Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

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Variations on a shingle…

Last month we spent a weekend in Seattle to celebrate many family occasions that happen in the month of August. (Two birthdays and three anniversaries all on Terry’s side of the family.) While we were there we had a lovely day seeing the Space Needle (Terry had never been up in it, although I had been there in 1962 during the World’s Fair.) An added bonus is that right next to the needle Dale Chihuly’s Garden and Glass museum is located. (There is a great senior citizen discount if you buy a combo ticket for both!) As we were walking to buy our tickets we also passed another amazing building and when I got home I found it was a Frank Gehry building housing the EMP Museum. ( Think: the Guggenheim in Spain and the Disney Concert Hall in L.A. Same architect.) EMP stands for Experience Music Project. The old monorail built for the World’s Fair goes right through the center. We did not have time to see inside, but I did enjoy the surface outside. What a feast for the eyes!

From their website:

“EMP is a leading-edge, nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture. With its roots in rock ‘n’ roll, EMP serves as a gateway museum, reaching multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, using interactive technologies to engage and empower our visitors. At EMP, artists, audiences and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation, and scholarship to the popular culture of our time.

 EMP’s futuristic Frank O. Gehry designed building is constructed of over 21,000 aluminum and stainless steel shingles and 280 steel ribs. If its 400 tons of structural steel were stretched into the lightest banjo string it would extend one-fourth of the way to Venus.

A classical music fan, Gehry wanted to understand rock ‘n’ roll, so he traded in his Bach for Hendrix and took a trip to the neighborhood guitar store. He bought several electric guitars, took them back to his office, and cut them into pieces. The guitar pieces were the building blocks for an early model design. Influenced by the colors in the early model, Gehry’s final design brightly displays the red and blue hues of electric guitars.”
I did love looking at this building…
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Once we were up in the Space Needle we could see down on the roof of the building.
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Next time, I would definitely include time to look inside Frank Gehry’s museum…


Stairway to the stars…

After having such a fun Thursday, I am compelled to detour away from my tales of Switzerland just a little bit more. It is no secret that I have a passion for tile (in particular Heath), so when an opportunity came to visit San Francisco with a group of retired teachers from the school where I taught before going to Moraga’s JMIS, I was very excited. My heart skips anytime there are mosaics around. We started the morning by traveling to the Flora Grubb Gardens Nursery. Lots of inspiration there and it was well worth the trip as a prelude to what was to come. (They even have a coffee bar…can’t ask for anything more!) Loved this old car planted fully making itself into a garden ornament. Emphasizing the rule that anything can be a container…

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Then we drove to the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood. This is in the Inner Sunset District and at 16th Street and Moraga Street are the steps. These 163 panels are of a sea to sky theme all the way up to the top. They are constructed with Heath Tile, handmade tile, mirrored tile and since it is a neighborhood supported project there are dedications, remembrances, and names of people and businesses from the neighborhood. The mosaic was completed in 2005 by Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. The stairs are used for exercise and tourists come to photograph them. They are well used by the residents. We were there at around noon with full sun making photography tricky (I have mentioned before the difficulty taking photos with an iPhone with bright light and glare. There was also the factor that some areas were in sun and some were in shade.) Despite the handicaps, it was fun to photograph this artful reflection of a community.


This woman ran up and down the stairs four times before our group had made it to the top once. Her feat was very impressive!



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I did love the use of the mirror tile…


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And then we were at the top…if you squint you can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge…


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After walking down again, we went over to the Hidden Garden Steps located on 16th between Kirkham and Lawton. These steps were approached from the top and we walked down each flight to look back up for the impact. (It was definitely an impact!) These steps were dedicated in 2013. Once again you could purchase a tile to have your name on it or a business could purchase an entire motif such as a flower. (Here are photographs of how the artists plotted out the designs.) My pictures are from the top working down.

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Luckily for us, one of our group members was Susan Dannenfelser, a ceramic artist, who knows the artists who created the mosaics.  Aileen Barr met us and guided us around her work. This is Aileen resting on her artwork (or is that resting on her laurels…I think there probably are some laurels in this garden!)


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Came home from this field trip pumped up and ready to create…thanks Del Rey Rovers for the great day!!


What Drake saw…


A brief detour from blogging about Switzerland for a bird-walk last Saturday at Pt. Reyes…

We met the Master Birding group at 8:00 a.m. at the Five Brooks area of the National Seashore. Things started very overcast but abundant with birds…


It was a nice gentle walk around one of the brooks…

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The group got in their cars and drove over to the park headquarters. Half of  the cars were left there  so that carpools could be formed. Parking spaces are at a premium on weekends in most of the areas of the park.

On the way to Drake’s Beach there were many stops so everyone could pile out of the cars in this case to see groups of raptors…(they do not show up in my photos but the count was high) and I was able to get the landscape…

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and Tule Elk here (those light dots in the second picture are really them)…

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It was still overcast when we got down to the coast…

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We were busy counting and someone was busy getting married…



A monument to Sir Francis Drake…


Here was one of the most amazing parts of this excursion. This is the first of two points where we saw barn owls flying…the most unusual thing, ever…in my whole life I have never seen a barn owl fly in daylight and we could not figure out what made this totally nocturnal bird do it…there is a spot in this picture that is the owl…


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After our picnic lunch, the sky started to roll back…



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and we were all happy…


We drove around to the boat docks…finally we saw what Drake saw…

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Our walk out to the point where we could see whales breaching and spouting…


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By the time we made the walk back, there were sailboats in the harbor…

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This was a beautiful day…



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Zentrum Paul Klee…

Ponder two words: Renzo Piano

The Italian architect that designed…

#1. The Pompidou Center in Paris. (In collaboration with Richard Rogers.) I loved taking pictures of this building…

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However, I was not sure how much I liked the building itself, plopped down in the midst of the beauty of Paris and all of its formal architecture. My mind gave it a minus grade, most likely because it puts all its inner workings on the outside. (I am perfectly willing to take another trip to Paris to re-evaluate the situation, mind you!)

#2 The Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco. This building is one of my favorites from its living roof of California native plants down to its aquarium. It sits within the nature of Golden Gate Park and has a perfect view of the deYoung Museum. It houses multiple purposes (the planetarium, live penguins, a rainforest, as well as scientists doing their research and work). We visit here often and it gets a big plus from me.


#3 Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland. Situated so it has an interplay with nature, this building by Piano knocked my socks off with its exuberance and swoop. It perfectly illustrates this quote from Paul Klee in 1902: ” Everywhere all I see is architecture, line rhythms, plane rhythms.” A very big plus from me. That makes it 2-1 in favor of Mr. Piano. (I am so presumptuous to think this matters!)

I linked to a full picture of the building because I did not actually take one of all three of the curves. It started to drizzle and I was balancing my umbrella on my shoulder and trying to hold my iPhone with two hands…if I had only known. At the time I had not made the connection that all three buildings had been designed by the same architect.

We left the bear pit after being unsuccessful in catching sight of the bears. This is the old pit that they sometimes still use, but they do have new digs with lots of vegetative cover and big fishing pools.


We hopped onto the #12 bus and rode it to its end at the Zentrum.

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This sculpture is taken from a line Paul Klee drew in one of his pieces of art…


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The lobby and cafe…


Most wonderful of wonderful…the lower area given over to allowing creativity to develop. A whole light-filled space for kids’ art. This building is about the interaction of nature and culture…I could feel it…

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The next post will be about the art in the exhibit rooms…

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Bern, three…

There is one other fountain that I must mention…it was created by an artist named Meret Oppenheim, 1913-1985. She was a Swiss artist who gained early fame creating an iconic image that defined Surrealism. She created this tea-cup and saucer in 1936 but then drifted away from the Surrealists in her later career. She was young, 23, at the time she created the object. Born in Germany but a Swiss citizen, the Swiss are very proud of her art fame.


She was asked to create a fountain for Bern and it was constructed two years before her death. This fountain symbolizes growth and life. It is supposed to communicate with its beholder. There was much controversy about the concrete fountain that is covered with grass, flowers, and moss. Rick Steves says that the citizens of Bern only like the fountain when it is covered with ice in the winter. However, I found a short YouTube video that seems to think that it has grown on the residents. It is a very interesting video that includes a botanist discussing the plants and growing things on the fountain as well as the issues of how best to preserve it.

The fountain is situated between the Dutch Tower and the Police station. (The police station was originally the orphanage).

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Bern, two…


After walking to the rear of the Parliament Building so we could see the view and the Aare River (muddy because of all the rain), we continued our stroll down-elevation past banks (lots of them…it’s Switzerland!) and casinos (in this case casino means opera house.)


Also saw the sophisticated suicide barrier on the bridge…

Our walk swung over to the center of the peninsula that is Bern so we could enjoy the Zytglogge. I am not an expert on world-wide clock towers, but this one seems to me to be one of the most special. It dates from 1530.



The street artist was also fun…


Walking to the rear of the tower puts you in the Kornhausplatz.




There is the Ogre Fountain (child-eater). Possibly it was meant to scare mis-behaving children.



We elected to stroll down Kramgasse a wide street that gives the sense of the arcades plus the cellars below that are also retail shops…

Zähringen Fountain…a bear in full armor…


The house where Einstein lived in 1905 when he developed the theory of relativity right here in Bern…

The Samnson Fountain…





We also walked around Bern’s 15th century Münster (Cathedral)…



I could not get far enough away to get a full picture so you will have to piece it together in your brain…






If you live in one of these houses in Bern…

You get this as your yard…


One more fountain (there are more than we actually walked past) before we went across the bridge to the BärenPark…of course, it was Justice…

“Time is the justice that examines all offenders.”~Shakespeare

(Snapseed app, Image Blender, Stackables, and Vintique)

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Bern, the Capitol of Switzerland, was founded in 1191. A roaring bear is the local mascot. It has a beautiful river, the Aare, and lovely, covered arcades for window shopping and strolling even in the rain. A fire swept through in 1405 and after that wooden buildings were banned. The facades are somewhat monochromatic, except for spots of color in the beautiful window boxes and there are polychromatic fountains in the middle of the streets. The train station is a transportation hub so besides two full days of enjoying the city, we had many days where we had layovers and picked up coffee or excellent lunches. There is no bad food in Swiss train stations.
The train station is also a mall…




(I included these two photos to see if a couple of my friends read my blog…I was thinking of you Thalia and Gail!)
There were buskers and chocolatiers…


Bears were everywhere…on sewer lids…

On street sweeper trash cans…

In parks…

And real life breathing bears (although we could not see them) who get to fish in their own pond next to the river…

The sandstone buildings and the prison tower…

The first fountain we came to was the bagpiper…




The Dutch Tower…and then back to the other side of the Prison Tower for the Anna Seiler Fountain (she founded the first hospital in Bern).




The market…


Sometimes the fountains went to the birds…



Parliament Square and the Parliament Building…the fountain has 26 squirts (one for each canton)…







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