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.


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.


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.




Many of the homes had cluster of Martin bird houses.


Fields were planted with primarily corn and soybeans.


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




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




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…



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.


Other accommodations are built into a hillside.


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.


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.





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Wrapping up my tour to the countries of the Adriatic

We did not have one bad meal on our tour which explains why I carried four more pounds home with me.  We had lavish breakfast buffets in our hotels, we had home cooked food, we had food from small cafes as well as larger restaurants – all local cuisines.  We ate on farms, in cities, and at road stops.  All was yummy!

We had soup as a starter with many lunches and dinners.  My favorites were thick and creamy mushroom soups. We had fresh vegetable salads often served with a coleslaw.  We had a variety of meat dishes that included sausages, meet stews, grilled fish and chicken.  We had potatoes in various forms, picked veggies, and various sauces including ajvar, a red pepper and paprika relish.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, I especially liked Cevapi, a pita filled with lamb/beef sausages with chopped onion, sour cream, and ajvar.  It was not that different from a gyro.

We also had a delicious snack which is made in different versions throughout the Balkans, berek,  logs of phyllo dough filled with various stuffings including cottage cheese and feta, spinach, zucchini, etc., and some served with sweet fillings and some served at breakfast.  There are shops that only sell berek.

On the left is a thick pasta dish made with potatoes – like gnocchi. On the right is a stew.


We had home hosted meals where the tables were laden with wonderful home cooked dishes.

We all liked the fried bread. It reminded me of Portuguese fried dough, but not sweet and much lighter.

Desserts included phyllo pastries like this apple turnover.

Cakes were often multiple layers.  This one had custard, poppy seeds, apples, cake, and nuts!

On the left was a dry crumble of chocolate and nuts moistened with whipped cream.  On the right were jam filled cookies.

We visited a bakery that specialized in licitars, heart shaped cookies that are popular throughout the region.  They are decorated and embellished with a mirror and hung on Christmas trees.  When a young man gives one to a girl, he says, “when you look at this cookie, you will see who is in my heart.”

We visited food markets with gorgeous produce.  This one was in the center of Sarajevo across from our hotel.

On the right are strings of dried okra that are used in soups and stews.

As for shopping for items unique to the region, silver coffee sets appeared to be popular.  I shopped only with my camera!

These ceramics that I saw in Montenegro caught my eye.

In Mostar, Turkish rugs and lamps were displayed on the street and in shops.

Throughout the tour we had a very professional, organized, knowledgeable, charming, and witty guide, Damir.  He opened my eyes to a wonderful region of the world with a long history and rich traditions and prospects for a prosperous future.  I also enjoyed the company of 15 other travelers in the group.  All were interesting, widely traveled, easy going, and on time!

I’m planning my next trip for the spring.  Wait and see where I go this time!

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is a delightful city!  Below is the very center which is a round plaza with streets radiating out from it.  From the center outward for two or three blocks, vehicles are prohibited.  So, it is a pleasure to wander around on foot taking it all in.  As with other regions, during the rule of the Austro-Hungarians, grand and elegant buildings were erected.  And today there are some interesting new buildings as well.  A river runs through the city and many quaint pedestrian bridges span it.  The city reeks of old-world charm with narrow streets, parks, and cobblestone pavements, cafes, designer shops, galleries, and lots of young vibes from the many university students.

This is the central plaza with a monument to a Slovenian poet.

This is the old castle on the hill above the city.

Our luxury hotel was a block from the plaza – great location!  It was a modernized grand building designed in a modern take on Art Nouveau.  This is the lobby.  In all the corridors of the hotel, original art was displayed!  Charlotte and I walked up and down the hallways, one floor after another to take in some pretty decent artwork.

It was a joy to explore the city and admire its wonderful architecture.

This is the National Library of Slovenia designed by a prolific Slovenian architect, joze Plecnik.  It was built between 1936 and 1941 and used some stone from a palace that had been located on the site but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1895.

Plecnik also designed the building on the left below. On the right is the entrance to an original Art Nouveau department.

Below is the American Embassy.

Week took an evening cruise on the river that runs through the city observing many of the bridges also designed by Plecnik.

One of the bridges had lover locks.  Notice that the floor of the bridge is glass.

The city has busy, daily outdoor markets in the center within the pedestrian only zone.

This is a machine that dispenses unpasteurized milk.

We visited one market that was completely devoted to chocolate!  There were at least 40 vendors.  I was so overwhelmed by so much chocolate that I couldn’t come close to making up my mind, so I didn’t buy any. Unfortunately, there were no free samples.

This building was the Slovenia Department of Labor.

About five blocks from the center was a large, beautiful park.  Charlotte and I visited two stately buildings that housed an art center and exhibition space.  We also visited several galleries in the center that displayed contemporary art.

Everywhere we ate on the tour, the food was great.  More about the food and why I gained four pounds in two weeks in the next post!


Postojna Caves and Lake Bled in Slovenia

On our way to Ljubljana, the Capital of Slovenia, we stopped to explore the Postojna Cave.  Formed by an underground river in karst stone million of years ago, the cave is 15 miles long of which 3 miles are open to the public.  We ventured into the cave via a tram that took us 1.5 miles where we then experienced the incredible scale and beauty of our surroundings for an hour by foot.  Some of the galleries were enormous!  Not only were there stalagmites and stalactites, but also ripply curtains, fantastic columns, and other magical creations!

Postojna Cave is an UNESCO World Heritage Site that was first opened to tourists in 1819 when Archduke Ferdinand first visited it. Graffiti in the cave dates to 13th century.

Most of these photos came from the internet since a wide angle camera can only properly capture the sense of space.

Some of the galleries are used for concerts attended by hundreds.

This is an aquarium for olms, aquatic salamanders, that live their entire lives underwater.  They are typically 8 to 14 inches in length and have no skin pigmentation. They have eyes under their skin that detect light but can not see.  Without eyes, they have developed other sensitive sensory detectors to  navigate. This past summer 16 babies hatched from 50 eggs that were laid in the aquarium and this was a really big deal for scientists and the Slovenians!  Check out more about this creepy creatures here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olm

And for 7.99 Euros, you can have one of your own!

After we settled into Ljubljana, we went on an excursion to Lake Bled.  Below is an internet photo showing the medieval castle high on a rock over looking the lake and in the distance is a 17th church on an island.

We visited the castle first.  There are two outside terraces and this is the upper one with a chapel and a museum.  Also on site were a forge and a print shop.

I became fascinated with the windows and views from them in the museum.

This is the fellow who was giving demos of early printing,

To get to the church, we were rowed by this young man.

Next – Ljubljania.



Zagorje, Plitvice Lakes, and hill towns of Istria

Zagorje is a region north of Zagreb where we first visited a museum dedicated to Antun Augustincic, a famous 20th century sculptor who created the Peace Monument at the UN in NYC.  Augustincic is known for his large commemorate monuments.

Close by was an open-air museum in the village of Kumrovec that included the house where Tito was born.  The buildings were carefully restored.

On our way back to the Adriatic Coast again, we spent several hours exploring Plitvice Lakes, another Croatian UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 114 square mile park has 16 lakes and an abundance of wildlife.  We took a tram 440 feet up to the upper lake and walked along wooden paths and bridges observing gorgeous views, ponds, birds and many waterfalls and cascades as the water from the upper lake made it’s way down to the lower lake.  The weather was perfect and the one and half hour long hike peaceful.  It was a super day! (I could not stop taking pictures….)


The map shows where we were and how we traveled as the crow flies.  Next on the itinerary is the region of Isteria (red circle) where we stayed in Opatija, an old world luxury resort town popular with the Austrians dating back to the Austro-Hungarian period.  Its close proximity to Italy is also apparent in its stylish shops and restaurant menus.

From Opatija we took a day trip to two of 136 medieval hill towns in the area, Motovun and Buzet.

When we started out in the morning, we encountered fog (low clouds) but rose above them as we made our way to the hilltop towns.  The fog lifted later in the day, but a haze remained.

In Motovun we encountered TRUFFLES galore!  It was my first taste and I liked them.

We met a truffle hunter who explained the art of truffle hunting and introduced her dog, Ricky, who demonstrated how he locates truffles.  Since white truffles are extremely scarce this year, the price is astronomical!  She showed us black truffles as they are found in the ground.  (In France pigs are used to sniff out truffles, but French hunters have to be on their toes because the pigs will eat them.  In Isteria, hunters use dogs who can be trained to not eat them.)

After lunch we visited a distillery in Buzet to learn about fruit brandies which are very popular in this part of Eastern Europe.

Many in our group took advantage of tasting many of the various flavors offered to them. Many in our group slept on the bus back to Opatija!

Here are Charlotte’s photos of sunset over the Adriatic in Opatija.

Next post: Slovenia