Awesome PETRA

These are the places we visited in Jordan,

Petra far exceeded my expectations! We set out at 7:30 am and spent the day exploring the extensive archaeological site of a city that thrived from the 1st century BC until the 4th century AD. It is now a World Heritage Site. The city was built by the Nabataeans and prospered because it was on a trade route between the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians and catered to the caravans carrying the popular incenses, frankincense and myrrh, and spices.

Romans incorporated the city into their Empire and the city continued to thrive until an earthquake in the 4th century destroyed a large part of it. As changes in trade occurred, the city was eventually abandoned by the 7th century. Known only during following centuries by the local Bedouins, the site was discovered by a Swiss explorer, Johannes Burchardt, in 1812. Since then it has attracted archaeologists and visitors from all over the world.

The entrance to the site took us down a trail between cliffs. Along the way we saw evidence of shrines carved in the stone as well as tomb chambers.

The trail took us to the main avenue of the site where we encountered the “Treasury.” Probably constructed in the 1st century BC by the Nabataeans , it is carved out of the red sandstone cliff. Large chambers inside were used for the burials of a family. This is just one of many similar structures nearby, but none have a façade that is as well preserved. The architectural features and images show an influence from many other cultures (Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman) combined in an inventive manner. Based on this structure, one can only imagine how absolutely splendid the rest of the city must have been. Notice the tiny people standing by the steps to give a sense of scale. The facade is 98 feet high.

There were lots of camels and donkeys to take visitors to the sites.  The main avenue is about 3 miles long from the entrance and then there are several paths leading off of the avenue.

 

Along the avenues and paths are “pooper scoopers” to keep the walking paths clean.

On the approach to the metropolitan area, we encountered many rock cut tomb sites.

As we walked along the main avenue, we saw a wall with four “Royal Tombs” as well as small carved out caves and burial chambers. There were also several temples and churches along the way.

To prevent flash floods when it rained, the city had a system of dams and drainage ditches. A reservoir for water collection provided water to the residents and a fountain located in the heart of the city.

This is a Roman theatre cut from rock rather than constructed. It seats 3000.

The red rock patterns were especially beautiful in this chamber (used today as a men’s restroom.)

We then visited the area of the Great Temple that has been an archaeological project carried out by Brown University. Within the temple district there were two levels and a small theatre area, perhaps used for town council meetings.

Unique capitals were adorned with the heads of elephants – their trunks have broken off.

We walked in but rode out!

Israel is next.

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Mount Nebo

Betsey noticed all the cigarette butts on the sidewalks in Amman.

And I noticed teabags stuck to a wall!

Heading south from Amman, we traveled the King’s Highway, a trade route dating back 5000 years. Along the way we saw scenes like this.

Some buildings are made with local stone and others are made with concrete blocks coated with plaster.  Often the first floor is completed and occupied while the second floor is being finished.  Posts for a third level are left until the family expands and more room is needed.  Very practical practice. I later learned that in Israel, unfinished construction is not taxed.

Our first stop was at Mount Nebo where Moses gazed across the Dead Sea to the Holy Land.  He never made it there and it is believed he is buried some place close by Mount Nebo.  The Dead Sea is the blue patch on the left.

A Byzantine church dating from the 4th century on the site has wonderful mosaics.

We viewed another mosaic at St. George’s, a Greek Orthodox church in nearby Madaba. The 6th century mosaic depicts the earliest surviving map of the Holy Land.  Here it is on a sign. The dark oval in the center is the Dead Sea.

We also visited a place where they make modern mosaics.

On our way to Petra, we stopped for this scenic view.

Petra is in next post.

Jerash, Jordan

We drove to Jerash, north of Amman, to visit the site of an ancient Greco-Roman city dating from 70 AD. It was partially destroyed in the 8th century by earthquakes and in the 12th century Crusaders briefly occupied the city. In recent times a modern city of 50,000 residents surrounds the ancient site.

First we saw the well preserved Hadrian’s Gate.

The main avenue running through the city was lined with columns.

This is the main temple dedicated to Artemis.

The theatre was filled with groups of teenagers who were attending an event honoring sports teams.  By cheering for their teams they demonstrated that the acoustics of the structure are excellent!

In the hippodrome, we watched a demonstration of Roman military tactics including a battle between “barbarians.”

After the sad demise of this unlucky fellow, we  watched a chariot race.

While in Jerash, our tour director, Samir, took us to his home.

From his rooftop patio, Samir proudly pointed out his olive trees, and beyond them, a Palestinian refugee camp.  The UN is leasing the properties for 100 years, so the camp contains permanent buildings.

Our next stop was to visit a 12th century Saracen castle that was highly fortified including a moat with a draw bridge.

On our way back to Amman, we stopped at an olive oil processing facility to watch the fall crop of olives being washed, sorted, and squeezed.  These are bags of olives that were just harvested.

And we had bread with us for tasting the freshly squeezed olive oil!

After we returned to Amman we learned of the tragic loss of a group of teenagers in a flash flood by the Dead Sea. Flash floods are not uncommon in the region.

 

 

 

Amman, Jordan

Betsey and I are in Amman, the Capitol of Jordan with a population of about 4,000,000. The earliest period of occupation was during Neolithic times, followed by the Greeks, then Romans, but the city was abandoned during the medieval period.  The current city was built from ancient ruins during the late 19th century and has since become a thriving economic center. The city is beige, built of limestone with lots of new construction taking place.

Many of the new buildings incorporate blue glass in interesting ways.

We visited the Citadel located in the middle of the city.  It started out as a Greek settlement and then was expanded on by the Romans. Later the Byzantines occupied it and then the Christian Crusaders.

We visited the Temple of Hercules and the Roman Amphitheater which seats 5000 and is used today for various events.

We also visited the monumental gateway to the 8th century Umayyard Palace.

In the archaeological museum I discovered these clay figures that date to about 8000 BC.  I find them delightful!

We also explored the market area in the heart of Amman where Betsey bought a “Rolex” for $4.50.  She then had to return to the vender to get it repaired!

We saw very ornately decorated dresses in shops before visiting the produce and food market.

For lunch we visited Hashem Restaurant, a very popular Jordanian fast food restaurant. It is well known because the King visits the establishment.

The restaurant does a thriving business serving pita bread with several types of hummus.  We also had  crusty falafel – all wonderfully delicious.

Then we went to a place that serves sweets and had kunafeh, baked cheese with a crunchy topping of sugar and nuts. Not much to look at, but really yummy!

Lots more to come….

 

Ohio, Cleveland

While visiting the Cleveland area I stayed with my travel buddy, Charlotte, who is a talented artist.  Click here to see her website.  We spent our time together visiting art venues, beginning with the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Growing up I spent Saturday mornings taking art classes at the museum so I became very familiar with its collection early on.  The museum has since expanded with two major additions and many new acquisitions, and as it was when I grew up, admission is still free.  Rare for a major museum!

Here are two of my childhood favorites in the collection – a drawing by Rubens and a painting by Renoir.

The picture below shows a large enclosed courtyard that is located between the original building on the right and the latest addition on the left.  The silver and pink globes are part of a current exhibit by the famous Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. Here is a trailer for a movie about her extraordinary life.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8mdIB1WxHI

 

Kusama has had a long career creating very colorful, playful installations.  Her latest work combines her signature use of dots with mirrors to create infinity environments.  The exhibit in Cleveland is so popular that tickets were sold out and I missed experiencing it.  So here are some images from the internet.

Charlotte and I visited galleries in several artsy areas of Cleveland and along the way saw lots of Public Art including murals.

Cleveland is currently hosting an international art event where artists have been invited to create installations in locations throughout the city.  We visited one event created to call attention to the disparity between the way police treat whites and people of color.

The conceptual installation, A Color Removed, asks “What does it look like when the right to safety is removed?”  Orange, the color of safety, is the focus of the participatory event where people are asked to collect and put orange objects from their environment into collection containers placed throughout the city, thus removing symbols of safety.

The website explains, The presence of orange, as a symbol of safety, encourages complacency. But what if we could trust that safety is a right guaranteed to everyone who travels in, through, and around Cleveland? What if orange was rendered superfluous? A Color Removed addresses the underlying questions regarding the right to safety by encouraging community members to deconstruct its symbols and create solidarity for a more peaceful city.

A Color Removed was conceived by Michael Rakowitz, as a response to the shooting of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police.  Tamir was a 12 year old boy shot by police because he was playing with a toy gun that was a replica of a real gun. The gun was an Airsoft gun which had had its orange safety tip removed. The officer who shot the boy was hired by the Cleveland Police without consulting the police department where he had formerly worked.  That department concluded that the officer was not suitable for police work because he lacked the emotional stability to be a police office.

As we traveled the city, we passed some Cleveland architectural icons.  Below is a building designed by Frank Gerhy on the campus of Western Reserve University.

And below are two views of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame designed by I M Pei, the same architect who designed the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

Cleveland’s history has had its ups and downs.  In the late 1800’s, Cleveland became a thriving industrial city with resources of iron ore, copper, lumber and coal arriving by barges on the Great Lakes or by a newly constructed network of rails reaching out through the midwest.  Standard Oil was founded in Cleveland and the city became a center for the production of steel and train cars. By 1920, Cleveland was the 5th largest city in the country.  Through the generous support of the city’s very wealthy industrialists, cultural institutions such as Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Symphony, the Cleveland Art Museum, the Natural History Museum, as well as many churches, hospitals, universities were built. Many of these industrialists lived in lavish homes on Euclid Avenue in what became known as Millionaires Row.  Sadly, only one of those homes remains today.

In the early 20th century, a ring of parks and green spaces were laid out around the city known as the Emerald Necklace, similar to the one in Boston.

The downside of the city’s industries was the dirt and pollution it produced.  The Cuyahoga River, which runs through the heart of the downtown, once caught fire due to all the chemicals and oil in its waters!  Beginning in the 60’s, Cleveland began to go downhill.  Residents were fleeing to the suburbs and newly built shopping malls while downtown department stores closed.  Racial tensions were also rampant in the inner city.

In the 1980’s and 90’s the city struggled financially and stagnated.  Then with the early years of 21st century, things became to turn around stimulated by the growth of the Cleveland Clinic.  The Clinic was located on the edge of a depressed and neglected neighborhood so they were able to buy  properties cheaply which allowed the hospital and its research facilities to expand rapidly. The proximity of the Clinic to nearby Western Reserve and Case Tech, the Cleveland Art Museum, the Cleveland Art Institute, and Severance Hall encouraged developers to invest in the area.  Now the area, known as University Circle, is completely transformed. Then as factories along the Cuyahoga River closed and anti-pollution regulations were put into effect, the factory buildings and warehouses in the downtown were repurposed as loft residences and trendy restaurants. Now neighborhood sections are being revitalized and Cleveland has become a modern, vibrant city again and a fun place to visit.

My next post will record my upcoming trip to Israel and Jordan.

 

 

Ohio, Amish Country

I just spent a week visiting friends from high school and college who live where I grew up in northern Ohio.  I spent part of the week in Holmes County where the largest concentration of Amish in Ohio live –  a population of about 30,000, or half of the 60,000 Amish living in Ohio. The rest of the week I spent in the greater Cleveland area.

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From the ages of 4 to 6, my family lived in an Amish district in Eastern Ohio and I have fond memories of visiting their farms, playing and picking berries with Amish kids, and joining the families as they collected sap and made maple syrup in their sugar houses and gathered ears of field corn in the fields in late summer.  Here I am at the age of 5 with my playmates.

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I love return visits to Amish districts because the countryside is so scenic and well maintained. The farms are incredibly tidy and clean with manicured yards  and gardens with flowers and veggies well tended and thriving without weeds.  As I explored the rolling hills, valleys, and winding roads with my friend, Kathy, we did not see one item of litter during our entire stay of three days.  The same was true of the towns we visited!

The farms have huge barns, silos, and large homes, often for extended families who help with the farm work.

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Many of the homes had cluster of Martin bird houses.

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Fields were planted with primarily corn and soybeans.

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And we saw lots of laundry hung out to dry as well as lots of horse and buggies!

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We visited Amish bakeries, cheese factories, farm stands and fabric stores where the Amish women get materials for their quilts.

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Tourism has definitely come to the area and the towns were filled with shop after shop of trinkets, souvenirs, local rustic crafts, antiques, and junk, some of it made in China. Too bad…

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A delightful aspect of our visit to the area was staying at the Inn on Honey Run, a hotel situated on a large, beautiful property surrounded by woodlands and fields with trails, sheep pastures, outdoor sculptures, and scenic views across a valley.  This is the lodge where the restaurant serves gourmet cuisine.

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Other accommodations are built into a hillside.

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For more about the Inn at Honey Run,  click here.

My visit to Cleveland follows in my next post.

Exhibit of My Artwork

I am honored to have been selected to show a series of recent prints at the Attleboro Art Museum, Attleboro, MA along with seven other artists.  We were chosen from 60 applications.  Since the space for the exhibit is quite large, the show is not crowded and the installation is beautiful.  If you are in the area, the exhibit is well worth a visit – not just because of my work, but because the other seven artists are showing very skillfully executed, intriguing work!  The show runs until the end of August, 2018.

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As you can see, the prints that I am showing are a series of images of sticks and stones. I was inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, where the goal is to depict natural elements in a pure manner, yet with all the aspects of age, weathering, and nature’s idiosyncrasies.

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Stephen Fisher is exhibiting highly detailed drawings where he explores light and shadows.

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This is the sculpture of Deborah Baldizar. The portraits are of anonymous immigrants who came through Ellis Island early in the 20th century.

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Tatiana Flis is exhibiting miniature drawings and sculptures of whimsical and precariously balanced buildings.

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Functionally unrelated objects that are visually connected are juxtaposed in the paintings of Brian McClear. 

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Another sculptor, Allison Elia, creates figures in challenging poses.

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Lorraine Sullivan works with found objects to create intriguing visual narratives.

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And the photographer in the group, Fehmida Chipty , focuses on minimal architectural forms that display beautiful and subtle color tones.

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I have provided links to the artists’ websites if you want to see more!