I love using pencils of all kinds. Pencils graded and numbered for drawing. Did you know that Henry David Thoreau created our numbering system for hardness/softness (i.e. light/dark)? Mechanical pencils for notes at meetings. The classic No. 2 yellow pencil for nostalgia. Finding a pencil sharpener these days is as hard as finding a phone booth. But they make all these cool small sharpeners that fit in your pocket. The eraser on the end never seems to last as long as the lead. Maybe I make more mistakes than most, but it gives me an excuse to buy separate erasers.
So it may not surprise you that when I was in New York City I twisted my cousin’s arm to go with me to CW Pencil Enterprise in Chinatown. It was also meant to be a lesson in using the subway. She uses an app to find the best routes and honestly it was like watching someone who is really good at using Word or Excel show you a shortcut. It all happened so fast that I didn’t learn much except the subway seems well used and looks antique.
I digress. Pencils! So many in one place. A store dedicated to the humble pencil. It is a delight and seems like an “only in New York City” kind of thing. I could have fondled the pencils all afternoon. Alas, we were also going to a Broadway performance later. So I bought a lot of pencils, stickers, journals and children’s books. Oh and some erasers. The whole experience made me happy!
Do you know what also made me happy? This video that my bff Harriet shared on Facebook. If it doesn’t make you smile then maybe you need to spend some time getting reacquainted with the humble yet mighty pencil.
I love Manhattan. I’ve been to New York City numerous times and I always have a great experience. Never the same either. I’ve done most of the tourist must-dos: Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art and even stood outside the Today Show with a sign. One of the things I’ve longed to do but wasn’t able to until this summer is see the murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author and illustrator of the Madeline books. They are in a cozy bar in the Carlyle Hotel at 35 E 75th Street (not far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
I’d been walking since 10 a.m. with a couple of stops but plenty of time in the hot humid summer sun. A gin and tonic sounded fantastic. It was only about 4 and food service isn’t available until 5:30 p.m. Good thing I might have ordered a charcuterie plate and been doubly shocked by the $37 price tag. As it is my drink (excellent by the way) was $22. I spent a good while enjoying the ambiance and air conditioning. I will definitely bring my Mom here when we next visit NYC.
On Sunday and Monday nights they have jazz music starting at 9:00 and there is a cover charge. It was Monday, but I called for a Lyft ride and returned to the hotel to refresh before dinner and to find a bookstore. There aren’t as many independent bookstores as there used to be but I found the Strand and got lost in the stacks on a bit of a shopping spree, then enjoyed a delicious and almost normal price steak dinner at Phebe’s at 361 Bowery.
It did seem odd that the name of the most visited art museum in Denmark is called the Louisiana MOMA. It is actually named for the villa that looks like a Louisiana plantation house and it was named after Alexander Brun’s three wives who were all named Louise. It has been transformed over the years into an exquisite sculpture garden and gallery all hugging the shores of Oresund Sound in Humlebaek.
The train takes you to within a 10 minute walk of the Museum. The museum has a permanent collection both indoor and out, plus 2 special exhibits. When I visited I was able to view the retrospective for Danish artist Tal R and a fascinating exhibit of South African artist William Kentridge. I was disappointed because the Marina Abramovic exhibit was due to open the following Saturday, but then I’d have missed Kentridge. (I know, first world problems.)
Four powerful paintings by Danish artist Tal R
I wandered the grounds looking at the sculpture and then stopped at the cafe to eat lunch. I’d been told by a fellow plane passenger that the smorresbrod at the Louisiana Cafe was delicious. I can confirm that the salt-cured ham, North Sea cheese from Thise, mustard mayonnaise, and pickled cucumbers are yummy over bread. I ate on the patio and enjoyed conversation with the people around me. One woman overhead me say I was from California and she and her husband came over to introduce themselves. I bumped into them a few more times in the galleries and we compared thoughts and they encouraged me to see some things that I had considered passing by due to time.
I enjoyed my afternoon at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art so much that when I return to Copenhagen I will make time to go again. I also wondered if we have anything quite as spacious and beautiful for sculpture in the USA. My art dad Jim says that there is something like it in New York on the Hudson. I will have to explore!
The William Kentridge show made a big impact on me.
I was driving up Highway 101 from Paso Robles to Monterey Peninsula and started noticing portraits of farmers along the highway–supersized portraits–and I was excited and anxious to look up on my phone the story behind them. Who painted them? What was the inspiration? How does the artist keep them from blowing over in the constant wind that keeps the climate cool for lettuce?
As I turned off Spreckels Road to Highway 68 I saw this painting looming in the dark. I vowed that I’d return on the way home and take a photo. Meanwhile, as soon as I checked into the Lone Oak Lodge, I logged onto the internet and searched for “giant portraits of farmers in Salinas Valley” and discovered artist John Cerney‘s work.
In the artist profile in Monterey County Weekly (Barbara Paris, 5/20/1999) explains “Cerney creates his commissioned scenes by starting with an idea, posing real people–usually employees or friends–as models and taking ‘many, many photos, 50 or 60, to get the right pose,’ which he then transfers to a special plywood covered with a smooth paper finish. Sometimes he paints alone, but often now he is assisted by Dong Sun Kim, a mural painter in Marina… The giant cut-outs are prepared in sections and then joined to form people 18 to 20 feet tall. Cerney likes to do his own installation, setting the cut-outs on 4-by-6 posts set in concrete.”
Larger than life farmworkers off in the distance.
In another profile from SFWeekly (Anna Roth 7/31/2013), Cerney has completed more than 300 murals and plywood cutouts. “Cerney does all of his painting in his studio inside an industrial warehouse in Salinas where he also lives, working 10- or 12-hour days and retiring to a little room in the back when he’s done. The space is dominated by a giant scaffolding where he does his work, in pieces (applying a grid system to the initial drawn sketches based on photographs). He cuts plywood to size with a jigsaw, paints each piece independently, and never sees the whole until he assembles it at the site. A giant person can take him 10 days; a bigger plywood mural of a historic cattle drive like the one he’s currently working on for the South Lake Tahoe tourism board will take a few months.”
Have you ever wanted to experience staying within an artist’s studio? I was invited to an art show closing reception at Gallery 1632. It is part of sculptor Gerald Walberg’s compound. Several East Sacramento house properties have been combined to create gallery space, sculpture garden, private home, studio, workshop and VRBO rental property.
The upper level rental property is a sophisticated, modern space and can give you a peaceful retreat if you are in Sacramento on business, or need to visit Sutter Hospital, UC Davis medical campus or Shriner’s Hospital. If I didn’t live nearby I’d say it’d be perfect for a writing retreat.
I’m reminded about the great variety of properties available on VRBO. I like VRBO because there is less interaction with the hosts and more privacy. This spacious studio apartment is certainly unique.
I read about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum a couple of decades ago before the expansion. I’ve been yearning to visit ever since. The couple of times I’ve made it to Boston the family agenda has superseded mine. I finally made it! Since I first read about it they have added a whole new administrative wing with a cafe, book shop, reading room, music hall and offices.
Gardner created her palace of fine art to show off her collection. What I didn’t realize is that it designed as an immersive experience. It is Gardner’s assemblage masterpiece. For example, the wing she added for John Singer Sargent’s El Joleo. Her cousin owned the painting and accepted an ambassador appointment. He had planned to will her the painting, so she offered to “babysit” and then immediately added this Spanish Cloister to best display the painting. On one side are spanish tiles and pottery and an archway into the center courtyard garden, and on the other side is a mirror to better enjoy the painting and light. She didn’t use electrified lighting (although her personal apartments did) so there is a place on the floor where the original lantern stood. She opened the new gallery space to much fanfare, so of course her cousin could not ask for the painting back!
I definitely recommend the docent guided tour. In an hour the docent explains in depth 6 different paintings and in the process you see most of the museum. I must warn you though, you’ll either want to plan for time to go back and look longer at the things you had to speed by on the way, or go again or both! This vignette is typical of Gardner’s creations. In the Raphael room, she created this scene for us to admire Raphael’s painting of a friend. They do have elevators to help people who cannot cope with the stairs.
In 1990 the Museum experienced a theft of 13 paintings–3 from the Dutch room–by 2 men dressed as Boston police officers. This self-portrait of Rembrandt remained because it is on wood and could not be cut out of the frame. There is a $5 million reward for the return of the paintings. They have left the empty frames awaiting their return. The will stipulates that nothing in the gallery can be changed and this has been honored almost to the last inch, making the theft more tragic. The 2005 documentary Stolen is fascinating (I just ordered a used DVD for $12. I originally saw it from a rental from the video store–remember those?).
Isabella Stewart Gardner was fascinating in her own right. A bad-ass woman for her time, or for any time. She used her $33 million inheritance to create this museum masterpiece. I bought a biography, Mrs. Jack, from the excellent gift shop. I look forward to reading it. There were at least 2 portraits of her in the museum. My favorite was the John Singer Sargent portrait hanging on the top floor of the gallery. Henry James introduced Gardner to Sargent and she became his patron and enthusiastic collaborator. He painted her portrait just after the scandal of painting Madame X and having it refused by the client. This portrait also caused a ruckus and Gardner’s husband Jack asked her not to display it in the gallery (and so she did not until after his death). I love it!
Getting to the museum was an easy walk from the Ruggles Station on the Orange Line. Gardner bought the land at the edge of Frederick Law Olmstead’s new park Fenway (what was on the edge of town at the time). There are a number of art colleges surrounding it and it is just a short walk from Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. I also found Lyft to be super affordable and never waited more than 4 minutes for my driver. It is just slightly more expensive than the T. It is only $15 admission but thanks to my Crocker Art Museum membership I got in free. There are senior discounts $12 and student discounts $5. The museum hours vary and the galleries are closed on Tuesdays.
I have visited Akaroa three times and finally I was able to see The Giant’s House. It seems it is more famous with foreign visitors than with Kiwis. None of my friends from New Zealand–even those who love Akaroa–had heard of it. This sculpture garden is an eccentric treasure.
I admire people with vision who develop the skills to execute it so masterfully. I am such a gadfly in my interests, I cannot imagine sticking with a project 17 years, let alone staying with it still. Josie Martin combines her love of horticulture with her artistic expression through painting and mosaic sculptures to create a truly original garden on the hill.
Someone in the village told us that she offered to create mosaic sculptures for the town of Akaroa, but the town council said no. She turned the no into a Yes! Yes! Yes! The hours are limited because she manages it herself. On the day we visited we paid the artist $20 each to visit her garden and gallery. We could stay until closing. We made sure to return and thank Jose for the experience.
One of several ceramic self-portraits of the artist in the gallery.
I am so glad I finally got to see the Giant’s House. Find out more at Trip Advisor. (#1 of 27 things to do in Akaroa.)