March 8th is International Women’s Day, let’s remember all the women in our lives.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, let’s remember all the women in our lives.
The past two weeks have been quite difficult. I hope that my photos from a recent trip will transport you away….for just a moment or two.
In mid-October, I went to the New York Botanical Garden‘s show, Monet’s Garden. My garden had just a few flowers, so I was amazed at the amount of plants in full bloom outside the Conservatory. Even some water lilies were still blooming in the courtyard pools. Of course, inside was overflowing with plants similar to the ones that Claude Monet planted in his garden in Giverny, France. I hope you enjoy these photos and take a moment to smile.
All my best to those who are still struggling.
At the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., I looked through a doorway in the permanent collection. There I saw a painting whose surface was changing colors. At least I thought it was a painting. I was mesmerized and watched the apparent painting shift from afar and then went closer to examine the surface. The piece was hanging in a niche and had a glossy plexiglass front.
It wasn’t a conventional painting, but it was art. The guard said that Scramble was installed about 6 months ago and it was one of the most interesting pieces he had seen. He told me it used the same technology as the shifting light installation across the walkway at the National Gallery. As we watched it, he said that this was the first time he had seen the all-pink version. Here are the details:
Villareal, Leo, Scramble, 2011, Light-emitting diodes, Mac mini, custom software, circuitry, wood, Plexiglas; 60 x 60 in.; 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Acquired 2012. Mixed Media, 2012.001.0001, American.
I’ve been fascinated by the walkway at the National Gallery ever since I experienced it. In 2009, the National Gallery commissioned American artist Leo Villareal to design a permanent installation in the walkway between the East and the West Wings. Entitled Multiverse, it is the largest and most complex light sculpture by the artist. It contains approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED nodes that run through channels along the entire 200-foot (61 m)-long space.
According to Villareal, the ever-changing Scramble is a homage to the artist, Frank Stella, whose work Villareal saw at the Phillips Collection. When Villareal and Stella spoke together at a symposium at the Phillips in June 2011, Villareal was inspired to create Scramble.
But Scramble didn’t start there. In 1967, Stella created sets and costumes for Merce Cunningham’s dance piece entitled Scramble. Stella later created a series of paintings based on these sets also called Scramble . Villareal’s contemporary Scramble is indeed a fitting tribute to Stella and to art inspired by art.
Just back from a wonderful catamaran cruise on the yacht, Sweetest Thing, in the Caribbean. After a week of sailing, we landed in Newark to find warm weather, trees in bloom, flowers, butterflies and birds chirping.
Spring is here and Summer is not far behind; enjoy the Caribbean’s clear blue water.
I’ve visited Florence numerous times and I wondered if I would tire of it and take the first train to, well….somewhere. But no, there are always new things to do and familiar places to see again.
During my visit to Florence this summer, the first tour was to see the newly restored frescoes which depict The Legend of the True Cross on the walls and ceiling of the High Altar of the Church of Santa Croce. Scaffolding was in place while the finishing touches were made to the frescoes and this allowed visitors to tour the art. Without a special request or additional cost, an English speaking tour guide was there to translate just for us. Grazie!
We climbed the 110 scaffolding steps to the top. It was so exciting to literally be face-to-face with the life size figures in these incredible frescoes painted by Agnolo Gaddi – son of Taddeo Gaddi. Italian restoration only allows the frescoes to be cleaned. If paint or gold leaf is missing, it remains in that condition. Because of this, we saw some of the lines of the original drawing on the wall. Amazing! No photos were allowed in this area, so we took out our journals and drew.
To see even more photos of Florence, be sure to preview my book at blurb.com.
I am proud to announce my photo essay, Tuscany June 2011. The book chronicles my latest adventures in Italy. You’ve seen some of the photos in previous posts, like this one about Siena, but there are lots more to see. The book is thirty-six pages filled with photos and available for purchase at Blurb.com. I am thrilled to share this with you and hope you enjoy the book.
We entered San Gimignano, a Medieval walled city famous for it’s towers, through the Porta San Giovanni. The city was quite easy to navigate. It was market day and there were aisles of vendor carts and umbrellas end to end covering two piazzas. So many that we couldn’t see the cistern in the center of the Piazza of the Cistern or “Piazza della Cisterna“.
If you are interested in tasting wild boar or “cinghiale”, this is the place. Almost all the local stores have full size stuffed wild boar greeting you as you enter and numerous cured pieces of wild boar for sale. We were told that wild boar roamed the countryside at night but we didn’t catch a glimpse of even one.
There are fourteen towers of varying heights remaining of the original 72. My friend Elaine and I found “Torre Salvucci”, the only tower open to the public on the day we visited. We walked the 160 steps up the staircase which wound it’s way through ten floors. Each floor had a different living space from a kitchen to bedrooms and sitting rooms and even a full bathroom. Yes, each floor was one room. At the very top, the guide opened the rolling gate to reveal a terrace with a fabulous panoramic view. Definitely worth the climb!
As an American who saw the Twin Towers being built in New York in 1973, I couldn’t help but think of them during my visit to San Gimignano. Our Twin Towers will always remain in our memories.
Our next excursion was to Siena, a very large city in comparison to my favorite town, Radda in Chianti.
Siena is well known for the Palio, a spectacular horse race that takes place in the center of the city twice a year. But we were looking for a different Siena and found some unexpected things. We were dropped off at San Domenico Basilica where, much to our surprise, we came upon the head and finger of St. Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380 ). No photos permitted in the church but, if you’d like, you can see her head here.
Next, we walked on Via Cittá and heard classical music. Following the sound, we entered the courtyard of the Palazzo Chigi Saracini (This link shows a 180° view-don’t forget to look up.) which houses the Chigiana Musical Academy. We sat on a bench and lost track of time while we listened to music, worked in our journal, photographed and watched people.
The most wonderful site was the crypt (cripta in Italian) which was re-discovered in 1999 under the Duomo (Cathedral). I was disappointed because photography was not permitted in this space which was full of incredible frescoes and decorative patterns. But I had an alternative to photography-my journal. I made drawings of the areas I wanted to remember. A whole new world has opened to me. Now along with my camera, I travel with a notebook and pencil.
Our first day trip was to the lovely hilltop town of Radda in Chianti in the center of the Chianti region. Our host explained how safe it was by relating this story: A previous workshop participant lost a camera somewhere in the town. The next day it was returned by the Policia. A local resident found the camera, recognized the photos of Borgo San Fedele and knew that it had to belong to a visitor staying there. You can’t get much safer than that.
We found the perfect bench in a small park overlooking the countryside and painted the fabulous views. The Church of San Niccolò is in the center of this circular town so we knew exactly where we were at all times. In the middle of the Chianti region, we found many black roosters (found on the seal of Chianti Classico wine) and the most delicious white wine made with the typical Vernacchia grape.
Of course we didn’t paint all the time. We visited abiti e accessori, a store with home accessories in one room and, in the other, beautiful clothes made with hand painted fabrics made by the artist in the middle of the store. Other stores featured the food of the region including pici pasta and a tasty olive oil, of course. And, don’t forget a fabulous lunch.
The size and friendliness of Radda was just perfect for our first adventure.