mojosmom: (Hyde Park)
It really was delightful.

I went to our local farmers' market on Saturday and picked up, among other things, lamb for shish kebab, an old and honored 4th of July tradition in my family. In the afternoon, I went to see David Henry Hwang's play, Yellow Face, by the Silk Road Theatre Project. We are having quite the DHH festival here this summer. I'll be seeing Chinglish (world premiere and Broadway-bound) at the Goodman tomorrow, and an early work, Family Devotions will be performed later in the summer.

Sunday I made my usual trek up to Waukegan for their parade, and a cookout afterwards. We are usually at my friend Julie's for that, but she fell and hurt her back a short time ago and wasn't up to having people over, so we went to Margaret's instead. M. has acquired a screened room for her backyard, similar to this one, so it's a very pleasant way to sit outside and enjoy the weather while not being bothered by bugs. We had the requisite hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and watermelon, and I brought champagne to celebrate my retirement.

On the actual holiday, I again followed tradition by sitting on my front stoop to watch the neighborhood parade, and then going to Nichols Park for jazz, ice cream and family fun. They had a petting zoo this year, and I think this boy wants a new pet:
Little boy with animals.

Then I came home and for dinner made the aforesaid shish kebab and had that with a green salad.

I have settled my plans for New York. I'll be flying in on Saturday, July 16 and coming home on Wednesday, July 20. So I'll observe my birthday in the Big Apple! I'm staying (as usual) on the Upper West Side, at 76th St. I will definitely save the Morgan Library for Tuesday, as that is the day the Xu Bing exhibit opens. I was happy to learn that the Neue Galerie's Vienna 1900 exhibit has been extended, so I will be able to see that after all. I expect I'll combine that with a visit to the Jewish Museum, as they are relatively close to each other and both are open on Mondays (unlike most NYC museums). Unfortunately, Born Yesterday, which I was hoping to see, has closed.
mojosmom: (Default)
I had a marvelous time in Washington!

Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday )

Monday )

That cold I brought home with me was dreadful. I usually kick a cold within a few days, but it was still hanging on at the end of the week, despite cold meds and swilling of orange juice and chicken soup, so I went to the clinic on Saturday and left with five different meds. I spent all day Sunday and Monday in bed, missing work and class on Monday, but by Tuesday was actually feeling human again, and was pretty much completely back to normal on Wednesday. I hate being sick!
mojosmom: (travel)
Honestly, I'd never even heard of Hillwood Estate before today. Thanks to this New York Times article, another destination has been added to my list. I don't know how I'm going to squeeze in everything I want to do!

Further note to self: remember this eBay auction - 3/24



May. 13th, 2010 09:36 pm
mojosmom: (travel)
I arrived in Amsterdam mid-afternoon, to find Schiphol a crowded mass of upset humanity. By now, Great Britain and Scandinavian air space was closed due to the volcanic activity, and flights were being cancelled right and left. This meant lots of distressed and angry people wandering about the airport, and media people sticking microphones in their faces. So I stood in line for my transit card rather longer than would likely be the case normally, but then hopped the train to Central Station and from there took a tram that stopped right near the hotel.

My room was small, but had everything I needed, and there's a nice garden off the bar in the lobby, though I'm afraid the weather isn't really conducive to sitting out and enjoying it. The hotel is obvioiusly a couple of buildings thrown together at different times, with rooms at all kinds of different levels and a numbering system that seems designed to confuse. My room's at the tip-top, with various odd angles and a skylight over the bed.

I hooked up with [ profile] skyring and his lovely wife, Kerri, for dinner. Back at the hotel, we met [ profile] thecrrcookie and [ profile] melydia, and sat in the bar for a bit drinking, talking, and watching the news - Schiphol, along with just about all the European airports, was closed.

The next day, we met a friend of Skyring's and went off to the Rijksmuseum. Although it's undergoing renovation, and much of it is closed, they have chosen the "400 best objects" (though I'm sure there is much debate about what was chosen) to put on display. And that was quite enough. Skyring's friend was incredibly knowledgeable, so learned a lot. Naturally, there were zillions of Rembrandts, Hals, Steens, etc., and I was confirmed in my view that the Dutch painters were masters of the still life.

[ profile] melydia and I the went off to the Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum
while the others headed to the Historical Museum. Had lunch there, and then started at the top floor and worked our way down. There were a number of Symbolist works, including many Redons, and then an exhibit of works from the collection of Hendrik Willem Mesdag, who was a painter as well as a collector. His collection of Barbizon School works is the largest outside of France.

Then to the Van Goghs themselves, a thoughtfully laid out exhibit, showing the various influences on his work, and how it changed once he arrived in Paris. Works by other artists who flourished in the same period were also shown. I was completely bowled over by "Sunflowers"; no reproduction can ever show, even in the smallest way, how Van Gogh's technique recreates the texture of an actual flower. On the main floor were many works of the Barbizon School, which influenced Van Gogh in his decision to become an artist.

The Museum was also hosting a special exhibition, Gauguin: the Breakthrough into Modernity. When the World's Fair was held in Paris in 1889, there was, naturally, an art show, but Gauguin and other "modern" artists were not invited to exhibit. So they organized a show at the Volpini Café in the fairgrounds. This was a wonderful exhibit - again a concentration on context, what other artists were doing, how that influenced Gauguin, etc. Gauguin did a set of lithographs, called the Volpini Suite, in a marbled portfolio, and I remarked that it would be great if the Museum had a facsimile available, though considering the size I didn't know how I'd get it home. As it turned out, they did have a facsimile, but at €180, transport was the least of my worries, so I settled for a ceramic plate of the Leda & the Swan design, and a tote bag of The Flowering Almond.

Back to the hotel for a bit of a rest, and then the Bookcrossers among us went to dinner down the street at a place called the Médoc. I had a tomato soup served with crème fraîche and brown bread, followed by merguez - 3 good sized sausages. Then on to the Convention, which I wrote about here, so won't repeat.

Sunday, after the convention ended, I learned that my Monday flight had, indeed, been cancelled as the airports were still closed. I spend ages on the phone with Travelocity. The first guy I talked to was incredibly unhelpful; basically, he said I should cancel the reservation and go on line to find another flight myself. When I insisted it was his job to check availability, and to call me back, he grudgingly said that he would, but after forty-five minutes, still no call. I then called Travelocity back, and this time got a very sympathetic, polite and helpful guy. It wasn't his fault that Swissair couldn't rebook me until May 5!! So we did cancel and went to another airline, SAS, to get me home on Friday. I called my catsitter, emailed my office, and said, basically, "expect me when you see me!" The hotel was very accommodating. I had no trouble extending my stay for three more nights, and they gave me the same low, advance booking Internet rate I'd had initially, which they didn't have to do.

If one has to be stranded somewhere due to volcanic ash, Amsterdam is not a bad place to be. It's a very walkable city, with lots of the things I love: architecture, art, museums. So, as you will see in future posts, I found plenty to do for the next few days.
mojosmom: (Italian)
The day started not so great. I couldn't find my cellphone! It wasn't in my room, it wasn't in the sitting room where I'd been using the computer the evening before. Fortunately, it did turn up at the restaurant where I'd had dinner, but I was panicking there for a bit.

I began the day at the Palazzo Pitti:
Pitti Palace

Talk about art overload! Rooms full of Raphaels, Ghirlandaios, et al., and ceilings all over bas-reliefs and paintings. Suddenly, in the midst of all the religious and allegorical art, and portraits of the rich and famous, was an exhibit of still lives and landscapes - a nice change!

Only here would the Galleria d'arte moderne begin with 18th-century art! But as one goes through these galleries, it becomes clear that there are distinct differences from what went before. Portraits become less formal, religion and allegory are less important than scenes of civic and private lives. It's possible to paint ordinary people, so instead of the Virgin giving her breast to the infant Jesus, it's an ordinary woman feeding her child. There's permission, too, to try new techniques of painting, leading to pointilism, impressionism, etc.

Taking a break from art, I went down the street to the Museo di Storia Naturale, part of the Università di Firenze, with its "secular temple", the Tribuna di Galileo, so-called from the statue of him there. There was a knock-out exhibit of crystals - nature is really rather beautiful! Once again, I was sorry that photography was not permitted, but you can see some of the pieces on the museum's website. I particularly liked the crystals that were combinations of minerals. There was spinella su marmo, white stone dotted with crimson, like blood; azurite, looking for all the world like navy blue velvet with sparkles; calcite su ametista, with a group of crystals shaped almost like asparagus growing out like rays. Colors, shapes, angles, all come together to form objects of great beauty. It's easy to see why people collect "rocks"!

Upstairs, we travel from the smallest protozoa, through corals, worms, bugs, to mammals, primates, and humans. (Query: why does every museum and zoo feel the need to put a mirror in the primate room?) There were room after room of anatomical waxes from the late 18th-century. Incredibly life-like and detailed.

Outside, there is a lovely garden, which abuts the Pitti's Boboli Gardens, and which is a hangout for the students:
Garden of the Museo

I went to lunch at the Caffe delle Gallerie Pananti, a little place across from the Pitti that is also an art gallery. I had carpaccio on a bed of arugula, which was served with a bag (literally!) of really good warm bread. Then stopped at Giulio Giannini and succumbed to the lure of printed and marbled paper.

Then back to the Palazzo Pitti for an afternoon in the Boboli Gardens. Not very floral, more formal gardens, multi-level, rambling, with vistas:
Yet another view of Tuscany

and prospects and allées:

and little (or not so little) houses of repose:

I can't imagine how le belle donne Medici got around it in those skirts! The buildings are now, among other things, a porcelain museum and a costume gallery.

There was a great exhibit at the costume gallery, Fashion: A World of Similarities and Differences, which showed similar styles from different eras. Some stunning garments, including a couple of Fortuny gowns. But there was one Gianfranco Ferré that would have made Tim Gunn cry "edit!" It was beige lace from under the bust to the knee, with a 2-level train, a coral and pink baeded bodice, a big foofy flower at the hip with pleated tulle below it, and a pink and beige striped underskirt! Weird, because there was another gown by Ferré that was a minimalist column of white with just a small sparkly flounce at the back neckline and hem, so simple and elegant.

The Gardens are noted for their cats, but I only saw two - or maybe three - or possibly four - I'm not sure if the black cat was the same cat in different places or several different cats!
I was sitting at the bar having a glass of wine and resting when a black cat appeared in the courtyard and just preened under all the attention.

I was then saved from myself. I'd seen a pair of shoes that really tempted me, despite the €98 price, but when I went back later in the afternoon, they were gone. I was tempted by another pair on sale, but they didn't have them in my size. A dress I had been admiring turned out to be nearly €300 - no way!

I had dinner at a neighborhood place, had insalata caprese, ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a walnut/sage sauce, and 1/2 bottle of chianti. I then went back to the hotel, did as much packing as possible, left a wake-up call and set the alarm.

Up early, and decided to take a cab to the bus station, where I caught the 7:30 bus to Amerigo Vespucci airport. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so had tea and pastry in the departure area. I'd seen a very interesting looking building on the way in from the airport on Saturday, and was able to get a couple of photos of it. It turned out to be the Palazzo di Giustizia, designed by architect Leonardo Ricci:
Palazzo di Giustizia

I almost bought Cathy some truffled lard at the airport shops. I was ready to risk getting it through security in Zurich, but then I realized it needed to be refrigerated, and, of course, I wouldn't be able to do that!

My flight to Zurich was uneventful, but while transferring to the Amsterdam flight, I noticed signs that KLM had cancelled flights "due to the volcano", a portent of things to come!

Back home

Apr. 6th, 2009 08:27 pm
mojosmom: (travel)
I've had a very nice few days in Cleveland with my sister:
Stacey & Me

I got there Wednesday, in the late afternoon, and we just hung out at her place. On Thursday, she went to work and I wandered out to visit some shops in the neighborhood. In the evening, we went out for Thai food and then to hear some jazz - very traditional - and watch some old film clips of jazz musicians. Friday, it rained, so other than a brief foray to a nearby antique store, I lazed about drinking tea, reading and petting the cats. We went to some gallery openings in the evening, included three shows at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation:
Opening at Morgan Conservatory

Saturday and Sunday we were busy bees. We started out with a tour of Cleveland's Playhouse Square, five theatres built in the '20s and now restored to their former glory. Due to the fact that there were productions in the bigger ones, we weren't able to go backstage, but that was okay. The volunteer who led the tour was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and had a lot of good stories. And the theatres were gorgeous:

From there, we went to Loganberry Books, not to buy books, but to eat them! Yes, they were having their Edible Books Tea!
Alice in Wonderland
There were some amusing and delicious entries. It was interesting that the entries here were almost entirely inspired by, and representing, a particular book, whereas the entries at the Center for Book and Paper Arts (where I usually go for the Edible Books Tea) are generally more inspired by the book as structure.

After a bit of dinner and then a bit of a rest, we headed out again to a concert of show tunes by the North Coast Men's Chorus. These guys were awesome! As Stacey puts it, "it wasn't just a bunch of guys on risers". They had some great soloists, a small group called the "Coastliners", dancers (including at least one potential RuPaul's Drag Race contestant), and they even brought in a couple of women. Surprisingly fun to watch were the sign language interpreters. They didn't merely interpret - they performed, particularly in the "Wicked" medley. The whole event was tremendous fun.

On Sunday, we hied ourselves to the Canton Museum of Art, for the Kimono as Art exhibit. We decided to get there by opening time, and it's a good thing we did, as by the time we got out of the exhibit, the line was practically out the door. Before we actually went to the exhibit, we watched some films they were showing about Japan, as well as one about Itchiku Kubota himself. Before you get to the kimono exhibit, there's another show of ceramics by the Japanese-American ceramicist, Toshiko Takaezu. These were displayed in beds of sand, raked to set off the designs of the pieces. A perfect touch.

On to Kubota. No mob scene here. They limited the number of people in the exhibit, so that it was never so crowded that you could not get near the kimono, which, thankfully, were not under glass. That was important, because the subtlety of these pieces, not merely in the gradations of color, but in the delicacy of design, the use of texture, directionality of the shibori, and the relationship of each piece to the next, was simply astounding. When you realize that Kubota spent literally decades recovering the technique of tsujigahana, a method of combining dyeing, embroidery and ink painting from the 16th-17th century, it becomes even more astonishing.

The exhibit begins with this piece, "San/Burning Sun":

inspired by the sight of the sun setting in Siberia, where Kubota was a prisoner of war. It is followed by pieces depicting Mt. Fuji in different lights, and several others, but the highlight is his Symphony of Light, thirty kimono depicting the passage from autumn to winter, each flowing organically into the next. They are displayed in a "U", so that you can see this. Kubota had intended to create thirty more kimono, representing spring and summer, and then twenty more depicting the oceans and the universe. He died before he could accomplish this, but his studio, run now by his sons, is carrying on.

That was enough for the day, so we went back to Stacey's and relaxed. I packed, and drove home today, skipping my Italian class because it's a six hour drive and I was tired!
mojosmom: (travel)
I would have blogged about my trip sooner, but I've spent the last couple of days sick in bed. Just a bad cold, but it knocked me out for a while.

New York - Part I )

To be continued . . .

June 2017



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