Sunday, September 23, 2018

Beyond the Nile

Hippopotamus of red marble, 1-100 AD, Roman

Last week I posted about the architecture of the The Getty Center high atop a hillside overlooking Los Angeles.  This week I'll show you some treasures from a temporary exhibit that was called "Beyond the Nile; Egypt and the Classical World".

The exhibit was showing Egyptian artifacts along with Greek and Roman works and discussing how these three different cultures traded with each other influencing each other's cultural accomplishments..

Sarcophagus of Wahibreemakhet, 600 BC.  Egyptian

These two statues are dated around the same period (520 to 660 BC).  The one in the back is Egyptian and the one in the front is Greek.  The guide pointed out the differences in the artistic styles of the two cultures.  The Egyptian being more stylized and stiff while the Greek statue is more life-like with defined muscles.

The statue to the left is of Isis holding an infant Horus.  The guide discussed how the Roman sculptors depicted children as just miniature adults and indeed, that baby looks more like a doll than an infant.

I'm always in awe of ancient glass pieces.  I marvel at how something so fragile could survive to this day.

This is an Egyptian cup made of glass with blue pigments and gilded figures.  It dates back to 250-300 AD and it was discovered in the Sudan.

This last piece is the bust of Antinous and it was found in Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli Italy.  It is a handsome figure looking very proud and strong.

It was a fascinating exhibit and I am so glad I decided to tour it with a guide.  I learned so much more listening to her explanations than I would have on my own.

I enjoyed the exhibit so much that I stayed after the tour and wandered back through the rooms to revisit the big pieces and get a closer look at the smaller ones.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Lasting Legacy

The Getty Center in Los Angeles has to be one of the most beautifully designed museum complexes in the world.  It sits on a hilltop of the Santa Monica Mountains with views of Los Angeles in one direction and the mountains reaching the Pacific Ocean in the other.

The center opened at the very end of 1997 and it must have been around 1999 or 2000 when I last visited.  It was even more beautiful than I remembered it.

The architect was Richard Meier and he used 1.2 million square feet of Italian Travertine to clad the multiple buildings that make up the center's campus.  The effect is brightly lit space with light reflecting from the buildings and radiating warmth in the evenings when the air starts to cool.

Everyplace I stood while on the campus seemed to create another spectacular view.

The public spaces in the museum were awash in natural light and even the galleries were naturally lit in a way that protects the art while giving guests the right light for the art on display.

One of my favorite parts was the garden in the center of the complex.

I couldn't wait to make my way down there to explore.

There was a lot to discover in the garden.  The path follows a stream and crosses it several times on the way down.  I loved the bougainvillea artfully contained within custom rebar trellises shaping them into umbrella-like trees.

The water of the stream makes it way over a waterfall and into the central pond witch contains a beautifully designed labyrinth of green plants.

I could spend all day just admiring the architecture and gardens but, that would mean I'd miss all the wonderful art inside.  It's a very good thing that I planned my visit on a day that the Getty Center was open late!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Gold Rush Saga

The search for the riches that gold would bring brought a lot of people heading to places like the Arizona Territory in hopes of striking it rich.  Henry Wickenburg was one such adventurer.  Born in Germany in 1819, he arrived in New York in 1847 and became a U.S. citizen in 1853.  He took a job driving wagons for the U.S. Government in the Tucson area but in 1863 he discovered the Vulture Mine, a now defunct gold mine just outside of the town of Wickenburg.

Henry built a three-room adobe house and founded the city known as Wickenburg today.  Back in the early spring, I took a private tour of the old Wickenburg home which still stands today.  The home was later owned by John Boetto so most of the historic furnishings inside were actually from the Boetto family.  The very knowledgeable guide/historian was able to point out features of the home that existed in Wickenburg's time as well as explaining how the home would have looked then.

The guide told us interesting stories about Henry that can't be found in the usual biography spheres.  One of those stories was about a woman Helene Holland, with whom Henry became friends.  Records say she was already married to someone else but the husband wasn't around.  Not much is recorded about the type of relationship that existed between Helene and Henry.  We'll have to use our imaginations for that.

Henry was a very busy man.  Besides running the mine, he served as president of the mining district, inspector for the schools, a census taker and a Justice of the Peace.

In 1903, Henry initiated a deed leaving his estate to Helene upon his death.  And in May of 1905, Henry Wickenburg was found dead under a tree near the house.  He had been shot with his own gun.

The official records all say the Henry committed suicide because of financial problems and years of fighting to obtain the money that was owed him from the sale of the Vulture Mine.  With the exception of the home, he was penniless when he died.

However, our guide told us that most people actually thought that Helen Holland killed him.  Because of that, she was forced to sell the house and move away from the town of Wickenburg.

In back of the house is the sign in the above photo calling the spot "Bootless Hill".  Most people thought Henry was buried on the property but he was not.  Thus the sign "No Body is Buried Here".

So, there you have it, an old west story worthy of a Hollywood script!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Santa Fe, A City Full of Art

When I was in Santa Fe earlier this year, I couldn't leave town without a visit to Museum Hill, that hilltop oasis full of museums and some of the greatest examples of Native American art.  My first museum visit was at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

This museum is known for it's focus on little-known genres and for solo exhibits by living Native American artists.

When I was there, the main exhibit was by artist and teacher, Melanie Yazzie.  She has art in museums all over the world from Santa Fe to Washington D.C. all the way to Australia.  This exhibit was called "Memory Weaving" and included these whimsical metal works that were on the outside of the museum.

Inside the museum we found her paintings, prints and a few ceramic pieces.

I loved the almost child-like works that featured animals.

Another group of her paintings were filled with floating numbers all around the scene.  These refer to her struggles with Type II diabetes.  She was quoted as saying "there's a whole conversation in the numbers that I feel is really important and when I travel to different places it seems to be a common illness within the indigenous community and also in the wider community.  It helps me connect with the people."

Melanie Yazzie is a teacher who is currently head of the printmaking department at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  She used to teach at the University of Arizona in Tucson, so she has a connection to my home state.

I think my favorite part of the museum was located on the lower level.  It's the gift shop that was built to replicate an authentic Native American Trading Post.  It is called the Case Trading Post and it features contemporary craft and fine arts by Native American artists.  This shop was authentic all the way down to the creaking wooden floors.

I loved shopping in there and listening to the boards creek as I walked from one display case to another.  I was amazed by everything I saw from carvings to paintings to fabulous jewelry.  I even came home with a new necklace that I have grown to love!  

Sunday, August 26, 2018

So Many Museums....

...So Little Time!
There are so many amazing museums around this world of ours and I try to visit as many as I can when I travel.  On my most recent trip to Los Angeles, I planned to spend two nights in L.A.  specifically to visit the Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  When mapping out my hotel in proximity to those two museums, I discovered a museum I had never heard of before, The Hammer Museum.  It was founded by Dr. Armand Hammer and designed to not only showcase Dr. Hammer's extensive art collection but to also introduce new audiences to emerging artists.  The museum is now under the management of the University of California.  

My plan was to squeeze in a visit to this museum sometime within those two days in L.A.  

That first evening in the area, my friend and I walked from our hotel into the Westwood district for dinner at a recommended restaurant.  On our walk back to the hotel, we came upon a large group of people waiting outside a building as though waiting to get in.  I found myself right in front of The Hammer Museum and obviously an event was going on.

A very nice security man standing guard spotted us gazing up at the museum and he asked if we would like to go in.  I said yes, and he opened the door and held it for us.  How lucky for us!  

There was indeed a big event going on inside the museum.  The building surrounds an outdoor courtyard that was packed with party-goers filled with music playing.  However, that left the galleries relatively quiet so we took the opportunity to examine the art.

The museum was featuring a new exhibit called "Made in L.A." representing 32 artists aged 29 to 97.  Their work exemplifies the diversity and creativity of today's Los Angeles.  

The top two photos above are works by Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh.  I like the way they were able to represent both emotion and diversity with just basic facial features.

This hand woven art was created by Diedrich Bracken whose work is influenced by the complexities of African-American identity.  

One of my favorite artists in this show was Celeste Dupuy-Spencer.  Her paintings focus on people.  The painting to the left is of her friend and fellow artist Eve Fowler.  Here you see her taking a break from her work to give her dogs some welcome attention.  I love it.  It's such a normal, every-day scene.

These large pieces are by Naotaka Hiro whose work is touched by the artist himself.  He tends to use parts of his own body to create expressions and patterns in is work.

This last piece was huge and extended to the wall to the left.  It was situated around the stairs from the street level to the second floor.  This abstract piece is by Eamon Ore-Giron and it's called "Angelitas Negros".  I love the geometric shapes.

I was lucky to not only get to see this museum and this interesting show but, I got to see it in the evening in a party atmosphere.  On the way out, I thanked that guard at the door for expediting our visit to another great museum.  The timing was perfect.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Farmer's Market in Paris

Last week I posted about a famous farmer's market in the United States, this week I'm visiting one of many wonderful markets that can be found all over Europe.  This one is in Paris.

A little over 10 years ago, I spent 10 wonderful days in Paris with a group of friends.  While we were there, a few of us decided to spend one whole day at the most famous cooking school in the world, the Le Cordon Bleu.  We met at the school where we were introduced to our instructor/chef and his translator.  After a brief set of introductions, our chef took us out to a wonderful Farmer's Market to pick out items that would make up is class demonstrations.  That's our chef above in the top photo examining the gorgeous vegetables on display.

As you might imagine, the assortment of cheeses was very impressive.

And, the variety of fresh fish and seafood was something I'll never see at the Phoenix Farmer's Market.  

Fresh eggs!  Souffle' anyone?

The butcher was happy to cut up some meat for the chef to take back with him.

After visiting the the market, the chef made his way back to the school while the translator and another instructor took us on a tour of a famous bakery.  (I'll post about that at another time.)

When we returned to the school, we found that the chef had whipped up a wonderful lunch for us using the things he purchased at the Farmer's Market.  With a little glass of French rose', it was a perfect lunch before we entered to classroom to learn some new cooking tricks.

I'll post more about my Le Cordon Bleu adventures in the future.