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.

Upstairs Downstairs

Years ago, there was a popular Masterpiece Theatre series called Upstairs, Downstairs, examining the lives of the British upper class (who lived upstairs) and their servants (who lived downstairs). The popularity of that series inspired more recent series on this subject, including Downton Abbey.

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Principal cast of the 1971 British series Upstairs, Downstairs

Those of us who had young children in the 1970s or later cannot have been completely ignorant of the popular children’s series Sesame Street. There was a silly series called “Monsterpiece Theatre” with a sketch entitled “Upstairs, Downstairs.” It showed the Muppet Grover climbing a staircase while a deep voice intoned, “Upstairs…” and as he went back down again said, “…Downstairs.” I think Sesame Street was made to appeal to parents as well as their children. Many of its sketches and songs have stuck in my mind to this day – and now my son is 35!

A similar sketch, in which Grover and Kermit discuss opposites up and down.

So even now, when I think about staircases, I can hear that voice in my mind, proclaiming in a serious, deep voice, “Upstairs…downstairs.”

So for Becky’s January Square photo challenge with the topic UP, here are some squares of stairs (hey, that rhymes!) going up.

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.

LAPC: Surprise!

We have so many surprises in life. Unfortunately, it is rare for me to get a picture of it – such as the swans on one of our lakes mating! Another resident here, a wily older man from Germany, took a series of pictures of the swans’ mating ritual – before, during, and after – close-up! I’m not that clever, I guess.  So at first I was hard pressed to think of photos I had taken that represent surprise, which is the topic of Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week. I noticed several participants had freaky nature photos, which I don’t.

Still, nature often does provide more subtle surprises. I call this photo “Hostas with a hostage” – because they’ve completely surrounded a flower pot!

Every day that I go to our community garden, I take a look at others’ gardens and sometimes take photos. I took the “before” picture as an example for my daughter how to plant marigolds around your garden to protect it from squirrels, etc.  I took the photo ion early June.

Then a few days ago, I noticed how fast it grew – it doesn’t look like the same garden!

Is this normal? I don’t know, but we have had a good balance of sunny and rainy weather this month. Nature always surprises me. When I went to the nursery to buy plants in mid-May, I saw this unusual flower – it looks like it is wearing a bonnet!

A safari always brings surprises – you never know what you are going to see and every safari is different. On our Tanzanian safari, I had almost given up seeing a leopard closer up than this:

Then, on our last day in Serengeti National Park, we were bumping along a dusty road when suddenly our driver turned around and sped back to the spot where we’d seen the leopard in a tree. He’d been notified that there were “spots below” (code for leopard on the ground). The leopard had gotten up from her nap and came down the tree, where she looked around at all the tourists gawking at her.

Seeing no danger, (all the humans were “contained”), she then leisurely ambled past all the safari trucks, including ours.

Another big surprise we had in Tanzania was seeing groups of boys alongside the road, who were undergoing a monthlong puberty ritual. Our guide told us this was very unusual to see, since the Maasai only undergo this ritual every three years – the boys are aged about 12-15.

These boys paint their faces white and wear black during the monthlong ritual in which they go from being boys to men. They have to spend a month living communally, away from their families, and are not allowed to associate with anyone in their village except each other.

Surprises come in many forms. Sometimes you can be driving along a country road, as we were, in north central Iowa, when we came across “Pinkie.”

And I love coming across unusual sights walking around the city of Chicago.

Speaking of Iowa, our biggest surprise on our 4-day trip there happened when we checked into our hotel in Mason City for the night. The concierge asked us if we wanted to see the band American English in concert that night. The tickets were free and American English is the best Beatles tribute band in the country. They were to play at the Surf Ballroom, a famous concert venue in Clear Lake, Iowa (about 20 miles from Mason City), known for the event “the day the music died” when Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and “The Big Bopper” Richardson played their last concert before being killed in a plane crash.

So we said, “Why not?” and spent a completely unexpected evening in a crowded theatre where people were dancing in the aisles and singing along. It was great!

Selfie of me and Dale having a great time with people of our generation!

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.

Thursday Doors With Flowers

Since I haven’t gone anywhere lately where I could photograph doors, I’m recycling some previous ones I’ve posted, thematically. This week for Norm’s Thursday Doors, I present doors with flowers.

Luxor, Egypt
Des Plaines, IL, USA
Quebec City, Que., Canada
Chicago, IL, USA
Des Moines, IA, USA
Maisons-Alfort (near Paris), France
Maisons-Alfort, France
Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany
Miltenberg, Germany
somewhere in northeastern France
Caen, Normandy, France
Woodstock, IL, USA
Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria
Schaerding, Austria
Regensburg, Germany
Nuremberg, Germany
Santa Fe, NM, USA

April Squares 29: Iowa State Capitol

The Iowa state capitol in Des Moines is atop a hill and offers a panoramic view of the city’s downtown. The exterior is entirely of stone with elaborate columns, cornices and capitals.20180927_094019
Looking up inside toward the top of the dome
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Posted for Becky’s April Squares with the topic TOP.

The Iowa state capitol building is one of the prettiest I have seen, so I am including more photos highlighting the decorative tile floors and ceilings. The interior is constructed with several types of Iowan wood as well as 29 types of imported marble.
The House of Representatives, looking down:
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and above, elaborate decor.SONY DSC
Colorful designs mark the floors, stairways and ceilings.
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Mosaic murals
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Looking toward the center of the building, the rotunda below
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The library is a real gem!
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If you are ever in Des Moines, the state capitol is worth a visit – bring your camera!

Source:
Wikipedia: Iowa State Capitol

Top o’ the Morning!

I don’t usually get up early. Especially now – what’s the point? I can’t go anywhere anyway! I have a routine of getting up, getting a cup of tea (I can’t tolerate coffee anymore, although I love it), a banana and a piece of Babybel cheese, and then going to a comfortable spot to read and enjoy my morning snack. In warm weather, I like to sit on the porch and breathe the morning air. So it’s usually 10 a.m. or later before I get going with my day.

But when we travel with tour groups, we often have to get up very early, and on those occasions I do have the opportunity to appreciate the early morning, or Top o’ the morning, as the Irish say, (and in order to fit into Becky’s April Square Tops!)

So for Lens-Artists photo challenge#93 with the topic morning, I am posting some photos I took early in the morning while traveling, mostly with tours, in 2018-2019.

ON SAFARI
On safari, it’s a given to get up really early, so you can have breakfast and go on a game drive in the early morning when the animals tend to be more active. So every day, our alarm was set for 6 a.m. – when I hear that alarm tune on my husband’s tablet, I still think I’m in Tanzania!

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On the patio of our lodge at Tarangire – 6:48 a.m.

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Same exact time the next morning – what a view overlooking Tarangire National Park!

2-10 sunrise
After this beautiful sunrise in Serengeti National Park…

2-10 picnic breakfast
…we had a picnic breakfast in the park!

DES MOINES, IOWA
My husband tends to wake up really early whenever we’re sleeping somewhere away from home. Sometimes he wakes me up too. Here we got a great photo overlooking the river toward downtown Des Moines. You can see the capitol building in the distance!

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From Best Western hotel room window, 7:12 a.m. in late September

EGYPT
We were in Egypt in the winter, so I often captured the rising sun between 8 and 9 a.m.!

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The Great Pyramid of Giza, at 9:46 a.m.

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View from our hotel room at the Sofitel Winter Palace in Luxor, 6:53 a.m.

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We took a 5-day cruise up the Nile, in an Egyptian style dahabeya. This type of boat doesn’t have a motor – it’s towed by tug or unfurls its sails, but because of this, we couldn’t travel at night. We docked at Besaw Island one night, and in the morning, the trees were golden in the light of the rising sun, at 6:58 a.m.

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At the end of the five-day cruise, we had arrived at Aswan, where we had to disembark. We had a long day ahead, so I took this shot at 6:24 a.m. at the breakfast table on board.

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The next morning, we were at a rustic lodge in Abu Simbel, where I took this photo from the patio, with a view of several islands on this part of the Nile. Since the Aswan High Dam was built, this part of the Nile is now a lake. 6:57 a.m.

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This was part of our view from Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan (where Agatha Christie wrote her famous mystery, Death on the Nile) at 7:20 a.m.

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At 6:22 a.m. the next morning, we were already on a bus which would take us to the Aswan airport, to fly back to Cairo.

ISRAEL
In order to cram as many sites as possible into one day, our tour company in Israel required us to be on the bus no later than 7:30. So we got up at 6 a.m. every morning, and went downstairs to breakfast between 6:30 and 7:00.

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We were on the road already when I took this photo of the Sea of Galilee receiving rays from the early morning sun, at 7:52 a.m. in early January 2019.

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The next day, I took this photo at 6:57 a.m. from our hotel room overlooking Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, before we went down to breakfast.

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We traveled south toward the Dead Sea, seen here between 7 and 8 a.m.

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We were in Jerusalem for the last few days of the tour. This is at the Church of All Nations, at 7:50 a.m. We explored the outside first, and were allowed inside at 8:00.

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Only a few of the faithful are at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to say their prayers at 8:05 a.m. The women’s section is more crowded because it is a lot smaller.

EUROPE
On our European cruise last summer, we only had to get up very early a couple of days. Usually, we’d wake up and go out on the balcony of our stateroom.

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I must have had insomnia, because I took this photo as we were cruising into Vienna at 3:56 a.m. in early July!

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The sun was full up on this cloudy day when I took this photo. It was 8:55 a.m. and I was getting my first look at Budapest just before our ship docked!

Although when I’m home, I stay up late (I’m writing this after midnight! – I’m late, sorry, Becky!) and get up late the next morning, when we travel, even on days we don’t have to get up early, we usually do because we are excited! I cherish these last trips we took before the quarantine put a stop to my planning for the next trip, scheduled for this month! But we won’t be stuck at home forever, and I look forward to more adventures soon!

 

 

 

 

CFFC: Upward

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

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

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Looking up at the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

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Flying gull, Sea of Galilee, Israel

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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.

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Dome at Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

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

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Domed window panels, O’Hare Airport, Chicago

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Looking up over a doorway in Wurzburg, Germany

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Regensburg Cathedral spire, Germany

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Statue of King Ludwig I, Regensburg, Germany

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Ornamentation on top of a building in Passau, Germany

CFFC: Vanishing Lines

These are some examples of vanishing and leading lines for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

Last night in downtown Mt. Prospect
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Barn lines at Wild Bill Cody’s Scout’s Rest Ranch in Nebraska
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On the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
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Rest stop at Rocky Mountain National Park
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Roller Coaster Road near Harper’s Ferry, Iowa
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Crop lines, Israel
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An old, unused railroad track along the river dock, Regensburg, Germany
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