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.

CFFC: Vertical Challenge

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the theme columns and vertical lines.

Column at a kitschy Egyptian-themed site, Wadsworth, IL
This single pillar in a Grayslake, IL park is the only remnant of a factory that had previously been on that site.
Memorial to fallen soldiers, Inverness, IL
Columns at the manor at Cantigny, the estate of Robert McCormick, Wheaton, IL
Base of a stairway railing, Cantigny
Satellite communications tower, Rolling Meadows, IL
Decorative bamboo stalks, annual orchid show at Chicago Botanic Gardens
Orchid show, Chicago Botanic Gardens
Vertical blinds at a friend’s house in Des Plaines, IL
Columns at Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Israel
Cloister columns at the Abbey, Mont St-Michel, France
Snail clusters on a pillar, Mont St-Michel, France
Abbey, Mont St-Michel, France
Cathedral of Cologne, Germany
Organ pipes, Bamberg Cathedral, Germany
Sculpture fountain at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA
Forecourt columns, Philae, Egypt
Gated doorway, Philae, Egypt

Monday Window: Dohany St. Synagogue

The Dohany St. Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, in Budapest, Hungary, is the largest synagogue in Europe and the 4th largest in the world. It can accommodate close to 3,000 worshippers.

The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style, incorporating decoration based on Islamic models from North Africa and la Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The Viennese architect reasoned that no distinctive Jewish style of architecture could be identified, so he used elements from the people most closely related to the Israelites, most particularly the Arabs.

These windows and those in the next photo depict scenes from the Old Testament.

The synagogue constituted the border of the Jewish Ghetto in Budapest during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, and the complex includes the Jewish Museum, Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard and Holocaust Memorial.

The Dohany St. Synagogue is the center of the Reform Jewish denomination in Budapest. From there, you can take a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter, an interesting historic area in the Pest part of the city.

Posted for Ludwig’s Monday Window photo challenge.

Information obtained from Wikipedia.

Thursday Doors: Bygone Doors & Gates

In my former home town of Des Plaines, Illinois, they are constantly putting up more condo buildings, especially near downtown where the commuter train station is. Last year, right around the time we moved to Arlington Heights, they razed a whole section of downtown buildings to make way for – you guessed it – yet another condo building! The bank on the corner was spared because of its historic significance, and our favorite Mexican restaurant survived also, but the only camera store around (and within walking distance of my house!), a good Italian restaurant and other businesses had to move.


Before any of that took place, however, I took photos of downtown Des Plaines establishments which are no more.

The first two are of doors that were already boarded up long ago, but now the building is totally gone.
This karate studio at 1415 Ellinwood was among those businesses that were demolished.
1411 Ellinwood was a store that sold all sorts of knickknacks or tchotschkies as they say in Yiddish.

Other bygone doors and gate, now bricked up, can be found at ruins whose occupants have been gone for centuries.

St. Simeon – an early Christian monastery in Egypt, near Aswan – was first built in the 7th century CE, dedicated to a local saint. It was rebuilt in the 10th century CE and dedicated to St. Simeon. From here the monks traveled into Nubia with the hope of converting Nubians to Christianity. It was originally occupied by up to 1,000 monks. It was partially destroyed by the troops of Saladin in 1173. On the walls inside, you can find both Christian and Muslim symbols and writing.
Canaanite Gate or Gate of the Three Arches, at Tel Dan Archaeological Site in Israel – it dates from the Middle Bronze Age (1700 BCE), and was the exterior entry archway in the mudbrick gate (only the outer arch is still visible). The city of Dan was named for the Israelite tribe, the Dan, who conquered it in the 11th century BCE. It was a station on the route from Egypt to Syria, and is mentioned as early as the 19th century BCE in ancient Egyptian texts, when it was known as Laesh.
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We visited the remains of a major synagogue dating from the 4th century in Capernaum, a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee which was occupied from the 2nd century BCE to the 11th century CE. This synagogue entrance was not bricked up – instead we were standing in the main sanctuary of the synagogue.20190110_120625
Jerusalem retains much of its ancient wall which originally surrounded it. There were several entrance gates into the city. The Golden Gate, which was blocked off in 1541, is the gate through which Jesus entered the holy city to celebrate the Passover. It is claimed that it will be reopened when Jesus returns to Earth.  In front of the gate and that portion of the wall is the Muslim cemetery.  In 66 CE, the year of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans, when the Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, the city had a larger population that it has today, and most residents lived outside its walls.
See a variety of doors, including his own doors on wheels, at Norm’s Thursday Doors 5/7/20.


Thursday Doors: Doors on My Travels

Because we’re not going anywhere right now, I have compiled a collection of doors I have photographed during recent travels for Norm’s Thursday Doors. In fact, I don’t think I’ve shared these doors before!  (Well, maybe a few of them.)

Three doors at the Louvre in Paris, France:
Aswan, Egypt: Store fronts and stadium
Lotus gate in Aswan
Synagogue entrance in Jerusalem, Israel
20190113_101001d Synagogue door, Jerusalem
Church door, Vienna, Austria
20190706_114924 church door, Vienna
Courtyard, Vienna
20190706_114715 Vienna
Store front, Vienna
20190706_110230 Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
DSC02025 Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna
St. Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary
20190708_112754 St Mattias, Budapest
20190708_111302 Budapest

CFFC: Upward

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is about pointing your camera upward!


Moose antlers chandelier at Claim Jumper Restaurant in Hoffman Estates, IL


Looking up at the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt


Flying gull, Sea of Galilee, Israel


Looking up toward the glass ceiling of a greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Gardens’ orchid show

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Solar eclipse, August 2017 at Chicago Botanic Gardens. I took this photo by pointing my cellphone upwards, covering the screen with the filter from my eclipse glasses.


Dome at Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines


Looking up from under the center of the Eiffel Tower, Paris


Domed window panels, O’Hare Airport, Chicago


Looking up over a doorway in Wurzburg, Germany


Regensburg Cathedral spire, Germany


Statue of King Ludwig I, Regensburg, Germany


Ornamentation on top of a building in Passau, Germany

#JanuarySquare 9: Hanukkah Lights

Hanukkah overlapped with Christmas this year and at North School Park in Arlington Heights, we met a rabbi at the Hanukkah (Chanukah) display of a menorah lit up for the 5th day of Hanukkah. (It’s hard to see but the light immediately to the left of the middle candle, called the shamas, is also lit.)
DSC02650 (2) menorah - North School Park.JPG
For those of you not familiar with Hanukkah, it is the Jewish celebration of a miracle that happened long ago when the Maccabees (a prominent Jewish band of rebels) took control of Judea when it was under Syrian rule. They planned to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem. Under siege, they had oil only to last one day, but by miracle, it lasted eight days. The special Hanukkah menorah has nine candles. The one in the middle, usually elevated, is called the shamas, and is used to light the others, adding one during each night of Hanukkah.  The lighting of the candles is a ritual which takes place each evening of Hanukkah at sundown, during which special prayers are said. (Although I am Christian, my husband is Jewish, and we celebrate both holidays.)

The rabbi we met at the park invited us to visit his congregation for a Hanukkah party the Sunday after Christmas, which we didn’t do because we had other plans already. The rabbi went to his car, which had a glowing menorah on top!
Hanukkah is also known as the “Festival of Lights” which fits the topic of Becky’s January Squares challenge, _____light.

Sculpture Saturday

Mind Over Memory has a photo challenge called Sculpture Saturday. Here a few photos of sculptures I’ve taken over the last few months.


Rocking horse light sculpture, North School Park, Arlington Heights, IL (this park has a wonderful holiday lights display every year).


Modern art sculpture somewhere in Chicago – taken during our Open House Chicago 2019 tour


Sculpture at Buddhist Temple in Chicago – taken during Open House Chicago 2019.



Taken at the Chinese pagoda at Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, WA

Thursday Doors: Walking Tour of Regensburg

July 2-3, 2019

We arrived in Regensburg by bus, where our new ship was waiting for us. We had been on the Viking Gefjon up until our arrival in Nuremberg, but the ship could not proceed south on the Danube because of a broken lock! So a sister ship, the Viking Sigyn, which was coming north, became our new home for the rest of the trip. All the passengers on each of the ships were transferred from one ship to the other, retaining the same stateroom number. Although the staff was different, our activity director, Alex, made the switch with us.  Because of this unusual situation, we arrived in time to do some exploring along the waterfront in Regensburg before it got dark, and we stayed docked there overnight.

For Norm’s Thursday Doors, please join me on a walking tour in the medieval center of Regensburg! Founded by the Romans in 179 CE, it is one of Germany’s oldest towns and is the 4th largest in Bavaria. Its original name was Casta Regina, which means “Fortress by the River Regen.” It was lucky to be spared major bombing during WWII, so many of its medieval structures remain intact.


The stone portion of this wall is the original from medieval times.


Our guide shows us what remains of this town gate – the dark colored areas are what still exists from the original structure.


More of the (reconstructed) medieval wall that surrounded the town.


Entrance to Villapark, 1.5 hectares, which was planned and begun in 1856-57 and was restored in 2013-14 according to the original plan.

The 12th century old stone bridge was used during the Crusades on the route to the Holy Land.

Porta Praetoria – another section of the original medieval wall

I could totally relate to this sign! 😀
Cobblestone street in the “old town.”
This building is called “Goliath House” due to the painting on the side. The Schindlers (of Schindler’s List fame) lived here at one time.
Patrician building – the patrons, or rulers, of the town would build a tower that was the highest in town. A new patron would build a taller tower. These towered buildings would house the city government – the rathaus, or town hall. This pink tower still stands but it is not the most recent. It is now used as a student dormitory!
Here is a wonderfully delicious doorway to walk through!
Lots of construction was going on in the old town when we were there.
Looking across a street (with limited access due to construction) at two doors for the “price” of one! Probably noisy at the time for the inhabitants of nos. 3 and 5!
Take a little rest or…
…shop for jewelry and pet a friendly dog!
This is Neupfarrkirche, built on the site of a destroyed Jewish synagogue after the Jews were expelled from the city. It is now an evangelical church.
King Maximillian had protected the Jews but when he died in 1519, the town destroyed the synagogue and drove the Jews out. Inside the church is an exhibit about the church’s history and the Jewish community of Regensburg.

The townspeople also destroyed the Jewish cemetery after the expulsion of the Jews. Some of their gravestones have been incorporated into walls.DSC01681
A Jewish community developed in Regensburg again when they were allowed to return in 1669 but they were not able to dedicate a new synagogue until 1841. It was demolished in 1907 for fear of collapse and another synagogue was built on a different site in 1912 when the Jewish population had grown to about 600.  The synagogue was destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht by the Nazis. A new synagogue has been under construction since 2018.

This is a “stumble stone” that tells the name of a person who lived here, that died in one of the Nazi camps.
Another No. 3!
We reached the Domplatz, site of the Cathedral of St. Peter.
20190703_111422.jpgThe Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter was built in the 1200s using whatever materials they had, so it is a patchwork of sandstone and limestone. Here you can see this “patchwork.”
20190703_111208The spires were not added until 1868 on the order of King Ludwig I, whose statue is in the Domplatz.

Under the cross in front is St. Peter in a boat.
Here’s a close up (you can see that Peter is holding an oar!):
The cathedral’s doors

The Cathedral of St. Peter has the largest hanging organ in the world.
Pope Benedict came to the cathedral during his tenure as pope.
Inside the cathedral are beautifully vivid stained glass windows, a number of statues and religious relics.

Continuing on our walk in the old town, there were many doors to admire.
Such colorful souvenirs for sale!

This is the entrance to a restaurant.
Altes Rathaus – old town hall (notice the patrician tower!)

Regensburg is a cultural center and has an opera house. This bodega serves wine and tapas. The mural is from the opera Carmen, the theme of the bodega. Carmen was staged here at one time.

The drinking age here for wine and beer is 16. To buy hard liquor or cigarettes, you have to be 18. If you want to purchase cigarettes from a vending machine like this one, you have to insert your ID for verification.
There is even a golf museum in Regensburg!
We entered a little church, Stiftskirche St. Johann

Regensburg is considered one of the top destinations to visit in Germany. Its medieval center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sources for this post:
Author’s notes from July  3 visit
Regensburg on Trip Advisor
Attractions in Regensburg 
Wikipedia, Regensburg
Wikipedia, Regensburg Synagogue