APAW: Weathered

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge has the topic weathered. Nancy says,
“Living close to the mountains and rural areas, I come across weathered items to photograph frequently. There are also a lot of different treatments that you can use to make an image look weathered. With this week’s challenge, try lots of different techniques.”

I tried “weathering” some of my photos using SnapSeed and my other limited photo editing software, but I couldn’t get that “weathered” look. So I relied on my naturally weathered photo subjects.

Three subjects taken in Poulsbo, Washington

Meet Josephine, a javelina I picked up at an art fair in Tucson, Arizona. Her natural look is weathered, because she is made from metal treated to appear rustic or weather-beaten. I experimented with SnapSeed, but I think her natural state is a better look. What do you think?


I did use SnapSeed to create a “grunge” look on some other items in my house, while working on a still life photo project. Click on the photos to see them larger.

Southwestern USA, and particularly along Route 66, is a great place to find naturally weathered subjects.

Weather-beaten vehicle at the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California – now retired, it’s just for show!

North of Victorville, CA is Bottle Tree Ranch. Besides “trees” made from bottles, there are a lot of old junk items that the artist collected and put on display. The longer they are left in place, exposed to the elements (heat, wind and dust, occasional rain), the more weather-beaten they become! A bizarre place, but a photographer’s heaven!

Life in Colour: More White & Silver

I’m joining in this challenge again, to contribute white buildings, and more, in Chicago!

View of white skyscrapers from Millennium Park:

And silver in Millennium Park – “Cloud Gate” sculpture (known by locals as “the Bean”)

This silver structure in Millennium Park…

…projects faces. There are actually two of these, with a shallow wading area in between them (the wading pool is only filled in warm weather – these photos were taken in October.).

A few more whites in Lincoln Park

White yachts

PPAC #1: Photographing Public Art – Denver

I am happy to get in on this brand new challenge with co-hosts Cee Neuner and Marsha Ingrao! For this very first week, Marsha is the host. She says:


The #PPAC is deliberately open – photographer’s choice. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Seasonal Displays
  • Graffiti
  • Statues and Sculptures
  • Collections
  • Store Windows
  • Car Shows
  • Artistic Construction (benches, buildings, bridges)
  • Wall Art (not just murals)
  • Challenge Guidelines
  • Art has to be freely visible from a public street, freeway, or walkway.
  • Photographers have free access of use for their photos – no copyrights by the artists.
  • The challenge starts every Friday by 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
  • Write a post on your blog, publish it, and include a link back to the appropriate host’s post – not on Cee’s or Marsha’s #PPAC page. Also write us a comment and paste the link into the comment. Sometimes pingbacks are missed.
  • Visit at least two or three other participants in the community and leave them a comment.

Here are some public art pieces in downtown Denver, Colorado. From these photos, you can see why I fell in love with Denver and hope to visit again soon!

This was the first sculpture we saw, in the downtown business district.

Most of the public art we saw was on a pedestrian street, closed to traffic.

These decorated pianos were available for anyone to stop and play (we actually saw someone playing one of them), but I don’t know how well-tuned they were!

Other public art-based entertainments: chess/checker boards!

My husband wasn’t interested in playing chess or checkers – he was just tired and wanted to sit down for a minute!

More cows:

Cows weren’t the only public art bovines on display – there were bison also!

Another sculpture:

Cleverly designed restaurant signs can also be classified as public art!

Monday Window: The Summer of Frida

The Summer of Frida is my theme for this week’s Monday Window hosted by Ludwig Keck. People in the Chicago area – especially in the suburbs of Glen Ellyn and Wheaton – are going gaga over Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who painted a variety of subjects reflecting her experience and Mexican culture, as well as many self-portraits meant to portray her own thoughts and feelings.

“Frida in New York” (1946), photo by Nicholas Muray

At the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the theatre on campus built a brand new gallery in 2018-19 specifically to house an exhibit of 26 Frida Kahlo works borrowed from the Dolores Olmedo Museum in Mexico City. After negotiating with the museum for the exhibit, they planned for it to take place in the summer of 2020.

We all know what happened in 2020 – Covid-19 – so the exhibit was postponed, and opened with great success and fanfare on June 5, 2021. It will run until early September.

Dale next to the “2021” that is painted in Mexican style at the museum. If you look carefully, you can see that the style and colors of the painting on the numeral 1 are different from the other digits – that’s because the original number was “2020” and they had to get a different artist to paint the number 1.

The exhibit is expected to draw large crowds, so one must buy tickets online with a specific date and time for entry. Already reservations have come in from 48 states and 6 other countries! Not wanting to lose the opportunity to capitalize on this event, the suburban communities of Glen Ellyn and its neighbor, Wheaton, have decorated their downtown areas with festive “papel picado” (colorful banners of crepe paper with designs cut in them), large pots of colorful flowers (Frida Kahlo loved flowers, which figure prominently in her work) and by painting images of the artist on the windows of stores and restaurants.

This downtown Wheaton street is blocked off to traffic and tents have been erected to have outside seating for several restaurants. We didn’t eat outside because the weather was too hot! Note the colorful flower pots and “papel picado” crepe paper banners.

I have a good friend who lives in Wheaton and is a Spanish professor at the college, so after we toured the exhibit, we went to downtown Wheaton for lunch, where we saw several of these windows.

My friend Sandy and her husband taking a selfie in front of one of the windows.
This pizzeria is across the street from the restaurant where we had lunch.

Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacan, Mexico in 1907 to a German father and a Mexican mother. Her father was a photographer, so there are many photos of Frida and her family. At school, she was studying the prerequisites for medical school but in 1926, on her way home from school, the bus she was riding in was in a serious accident when it collided with another vehicle.

Frida’s drawing of the accident

Frida was thrown to the ground and suffered serious injuries from which she never fully recovered, in spite of having several surgeries. While in a body cast, she began to paint on it, thus initiating her career as an artist.

A replica of one of Frida’s body casts that she painted on.

She broke her pelvic bone, and fractured her back in three places, the result of which she was almost always in pain, and was not able to birth a child.

At the age of 20, she married the famous muralist Diego Rivera, and spent time in New York, San Francisco, and Detroit, where he had commissions to paint murals. Diego said of Frida that she was a better painter than he was! Anyone who sees the beauty of her subjects, and the intricate details and symbolism in her paintings would tend to agree!

Coincidentally, there’s a new biography out by Celia Stahr, called Frida in America. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about Frida Kahlo and her work. Several of her works, mainly those painted while she lived in the United States, are featured in the book.

SYW: On Annoying Commercials, Nasty Food, and the Creative Process

“Monday Melanie” has given us a new set of questions for her Share Your World challenge!

QUESTIONS

What’s the worst commercial you’ve recently seen (or heard)? Why was it so bad?
This is a hard one because so many are terrible! Most annoying are the Liberty Mutual ads. I would not recommend this company to anyone due to their ubiquitous, stupid ads! Everyone I talk to hates their commercials as much as I do. Also ads for intimate products, like tampons or sanitary pads.

Since you crossed off “recently”, the ads for Folgers Coffee were awful. In one ad, a person says, “Is your coffee grounds for divorce?’ I mean, how tacky!! Another really old Folgers commercial bragged about the “crystals” in its coffee. Who wants crystals in coffee?? Just give me pure, finely ground coffee, please! No additives!

What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it?
My hubby says, “love.” Awwww!

So I will say something else: the creative process of seeing a project through to the end. I spend long hours and weeks completing photo albums but I love doing it. I can say that a lot of my blog posts fall into this category as well. They’re time consuming, but fun to do. I’m in an art workshop – same thing. The camaraderie of other people who love art is part of it, but also dedicating 90 minutes a week to painting or drawing something is calming and fun, even if it takes weeks to finish it or to come back to. I’m in a writing group – same thing again. I have written a lot of things, and some of them are quite good, others not so much, but it’s worth the time because it is the creative process that is totally worthwhile, especially when producing a finished product I can be proud of!

Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not?
Yes, but only because the stranger stared straight ahead and made no attempt to smile back. So rude. Fortunately, where I live now, everyone – whether we know them or not – smiles and says hello!

It’s good to be able to see smiles again after over a year of wearing masks!

What do you think is the nastiest tasting food?  (This one might be a recycled question.  It’s familiar to me anyhow)
Olives. They’re so bitter.

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)

Are you at peace with yourself?   Your world?   Please share, whether you said “yay” or “nay”! 
Yes, pretty much. Most of the horrors of my life – the failures, dissatisfying experiences, vindictive people – are behind me. In the senior community where I live, we are all retired and we do pretty much what we want and like to do. Most people are friendly and pleasant to be with.

There are many problems in this world, and a few in my life, but I am overall happy and without regrets.

Gratitude Quotes

SYW: On Doing Art, Having Courage, & Showing Gratitude

On this Monday Memorial Day, Melanie presents us with some food for thought questions for Share Your World.

QUESTIONS

What activity instantly calms you?
Art, both the pictures I create myself, and those that I color. Both are very relaxing and because I’m good at it, it is usually quite satisfying. I attend a weekly art workshop, where women from our senior community go and do whatever they want to do in their artwork. We admire each other’s work and give each other encouragement. There are two retired art teachers who help us learn new techniques.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done lately?
I can’t remember – my short-term memory is terrible. I don’t tend to be spontaneous in big ways.

If people receive a purple heart for bravery, what would other color hearts represent?  (Example yellow heart = cowardice)
Red heart = love and compassion for others
Yellow or orange heart = optimism in the face of adversity
Blue heart = calm, keeping one’s wits about oneself.
Green heart = advocacy and contribution toward improving the environment, helping our planet; such as an innovation that contributes to a reduction in plastic waste, for example.
White or pink heart = volunteerism
Rainbow heart = tolerance, acceptance; extraordinary acts to create diversity in our society

What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done or witnessed someone else do?
Another hard question! I guess in my case it would be making the decision (and following through) to change careers. I was comfortable & competent, but bored, in what I was doing for a living. When I remarried, it became possible to think about finding a career in which I could use my skills in a more meaningful way. I went into teaching because I felt that what teachers do is so vital; every time I walked into my son’s school, I felt a surge of excitement, like something important was happening there. I did it in spite of advice from my husband and others, in spite of knowing it would be very challenging and difficult for me due to my ADHD, in spite of a it being a time of great tension in the field of education due to increased pressure to show student success through standardized tests (or losing funding if scores were not at a certain level. Remember “No Child Left Behind?” What a disaster!) Bilingual and special ed teachers were especially stressed because our students tended NOT to get great scores on these tests. We were watched more closely and there was little tolerance for mistakes or non-traditional classroom techniques.

GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)

How do you show gratitude to the people you respect?
First, by thanking them, hugging them or maybe sending them a card. But mostly by being generous, doing things for them, giving them a gift I know they would particularly like. For example, I have a friend of many years, since our sons were little and playing together. She has been through a lot in her life, including the loss of her husband to cancer and her son to an overdose. She sacrificed much of herself for her son, who had disabilities that were difficult to deal with. She has always worked, and even now cannot afford to retire. She always shows her caring toward others, calling when someone she knows is in difficulty, or visiting someone who is homebound. Unlike me, she has never had a chance to travel abroad except to Canada. She is a very Christian person – I mean strong in her faith, more so than I, so when there was an opportunity to visit the Holy Land with a group from our church, I knew how much she wanted to go, and I paid for her trip. I had the money and the trip was fairly inexpensive. Otherwise, she could not have gone. It made me so happy to see her enthusiasm and awe about everything she experienced while we were in Israel.

This is a group photo of the “Green Bus” tour group, upon our arrival in Jerusalem.

I don’t do generous things for people very often, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t remember to do so. Therefore, when I feel strongly that a generous act – something I have the ability to do for someone else – would help a person I love and respect, I do it if they let me.

I used to be impatient and often didn’t bother to understand others, but I think that as I have aged, I have become a better person in that way. I wish I were more of a risk-taker, so I could do much more for others, but I’m not; I’m too comfortable and selfish about my own life and what I want. I’m not a person who jumps to volunteer for a big project, but now I look for opportunities to help someone I care about, in some small, individual way.

CFFC: Males & Females

More comparisons this week for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge! This week it’s males vs females. But I am going to make it females (first) vs males (second)!

Lions – I’m not lyin’! (Ngorongoro, Tanzania)

Maasai people – in a village

French people with dogs by the sea in Normandy

Mallard ducks

Ancient Egyptians: Queen Nefertari and King Ramses II

Selfies: Amsterdam

Two people making funny faces & wearing glasses: father and daughter

Artwork by American artist Charles White: Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep (1956); Harvest Talk (1953)

Children laughing: Chicago Botanic Garden

SYW: On Art, Freedom, Money, & Gratitude

It’s a new week, and here are Melanie’s new (?) questions for Share Your World. I do feel as though I’ve answered some of these before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

QUESTIONS

What are you most proud of in the last year?

The artwork I have done. I wish I could say that during the pandemic lock-down, I did artwork every day, but that would not be true. I meant to, but didn’t do it…

Even so, I have produced a number of drawings and watercolors during the past several months, as the rules loosened and we could form a small art group again. I even gave my niece one of my watercolors for her birthday! She had actually asked me to paint “something green and with a waterfall in it,” so that’s what I did.

As a result, I am accumulating a decent portfolio of my artwork. The pieces I am most proud of I will gladly display for viewing if an opportunity arises.

Besides these free-hand works, I did a lot of really nice coloring pages. Maybe that sounds silly, but there are coloring books for adults and I set myself high standards! I’ve had many of the books for several years, but didn’t do much with them until this past year. I used gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or markers, depending on the picture.

If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or give in to the child within and splash about?

I walk around it, although right now the rain puddles are welcome because we really need rain! We need enough rain to make puddles impossible to avoid! We have been down 8 inches of rain this spring compared to last year, and normal would be 6 inches more than we’ve had. It finally rained last night and today the sprinklers are on!

Do you feel free? Why or why not?

I do benefit from the freedoms afforded to me as a U.S. citizen, good health, and enough money to live on and to travel. So I do consider myself to be “free.” However, we all have our burdens, which hamper our freedom because they tie us down in some way. It’s very liberating when a burden is lifted from my shoulders!

I also feel that the freedoms given to us in the Bill of Rights are not completely unlimited. My freedom ends where another person’s begins. It is not a “freedom” issue, for example, to disobey a mask mandate, just as one has to obey traffic laws, or suffer consequences. Part of living in a society that provides us with many benefits is being responsible to other people living in that society. They have the same freedoms the rest of us do. I don’t have a problem with accepting these responsibilities nor do I think I am not free as a result.

To be totally “free”, perhaps one would have to live alone with no one around to impose rules. I don’t want to live like that.

What life skills are rarely taught but are extremely useful?

Money management. My dad tried to teach us how to manage money, but he didn’t succeed very well with me – probably because I wasn’t listening! However, I did learn on my own how to make a budget and make sure I had enough income to pay my expenses. Even so, I wasted a lot of savings because I didn’t plan for the future.

I think there are a lot of young people who never had a class on money management. But what if they win the lottery or get hired to be on a major league sports team? Suddenly they have a lot of money, but not necessarily the skills to make sure they don’t lose it! Some lucky people take having money for granted, and they blow it all on get-richer schemes or lavish entertainment. Tales of riches-to-rags are as prevalent as tales of rags-to-riches! For most people, having enough money takes hard work and sacrifices.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please share some gratitude with everyone!   There are lots of reasons just now I think!

I am grateful for my legs. Although I have arthritis pain in my knees, my legs can still take me where I want to go.
I am grateful for my arms, which finally can be used to hug people again!
I am grateful for my hands, which are used to take photos or create nice pictures, and to write.
I am grateful for my eyes, which, although severely myopic, let me read books and see the world.
I am grateful for my brain, befuddled as it is. I have put it to great use in all the intellectual pursuits of my life. Since I am expressing gratitude, I will not list its shortcomings!
I am grateful for my ears, which can listen to music, such as one of my favorite songs performed by Cat Stevens…