Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Untitled (Portrait) by Nikki Rosato

I recently wrote about the amazing creations made by cutting paper that we saw in an exhibition in the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. It is Untitled (Portrait) 2016, by Nikki Rosato, American born 1986

One I omitted to add, and perhaps one of the most interesting is that of a head. It is interesting on two main counts: first, because of the material from which it is made and what that symbolizes; and secondly because it reminds us very much of another head, much larger, but just as symbolic (see further down). At first glance, they have a similar look, even though the size and the materials are different.

This one in the Deep Cuts exhibit is a three-dimensional bust made from cut road maps. The illustrations on the map look similar to parts of the human body: roads are like arteries and topographical lines form ridges and wrinkles. In this piece the artist tried to evoke the affiliations that people have with place and how places have shaped his or her development. This bust is a portrayal of the artist’s partner made from maps of New England and the surrounding areas that are significant to him.

This piece is part of a section called Altering Atlases. As the board explains, “For centuries cultures have created maps and atlases to define, categorize, and navigate their way through the world. Although many now rely heavily on GPS, the paper map remains an important, sometimes lifesaving tool for any adventurer (especially when we lose signal).

Maps symbolize not just geographies, but also the people who inhabit the landscapes and the geopolitical borders that divide and define them. Some artists alter these representations by cutting and abrading the paper on which they are printed in order to explore the politics of place and the relationship of humans to their natural and built environments…

What a great concept! As world travelers who usually use paper maps, we find this interpretation fascinating, because it’s true that people are also defined by place.


Nomads by Jaume Plensa

The other head this reminded us of is by Jaume Plensa (Spanish, born 1956), and I wrote about it here:


This head, called Nomade (2007), is huge and is painted stainless steel. The head and torso are made of letters from the Latin alphabet. His idea is that when letters are combined they produce words, thoughts and language, just as a person alone has limited potential but when people join together in a group or society they become stronger. It is in the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in Des Moines, Iowa.

SeoulInterestingly, we’ve experienced another head that is somewhat similar to these two. It is one of three head sculptures in the concourse of the Bongeunsa subway station in Seoul. I haven’t been able to find out any information about the artist or date etc.


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museum We happened on an amazing exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. The museum itself was a wonderful unexpected find, as we didn’t originally plan on spending time in Manchester (except to fly in and out).

We went to the Currier on our recent visit to New Hampshire as we wanted to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House, and the only way to do that is to take a guided tour from the museum. We had time to look around the museum a little after lunch in their attractive Winter Garden Café (which is actually indoors), and decided on the special exhibit called Deep Cuts, Contemporary Paper Cutting.


The beautiful doorway into the museum from the Garden Cafe

It was on from February 25-May 21, 2017, so sadly it is no longer there. Hopefully, because it was so interesting and popular, it will move to another museum for more people to see it.

The exhibit is on paper cutting and we entered with all the wrong expectations: We imagined the traditional Chinese paper cuttings, or perhaps cut-paper portrait silhouettes, as we have seen in Paris at Place du Tertre in Montmartre.

But no, this is way more than that. These contemporary artists reconsider, redefine and even subvert the centuries-old art of paper cutting. They slice, shred and abrade paper using blades, scissors, lasers, and even belt sanders. The range of materials is mind-boggling—from handmade artisan paper, to office stationery, books, wallpaper, currency notes, and shopping bags.

Since its invention around two thousand years ago, paper has become a commonplace material, permeating practically every aspect of our lives. In this exhibit we see how paper can be transformed from ordinary to extraordinary, from practical to thought-provoking; for example, some explore political or social topics.

Some of the artists use traditional techniques, but with new subjects. Others have made sculptural objects that challenge the flatness and fragility of paper. Others have cut printed paper to create works that explore the information and power normally linked with text. A bank note is very powerful and artists may cut it to make a statement. This also hints at a recent shift towards digital banking.

Some artists dissect documents, newspapers or books to question the information printed on them. By reforming them into something else, the artists show how intended meanings can change.

This lovely “picture” is an example of that, but I don’t have the artist information about it.

text picture

Another theme is how a growing focus on recyclable paper products is affecting paper’s role in our economies and society.

Of all the pieces we saw, we randomly chose 5 to showcase here. The others were all fascinating, but for some it was difficult to get the detailed information on them.

Currency collage, called The World is Yours, 2006, by C. K. Wilde, American (born 1972). As the board tells us, “This world map is composed of pieces of currency from many countries. Paper money affords a wide palette of color and design while also carrying the political weight of the various world democracies, monarchies, dictatorships, and other government. This map further suggests that global wealth is controlled by a handful of people, often including those whose faces appear on the currency. In Wilde’s work, cutting up money can be seen as a disruption of power and wealth.”


World map made of cut bank notes

Male Pelvis, 2012, by Lisa Nilsson, American (born 1963). This is a mulberry paper collage, and is a true-to-life anatomical cross section using intricate paper filigree. It uses Japanese mulberry paper and the gilded edges of old books.


Rainbow, 2017, by Li Hongbo, Chinese (born 1974). Li Hongbo uses the honeycomb technique used in traditional Chinese paper gourd making to produce striking, large-scale installations with deep symbolic meanings. As the board tells us, “The artist has cut hundreds of colorful pieces in the shape of firearms and bullets. Unfurled, the threatening silhouettes transform into beautiful flower-like sculptures. The installation evokes the fine line between war and peace, and between violence and understanding, showing that one simple act can have a transformative effect. His chosen material and subject matter are related through their shared history: the Chinese invented paper but they also invented gunpowder. For an American audience, his sculptures are inevitable and poignant evocation of the epidemic of gun violence.”




Untitled (NY Yellow), 2009, by Jane South, British (born 1965) .Made of hand-cut paper, ink, acrylic and bass wood. As the board tells us, “Jane South fabricates bewildering cut-paper constructions that seem both real and imaginary; mechanical and artistic. Complex cut elements, as well as drawings on the paper’s surface, create a web of actual and illusionistic shadows, mixing fiction and reality.”


Biophony of Spring, 2017, by Fred H C Liang, Chinese (born 1964). This is made from cut Arjowiggin paper. Liang makes “drawings in space” by cutting out multiple shapes that he weaves together and balances to make one large rhythmic mass. He combines traditional Chinese paper cutting with contemporary art, creating non-representational work. The name of this one “refers to the collective sound made by all living organisms in a given environment, a natural symphony.”


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men2More Public Art in Chicago

As I was walking recently  to the Chicago Cultural Center from our hotel I happened on this outdoor sculpture, one I have not seen before. It was apparently officially installed about two years ago.

Living World Series, Gentlemen, bronze on cast bronze plinth, by Ju Ming (1938-) from Taiwan. He trained as a woodcarver, but went on to an international career creating works in many materials. These figures are in bronze, but do have a look of wood carvings, I think.

On the plinth are a group of square, pedantic-looking men in suits and ties, some with menhats, or with bags and briefcases, and umbrellas.

This is on the AMA Plaza, next to the IBM Building housing the Langham Hotel on the north side of the river.

It’s an unusual  sculpture, and many people who walk by stop to take pictures.

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First section of the mural


I’d say she’s a suffragette!

 mural3More Murals: Northampton, Mass 

We found this vast mural in the parking lot opposite Woodstar Coffee Shop, Northampton, Mass.

Too big to capture in one shot, it tells a fascinating story if you look at it carefully.

The title is The History of Women in Northampton from 1600-1980. The title seems very appropriate in many ways, as Northampton is the home of Smith College, a prestigious women’s college, also known as the college where women’s basketball was first played in 1892.

Information on the mural:

The History of Women in Northampton from 1600-1980mural4

Copyright Hestia Art Collective

Linda Bond, Mariah Fee, Susan Pontious, Rochelle Shicoff, Wednesday Sorokin

Restored 1986

Updated and restored in 2003

On a side note, two other firsts for this area: Nearby, in Holyoke, William G. Morgan invented the game of volleyball for men. It was in 1895 when he took the position as physical director at Holyoke. The newly-created game of basketball (created in Springfield, Mass), very popular with young people, was too strenuous for the local businessmen, so he decided to create a new sport. From basketball he took the ball. From tennis the net, and the use of hands from handball. From baseball he took the concept of innings. The game has evolved and changed since then, as has the ball. It soon became very popular worldwide.

It started as a competitive women’s sport in the 1920s, and at Mt Holyoke College in the 1970s.

Fun factoids!


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Exhibits at Chicago’s Cultural Center


Poster about the Wall of Respect


Old photo of the Wall of Respect

As mentioned earlier, this year is Chicago’s Year of Public Art and the 50×50 Initiative, sparked by Chicago’s 50 wards and the 50th anniversary of 2 famous public art works in the city: Picasso’s “Untitled” (see previous post), and The Wall of Respect.

The Wall of Respect is no longer in its original position but a special exhibition on it is in the Chicago Cultural Center until July 30th. The exhibition, called Vestiges, Shards and the Legacy of Black Power, is in the Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor North in the Cultural Center (corner of Michigan, Randolph and Washington).


How the wall looked


The Blues panel


The Jazz panel

Curated by Romi Crawford, Abdul Alkalimat and Rebecca Zorach, and students in the Department of Art History, this exhibition chronicles how the Organization for Black American Culture designed and produced this first mural for, and within, Chicago’s Black South Side communities. It features 7 sections with the images of leading black icons (called heroes), ranging from Sarah Vaughan and John Coltrane to Marcus Garvey and Ossie Davis. Two of the panels are devoted to musicians—one for Blues, one for Jazz—not surprising, as Chicago has always been a hub for music, notably Blues and Jazz with many famous black artists.


Using photographs and documents relating to the Wall of Respect and other murals, this exhibition explores the mural movement in Chicago in its historical context, investigating how race and class have intersected with the spatial politics of the city.


Story of the Wall of Respect


Who is your hero today?

In 1967, the Organization of Black American Culture painted this huge mural “guerrilla-style” on the wall of a decaying building on the South Side of Chicago at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue. They called it the Wall of Respect. This mural, which grew out of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s, was controversial from the start and only survived a few years—but in that time it inspired a community movement that went on to paint vivid colors on walls across the city and beyond. The Wall of Respect received national acclaim when it was unveiled in 1967.

Just outside the exhibit rooms, the center has strips of colored paper. They invite people today to write down the names of their heroes and make a long paper chain—a Heroes Chain. Would be a fun project for school kids, I think.


Muddy2Not far away on the side of a building opposite Macy’s is a huge colored mural of Muddy Waters. I couldn’t find any information on that. Any ideas, anyone?

Somewhat linked to this topic is another exhibition at the Cultural Center: that of Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College (see future post)


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Satoshi and Max enjoy the meal


Max helps cook the meat and vegetables

Sapporo is well-known for special Ghengis Khan grilled lamb meals and the principle places are run by big beer halls. The two main ones are at Sapporo Beer Garden, which I wrote about before (https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/japan-a-hokkaido-special-dish/ ) and the other is at the Kirin Beer Hall. Both Sapporo and Kirin are very popular Japanese beers.


Another marvelous meal!

On our final night in Sapporo this last trip, Satoshi booked us into the Premier Hotel. It’s in the Suskino area of town, where a lot of the nightlife is, so lots of neon lights, and really busy especially on a Saturday evening

For dinner that evening we went our for a Ghengis Khan meal again, somehow fitting, as we had Ghengis on our first evening in the city. The Kirin Beer Hall was within walking distance of the Premier Hotel, so very convenient.

Satoshi and Max took Rod and I and once again we had a lovely evening together and a


The grill is set down in the center of the table

great meal. Here, the grills are set out differently: they are set down a bit in the center of the tables. But, otherwise the concept is very similar: first, put on bibs to protect clothes, then cook plenty of vegetables and pieces of thinly sliced meat on the grill, using large tongs. Wash it down with plenty of beer and/or wine.

We also had a smoked hokke fish as a snack first. Over the years, Rod and I have come to really like hokke and Satoshi wanted us to have it “one last time”. Delicious and much appreciated.


Hooke is great

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What a magnificent creature

Championing Cheetahs in South Africa

Cheetahs—such lean and dignified, regal-looking, creatures.

The logo at Cheetah Outreach is: See it. Sense it. Save it.

You can still see a few cheetahs in the wild in southern Africa (and a small part of Iran) but the numbers are severely reduced (from an estimated 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, to about 6,600 today) and the threat of extinction hangs heavy.


Some people are about to begin a cheetah encounter


Various animal encounters are possible

So, on our last visit to the Cape in South Africa we were very happy to visit a new (to us) place called Cheetah Outreach. It’s in Paardevlei, on the south side of Somerset West (about 40 minutes from Cape Town airport), and is well worth a visit. Plan to spend a couple of hours, more if you’d like to do any of the animal encounters or if you stop to chat to any of the animal keepers, which you more than likely will do.

Entrance is R5 per person (less than US$0.50), regardless of age. You pay extra for the various animal encounters.


dogsignThe animals are in big grassy enclosures arranged in a rough oval around a central area, and in one of them there’s a viewing stand to watch the herding/guarding dogs. In the center grassy strip is a small mobile tea/coffee stand, where we had coffee and watched some visitors going into an enclosure nearby with a keeper and being entertained by the antics of the animal.

This is not a large place but seemed well organized and they are doing a great thing.



Black-backed jackal


Grace, the caracal

The focus is on the cheetahs but they have other animals too—meerkats, bat-eared foxes, caracals, serval, the special Anatolian Shepherd herding dogs, and jackals. There are paid staff, but they also have local volunteers and volunteers from around the world—we had one girl from Australia explaining things to us. The keepers are knowledgeable and tell lots of information about “their” animal, so it feels quite personal. We felt very privileged to see these animals up close and to find out their histories.


One of the bat-eared foxes waits for the keeper, who’s bringing food


The 3 foxes–Janet, Diggory and Firefox–rush to the gate


The keeper feeding the 3 bat-eared foxes

Cheetah Outreach was founded by Annie Beckhellig in January 1997 on a hectare of land (roughly 2.5 acres) provided by Spier Wine Estates. In the first year, the program reached more than 50,000 people, by traveling to educational facilities and other places with Shadow, a young male cheetah. It has successfully expanded and evolved since then.

The mission of Cheetah Outreach is “to promote the survival of the free ranging Southern African cheetah through environmental education and delivering in-situ conservation initiatives.”

Why is this necessary?

The cheetah is threatened with extinction for many reasons: loss of habitat and decrease in prey; presence of other large predators in protected areas, leading to competition for survival; conflict with livestock and game farmers; fragmentation of population, leading to inbreeding and number depletion; lack of self-sustaining captive population; public lack of knowledge.


Even young kids are fascinated by the cheetahs and other animals


This is either Lazarus or Liberty, the serval


And this is the other serval—Lazarus or Liberty?

This Cheetah Outreach is trying to address all of the above factors. School outreach and teacher training workshops are a major part of this, as are funding and co-ordinating a South African Cheetah Anatolian Shepherd Guard Dog project. These dogs are trained to guard livestock from cheetahs and other predators. Initially the dogs worked with sheep and goats, but recently the program has been extended to cattle and even on African game (mostly nyala and springbok) farms. The project helps with buying, breeding, veterinary support, and training of these working dogs, which will help in non-lethal predator control.


Black-backed jackal relaxing


Grace the caracal enjoys a snack

Another extremely important part of their program is using the cheetahs themselves as Ambassadors. Cheetah Outreach has hand-reared captive-born cheetah that are used for this. These lovely creatures can give people the opportunity to see and meet these cats up close, and to learn to care about them and their future. Not all cats are suitable for release back into the wild, but they do make great ambassadors! With the Ann Van Dyck Cheetah and Wildlife Centre, they train cheetah cubs as ambassadors for educational programs around the world. And in fact, some of the other animals are ambassadors too: the servals and meerkats, for example. For us, they could all be ambassadors!

On the way out you pass through a pretty good shop—cash only, but there is a handy ATM right there!


Information about the cheetah’s body, built for speed

 Fun Facts About Cheetahs

—the partnership between cheetah and man is ancient, dating from Cleopatra’s time. Ancient Egyptians believed that a cheetah would carry the pharaoh’s soul to the afterworld

—the cheetah is the oldest big cat on earth at 3.5-4 million years.

—the oldest fossil remains have been found in Wyoming, Texas and Nevada in USA

—the cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Its top speed is 110/120 km/h (68/75 m/h) and it can accelerate from 0-80km/h (50m/h) in 3 seconds (that equals the Formula 1 Ferrari in 1999).

–the cheetah’s stride is 7-8 meters (23-24 feet)servalsign

—an adult cheetah has over 2000 spots

—cheetahs are Africa’s most threatened great cat

Find out lots more about cheetahs and the Cheetah Outreach on their excellent website. Learn about the animals and see many photos.





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