Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Monet, young…

Thursday we visited the Palace of the Legion of Honor to see their “Monet, The Early Years” show.


When we started from home it was a drizzle and it stayed that way all across the city.

When we got to the museum there was no parking except miles and miles down the road. Two positives from that were adding multiple steps to our Fitbits and we were so far down the road we got the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge, ever.


The museum was more crowded than I had ever seen, so my pictures were hard to get. I was dodging around stationary people listening to handsets. Later we found out that it was a free day for KQED members. Oh, and it was Spring Break so there were lots of kids around. A sampling of the art when he was young:

 

Fishing Boats, 1866


A Hut at Sainte-Adresse, 1867


The Seine at Bougival, 1869


The Porte d’Amont, Etretat, ca. 1868-69


Still life with Flowers and Fruit, 1869


Camille on the Beach, 1870. 


The Pont Neufchâtel in Paris, 1871


Argenteuil, 1872


Still Life with Melon, 1872


The Port at Argenteuil, 1872


Regatta at Argenteuil, 1872

The last one really shows him developing into Impressionism. The reflections on the water are delicious.

After wending our way through the legion of crowds, we drove over to Land’s End for lunch at the Cliff House. Didn’t get a table by the window, but that was ok, we got popovers…






Very happy that we made it home without a traffic jam and before a very big storm.


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And the fun rolls on…

Second day into the new year and the fun just keeps happening…Saturday morning trip through San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge and to Sausalito for tile samples at Heath (planning a new backsplash). Got finished so quickly at the factory store that there was a lovely hour for wandering the bay side harbor. Brisk, but beautiful, on the second day of the year…the sky was particularly lovely this day, what with all its pelicans and all…

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Treasure Island and the San Francisco skyline from across the Bay…

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A spit just covered with pelicans and cormorants…

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Then to lunch on the theme of Italy, once again…which reminds me I need to revisit my photos from our trip to Italy in September/October to continue the story…

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Day trips from Barcelona…number one…

Girona

Girona, which is about 60 miles from Barcelona, is a short train trip away. It has an annual flower show in May. Our trip coincided with the last couple of days of the festival, and we decided to exercise our train skills and spend the Saturday in this picturesque town when it would be festooned with petals. The entire town has floral displays…shop window displays, entryways, nooks and crannies, empty vestibules…you name it they stick a flower in it…even the river has its displays. We wandered and wandered, up church steps, across cobblestones and bridges, peeking into entrances. It was a lovely day, but windy. Catalan flags (the election was a week away) were furiously flapping. After getting off the train we followed green stenciled foot prints on the sidewalk up to the old part of town, passing community created floral displays (kids art!) and gazing at the town from a picturesque bridge (one of many). The town even has a bridge built by Gustave Eiffel…in the famous color of the Golden Gate.

We started our morning in the train station…note: there are ham stores everywhere in Spain…

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This is Girona…

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A slide show of bridges, churches, flower displays and the highlights of the lovely town: (don’t forget to click the square in the lower right hand corner to play it full screen)

I know I said I would not post any more food pictures, but in Girona it was the only time we went to something as unusual (for us) as a gastrobar. So really I am compelled to share. (I have to admit that I have been known to watch the Food Network…you know, foam…)

The restaurant is called Bubbles…

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We started with Cava…

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Their “award-winning” tapa that included a poached egg, froie gras foam and thyme bread…

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This is coca bread, served and eaten at practically every meal in Catalona. Coca bread is spread with garlic, fresh tomato drizzled with olive oil, and lightly sprinkled with sea salt. So good!

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Croquettas, steak, flat bread with tuna, and quacamole…yes, we kept walking…trying to assuage our guilt…luckily, we had more of the city to see and it was a long way back to the train station for the trip home to BCN.

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Roofs, chimneys, pinnacles, and spires…(part one)

Touring Barcelona includes roof walking. The genius Gaudí neglected nothing in his designs. Every detail was his to control, and he did. The roofs were well thought out to contribute to the function of the building as well as visually contributing to the joy and craftsmanship. I am not sure at the time who got to enjoy these roofs, but current tourists get an eyeful. Chain link fences and railings are newer additions so tourists don’t fall down the skylights. Sometimes I did shoot down toward the street but I really wasn’t in danger of joining the crowd below.

Just a note for future tourists of Barcelona: you can purchase tickets for the attractions on the internet even before you leave home. You can print the tickets out and then you do not have to wait in the long lines to get in the structures. (This does not mean there will not be lots of other tourists around…it is very difficult to get photos that do not include strangers.)  If you do not want to plan that far ahead, and if you have wifi where you are staying, you can also purchase the tickets the night before and take the copy of the ticket with you on your iPhone or device. At the door they read the bar code of the ticket and you jump the long line. Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, and Palau Güell have audio guides (Casa Batlló had the newest and best…it includes a small video screen so they show you antique photos and animations along with the narration.) We did not use the audio guides in other places, just enjoyed the experiences unfiltered…

Casa Batlló

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Sagrada Familia

Gaudí’s Cathedral, still being built. Two tickets required…one for the main church and one for the elevator up into a spire and then walking down a spiral staircase. This picture of the facade shows the spires, the elevator is inside on the right and then you walk the bridge behind the green tree of life sculpture (with white doves on it) and all the way down the staircase there are slits and small windows where you can see tops of towers and decorations.)

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Oh, yes, there will be many parts to this topic…watch this space!


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Iron (part one)…

Some shots of my favorite material in Spain…

On balconies, everywhere…

   
 Light fixtures… 

    Houses by famous architects… 

               The view from under the umbrella outside our favorite breakfast spot: 

 Iron is a way of life in Barcelona… 

           and in Girona where they have a bridge by Eiffel, the Pont de Ferro 

   Park Güell… 

               


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Prisoner Ai Weiwei…

The art that drew us to Alcatraz…an exhibition of the work of the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.IMG_7860

From the catalog: “At first blush, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a major exhibition that pairs a politically charged Chinese contemporary artist with a landmark American national park, seems just as incongruous. Ai, a superstar in the international art world who helped design the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is currently forbidden by the authorities to leave China. Alcatraz—over the years the site of a Civil War-era fortress, a military prison, a notorious federal penitentiary, and a momentous Native American rights protest—is now a popular national park site and refuge for waterbirds. But it is exactly the pairing’s intrinsic conditions of contradiction that bring the two parts together-and make for the possibility of soul-stirring art.”

After arriving at the dock, we walked up to the New Industries Building which was originally a laundry and manufacturing facility.

“Both delicate and fearsome, the traditional Chinese dragon kite embodies a mythical symbol of power. Ai Weiwei unfurls a spectacular contemporary version of this age-old art form inside the New Industries Building: a sculptural installation with an enormous dragon’s head and a body made up of smaller kites. The sparrow-shaped and hexagonal kites scattered throughout the room feature stylized renderings of birds and flowers—natural forms that allude to a stark human reality: many are symbols of nations with serious records of restricting their citizens’ rights and civil liberties. The work references some thirty countries, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

…By confining the work inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. He also offers a poetic response to the multi-layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens.”

With Wind (Installation, 2014. Handmade kites made of paper, silk, and bamboo)

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Somebody I know was looking for birds out those windows and admiring the view to the Golden Gate…

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In the next large room:

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Trace (Installation, 2014. LEGO plastic building blocks)

“The viewer is confronted with a field of colorful images laid out flat across the expansive floor: portraits of over 170 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled due to their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated as of June 2014.”

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“From the New Industries Building’s lower gun gallery, where armed guards once monitored prisoners at work, visitors peer through cracked and rusted windows to glimpse an enormous, multifaceted metal wing on the floor below. Its design is based on close observation of the structure of real bird’s wings, but in place of feathers, the artwork bristles with reflective metal panels originally used on Tibetan solar cookers…this piece uses imagery of flight to evoke the tension between freedom—be it physical, political, or creative—and confinement.

Refraction (Installation, 2014. Tibetan solar panels, steel)

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We walked through lush gardens up to the Cellhouse.

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Inside was Blossom (Installation, 2014, Porcelain, hospital fixtures)

Fixtures in hospital ward cells and medical offices are transformed into fantastical, fragile porcelain bouquets.

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There were other parts to the exhibit inside but it was time for use to go look for birds in earnest…

Now I have run out of episodes with titles I can use the word “prisoner” in, so now I must bring this chapter to a close…


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Prisoner of Alcatraz…

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Wednesday morning, 8:00 a.m., we left for San Francisco so we could catch  a 10:00 a.m. ferry to Alcatraz Island.

When I think back on this year since last October, it has been a year filled with more ferries, water taxis, vaporettos, and water conveyances than all of my sixty-six years before that. Last October it started in Venice and went to Lake Maggiore in July. Now it has come to San Francisco Bay (actually twice this year, because we took a ferry to a San Francisco Giants game in August…Go Giants, by the way!). At 8:00 in the morning, traffic is a bear, but since it was Wednesday and not in the summer, parking was easy and directly across the street. Plus, the island did not get very crowded during our time on the rock. As we proceeded on our cruise we certainly hoped that Alcatraz would not have us licked.

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It was a beautiful day with great views of the Bay Bridge on the way over to the island.

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Our approach to the dock included water towers, guard towers, and a view of the prison…

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This island is frequented by many bird varieties…

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The Officer’s Club has deteriorated but makes for some interesting photographs…

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The Quartermaster Warehouse and the power plant…

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Apartments for the guards…

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The Warden’s residence next to the prison and lighthouse viewed from the Parade Grounds…

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The water tower still has remnants of the American Indian Occupation…

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A great view of the Golden Gate with Hawk Hill on the right, across the Bay…

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The San Francisco skyline…

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We toured the cell block and that put us on a higher level to get closer views of the Warden’s Residence and the lighthouse…

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We walked through the exercise yard and were impressed with the view the guards must have had while they supervised…

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We wandered back to the dock through the Agave Trail and had our picnic before boarding the ferry to go back to the city.

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We were allowed to escape from Alcatraz…

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There was a model at the ferry landing of what Alcatraz looked like before the buildings started to crumble…

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