CMMC: Pick a Topic from a Photo

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge this week is to find a subject in a photo she posted. Here it is:


What follows are photos from my archives that fit the topic.


Boots for sale, Austin, Texas

Fall foliage

This is the only tree on campus that has fully changed color in mid-October!


Our fitness director poses beneath an arch of purple balloons to kick off Walk for Alzheimer’s at the Moorings.
(October is Alzheimer’s Awareness month.)

Mother/Mom (who is wearing purple!)

My mother (age 93) with her son-in-law Jim in his prairie garden


Mother and son enjoying a beautiful afternoon bike ride (Regensburg, Germany)

Square Up 5: Love and Friendship

Becky’s January Square photo challenge continues with the topic UP – either as a word or part of a word! My contribution for today is coUPles.

A loving couple: Dale (hubby) and Katy (me)
Loving couple enjoying a snack (including a cUP of hot chocolate!) in Amsterdam
A couple of pastors at our church’s sesquicentennial in 2019
Another loving couple (with 60 years of marriage!) on Valentine’s Day
A couple of friends
A couple of sisters

Thursday Doors: Door Art

Norm’s Thursday Doors is a weekly opportunity to share photos of doors with other door lovers! This week, I’m dipping back into my archives to present doors that are part of, or surrounded by, street art. (Check out my earlier post for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Murals.)

Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This alley near downtown Milwaukee has become a place for street artists to share their art. This mural includes a door to a formerly industrial building.

A converted warehouse complex in Lincoln, Nebraska has become an artists’ co-op, its outside walls decorated by local artists.

Cuba, Missouri is located on the famous Route 66 and a popular stop along the historic road. There are many murals throughout the town, depicting historical events (including the Civil War) and scenes of daily life.

Pontiac, Illinois is one of the first, or last, stops on Route 66 (depending on whether you are taking the historic road west or east), and as such caters to Route 66 tourists. Besides murals, there is a museum/shop containing all kinds of Route 66 memorabilia and you can visit the bus-converted-to-home of possibly Pontiac’s most well-known native son, Bob Waldmire, who traveled the Mother Road and lived in his bus-home for several years in the Arizona desert.

Whether real or painted, a door is still a door!

For mural/graffiti/street art connoisseurs, Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) in São Paulo, Brazil is a must-see. “Graffiti artists” have covered this residential neighborhood – walls, streets, doors, windows, anything paintable – with art!

A restaurant entrance near Batman’s Alley
Courtyard gate
Garage door
Garage door/store entrance gates
This is more graffiti than mural art – the entrance in particular is covered in pure graffiti.
More graffiti

Street artists in São Paulo find “canvases” for their artwork in many other places as well. These are found in the vicinity of Ibirapuera Park, a large park with museums, bike paths and other amusements.

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.

Childhood: A Journey of Growing Up

We have recently moved and so I have been going through a lot of stuff stored in our old house, including photos I took of my son, Jayme, when he was a child (he is now 34). I am sharing some of my favorites of the ones I have scanned, for this week’s VJ’s Weekly Challenge #62: Child/Childhood.


Jayme with neighbor

Playing in a kiddie pool with a neighbor, on a hot summer day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1986


Jayme Villa Alvarez - in Janesville wagon

Fall 1986 – in a Janesville Wagon, at his Granny’s house in Janesville, Wisconsin

Jayme Villa-Alvarez - on the pier at the cottage

Faux pout on the pier (wearing an oversized Brewers cap!) – at our cottage on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin, c. 1988

With his cousins

Julia Waeffler & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

Jayme with his cousin Julia, at our cottage in northern Wisconsin, c.1989. These two were very best friends for years, and only drifted apart when we moved to Illinois and both of them grew older. Julia was just under 2 years older than Jayme.


Leslie, Jayme, Allie & Katy - at Native Village in Lac du Flambeau

Visiting a native village with cousins Leslie and Allie (that’s me as a much younger mom on the right!) – Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, c. 1992

Eric Nesvold & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

Jayme with cousin Eric, feeding a deer at Jim Peck’s Wildlife, Minocqua, Wisconsin, c. 1993

With his stepdad, my husband, Dale, who is teaching him how to check the tires of his bike, Des Plaines, Illinois, 1996 or 1997.
Jayme Villa-Alvarez, Dale Berman



Jayme now, taken at his stepsister’s wedding in January 2019.




Sunday Stills: You’ve Got a Friend

Terri Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills this week is to share photos of friends.

My grand-nieces Frances (age 3) and Sylvia (age 4) are cousins and (usually) friends. They play together frequently because both live in Madison. Their dolls are also their friends. 20180630_172928Marcia and Dee are two friends from my church. We had dinner together in Evanston before attending a piano recital at Northwestern University.20180526_195428Finally, who’s a better friend than one’s spouse? Usually, anyway! Here are the two of us in a selfie taken at Mader’s Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ending with the James Taylor classic “You’ve Got a Friend.”


CB&WPC: Signs

The theme for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is signs of any kind. Taking pictures of interesting signs is one of my photography hobbies; these are some of my favorites.

Parking lot across the street from San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TexasThis is on a wall next to the parking lot across from SAMA.A train station of bygone days, AlaskaKODAK Digital Still CameraIn a restroom  at Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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“Home of the Giant Pretzel,” Mader’s Restaurant, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Alien Fresh Jerky store, Baker, California
Bagdad Café, Newberry Springs, CA
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Defunct Ludlow Café, Ludlow, Arizona
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Bumper sticker, somewhere on Route 66
Sign outside barber shop, Denver, Colorado
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The Big Texan steakhouse, Amarillo, TX
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CB&WPC: Walls

The theme of Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is walls. I took most of these in Milwaukee last November.


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Dale entering Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


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At Colectivo Coffee house in Milwaukee – behind Dale is the back wall with a mural of dock workers with bags of coffee for shipping.


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The old Blatz Brewery in downtown Milwaukee


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Mader’s German Restaurant, Milwaukee


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At Mader’s German Restaurant, Milwaukee


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Lobby at Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Salvatore Calatrava



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Wall with microphones, Oakton Community College, Skokie, Illinois








Artful Photos Debut! – Haitian Art

Artful Photos is a new feature that I am starting in 2018. I am going to publish a photo (or more than one) of artwork from museums that I have visited. I go to a lot of art museums when I travel, plus I am a member of the Art Institute of Chicago (which means I get in free, so I try to get to as many of the special exhibits as possible). Most art museums (though not all) do allow you to take pictures of the artwork as long as you don’t use the flash. I take photos of everything from classic European art to modern art, sculpture to artistic everyday objects, and artwork from around the world.  I have posted a few of these previously on my blog.

I will publish Artful Photos every weekend. If you would like to participate by adding a link to your own photos of artwork, that would be awesome! Then we would all get to enjoy many kinds of art each week!

I am going to start with a series of Haitian paintings and metal sculptures that I photographed at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) when I was visiting last November. The Haitian art is part of the museum’s permanent collection and has been there since 1991, when a Milwaukee businessman and his wife donated the Haitian art  they had collected since 1973, to the museum.

It is well worth a visit if you happen to be in Milwaukee.  Plus, the building itself is a wonder of modern architecture,



MAM is on the right – the boat-like structure. 

designed by Salvatore Calatrava. (He also designed the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro; I posted several pictures from that museum, including the architecture, last year.)




Laurent Casimir (1928-1990), “Crowded Market (Ampil Moun Nan Mach),” 1972; oil on masonite


Haitian art has a complex tradition. It combines characteristics from native populations that occupied the island of Hispaniola prior to European colonization with African and European elements. It is usually very colorful and detailed, depicting scenes of Haitian life or religious figures from the vodoun (vodun, formerly known as voodoo) tradition native to Haiti.



Rigaud Benoit (1911-1986), “Flower Carnaval (Flè Kanaval),” 1973; oil on masonite

This religious tradition has its origins in West Africa, from where slaves were brought to  the island nation. With the introduction of Christianity, a blending of elements from both African and European religions, called syncretism, became the expression of religious practice in Haiti.  Haitians are mostly practicing Catholics, but their symbols and rituals combine both African and Catholic traditions. For example, the Catholic saints each have also a vodun name and are said to be influential for certain purposes, usually similar ones in both religious traditions.




Serge Jolimeau (b. 1952), “Demon,” 1977; cut and forged metal

Three “schools” of Haitian art are presented here. The Southern school, based in Port-au-Prince, is represented by Hector Hyppolite, who mostly deals with the subject matter of Vodun. The Northern school is typically more secular and historical, such as the work of Philomé Obin, in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. The production of steel drum sculptures is located in the northeastern suburb of the capital, Croix-des-Bouquets.



Rigaud Benoit, “Recall of the Dead (Rele Mò),” 1973; oil on masonite

The art of Haitian steel sculpture comes from the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, an eastern suburb of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. The sculptures are made from 55-gallon oil drums that companies used to dump in this impoverished town, along with industrial waste. In the 1940s, a local blacksmith combined the metal from these drums with iron bars to make elaborate metal crosses for the cemetery. Thus he turned waste into something useful and a new tradition was born. Once small and forgotten, Croix-des-Bouquets now bustles with artisan activity. The sounds of hammers and other tools emanate from almost every home.



Serge Jolimeau, “Sagittarius (Sagitè),” date unknown; cut and forged metal



Haitian Vodun banner (Danbala) (Drapo Vodoun), 20th century; sequins and beads on cloth

The language of Haiti is French Creole, which has influences from several languages, especially French. A small minority of educated members of the upper class in the capital also speak standard French, but the vast majority of Haitians speak only Creole.




Philomé Obin (1891-1986), “Outdoor Dance (Dans Nan Deyò),” 1958; oil on Masonite



Serge Jolimeau, “Peristil (Peristil),” ca. 1977; cut and forged metal

Haitian art came to international attention in 1944, when American artist DeWitt Peters opened the art school Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince. The art school allowed artists from all over Haiti, both trained and untrained, to come together to make art and share their ideas.



Gerard Valcin (1927-1988), “Ceremony in Vodun Temple (Seremoni Nan Tanp Vodoun),” 1963: oil on masonite



Hector Hyppolite (1894-1948), “Black Magic (Magi Nwa),” ca. 1946; oil on board



Gerard Valcin, “Communal Fieldworkers [Konbit] (Konbit Travayè [Konbit]},” 1971; oil on masonite