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IMG_4824We Will

By sculptor Richard Hunt, 2005, welded stainless steel

As people know, I love public art of all kinds and Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art. So, whenever we are in the city I try to find a few more pieces. This sculpture is on Randolph Street, very close to the Culture Center. The form is interesting, both angular and rounded, with the suggestion of reaching up to the sky. The name is a teaser: “We Will” makes one wonder what it is we will do.

Richard Howard Hunt (born 1925) in Chicago has over 125 sculptures on display in the USA, some in Chicago. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and still lives and works in Chicago. He has received many awards.

 

 

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Replica of Mandela’s cell on Robben Island

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Shebeen

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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013), also known as Madiba

We were very recently in Cape Town Airport a couple of times and noticed that there is a rather nice pictorial exhibit, stretching along the upper wall, about Nelson Mandela and his life, work and achievements in the long passage way after you exit the international arrival hall. There’s also a replica of his cell on Robben Island, and one of a shebeen (local African bar) from the time before he went to prison.

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The cell, and a space for you to sit and think about this man

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Details in shebeen

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The collage/mural starts here and flows from right to left , roughly chronologically, as you head for the airport exit

There are many other pictures and information about other parts of the Cape and South Africa too—all very nicely done—but the Mandela one really caught our eyes. Why?

Many people, both in South Africa and around the world, regard Mandela as a great man and a wonderful human being. He wrote a couple of books that are well known, (for example, Long Walk to Freedom, Conversations with Myself, Dare Not Linger) and there are a number of books and movies about him, his life, and his legacy. He was the first truly democratically-elected leader in South Africa in 1994 and approached that role in a way that tried to calm some of the troubled waters there were South African politics at the time, even though he himself had suffered terribly under the previous regime—Apartheid, the Nationalist Party, his incarceration on Robben Island (for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned), etc.

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collage4We moved from South Africa before he was elected, but we visit as often as we can. It seems to us that lots of South Africans today miss Mandela and what he stood for, especially when compared to all the corruption that is rampant in politics these days. He was a decent man, who tried to do the best for his country, and he is honored around the country in many different ways—statues of him, squares and schools named after him, and even the UN Nelson Mandela International Day, on July 18 (his birthday) each year. On this day people honor Mandela through volunteering and community service. It started in 2009 in South Africa, on Mandela’s 91stbirthday, but was declared international by the UN in 2010, so he lived to see some of the ways that his values were appreciated. I, and I’m sure millions of others, am very glad about that.

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The big setting for the statue at Idiom—you can just see the statue at the far corner of the lawn

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How’s that for a setting?

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legOutdoor Sculpture at Idiom Restaurant, by Anton Smit (born 1954 in Boksburg, SA)

We first came across the work of Anton Smit at Idiom Winery and Restaurant, where there is a huge sculpture of a naked man, arms stretched behind him and face upturned to the sky, on the edge of the lawns in front of the restaurant. There was no plaque describing the piece, just the word “Anton 2015” engraved on the sculpture’s leg. So, it took a bit of sleuthing to track down the creator.

It’s a powerful work in its own right, but made more so by the setting: The figure on tip-toes, maybe worshipping the sun or the mountains, with a backdrop of vines and mountains; a huge figure in a grand landscape, but not dwarfed by it. If you view it from the garden by the parking area, the statue is in the foreground and, way behind, you can see across False Bay to Table Mountain.

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The statue at Lourensford

Interestingly, there is a similar (?replica) statue outside the yoga studio and art shop at Lourensford Winery. Also a beautiful work but, in our opinion, the setting is not nearly as dramatic, and doesn’t set off the figure like the setting at Idiom does.

This South African sculptor is well known for his towering human figures, nudes, impressive heads, masks, hands, angels, floating and stretching figures, and warriors, as well as abstract works. Anton Smit works mostly with steel, metal, fiberglass and bronze. He tends to imbue his work with an illusion of movement or gesture, bodies curling up or limbs reaching out to the onlooker, like a call to movement. Many people say that this is why his sculptures, even the more abstract ones, seem to communicate with the viewer. Anton’s works are in public and private collections in South Africa and internationally.

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At Lourensford

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At Idiom

Anton works the first three months of the year in his Cape studios in the Strand (on False Bay, very close to Somerset West), and for the rest of the year in his studios at Bronkhorstspruit Dam, where he has a dedicated work force of 16 people.

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At Lourensford

 

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Some of their vines

Idiom and Da Capo Vineyards on Knorhoek Estate, Knorhoek Road, Sir Loury’s Pass (also spelled Lowry’s).

This is one of the wine estates in the western Cape that we have not visited before and it makes us realize how much more there is to explore. A family member who lives in nearby Somerset West knew it and suggested we go there for lunch. We’re very happy that we did, as it’s a lovely place.

The Da Capo Vineyards recently opened (in 2016) a charming new wine tasting center and restaurant high on the Helderberg, with truly jaw-dropping views. It took three years to complete and co-owner Roberto Bottega (a son) hopes it will help promote their wine brand to the next level. Italian grape varieties make up many of their wines as their heritage is Italian, and the menu is largely Italian-themed to complement this.

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The restaurant and wine tasting bar are on the upper level, when we see the building from the front lawn

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We pass a duck farm on the way up the hill

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View down to the sea

There’s a tasting bar and restaurant, which is open for lunch and special events. You drive into the small town of Sir Loury’s Pass and look for the sign for Idiom, the fairly steep road leading up the hill on the left. It’s a bumpy drive past horses, ducks and sheep. Then you reach the parking lots, walk up to the buildings of Idiom and… WOW! The view is stunning and unexpected after the drive up—mountains, valley, rolling hills, vines, trees, large rocks, pretty gardens.

The huge modern building is really well placed, overlooking the valley and the mountains and down to the sea (False Bay). When you first arrive at the entrance from the parking lot you don’t realize that it’s actually on two levels, as it’s built on a slope. The tasting room and restaurant are on the top level, but we only realized that when we saw the that it’s built out over the slope. It’s surrounded by luscious green lawns, a small garden with indigenous plants, and lots of big rocks. On the edge of the lawn is a wonderful statue of a naked man with arms stretched above his head, as though he’s calling on the gods or praising the view or ? (more on that later).

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Entrance to Idiom

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Steps lead down to the gardens and large front lawn

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The statue is perfectly placed

lunchYou sit upstairs and if you’re lucky (or have booked, which is recommended as it’s become very popular) you’ll get a window table on one of the two sides looking out, or on the outdoor terraced area. We didn’t, but it was still fine. The large room is open and light with huge windows, tables nicely set, and interesting art pieces dotted around.

 

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One of the art pieces

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And another, in the tasting bar

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Antipasto plate

We (four people) had an antipasto plate, which arrived with a basket of delicious homemade bread, and shared two pizzas: one had ostrich carpaccio and prickly pear chutney, called Cape pizza; the other had zucchini, feta and white anchovy, called Sicilia pizza. I’m not normally a pizza fan, but these really were very good and the ostrich one had those South African inspired toppings. We had a bottle of their Bianco wine (made with Pinot Grigio grapes), which was pleasant, and bought a Viognier to take home, which was very good. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful, as were the other wait staff that we spoke to.

 

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Ostrich carpaccio pizza

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Sicilia pizza

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View out of Idiom. Note the interesting figures

Bit of background

We asked our waitress why the name “Idiom” and she told us it meant “new beginning”. That didn’t seem right to us, so we checked on  the Idiom website.

Da Capo (the name of the vineyards) means “from the beginning” or “from the Cape” in Italian, referring to the fact that the vineyards were laid out and planted on the farm for the first time in 1999. It was started by Alberto Bottega and his family. Alberto was born in Italy and moved with his family to Cape town in 1950 as a boy. He had a career in scientific research and finance but fulfilled his retirement dream of wine farming when he moved back to the Cape in 1998. Da Capo vineyards now has one of the largest selections of Italian varietals in South Africa that reflect the Bottega family’s heritage. The 18 different varietals are harvested at the farm at optimal ripeness, then sorted by hand, offering a direct comparison between the famous wines of Bordeaux and the Rhone, Tuscany and Piedmont, but from Cape terroir.

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More of their vines—looks like a rocky vineyard!

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Our lunch wine

They are now also selling perfumes, and leather goods—an idea inspired by daughter Silvana Bottega, who has experience in the luxury sector.

http://idiom.co.za

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View from Bartinney Winery (Stellenbosch)

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Some of the vines at Bilton Winery

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Uva Mira’s vines

South Africa has much to offer the visitor, but no trip is truly complete without taking to the wine routes. The Cape Winelands are certainly a destination in their own right, as they have so much on offer. South Africa wine production ranks #7 in the world in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality many people would vote it higher than that. The southern and western Cape has a Mediterranean climate, which is perfect for growing vines, and over hundreds of years the South African vintners have perfected their craft.

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Uva Mira Winery

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Some of the vineyards are very steep

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Cabernet Sauvignon vines at Delheim Winery

When in the southwestern Cape it’s difficult not to notice vineyards and wine—there’s such a variety, choice, and selection, and almost everywhere you drive you’ll be in or near vineyards. Not far out of the city of Cape Town on your way to the wine towns of Stellenbosch or Paarl or Franschhoek you’ll soon get to miles and miles of rolling vineyards with a backdrop of impressive mountains. There’s also the Constantia wine area closer to Cape Town, and another around the town of Hermanus a bit further east along the coast (also famous for whales).

If you’re lucky you can visit some of the wine estates to taste and buy wine there. But if you want to have a picnic at one of the lovely parks or on a gorgeous sandy beach, all the supermarkets and liquor stores carry a good range of wine too. Generally, prices seemed reasonable to us with most of the good quality wines priced under US$10 or under ZAR 130  (the exchange rate is roughly $1=R13.5 right now).

Doing part of one of the wine routes is a really fun activity and does reflect a way of life in this part of the world—you get to see part of the stunning Cape countryside in addition to visiting some of the estates, many with pretty gardens or parks, many in lovely old Cape Dutch buildings.

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Beautiful Cape Dutch buildings at Vergelegen Wine Estate

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Enjoying wine tasting at Vergelegen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut, how to pick which ones to visit? There are just way too many to even contemplate visiting them all, plus wine tasting is a very personal experience. But, from our experiences, basically all the estates are great and you won’t go wrong with whichever ones you choose. Since our last visit to South Africa, more wine estates have sprung up, or been taken over by another estate, and it’s always fun to try a new place.

I’d suggest first getting a copy of the brochures “Stellenbosch and its Winelands”, and “Stellenbosch and its Wine Routes”, plus the brochure for Paarl, “the little black book of Paarl.” Check out the small description of each place—hours, what they offer etc—plus locate them on the very clear maps, so you can plan to visit places that are close to each other. These brochures are available in Tourist Offices and at the wineries. Planning a wine route also depends on where you’re staying—we were based in Somerset West, so getting to both the Stellenbosch and Paarl wine areas was very easy.

You can also get information online, but the booklets are probably easier to carry around. Good sites: www.paarlonline.com(but they don’t cover all the wineries), and www.wineroute.co.zafor Stellenbosch and its surrounding areas.

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Wine tasting at Spier, where they pair each wine with a cheese

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The tasting room and restaurant at Idiom

The Stellenbosch Wine Routewas the first to be founded in April 1971, and since then about 13 other wine routes have been established. Each route has its own character and beauty and reflects part of South Africa’s cultural history.

Many estates have cafes or restaurants, so doing lunch at one is also a nice option. On our recent visit we had lunches at Idiom, Hidden Valley, Lourensford, Vergelegen, and Cape Point Vineyards, all outstanding meals in a great setting, often with amazing views of the mountains. Fairview, Eikendal and Blauuklippen also have great restaurants, where we’ve eaten on earlier visits. All have excellent wines and most have pretty Cape-Dutch buildings and a long history, as do many of the South African wine estates.

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Enjoying lunch at Hidden Valley Winery

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Cape Point Winery

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View from Cape Point Winery down to Noordhoek Beach

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Eagle encounter at Spier

Many estates seem to be diversifying, adding activities other than wine tasting, so as to appeal to more people and families with children. So, some have animals and activities for kids and/or a playground, which is useful if there’s a little one in your party (there was for us this last time). For example, Spier offers the Eagle Encounter, and Vergenoegd has tea and coffee tastings and a Duck Parade. Many also have markets on certain days of the week, such as at Blaauwklippen on Sundays 10am-3pm; at Lourensford on Sundays once a month. Acacia has the Root 44 Craft and Flea Market, and just over the road Mooiberge has a great Farmstall (plus a brightly-colored kids’ playground and a good restaurant). Another feature that’s becoming more prominent is the link of wineries to art, as many have prominent public art, or host an art gallery or art studio. Some also have temporary exhibitions, and it’s lovely to see sculptures outdoors in the estates’ gardens.

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Duck Parade at Vergenoegd

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Lunch at Blaauwklippen

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Kids can feed the resident goats at Blaauwklippen

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Wine tasting at Morgenster

Some of our favorite estates are Blaauwklippen, Fairview, Delheim, Muratie, Uva Mira, Morgenster, Vergelegen, Spier, Jordan, Buitenverwachting, Lourensford, and Eikendal. Why? The wines are superb, the settings lovely and most of them have a place to eat and pretty gardens. You can picnic in some of them, if you buy the picnic food from the estate, but Muratie and Laborie allow you to bring your own picnic food.

Note that you have to pay for wine tasting but it’s not a lot and it’s well worth it. Definitely plan on having a designated driver, as each wine tasting will likely involve at least 4-5 wines.

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Buitenverwachting has great wine

buitenbottlesAny time of year is good to visit, but the warmer months are probably best as you can sit outside and enjoy the gardens and superb views of vineyards and mountains.

I guess one could write a whole book on the wine estates and what they offer, but I’ll stop here. In upcoming posts I’ll try to focus on specific wineries and why we liked them.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy any South African wine that you are lucky enough to find around here.

 

 

A Statue called “Forward”

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“Forward” outside Madison State Capitol. Note “Wisconsin” statue on top of the Capitol dome

Earlier, I mentioned the statue “Wisconsin” on top of the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol on Madison. Another important statue linked to the Capitol is called “Forward”.

The woman on top of the Capitol dome is named “Wisconsin”, although she’s often misidentified as “Miss Forward”. Perhaps that’s because she was placed on the Capitol dome as a symbol of the state’s motto, ‘Forward’ and to represent ‘the spirit of Wisconsin progress’.

The statue at the State Street corner of the Capitol Square is also often misidentified as “Miss Forward”, but “Forward” would be more accurate. However, actually this is a replica of the original “Forward”, which is now in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s HQ. Originally placed at the entrance of the Capitol in 1895, the original was moved to North Hamilton Street in 1916, where it stayed until 1995, when it was moved because of damage by the elements. So, a bronze replica was made and installed at the State Street entrance to the Capitol.

The 7-foot-tall original “Forward” was created by Wisconsin sculptress Jean Pond Miner. She made it for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, when she fulfilled a plaquecommission to create art representative of her native state. She felt that “Forward” was a symbol of devotion and progress, special qualities of Wisconsin.

Miner was born in Menasha, Wisconsin in 1865 and grew up in Madison. She graduated from Downer College in Fox Lake and continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. She planned to become a portrait painter, but her classes with famous sculptor Lorado Taft convinced her to change her major. In 1893, Taft and the Janesville Ladies Afternoon Club recommended her for an artist-in-residence position at the Columbian Exposition. Hence this lovely statue.

Madison’s State Capitol

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The dome inside

This post has a lot of photos, so scroll down and enjoy!

The Wisconsin State Capitol is a really lovely building that dominates downtown Madison (see previous post). It’s a classically designed granite structure, built between 1906-1917 at a cost of $7.25 million and designed by George B. Post and Sons. It is the third Capitol building on this site—the first was replaced, the second damaged by fire. It has the only granite dome in the USA. The interior has 43 varieties of stone from around the world, beautiful murals, richly-colored glass mosaics and hand-carved furniture.

 

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North Gallery

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West Gallery

On top of the dome is a gilded bronze statue by Daniel Chester Frenchcalled “Wisconsin”. The statue is a symbol of the state’s motto “Forward” and to symbolize the spirit of Wisconsin’s progress. For this reason she is sometimes misidentified as Miss Forward (important, as there is another statue called Forward in the Capitol grounds).In her left hand, she holds a globe with an eagle perched on it and on her head is a helmet topped with a badger (the State animal and the University emblem). Daniel Chester French is probably best known for his huge Abraham Lincoln statue at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Entrance to the Capitol is free and people can just walk around on their own, or take a guided tour, which leaves mostly on the hour (ask at the desk in the Rotunda for hours). It’s open every day at certain hours.

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Second floor

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Looking down to Rotunda floor

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Pillar with Legislation Mosaic

The design of the Capitol is like a cross with a huge central rotunda capped by the dome. You can enter the building from any of the four ends of the cross, and walk slowly to the Rotunda, admiring as you go along. It’s a gorgeous building, with lots of marble, mosaics and murals. The four main pillars of the dome are decorated with huge mosaic pictures depicting Government, Legislation, Liberty and Justice. The Rotunda interior dome has four glass mosaics and a lovely mural, 100 feet overhead.

 

 

 

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Pillar with Liberty

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Pillar with Government

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Legislation

It really does seem to be a building for the people: people wander in and out, without any security check; protesters can sing in the Rotunda, or put up signs and posters; wedding parties gather on the steps for wedding pictures.

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I wandered around on my own one day and encountered protesters singing against the Wisconsin government. Nobody was particularly worried, so it seemed like it was probably a regular occurrence.

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Pillar with Justice

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With the Veterans Bucky

We went again another day with the family. It was a Saturday and the special Art Fair Day, so there were many people coming and going and, again, it was great to see that this building is so open and accessible to all people. We were all struck again by how magnificent it is. In the Rotunda in the summer were two of the Bucky on Parade statues (see Bucky on Parade here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/wisconsin-badgers-and-bucky/). Both are nice, but it was good to see one to Veterans near the small Veterans’ Memorial in the Capitol.

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goldedcornerMy two-and-a half-year old granddaughter was really cute when she said, “This is a beautiful house”! It is indeed.

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