February Love Me

Yikes! I have a few days to catch up for Paula’s February Love Me challenge! Here are 3 more, in no particular order…

Feb. 6: I love…ice cream! Even though it is winter, and quite cold here, I can’t resist the temptation of ice cream once in a while!

Ice cream in France

Feb. 7: I love…art. I love to visit art museums whenever I can as well as do my own artwork! I just finished the book Frida in America by Celia Stahr, a new biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo focusing on her years in the United States with her husband, Diego Rivera. While reading the book, I explored her artwork on line and, although I was quite familiar with her work, I discovered a lot of her paintings I hadn’t known about before. I also love mural art wherever I find it – and usually stop what I’m doing to take a picture!

Claude Monet, Bordighera, 1884, oil on canvas; exhibition at Chicago Art Institute, Oct. 2020
My artwork: Painted Bunting, sharpie and pastels on construction paper, January 2020

Feb. 8: I love…traveling. Anyone who reads my blog even occasionally knows how traveling is absolutely the thing I love most to do! And while traveling, I engage in one of my favorite hobbies, photography, and when I come back, I engage in another favorite activity, writing (or blogging). Below is a gallery random sample of travel photos from 2018-2019. There are no travel photos from 2020 due to not being able to travel during the pandemic! I have two international trips booked for 2022 and hopefully we can do a road trip in the fall of this year.

CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

Thursday Doors: Amsterdam

Norm and others have posted colorful and creative doors for Thursday Doors this week. Here are some colorful doors mostly from the De Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam, which I don’t think I’ve posted before. If I have, so be it – they’re worth having another look!

Locker doors at the Ij (Eye) Film Museum (This is not in the De Pijp neighborhood, but I am sure I have never posted them before.)
Warehouse or garage door
This door isn’t as interesting as what surrounds it!

SYW: On Fear, Hair Color, Bullies, and Winning & Losing

Melanie and Roger have a new set of questions for Share Your World/Harry Potter for the week of Sept. 7.

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Roger’s Magical, Mystical Questions

  1. What happened to cause you to discover ‘bullies” were real?
    Nothing – I have always known bullies were real. My brother was a bully when he was a kid and his favorite person to bully was me! Although I was never seriously bullied (my brother’s would be called teasing), my son was in high school. One day he came home early from school – he’d been “suspended” for two days for fighting. I was not mad at him because he was fighting with the bully – he was sick of the other kid’s bullying. The kids watching actually rooted for him!

    I had a book about bullies for children that I had read to him when he was much younger. And when he complained about the bully to me, I told him that he should ignore him if he could, and feel sorry for him because he (the bully) obviously had self-esteem issues. Maybe there was violence in his home.

    Now we have a bully in the White House – what a role model!!
  2. Eavesdropping- When given the chance, how often do you eavesdrop?   (this may be a similar question to what some folks said they’d do with an invisibility cloak)
    I am tempted to eavesdrop at times, but usually listening in on someone else’s conversation isn’t very interesting.
  3. Escalators, at one time, were the ‘next big thing’. When was the last time you rode an escalator?
    Three days ago, at Nordstrom’s.
  4. Have you ever ‘let’ someone win in a sports competition or a board game? How did it turn out?   
    Probably – but it was more like others letting me win – I was the youngest of five children and always wanted to participate in games, but my life experience wasn’t as mature as the others’, so they sometimes let me win, I think. As for sports, I was always the worst in every sport except swimming. No one wanted to pick me to be on their team. And no one ‘let’ me win!

Melanie’s Muggle Questions:

I’m very short on time today (Sunday) so I’m borrowing from Rory and Sandmanjazz to fill the questions today:

Do our fears start with our DNA?  (Credit to Rory)
I suppose there are people more susceptible to fear than others; that might be DNA-related, but in general, regarding fear and “nature vs nurture” I would say it’s more nurture – i.e. learned. People who are more sensitive and likely to have fears may have had some early experience, even as far back as infancy. But there is definitely biology in there too, because fearful people are often insecure people, and insecurity can arise from experience or be a bi-product of mental illness.

If you could have your hair any colour for 24 hours, what colour would you choose?  (Credit to Sandmanjazz)
I think I’d like to be a redhead for a day!

When do you think a person gets old?  (Credit to Rory)
When a person starts thinking old! For example, my husband and I are both senior citizens but we don’t feel old! I feel like the same person I always was. Oh sure, I have more aches and pains but most of the time I just am who I am.

GRATITUDE SECTION  (as always this is optional)

Please feel free to write about an uplifting moment in your life this week! We went on a day trip last Tuesday, just out to the western suburbs to seek out “kitschy” stuff (such as the Humpty Dumpty doppelganger pictured below). It was fun and I felt renewed!

The artist named him “Mr. Eggwards.” He sits on a wall surrounding Mount St. Mary Park, which is full of unusual sculptures, in St. Charles, IL

Here are some of the other sculptures in that park.

Friendly Friday: Street Art

The Sandy Chronicles’ weekly Friendly Friday challenge this week is Street Art.

Street art has become more popular in recent years, and one can find good street art almost anywhere.

Sandy says there are several kinds of street art:
Spray Painted Murals – large scale pictures drawn on walls and colored with spray paint.
Graffiti – one of the most popular and oldest form of street art, going back to ancient Egypt and Greece.
3D Wall Graffiti – with creative shadowing and paint effects, murals appear to be popping out of walls.
Poster Art – is art which is printed or drawn on papers and then attached or hung on walls.
Sticker Street Art – made with eye-catching stickers of different sizes and posted on trees, lampposts, walls and benches.
Sculptures – are structures displayed on streets, typically with cultural, political, religious or historical significance.

We took a 4-day trip to Iowa two years ago and saw some wonderful street art:
Downtown Des Moines (click on images to see larger)

In Dubuque, near the riverfront Maritime Museum, were these beautiful murals.

This 3D mural in Quebec City was stunning – this is actually a section of a much larger, full-wall 3D mural.

In Chicago, you never know when you’ll run across something like this.

On Route 66, between Gallup and Santa Fe, NM – this is just a small sample of street art that can be found in towns all over the Southwest.

CFFC: Painting of Many Kinds, Times & Places

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is anything painted.

Roof decoration on Hualapai Center, Peach Springs, Arizona
Appropriate for the 4th of July! Patriotic painted car, Seligman, Arizona
Train mural, Kingman, Arizona
Painted figures on a maypole next to a painted church, Wurzburg, Germany

Frescoes on the ceiling of a cathedral in Passau, Germany – I took this one year ago today!
Pharaoh offers food to the god Amun. Although in poor condition, the paint on this mural has lasted 3,500 years! Hatshepsut’s Temple, Egypt
Hanging on a wall in a hallway at the Moorings of Arlington Heights, Illinois. Depicted are the parts of a cashew tree.
VW in line for 4th of July parade, Arlington Heights, Illinois – I took this photo 3 years ago today!
Birdhouse, Des Plaines, Illinois
Painted chair, Highland Park, Illinois
Gospel Singers, by American artist Charles White, exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago, August 2017
Realistic looking mural covering an entire wall in Quebec City, Canada

Thursday Doors: Door Art

Norm’s Thursday Doors is a weekly opportunity to share photos of doors with other door lovers! This week, I’m dipping back into my archives to present doors that are part of, or surrounded by, street art. (Check out my earlier post for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Murals.)

Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This alley near downtown Milwaukee has become a place for street artists to share their art. This mural includes a door to a formerly industrial building.

A converted warehouse complex in Lincoln, Nebraska has become an artists’ co-op, its outside walls decorated by local artists.

Cuba, Missouri is located on the famous Route 66 and a popular stop along the historic road. There are many murals throughout the town, depicting historical events (including the Civil War) and scenes of daily life.

Pontiac, Illinois is one of the first, or last, stops on Route 66 (depending on whether you are taking the historic road west or east), and as such caters to Route 66 tourists. Besides murals, there is a museum/shop containing all kinds of Route 66 memorabilia and you can visit the bus-converted-to-home of possibly Pontiac’s most well-known native son, Bob Waldmire, who traveled the Mother Road and lived in his bus-home for several years in the Arizona desert.

Whether real or painted, a door is still a door!

For mural/graffiti/street art connoisseurs, Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) in São Paulo, Brazil is a must-see. “Graffiti artists” have covered this residential neighborhood – walls, streets, doors, windows, anything paintable – with art!

A restaurant entrance near Batman’s Alley
Courtyard gate
Garage door
Garage door/store entrance gates
This is more graffiti than mural art – the entrance in particular is covered in pure graffiti.
More graffiti

Street artists in São Paulo find “canvases” for their artwork in many other places as well. These are found in the vicinity of Ibirapuera Park, a large park with museums, bike paths and other amusements.

CFFC: Murals

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with the topic Murals and GraffitiI have a wealth of photos in my archives, because I love photographing public artwork! I include here a sampling of each location. Note that I have blogged about most of these places before, so there will be some duplicates. 

Tucumcari, New Mexico: A town I had never heard of before has apparently achieved renown due to at least two songs about the town, and a novel set there. It’s a stop on Route 66.

Cuba, Missouri: This small town on Route 66 is famous for its murals, depicting historical scenes and events, and scenes of daily life.  Many are scenes of the Civil War, but I have not included any of those here. Cuba is a “must-see” for any Route 66 trip!

Pontiac, Illinois:  one of the last (or first, depending on which way you go) along Route 66. In Pontiac also is a good-sized museum and store selling all types of Route 66 memorabilia. 

Because of its prominence on Route 66, there are miniature cars all over downtown Lexington, each with a different artist’s painting.
Local historical figures

Black Cat Alley in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is an alley flanked by old industrial buildings, which has been converted into a “canvas” for local mural painters! Located in the downtown area, it is easy to get to and I would recommend it for anyone visiting Milwaukee that has an interest in mural art.

Lincoln, Nebraska is a surprisingly interesting city. I had never been to Nebraska before our 2018 road trip and since we like to visit capital cities, we spent a day there. There is a section of town we discovered by accident while finding our way to a restaurant recommended online. Across the street was an old warehouse converted into an artists’ co-op workshop with interesting art on the outside walls.

Denver, Colorado:  We stayed at a fantastic Airbnb in the artsy part of town. On Tennyson St. (where the first of these photos were taken), they have weekly art fairs during the summer season.

Sidewalk art/graffiti in downtown Denver

Dubuque, Iowa – near the Mississippi River Museum

Des Moines, Iowa

In Amsterdam, Holland we took a private boat tour on the canals and harbor. We discovered several trailers painted in vivid colors.

Brazil is very rich in culture and teeming with artists of all kinds. The more famous ones display their art in galleries and museums. However, the street art is amazing, painted by very talented “graffiti artists.” In the city of São Paulo, there was literally art everywhere – you could barely walk one block without seeing street art.

Ibirapuera Park is a large park in Sao Paulo containing small art museums, walking paths, and refreshment stands. This mural was on the wall outside a public restroom.
On another wall outside the same restrooms
On a street near Ibirapuera Park
Under a bridge near Ibirapuera Park – graffiti art and a homeless person’s possessions

For connoisseurs of “graffiti art” (although most of it is much more beautiful than graffiti), there is a neighborhood in São Paulo called Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) – wander its cobblestone streets to see an explosion of beautiful and/or humorous murals and sometimes political statements. The first two photos were taken outside Beco do Batman proper, which is residential – and we needed lunch so these were our view from the small café where we ate.

Friendly Friday Odd Couples

I found out about the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge from Cee Neuner (thanks, Cee!).
Here’s my first contribution, for the topic Odd Couples.

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Short and tall: My friend Marcia with an Abe Lincoln impersonator

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Artwork at Santa Fe State Capitol

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Odd couple indeed! Grandpa and grandson in their unique outfits!

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Incongruous decoration pairing outside someone’s apartment in December

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 Colorful cow and guy, Denver, Colorado

Lens-Artists #82: Capitals & Capitols

The Lens–Artists photo challenge this week has a guest host, Viveka, whose topic is capitals.

On our road trips around the United States, we try to visit as many capitals as possible – not just the capital cities, but also their capitol buildings. I have a series of posts featuring some of the capitols we’ve visited lately. (Check them out in my archives – that’s why I’ve put the dates in below.) These are the ones that we have seen in the last 3 years.

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (May 2017)
Capitol exterior and its dome from inside

Some of the memorials and statues on the capitol grounds

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA (May 2017)
Capitol building exterior (no, it doesn’t have a dome) and view of grounds from the top floor viewing area

Some famous North Dakotans

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (May 2018)
Capitol exterior (the dome is at the top of this multistoried building), floor of the rotunda, visiting school group

Artwork viewed from the rotunda, including a colorful door

DENVER, COLORADO (June 2018)
Exterior and view from the dome

Stained glass portraits

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (June 2018)
Exterior and staircase

Slideshow of some of the sights inside

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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO (June 2018)
The capitol building in Santa Fe is shaped like the Zuni sun symbol, which is also depicted in the rotunda and on the state flag. The first two photos are a partial view of the exterior and one of the curved hallways.

The New Mexico capitol building has a lot of artwork by New Mexican artists. The slideshow shows some of them.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (June 2018)
The Oklahoma state capitol has the distinction of being the only capitol in the U.S. that has an oil rig visible at every cardinal direction. Two of these can be seen below. The middle photo is the dome from the rotunda, and the photo at right is a commemoration of Oklahoma’s native tribes, each of which has its own flag.

Sculpture, artwork, and artifacts in the capitol

DES MOINES, IOWA (Sept. 2018)
Capitol exterior and chamber of the legislature

Iowa’s capitol has colorful designs and patterns on its floors.

On the capitol grounds, there is a Holocaust memorial.

Interestingly, this post does not contain photos from my home state capital (Springfield, IL – I was last there in 2012) nor the capital of the state north of here, the state where I was born and I grew up (Madison, WI – I can’t remember the last time I visited the capitol).

I have also visited several foreign capitals in recent years (2017-2019), but not their government buildings – can you figure out which cities these are? One is a provincial capital, the others are national capitals.