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Posts Tagged ‘art’

I have been avoiding Crystal Bridges for a long time.  I heard about it a long time ago, probably around the time it was being built by the Walmart heiress who did it.  For some reason, the fact that all that money came off the backs of people who labored for that empire in not very good conditions bothered me.

But a lot of my friends have gone down there and loved it.  I guess that sort of thing doesn’t bother them enough to keep from availing themselves of the experience.  After all, you only have to pay for the special exhibits.  The rest of the collection is free.

I have to admit the museum itself is a work of art.  Seldom have I seen a more beautiful building, and it really set off the site it was built upon.  The surrounding grounds with all their sculpture were beautiful to view from within.  I know there are several miles of trail but it was so raw a day we did not walk on them.  Next time.

Crystal Bridges has a pretty decent collection too, although I was sort of surprised that it did not include a single Peter Max, who truly is a pretty well known American Artist and certainly is worthy of having his work represented.   Nor were there any Russells on display.  At least not at the moment.

They do have four different Georgia O’Keeffe works on display, which made me happy.  There is a large Jimson Weed painting, just gorgeous.  It was not lit very well, so it was difficult to appreciate the glory of her brush work.   They also had a couple of smaller studies, one a still life with leaf and feather and the other one of the hills near Ghost Ranch.  The surprise for me was a large bronze sculpture by her.  I thought I knew about Ms. O’Keeffe, and either I did not know or had forgotten that she had done some bronzes.     The one on display was very beautiful but I would have liked to have seen it put farther out in the middle of the floor rather than stuck in a corner where you could not walk around it and observe the flow of light along it.

One thing about Crystal Bridges that bugged both Jim and myself was the very poor lighting of the collection.  I am not sure what the curator and the hangers were thinking, but there were several walls that had far too many works on them set way too close together.   Each one had bright lights on them, and if you tried to get close enough to see brush work the glare was so severe you could not see anything, not even colors and shapes.   If you stood back far enough to get away from the glare, the works’ proximity to each other made it hard to focus on them individually.

There were some very amazing large works that occupied full wall panels that were very fun to look at up close.  Then when you went outside and looked at them from the lawn, they were a completely different story.   Very complex.

I am afraid that there was a period of time during our visit I really wished I had never studied music, because for some reason the museum had a young man playing the cello near one of the galleries.   It was interesting to see the audience lapping up his very Chopinesque murder of the Bach Cello Suite in C.  It was pretty excruciating to listen to his out of tune, rubato rendition of a work that I studied assiduously for an entire semester while I was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  I sort of missed a whole section of the museum because I felt compelled to get out of that wing before I was driven to madness.

We LOVED the special exhibit that was in residence,  “The Soul of a Nation”, a comprehensive focus on the art of Black Americans during the Civil Rights era.   If that collection comes to a city near you, I highly recommend a visit.   It was educational, illuminating, thought provoking, and filled with some really wonderful art by artists that I was largely unaware of.

It is no secret that I love beautiful things; it might even be an addiction.  Although we went into the Museum Shop fully expecting to leave empty handed, that was not to be.   There was a vase there that called out to come home with us.   So we ransomed it and freed it from its captivity on the shelf.   It truly is a wonderful work of art from Cohasset Gifts and Garden.

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I accepted the reflection of the dining room lights in this photo because the illumination from above really brings out the sculptural aspect of the molten glass having been draped over the root it rests on.

This following shot was serendipitous in the extreme.   I had opened the dining room curtains and noticed how the scene out side reflected in the glass of the vase.

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Well, I hope that everyone has a fantastic week.  It is supposed to warm up around here, and I am very much ready for it.

We are waiting with bated breath to learn whether or not the freezing and just below freezing temperatures will have been enough to kill the wisteria buds.

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Last night I stayed up until 4 a.m.   Or I guess I should say this morning…  At least it wasn’t because I had insomnia.  It was that I was so deeply engrossed in what I was doing that I didn’t realize how long I had been at it.

It is no secret that I love my art journaling.  It is also no secret that I am not made of money.  I look at some of the studios that people have and I wonder if their homeowner’s insurance realizes how many thousands of dollars they have in art supplies!   Since I do not have a studio, but only a desk, I have to be creative about how I stay organized.  It also keeps me from going bonkers buying stuff.

However, all that being said, I have been lusting after stamps for quite some time.  These are pretty pricy items, and I do have a small selection.   But I am a piker when it comes to stamp ownership.   There are YouTubers who are doing tutorials and every time you turn around they are picking up another stamp for making background imagery for layering.   There are a couple who not only use stamps but they would very much like you to buy the stamps that they have designed and have for sale at princely prices.

I came across a video wherein the tutor was showing you how to make your own stamps using fun foam.   This is an interesting product.  If you get the really thin stuff, you can cut it into shapes easily with scissors, and glue the pieces onto cardboard and voilà, a stamp!   There is thicker fun foam, which if you heat it up with your heat gun and press it into things with texture will take on the image you pressed it onto.  Once again, you trim your piece of foam appropriately, and bam, you have a stamp.

So I was doing this with the thicker foam.

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I have a bunch of antique buttons and some of them made extremely interesting impressions in the foam.   I also cut pieces and glued them.   Incidentally, the backing I used for my stamps was simply cardboard from my recycling bin.  I glued to pieces together to make it more or less rigid.

There are a couple of long thin stamps in the shot above that were created using the innards of cardboard glued to the backing.  There is a piece of bubble wrap in there too.  But the one that became an obsessive project is the bright blue one just next to the cardboard stamp in the upper left.   That one is made of well over 200 little random squares and rectangles of the fun foam individually glued to their cardboard backing.  It makes a VERY interesting image.

Over on the far right is one that does not involve fun foam.

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This is made of a selection of o-rings from my local hardware store.   These are spare parts for faucets, and I will just say that there apparently is no such thing as a standard size in faucets!  I was quite careful to make sure that I got a selection of o-rings that were all the same thickness so my stamp would make a good impression.  (Interesting side note:  all these o-rings were individually packaged with their dimensions printed on the little bag.)  They glue to the cardboard quite securely with tacky glue.

I love the image this stamp makes!

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So once I created my group of stamps, I had to play with them.  The blue basket weave stamping below the o-ring stamp is an imprint of one of the old buttons.

Art is not the only thing accomplished around here.   I got the potato sets out, and planted my onion plants today.  I also threw some mesclun seeds at the ground and hope they will grow.  I thought about planting broccoli, but decided that perhaps I was a little too tired to do that too.

The peas that I checked the germination on the other day are now UP and being little green shoots.   Pretty soon I will plant the beets and carrots in that bed.

I just can’t believe how fast the season is progressing!

Now, I have three loads of laundry to fold, so I suppose I should go do something other than sit at the computer for a bit.

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For some reason, I cannot get the umlaut into my title.  So I apologize for starting this post off with a technical error.

I am not really a food blogger, so I am not going to regale you with the amazing food that we found to eat, all within easy walking distance of our Airbnb apartment.  Let me just say that Barcelona is much like Seville:  every where you turn there is a little hole in the wall that will sate you with wonderful food and great wine and beer.   Finding a place to eat is not a problem.   Deciding which one of dozens of options you are going to patronize IS the problem.

That being said, we had a wonderful dinner after our adventures at the Maritime Museum, and the next day was the day chosen to visit Park Güell.  We had purchased our tickets to this attraction on line, weeks before our trip.

A little history is in order.  Güell was a wealthy industrialist who admired Gaudí’s vision.  Together they decided to establish a planned community in the hills outside Barcelona.  Gaudí designed the whole place, including innovative ideas like separating vehicular traffic from pedestrians.   He envisioned a central market place, where the inhabitants could shop without having to go downtown.   This market place, called the Colonnade, was completely covered so the vendors could be in the shade.  On top of it was a large flat square for public gatherings, games, fairs and the like, that was completely surrounded by a structure known as the Undulating Bench.   There were public gardens planned.

Unfortunately, the idea did not take off.   Güell had a house constructed in the community, and so did Gaudi.  But they didn’t sell enough lots and ultimately Güell donated the entire property to the city of Barcelona for a public park.

The above photos are taken of the outer wall that surrounds Park Güell.  Alternating along the whole wall are these mosaics.   It really pretty much tells you in a nutshell what you are going to find inside.  There are fantastic walls and constructs of unworked native stone, and fabulous mosaics made of porcelain and glass.

We decided that since the park was only about a mile from our apartment, we would walk there.  We started out giving ourselves plenty of time just in case we got lost (we did not even though we have NO [gasp] GPS and rely completely on maps printed on paper [second gasp]).

It was a very pleasant walk along streets that were NOT choked with traffic.   The transports of choice seem to be either feet combined with public transit, or scooters.   Most of the streets in the area we were walking through were one lane, and one way.   It was quite wonderful and peaceful.   Along the way I spent quite a while admiring the brick work that was ubiquitous.

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Every structure in this part of town seemed to display gorgeous examples of the mason’s art.  Of course there were plenty of people who felt that they needed street side security for their windows.   But it also seemed that if you felt like you needed security you didn’t necessarily want to uglify your building.

I liked this one, where the barbed wire of the security grill was woven into a spider web.

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I also really liked this ironwork grill.

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So much so that I had to put my camera through its paces to get some art shots of it, while my very patient husband waited.   He was not feeling any urgency at that point.   We were within a couple of blocks of the entrance to the  park and we were about 45 minutes early for our appointed time of entry.   So he admired the view of Barcelona while I clicked away.

We enjoyed the view of the iconic entry to Park Güell as we descended the staircase that led to it.

We were still quite early, and so in no rush to join the queue at the entrance.   Along the way we paused to admire the fantasy of palms that were visible inside the park.

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They were inhabited by parrots who were busy eating the tiny fruits the trees were bearing.  Later on, within the park, we came across a colony of the same parrots who had chicks in nests, anxiously awaiting their parents’ return from foraging.

Finally the time arrived, and we entered the park.   Before you get to the famous sculptural section that we had paid to see, we walked past very plain stone retaining walls.   These were inhabited by an impressive selection of lizards, who were availing themselves of the drain holes the masons had left in the walls.

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These are just a couple of the different species sunning themselves.  As I was standing there taking the portraits of these reptiles, the crowds that were streaming by in their rush to view the work of Gaudí paused to try to see what I might be photographing.   They seemed to be concerned that they might be missing something that wasn’t in their guidebooks, which of course they were!   But to a person, not one of them “got” what I was interested in.  I know, I’m fairly weird.

Presently we proceeded along in the wake of the crowd, and were immediately surrounded by the mosaic work that Park Güell is noted for.

Believe me, there are dozens of shots I took of this artistry.  Everywhere you turned, there was color covering organic forms in concrete.   The blue tiles above are a good image of Gaudí’s artistic vision.   He haunted the porcelain factories of Barcelona, buying up their seconds and broken pieces.  The square tiles above were probably seconds, which he brought to the site and then had broken so they could be laid around the curves of the concrete structures.

I also like the white ceramic tile with its border of raw stone.   The juxtapositions of these materials happened over and over throughout the park.

Once we had sufficiently admired the mosaic walls, we proceeded to the main staircase where the Salamander resides.  This mosaic fountain is probably one of the most famous images of Gaudí’s sculpture.  You can find “Draco” everywhere in Barcelona: on tea towels, trivets, coffee cups, etc. etc.  A few years ago some madman attacked him with a sledge hammer, but he is fully restored now.

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I don’t want you to think that it was EASY to get this shot.  It required quite a lot of patience, because most of the time the fountain and its surroundings look like this:

We continued on our pilgrimage, past more amazing rock work and mosaics.  The Colonnade itself is a wonderful sculptural place, and I can imagine how pleasant it must have been to be able to set up your market stall in this deep shade in the summer, and out of the rain during the winter.

The ceiling of the colonnade is decorated with numerous medallions.  These installations epitomize the way Gaudí scavenged for mosaic material.  I believe he may have been the original recycler.

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This is one of the central medallions in the ceiling of the Colonnade.  Take a close look at it before you move on.   Notice the bottoms of cups and saucers around the central flower.   Notice that the arm of the flower at 12 o’clock appears to have been formed in part by a broken porcelain figurine.  You can see its chest and arm, and you can also see the bottoms of bottles elsewhere in the form.

Oh here.   Just take a look at a series of shots I took of the medallions in the ceiling.  I was fascinated.

Above the Colonnade is the square with the Undulating Bench.   This bench was also decorated with mosaics made from porcelain, bottles, and broken tiles.

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On the back side there were drains and gutters.   I loved the fact that where the water was draining from the square the details in the concrete were water drops.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the buildings where Güell and Gaudí lived.   But here is a detail of the windows of the home built for Güell.

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One of the other features of the park is the road/walkway system.   This was specifically designed to keep the pedestrians safe.  The walkways were under and shaded by the roads.

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Here is another one of the walkways.  The rock work was designed to mimic the bark of the local trees.

In another area, there were spectacular spirals worked into the pillars.

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By this time, we were overcome by the crowds and were suffering from sensory overload, so we decided to leave the park and have some lunch.    We walked back to our little apartment, enjoying the sights of the residential streets of Barcelona along the way.

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“Buy Art”

I like to read bumper stickers.  Sometimes they are just silly and annoying.   Sometimes they are downright offensive, but I try to avoid ramming the cars that are sporting blatantly racist and anti-environmental messages.

The other day we were on the freeway when an old Impala sailed by us.   I liked the message tacked in the back window:  “Buy Art.”

“Yes,” I exclaimed.   “I do that.”   It was particularly appropriate since I had just purchased art from an artist friend of mine, who painted a wonderful mural on the front of our barn.

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We also purchased the sun sculpture above the mural.

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Our house is well supplied with art.   I’ve been in the habit of buying ceramic art for long before I met Jim.   This still life sports a couple of pieces displayed in the living room.

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I have a lot of bowls I have collected over the years.   We actually use them on a regular basis.

We also have a lot of dragons in the house, most of them are original works of art.  This is just a small sampling.  A tiger eye bas relief, a leather mask, and a ceramic dragon who guards many eggs, and one very small amber dragonet.

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I could make this into a very long post, and put up a lot of photos.  But I won’t.   We have a guache  in the bedroom, a watercolor from Seville in the living room as well as a beautiful print from the Seattle area.

Every once in a while I hear from someone who is “decluttering” their life, or read an article telling you just how to achieve that feat.   I toy with the idea of decluttering, but then I wonder which of the pieces of art I am going to get rid of.

Which amazing rock is going to be relegated to the garden?   Which one of the hundreds of sea shells I have picked up over the years?

I guess I’ll just stay cluttered.

And I’ll keep on buying art.

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Three Haikus

Three Haikus I recently wrote on the theme of Time.

BEFORE TIME

Particles drift in/Shapeless space without substance./Time does not exist.

************************************

DOWN TIME

Murmuring river/current carries my canoe/ through bird concertoes.

***********************************

AFTER TIME

Big bang collapses/ into the black hole that waits/ consuming all things.

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Since our cruise took off from Vancouver and our cruise line offered a convenient transfer there from the SeaTac airport, we decided to go a little early and spend some time in Seattle.   It was a city which we enjoyed immensely during our past Navy life when Jim was stationed at Bremerton, right across Puget Sound from Seattle.  We used to take the ferry across and spend a day there dinking around Pike Street Market, enjoying a beer somewhere.   Often we would by a couple of dungeness crabs, have them split, and take them home with crusty french bread for dinner.

All I can say is that tourism has pretty much ruined Pike Street Market.   I’m sure in the off season it is still a fun place to shop, but during the cruising season it is a zoo packed with people who are there to experience it, but not actually interested in buying anything.   The amazing displays of food, flowers and art are viewed as entertainment.   I’m sure that there is stuff being sold, but if you actually want to buy seafood, it is better to go across the street to the less popular market which is not crammed with tourists watching the fishmongers throw fish across the aisles.  Whatever.

We had scheduled a hot air balloon ascent, but it was cancelled due to foul weather.   This is still on my bucket list.   As Jim said, we just need to get out to Albuquerque when the hot air balloons are there.    The same company we scheduled with in Seattle area runs a branch in the Albuquerque area during the fall and winter.   I’ll bet they don’t get weathered out so often there.

So we took our rental car and went for a drive instead, out to Whidbey Island, where Jim served two tours of duty early in his Navy career.   He showed me the very first house he lived in there off base, and we were both impressed that it is still there 40 years later.    Drove across the Deception Pass bridge and down along the I-5 corridor to the winery area north of Seattle.   We enjoyed tasting wines at the Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest wineries, purchased three bottles to take with us on the cruise which we shared with our cruising companions.   After the wine tasting, we headed back to Seattle with plenty of time to return the rental car before we got charged for another day.

Ha ha ha ha ha.   It has been a long time since we experienced a big city rush hour traffic congestion situation.    I hope it is even longer before I do again.   It took us over 7 minutes to go around the block to get to the rental car place.

As is our usual custom, extensive research was conducted before we left on this vacation.   Despite the fact that we lived in the area for a while, that was twenty-five years ago, and much has changed in the interim.   One of the things that has been established since then is Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center.  Dale Chihuly is an internationally reknowned artist in glass.  I was aware of his existence when we lived in the Seattle area, and I wish to heck now that I had purchased some of his work at that time, when it was still affordable.   At the museum gift shop they had Chihuly bowls for sale, the cheapest one was about 8 inches in diameter and they “only” wanted $4000  for it, and NO, I do not have the quantity of zeros wrong.

A few years ago, Chihuly did an installation at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.   I visited that, and blogged about it.

When I was up in Seattle with my mother and sisters back in late May, I suggested that we might want to visit this exhibit.   When the price of admission was mentioned, $19 for all day entry and re-entry after dark, my mother deemed it “too expensive.”    The upshot was, we Smith women did not experience the Chihuly exhibit, which is a shame; I think we would have all enjoyed it.  Jim and I determined to go, and as far as I am concerned it was WELL worth the price of admission.

Even though Chihuly no longer does a lot of work due to injuries, he has a group of glass artists that carry out his visions.    And visions they are.  The museum contains pieces that date back to his earliest work, when he was inspired by North American Indian basketry.

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Once you leave this room, you enter a room that is inspired by the ocean and the myriad creatures that inhabit it.   Now I have to say, this was an extremely difficult thing to photograph, what with the hordes of people surrounding it and the rather vast size of the installation.

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To give you a little concept of scale, this is one of the creatures on that vase shape of glass.   It is about 6 inches long.

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Also in the room were numerous smaller pieces depicting crabs, shrimp, and my favorite, the octopi:

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I really had a hard time getting great shots in this room.   The lighting was designed to highlight each individual work, some of them were large and had lots of shadows.   I did not have the right equipment, and so many of the images remain in my memory rather than in digital form.  There were plenty of others that were good enough to delight.

This is one of the huge glass balls that supported one of the octopus creations.

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The next room contained the Persian ceiling.   Now I honestly have no clue as to why Chihuly chose to call these sorts of things Persians.   Anyway, these sorts of forms occur all through the exhibit.   Here, there was a glass ceiling that had the pieces stacked all over it, some on top of others and the whole thing lit from above.   It was magic.    I could have shot 500 pictures in here and never gotten it all.   We spent a long time looking up in this room.  Amazing.

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You walk out of the Persian ceiling into another very large room that contains an installation inspired by Chihuly’s mother’s garden.   Another one that was difficult to shoot:  large large large and surrounded by people oohing and aahing (just like we were).   The phantasmagoria of botanically inspired shapes was… well… amazing.   Sorry.  I just don’t have words.

A side note here:  more than once as I progressed through this collection of shape and color I wondered what it would be like to be on some sort of psychedelic drug while experiencing this art work.

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At spots in the exhibition, there were what was referred to as design walls.   Chihuly discovered paint somewhere along the way in his glass blowing career, and began working out designs using all sorts of media on water color paper.

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You can see his chandeliers in the above design wall.

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Another room was inspired by an installation where he was floating glass balls in some river, sorry, don’t remember which one.   Anyway, there were people out in small boats catching the balls  at the end of town after they floated down the river,and Chihuly liked the idea of boats full of balls.  Incidentally, that boat is a real boat and about 20 feet long.

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He also did a boat full of floral forms.   This is a detail of one of the flowers in that boat.

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The last inside room was one that contained several giant bowl forms.   They were very large, around a meter in diameter.  I can’t imagine how many of these were spoiled during the annealing process of the glass blowing.    Absolutely incredible.

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After all this intense color in black rooms with brilliant spot lights, we emerge into the Glass House, inspired by the great conservatories of the world.

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Frankly, I thought it was more magical at night.

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The informational signs claim that many of the forms here were inspired by the Space Needle.

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I can see it.    I was fascinated by the huge botanical form, an installation of many Persians.

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Outside, in the gardens, I see another inspiration for the Persians in the hardy geraniums.

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The Space Needle shows up all over the place.

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And now, the gardens.   Both in the grey afternoon and at night, illuminated.   I felt that some of these installations would have benefitted from being lit from underneath the actual glass piece rather than having spotlights on them.   But that is a mere quibble.   Everywhere was color, fantasy forms, details of color and light.

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Last image, probably my favorite despite the blur.  There were installations on the installations; the art had become habitat.   This was the home of a little spider, all upset because my camera was so close to her, shaking her web so that maybe I would not notice her…

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I hope you have enjoyed this tour of Chihuly’s visions in glass.    It was extremely difficult to cull the hundreds of images I acquired along the way through this positively fabulous collection.   There were hundreds and hundreds of pieces of glass, every one of them was beautiful.

“Even the orchestra is beautiful….”

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Autumn mandala

It was a rainy day here in the Ozarks, but not particularly cold or windy, so I took Ruby for her walk anyway.   We had a wonderful time.  Of course she found a stick, which I threw numerous times.

We saw large mixed flocks of sparrows and finches, who were enjoying the ripening grass heads in the field.  I saw song sparrows, white crowned sparrows, and white chinned sparrows.   I’m sure there were others out there too.   The gold finches were flying with them.  Around the house we have lots of juncos and chickadees.   This morning I saw a brown thrasher in the stroll garden, which surprised me.   I would have thought they had migrated south by now, but it hasn’t really been all that cold here.   There is no sense of urgency.

The oaks are turning their shades of red and orange, and the japanese maple by my pond is a wonderful scarlet right now.   I felt inspired to make an autumn mandala scan using these items plus some grass that was calling me.

The mood is somber out there, matching mine.   I’ve been thinking very deeply lately, motivated by my sessions with my therapist.  There is a lot to grieve for, and I have been journaling a lot.

My father fails daily, the weight of his years suddenly seems almost too much for him to carry any longer.   The family is gathering this weekend; we are throwing a dinner party for the whole group here since we are going to be gone over Thanksgiving.    I am glad we are going to have this opportunity to be together before we all fly to the four winds once again.

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