April Squares: Bright and Whimsical

These whimsical animals were part of a sculpture garden next to an elegant restaurant in Antigua, Guatemala, and I think they are perfect for Becky’s April Bright Squares.

Antigua was part of an optional tour during our 2017 cruise through the Panama Canal. We crossed from east to west, and made several stops along the western coastal ports of Central America.

After touring the historic center, our tour bus took us on a narrow winding road up a hill, past the rich part of town. At the very top of the hill was a cultural center, Santo Domingo del Cerro, and restaurant called The Golden Fork.  This is where we had lunch and afterward had some free time to shop at craft vendors or wander the grounds which contained interesting artwork by local artists, including various colorful animal sculptures – a rabbit, monkeys, snails, crocodiles, horses, and merry-go-round horses. 

Travel in Green

HeyJude at Travel Words has a Life in Colour Photo Challenge 2021, and the theme for March is green. Here’s my gallery of green:

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.

L-APC: The Alphabet

The Alphabet starts with “A” and that is the subject of Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week, starting appropriately with the amazing letter A!

I have a file of letter-shaped things. I got the idea for it when I saw this cute little ladder in our neighborhood and immediately thought of the letter A!

abelia grandiflora
Austria
Austrians

My brother-in-law sings in a barbershop chorus called The Arlingtones. It is based in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Arlingtones holiday show 2019

In Cairo we visited the Museum of Islamic Art. Arabic writing is an art form in itself!

Arabic writing from the Ottoman Empire

In the spring, swans mate and lay their eggs. In early April, the female has laid 2 eggs and by the end of April, she has laid all her eggs!

Art (painting by Monet)
Arches National Park, Utah
ancient architecture (Karnak, Luxor, Egypt)

CFFC: Dark Red

Cee’s fun Foto challenge continues with a color theme. This week is dark red including maroon and burgundy.

bathroom décor at a wedding venue, Chicago
ceiling in bathroom at a wedding venue, Chicago
Field of flowers, Israel
Light show at Abu Simbel, Egypt
Lightscape 2019, Chicago Botanic Gardens
Seussian field of fake flowers, Chicago Botanic Gardens
Painting by Malangatana, Art Institute of Chicago
Red leaves, park in St. Charles, IL
Mural on the side of a law firm building, Geneva (?), IL
Dahlia
Painting by Edouard Manet, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

Kinda Square: Art Through the Ages

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Chicago Art Institute. There were three special exhibits I wanted to see: El Greco (16th century), Monet (19th century), and Malangatana (contemporary). There are many kinds of art and these artists illustrate how art has changed throughout history.

Doménikos Theotokópoulos, better known today by his Spanish moniker El Greco, was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. He usually signed his paintings with his name in the Greek alphabet. He moved to Toledo, Spain in 1577, where he received several commissions. He worked there until his death and it was there that he painted his best known works. His dramatic style was not well understood nor well accepted by his contemporaries, but has found appreciation in recent times. On at least one occasion, his patron was displeased with the painting El Greco had produced according to his commission, and while the painting was accepted and hung in a church, he only received half the amount he was supposed to have been paid. His most common subjects were religious themes. (Information obtained from Wikipedia.)

El Greco, Christ Driving the Money Lenders Out of the Temple

Claude Monet is one of the most famous and beloved impressionist painters; in fact, he was one of the founders of the French Impressionist movement. His interest was to capture the natural environment of the French countryside, and he would often make several versions of the same scene in order to capture the changing light and passing of the seasons. In fact, the term “impressionism” comes from the title of his painting, Impression, soleil levant which was in the first exhibition mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the traditional Salon de Paris. (Information obtained at the Chicago Art Institute and Wikipedia.)

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1904, oil on canvas

Malangatana Ngwenya (1936-2011) was an artist and national hero in his native Mozambique. His paintings depicted vivid and colorful allegorical scenes, drawing from traditional religious practices, his cultural background, and life under Portuguese colonial rule. The paintings in the Art Institute’s exhibition were completed between 1959 and 1975, coinciding with Mozambique’s liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule.

Malangatana Ngwenya, A arvore de amor (The Tree of Love), 1973, oil on hardboard

Posted for Becky’s October Kinda Square #27 photo challenge.

Kinda Square #2: Two of a Kind

I spotted these two dressed up bulldogs in front of the Batavia, IL town hall the other day. So Dale turned around and went back and I got out to take a few photos. They were kinda two of a kind – the same but different! So I thought they’d be just right for Becky’s October Kinda Square challenge! (And these photos aren’t just kind of square!)

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.

Carol’s Cheerful Selfie Challenge #1

Carol Carlisle at Light Words has started a new challenge – posting selfies! This is how she introduced the challenge:

CCSC is an opportunity to share a photograph you have taken, that you were in somewhere. Maybe even by accident, or intentional. There are all kinds of selfies, the simplest is getting in the way of the camera. I’ve given up trying to get out of the way when attempting a window photograph.  Of course there’s where your toes get in the way.

Anything Counts as a Selfie as long as you’re the one holding the camera. Some examples of Selfies and why you take them:

  1. A photo of you doing something special. Boy I’m proud
  2. Creating a memory. I was here doing this…
  3. A photo of you in a mirror ( hair cut, new hat, should I get this dress?
  4. An image where you only catch part of yourself (my toes get in flower shots more then I want.) sometimes it’s cute
  5. Photo with you and one other person even a whole group of friends (screen shots of zoom groups count )
  6. Just your finger pointing something out.
  7. An I.D. Picture
  8. Selfie from archives are welcomed

The Prime Directive is HAVE FUN.

I am including an example of three types of selfies. The first is the “partial leg selfie.”

Accompanying my leg is my grandcat Freddy, June 2020

The next could be called “in a mirror darkly.” This was completely unintentional, but I kind of like how it turned out!

At an exhibit of artwork by Parisian art students,, Musee d’Orsay, Paris, June 2019

Finally, a “full face” selfie – this is my favorite selfie!

Standing in front of the Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea Maritima, Israel, January 2019