L-APC: Architecture in Three Brazilian Cities

Lens-Artists’ topic this week is interesting architecture.

Dipping into my archives, five years ago this month, we were in Brazil. These photos are of the new museum Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the renowned Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, this science museum is very interesting, with many interactive exhibits that pose questions about our planet’s future.

The city of Sao Paulo has a variety of interesting architectural structures, dating from colonial times to futuristic modern buildings. The first images were taken along Avenida Paulista, which is closed to vehicle traffic on Sundays, so that pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy the many interesting places along this avenue in the downtown area. First are several modern buildings and facades, followed by details of a Victorian era house called Casa das Rosas because of its rose gardens in front. The Instituto Tomie Ohtake complex is another example of modern architecture. Finally, in central Sao Paulo is the cathedral, built in neo-Gothic style topped by a Renaissance type dome. Downtown Sao Paulo is a good place to see Portuguese colonial style buildings, such as the Anchieta History Museum (closed the day we were there!). Farther out from the city center is Luz Railway Station, a hub of subway lines crisscrossing the city, as well as trains for travel outside the city. It was built to serve the British-owned Sao Paulo Railway and was built with influences of classic late-Victorian architectural style. Its most iconic feature is its clock tower. We took a subway line back to our Airbnb from Luz after visiting the Pinacoteca, one of Brazil’s most important art museums.

We also visited the capital city of the state of Parana, Curitiba, where we stayed with good friends. One of the most interesting structures is the ultra-modern Museu Oscar Niemeyer (MON) named for the architect who designed it. Its 17 thousand square meters of art exhibit space is now the largest in Latin America.

Tree Square: Trees For Sale

These “hanging” trees were for sale in a Curitiba mall. Christmas trees, perhaps? I took this photo in mid-November; in Brazil, Christmas is celebrated in the summer, so some of its wintery themes that are copied by Brazilians are rather incongruous, but these little pines will surely thrive in Curitiba’s climate.

Hanging trees – these trees are for sale and ready to plant with their root systems intact.

Head over to Becky’s July #Tree Square challenge and see more trees!

July 9 SquareTree: The Araucaria

A quote that another blogger posted about trees prompted me to create this post as my contribution to the 9th day of Becky’s July Squares, with the topic of trees.

The author of this quote, Jaime Lerner, is a Brazilian who in the early 1970s was the mayor of the city of Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, a state in southern Brazil. Anyone who has been to Curitiba will recognize how appropriate this quote is for his city and his impact as urban planner and mayor. Between my first visit in 1971 and my last, five years ago, the city has not only grown to over 1 million inhabitants but also contains a number of beautiful parks, including several dedicated to ethnic groups in the city, a pedestrian area in downtown, and a comprehensive system of rapid transit buses (BRT), among many other innovations which began during Jaime Lerner’s tenure as mayor.

Rua das Flores, pedestrian street in downtown Curitiba

I hold Curitiba in my heart as my favorite city in Brazil, and one of its attractions that I am particularly fond of is a tree native to southern Brazil, araucaria angustifolia, better known as o pinheiro do Parana’ although it is not actually a pine. It belongs to the conifer family. I had never seen a tree like it before; it is so unique and is found only in southern Brazil and some parts of northern Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. All over Curitiba are these wonderful trees, which I feature in square photos below.

Towering araucaria against a darkening sky

The Wikipedia article about this araucaria species says that it is critically endangered, having lost 97% of its habitat to logging and agriculture.

araucarias in a park

The species is spread via its seeds, called the pinhão, by Parana’s state bird, the azure jay, and other animals.

Historical Portuguese style church in downtown Curitiba, with an araucaria rising up behind another historical building.

The article also says that this tree is dioecious – some are male and some are female. The male produces an oblong cone (the photo below shows how they look when they are dried up). The female’s cones are spherical and quite large, and inside are the pinhão seeds (100-150 per cone), which are about 2 inches long and taste sort of like pine nuts or chestnuts.

The shell of the pinhão is also used to make small crafts.

L-APC: Spots and Dots

Spots and Dots is the creative topic for Leya’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

flowers (2 orchids at Chicago Botanic Gardens, sunflower at Cantigny Park-Robert McCormick estate, Wheaton, Illinois)

animals (Tanzania)

art: sculpture (dalmations in Sao Paulo, Brazil; abstract sculpture in St. Charles, Illinois; giant pumpkin somewhere in Japan – this photo was a screenshot; Chinese lion at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illinois)

museum art (tapestry, light display)

Leda Catunda, Onca pintada No. 1, 1984, (at museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Exhibit at Museu do Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

public art

Lightscape light show installations for the holiday season, (Chicago Botanic Gardens, Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2020)

SYW: On Partying, Pictures & Words, and Finding Waldo

It’s Monday and time for Melanie’s Share Your World. Her questions are a bit strange this week, but here goes!

QUESTIONS: 

If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be for?  (Covid considerations are suspended for this question) A carnaval party – I’ve always wanted to go to one of those (or throw one, in this case). Carnaval takes place at the beginning of Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday. It’s sort of like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but in Brazil it lasts for four days during which people party all night and sleep during the day. There are parties and samba parades, the bars are full, and there is lots of drinking and merry-making. Carnaval music is heard everywhere with its strong percussion beat and familiar tunes. Even though I’m not young enough to have the stamina to dance all night, I’d dance as much as I could, then I’d watch a show of professional samba dancers (who would be hired for the occasion), while enjoying the music and sipping caipirinhas.* Everyone would have a good time, because Brazilian parties are the best!!

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
Words can evoke pictures in the mind of the reader if the writer is good enough. For me, pictures and words are two separate things, but which belong together. In a blog, especially, a writer should include at least one picture. That is what people are used to nowadays, in this era of social media and non-stop visuals – selfies, memes, cute puppies or kittens, whatever. Sometimes it’s easier to post a photo, like I did above, to explain a concept instead of trying to describe it. If I just wrote “carnaval dancers” and then went on to describe what I meant in detail, most people would not read it! My blog is not a novel. So I either post my own photos, or find one on Google, as I did above, showing the colorful costumes and happiness that shows in the photo. They look like they’re having a good time and for sure, their audience appreciates their performance!! All it needs now is video and sound, but I’m not going to go that route this time.

Where IS Waldo?   (Waldo, for those unfamiliar with him, is a cartoon character featured in many “find Waldo” images and puzzles)     
You can see him in a book
You can see him by a brook
You might see him in a tree
Or on a sailing ship at sea!
You may see him in a park
You may see him on an ark
Or maybe he’ll be right next to you
On your next trip to the zoo.
You can see him in the air
You can see him anywhere!

What’s the best part of waking up?
My morning routine: tea and a banana while reading in a comfy chair in front of the fireplace (in cold weather) or enjoying the morning air on the porch, also with tea, banana, and book. ( I can’t drink any kind of coffee anymore and would never desire Folgers in my mug!)

Would you rather be covered in fur or covered in scales?   (Wee disclaimer.  I’m certainly not advocating the slaughter of creatures and the use of their skins for clothing or accessories.  No!  This question is a ‘grow your own’ type question…if you had an option of your own skin being made of fur OR scales, which would you choose?)
Definitely fur, so that people would pet me and cuddle with me. Who wants to cuddle with a snake or a fish?? Also, because of where I live, I am more in need of fur to keep me warm. Scaly animals have trouble surviving our winter climate!


*caipirinha – a Brazilian drink made with cachaca (sugar cane based alcoholic beverage), lime, ice, and sugar

GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional) 

Feel free to share your gratitude for our world!
I’m grateful for the GOOD NEWS about beating Covid-19! The American Rescue Plan has been passed, and soon Pres. Biden will sign it – this is a comprehensive bill, the biggest legislation to benefit ordinary Americans since the ACA. On the vaccination front, today in the U.S., almost 2.9 million people were vaccinated, way more than the president’s goal of 1 million per day. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are down. Sure, there is bad news too but I am very grateful for the good news, and the fact that soon we will be able to get together with small groups and families without having to wear masks, etc. My husband and I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and the majority of my friends have either been vaccinated or have appointments. In Des Plaines, a mass vaccination site was opened in the former K Mart building – they can vaccinate 3,500 people per day! And in Chicago, the United Center is being used to vaccinate up to 6,000 people per day.

Seattle doctor's gratitude goes far beyond the person who gave his COVID-19  vaccine; read his unusual letter | The Seattle Times

Frutas Exoticas!

I have learned about exotic fruits mostly from my travels to Latin America and living in Brazil. And they are delicious!! Dr. Tanya’s 5 Things topic this week is exotic fruits!!

  1. Part of the time I spent in Brazil was in the northeastern city of Natal, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. My now ex-husband taught at the university there. I didn’t have a job and although we had a car, he drove because I was petrified of driving in Brazil – I still am! So many afternoons I would lie in a hammock on our veranda and drink fresh fruit juices. (Tough life, eh?!) We made these ourselves – all you do is cut up the fruit and blend it in a blender. I guess it was more like a smoothie.

It so happened that our next door neighbor, separated by a wall between us, had a papaya tree that was right next to that wall. One day, it produced a large papaya which dropped from the tree into our yard! So we claimed it and ate it right away. (I never much liked papaya, but when it’s fresh, it’s wonderfully juicy and smooth!)

Brazilian papayas are much larger than the ones imported from Mexico that we have in the U.S.

2. Probably the most unusual fruit, at least for those of us who live in temperate climates, is the caju (cashew in English). All we get here are the nuts (which I love!) but they also have a fruit attached to them. The juice from the cashew fruit isn’t that great, but I’m including it here for its “exoticness” and because I like cashews!

Incidentally, the largest cashew tree in the world is in Natal! My ex and I visited it one day, and although I have photos of it in a moldy old photo album somewhere, I am posting this one downloaded from Google Images. (They’ve really modernized it by making paths through it – there were no wooden paths when we went.)

The cashew tree doesn’t grow tall – it just spreads out and looks like a small forest from the outside! When a long, snaky branch gets heavy and touches the ground, eventually roots grow underneath it, creating a new, “daughter” tree!

Here is the fruit, called an apple in English. Brazilians don’t usually eat the fruit, but they make juice out of it.

The cashew nut is easy to identify!

3. The carambola, or star fruit, is shaped like a star! You slice it as you would a kiwi, and eat the juicy slices! It is possible sometimes to find this fruit in American supermarkets.

4. Fruta de conde is a fruit not available here, but in Puerto Rico and other Central American countries you can find a variation of it, called guanabana. It contains large black seeds which are easy to remove as you eat the mild, sweet white flesh. Ice cream made from this fruit is wonderful too!

The Brazilian fruta de conde is rather small, about the size of an artichoke (which it sort of resembles from the outside!), but the guanabana of Central America is quite a bit larger.

5. For the last one, it was hard to decide between passion fruit and guava, both of which are absolutely wonderful! If you have never tried passion fruit juice, you can find it in the international section of your supermarket – sometimes – and you will develop a passion for this fruit too!

Maracuja, as passion fruit is called in Portuguese, is very popular to use in the most famous Brazilian cocktail – caipirinha! This drink is made with cachaça (very strong but kind of sweet alcohol), sugar, ice, and maracuja. It’s great with vodka or rum too!!

Four years ago, when my husband Dale and I went to Brazil, I ordered this drink several times, always with passion fruit, but you can get them made from most any fruit, including mango, lime (traditional), guava, etc.

Because it was a tie between passion fruit and guava, I will include guava too! My late sister-in-law lived in Hawaii, and when we went to visit her, I would pick guavas right off the tree in front of her house and bite into them! Guava skin is meant to be eaten with the fruit. My ex-husband’s grandmother made really good jam from guava.

I prefer the pink guava, but the yellow/white is good too.

There are many other fruits I could write about, (mango, jaca, acai, etc.) but this challenge was for 5 (or 6, ahem) things!

All photographs in this post were downloaded from Google Images.

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.

LAPC 99: The Old and the New

Amy of Lens-Artists invites us this week to show old and new with our photos and stories.

On our last trip to Brazil, we spent our first week staying with friends in the southern city of Curitiba, which has well over 1 million inhabitants. The city has grown a lot since I was last there in 1979! In this photo, the juxtaposition between old and new can be seen in the Centro Histórico (historical center), with Portuguese-style buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries dwarfed by modern skyscrapers.

We then spent about a week in São Paulo. Every Sunday, a major avenue, Avenida Paulista, is closed to motorized traffic; pedestrians and bicyclists have the street to themselves on that day. Being a major street, Avenida Paulista is lined with ultra modern architecture, but there are historical monuments there also, which visitors can explore. At the far end of this avenue is the Casa das Rosas, named for its rose gardens, a Victorian mansion that has become part of Brazil’s historic patrimony. Behind this partial view of the house, a glass blue skyscraper rises high.

In São Paulo’s downtown, old and new live side by side, above and below. These 19th century buildings, which can be admired for their colors nd wrought-iron balconies, now house modern stores on their lower levels.

Two years later, we were in Egypt, where we saw many monuments of its 3500 year old civilization. The Egyptians are both proud of their heritage and dependent economically on tourism. This modern apartment building is decorated with motifs of ancient Egypt.

While visiting the ancient pyramids in Giza, just outside the city of Cairo, we also took in a museum housing a restored ancient boat belonging to one of the first pharaohs. These boats were buried in pits next to the king’s tomb because the ancient Egyptians believed he would need his boat to travel to the afterworld. While the pyramids and the boat are ancient, the hexagonal Giza Solar Boat Museum which houses the ancient boat is quite modern looking on the outside, in contrast with the 3,500 year old pyramid behind it!

We visited the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled as pharaoh for nearly 20 years during Egypt’s 18th dynasty. I took this photo of my silly husband with his Nikon camera hanging down over his chest, posing with two Egyptian guards dressed in traditional garb in one of the temple’s sanctuaries.

Every one of the monuments was swarming with cellphone-toting tourists snapping photos.

South of Aswan is the city and monument of Abu Simbel, which is less touristy, because many people do not want to take the two-plus journey there to see the twin temples built by Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s, it caused a lake to form south of the dam, which flooded previously inhabited areas. Because of its historical value, a huge effort was made, before the dam could be built, to remove the ancient monuments that would otherwise end up underwater. Ramses II’s temple and the smaller temple next to it he had built for his beloved wife Nefertari were divided painstakingly into sections and lifted 200 meters higher where a cliff had been carved out for its placement to look at much like the original location as possible. In the old position, Ramses II’s architects had cleverly created an inner chamber in which there were statues of the pharaoh and two gods, which received direct sunlight for 45 minutes on only two days of the year – his birthday and his coronation date – February 22 and October 22. One of the gods, Ptah, remained always in shadow, for he was the god of darkness. When the monuments were raised up to the higher cliff in the 1960s, the sun’s rays no longer illuminated the statues on those two dates, but close – they now shine upon the statues for fewer minutes on Feb. 21 and Oct. 21, only a day earlier.

Several of Egypt’s ancient monuments, including the temples at Abu Simbel, now have a special light show for tourists, which project colorful images onto the outer face of the monuments starting at twilight. As the images are shown, there is narration to accompany them in several languages that you listen to with an earbud attached to a small transmitter. New technology is juxtaposed with ancient buildings by using them as a “movie screen” for the images. During the projection of the images, it is difficult to make out the shapes and features of the statues behind them.

Beginning of the show, just after twilight
These projected images are from photos of actual Egyptian paintings, used to tell the history of this ancient civilization, as well as from photos telling the story of the project to move the monuments to their current location.

In Israel, where we traveled after our tour of Egypt, there are also many ancient places. Much of the original wall of Jerusalem and its gates still exists; millions of tourists and residents enter those gates on a daily basis. Here are some young Israelis dressed in their military uniforms about to enter this ancient gate.

In Gethsemane, there is a garden with ancient olive trees. One of them is exceptionally old – dating from the time of Jesus and is believed to possibly have been a young tree when he leaned against it to pray on the eve of his crucifixion. In order to protect it, a fence now surrounds it.

Finally, while on a boat tour of the canals and harbor of Amsterdam, I took this photo of Amsterdammers in a boat shaped like a Heineken barrel, about to pass under a medieval bridge.