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A few years ago we were flying to San Juan, on our way to the island of Grenada. A lovely sunset inspired me to get poetic!

At sunset                                                     sunset

A rainbow band across the sky horizon.

We fly into the blue-indigo-violet band

Taking us to a magical place

Another place, another time.

The colors deepen,

Disappear.

We continue into the night.”

 

I remember ROY G BIV,             sunset3

That BIV band has my favorite colors

Beautiful.

Peaceful.”

 

“A treasured moment

To fly into the band,

Into my colors briefly

Before they fade and die for today

We leave a golden glow behind us

Where the sun was.”                                      sunset2

 

A Tanka:

We fly into the

Blue Indigo Violet band

Of sunset rainbow.

Treasured moment, becoming

One with our cosmos briefly.”

 

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Vmannequinfemale

At the entrance to Restaurant Carmen

insideRestaurant Carmen

We arrived in Icod de los Vinos around noon, so decided to have lunch before going to visit El Drago (see previous post). We chose Restaurant Carmen, on C. Hercules 2, just opposite the entrance to the El Drago parking garage, so very convenient. It’s a free-standing building, adobe with a caramel color and wooden doors and windows. The entrance faces the street, but at the back there’s a sweeping view over some banana plantations and towards the sea.

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One of the paintings on the walls

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One of the wine plaques “Ode to Wine”

You enter, past a couple of mannequins in folkloric dress, and walk down some stairs to a large dining area. It has very interesting décor, including various urns and statues, a collection of decorative plates on the brightly-painted walls, and many tiles with sayings and quotes about wine. A central column of ferns gives a nice touch. It’s a fairly casual place, but tables are still laid with real linen.

 

 

 

 

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“Wine and sun cheer up the heart”

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Wine plaques

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Tomato and cheese salad. Note the red and green mojo sauces in the bowls behind

We had a selection of small plates, all delicious— garlic prawns, cheese and tomato salad, salad with cod and avocado, and a typical Canarian stew. Plus bread with mojo (the typical Canarian sauces I mentioned before, see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2018/04/05/eating-on-the-canary-islands/), a glass of wine, bottled water, and coffee, all for a total of  €42.50. Service was good and friendly, and if we were ever back in Tenerife, we would definitely return.

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Garlic prawns (shrimp)

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Avocado and cod salad

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and the Men’s bathroom

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And just for fun…the sign on the Ladies’ bathroom

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View of fort and park from entrance

 

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The fort has many canons of varying ages

We’ve had so much other wonderful travel this year that I never did get round to finishing the story of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. It is an interesting story and we did enjoy our morning visiting the fort in the summer. So, to rectify that, here come parts 3, and 4.

Part 3: Brief History of the Fort:

In a way, the history is more impressive than the actual structures we see today, as they are more symbolic than grand now.

Although the United States won its independence from Britain in 1783, the threat of foreign invasion remained. To protect the young republic, the federal government launched an ambitious program of building forts near America’s primary cities along the East Coast. Fort McHenry was one of those forts.

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1878

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One of the informative boards in the fort

Completed in 1805 and named after the Secretary of War, James McHenry, the new fort had five points or “bastions”, which had a star shape, accommodations for over 150 soldiers, and a line of heavy artillery aimed downriver. The fort is strategically placed at the end of a point dividing different branches of the Patapsco River, a perfect spot for protecting the city of Baltimore.

The first flag to fly over the newly-constructed ramparts was a 15-star, 15-stripe banner, reflecting the recently added states of Vermont and Kentucky.

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Entrance to inner fort

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Part of the inner fort, and a flag that always flies

The fort saw serious action when it was attacked by the British in September 1814, but repulsed the British onslaught (see earlier post https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/fort-mchenry-and-the-star-spangled-banner/ ).

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Board about Lt Allen Fay, at the time of the 1814 war. Interesting facts about amounts of rations (click photo to make it bigger)

 

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Statue of Lt Allen Fay

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Rod M and a Rodman canon

The fort never again came under enemy fire, but it continued as an active military post for the next 100 years. In 1829 the earthen walls were reinforced with granite blocks and a brick wall was added to shore up the parapets. During the Civil War it was used as a temporary prison for captured Confederate soldiers, southern sympathizers, and political prisoners.

In 1866 the enormous Rodman Canons were installed, the heaviest ever at the fort. However, they were only ever used for ceremonies.

During WW1, the US Army built over 100 buildings around the star fort. It was one of the rodmanlargest military hospitals in the country and housed 3,000 wounded soldiers from the battlefields of France. Over 1,000 staff worked in this facility. From 1917 until 1923, US Army General Hospital No. 2 was located here to serve WW1 veterans. It was especially known as a surgical center and great advances in neurosurgery and reconstructive surgery took place here. It was also one of the first medical centers to reintegrate disabled soldiers into civilian life by offering special classes in typing, knitting, metal work, automotive repair and other trades.

In 1925 Congress made Fort McHenry a national park; 14 years later it was re-designated a national monument and historic shrine, the only park in US to have this double distinction.

Next is Part 4 on plaques and statues in the fort park.

 

 

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Part 2: The Flag at Fort McHenry

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Flag flying at the fort the day we were there

flagplaque copyVisiting Fort McHenry Part 2: The Flag 

Another important part of this history is the story of the flag, the different flag sizes, and new flags flying at the fort.

The Star-Spangled Banner flag of Francis Scott Key’s song was created during the people of Baltimore’s preparations to defend their city.

Major George Armistead, commander at Fort McHenry, commissioned the flag a year before the British attack. Armistead was a seasoned soldier who had participated in the American capture of Fort George on the Niagara River in 1813. He was aware of Fort McHenry’s vital strategic and symbolic importance, so he asked for a flag so large “that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.”

In the summer of 1813 a local seamstress, Mary Young Pickersgill, received the flaginsidecommission to make an “American ensign” measuring 30 x 42 feet and using “finest quality bunting.” It was a major undertaking; her daughter, nieces, and possibly an enslaved servant, helped Mary. The flag was so large that they had to assemble it on the floor of a brewery near Mary’s workshop.

Her total fee of $574.44 was a very large sum of money at that time and included the production of a smaller flag, which may have been the “storm flag” flown during the night of the British bombardment in 1814. The huge flag was only hoisted early the next morning after the rain ended, as a signal that the fort was still standing. (I will write later about visiting the house where Mary Pickersgill lived, the so-called Flag House.

flagtodaysignAn information board titled “O’er the Ramparts We Watch” tells us Which Flag Flies Today. It says, “The fort’s walls are called ramparts. An American flag flies over Fort McHenry 24 hours a day by Presidential Proclamation. The size of the flag varies. On clear days with the right amount of wind, a full-size replica of the Star-Spangled Banner measuring 30 x 42 feet with 15 stars and 15 stripes waves. The fort also flies smaller versions of this flag. On rainy days and at night, a small, modern 50-star American flag is flown.

In 1948, a proclamation issued by President Harry S. Truman stated that “as a perpetual

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Copy of original flag in the fort museum, and statue of Francis Scott Key

symbol of our patriotism, the flag of the United States shall hereafter be displayed at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine at all times during the day and night, except when the weather is inclement.” At night the flag is illuminated by lights powered by solar panels.”

The original 30 x 42 feet flag is now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. However, because of its delicate nature, it is kept under very low light and no photography is possible. But, we did go and see it.

 

 

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Entrance to the original flag exhibit in Washington DC

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The 15-star, 15-stripe flag at Fort McHenry

Also linked to American flags: as states were added to the United States so too were stars added to the flag. In 1818, Congress proclaimed that one star for each new state would be added on the 4th of July following the state’s admission to the union and there would be thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

 

So, new flags were produced and each time that flag was first flown here at Fort McHenry.

As we walked back to catch the bus, we noted

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Illinois, admitted December 3, 1818

metal plaques set into the sidewalk along the edge of the entrance road, with the names of US states. We believe that there is one for each state, commemorating when the state entered the union. We couldn’t find them all, but did find Illinois!

Next is Part 3 on the History of the Fort.

 

 

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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.

DesM

Nomads by Jaume Plensa

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

https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/symbolic-head-sculpture-with-multiple-meanings/

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

rainbow

 

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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.”

NYYellow

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.”

Biophony

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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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