Lens-Artists: Maximalism vs Minimalism

Lens-Artists’ challenge this week is maximalism/minimalism. As explained in the post, this can mean different things, but reading it made me think of all the ostentatious, Baroque-style churches I have seen in Europe vs the much fewer simple (usually modern) ones.

Note the difference in these two photos that I took of altars at the Jasna Gora Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland (above-maximalist) and the new church of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial in Berlin, Germany (below-minimalist).

Each has its own kind of beauty. The first was built in Baroque style, which featured many intricate details and elements, while the second was built in the 1950s and in which the focus is on the many small panes of blue stained glass. Each has a fascinating history. Click on the links above to read about each of them.

Maximalist can mean a view of an entire scene with flowers while its counterpart, minimalist, focuses on one flower.

L-APC: Architecture in Three Brazilian Cities

Lens-Artists’ topic this week is interesting architecture.

Dipping into my archives, five years ago this month, we were in Brazil. These photos are of the new museum Museu do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow) in Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the renowned Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, this science museum is very interesting, with many interactive exhibits that pose questions about our planet’s future.

The city of Sao Paulo has a variety of interesting architectural structures, dating from colonial times to futuristic modern buildings. The first images were taken along Avenida Paulista, which is closed to vehicle traffic on Sundays, so that pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy the many interesting places along this avenue in the downtown area. First are several modern buildings and facades, followed by details of a Victorian era house called Casa das Rosas because of its rose gardens in front. The Instituto Tomie Ohtake complex is another example of modern architecture. Finally, in central Sao Paulo is the cathedral, built in neo-Gothic style topped by a Renaissance type dome. Downtown Sao Paulo is a good place to see Portuguese colonial style buildings, such as the Anchieta History Museum (closed the day we were there!). Farther out from the city center is Luz Railway Station, a hub of subway lines crisscrossing the city, as well as trains for travel outside the city. It was built to serve the British-owned Sao Paulo Railway and was built with influences of classic late-Victorian architectural style. Its most iconic feature is its clock tower. We took a subway line back to our Airbnb from Luz after visiting the Pinacoteca, one of Brazil’s most important art museums.

We also visited the capital city of the state of Parana, Curitiba, where we stayed with good friends. One of the most interesting structures is the ultra-modern Museu Oscar Niemeyer (MON) named for the architect who designed it. Its 17 thousand square meters of art exhibit space is now the largest in Latin America.

CFFC: Apartment Living

Cee has a new theme for her Fun Foto Challenge, which is all about buildings. This week the topic is modern houses and apartments. I decided to concentrate on apartment buildings, which tend to be more modern than houses (at least around here).

Chicago – these apartments/condos are sure to be very expensive!
The building in the back is being worked on, which looks newish. Tel Aviv
This modern building seems to be growing right out of the top of this house in Tel Aviv!
Apartment(?) building on the waterfront – Amsterdam (It could be an office building.)
You have to get out of central Amsterdam to see modern buildings like these!
Amsterdam – most of these appear to be apartment buildings, but I’m not sure.
The Midrise, apartment building here at our senior community, The Moorings of Arlington Heights
This apartment building, which is called The Highlands, was built two years ago to house assistant living residents here at The Moorings.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Windows

The theme this week for Lens Artists’ Weekly Photo Challenge is windows.

Mormon church – Salt Lake City, UtahSONY DSC
Trigger – photography studio and wedding venue, Chicago, IL
Northlight Theatre, Skokie, IL – with sculpture in front
Bike frames in a window, Chicago, IL
Inspirational message on the rear window of a parked car, Arlington Heights, IL
House, Des Plaines, IL
90 Miles Cuban Café, Lincolnwood, IL
Vine covered façade, Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL
Flower pots on a window sill in Todos Santos, Mexico
Park Inn Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mason City, Iowa

WPC: Works of Art

Sue W.’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Work of Art.  Works of art are everywhere – an artist’s painting, a mural on a wall, a beautiful building, or natural works of art – a sunset, a rainbow, blooming flowers, animals – and animals creating their own works of art!  A work of art doesn’t have to be spectacular – it can be quite “ordinary” as long as it is aesthetically pleasing. Here are but a few samples of works of art I have photographed.

Artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago:


John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925), La Carmencita, 1890, oil on canvas




Charles White (American, 1918-?), Abraham Lincoln, 1952, Wolff crayon and charcoal on paperboard

Colorful mural on a wall in Des Moines, Iowa
Political art in a café, Des Moines, Iowa
Modern sculpture, Mason City, Iowa
Stockman House, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Mason City, Iowa

Nature’s works of art:
An arrangement of orchids at a supermarket
Lotus flower, Chicago Botanic Garden
Wild sunflowers in my neighbor’s garden – she looked at this scene and said she had a natural work of art right in her backyard!
Sunrise, Des Moines, Iowa (seen from our hotel room window)
Trees bending over and reflected in a creek, Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Yellow-breasted weaver making a nest to attract a mate (not only is the bird a work of art, but he has created his own work of art in this intricate, tightly woven nest), Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Works of art can also be heard, rather than seen – here is violinist Joshua Bell playing “The Swan” by composer Camille Saint-Saens.



Quintessential Chicago

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge this week is the word quintessential. She writes: “According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, quintessential means perfectly typical or representative of a particular kind of person or thing.”

Typical Chicago? Skyscrapers, Sears (Now Willis) Tower, Navy Pier, Chicago River, architecture…

Chicago skyline, including Willis Tower
Chicago skyline with residential neighborhoods: brick apartment buildings, bungalows…
Chicago at night, from Navy Pier with its famous Ferris wheel; Lake Point Towers loom in the background.
Urban park: Maggie Daley Park
Architectural wonders, 19th century to 21st…


Merchandise Mart

And of course, the Chicago River!
Oh, one more thing: pigeons! There are pigeons everywhere in Chicago! On a cold November day, a few gather around the Eternal Flame to keep warm.
And who can forget the 2016 World Series Champions, the CHICAGO CUBS!! (Sorry, White Sox fans.)
2016-11-03 00.18.46
These are the familiar, quintessential sights of the city I’ve grown to love (except in the winter)!

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