Archive for the ‘art’ Category




With my granddaughter

Columbia, MO: Butterflies

We love butterflies and all that that stand for and symbolize. So, it’s a treat to visit the Sasha Butterfly House in St Louis, which we did a couple of weekends ago (I’ll post that in the St Louis blog soon).

So, on the theme of butterflies: Recently we spent a day in Columbia MO, visiting our grandson who is a law student there. After a nice sushi lunch we all wanted coffee, so he took us to one of his favorite coffee shops called Shortwave Coffee, at 915 Alley A. It’s in an alley that leads off Ninth Street (one of the main shopping/eating streets in Columbia). The alley also has Speckled Frog Toys and Books.


Nath M


Our little granddaughter photographed these words

signAlong the wall of the alley we were delighted to find a mural of large colorful butterflies. As the sign tells us, they are called “Kindness Butterflies” (2019) and they are pretty new. Above one of the big butterflies are the words, “kindness changes everything”. What a lovely sentiment. The lead artist is Madeleine Le Mieux; assistant artists are Aveen Gadban and Ember Piersee.

Because I love murals and public art, I of course stopped to take photos. What was so


Our granddaughter took this sign too…

lovely on this day was that my little 3-and-a-half-year-old grand-daughter asked me for my phone and also took photos of the murals and of the signs! And then of the Speckled Frog! She has copied us before with taking photos, and this spontaneous picture-taking was delightful. Maybe we’ll have another budding photographer/writer!


…and the frog!

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The first wall of murals we see


We have tea at our hotel, overlooking the Youghiogheny River

Connellsville, Italian Influence, and Murals

As I just wrote about, we stayed in Connellsville in southwestern Pennsylvania and used it as our base to visit the many wonderful sights around there—for example, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the Laurel Highlands, the Flight 93 Memorial.

Connellsville is not very big but is an interesting city about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the Youghiogheny River (how do you pronounce that?!), a tributary of the Monongahela River. As we walked around we noticed some huge, lovely murals, notably on the Italian Independent Social Club Building, so we wondered what the story of these was.


The river through our hotel window

Connellsville was founded as a township in 1793 and as a borough in 1806 by Zachariah Connell, a militia captain during the American revolution. It was in the mining and steel working area of the state and has had 5 railroads at various times, and still seems to have a busy railroad yard.


During our stay, many many trains passed by on the busy railway line


We walk around the building—the mural goes from the worker to a large group of Italians



And then wraps round to a Connellsville station scene

Between 1880 and 1930 a flood of immigrants from Italy and other European countries arrived in Connellsville and vicinity, mainly to work in the coal, coke, steel and locomotive industries. Many of the Italian immigrants settled in the area that is now Connellsville and their Italian-American descendants continued to do so, which is why the area became known as “Little Italy”. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the neighborhood has a patron saint, Saint Rita of Cascia. Apparently the Italian influence continues to be strong here (as we saw in Ruvos Restaurant, which I’ll highlight in the next post).



Amazingly realistic!

These are stunning murals that wrap around three sides of the building really tell a story, both of the Italians and of their lives, and the passenger train station.


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firstview copy

We approach Fluctuart from under the Pont des Invalides in Paris


front copy

Fluctuart: a floating Art Museum

Paris: Crochet and Other Fabric Crafts as Art

Many people I know, including family and friends, love to knit and crochet or do other crafts with yarn or fabric. One big favorite is to make crochet squares to use for cushion covers, blankets, lap throws etc. So, it was with great interest that we found these crafts as art in a different setting.

As I mentioned in another post (see here https://vivsfrenchadventures.wordpress.com/2019/08/24/fluctuart-a-floating-art-museum/), we were recently in Paris and visited a new floating art museum moored on the River Seine. It’s called Fluctuart and focuses on street and urban art.


Decorated rails




Fluctuart also spelled out around the tree

As we approached the boat we saw colorful strips of fabric, knitted strips and crochet squares wrapped around the quay railings. On the quay in front of the boat, various poles, lampposts and trees were also decorated with these colorful creations. One tree has the name Fluctuart spelled out in fabric and yarn.

It’s colorful, pretty, and unusual and really struck me as a great different way to decorate, using these (supposedly) mundane materials. It definitely fits in with the urban art idea, I think, which often also approaches the subject in a different, or unusual, way.

What a lot of fun!



Love and lips






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posterMore Oor Wullie statues in Glasgow

As I said in the previous post,  we went around Glasgow a few weeks ago and noticed colorful young boy fiber-glass statues dotted around in front of main sights or on squares. Each of the boys is sitting in the same pose on an upturned bucket, but each is painted and decorated very differently.

We learn that this is Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail of Oor Wee Wullie sculptures and each one has a sign explaining what/who that one is and who is sponsoring it. One of the guides on a City Sightseeing bus explained further. “Oor Wullie”means “Our Willie“  (and “wee” means “small”) and he was/is a beloved comic strip character from the Sunday Postfrom the 1930s until fairly recently. He always used to carry a big bucket around so that he could sit on it. Oor Wullie has a broad smile, cheery face and spikey hair and is one of the most famous images in Scotland.


George Square in Glasgow has a number of Oor Wullie statues

This Oor Wullie Bucket Trail is to raise money for children’s hospitals in Scotland. Another goal of the trail is to highlight Scotland’s diverse culture and heritage.

There are 201 statues around Scotland, 58 of them in Glasgow, and we had a lot of fun randomly finding quite a lot of them. We didn’t have the app or a Wullie map, so we didn’t plan a particular route. But, most of the main sights and buildings in the city have an Oor Wullie statue, and it was interesting to read the plaques to find out the story behind each one.

Here are three more.

steelThe Metal Wullie is on the main George Square. Jason Paterson, a well-known Glasgow artist, wanted to make a different kind of Wullie statue that wasn’t painted. So, he chose steel instead. It was forged with 450 “Oor Wullie” steel stencils, 200 “Bucket Trail” steel stencils and 2,000 pieces of rectangular steel, all welded together to recreate the iconic features of Oor Wullie. The light inside the sculpture projects Oor Wullie across the area, meant to represent a shining beacon of support for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Metal Wullie is sponsored by DC Thompson Media, the home of Oor Wullie. One of the leading media creators in the UK, the company is headquartered in Dundee with offices in Glasgow, London and other UK cities. They publish newspapers, including the Sunday Post (which published the comic strip), as well as a number of magazines and comics.


O’er the Heathery Braes (above) is outside one of the entrances to Glasgow University.  The creator is Erin Michele O’Shaughnessy, who was inspired by the beauty of Scottish landscapes—the beautiful colors, the heather, the wildlife and the amazing forests. The colors on this Oor Wullie were mostly inspired by breathtaking sunrises. It was sponsored by the Reid-Timoney Charitable Foundation, established by the Timoney family to assist charities that support treatment and care of sick children.


dealThe Scout Oor Wullie (above) is outside the Radisson Red Hotel near the Glasgow Events Campus. Created by David J Mitchell, this is Wullie in his scouting days—in his kilt and neckerchief he’s ready for adventure. It is sponsored by Radisson Red, which has walls covered in comic book characters and a hero team of its own, so Wullie in his red will fit in just fine. The hotel’s bar is also getting into the spirit of the Wullie Trail with a special offer.


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Hidden Valley Winery from up on the hill walk


Some of Hidden valley’s vineyards


Some of the olive trees

On our last trip to South Africa we were lucky enough to visit a number of wineries we’d never been to before (see Idiom Winery here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/idiom-lunch-with-a-stunning-view/).

Hidden Valley was another one. We’d driven past the entrance many times before on our way up to the end of the road at Uva Mira Winery, but never got around to stopping. Thank goodness our sister-in-law, who lives in the area, decided this was a good lunch place, as it’s another gem, in a stunning location.


Winery buildings from The Deck


The lake


Path along the lake to The Deck


The Deck from the path

This winery is high up on the Stellenbosch Helderberg, just below Uva Mira Winery. After driving up the steep entrance road, you park and then can choose to either walk up the ramp to the large modern tasting room and the fancy Overture Restaurant (reservations and many $$ required!), or take the path along the edge of a small lake, surrounded by lovely indigenous gardens, to The Deck. We chose the latter.

The Deck, a casual eating place, is a floating deck on the lake. The view up to the mountains and the vineyards is spectacular, and it’s an unusual experience to eat and enjoy a bottle of wine while rocking ever so slightly on the water. We had a burger and wine—seems like a strange combination but it worked.


Us on The Deck


The Deck and lake from hill walk


Classic Fragment (Face)

Along the path we passed two large bronze outdoor sculptures; one a face (called Classic Fragment) that has become the icon of Hidden Valley and is now on most of the wine labels; the other is called Ramona, an attractive young female figure. These pieces are only some of the “hidden” gems that one can find around the farm. The same bronze face, just smaller, greets visitors as they walk up the ramp to the tasting room. We also found a gorgeous big cat in a slivery metal (we think a Cape leopard, but there was no identifying plaque) near a parking lot above Overture Restaurant.






Wine label (stuck in my travel notebook)


I pose with a smaller Classic Fragment

You can take a walk on a circular loop from The Deck up the hill behind, winding through the fynbos, past some of the estate’s vineyards and olive groves, getting a great overview of the estate and across to the mountains. Rod did it while I sat with our sisters-in-law and just enjoyed being on the deck.

In 2015, banker Riaan Stassen (who has been involved with wine for many years) became the new owner of Hidden Valley and oversaw numerous new projects and upgrades. The cellar is still surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, almond orchards, and gorgeous fynbos gardens, but there is now a sculpture studio run by sculptor local Willie Botha


What we think is a Cape leopard

(1958-), and some luxury accommodation next to the Overture Restaurant.

To get to Hidden Valley, take the R44 towards Stellenbosch. At Mooiberg Farm, turn right into Annandale Road, which is quite narrow. It splits after a little bit, so follow the road up, past Guardian Peak, towards Uva Mira. An even narrower road turns off that, and winds upwards.



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By the Light of the Moon, by Cynthia Archer, in Chicago Children’s Museum



Money Bench, by Hedda Salz and Ray Pawley, in Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago: We’ve often seen some painted benches in Terminal 5 at O’Hare airport; they line some of the passageways as people walk towards immigration. They are colorful and many have a Chicago theme, so they fit in well with the banners that greet arrivals, “We’re glad you’re here”. But, we never took photos, as photography is not permitted there.

Then we found some more benches at the Chicago Children’s Museum, each with the name of the artist who painted it. The descriptions are very interesting and the paintings on the benches really colorful and innovative.




Secrets Bench, by Cynthia Weiss, in Chicago Children’s Museum



In Chicago Culture Center, artists Lorna Hymen, Cathryn Mann and judy O’Connor

And recently, I found two more at the Chicago Culture Center in the Renaissance Room. So, I decided to try and find out more about them. I asked at the Information desk at the Chicago Culture Center, but they didn’t really know much, except they thought the benches series had been organized by an art gallery just over the road from the Center. Was it Chicago Public Schools Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph?

Lots more sleuthing hasn’t helped. There was a chairs-on-parade in Chicago, two years after the famous cows-on-parade in 1999. But, no-one seems sure if the benches were part of that.

https://www.jaehakim.com/lifestyles/style-lifestyles/chairs-on-parade-city-is-furnishing-them-as-street-art/I followed this link and it seems that parade was about sofas, chairs,


The other bench in Chicago Culture Center, by the same artists as above

ottomans, and televisions, but it did not actually mention benches.

Any ideas?


A wildlife bench, by Joe Hindley


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Rush More on west wall of Chicago Culture Center


One side of Rush More

Chicago is famous for wonderful public art of all kinds, including murals. I’ve written about some of the murals before (see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/butterfly-mural-chicago/And here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/chicago-murals/).

On our last trip two weeks ago I was excited to find a couple more.


The other side of Rush More

The Chicago Culture Center commissioned a huge mural on the west wall of the building by Kerry James Marshall.It occupies a 132-foot-wide by 100-foot-high  space along Garland Court, one block west of Michigan Ave. Marshall is an American artist, born in Alabama, who now lives in Chicago. He completed the mural, called Rush More,in 2017 featuring 20 influential Chicago women in arts and culture. It’s a lovely mural and I love the play on words for the title: not Mt Rushmore, but Rush More, with the women’s faces painted in a similar way to the sculpted heads.

Here is a list of the 20 women:


The other one is a mural I found listed in the Concierge Preferred Social Media Issue under “Most ‘grammable street art in Chicago.”According to them, this is one of the 8 most Instagram-worthy  shots of street art (murals) in the city. So interesting how Social Media has “invaded” even tourist brochures!

It is the Flamingo Rum Club Mural,by JC Rivera@jcrivera, at 601 N Wells Street. It’s also a lovely mural and does brighten up that wall.



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