PPAC #29: Sidewalk Art

Artists who use sidewalks as their canvas know that their art is temporary. If you are lucky enough to see one of these 3D-looking masterpieces, it’s best to take a photo right then and there, because next week it could be gone! I have only myself encountered one of these sidewalk paintings – usually I see them online somewhere – so I was happy to find this one, which was done on the sidewalk in front of the Des Plaines Public Library last August. I have not seen it since, so I assume it was removed or washed away.

Only having this one sidewalk masterpiece to post on the Photographing Public Art Challenge, I looked in my archives for a few other works of “art” on the sidewalk.

I’m not quite sure what this was about (we were just walking by) but it covered an entire block in downtown Denver when we were there three years ago.

This may not be considered “art” but these intersection crossings in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, were eye-catching and clever.

Sometimes, sidewalk art is in the form of mosaics, like this one that we sat next to while listening to our guide outside the Church of the Beatitudes in Israel.

More famous are the mosaic tile sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro. This view is looking down from a bar on the top floor of a hotel in Copacabana.

PPAC #10: 3-D at the Library

I’m always amazed by the artists who can draw on sidewalks in such a way to create an optical illusion of a 3-D image. These drawings are usually made with chalk so they don’t last long! I photographed this one a couple of days ago in front of the Des Plaines Public Library.

This post is my contribution to Cee & Marsha’s Photographing Public Art #10 challenge. Marsha Ingrao is hosting this challenge for the next few weeks.

Sunday Stills: Getting It Straight

Terri Webster Schrandt has a Sunday photo challenge, Sunday Stills. The theme this week is straight.

Apartment building (Woodstock, IL)

Here’s a place I’ve really been missing the last few months – the library! (Des Plaines, IL)


Under these floor tiles, several hundred people were buried during the Middle Ages! (Oude Kerk, Amsterdam)

Bridges: Pegasus Bridge (Normandy, France)

Bridge over a river on the border of Germany and Austria (near Scharding, Austria)

A tall house (Mont St-Michel, France)

Entrance to a graveyard (Merville-Franceville-Plage, France)

A straight and narrow street in Passau, Germany

Ornate fence in front of the World Museum in Vienna, Austria

FOTD: Bouquet

At a Google Photos workshop at the library a few nights ago, I learned how to make an image “pop” – an enhancement feature that makes the colors just a little more vivid.  (I can use my photo software too, but this feature on Google Photos is better – more subtle.)
This is a bouquet of roses, gladiolus, a dahlia and a gerbera daisy I had on my dining room table.
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See more signs of spring at Cee’s FOTD 3/29/19.

Lens-Artists Challenge #36: Around the Neighborhood in Des Plaines, Illinois

Lens-Artists’ weekly photo challenge this week is Around the Neighborhood. I selected some photos from my photo archive of the last few years that are “typical” of Des Plaines, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where I live.

More and more of these signs have popped up in people’s yards since the beginning of the Trump administration. This is becoming an increasingly diverse and open-minded city.  Des Plaines had been a predominantly Republican town, but as younger and more diverse people have moved in, this is changing. Republican or not, people want to show that we are welcoming.
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Des Plaines is known for traffic delays due to trains passing through. We have 37 street-level railroad crossings within the city limits! Both freight and commuter trains rumble through several times a day. This railroad track is a block from our house. Nearby, it meets up with two other sets of railroad tracks. It must be a nightmare to coordinate all this train traffic!
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Our neighborhood has a variety of wildlife, mostly birds, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, insects and an occasional deer. A fox has been spotted in the neighborhood from time to time. Lately, people have become aware of the decline in the monarch butterfly population due to urban development which has drastically reduced the plants they feed on. Now we are seeing a return of the monarchs as people make their gardens monarch-friendly!
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My husband and I often take walks around our neighborhood at any time of year when the weather cooperates. There are many forest preserves and walking/biking trails in our area. Here I am on the Des Plaines River Walk. The Des Plaines River gave the name to the city and we have historically had annual flooding problems. Heavy rains and snow melt cause the river to rise enough to overflow its banks in low lying areas.
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Besides wildlife, we have many pet lovers and usually we see people walking their dogs when we are out. There are also many outdoor cats. This one belongs to a friend and his name is Pal.
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People around here take great pride in their gardens and decorating their lawns. Some have kitschy lawn statues. This is a tasteful and pretty fall display.
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Autumn is the most beautiful season here. A few years ago, we had the most glorious fall colors. This is a typical neighborhood fall scene.20151021_151033.jpg
Because there is a Metra station in downtown Des Plaines, many people have moved in and rented or bought condos in the downtown area. But now there are condos going up everywhere – soon Des Plaines will be known more for its plethora of condo complexes  than its trains! (Planes, Trains and Automobiles really applies here – we are also near O’Hare airport.) Here is a typical condo/townhouse complex. And they keep building and building on whatever land is available. In downtown Des Plaines they are demolishing a whole block of stores and restaurants (including our local camera store) in order to put up a big apartment building!
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One more fall scene in the ‘hood!
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I forgot to list above one of our most often forgotten wildlife species – snakes! We don’t see them often and they are harmless. Three years ago, it was warm enough in February for a pair of garden snakes to make their appearance and lie sunning on a rock next to our house.
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It’s not common to see deer right in our neighborhood, but in nearby forest preserves it’s normal to see a buck, or a doe or two. I took this photo while on a walk in the Des Plaines River Forest Preserve (part of the complex of trails that includes the River Walk).
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Canada geese migrate and make their home here during the warmer months. It’s only March and we are already seeing signs of them. Hearing their honking as they fly above in V formation is a sure sign of spring! They come in flocks of vast numbers and occupy our lakes, ponds and fields.  At Prairie Lakes Park, they share space on the ponds with ducks.
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One of the best things about Des Plaines is our public library. It offers many services and programs, including concerts, solo performers, lectures, book groups, computer and photography classes, activities for kids of all ages and more.

This is a mural that was recently painted in a hallway.
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On the first floor, you check out books by scanning your library card and the bar code on the book or DVD.
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There are flyers of the current activities that you can help yourself to.
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When you can’t get to the library, or when you are out with your kids, you can borrow a book and leave a book in these “little libraries” that are scattered around town.
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I hope you enjoyed this tour of my neighborhood!

 

CB&WPC: Murals

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is Murals.

The word mural comes from the Latin word for wall.  It is defined by Bing as: a painting or other work of art executed directly on a wall. Wikipedia goes into further detail: A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.

We usually think of murals as paintings on a wall, especially when it covers a large space. At our public library, I was surprised to encounter some new murals that had been painted in a hallway:
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I am posting it here in black & white because that’s what this challenge is all about, but the artist used very vivid colors. The wall across from this one has another mural; here are two close-ups of part of it:

Here is a mural advertising Coco-Cola in Lexington, Illinois.

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If mural art can be any type of artwork, certainly ancient Egyptian carvings on walls qualify. They built temples to kings and gods, creating friezes and carvings on a grandiose scale which exalted the king’s victory in battle, his offerings to the gods, or the gods’ protection of him. This is an especially beautiful example from Karnak, which after 3500 years is still clearly visible, of the gods Thoth (left – with the head of an ibis) and Horus (right – with a falcon’s head) pouring water over the king from two jars. The king stands in the middle, with several symbols above his head signifying protection and long life. 20181226_151651 (2)
In the ancient past, these carvings would have been painted but the color has been lost to millenia of exposure of exterior walls.

In Israel, which we toured after Egypt, I particularly liked this mural painted on a curved wall in Magdala, the home town of Mary Magdalene. In the Bible it describes how she felt Jesus’ spirit enter her when she touched his robe at their first meeting. The mural shows the bottom of Jesus’ robe and Mary Magdalene’s outstretched hand, with her finger reaching out to touch the hem of his robe.
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WPC: Slanted and Straight

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge this week is to present photos showing “lines.”  

These photos all contain lines that slant together with lines that are straight, which is how I selected photos for this challenge.

Slanting double trees with hyacinths
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Fences create slanting lines when viewed head on – they lead to a hypothetical vanishing point.  This is called one-point perspective, a basic technique used in drawing and photography.  Below, a fence in León, Nicaragua followed by a fence in Des Plaines.
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20170907_143202Buildings also offer excellent opportunity for juxtaposed slanting and straight lines using one-point perspective, such as the outside of the Des Plaines Library and …
20180322_142823a hallway at Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois.20180427_191419and a row of chairs in that same theatre. (A few curves, too, since not all the chairs fold up uniformly!)
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Nature combined with man-made structures offers another opportunity to photograph slanted and straight lines.  This photo shows the contours of nature in the trees, and how they have been cut to accommodate telephone wires.
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Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge

Cee has a weekly “Oddball” challenge of photos that don’t seem to fit in with a particular topic. Mine are more on the verge of “weird.” Oh well, here goes…

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A scraggly bush with lots of bean pods

 

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Sunlight filtered through a patterned glass window in my house

 

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Bike frames in a window near Logan Square, Chicago

 

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Little Free Library with signs to fantastic places you can find in books (with a helpful small chair alongside). 

 

 

 

 

WPC: My Favorite Place

I have many “favorite places” in the world, too many to choose from, so I am restricting this post to my home town, Des Plaines, Illinois. My favorite place here is the public library. It is within walking distance so I usually walk there, sometimes three times a week or more than once a day!

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Front door, but there is also a side entrance, which is the one I usually use.

This library opened in 2000, replacing the previous library, which the city of Des Plaines had clearly outgrown. In spite of this, some people complained that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money! However, I think building the new library was a worthwhile use of my taxes.  There was also a campaign to raise money by buying bricks for the plaza in front of the building, which are engraved with the names of the donors or in honor/memory of someone.

 

Another way the library raises revenue and gets rid of old books and videos is to have two book sales a year, as well as a side area with an ongoing book sale, which cost 50 cents to a dollar each – it’s on the honor system.20180322_142800I love to read and I attend two book discussion groups at the library. Also, my memoir writing group meets there. This started as a memoir writing class for women, but when the class was over, some of us wanted to continue, and we’re still at it almost two years later!

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These are the two books I read for April’s discussion groups.

Our local library also hosts many events, including once-a-month movies on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

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Movies are shown in a large room off this hallway.

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These computers are used for book checkout. They scan the library card, then the bar code on back of the book or whatever you are checking out. Through the slit on the right side, you get a receipt, showing the date you checked out the materials and when they are due.

Recently, the library instituted a new policy of automatic renewal. Many libraries are doing this now. Most books will automatically renew for up to four months. The exceptions are new books or books with a limited number of days, or if someone has requested the book.

 

 

 

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Looking up from the stairwell at the second floor. I almost always take the stairs to the third or fourth floors, even though I have to pause to catch my breath at each floor!

 

There are also computer classes, lectures, town hall meetings, information fairs, music performances – it’s hard to keep track of everything that goes on at the library!

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I always pause to look at the flyers, in case there is anything new of interest going on. The book discussion group flyers are here, as well as movies, classes, etc.