Sunday, January 23, 2022

It's All About the View


On our very first night in New York City, my friends Julie and Dave took us to a very "cool" bar called Skylark.  It was just three blocks from our hotel and it's entrance was very nondescript.  Some might say it was a bit hidden.  But, when we entered the door, after having our vaccine status checked, we found ourselves in a long hallway that led to an elevator.  

The elevator whisked us up to the top floor where we met a hostess and we could see doors to many different rooms.  While our vaccine statuses were checked once again, I peeked into the pool room and saw these well dressed gentlemen playing a game with a spectacular skyline background around them.

After finding a table, we stepped out onto the wrap-around balcony to take in the view.

The balcony was surrounded by a high glass wall to keep it safe for people to explore.  You can see the edge of the glass in this photo to the left.

The view was stunning!  

That circle of light was a reflection of a light on the balcony.

We could look down and see the lights of Broadway and Times Square.

And, we had a fantastic view of the Empire State Building. 

The beautiful lights of the city were visible in every direction.  

I spotted the Hudson Yards building I wrote about a few weeks ago.  I knew I had dinner reservations there later in the week and looked forward to seeing the place.  I cropped this photo in a bit so you could see that triangular shaped sky walk and balcony.  

Three years ago when I saw this building under construction, I didn't think I'd ever walk out on that balcony when it was done.  But I did.  I posted about it here.

This was a fun place to go to start our week in New York.  I loved it!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Egypt in New York


One thing that was a "must-see" on my New York list was to once again visit the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

The Temple was a gift to the United States back in 1965 in recognition of the country's contribution to the campaign to save Nubian monuments and antiquities that would have been destroyed by the creation of the High Aswan Dam.

In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson awarded the temple to the Metropolitan Museum.  The museum then had to create a space specifically for it. That is when the Sackler Wing was built on the north side of the Museum.  The temple was reconstructed in the new wing between 1974 and 1978.

(It should be noted that in December of 2021, the Metropolitan Museum has removed the Sackler name from the museum because of the family's involvement in the opioid crisis.)

Everything about the temple fascinates me.  It is believed to have been built in 10 B.C.

During the 6th century it became a Christian Church. By the 19th century, it had become a destination for early tourists, explorers and artists.

In fact, some of those early tourists left their marks on the temple walls including one Luther Bradish (1783-1863) who became a future president of the New York Historical Society.  (😒He should have known better than to scratch his name on these ancient walls.)

Some of the original carvings on the side of the temple are only faintly visible so the museum has projected light on the wall to show what those carvings would have looked like with the painted finish.  

I'm very happy that I got to visit this ancient temple once again.  As in past visits, it was a highlight of my trip to New York.  

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Kandinsky at the Guggenheim


When I was in New York last October, I once again made a trip to the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum this time to see an exhibition of artworks by Vasily Kandinsky, one of my favorite abstract artists.

You might remember that the last time I visited this museum, I saw an exhibit of paintings by Hilma af Kint an abstract artist I had never heard of before.  She was painting as early as 1906 and Kandinsky began his art some 20 years later.

Kandinsky was born in Russia and raised in Odessa.  He went to law school studying law and economics and became successful in his career.  At the age of 30 he began studying painting, drawing and other art forms.  In 1896 he moved to Munich and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts.

He moved back to Moscow in 1914 returning to Germany in 1920 where he taught at the Bauhaus School of Art and Architecture which is where he met Solomon Guggenheim.  

Guggenheim purchased "Composition 8" in 1930 during his first meeting with Kandinsky.  Guggenheim would go on to be the artist's greatest patron, acquiring a considerable number of his works.  This composition is one of my favorite works of art.

I had not seen this painting before and it has now been added to my favorites list too.  I love this one called "Around the Circle" painted in 1940.  It is said that this painting reflects his abiding interest in the belief systems and folklore of Russian and Siberian cultures.   I see similarities to some Native American Art which I find fascinating.  

So, once again another trip to an architecturally amazing museum to see some equally amazing and incredible works of art.  It makes me thankful that I got to go to New York once again.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Favorite Iconic London Spots


Today's group of favorite London photos are all about the iconic London scenes.  The places most people are familiar with and love.  First up, St. Paul's Cathedral.  I actually saw Prince Charles exiting this church on one of my trips to London.  That was a complete surprise.

This is a place that tourists can't visit but it's position on the south bank of the River Thames makes it stand out.  It of course has also been seen in a number of movies and was actually famously blown up in a James Bond movie.  MI-5 is headquartered here.

Royal Albert Hall is another famous London building.  I saw the London Philharmonic Orchestra play here on one of my trips.  Visitors should always check the schedule to see if something interesting is playing.

One of the best views of Parliament can be seen from the London Eye, that giant Ferris wheel just across the river.  The view from the eye is spectacular.

I also got a good shot of Big Ben with the London Eye in the background.  

I never go to London without visiting the Fortnum & Mason store on Piccadilly Street.  I've brought many goodies home from this iconic London store.  

A collection of London's iconic scenes would not be complete without some red phone boxes.  One great place to photograph them is on the back side of the Royal Courts of Justice where you will find these four waiting for photographers to take aim.

This last photo was taken from the observation deck at the Tate Modern Museum.  I'm looking east toward one of London's newest iconic buildings, The Shard.  I have not been up in this building yet.  It is on my list for a next visit.  From this height, you can see past The Shard and all the way to the high rise buildings at Canary Wharf.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

More London Favorites


This Sunday I have a few more favorite photos from London.  These all have a bit of an architectural look to them.  Just perfectly symmetrical scenes that caught my eye.  First up the underground station at Canary Wharf.  

This is from the center courtyard of the British Museum.  That glass ceiling is breathtaking when you first enter the museum.

This one is the Undercroft below Lincoln's Inn Chapel in an area of London where you will find most of the legal offices residing.  I've seen this space used a number of times in movies and television shows.

Above is the Great Hall of the Natural History Museum.  The hall is guarded over by Charles Darwin seated in his place of honor.

Above is the very striking entrance to the Apex Hotel on Fleet Street.  I remember when I spotted this entrance.  It stopped me in my tracks. 

I'll end this group of photos with one from a cemetery.  This is the entrance to Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetery.  Highgate Cemetery is divided into two halves.  The East side is open to anyone and it's most famous resident is Karl Marx.  The west side may be toured through scheduled tours.  The west side is where you will find this architectural wonder along with a few other amazing sights.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

My Favorite London Photos


Most of my readers probably already know that my favorite city in the world is London.  I've been there many times and if fate allows, I will visit again.  I thought for today's post I'd show you my favorite London Photos over the years.  This one above is from my 2016 trip.  It's of a famous staircase called the Cecil Brewer staircase and it's located inside a store called Heal's.  I saw a photo of this on Flickr one day several years ago and put it on my list of must-see places.  

This second photo was taken in 2013 when my friend Mo who lives in London took me to a very special church.  It is called The Priory Church of St. Barholomew-the-Great and it was founded in 1123.

The artist sketching inside the church was an added bonus.  I had this photo printed on canvas and it resides in my living room.

This next photo was taken in 1985 on my very first trip to London.  I was walking along a street when I spotted real live blacksmith shop right in the middle of town.  

This Tower Bridge Photo was taken in 2005 when I stayed in a flat in an area south of the Thames called Shad Thames.  I remember snapping this photo while I waited for my friends to get coffee at a nearby Starbucks.

A print of this one hangs in my kitchen.

As you might guess, I have many photos that I've taken in London.  Maybe next week I'll show you a few more favorites.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Few Observations in Chicago


Today I have a few photos taken over the years when visiting Chicago.  Just some observations I've made at various times of year.  Above is a photo taken near Lake Michigan on the very northern edge of the city.  I loved the look of those trees.  

On one trip, I was visiting a friend who was living in the same building I lived in back in the late 90's when I was working in Chicago.  I also happened to be there at the same time as the Chicago marathon.  We could watch the runners right outside her windows.

When I was working in Chicago, I had a great view of the Chicago River as it heads out toward the lake.  One thing I used to enjoy was the parade of boats on the river.  One weekend every spring, the boats would head out to the lake for the summer.  In the fall, they would head back in to a dry-dock location for the winter.  I enjoyed watching the bridges being raised to let the tall masts go by.  

This last shot is of one of the glass brick towers that make up the Crown Fountain at Chicago's Millennium Park.  When I was working in Chicago, this park was just beginning to be developed.  I didn't get to see the finished park until several years later when I visited the city.  

This fountain is a work of art by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.  It's fun to watch the faces changing on the two towers and all the kids playing in the water between them.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

A Visit to the New York Times


The offices of the New York Times was just around the corner from the hotel where I was staying so one morning I walked over there to have a look.  I had read about the art display located in the lobby called Moveable Type.  The walls are lined with small digital screens that are supposed to contain words and pictures from the archives of the newspaper. There are 40 columns and seven rows of screens. Unfortunately, they weren't working.  I asked three different security guards and got three different stories.  One said they come on every hour another said every 30 minutes and the third didn't know what the timing was or if it was working at all.  I decided to wait around a while to see if they came on but, they didn't.

I spent the time waiting exploring the lobby area.  There is a central garden in the lobby that is completely surrounded by glass walls.  If the doors to the garden had not been locked, I would have gone inside for a wander around.  

I read that the garden contains seven paper bark birch trees surrounded by ferns and grasses.  It is a beautiful focal point for the lobby area.

The building was designed by Renzo Piano, a well known and respected Italian architect.  The ground floor also contained a restaurant and small shop.  There was plenty to see while I waited.  I'm glad I visited the building even if the art display was not working.  Now when I read my morning paper, I can picture some of my favorite reporters and columnists strolling through that pretty lobby.