Category Archives: art

Last night my front porch was visited by the ghost of William Morris

William Morris (1834-1896) was, among other things¹, an Englsh artist and textile designer. His iconic designs featured intricate and highly stylized plants and flowers. I became familiar with his work largely through my familiarity with the variations of his Acanthus leaf design that was used for the wallpaper, signage and even wrapping paper in Barnes & Noble stores through the late 1990s.

It came as quite a surprise to me this morning to find evidence that his ghost had visited our home in the night, and apparently had a tryst with Jack Frost on our front porch.

Intricate patterns of ice covered the whole width of the porch, and varied in detail and density and style.

There were ferns, leaves, flowers, and brambles.

Mr. Morris also included some beadwork in some of his designs.


Thorns.

A view from my standing height, to give a sense of the scope and size of the patterns.

Wherever I looked were more things to photograph. (Click on any of the photos to see a larger version and zoom in. You will be very impressed by the designer-ghost’s attention to detail.)

It snowed overnight here, and there was apparently freezing rain and wind as well. I had opened the front door to get a look at the snow in the front yard, and was greeted by all of this. As best I can guess, little drops of watery ice that landed on our porch were blown around by the wind, leaving little streaks of ice behind them. (This is much like what I guessed happened the morning I found frost feathers on my car.) Either that or it was indeed the ghost of William Morris, and he spent the whole night drawing his patterns on the porch.


¹ I had no idea that he was also an author of fantasy novels. This may support my ghost theory.

Giant spiders of Northern California (friday foto finder: spiders)

Back in June of 2008, we had a trip to California to see my family in Oakland. One of our favorite things to do is to take the ferry over the bay to San Francisco. This particular visit, we were greeted by this cheerful fellow:

This is a sculpture by Louise Borgeois, and it apparently left the piers of San Francisco not too long after I saw it there.

The spider sculpture may have left, but I believe that there may be other giant spiders in the greater San Francisco area. At the Oakland Zoo, for example, the playground has a super cool spider web made of ropes for kids to climb on. At least, I believe it to be made of ropes. It is just possible that it was made by a giant spider who was scared off by the swarms of small children.

This week’s friday foto finder challenge was to find and share photos of spiders. I’ve got quite a few photos of real spiders in my library, as well as photos of their webs. I have posted photos of real spiders before, too. (One of my favorite posts with photos was about a little green spider.) Come to think of it, I also have a fairly large collection of things with a spider or web motif, thanks to my love of Halloween. (I did, in fact, put spiderweb placemats on my wedding registry.) When it came time to post, though, this spider scuplture came to mind. (Perhaps because I missed the statue fff a couple of weeks ago.)

To see what other spiders have been caught, or to find out more about joining in on the foto-sharing fun, check out the fff blog.

I feel I must offer an apology to Sally, who has a phobia relating to all sorts of arthropods, for the images and especially the title of this post. Sorry, Sally. I hope that I haven’t given you nightmares!

I also thought of YTSL, who has displayed many photos of interesting spiders and webs from her hikes around Hong Kong, including some real giant spiders. Check out her tag critter spottings to spot a few such critters. (Sally, I strongly recommend that you don’t do this…though you may enjoy some of her other photos of critters, some of which have fewer than 6 legs!)

The journey was as much the goal as the destination.

We decided to have an excursion into Boston today, to do something fun for my mother’s visit. We didn’t have a specific plan in mind, but thought we’d take the train and play it by ear for the afternoon, and then get dinner at Pho Pasteur. (2 years ago, we took the train into Boston and happened to eat there after wandering around the Common, and now it has become a tradition when we take the train into Boston. They have really yummy soup.)

On the train ride in, we decided that we’d check out the Institute of Contemporary Art, which none of us had been to (at least in its current location). It looked to be a reasonable (~15 to 20 minute) walk from South Station.


The building itself is very cool, with amazing views of the harbor.


We all enjoyed looking out, as well as looking at the artwork in the exhibits.


The walk from South Station may have been a bit long for those with shorter legs, especially bundled up and wearing clompy snow boots. There may have been some tiredness. We ended up staying about 2 hours, which was about right. Then we took the T toward dinner.


Whenever we go to art museums, Phoebe and Theo are always inspired to do their own art. Here we are at the restaurant before our food arrived. Theo was drawing a train.


Taking the T back to South Station after dinner, and looking a bit like poster children.


On the train home, we managed to score one of the coveted tables. Theo was happy to be able to draw some more. He spent most of the train ride drawing.


He was looking a bit tired, but his picture was super cool. He later explained to us that it was a robot as big as a planet that had thousands of robots inside.

3 rusty dumpsters

I love the patterns often formed by peeling paint and rust. With their constant exposure to the elements, along with the rough treatment they receive due to their function in the world, the outside surfaces of dumpsters are often home to particularly fascinating non-objective compositions.¹

Here are 3 dumpsters I have come across in the past few years.²

¹ In posting this, I realize that may well have now proven to many of you that I am completely insane. That may well be, but I assure you that I am quite harmless.
² The two blue ones are in parking lots where I park frequently. I can’t remember where the green one was.

A Sunday Afternoon on a Saturday afternoon for a Friday endeavor (friday foto finder: art)

Post-holiday sluggishness has set in, likely fueled by too many holiday treats.¹ In any case, I am slow to post. My photo library is full of photos of all kinds of art this week’s friday foto finder theme. Here it is Saturday afternoon, and I am finally getting around to posting some photos of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. This famous painting by Georges Seurat is located in The Art Institute of Chicago, which I visited during my May, 2010 trip to Chicago for a conference.

I hadn’t seen the painting before in person, though I had seen various reproductions, as it is one of the most famous works of pointillism


I know some people would find that these people are in the way, but I like photos of people interacting with art


The painting has lots of interesting details to explore. Click on the photos to embiggen them a bit.


A monkey! (Also a little dog.)


There is also this pointillist border all around.

To see what art others have put on display, please check out the friday foto finder blog.


¹ Can sluggishness be fueled?
² I also remember the painting from its noteworthy role³ in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. [youtube]
³ It was not a speaking role.

Photos from the Musée D’Orsay (friday foto finder: station)

The Musée D’Orsay in Paris is a remarkable building. It was built as a railway station around the turn of the (last) century, but only used as a rail station for a few short decades. The large and impressive building was converted into a large and impressive art museum in the 1980s, and it houses, among other works, a very large and impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. (Most of which are impressive, but not very large.)

When we visited Paris in 2007, I made my first visit to this museum. It might seem surprising that I had not been there before, especially given my love of art and the fact that I had lived outside of Paris for 2 years. However, the first year I lived in France was 1980, and the museum would not yet be open for another 6 years. I’m pretty sure I heard of the museum when I lived in Paris again in 1988, and I’m not sure why I never made it there then. I certainly remember going to other museums. (I particularly remember the Rodin Museum and the Orangérie.)

In any case, I was very taken with the museum, as much (if not more) for the building as for the art. I loved the grand arches, interesting use of glass, and many other details.


I love the tunnel-like effect of the main hall.


This gigantic clock faces inward.


This gigantic clock faces outward, and can be seen from inside the café.


People and sculptures.


Looking up.


Multiple levels.


High vantage point.


My rosy-cheeked little one in front of some of Renoir’s famous rosy cheeks.


This week’s friday foto finder theme was “station.” Given my love of rail travel, it might not surprise you that I have many photos of train and subway stations in my photo archives. However, this was the station that came to mind first.

To see what other stations are being shared, please visit Archie’s friday foto finder blog. Won’t you consider participating, too?

Goldsworthy pilgrimage

Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day, sunny and surprisingly warm. We found ourselves with no specific plans for the day, and the kids were starting to go a little stir-crazy in the grandparents’ house. Inspired by the previous day’s leafy homage to Goldsworthy, I felt compelled to visit the large sculpture garden nearby to see one of Goldsworthy’s own works.

I posted a couple of photos I’d taken there last month, at which point I realized it had been 6 full years since we’d been there. It had been when six-year-old Phoebe was under a year old, and if you do the math, you will realize that four-year-old Theo had never been there at all. Clearly, this needed to be remedied.

The Storm King Art Center now boasts 2 large Goldsworthy works. I had seen the first wall before, but hadn’t realized that a second wall had been built only a couple of years ago.


The wall winds through the trees.


It wriggles all the way down the hill, where it dips into a pond.


This is the second wall. I don’t believe that the twig ring is part of the sculpture, as it is not in the description. However, even if not put there by Goldsworthy himself, it was a fitting tribute.

I found myself wondering why it had taken us so long to get back here, especially given how much both Phoebe and Theo love art. But our trips are often too short, often well under 48 hours, and are usually filled with other family-related things.

(Once again, these photos were just taken with my iPhone, as I didn’t remember to pack my camera for this trip.)