LAPC: Keep Walking

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #163 invites us to share photos of our walking trails and discoveries!

We used to hike much more than we do now. Even so, when we are traveling and there is an opportunity to take a walking tour, we take advantage of it! Also, we go on day trips in the Chicago area, to a variety of places to find something artistic or unusual.

On our first day in Tanzania, we spent the morning on a genuine hike! This ficus tree captured my interest.

On that same hike, our guide stopped to pick up something off the ground – a giraffe turd! Holding it in his open palm, he told us it was the turd of a male giraffe, because of its somewhat football shape. Female giraffe turds are flat on each end! Several of our group of hikers crowded around to get a close-up of this unusual find! The guide patiently waited, while with his other hand he looked at something on his cellphone!

Where there is giraffe poop, you can be sure there are giraffes nearby! This one walked nonchalantly away from us – since it was also a male giraffe, I wonder if his was the deposit we had been examining!

Later during that trip, on the day we arrived at Serengeti National Park, another hike had been arranged! I love to walk because that is when I see the small things that would be missed on a bike or traveling in a vehicle! I took photos of these three small things on that hike.

giraffe footprint
Scorpion flower
Dung beetles roll dung into balls, then dig a depression in the earth and push the dung ball into it. The dung beetles lay their eggs in it.

Most of my walks are short treks either around campus or somewhere else in town. On campus one day, which happened to be my birthday, Dale and I were taking our usual walk around campus, when we came upon two other residents who were walking their dogs and had stopped to chat (while social distancing!). It’s common for residents to greet each other or chat on these walks, but before long, someone says, “Well, I need to keep walking” and they go their separate ways.

During the pandemic, we’ve taken day trips to far-flung suburbs and nature reserves.

Dale stops on a wooden bridge over a marsh at Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve.
Reflections in a lagoon – Cuba Marsh

Some of my favorite walks are in sculpture parks! Our walk at Morton Arboretum, which happened to be on my birthday this year, was in search of a new installation of sculptures by a South African artist.

Dale approaches the first sculpture, called “Hallow,” at Morton Arboretum
We did not stop to rest on this bench, although the scene was inviting.
The last sculpture, “Basilica,” of the installation that we visited. The artist of these beautiful sculptures is behind the left hand. It was cool to be able to meet and chat with him a little! I don’t know who the little girl was – she just happened to get in my picture!

PPAC #4: Human + Nature

I love this challenge that Marsha and Cee are hosting! It’s Cee’s turn this week.

Today I am featuring some interesting sculptures by Daniel Popper, an artist from South Africa, which are on display in various locations at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. The installation is called Human + Nature.

This is the first sculpture we saw, not far from the entrance to the park. Its title is Hallow.

Further on down the path, we came upon another one, called Sentient.

There was another sculpture in that part of the park, but even with the map, we couldn’t find it. So we drove across the highway to the smaller part of the arboretum, where we saw two more.

I neglected to take a picture of this one’s title, but it was something like Mother or Beauty.

The last one we saw was called Basilica, and there we met the artist himself, who was using spray paint to touch up a few details. Our visit was at the beginning of the display. These sculptures will remain for about a year, before they are dismantled and Popper takes them to their next destination.

The artist poses next to his sculpture, Basilica.

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

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)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Creativity

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #42 is the topic Creativity.

I love to visit cities where I get a surprise free art show! In Lincoln, Nebraska last May, after visiting tourist attractions such as the Capitol and the Sunken Gardens, I Googled restaurants and found Lazlos, in the old part of downtown. After lunch, we walked around and across from the restaurant was an alley that local artists had decorated with murals, whimsical sculptures, and more. It reminded me of Black Cat Alley in Milwaukee, which we had visited the previous November. There were a variety of styles and media.
The face sculptures were done by Mary Kolar and the stars by Ann S.
This family was created by Julie McCullough out of discarded miscellaneous objects.

Andy Peters created a sculpture (at right) using the theme of the painting at left.

I think these are boats?
This 1960s-style mural took up a large section of wall.
I like the way this artist used the contours of the windows when painting this mural.
Jen Gay was the creator of this piece.
And here’s a warning!
A few days later, we spent 3 nights at an Airbnb in Denver hosted by artist Marlene Feinholz. Most of her paintings have local themes, but there are some unusual pieces too.
This space, essentially a “garden apartment” below her residence, used to be her studio, but she decided to move her studio upstairs and rent out the apartment to visitors to Denver. Most of the artwork (with the exception of a couple of Picassos she apparently picked up in Spain) was her own.



Getting Our Kicks in a Wigwam and a Bottle Forest (Route 66 Day 2, Pt. 1)

June 7, 2018 (San Bernardino, CA – Kingman, AZ)

On Day 1, we explored Santa Monica Pier but bypassed several L.A. area sites. That night, we drove to San Bernardino, where we spent the night at the Wigwam Motel! There were original seven in this chain, but only three survive, two of which are on Historic Route 66. Since I first saw one of the others in the chain, in Holbrook, Arizona, in 2006, I have wanted to see what it was like to stay in one of these “Wigwam Villages!”




In case you can’t find your way to the office, this wooden statue will point the way!



Display in front of the motel office

Inside the office (coffee is available at any time):

This motel is well-maintained and the rooms are all in wood & concrete “wigwams” (or teepees), 30 ft. tall, built in the late 1930s.  Being the last built in the chain, the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino is designated Wigwam Village #7. I recommend this motel for a unique lodging experience and plenty of kitsch!  (Other than the wooden statue, I did not find anything offensive to Native Americans.)


Our wigwam, #14, with the door open while we loaded up our car in the morning.

The inside of the room had some funky touches, such as these lavish curtains and cactus bedside lamp; also notice that the room is not square, and there is a triangular mirror.

The bathroom had old fashioned fixtures, but everything worked just fine!
Although there was help-yourself coffee in the office, they didn’t serve breakfast, but the motel manager recommended Chris’s, which was right down the street and also had plenty of Route 66 memorabilia.


Weird tree at the intersection across from the motel

Chris’s Burgers has an extensive breakfast menu, and the food is decent.

The front of the restaurant makes it very clear that it is on Historic Route 66 or at least capitalizing on the route’s popularity!
The décor inside Chris’s is a 50s style diner.

We continued on I-15 (which parallels Route 66) until we got to Victorville. To get to our next destination, we took Exit 153. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is about 12 1/2 miles north of Victorville on Route 66 (SR 66). Its official address (for those using GPS) is:
24266 National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA 92368.  To watch a video of the creator, Elmer Long, tell  the history of the bottle ranch, click on the blog California Through My Lens. The blogger describes this place as literally a forest of bottle trees (large metal pipes with bottles hanging from them), located along the Mother Road, Route 66, right in the heart of the California desert. 20180607_113654.jpgI found this place fascinating and took many pictures. Dale, however, got bored with it after awhile.  Personally, I love public folk art and this is the perfect example of a folk art creation. I will let the photographs describe our visit and hopefully inspire others to visit as well!20180607_113653d
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Artful Amsterdam: “Na” in the Oude Kerk

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Oude Kerk, or “Old Church” is the oldest building still standing in Amsterdam.  Around it grew the Red Light District, so to get to it, you walk through part of this famous district! (We didn’t see much of it, only shop windows.)  SONY DSCThis, the first church in Amsterdam, was Catholic at one time, but later was turned into a Protestant, Dutch Reformed church.SONY DSCI had gotten the impression from Rick Steves’ book that these old Protestant churches were rather plain and dull. So it shouldn’t take long to see it, I thought. We had limited time and I wanted to tour Our Lord In the Attic church also.

Our I Amsterdam passes got us in free and we were handed a map and a newspaper, which the woman at the entrance said was about art – “it’s not just a church, but also a place for modern art,” she said.

I opened the map but found it confusing so I folded it up again. When we first walked into the church, I was startled by a voice asking something in Dutch coming from a wooden frame dressed in a black coat. Above the coat, attached to the top of the frame was a small lamp pointed downward.

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Altar at Oude Kerk

Most of the far wall was obscured by looming black rectangular shapes. They were covered with black plastic so I assumed some sort of renovation was going on.033 (16)There was also a strange sound echoing through the building – a high pitched wind sound. Dale thought it was the sound of some tool being used by the workers, although we didn’t see anyone working. In the center of the room, instead of pews, were rows of black coats lying on the floor.
033 (15)The floor itself had what looked like grave markers – I was familiar with this – many old churches had people buried under the floors. 033 (28)On the far end were a bunch of folding chairs draped also with black coats and against a dark partition at the back was an arrow pointing upward, made out of light bulbs. OK, I understood the point – the black coats represented people who had died or were buried here, but I didn’t understand how the arrow fit in with this theme.033 (32)


Then I heard whispering. It was coming from the rows of seats flanking the center, where the choir would sit. I had approached these because the back of the chairs had interesting figures carved on them. It must have been quite uncomfortable to sit with one’s back against these protrusions, I thought. Being a choir member myself, I always notice the accommodations for the choir when I visit other churches.033 (29)


033 (30)As I snapped some photos, I heard a whispering voice but couldn’t make out what it was saying. Some words seemed to be repeated – was it a macabre poem in Dutch, or an obscure religious text?
033-27.jpgHearing it a second time on the other side, I decided to take a short video so I could record the voice. This time I understood – it was whispering names: “Cornelia” was repeated twice, then other presumably unintelligible names. Who was Cornelia and why was she being summoned by this eerie whisper?

Only later, back in our apartment, when I read the paper we’d been given, did I really understand. There was no construction or renovation going on.  It was an art installation called Na by artist Christian Boltanski.

Oude Kerk - Na artist Christian Boltanski

Photo of artist Christian Boltanski standing in the Oude Kerk (scanned from newspaper about the exhibition).


The bulky black shapes represented looming tombstones of various heights. The names being whispered were those of the 8,000 people who were buried underneath the church! Somewhere there was a recording machine with an invitation for visitors to record their whispering one of these names. There is no distinction between male and female voices when they are whispering, so the voices would be anonymous. As for the names, they were all printed in a small book near the entrance, which I missed completely. The questions posed by the anonymous black coats on frames were meant to make the visitor wonder about the dead: “Did you suffer when you died?” Each question was different. Being in Dutch, I could not contemplate these questions regardless.


Oude Kerk - Na - lightbulbs in doorway

“Crepuscule” – Through wires, 158 (the number of days of the exhibition) lightbulbs are connected on the floor. As time passes, one lamp will automatically be switched off at noon every day until all of the lights have faded on the last day of the exhibition.


The newspaper article concludes, “With his work, Christian Boltanski (b. Paris, 1944) inquires about the life and death of anonymous people and groups whose history is in the process of fading away.  In the Oude Kerk artists hold meanings from the past up to the light again, adding new pages to (art) history with their work.

The exhibition Na runs from Nov. 24, 2017 through April 29, 2018 at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.

WPC: The Unusual Orange Show, Houston, TX

I mused for awhile over whether the Weekly Photo Challenge should be unusual photographs or photographs of something unusual? So I checked out some of the submissions to get some inspiration. I found several different interpretations: some focused on unusual photographs (the way the photo was taken), some were of unusual things, and others about unusual situations.

I then came across some photos of an unusual place we visited in Houston, Texas in 2013. First we went to the Beer Can House (unusual but not as unusual as…), then to The Orange Show. This was truly one of the strangest folk art installations I have ever seen.

The Orange Show was created by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack between 1956 and 1979, a Houston postal worker, who collected common building materials and found objects (hmm, reminds me of Dr. Evermor – see my post for last week’s WPC: Collage). He did not consider himself an artist; The Orange Show was, to him, a monument to the fruit.


Dale at the entrance to The Orange Show


After you enter, you walk through a series of exhibits, a collection of seemingly random objects the artist collected. Some had to do with oranges, the monument’s theme, because oranges are healthy and taste good.

The Orange Show




A "history of the world" display

Plastic dinosaurs??!

A sign on display explains how the Orange Show came about. You can also find out more about it here.




McKissack's representation of "purity."

McKissack’s representation of “purity.”


Instead of rosy cheeks, this Santa has rosy red lips!

Instead of rosy cheeks, this Santa has rosy red lips!


Outside there is a small open-air theatre where actual events are held.


Outside, the main stage area. Shows are still held here, although I don’t know what kind…most likely for children.



The main stage - there are bleachers and above, individual seats.

The main stage – there are bleachers and above, individual seats.





Entrance to another, smaller stage

Entrance to another, smaller stage



Foyer of hearts

Foyer of hearts

The Orange Show has since become more than just this installation; it is the name of an organization promoting local arts and artists. Besides The Orange Show, the organization supports and promotes The Beer Can House, Smithers Park and the Houston Art Car Parade. Information about these art events and installations can be found on the web site whose link I have posted above and below.

From the web site:

Visit The Orange Show
The Orange Show is currently open for the Summer Wednesday through Sunday, from 12-5pm, weather permitting.
Fall and Spring schedules for The Orange Show is Saturdays and Sundays, 12-5pm, weather permitting.  The Orange Show is closed January and February for restorations.
 Admission to the monument is $5.00.  Children under 12 are FREE.  Group tours, field trips, concerts and some workshops have other fees
NOTE: The Orange Show is a No Open Carry site. Pursuant to Section 30.07 we reserve the right to ask you to leave should you openly carry a firearm onto the premises.

And while you are in the neighborhood, just a short walk down the street will take you to Smithers Park, where you can see beautiful mosaics fashioned by local artists out of everyday objects.