitheater and are in the process of adding more.

And we viewed sculptures by world famous artists! Here are just a few.

Claes Oldenburg on the left and Roxy Paine on the right.
Barbara Hepworth on the left and Louise Nevelson on the right.
Magdalena Aabakanowicz
Andy Goldworthy

Andy Goldworthy’s arch reminded me of a print I made recently, also a stone arch!

Joan Hausrath
Juan Munoz
Nina Akamu

This HUGE bronze horse is 24 feet high. Look for Charlotte for a sense of scale.

We saw many, many more impressive sculptures including ones by Rodin, Degas, Miro, Calder, and Serra. It was a wonderful day! Here is Charlotte getting friendly with Fredrik Meijer and his wife.

Leelanau County, Michigan coming next.

Visiting NYC

I just returned from NYC, my first post- vaccination travel. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the New York Botanical Garden to see the delightful installations by the popular Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. At 92, she is experiencing international attention with exhibitions in major museums all over the world that feature colorful and highly ambitious installations employing her signature polka dots and, sometimes, mirrors that create infinity environments. Google “Kusama artist” images to see her wild aesthetic. To learn more about here, visit: https://whitney.org/exhibitions/yayoi-kusama

Kusama’s artwork was sited at several at locations throughout the gardens. The weather was nice, warm with a slight cloud coverage, which was perfect for strolling the grounds. I enjoyed the day with my friends Linda and Margery.

Kusama likes pumpkins. Here is one of her whimsical variations on one.

And here is another one.

Exotic flower sculptures were exhibited in the conservatory and in the waterlily pool.

In addition to the artwork, we enjoyed the natural wonders of the gardens and conservatory plantings.

In full bloom were peonies – many, many beautiful and unusually varieties. Here are a few.

We finished our tour by walking through a grove of wrapped trees.

This is the fence at the Botanical Garden train stop.

I also visited a retrospective of paintings by Alice Neel (1900 – 1984), People Come First, at the MET. Neel painted people without glamorizing them. Instead she used expressive color and line along with candid poses that sometimes appear a bit awkward when compared with conventional portraits. Because the figures often stare directly at the viewer, they make a psychological connection. She was a champion of social causes and her subjects are from all walks of life. As a feminist, she painted women nudes in a forthright manner, even pregnant women. I especially liked the paintings she did during the last two decades of her life. Here are a few. For more about Alice Neel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Neel

At the Museum of Art and Design I viewed a glass work by Beth Lipman consisting of a banquet table piled high and low with dazzling hand crafted glass bowls, candle sticks, plates, goblets, vases with ferns, and even table linens (broken pieces were heaped under the table.) In the dark setting, the glass looked especially fragile, like ice crystals. The work is reminiscent of 17th century Dutch still lifes that speak of materialism and over abundance.

While out and about in the city, I encountered some interesting public art. Here is a mural, also with a flower theme, located in SoHo.

This is a sculpture by Robert Cook, titled Dinoceras. It is a large cast bronze piece with sweeping lines and a rough surface that is sited against the smooth and sleek geometry of the building behind it.

And then there is subway art! At 86th and 2nd ave, the subway station displays multiple images of paintings by Chuck Close executed in mosaic tiles. Here are two of them.

This porcelain enamel piece by Josh Scharf was installed at the subway stop for Carnegie Hall.

These glass windows were at the Jazz Museum train stop.

And then I discovered a form of street art new to me: Sticker Graffiti, Sticker Tagging, Sticker Bombing, Sticker Slapping. Sticker art has been around for a number of years without my being aware of it until I walked down Prince Street in NYC where I noticed multiple surfaces covered with stickers. I learned from Wikipedia that there is a sticker culture and a sticker industry! Some stickers are just tags, but other advertise, others are statements relating to causes, and some are images. This street art exists around the world.

The multiple stickers on the mailbox in the center say, “I like you.”

My next travels will take me to Michigan. I’ll report on my trip in a couple of weeks.

Hoover Dam

I took a 30 mile side-trip from Las Vegas to visit Hoover Dam.  What an incredible construction project!  I thought Las Vegas was huge in scale until I saw the dam!

Here is an aerial view of the dam, the Colorado River, and Lake Mead.  The red arrow is pointed to some cars to give you an idea of scale. (Many of these photos are from the internet.)

The dam was constructed to control the devastating flooding of California croplands and to generate electrical power.  It is considered to be one of the Wonders of the Modern World.

The dam is located on the state line between Nevada (left)  and Arizona (right) with a road that passes over the top of the dam.  Because the dam attracts so many tourists, the road became a bottleneck for local traffic. In 2010 an arched bypass bridge was constructed just south of the dam – another spectacular building project!

During the construction of the bridge when the arch was completed.

The dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936.  To build it, the Colorado River had to be diverted so a temporary bypass was created.  On the right in map below,  a barrier (red-orange) and the underground diversion pipes (lavender) are depicted.  The 4 pipes were 56 feet in diameter and, combined, measured 3 miles in length.

A section of a diversion pipe.

The dam was built with huge, steel-reinforced concrete blocks, constructed on site.  The base of the dam was thicker than at the top.

Molds were made for the blocks, they were filled with concrete, and when cured, another layer of blocks was constructed on top.

Diagram of the block construction.

The blocks were huge. (Maybe the size if a transport container.)  The concrete was delivered in big buckets.

Constructing the dam was one undertaking, the other was the infrastructure and housing for up to 5250 workers and their families.  A rail line was built across the desert to the site to bring in materials and supplies.  During the first summer, workers and their families lived in shanties and tents in up to 130 F temperatures.  The location was called “Rag Town” because rags were used to cover poles to provide shade. The following year, basic housing was provided nearby, a site that is now Boulder City.  Transporting thousands of workers from their homes to the site was accomplished with transporters carrying 150 men at a time.

Of the 5000 workers hired for the project, no more than 30 were black.  Native Americans were hired for scaling the sides of the canyon, very dangerous work. These workers dipped their hats in buckets of tar to harden them – the first hard hat.

This is a sculpture honoring the the Native American Scalers.

Two hydroelectric power plants exist at the base of the dam, one in Nevada with eight turbines and the other in Arizona with nine.  I visited the Nevada side.

 The power that is produced is part of a grid that provides electricity to neighboring states. This diagram shows the grid.

As I walked around the site and learned about the history and capabilities of the project, I got chills thinking about the human ingenuity and commitment it took to construct this dam, the same kind of ingenuity and commitment that it took to put a man on the moon.  Humans are amazing!

 

 

 

 

More Las Vegas

As I visited the Hotels, I became intrigued by some of the over-the-top chandeliers.  This one is in the lobby of the Bellagio.  It is made of numerous handblown glass forms by Dale Chihuly.

This grouping is in the Wynn.

Also at the Wynn.

This one is at the Luxor. It constantly changes colors.

For more spectacular chandeliers, click here.

As I deplaned at the Las Vegas airport, I was greeted by slot machines at the gate! In the 3 days I spent in the city, I encountered thousands of slot machines in casinos and other locations.  But I was not even tempted!

The CASINOS are multi sensory.  There is loud, rhythmic music, the racket of the slots, the ambient noise of people talking, the swirling, flashing and colorful blinking of the machines, and there is the smoke. At my hotel, it was a struggle not to get lost in the maze of the casino floor as I wandered through the forest of machines trying to find my way from the front lobby to the elevator to my room.

I decided that the correlation between smokers and gamblers is that they are risk takers!

I was attracted to some of the designs of the slots, my favorite ones where the wheels.

I only took in one show because there was nothing else that interested me for the cost of the tickets. (I’ve already attended two Cirque de Soleil performances in Orlando.) What did get my attention was a Bee Gees tribute performance, one of my favorite rock groups.  As a matter of fact, just a couple of months ago, I attended a performance in Woonsocket, RI, of another Bee Gees tribute group. The group in Las Vegas features themselves as the Australian Bee Gees and their performance in mimicking the sound, appearance, and attitude of the original members of the group was spot on. They would have made Barry, Robin and Maurice proud!

 

I spent an afternoon checking out an Arts District in downtown Las Vegas.  I was disappointed that I did not find much in the way of studios or galleries, but I did encounter quite a few murals.

I also visited the Fremont Street Experience, a four block long pedestrian mall and tourist attraction in downtown Las Vegas. The area is covered with a 90 foot high barrel vault that contains 12 million LED bulbs that provide for a continuous display of moving and flashing signage and designs. Looking straight up at the flashing lights can make one dizzy!

At the ground level are shops full of souvenirs and rhinestone embellished clothing, eateries, casinos, and entertainment establishments.  On the street are street performers, vendors, hawkers, and panhandlers. A zip line runs under the canopy along its length for the adventurous!

I was there in late afternoon and  got the sense that the place comes alive at night. During the day, there was not much going on other than people taking it all in.

While in Las Vegas I encountered impersonators looking for tourists to take their pictures for a “tip.”  That is why I photographed this Elvis from the back.

These young women wanted $10 each after to took a snap.  They were lucky to get $3.00 each!

That covers my few days in Las Vegas.  I enjoyed discovering the visual appearance and cultural vibe of the place. I’m glad I went, but I have no desire to return. Been there, done that! Next?

I will post about my side trip to the Hoover Dam in my next post.

Las Vegas Strip – WOW

I don’t gamble and I’m not a shopper. I came to Las Vegas for three days to see what it was all about. On my first day here, I discovered that the Strip is all about scale.  The hotel complexes are HUGE. The exteriors are GRAND and OVERSIZE and the interiors are VAST. Lobbies are GRANDIOSE, shopping corridors are LONG and WIDE, casinos are as LARGE as football fields. The spaces are OVERWHELMING and filled with HUNDREDS of people. High rise towers loom above in a BIG sky. The hotels are spaced at least a city block from each other and the major streets are ten lanes wide. And all of this is situated in a flat basin at 2000 ft. above sea level surrounded by Sierra Nevada Mountains about 35 miles away.

All hotels have casinos  (more in next blog) and most have several restaurants, a food court, a spa, wedding salons, many shops, convention meeting rooms, entertainment auditoriums, digital build boards flashing their entertainment, pools and health facilities. The Wynn has a golf course and New York New York has a roller coaster. There are medium priced hotels (under $100 per night) and very high-end, luxury hotels.

I stayed at the Excalibur Hotel with a medieval theme – I was not impressed with the architecture or decor, but it was convenient and comfortable place to stay. It is located at the southern end of the Strip. I was on the 28th floor looking north.

From my window I had a view of the Strip looking north. The main part of the Strip where hotels are located is about 5 miles in length.

This is night view I took from the internet. The replica of the Eiffel Tower is 2 miles away from where the photo was taken.

I satisfied my curiosity on my first day by traveling by bus and on foot up and down the Strip.  I took pictures of the hotels that have the most interesting exteriors and some of the interiors.

This is just part of the NEW YORK NEW YORK complex that fills an entire city block


Not only does PARIS feature a 1/4 size replica of the Eiffel Tower, there is also an Arc de Triumph and extensive wrought iron work canopies at the main entrance in an art nouveau style.

This is the LUXOR. The pyramid is much larger than it appears here.

The BELLAGIO is one of the most upscale hotel complexes.

This is the entrance portico for the Bellagio where there are five lanes for vehicles to drop off and pick up guests.

The Bellagio is famous for its water fountain show in the large pond in front of the hotel. (photo from internet)

The Bellagio has a huge glass enclosed atrium with a display honoring the Indian celebration of Holi, a Festival of Love. There are two 14 foot elephants with blankets made out of 20,000 artificial roses.

Caesars Place reflected in windows of high rise.

This is the canal in front of the VENETIAN. There is also a canal on this interior, second floor. I was very impressed by the extent that the hotel carried out the theme in its architecture and decor. It is large complex of buildings covering about 2 city blocks including a tower and bridge not included in my images.

This is the interior canal with a painted fake sky.

The Wynn hotel had a glass enclosed atrium with festive display made out of paper.

On the right is a sample of a delightful carpet design.

There were many corridors with mosaic patterned floors. This fellow is the official repairer of the mosaic floors.  Below is his inventory of mosaics.

More in the next blog post – stay tuned.

 

 

 

NYC Weekend of Art

I tested out my new knee during a few days in NYC going from one art venue to another.  All went well! Next week I will take my new knee to Las Vegas. Here are just a few of the interesting and delightful art encounters I had in the Big Apple.

I started out at Hudson Yards, a huge development area with high-rise residencies; a large, upscale shopping complex; and a cultural art center overlooking the Hudson River at 34th Street.  I started at the Vessel, an eight story open air architectural (public art) structure.  My knee and my age qualified me to ride the elevator to the top while everyone else climbed the stairs to enjoy the views. (Only 6 people per time on the elevator that only ran every 15 minutes.  The elevator is run by WiFi connection and when the signal is slow, so is the elevator!)

Next to the Vessel is the Shed, the cultural art center where I visited a retrospective exhibit of the work of Agnes Denes, a public artist, philosopher, intellectual, scientist, environmentalist, and draughts-women.  I usually do not relate to conceptual art because I often find the “concepts” underlying the art frivolous, but not in the case of Denes.  She believes that abstract concepts can be analyzed visually and she sets about putting data and abstract ideas into drawings/diagrams.  These drawings are incredibly rendered with delicate ink lines on graph paper, so perfectly drawn that they look computer generated, but they are not.   Finely detailed and labor intensive, she does not make mistakes – no erasing, no white outs!   Along with the drawings are explanations of her ideas, which take awhile to absorb.

In one extensive series, she focused on pyramids and here is one of her drawings.

It appears to be drawn with rows of marks. On close inspection, the marks are figures, about 3/16th of an inch high.  That is small!!

In addition to her drawings, she also has undertaken environmental public art projects.  I was intrigued by a project that she undertook in Finland to reclaim a gravel pit.  She made a Forest Mountain by mounding earth into a mini mountain and then planting 11,000 tree seedlings in a pattern that mimics the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower.  People all over the world were invited to plant the trees and anyone who could not travel to Finland could have a seedling planted for them by a child.  Each person who donated a seedling was given a certificate of ownership for the tree.

Denes’ drawing.

I also visited the complex of shops at Hudson Yards where I found a wall of interactive art created by Lara Schnitger.  The surface of the wall was covered in a patchwork of sequin fabric where the sequins were of one color on one side and another color on the other.  By moving your finger up or down, you can arrange the sequins to make marks on the wall.  The wall was attracting lots of attention.

My marks: PAWTUCKET PUBLIC ART, a committee I chair.

Then I went to visit the newly remodeled and expanded MOMA.  It was a delight to see many of the well known works from their permanent collection displayed in a new way along with many less familiar works.  Three of the floors exhibit work within the time frames of 1880 – 1940’s, 1940’s – 1970’s, and 1970 to the present. Each of these floors have many galleries where the work is curated by theme, such as “Planes of Color,” “Out of War,” “Stamp, Scavenge, Crush,” etc.  It is interesting to see and compare the works of several artists working with similar themes or formal properties. However, there were so many galleries on each floor that it was easy to get lost without a map!  I explored 2 floors and could not absorb any more.  It is a museum to visit and revisit many times!

On another floor were 11 installations created from a variety of media.  I unexpectedly found one of them very compelling. At first it looked like just a pile of junk. But the more I examined it, the more I discovered an order made out of a great variety of things. The variety was intriguing and I found the order whimsical and precarious. Parts of it had lighting, other parts had mechanical movement, even some sound was generated with bubbling water.  In the center was a moving pendulum. I am an artist that creates by arranging shapes, colors, lines, and textures in compositions where the relationships of these elements is important in conveying interest.  I could relate to Sarah Sze’s very deliberate arrangements that look haphazard until one looks closely.

Then I ventured to the Met Breuer, the former location of the Whitney Museum.  On two floors of the Breuer I viewed the paintings and drawings of another woman artist, Vija Clemins.  Here paintings were rendered in gray paint and I did not find them very interesting. On the other hand, her drawings can be admired for their technical skill. Her favorite subjects are the surfaces of rippling water and night time skies.  Using pencil or charcoal, she renders these subjects with compulsive detail.  After looking at so many of her drawings, I left the museum with these images burned into my mind.  I could not help but see ripples and starry constellations every where!

Sidewalk and tree bark along Madison Avenue.

The next museum I visited for the first time was the Neue Galerie, a museum of 20th century German and Austrian art. It is the private collection of Ronald Lauder of the cosmetic family. Two floors were devoted to a retrospective of the paintings and prints of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, an early 20th century German Expressionist. His work expresses the social decay of Germany at that time (1920) as well as Kirchner’s own troubled spirit.  This is one of his best known works depicting a street in Berlin where the well dressed elite are depicted with blank stares and empty souls. (He was influenced by Munch and Van Gogh.)

And then on another floor are the Klimt’s, the best known one is the Woman in Gold. I have seen a number of Gustav Klimt paintings in Vienna, including the Kiss, but the Woman in Gold is perhaps his most glamorous.

I finished up my art adventure with a visit to the Museum of Art and Design where there were two textile shows.  The first featured the fashions of Anna Sui, a designer known for her wonderful combinations of patterns and fabrics, textures and layers.  She was one of the first designers to appreciate the Grunge look when young people were finding and combining thrift shop clothing in unconventional ways. Sui made it her signature look by addressing her style head to toe with headwear, accessories and footwear.  It is a fun, luscious  look!

On the left is a design board for one of her seasons.

Also on view at the museum were the textiles by Vera who believed that designer textiles should be available to everyone and were priced accordingly.  She is probably best known for her lively designs on scarves and linens.

Wrapping up my visit were my rides on the new 2nd street subway. I was staying with my friend, Linda, who lives one block from the station that depicts Chuck Close portraits in tilework throughout.

Next week – Las Vegas!

Oaxaca Day of Dead 2

Throughout Oaxaca during Day of the Dead festivities, flowers are abundant, especially marigolds and cocks combs.  Flowers are used extensively on altars but are also used to create images on the ground and to create pathways to the altars.

In a large plaza several huge flower pictures were displayed.

During our first evening we witnessed a city full of fun pageantries, serious reenactments, dance contests, Catrina beauty competitions, food vendors and throngs of people having a grand time!  It was like New Years Eve in NYC!

And more Catrinas.

In the markets we discovered special D of D items such as brightly decorated sugar skulls, many of which are placed on the altars.

Papel picado (pierced paper) folk art flags with skulls and Catrinas.

And special breads.

We visited a gallery with a D of D art exhibit.

And then, for two nights in a row, we visited very large cemeteries, one in the city and one on the outskirts.  There we encountered people visiting family graves that were decorated with flowers, lit with candles and lanterns, and where offerings were placed.  Families sat around the graves most of the night picnicking and listening to recorded music or music performed by roving mariachi bands.  Occasionally we saw “live” skeletons.  (my camera was not good with night-time photos without using a flash.)

Outside one of the cemeteries, there were vendors with flowers, lanterns  and candles, etc. along with food vendors that contributed to a lively atmosphere.

There was nothing morbid about our whole experience.  Instead, it was an on-going fiesta morning, noon and night!

Oaxaca Day of the Dead 1

I am reposting images of a trip that I took several years ago to experience the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico.  I am reposting because the original posting was on a blog site that has since been taken down.

I traveled with Charlotte, my travel buddy and high school friend, and we stayed in an apartment in the heart of the city. We arrived several days before November 2 so as to discover pre-celebrations.  Three days ahead of the Big Day, parades started taking place with people in costumes and face makeup and lots of musicians, all in a festive atmosphere.  Even people not in the parade wandered the streets in makeup while gringos looked on and snapped photos.

The theme of death might seem gruesome, but the Mexicans embrace its mysteries though elaborate ancestral traditions that include parades and costumes, food, decorations, altars, images, prayers, mourning, and offerings. The celebrations are full of remembrances, nostalgia, and respect for those family members who have passed on.  The souls of the deceased return on October 31 to reunite with the living which is both a sad and happy occasion.  These traditions have roots in Pre-Colonial Central Mexico.

An image that has come to signify the Day of the Dead is La Calavera Catrina, meaning “Dapper
Skeleton.” It originated from an etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada, an early 20th satirical artist.  The image depicts a skeleton in an elaborate hat as a way for the artist to mock the indigenous people who took on the life style of European aristocrats.  The popularity of the image also connotes the Mexican outlook of making fun of death.  (Painting faces white and black emphasizes the features of a skull but also references the French use of white makeup to lighten the appearance of their skin and Posada’s distain at its use by Mexicans to deny their ethnic identity.)

One of the art schools had a contest for students to create Catrina bridal outfits from recycled material and paper.  Here is the winner.

Many of those in the parade did the zombie walk.

There were also skits demonstrating that no one escapes death.

Also, coffins were plentiful as were references to Satan.

Throughout the city were altars decorated with photos of the deceased, their favorite foods and items such as cigarettes or playing cards.

More in the next post.