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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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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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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Sights Around Albi, France

During Dayle’s workshop, one of the field trips we take is to Albi. Albi is in southern France in the Tarn department. Its history can be traced all the way back to Bronze Age (3000-600 BC.) I didn’t see any remnants from that time period. We typically visit Albi to see the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and the St. Cecile Cathedral.

This was my second visit to Albi. Instead of taking many pictures of the Cathedral, as I did last time, I tried to focus my attention on the textures and colors. I hope you enjoy these images of Albi.

Can you believe the color of the blue sky?

And a few images from St. Cecile Cathedral

To learn more about St. Cecilia, click here

To learn more about the St. Cecile Cathedral in Albi, click here

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Rome Day One

In September, Eric and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. In honor of this milestone in our lives, we decided to celebrate it in Italy. Our week long visit took us to Rome, Florence and Venice. Our trip was filled with astonishing artwork, historical buildings, 300+ pictures to edit, a lot of wonderful food and way too much gelato!

I’ve been slowly (emphasis on slowly) editing our pictures. Thank goodness for digital cameras and photo editing software. In order to maintain some sanity with all the pictures, I’m sorting them into categories. Today I’m sharing my favorite images from our first day in Rome.

I was once told that Rome was like New York, jacked-up on espresso and with a prettier language. Surprisingly, I agree with that analogy. Enjoy this tour of our first day in Rome.

Rome Skyline

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain Statues

Trevi Fountain Small Details

Trevi Fountain Statues

Trevi Fountain-Ladies Too

In Italy, it was quite common to see small and medium size altars or shrines erected on buildings. Some were situated so you couldn’t miss them. Others were more subtle. Many, unfortunately, were covered in the grime of an ancient city. All were intriguing.

Altar or Shrine near Trevi Fountain

Of course Italy is replete with churches of all sorts. Big, small, ornate, and simple. As we walked around the city and got closer to the Tiber River, we came across a church with a rather morbid facade. A woman exiting the church told us we had to go in and see the crypt.

Curious, we went inside. The interior was a little dark. The age of the church was evident. We found our way to the stairs leading to the crypt. Down into the dimly lighted room we went. And in this room we saw chandeliers created from the vertebrae of the dead. The walls were lined with skulls. It was, quite frankly, bizarre.

A little research after returning home revealed that we had visited the Saint Mary of the Prayer and Death Church (S. Maria dell’Orazione e Morte). The church was built by a confraternity that assumed responsibility for interring abandoned corpses in Rome. The church was originally built in 1575 and rebuilt in 1733. The facade, decorated with skulls and a winged skeleton, explained the purpose of the church. Above the front door is a “klepsydra” (Greek for “water stealer”). A klepsydra is a water clock which symbolizes death.

Well that explains things! (These little off the path adventures make traveling quite fun.)

Plaque Outside S. Maria dell'Orazione e Morte

In Rome you’ll also find numerous piazzas. People gather here with their families and friends and street performers entertain. Many piazzas have fountains as well. Fountains are also great hang-outs for birds. I wonder if the sculptor of the fountain in Piazza Navona knew this.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona Fountain

Piazza Navona at dusk

A Little Classical Music at the Piazza

Eric Enjoying Piazza Navone

The trick when you travel overseas is to take a short nap after arrival and then stay up as long as you can so your body can start adjusting to the time change. A little melatonin before going to bed helps too.

And that is where we’ll end our first day in Rome. A little jet-lagged but happy to have arrived.

In a future post: Do you like gladiators? Rome’s ruins and the Colosseum


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Happy Birthday…To Me

And to everyone else celebrating their birthday today!

When I was a kid, I loved celebrating my birthday. I think I still have an old home movie of one birthday party where we played “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” I remember the dizzy feeling after being spun around and the annoyance at being way off on where I stuck the donkey’s tail. And presents. I loved getting presents. It reinforced my little kid ego. I was the center of attention and who doesn’t like that at that age?

My worst birthday was when I turned 25. I was in grad school. I was cranky and the day passed without much fanfare.

30 was great; a surprise party at a local restaurant. I was blindfolded on the drive to the restaurant. That was almost as dizzying as being spun in circles to play a birthday game. I still have my “Youth Fairy’s 30th Birthday Wand.”

And now in my 40’s, I find myself once again relishing birthdays like I did as a kid. I don’t care about getting presents (really, what more do I need?) I simply enjoy the day, whether spent with friends, family, or quietly on my own. In fact, I think I’ve enjoyed my 40th decade the most.

Apparently, October 7, 1963 was on a Monday. I was born mid-morning. I always use that as my excuse for not being an early-riser. I am reminded of this nursery rhyme:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good in every way.

The number 7 has widespread significance. It is the number of days in a week and the number of traditional planets in astrology. In Christianity, it is the number of virtues. In Judaism, it represents creation, the planets and the seven heavens. In Buddhism it also represents seven heavens. For the Chinese it represents the seven stars of Ursa Major. And Native Americans associate the number seven with the Dream of Life.

I expect today to be pretty low-key. A visit with a friend. Maybe yoga class tonight. A phone call from my mom, who usually sings “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone. On Saturday we’ll celebrate with a visit to the ICA for the Charles Ledray exhibit and dinner in the North End.

 

 

Happy Birthday Everyone!

 

 

 



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New York, New York-Tim Burton Exhibit

This past weekend we took a quick trip to New York. We visited MOMA for the Tim Burton exhibit, caught the theatre production of “Fela! The Musical,” and visited The Frick Collection.

The exterior entrance to the Tim Burton exhibit included a time line of his work written on the wall and his name on the wall in big black letters with giant black and white arrows pointing you to the exhibit….

…where, after they took your tickets, you walked through this facade:

The first room inside the exhibit was all black with black lighting. On display were some of Tim Burton’s paintings on black canvas, a merry-go-round like sculpture that reminded me of “Beetlejuice” and the infamous Oogie Boogie in a glass display case.

The exhibit featured costumes worn in “Edward Scissorhands” (on a Johnny Depp-like mannequin), “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Batman,” and “Planet of the Apes.” Several of the claymation characters from the Oyster Boy series, Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas and Mars Attack are also on display. I had great fun looking at these pieces for their materials, construction, and size. It was stunning to see Jack Skellington and all the heads that were sculpted for each facial movement and expression seen in the movie.

The exhibit also includes a lot of Burton’s early work, including super 8 films from high school and college, a composition assignment from his early years (really, who keeps schoolwork from junior high and high school?), lots of sketches that lead to formal ideas for movies, work from his time at Disney, and even a handwritten note to Johnny Depp regarding the character development of Edward Scissorhands.

And, of course, where any music was playing, it was by Danny Elfman, Burton’s longtime music partner.

Outside the exhibit on the basement level were posters from many of Burton’s movies, his large Polaroid prints, and a theatre showing select movies. On the main floor, we were greeted by this blue, bulbous character:

One of my favorite series of drawings, however, was a study Burton did using the numbers 1-10. Using ink and watercolor, he created 11″x15″ drawings for each number and included a little poem or verse about each number. For example, in his drawing for the number one, one is lonely and sad, but by the time Burton drew number 10, number one was happily paired with zero and now one was two.

Burton also has a great way of taking simple phrases, idioms, and interpreting them in his drawings.

It was great fun to witness to Burton’s creative process and to see the development of his work over all these years. What struck me was how he creates these complex looking characters from very simple shapes that become distorted or inverted or stretched. It was also great to see the number of young adults and school age kids attending the exhibit. Remember how you felt as the “odd ball” in school? The kid who was different in dress, interests, or perhaps just not the social butterfly? Burton’s work and his background seems to reach all of us “odd balls” on some level.

Other sites at the MOMA:

Performance Art by Marina Abramovic

I admit that performance art is one form of art that I usually don’t get. I’d love to see the grants people write to get funding for these events. But that is the beauty of art; all the forms and the freedom to enjoy or not. Below is one of the live “performances” Abramovic was doing during our visit to MOMA.

Abramovic is in red. The other woman is a visitor to MOMA. Apparently the “performance” was to sit across from Abramovic and to stare at each other silently. On the 6th floor was another live installation that included naked people sitting on chairs. We didn’t get to the 6th floor.

We did visit the 4th and 5th floors which house some wonderful paintings and sculptures, including “Starry Night” by Van Gogh, the American Flag by Jasper Johns, Rothkos, famous splatter paintings by Jackson Pollock, a wheel sculpture by Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup can series, and these bronze sculptures by Henri Matisse

The first two sculptures at the far end, created over three years, were realistic representations of “Jeanette.” Here Matisse worked with a live model. The three remaining sculptures were broken down into more abstract components as a representation of the face. Matisse said he was organizing the head into simplified chunks to “reveal the essential qualities” of his model.

It is hard to tell from this picture but the line of large noses made me laugh. I also felt good knowing that even Matisse had an appreciation for large noses and that my sculptures shouldn’t feel too embarrassed by their large proboscis.