Sunday, November 18, 2018

City Dreams

When I was in New York I visited a lot of museums and galleries and saw some amazing works of art and creativity but, there is one exhibit that stands out in my mind and it was at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).  It was a retrospective of works by the incredibly creative and visionary work of Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948-2015).

Kingelez was based in what was once Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He started making his sculptures after the country's independence
from Belgium and his work reflected dreams for his country as well as the entire African continent.

His sculptures are created from a wide range of everyday materials and found objects such as aluminum cans, plastic objects of all kinds and colored and/or commercial paper.

He never traveled outside of his country until 1989 which I think makes some of his creations even more impressive and unique.

His creations range from single buildings to sprawling cities of futuristic skyscrapers.  And as his collection grew, he began using increasingly unorthodox materials.

This exhibit represents the first time his work has been seen in the United States and spans his entire career.

Looking at these models made me think of the modern skylines of cities like Dubai, Doha and Shanghai.  The ever changing London skyline even came to mind.

A lot of vision came from this artist who lived most of his life in a relatively under developed country.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Observations Around the Big Apple

For this week I have a series of random shots around New York City.  They are just observations I made while making my way around the city that never sleeps.  First up, a view of Times Square from my hotel window.  From this vantage point it doesn't look at all like the madhouse it is.

Growing up in the Midwest where there are a number of Amish communities, I found it very interesting to find an Amish Market in the middle of the city.

This is another view from the hotel window.  I loved looking out at all the tall buildings but, one in particular caught my eye.  In the far left, the tall one with what looks like a platform jutting out from it.

I zoomed in to get a closer look.  What on earth could that be?  It looks like the building is still under construction and this might be some sort of future observation deck.  In its present state, it gave me shivers of fear just thinking about standing out there.

My friends and I attended a special party in a gallery space in the Chelsea area and I snapped this shot of the sunset out the gallery window.

I loved the view out the window while having lunch at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).  I thought that street to the left was so perfect looking it almost looked like a movie set.

To the right in the view above was an office building of all glass that we could see into.  The people that work in that building are on constant view.

One of the more unusual sights was The Naked Cowboy prancing around Times Square wearing nothing but his tighty whities and a hat.  Mind you, it was 50 degrees out.  He must be pretty hot blooded.

Rockefeller Center was in full "Fall" mode with some elaborate displays to admire.

I was totally amazed by the lights in the lobby of the Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's contemporary art gallery.  This museum opened in 2016 and occupies the old Whitney Museum building at 75th and Madison.  All that contemporary art and I was awestruck by the ceiling lights!

It wasn't until my last day in New York that I noticed I could see all the way down to the Intrepid Museum on the Hudson River from my hotel window.  I zoomed in to get a shot.  I visited the Intrepid on a previous trip to New York many years ago.

New York is a city of endless discoveries.

P.S.  I found some information on that observation deck.  It's on a building called Hudson Yards and the deck is on the 100th floor.  It will be the highest observation deck in the western hemisphere and will be surrounded by a 9ft high glass wall but will be open on top.  

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lucky View, Unlucky Window

Every now and then when I'm flying into a special city, I will get an extraordinary view that makes sitting in a window seat for five hours worthwhile.  That is what happened on this most recent trip to New York.  I don't think I had ever seen such a good view of Manhattan on a previous flight.  The bad news was that the window I was looking out of was not very clean or clear.

But, that didn't stop me from grabbing my camera and snapping a few shots on our approach into the Newark airport.  I cleared these up as best I could with the editing software but, as you can see, they are still pretty grainy looking.

As we swung around along he tip of Manhattan, I used the zoom to get a closer look at that jungle of tall buildings.

And then as we passed the tip, I caught sight of a tall object on an island.  Could the be what I think it is?

So I cropped the photo to make sure of what I had captured.  Sure enough, I caught sight of Lady Liberty standing guard with her welcoming light.  A perfect sight to be greeted with on any trip to New York.

And as the plane got lower on it's landing trajectory, I could look at all those buildings and know that I would soon be down there amidst those architectural giants, looking up at them instead of down on them.

The best airborne photos I ever got are still the one's I got when I was leaving Europe from the Venice airport.  You can see that shot here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I Confess, I'm a Street Walker

Not that kind of street walker but a street walker all the same.  You have probably guessed that I'm addicted to the city of London and one of my favorite things to do when I visit there (or anywhere) is to just walk the streets.  The amazing things I see never fail to surprise, inspire and charm me.  On my last trip to London, I stayed across the street from Russell Square, a leafy and popular green space that pulled me in that direction several times.  I also loved that row of houses across the street from the park.  What a perfect spot to live!

When I walk in the other direction down Southhampton Row, I was thrilled to see more gorgeous old buildings lining the street.  I enjoyed dinner in a couple of the restaurants along this stretch of the street.

I love finding streets with sections of half-timbered buildings that have an "oh-so-English" look to them.

And a peek down a narrow passageway revealed a brick wall scene that just begged me to snap a photo.

On Carey Street on the other side of the Royal Courts of Justice, a row of those iconic red phone boxes stopped me in my tracks.  You have to love those bright red boxes even if they have become obsolete.

Another street provided a view of some gorgeous white buildings.  Another fabulous place to own or rent a flat.  They look very upper-crust!

This street provided apartments with balconies and a pretty green space across the street to provide some shade and a touch of nature.

And then of course, there are the "mews", wonderful narrow drives filled with houses that long, long ago would have housed the horses and carriages.  There are hundreds of these places all around London and they are always impressive in the way they have been turned into interesting and sometimes eclectic accommodations.

I could go on and on about the things I find on my walks and I probably will but, in another future post.  Looking at these photos is giving me the itch to go again.  That usually happens to me when I haven't been for two years.  Guess what, it's been exactly two years since my last visit.  I'm due!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Searching for Frank

This post is a trip into the past in more ways than one.  First of all, the photos date back to 1998 and are scanned from prints (sorry about the graininess).  The other element of the past are these homes which date back to 1895.  Back when I was working in Chicago, some friends and I made a trip out to Oak Park to see the street of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes.

We began our day by attending a church service at Unity Temple in Oak Park, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed church that still operates and holds services.  Unfortunately, I couldn't locate any photos I'd taken there but you can get a look at it by clicking here.

After the service we headed over to Forest Avenue to see the houses.  The one pictured above is the Nathan G Moore House and it was originally built in 1895 but, was damaged by fire and in 1922 FLW redesigned it.  It sits sideways on the lot so it was impossible to photograph directly from the front.

This is the Arthur B. Heurtley House.  It dates back to 1902.  

This last one is the Frank Thomas House dating to 1901 and it is believed to be Frank Lloyd Wright's first "Prairie Design" for a home.  This one is my all time favorite.  I'd love to see inside.  All of these are private homes so visitors can only see them from the outside.  The only home that is open is the one that was actually Frank Lloyd Wright's home when he lived in Oak Park.  I don't have a photo of that one either but, you can see it by clicking here.

There are many more homes along this street.  I think I need to make another trip to Chicago and make a point of visiting here again.  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Great Place to Stay

I've developed a fondness for Kimpton Hotels and I've started seeking them out when I travel.  When I was in Seattle earlier this year I chose the Kimpton Palladian which was conveniently located near downtown and within walking distance to Pike Place Market and the waterfront.

This hotel chain decorates in a very eclectic (some might say quirky) way.  This hotel was full of portraits of some of Seattle's favorite sons.

The staff told us that Bill Gates had come in to see this portrait and he approved!

Across from Bill Gates was this portrait of Jimi Hendrix.

Two more portraits of famous people connected to Seattle flanked the lobby fireplace.

In addition to the great atmosphere, I've found the staff at these hotels to be very friendly and this hotel was no exception.  Everyone provided great service and a welcoming smile.

The hotel bar is called Pennyroyal and it had a "speakeasy" atmosphere that was both enticing and charming.  My friend and I stopped off for nightcaps on the days we were there.

This was the third Kimpton Hotel I've stayed at and I've never been disappointed.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Creatures by the Sea

Last July I got to spend one whole week in beautiful California at Newport Coast just north of Laguna Beach.  It's a part of the state that I have visited many times and that I thoroughly enjoy because it's so familiar.  On this trip I got to spend a little more time than I have in the past so I had more time to enjoy being by the sea.

Besides just walking on the beach and listening to the waves crash on the abundant rocks, I love to get a closer look at all the creatures who live by the sea.

The pelicans are one of my favorite birds to watch.  They are just such silly looking birds but when they take flight, they look so graceful and elegant.

The cormorants are another interesting bird. With their dark feathers and green eyes, they tend to have a somewhat sinister look.  They also always seem to preening and taking pride in their looks.

The sandpipers are fun to watch as they use their long legs to wade in the surf looking for tiny tidbits to eat.  

And of course, there are the ever present seagulls keeping a watchful eye on everything that goes on.  They are nature's scavengers and they are more likely to steal your french fries or Cheetos than to catch small fish or insects.

On this trip I spent some time exploring the volcanic rocks on the beach and searching the tide pools for tiny sea creatures.  This cute little crab was kind enough to pose for me.

Of course, people-watching is also good sport while strolling the beach.  The children tend to be hyper-active as they run back and forth from the beach to the water.  I also notice how people tend to cluster in one spot to set up their beach blankets and umbrellas while I tend to step away from the crowds and watch from a distance.  No matter which method is chosen, you can't beat a day communing with nature's coastal offerings.