April Squares: Bright and Whimsical

These whimsical animals were part of a sculpture garden next to an elegant restaurant in Antigua, Guatemala, and I think they are perfect for Becky’s April Bright Squares.

Antigua was part of an optional tour during our 2017 cruise through the Panama Canal. We crossed from east to west, and made several stops along the western coastal ports of Central America.

After touring the historic center, our tour bus took us on a narrow winding road up a hill, past the rich part of town. At the very top of the hill was a cultural center, Santo Domingo del Cerro, and restaurant called The Golden Fork.  This is where we had lunch and afterward had some free time to shop at craft vendors or wander the grounds which contained interesting artwork by local artists, including various colorful animal sculptures – a rabbit, monkeys, snails, crocodiles, horses, and merry-go-round horses. 

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.

October Kinda Square

Hurray! Becky’s back with another of her month of square challenges! This month the theme is kind (or a word containing the word kind). To get us started, here are Becky’s suggestions:

Here are some ideas you may wish to consider:

  • Something of the kind (similar to something or even a carbon copy)
  • Our imagination kindled (inspire us!)
  • Of its kind (a unique object or an example of something such as a flower or bird)
  • Two of a Kind (or one, or three or multiple!)
  • Kindred spirits (kindness in action or photographs of people)
  • Take kindly to (something you like)

Today Dale and I went out to the western suburbs and visited a park in St. Charles with a lot of unusual sculptures. These sculptures are truly “one of a kind” or “kinda weird!”

In case you can’t read its name on the side, it’s called Playing Mantis by Paul Bobrowitz of Colgate, WI, made of stainless steel.
Interim X by Bruce Niemi
Portals by Victor Nelson

SYW: On Fear, Hair Color, Bullies, and Winning & Losing

Melanie and Roger have a new set of questions for Share Your World/Harry Potter for the week of Sept. 7.

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Roger’s Magical, Mystical Questions

  1. What happened to cause you to discover ‘bullies” were real?
    Nothing – I have always known bullies were real. My brother was a bully when he was a kid and his favorite person to bully was me! Although I was never seriously bullied (my brother’s would be called teasing), my son was in high school. One day he came home early from school – he’d been “suspended” for two days for fighting. I was not mad at him because he was fighting with the bully – he was sick of the other kid’s bullying. The kids watching actually rooted for him!

    I had a book about bullies for children that I had read to him when he was much younger. And when he complained about the bully to me, I told him that he should ignore him if he could, and feel sorry for him because he (the bully) obviously had self-esteem issues. Maybe there was violence in his home.

    Now we have a bully in the White House – what a role model!!
  2. Eavesdropping- When given the chance, how often do you eavesdrop?   (this may be a similar question to what some folks said they’d do with an invisibility cloak)
    I am tempted to eavesdrop at times, but usually listening in on someone else’s conversation isn’t very interesting.
  3. Escalators, at one time, were the ‘next big thing’. When was the last time you rode an escalator?
    Three days ago, at Nordstrom’s.
  4. Have you ever ‘let’ someone win in a sports competition or a board game? How did it turn out?   
    Probably – but it was more like others letting me win – I was the youngest of five children and always wanted to participate in games, but my life experience wasn’t as mature as the others’, so they sometimes let me win, I think. As for sports, I was always the worst in every sport except swimming. No one wanted to pick me to be on their team. And no one ‘let’ me win!

Melanie’s Muggle Questions:

I’m very short on time today (Sunday) so I’m borrowing from Rory and Sandmanjazz to fill the questions today:

Do our fears start with our DNA?  (Credit to Rory)
I suppose there are people more susceptible to fear than others; that might be DNA-related, but in general, regarding fear and “nature vs nurture” I would say it’s more nurture – i.e. learned. People who are more sensitive and likely to have fears may have had some early experience, even as far back as infancy. But there is definitely biology in there too, because fearful people are often insecure people, and insecurity can arise from experience or be a bi-product of mental illness.

If you could have your hair any colour for 24 hours, what colour would you choose?  (Credit to Sandmanjazz)
I think I’d like to be a redhead for a day!

When do you think a person gets old?  (Credit to Rory)
When a person starts thinking old! For example, my husband and I are both senior citizens but we don’t feel old! I feel like the same person I always was. Oh sure, I have more aches and pains but most of the time I just am who I am.

GRATITUDE SECTION  (as always this is optional)

Please feel free to write about an uplifting moment in your life this week! We went on a day trip last Tuesday, just out to the western suburbs to seek out “kitschy” stuff (such as the Humpty Dumpty doppelganger pictured below). It was fun and I felt renewed!

The artist named him “Mr. Eggwards.” He sits on a wall surrounding Mount St. Mary Park, which is full of unusual sculptures, in St. Charles, IL

Here are some of the other sculptures in that park.

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!

Sculpture Saturday: Field Museum

Mind Over Memory has a weekly invitation for sculpture photos. Last year, when we got home from our trip to the Middle East, we visited the Egyptian exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago. These are sculptures – or sculpted wooden mummy cases. Royalty in ancient Egypt would encase their mummified loved ones in several of these cases. The wooden ones might be painted, while others were made of bronze or glass.
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Next to this polished wood mummy case are canopic jars, buried with the deceased, containing their vital organs, which are removed before mummification.

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Small sculptures of gods would also be buried in the tomb to offer protection in the afterlife.

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Figurine of the god Osiris

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Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s architect, Senmet holding her daughter

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Sculpture Saturday 4/25/20

CFFC: Mostly Monochrome

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with the theme of colors. This week the topic is basically one  color or hue.

This photo was not shot nor edited black & white. The trees and clouds actually looked like this on a spring day in northern Wisconsin.
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Turtles at The Grove visitors’ center, Mt. Prospect, IL
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Chinese Reconciliation Park, Tacoma, WA
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Point Defiance Park, Tacoma
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Passau, Germany
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Wine pressing tanks, Morwald Winery, Austria
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Modern clock, Cologne, Germany
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Kinderdijk, Netherlands
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Cologne Cathedral, Germany
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Miniature show “Whimsical Wonderland,” Elk Grove Village, IL
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Flowers, Des Plaines, IL
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Some animals are the color they are to blend in with their environment, such as hyraxes who hide among the rocks where they live, mongoose who inhabit giant anthills, and even a hippo with just its eyes & ears above the water. (All photos taken in Tanzania.)

 

CFFC: Pastel Colors

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with her color series – this week it is pastel colors.

Some flowers are bright, while others have muted colors. Most marigolds are bright, but these are soft yellow and white.
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Dahlias come in all colors – some are bright, some are light.
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Wilted orchid

Artists experiment with all kinds of color schemes. These are some pastel colors in artwork.

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“Hazel” (2019) in pastels – artist is yours truly!

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A recent exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute featured drawings by 17th century Dutch masters. This pair is “A Portrait of a Man” and “A Portrait of a Woman” by Jan de Bray (1650) – black & red chalk on ivory laid paper.

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Edouard Manet “Vase of White Lilacs and Roses” (1883) – oil on canvas

Pastels in sculptures

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Fish sculpture, Poulsbo, WA

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Chinese Reconciliation Park, Tacoma, WA

Pastel buildings – Passau, Germany
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Baroque stucco roof

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Carved block from a church