Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Art/Nature/Self…

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After a few detours, I am back to describing our trip to Switzerland last July. I broke off after describing the Zentrum Paul Klee building designed by Renzo Piano. I would be remiss not to mention a bit of Paul Klee’s art, also.

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The show we saw at the museum emphasized how Klee began in his youth making naturalistic sketches of nature and architecture but eventually moved from the external surface to the “inner composition of plants and buildings.”  From the catalog: “he constructed floating forms and soaring cities, or took central perspective to the limit. This exhibition from the collection shows how nature and architecture helped the artist Paul Klee to discover organic models and develop an abstract formal language.”

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An early sketchbook showing a central perspective view…

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1895, Untitled (Gothic arch and plants) Watercolor and pencil

1895, Untitled (Gothic arch and plants)
Watercolor and pencil

1912, Sketch of Paris Quill and pencil

1912, Sketch of Paris
Quill and pencil

1922, Red Violet x Yellow-Green graduated Watercolor and pencil

1922, Red Violet x Yellow-Green graduated
Watercolor and pencil

1940, Suburban Evening Wax crayon with undercoating

1940, Suburban Evening
Wax crayon with under coating

The walls of the exhibit space contained quotations from Klee at various stages of his life. (He lived from 1879-1940.)

“Everywhere all I see is architecture, line rhythms, plane rhythms.”  1902

“Like the human being, the painting has a skeleton, muscles and skin. One can speak of a specific anatomy of the picture. [...] First of all one constructs a scaffolding of the painting that is to be built.”   1908

“Reduction! One wants to say more than nature and makes the impossible mistake of wanting to say it with more means than she rather than with fewer means.”  1908

“Wednesday, 8 April, Tunis. My head is full of the impressions of last night’s walk. Art/Nature/Self. Went to work at once and painted in water-colour in the Arab quarter. Began the synthesis of urban architecture and pictorial architecture.”  1914

“In Italy I understood the architectural in visual art—I was standing right beside abstract art—today I would say, the constructive. The nearest and at the same time the furthest goal will now be to bring architectural and poetical painting in unison or at least into harmony.”  1920

The paintings nearby emphasized what he was articulating.

1930, Mouth of the Cave Watercolor and charcoal

1930, Mouth of the Cave
Watercolor and charcoal

There were also these wonderful houses…

1935, Portrait of a House Watercolor and charcoal

1935, Portrait of a House
Watercolor and charcoal

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1940, Yellow House I Watercolor and paste

1940, Yellow House I
Watercolor and paste

1922, The dart house Oil, watercolor, pencil, quill

1922, The dart house
Oil, watercolor, pencil, quill

1932, Small town among the rocks Oil

1932, Small town among the rocks
Oil

Klee was born near Bern and at first did not know whether to become a musician or a painter. In 1901 a trip to Italy greatly impacted him. By 1912 he had become a member of the Blue Rider group. There was a 1914 trip to Tunisia, where he underwent an artistic breakout to color and abstraction. He was drafted into the German army during World War I. He started teaching at the Bauhaus in 1921 and his work was shown in the first Surrealist exhibition in 1925. By 1933 he was suspended from teaching by the Nazis and he moved back to Switzerland (Bern). In 1937 his work was seized by the Nazis and fifteen were hung in the “Degenerated Art” exhibition by the Nazis. He died in Switzerland in 1940.

Paul Klee’s  journey as an artist…

 


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Tuesday morning, early…

Just because we can (two retired people), we decided to take advantage of the monthly Members Day at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. With eyes barely open we hopped in the car to brave early morning commute traffic to take advantage of special activities just for members. (The best part about it is that you get in early and there are no lines where usually the lines are quite long.) That day we wanted to see the feeding of an anaconda at 8:45 Unfortunately, the traffic did keep us from watching but by the time we got there ten minutes later, he was still cuddling his rabbit.

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We wandered the aquarium until time for our next member’s activity. I felt I was being watched the entire time (and it wasn’t by the guards).

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Then it was a preview for members of the new Terrace Restaurant that would open in a few days. This meant FREE FOOD, and being San Francisco…high style free food. Oh, yum, chacuterie with duck rillettes (who does that!), cheeses and sliced meats with artisan mustards. Plus…

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San Francisco cioppino with crab…

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A few moments to wander the rainforest where the birds and butterflies were very active…

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Hope springs eternal that on some visit I will catch a picture of this Blue Morpho butterfly, but once again this time I could see them fluttering around but none would light in a convenient place for my little iPhone. I had to rely on the display picture…

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Then we participated in a “behind the scenes” tour and got to see where the thousands of specimens are stored. The theme of the tour was how photography is used in studying science and at the end they had specimens set up so that we and about 10 kids could try our hand at photographing specimens.

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It pays to be a member!


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October Bird Walk…

First Saturday in October we were on a bird walk for Terry’s master birding class. As luck would have it, the trip was to his old stomping grounds, Fort Chronkite and Hawk Hill in the Golden Gate National Seashore. Because of his involvement with the banding of hawks with GGRO we have been to this area many times and I have posted pictures from here often over the years. The difference this day was that it was 90° and crystal clear…no fabled San Francisco Fog to be seen. The first time I had seen this landscape with this bright light…

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The birders got to work…

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Some birds were particularly cooperative…

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After investigating Rodeo Lagoon and the headquarters buildings we ventured up to Hawk Hill…

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The blue patch on the right is Rodeo Lagoon from above…

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and we could see out to Lands End (I have posted pictures of those same rocks from a different angle here…)

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There was a lot of boat activity this day…

and raptor activity…

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I, however, started looking for shady spots to get out of the sun…no lack of antique battlements here…

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and no lack of killer views of the Golden Gate…

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This is possibly the best picnic spot in the Bay Area…or maybe the best picnic…I saw the food they brought in as they passed me on the path…

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The money shot…Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Yerba Buena Island with the Bay Bridge and Oakland behind it all…! On a clear day you really can see forever…

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Garden and Glass, two…

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As you leave the dark gallery area of the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle you step into areas where the glass objects interact with natural light. The glass glows in both environments. Talk about blowing your mind on color. In the transition area is a wall filled with blown-up images of old postcards depicting a collection of landmark glasshouses in gardens around the world. Right before walking into Chihuly’s glasshouse you get a sense of this unique type of architecture. I was reminded of walking into the Sainte-Chapelle Chapel in Paris. Maybe I was experiencing “art as a protective covering”. Chihuly’s glasshouse is asymmetrical and contains a 100 foot suspended sculpture.

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Exiting the glasshouse you enter the gardens where the glass interacts with nature.

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I loved the way plants were used as a backdrop for the glass. In an area confined to black and white coloring, covering the ground was black mondo grass. (It is not often you can find a plant that can give you such a background color and texture. Works wonderfully here. I mentioned this plant before and how I combined it with chartreuse plants, although, in our garden I can only use it in containers since it is not a California Native. TM sets the rules on that!)

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Black mondo grass covering a hill, this time…

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It was time for lunch before going up in the Space Needle, so we went back inside to the cafe connected to the garden. It seems Chihuly is also an inveterate collector (the cafe is called Collections and his personal collections are everywhere.)

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The ceiling contains his collection of accordions…

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Walls have a collection of his paintings and figurines…

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and the tables to eat at were the coolest…a box covered with glass was in the center of each table and inside was one of his collections.

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The food was good, too…later, coming down from the Space Needle I got this bird’s-eye view of the layout of the garden…

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There are some nice videos on Chihuly’s website. Worth the time to watch…

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Garden and Glass, part one…

After walking past the wonderful Gehry building in Seattle, we came to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit.

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Walking in, you enter into a series of galleries that contain Chihuly’s early work.

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His series that referenced Native American baskets…

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All together there are eight galleries and two drawing walls that give a comprehensive collection of his work.

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Textures made when the glass was expanded creating fissures in the gold leaf on its surface…and the drawings he makes before starting a piece…

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Some works are monumental…

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and some are on the ceiling like a skylight…

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throwing their reflections against the wall…

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The galleries are totally black with the glass work sitting on black pedestals. The colors glow from small spotlights. The only processing I did of my pictures was to retouch the tiny white rows of lights. The color is all Chihuly. If I lived in Seattle and was prone to depression because of lack of light, I would make my way here as often as possible to give my mental health a boost. I muttered reverentially the word “color’ as I walked through these rooms and have thought about the vibrancy of the experience continually since I have been home.

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The shiny pedestals also make for interesting reflections…

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The first picture wall with the works in Golden acrylic paint and lots of iridescent powders…(love that squirt bottle he uses)…

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The chandeliers he made for over Venice canals…

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The last of the galleries had his       series…I will let him speak for himself…

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Oh, yum…part two will be the garden and glasshouse…


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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…


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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.

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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!!

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