Tag 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!)

3 silhouettes of statues

Here are 3 statues I’ve come across in my travels, and in my wanderings closer to home.


At the de Cordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. (August, 2012)


In Lowell, Massachusetts. (July, 2009)


In Bath, England (January, 2005)

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.

above the patchwork fields of middle America (friday foto finder: high)

The photos I’m sharing today are of a much loftier sort than the ones I posted on Wednesday. While dumpsters are rather down-to-earth, these photos are taken while looking…down to earth. From a plane.

Much like the abstract compositions that I find in the small details of peeling paint and rust, I love the giant-scale abstract compositions formed by fields, roads, rivers and other features of the landscape when viewed from above.

Many of the fields of the Western and Midwestern United States use a system of irrigation that leads to fields that are circular, or segments of circles, which are then interspersed among more traditional rectangles. These geometric shapes arrange themselves in a surprising array of colors: hues arising from different soils, different crops, different stages of growth, and likely other and sundry factors that are better known to those who farm those fields. Flying in a plane above, if you are lucky enough to have a window seat and the right weather and lighting conditions, not to mention the right flight path, you are presented with an ever-changing gallery of these wonders of shape and color.

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These photos were taken on 3 different trips. The first 6 are from August 2004, taken en route from the East Coast to Colorado (or vice versa), or from some connecting flight in between. The next 3 are from a January 2006 flight from Albuqueque, New Mexico. The last two are from a May 2008 flight to Houston, Texas. I don’t recall my specific itineraries, so I don’t remember where I was in each case. (I mean, other than in a plane. I remember that much.) They were all taken with point-and-shoot cameras.

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “high,” another that offered many choices from my photo archives.¹ I’ve mentioned it before, long long ago, but I really love heights. I therefore have many photos from high places: tall buildings, hikes, ferris wheels, and gondola rides. I considered posting something from each of these. However, I figured that seeing as I haven’t had the opportunity for space travel, views from a plane are about as high as I can manage.

I’ve posted a few of my other window-seat pictures before. And I probably will again. And if ever I have the chance to travel into space, I promise to share the pictures.

¹ This theme also offered much opportunity for playing with words. You were very nearly given a post with the title “getting high in Barcelona.” But I decided not to go there. I mean, I *did* go to Barcelona. And I visited a fairly elevated spot. But I decided not to go that direction with my post…or my title.

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.