Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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An Artsy Weekend in New York

Over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, we ventured to New York as part of our Christmas gift to each other. The primary reason for our visit was to see Alan Rickman, one of my favorite actors, in the Broadway play Seminar.

Our visit started with dinner at a favorite restaurant Fig and Olive.

The Guggenheim

On Saturday we visited the Guggenheim Museum, a first for both of us. The main exhibit was Maurizio Cattelan’s All.

Guggenheim Art Museum

Cattelan is an Italian artist who uses the exhibition format as a mode of expression. All is a site specific installation which suspends Cattelan’s entire body of work in the center of the Guggenheim rotunda. As the exhibit brochure states, this method of installation is “disorienting” and makes the work seem like a “haphazard mass in the center of the building’s Frank Lloyd-Wright designed rotunda.”

Indeed.

Maurice Cattelan's Exhibit "All"

Love Saves Life

Untitled Gelatin Print

Mother

Felix

Not Afraid of Love

Untitled

It was an interesting exhibit. One that if you looked at it long enough you’d see items you hadn’t seen on first pass. We also checked out the other galleries at the Guggenheim and had lunch at the museum

In the evening we enjoyed seeing Seminar. On our walk back to the hotel, we passed by Rockefeller Center and the skating rink.

Ice Skating at "The Rock"

It certainly looks quite different in January than it does in September.

Rockefeller Center at night

Sparkly Lights

More Artsy Fun

It was cold the weekend we visited. On Sunday, we visited another museum, the Morgan Library and Museum. The Morgan is comprised of Pierpont Morgan’s own library, an annex, and Morgan’s mid-19th century brownstone.

The Museum holds the vast collection of artistic objects collected by Pierpont Morgan. This includes drawings by Rembrandt and Rubens, medieval and Renaissance texts, Gutenberg Bibles, letters and manuscripts by Dickens and Twain, musical scores by Mozart and Beethoven, and Near East carvings.

On Sunday evening we enjoyed seeing Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the BAM-Harvey in Brooklyn. (Be sure to click on the first link to see a video synopsis of the play.) This was a complete surprise. Spacey was amazing on stage and I’m still basking in the thrill of seeing another favorite actor on stage. Seeing Shakespeare performed live is always a treat. It can be a little tricky to follow the original Shakespeare, but you’re sure to hear several familiar phrases that we continue to use today.

It was a lovely weekend. We came home on Monday filled with new and interesting art experiences.


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Life Goes Blurring By

We took the train for our recent trip to New York. To me it is much less stressful than flying into JFK or Laguardia. No one asks me to take off my shoes. I can choose from an assortment of food to eat. The legroom is better. And they have wireless onboard.

I was a little bored on the trip home so I decided to aim my camera out the window and take random pictures. Some turned out quite nice…and in focus.

These, however, I found a bit more interesting. They captured the blur as we passed by.

I’m preparing for an Open Studio event this weekend. I’ll share pictures of my newest series, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon, next week.


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A Little Jaunt To New York

We got away for a long weekend to New York this past weekend. An early anniversary trip. Over three days we walked almost 30 miles. Those 30 miles included two museum visits, a trip to ground zero, and walking through part of Central Park and Times Square. All that walking and I still gained weight. Darn those cupcakes!

Below are some shots from our trip, most from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was our first visit to the Met. After a few hours we were definitely on art overload.

St Patrick's Cathedral at Night

Atlas at Night

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Klimt

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture

I was not familiar with Barbara Hepworth’s artwork. You can read more about her here.

Jackson Pollock

Pollock’s large paintings are really impressive.

I’m sorry I didn’t write down the name of the artist who created this piece above. I believe his first name was Robert. Yes, that is an eagle mounted to this mixed media piece.

Cy Twombly

Wharhol

Which do you prefer? Monet’s Irises….

Monet

Or Picasso’s Irises?

Picasso

I like both of them. Each are unique interpretations of one of my favorite flowers. I do think, however, that I like Monet’s Irises better than his waterlilies.

Salvador Dali

How is this for a mantelpiece? I believe it is from the Vanderbilt estate.

The last room we visited had all this amazing Oceanic art. The ceiling tiles below were all created individually and then assembled to form the roof/ceiling of a home.

Ceiling Tiles

Headdress

The headdress above was worn in a certain ceremony. A male and a female headdress were typically used in the ceremony. The dancer wore the headdress for a very short period. And then the headdress was destroyed.

Strawberry Fields

This time we walked much further through Central Park and finally visited the area now known as Strawberry Fields. The Dakota rises over this area of Central Park. At the heart of Strawberry Fields is the Imagine medallion.

Imagine

As we sat on a bench watching people take pictures of each other on the Imagine medallion, I remembered being in Italy last year for our 25th anniversary.

While staying in Venice we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. In the museum’s sculpture garden was a “Peace” tree with little pieces of paper dangling from it. Next to the tree was a container with pencils and pieces of paper with strings attached. Visitors were asked to write their prayers and wishes on the paper and then to attach the paper to the tree branches.

The Peace Tree installation was created by Yoko Ono.

Sitting by the Imagine medallion, it felt like we’d come full circle.


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Carcassone Part 2: Gargoyles, Angels, & a Sundae

Last week I posted Part One of our trip to Carcassone. To read Part One click here.

Carcassone has many of the things I love about medieval villages: sculpture, religious artifacts, and gargoyles. This post is less about the story of Carcassone and more about the interior images of Carcassone.

These two large concrete heads greet visitors inside where you pick up the audio guide.

I loved this bas-relief sculpture of monks. At first I thought it represented the Seven Deadly Sins…but then realized there are only six characters. Maybe they left off one of them.

This anteroom may have once been a private chapel or prayer room. I was drawn to the large sculpture of the crucifixion.

Crucifixion Sculpture Front Side

Right Front Side

Crucifixion in Center of Sculpture

Back of Crucifixion Sculpture

Mary

Angel

Gargoyles

Gargoyles are my favorite exterior sculptures on European churches. It is always fun to look for the ugliest, the cutest, or the strangest creature. These gargoyles can be found on the exterior of the church on the grounds of the walled village.

Hear No Evil

Look Up

Can you spot the laughing head in the image below?

This guy definitely gets my vote for smallest and cutest gargoyle.

The Cemetery

Outside of the walled fortress was a lovely cemetery. It wasn’t particularly old but it did have some great sculptures. Most of the cemeteries I’ve seen in France have family crypts. All above ground. They remind me a bit of the cemeteries in New Orleans.

Okay, I know cemeteries are supposed to be places of quiet reflection. Yet, when I saw the image below, I couldn’t help but chuckle and think the angel was commanding the person to “Rise, Darn It.”

Finally, no visit to a lovely medieval village is complete without an ice cream break. Even the deserts are presented creatively.

Until my next post.

A bientot.


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Medieval Village: Carcassone, Part 1

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France must be the medieval fortress of Carcassone. Carcassone is a double-walled, nearly impregnable fortress, founded by the Visigoths in the Golden Age. First signs of settlement in this area date back to 3500 B.C.

Legend has it that in 760 Pepin the Short took southern France from the Saracens. Except Carcassone which he could not breach. Pepin assumed the people of Carcassone would eventually starve and surrender. However, Dame Carcas had another plan. She fattened up their last pig and had it thrown over the city’s ramparts.

Pepin and his army believed that if the inhabitants could waste such an animal, they must be well-stocked and ready to fight for a long time. Eventually Pepin and his army retreated. Dame Carcas rang all the bells in the city in celebration. She had saved the city from invasion. And hence the name “Carcas sone” was born: Dame “Carcas rings” the bells.

In 1853 Carcassone was restored under the guidance of architect Eugene Viollet le Duc. It attracts millions of visitors each year. We visited mid-week and the crowds weren’t too bad inside the walled city. Outside, however, on the cobblestone streets, it felt a little bit like Disneyland. Lots of souvenir shops with kitschy gifts. If you can get beyond that aspect, Carcassone is a curious place to visit.

In part one of this post, I’ll share mostly exterior shots.

As you enter Carcassone, you’re greeted by this rather large sculpture of Dame Carcas.

Horse carriage tour. Love the hats. Very chic.

Carcassone on approach

Love this sign near the ticket window. I’m sure this is a necessary reminder on really busy days.

Inner walls and covered walkway

As we walked through parts of the fortress, Eric looked up and noticed these dead birds. Netting had been suspended in various areas to keep the birds from flying down off the rafters. Apparently some of the birds fell or got stuck in the netting and were left to die. Feeling medieval yet?

View of the city from the fortress

Narrow window view

I hear strains of J. Geils when I see the shot below.

“Hey Reputah, Hey Reputah the Beautah, flip me down your hair and let me climb up to the ladder of your love….”

Just what is a whoober-goober anyways?

Can you name the J. Geils song I’m referring to?

Until my next post,

A bientot.


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A Scenic Drive In France: The Sidobre

Departing from what one might consider traditional images of France, I’d like to share with you some scenes from The Sidobre.

The Sidobre is a scenic drive in the Tarn region. It is a self-guided drive on winding back roads through stunning granite formations that were deposited by a flow of molten magma.

The contrast of greens, browns, and grays is stunning. Such a difference from the hustle of cities and towns.

Chaos de la Rouquette

A river made up of giant blocks of granite

Lac du Merle

Cremaussel

Site of  the Petit Geologue workshop & several curious rock formations. As you enter the trail, you’re greeted by this little black dog with tiny, protruding crooked teeth. He said not a word but kept his position while guarding the entrance to his owner’s geological shop.

Roc del Oie

This picture gives you an idea of the size of the granite formations.

The Elephant

Granite Hand at the Visitor's Center

Peyro Clabado

Peyro Clabado weighs 780 tons and is the most stunning granite formation on the drive. Makes you wonder what would happen if it was ever pushed over. Note the tiny people on either side of Peyro Clabado in the first two pictures. Talk about feeling like a speck in the hand of a giant.

At the very top of the trail is a lookout. It offers stunning panoramic views of the valley.

Until my next post,

A bientot


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The Magic of Soreze, France

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share with you some of my favorite pictures taken during our trip to France. Today, we start with images of Soreze.

Soreze

Soreze is a magical village located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, in the Tarn department. The village forms part of a triangle that extends from Albi to Toulouse to Carcassone. Soreze can trace its origins and development all the way back to 754 when Pepin of Aquitaine founded the Benedictine Abby Notre-Dame of Sagne in the fortified town of Verdinius.

Today, Soreze remains a source of history and culture. It has a long history of being home to artists and craftsmen.

The Images

On this trip I was focused on capturing images that would inspire my new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. Soreze is an excellent source of inspiration for this new series. Lots of colors, textures, doors, shutters, and statuary.

Festival Greeters

Soreze Side Street

Flower Pots

French Tabbys

Textures

Doors, Windows & Door Knockers

Statuary

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Soreze and its magical surroundings.

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Return to France: Architecture

I am heading to France this summer to take my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of the original blog entries from my visit to La Cascade in 2009.

I’ll be back soon with new pictures and stories to share.

So, not only did you think I fell off the blogosphere, you may have also wondered what happened to the rest of those pictures I took in Southern France.

Or, perhaps not.

When I last posted pictures from France, I said I would share some pictures of the architecture we saw. Below you’ll find an assortment of pictures featuring the architecture in ancient ruins, more modern structures, and cathedrals.

Ruins

You’ll find ruins of chateaus in various locations throughout Southern France.  Some are standing nearly intact and others are in various states of decomposition. Here are two pictures of one chateau that Eric hiked to in the lower Pyrenees.

Ruins

Ruins2

Gargoyles

What would a trip to France be without a couple pictures of gargoyles?!  These two fellas were on a cathedral in Carcassonne.

Gargoyle

Gargoyle2

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is in the Aude department of France. It is divided into the fortified Cite de Carcassonne and an expansive lower city.  The Cite de Carcassonne is surrounded by a double wall. Carcassonne has a long and interesting history dating back to about 3500 BC. (Our historical structures are in their infancy compared to Europe and Asia.)  You can read more about Carcassonne here and here.

Eric took numerous pictures when he toured the city. This is one of my favorites:

Carcassone

Cathedrals

I mentioned the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in my last post on France. This cathedral is interesting because it is the oldest brick cathedral in Europe. It is also interesting because some of the interior sculptural work is done in limestone which gives it a lacy appearance.

This is an exterior shot of the sculpture above the main entrance.

StCecileEntry

And a shot of the interior sculptural work. (Flash photography was not allowed but you get an idea of the intricacy of the work.)

StCecileLimestone

Toulouse

The capital building in Toulouse reminded me of Versailles. Stunning and big on the outside and decorated with ornate frescos on the inside.

ToulouseCapitalBldg

These last two pictures are from the Salle des Illustres on the top floor of the capital building. The Salle des Illustres is used for official receptions and wedding ceremonies.

ToulouseCapitalInterior1

ToulouseCapitalInt2

Beats the heck out of an “office” in cubicle-land on any day.


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The Artistry of France

I am heading back to France this summer to take part in my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade in Durfort, France. While I’m away, please enjoy this re-post about the artistry in France that I encountered during my visit in 2009.

One of the many aspects that I love about France (and most of Europe for that matter) is the artistry that permeates the environment. From the doors and windows to the gardens and the food, nearly everything exudes an artistic quality that, in my opinion, is sorely lacking in the United States. The arts are held in high esteem in France and it shows. What struck me on this trip was noting that many business titles include the word “artisan” in the description; from the patisseries to the boulangeries to painters and plumbers, everyone is an artisan.

Artisan (n): A person manually skilled in making a particular product; craftsman.

I wonder what our society would be like if we all considered ourselves artisans.

Cemeteries

I love old cemeteries. I love to walk through them, gaze at the ornate headstones, and imagine the people who have passed. What were their lives like? What did they look like? Would they be annoyed that I’m standing here staring at them?  As a kid, I trembled at the thought of walking across people’s graves. I always made sure to walk AROUND the grave, never across it. This probably stems from watching too many black and white horror movies on the Sir Graves Ghastly show (warning: audio starts when you click this link.) However, this behavior is still with me today and if I have to walk across someone’s grave, I always say “excuse me” first.

The cemeteries in southern France are all above ground. Families have small crypts to inter loved ones. Many crypts have several markers indicating which family member is buried in the crypt. The markers might be attached to the exterior of the crypt or they may be placed on the ground surrounding the crypt.

The local cemetery in Durfort was no exception. A couple of us even went back during the week to make molds of the designs on some of the headstones. Here are a couple of iron crosses from the cemetery in Durfort.

IronCrossMary

IronCrossJesus

Windows, Doors, and Knockers

I mentioned earlier being drawn to the beautiful doors and windows in France. Many doors also feature wonderful door knockers that really are welcoming. Door knockers have been around for ages and were most evident in the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. Door knockers typically fall into one of three classes: the ring, the hammer, and the human figure or animal heads. Door knockers from the Medieval period were the most carefully designed and those from the Renaissance period were the most ornate.  To read more about the history of door knockers, visit here.

Here are a couple versions of the popular hand door knocker which we saw on many doors in southern France.

Handdoorknocker1

Handdoorknocker2

And the doors; oh my. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful doors.  This gentleman’s head was on a wrought iron door in Soreze. I wonder who he is and what he is thinking.

FaceDoorRevel

The doors below were along one street in Toulouse.

ToulouseDoor

Full shot of the door above, including the stunning arch over the double doors.

DblBlueDoor

DblHeadDoor

And of course there are the windows. Here is another pair of windows in Soreze that drew my attention.

SorezeWindows

And a side street also in Soreze.

SorezeStreet

Architecture

There is also wonderful artistry in the architecture of the old churches, castles, chateaus and yes, even the gardens:

AlbiGarden

The garden above was in Albi behind the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec. It reminds me of the gardens at Chateau de Versailles.

I’ll leave you with this picture of the arched entryway at Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile in Albi.  We’ll continue our architectural tour in the next post.

StCecile


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Ooo La La La Cascade

I am heading back to France this summer, to take part in my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade. While I’m away, I’m posting some of the entries from my time in France in 2009.

Enjoy this re-post which introduces you to La Cascade. When I return I’m sure to have hundreds of new pictures and many new stories to share.

LaCascadeDoor

With several hundred photos to review and edit, I thought I would begin by introducing you to La Cascade, the lovely home owned by Gwen Gibson in Durfort, France. Gwen is very generous in opening up this little slice of heaven to artists so that we, too, may experience the joys of the area, indulge our senses, and release our inner muses. For more information on La Cascade visit this page.

Come On In

Come On In

Let’s start with the interior: the kitchen, dining room, and family room:

Where we gathered for breakfast and where meals were prepared by Neesa

Where we gathered for breakfast and where Nesa prepared her delicious, artistic meals

We ate several meals in the dining room

We ate several meals in the dining room

The Family Room or Gathering Room

The Family Room or Gathering Room

La Cascade is not only beautiful on the inside, but on the outside as well. Behind La Cascade is a soothing river and waterfall. Even on cool nights we kept our windows open slightly so we could be lulled to sleep by the wooshing sound of the waterfall.

The patio where we ate several meals and relaxed

The patio where we ate several meals and relaxed

Our bedroom windows; small windows are the studio

Our bedroom windows; small windows are the studio

La Cascade waterfall

La Cascade waterfall

River running behind La Cascade

River running behind La Cascade

And the studio where we awakened our muses:

Original stairs to the third floor studio

Up the original stairs to the third floor studio

Viola! La Studio

Viola! La Studio

Along with the door knocker shown at the beginning of this post, La Cascade also holds lots of sweet little niches and decor.

A Scrolly Metal Railing

A Scrolly Metal Railing

The Bell that Called Us to Dinner

The Bell that Called Us to Dinner

Loved This Cutting Board

Loved This Cutting Board

A Little Niche in the Patio Wall

A Little Niche in the Patio Wall

Curious: A key or something else?

Curious: A key or something else?

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of La Cascade. It truly is a special place.

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