Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Artistry of Chihuly Glass

My main reason for going on my recent trip to Seattle was to see the Chihuly Garden and Glass center located on the grounds of the Seattle Center.  The museum is a maze of darkened rooms, each strategically lit to bring out the radiant colors of the glass creations.  Each room told a story of Chihuly's history with glass making from early inspirations to his elaborate creations to his sculptures and paintings.

Entering the room featured in the first three photos nearly took my breath away.  I spent quite a bit of time circling that raised platform full brilliantly colored glass in a huge variety of shapes and sizes.  I kept saying to myself "how can I capture this masterpiece of color and shape".

The next room was equally mesmerizing.  I call it the boat room.  There were two boats, the one above is filled with plant-like shapes of glass.  The reflective floor mirrored the boat as though it was floating on water.

The other boat was filled with orbs in dazzling colors and patterns.  They made me think of a cluster of planets in some galaxy far, far away where worlds of extreme colors exist and float like jewels sparkling in the black sky.

The two boats together created and almost overwhelming display.

Another room featured Chihuly's huge bowls each carefully lit to highlight the colors and patterns in each piece.

Two other rooms were filled with a vast array of chandeliers.  This one had an ocean theme and resembled a geyser of water shooting up from the deep waters filled with sea creatures. 

One like this one was at the very first Chihuly exhibit that was at the Desert Botanical Garden almost ten years ago.  It makes me think of the unusual cactus blooms that fill the garden in the spring.

Finally the darkened rooms opened up into this huge glass conservatory topped with a massive glass chandelier made up of plate-like disks in shades of yellow and orange.  

From the conservatory the display continued into a lush garden.  I'll have to do another post about the garden or this post would be way too long.  

As you can probably guess, I was completely enthralled by everything I saw.  Finding the right words to describe the beauty of this place is close to impossible for me.  I could spend days here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Art in Palm Springs

When I finally got the tickets for the Sunnylands tour that I posted about the last two Sundays, I decided that even if I was doing a short trip to Palm Springs, I should add something else to the travel agenda.  I saw online that the Palm Springs Art Museum looked like a great place to visit so, that is where we went when we arrived in the city.

The building is a sleek modern building that sits snuggly against the mountains behind it.

The inside has a wide open feel when you enter with smaller exhibit rooms located to the sides.  The museum has a beautiful Chihuly sculpture that sits on a perch above the main lobby area and I love those golden tear-drops hanging from the ceiling.

What caught my eye when I researched the museum online was that they had an Andy Warhol exhibit going on.  I have to say, it was the very best Warhol exhibit I've ever seen.

The range of works was astounding with many pieces I've never seen before.  There was even a great video playing with interviews by some of the many people Warhol worked with and partied with.

One of the other things that appealed to me when I read about the museum online was their Kaplan/Ostergaard Glass Center where they displayed a vast array of artworks all created in glass.

The piece to the left simply mesmerized me. It is made of blown glass with oil paint by American artist Oben Abright.  It is so realistic, I thought he'd start talking to me.

One of the other pieces that intrigued me was this one by Richard Jolley.  It's called Translating Substance #30.

This one was very difficult to photograph because of it's location against a brightly lit window.  A flash would have helped but of course, flash is not allowed inside a museum.

So I settled for this close-up shot taken from the side.  It misses some of the colorful objects surrounding the life-sized glass model but you can see the facial features.

Every glass object in this gallery was worthy of a second look.  There were some truly brilliant pieces.

I was very impressed by this spectacular art museum.  If I find myself in Palm Springs again, I will certainly stop by for another visit.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunnylands Garden & Center (Part 2)

I don't think I've ever been so inspired by a home tour as I was of the tour of the Sunnylands home.  From the moment our eight passenger golf cart arrived at the front door, to the moment we were returned to the visitor's center, I was in awe of everything around me.

Before entering the home, our guide told us about the impressive sculpture that dominates the front of the home.  The Annenbergs were inspired by a huge sculpture and fountain they saw in Mexico City and commissioned a half-sized version for their home.  It is etched with symbols relating the history of Mexico and its peoples.

As I mentioned last week, photography was not allowed inside the home, but it was encouraged when we were outside of the home.  However, if you are curious and would like a peek inside, there are slides available on the website.  (Scroll down to where the photo of the house is located and click on the arrows.  Scroll down further and you will find a virtual tour of the Room of Memories.)

The home was built in the mid-century modern style where the architectural features are exposed rather than hidden.  Mrs. Annenberg wanted the pink pyramid on the roof of the home to match the pink glow of sunrises and sunsets on the nearby mountains.

In addition to being major philanthropists, the Annenbergs were also avid collectors of art and art objects.  Even though he contributed his 1 billion dollar collection of masters to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, each of the paintings was digitally reproduced so they could continue to hang on the walls of the home.  As I gazed on these reproductions, I realized that I had seen many of the real ones at the museum in New York.

Many of the sculptures they collected remain in the house.  Outside the house are also many sculptures the couple collected like this kinetic sculpture by Harry Bertoia.

Our small group exited the house on the patio where we enjoyed a magnificent view over towards the swimming pool with those gorgeous mountains framing the scene.

From the patio, we were taken to the guest house where we saw the central game room surrounded by color themed guest rooms.  

Behind the guest house was a rose garden with beautiful rose bushes named for many of the famous women who have been guests of the Annenbergs in the past.  Barbara Bush, Queen Elizabeth and more first ladies were all represented in blooms here.

Toward the end of the tour we were whisked off in our golf cart across the 9-hole golf course to view the home from the lake and waterfall.  I think this might be my favorite view of the house.  

On the way back to the visitor's center, we stopped at this sculpture called "Birds of Welcome" by sculptor Arthur Price.  It has a special place of honor on the edge of the sprawling green of the golf course.

If you love historic places and also love architecture and art, I highly recommend visiting this home if you have the opportunity.  Everything about the experience was pleasant from the people who work there to the beautifully planned and constructed surroundings.  I was thoroughly impressed by it all.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunnylands Center & Garden (part 1)

I had been wanting to visit Sunnylands, the western estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg ever since I learned about it around two years ago.  Even though the visitor center and gardens are open to the public, it was that extraordinary mid-century modern home with its history of celebrated guests which have included U.S. Presidents, world leaders, celebrities and even Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family, that really appealed to me.  Tours of the home itself are done during periods when the house isn't busy with meetings and the tickets for tours during a certain month are not released until the 15th of the prior month.  So, unless you live near the Palm Springs California area, that short window makes it difficult to plan a visit.  I finally got my opportunity and I grabbed it.

The magic started for me just after entering the gate leading toward the visitors center.  The driveway was lined with palo verde trees and luckily I was there at blooming season so I was swept up the driveway on a cloud of yellow.

I checked in for the tour at the visitors center and then wandered around the garden enjoying the gorgeous desert landscaping.

Aloe plants were strategically planted along the paths that were shaded by the palo verde and mesquite trees with a few Texas Ebony trees mixed in.

The visitors center was opened in 2012 and was built to mirror the architecture of the home.  The glass walls make you forget you are indoors and the lava stone walls match those in the house itself.

The visitors center is where the various tour groups meet and it also provides a cafe for light meals and a gift shop.

There is also a small gallery located inside the visitors center where changing exhibits are on display for visitors to enjoy.

The visitors center also provided displays on the wall with highlights of the many people who have visited here both during the lifetime of the Annenbergs and now that the center is open for diplomatic retreats.

Walter Annenberg was a businessman, investor and U.S. diplomat who served as Ambassador to London for a period of time.  His wife Leonore served as Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1981 to 1982.  Both were philanthropists in the arts and education among other interests.

In 2001, the Annenbergs finalized documents establishing the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands.  The foundation's intent was to turn the home into the "Camp David" of the west and to make it available to the public.  The estate is available to the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the bipartisan leadership of Congress, the Supreme Court and other leaders for intimate, high-level retreats where experts with diverse perspectives can engage in creative problem solving.  It is certainly and inspiring place to visit.

Next Sunday, I'll post about the house tour.  Although photography was not allowed inside the house, it was encouraged on the outside and I'll be able to show you the beauty that surrounds this mid-century marvel.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Rodin Museum in Paris

There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Paris that it can be a bit overwhelming.  And with museums like The Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay to wander through, it's easy to forget about some of the smaller museums.  The Rodin Museum is one that could easily be overlooked but should be on the 'must see' list of all art loving travelers.

The Museum is located in one of the two homes belonging to Rodin. His homes were given to the French government upon his death as long as they were turned into a museums to showcase his works.  His home in Paris is a beautiful mansion with one of the prettiest gardens I've ever seen.

And those gardens are full of Rodin's sculptures like this one in the center of the reflecting pool.  It is called Ugulino and His Children.

All of his most famous pieces can be seen throughout the gardens including The Burghers of Calais above  and The Gates of Hell to the left.

There are two versions of his most famous piece, The Thinker.  One is located in the garden surrounded by beautifully sculpted trees.

The other one is inside the museum and gives the viewer a close-up look at this amazing sculpture.

Inside you will also find the sculpture, The Kiss.

I enjoyed seeing this large scale painting of Rodin by the artist Rene Avigdor.  It shows the famous man at work in his studio.

The Rodin Museum is a place where you can enjoy the work of a great man and also enjoy the beautiful home where all that creativity took place.