Sunday, May 29, 2016

An Arizona Mission

One of my favorite places to visit in Southern Arizona is Mission San Jose de Tumacacori.  It's ragged and crumbling beauty has drawn me (and my camera) to its location many times.  I can still remember my very first visit and how I rounded a corner in the visitor's center and was met with a view out a window that looked more like an oil painting than the reality it was.

Tumacacori is a Franciscan mission built in the 18th century and taking it's name from an even earlier mission that was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691.  That first mission was abandoned and this newer one was built in its place.

Today the mission stands in ruins that have been preserved as the Tumacacori National Historic Park.

The roof of the mission was destroyed many years ago and the effects of weather and scavengers means that little remains of the original interior.  However, when I visit I can still see faint paintings on the walls as in the photo above.

This depiction of what the inside looked like when it was first built gives the guest an idea of the beauty of the space.  A replacement roof was added and the structure was stabilized when restoration began back in the early 20th century.

The inside is dark and cool and a little haunting.  You can see remains of the altar, nave and the choir loft as you walk around the interior.

I like the walk around the exterior of the church and compose photos that combine the rough hewn walls of the church and the outer buildings and that brilliant blue Arizona sky.  If I'm lucky like I was on the day these photos were taken, the sky will be full of giant white clouds to add even more contrast to my images.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Another Chicago Landmark

Anyone who has been to Chicago knows that it is a city full of architectural gems.  One of those gems is the neo-gothic Chicago Tribune Building located on Michigan Ave.

Completed in 1925, it was designed by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood who won the design competition that was sponsored by the newspaper.

A statue of Nathan Hale stands in front of the entrance like a proud sentry on guard.

One of my favorite features of this grand old building are the pieces of famous structures that have been imbedded into the sides of the building at the street level.  When the building was being constructed, the Tribune asked their globe-trotting reporters to bring back pieces from the places they had visited on reporting missions.  In this photo we see a piece from Lincoln's Home in Springfield and a stone from Powder Tower in Riga Latvia.

I especially liked this piece from the Temple in the Forbidden City in Beijing.  There are 149 pieces set into the stone walls from all over the world.  The most recent piece added is a piece from the World Trade Center.  Every time I visit Chicago, I always stop here and look for new artifacts from far flung places.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Art Collection

The undisputed star of the Huntington Library collections has got to be Thomas Gainsborough's "The Blue Boy".

The painting sits in a huge gallery room at the center of one wall.  This room is full of treasures but as you can see from the people in this photo, everyone seems to congregate in the direction of "The Blue Boy".

At the other end of the gallery and facing "The Blue Boy" is "Pinkie" by Thomas Lawrence.  She appears to be the perfect companion to her partner across the room.

The Huntington collection also contains some more contemporary pieces Like "The Long Leg" by Edward Hopper (above).  Listening to the museum's audio guide, this painting is described by Steve Martin who is a huge fan of Edward Hopper and a well known art collector (as well as actor) himself.

Another contemporary piece is "Ghost Ranch Cliffs" by Georgia O'Keeffe.  

There are a number of sculptures in the collection as well.  This one by Harriet Goodhue Hosmer is called "Zenobia in Chains".  It's a sculpture of the third century queen of Palmyra, Zenobia.  

As I said in my first post about the Huntington Library & Gardens, there is way too much to see in one day.  I'll have to go back again for another stroll through the gardens and spin around the galleries.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Huntington

Henry Edwards Huntington was introduced to the railroad business by his uncle who was one of the owners of the Central Pacific Railroad.  Some twenty years later, he was managing the Southern Pacific Railroad and several other business operations and he purchased an estate in San Marino California and began to fill the home with his collections of books and art.  He retired from work at the age of 60 so that he and his wife Arabella could devote their full attention to their collections.

In this post, we will take a look inside what was once his home and take a peek at just a tiny fraction of the collectables that can be found inside.

Beautifully crafted furniture shares space with amazing works of art and breathtaking collections of porcelain.

This Wedgewood urn was particularly eye catching.

Arabella must have had a special attraction to fine porcelain because her collection included some of the most beautiful and unique pieces I've ever seen.  Above is a piece manufactured by Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Sevres France.  It's called Vase a Tetes de Bouc (Vase with Goat Heads).

The details on this gorgeous piece are remarkable and the soft colors of pink and blue and green are very attractive.

In 1919, the Huntingtons signed an indenture to leave their estate and collections to a non-profit educational trust creating The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens which now hosts over 500,000 visitors per year.

Next week I'll feature some of the art works in the Huntington collections.  It contains one of the world's most famous paintings.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Day Well Spent

Last September I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Huntington Library & Gardens in San Marino California.  I was there all day but still didn't see it all.  It's an amazing place that I will definitely return to one day.  There is so much to see at this wonderful place that I'll limit this post to the two Asian gardens and save the art work and other collections for other posts.  So, I'm starting with The Japanese Garden.  This lush green spot begs you to spend a little time enjoying the beauty that surrounds you.

The Japanese garden is thought to be the most popular spot on the Huntington estate with it's distinctive Moon Bridge sitting in the center of a tranquil koi pond.    This garden has been attracting visitors since 1928 when the institution opened to the public.

When you climb the hill on the other side of the koi pond, you come the zen court and it's collection of bonsai trees.  There is every shape and size of bonsai trees on display and plenty of place to sit and relax and take it all in.

After spending some time in zen court, I moved on, following the trail around to the Chinese Garden and it's unique architecture.

In this area you stroll through doors and past windows that frame the beauty of the lily pond that dominates the area.

The Pavilion of Three Friends is a perfect place to once again stop, relax and take it all in.

Enjoy the various lilies floating on the pond.

Take in the unique beauty of the lotus patches.

I'll have more posts about the Huntington Library and Gardens in future posts.  This post only featured two of the twelve gardens on the property.  And, then there is the fabulous art collection and the wonderful home that is the legacy of Henry & Arabella Huntington.  It's one of those places that you can return to many times and still find something new to see.