Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What do you call a herd of umbrellas?

A spattering of parasols? A shower of umbrellas? A torrent of twirlers?

I stumbled upon this video the other day looking for images of a fleamarket we visited in Paris. This isn't Paris, I think it's Marseille, but it appears to be a somewhat spontaneous song and dance of umbrellas. They remind me a little of a school of jellfish. In any event, watch all the way through to see what happens. Anyone know what they're singing? Apparently a song that everyone knew!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"TIME" to show you some bits and pieces of Paris.


FRAMED umbrella

LACE on a LARGE scale


SWEET and SHY stone

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I think all (or perhaps most) of these photos are from Westminster Cathedral in London. There's so much beauty in the architecture, the tile, the paintings, the statues, but what captured my interest the most I think were the many beautiful surfaces of cut marble on columns, walls, panels, and floors.

Some, like this piece, were obviously cut open and placed carefully as mirror images.

Other places a series of similar but unique pieces were inlaid.

Here's another piece matching the ones above from a balastrude on the opposite side of a small set of stairs near the front of the altar.

This one reminded me of photos I'd taken of roots working their way down and through boulders and cliff walls. In fact, many of the the pieces mimicked other natural patterns.

Another set of mirror images, this one a bit dark but I didn't want to use a flash in the sanctity of the church. Sections such as this seemed more mythological than natural - I expected faces or movements to suddenly appear within them.

Another one that could be roots, or perhaps studier branches, or maybe cobwebs.

This one was more fractured and edgy than many of the other pieces, less soothing. Yet later, flying high above the arctic ice flows, I saw similar patterns across miles of earth.

This last one, that holds a quiet heart, was my favorite.

Don't these images call for artistic recreation? What medium would you want to use to interpret them in? Paint? Pastel? Fabric? Clay?

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm out in the garden. Inspired by all the beautiful gardens we saw in France and England. I've got to get back out in the dirt, but I'll leave you these close ups from Monet's garden for your own gardening inspiration.

More about my own gardening efforts over on Beach Treasure today.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I'm feeling better today and so I need to get this post off and get something done today - errands or weeding.... maybe not weeding, my hands are still sore.... but something. Being slothful due to sickness isn't fun like being slothful say, sitting at a tea room for the afternoon. It gets boring.

Moving on, some bits and pieces from the Musee D'Orsay.

This is but isn't the museum. This is the inside of a small scale model of the building on display.

Here's the real thing, taken between the bracing on an upper floor. And I think.... from the opposite direction. More people, more art, and of course that fabulous clock.

Another miniature. This one was teeny tiny and if memory serves, was an example of an opera scene.

Poppies by Claude Monet

The top floor is my favorite, filled with the Impressionists. Well, filled with their paintings. And perhaps a bit of their spirits linger in the brush strokes and colors. It feels that way. I remember this painting from my childhood. Or maybe it was my young adulthood. Either my mom had this on the wall, or I did when I was first on my own. Man, I'm getting old.

I loved seeing the children in the museums. Kids exposed to art early enough enjoy it in a way adults can't. They don't assume something is good or bad, important or inconsequential. They're not intimidated by it or told they're "supposed" to like it. They just wander around taking in the colors and moods and form their own opinions. There favorite thing might be a painting by Picasso or the really cool escalator on the third floor. It's all good, y'know.

I was particularly impressed by this group of students studying this painting. Children in front of a painting of a nude - GASP! Would American's allow this sort of thing? Well, to be fair I suppose it would depend on the school, the geographical area of the U.S., the age of the kids. But I just thought it was cool that Europeans have far less hang ups (or so it seems, perhaps they have ones I'm not familiar with) about the human form. When I walked by this group, a stray thought popped into my head - something about how Cheney* used to (still does?) do newscasts in front a particular Washington D.C. statue but, not wanting a nude behind him, he ordered the statue draped in fabric. I remember how, when I first heard about this, how annoyed I was, how stupid I thought it was not to simply move his podium if it bothered him that much. I wish I remembered the details more specifically but, you get the idea.

*A friend let me know I had this story all messed up - which I knew, I only remembered wispy floating cloud pieces of the story. Apparently it was John Ashcroft, not Cheney. Thanks Cindy.

Here's a much younger group of students actually creating their own recreations of this painting. I thought the teachers made a good choice and I smiled at the thought of how kids that age would create all these wonderful jaggedy rocks and puffy clouds, stick figures and colorful boats and garland shaped waves.

To quote some famous Brits - "And now for something completely different!" We turned a corner and suddenly found ourselves in a large dark room full of ...... words. A bit of modern art - I felt like I was offered a small dish of sherbet between classical courses, a cleansing of the palate so to speak. Here's hubby - his ample forehead makes a great display board, doncha think?

Here's me covered in unknown words. I remember posing intentionally in front of some words I knew and liked, but by the time hubby figured out how to use the camera in the semi-darkness, I got something unexpected. I'll have to Google the words to see what I say.

Lots of statues of course, some of them not the traditional standing up in the middle of a park type. This young woman was sprawled out and it was hard to get a good picture of her in her entirety. So I didn't even try. The details are sometimes the best thing about a piece anyway.

Want to get out of the museum and into the streets? Over on Beach Treasure today I'm showing you our personal little corner of Paris.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Paris is filled with art. Art in museums, gargoyles perched along the edge of buildings, sculptures and statues everywhere, artistic window displays. But let's take a break from the "intentional" art to find the unexpected art that shows up in unexpected places.

This little guy was a door stopper. There was one on both sides of these double doors, I'm assuming to make sure the doors weren't opened too far out in this direction. I might be wrong, they may have had a different purpose.

These little fellows/ladies held open a series of wooden shutters.

This small art piece - is it a clock? - is signed in the corner - Dali. THE Dali??? In any case, it was just on the edge of a building that started a rather ordinary street full of touristy shops. I think it was in the Latin Quarter. And of course there's that decorative ironwork as well.

This little vignette was sitting all alone in the center of the plaza in front of the Centre Pompidou. This area is filled with street performers, so I assume the owner of it wasn't far off, but it sure seemed abandoned. We walked by it several times. No one touched or bothered it. It was like a little piece of art creates it's own little bubble of respect. (Knock on wood)

Official murals or, more likely, artistic graffiti? The whole wall, including the street signs, needs a bit of sprucing up. Fun though. This was in the Marais.

Beautiful raised paintings on a small shop. I'm not sure what kind of shop - maybe a tanning boutique?

Up in Montmartre this chalk (paint?) artist was painting chalk (paint?) images of chalk (paint?) seagulls. I thought he was a sign for a studio until...

I saw this suspiciously similar guy reaching up to more sea gulls painted on the bottom of this very long, long, long series of steps. I didn't even notice he was here, actually. I was taking a photo of those neverending stairs and only realized he was there when I looked at the uploaded photo. If I'd stepped a couple of feet to the left to take the photo, I might have put him together better.

This color wheel was painted on the platform leading up over a bridge over the St. Martin Canal out in the 19th arrondissement. This is a city of artists. I guess you never know when one of them will have an emergency need for a color wheel.

This slightly annoyed looking fish skeleton (I guess you'd be annoyed too if someone had fileted you) filled up the side of a very large building in the ....Bastille .... I think it was the Bastille.

This lovely mosaic tile work was along the bottom of a restaurant. It was a restaurant I noticed often - for the tile work, the beautiful periwinkle blue paint, the quirky fairy hanging inside the front window.... it also had a somewhat pricey menu. So, alas, we never did try it out.

Even the inside of the metro tunnels and railway passages were "decorated". Hubby thought it was ugly. I thought it was .... entertaining. What is art? There's a long continuum with fancy statues and highly priced commissioned murals in the town square on one end of the spectrum and graffiti and tagging in the dark of the alleys and tunnels on the other. In the middle there's street art that slides from legal to illegal somewhere along the way. Where and what makes the difference? What's art and what isn't? That's an interesting discussion. For me it has more to do with whether the intent is expression/respect or destruction/disprespect and NOT about the more technical legalities.

Well, we've walked ALLLLL over Paris today. Hungry? Click on over to Beach Treasure for a bit of Parisian bread or pastry?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A few photos from the Louvre. I was surprised, by the way, to see people taking photos in the painting galleries. Last time I was there it was forbidden. Not that it stopped some people. I guess they just gave up trying to enforce a rule that people kept breaking. It annoyed me though how still you'd see some flashes going off. RUDE people. Not to mention it damages the paintings.

A very famous, very tiny painting faces....

.... a not so famous (in the non-arty world), gigantic painting. The two guys in the crowd looking at the camera belong to me.

Everyone asked me why the Mona Lisa, seeing as she's so diminutive and all, ended up being so famous. In part because she was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci of course but my suspicions are that she's famous in popular culture because of her exciting history of ownership, theft and attack.

Lots of people rush to see the Mona Lisa, passing The Winged Victory of Samothrace on the way. I'd rather stop and enjoy her for awhile instead. There's just something about her. And for the record, there's just no way to capture art in the lens. A lot of you know that already. The rest of you will simply have to take my word for it. Or better, get thee to an art show, big or little, and discover this for yourself.

These statue people sure do love their pet fish.

Another famous female who hangs out at the Louvre - Venus de Milo. They've moved her - notice, no more tile floor and a different background than the last photo I posted. This is nicer as there's no hallway behind her. Again, why is she more famous than hundreds of other sculptures? I don't know. Apparently her arms were found in pieces, one hand holding an apple, but have been subsequently lost.

It's virtually impossible to see everything in the Louvre in one visit. Or two. Or... Here I'm taking a photo from a top floor of one wing and I'm looking across the courtyard to another wing. Yep, that's still the Louvre way over there. And that's just the end of one wing. Are you exhausted just looking at it?

My sister sent us a book called Wicked French for the Traveler. One translated phrase they thought you might need was this one -

"Excusez-moi, monsieur. Il y a quatre jours et quatre nuits que nous sommes ici sans nourriture ni la moindre goutte d'eau. Pourriez-vous nous indiquer la sortie?"

which means:

"Pardon me, sir. We have been here for four days and nights without food or water. Could you be our guide to the exit?"

I could see that happening.

Hey look, they have almost as many cats (les chats) as we do!

Psst - If you want to find out what the French have against iced beverages (or not), visit Beach Treasure today.