Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Typography as art…

On the bottom floor of the Palace of Fine Arts Legion of Honor, next to the cafe, is a small gallery/room that contains some treasures. Each visit I make I am sure to pop in to see what is on display. Something always catches my imagination and blows my creative juices into the air. Last Thursday’s visit did not disappoint because the small gallery of Illustrated Books was focusing on “Inspired Alphabets”.

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I walked into the room and was caught by the word circus…then lithography…if you have read this blog for a while you will recognize some of my favorite themes…


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Then there was this fabulous collage book with collaged lettering…



More lithography…





And who knew Claes Oldenburg envisioned buildings and cities made from letters…




There is much to be said for the small book that can be held in one hand…with the power of the fold…



The letters themselves creating abstract art…and the overprint…









The Dada Movement…



Lifted by my interaction with the typography, I got home to a new visual journal I had under construction and had found the way I wanted to create the title page…

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Onward and upward…my souvenir of the day was an idea…


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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, dos…

Currently, iron is my favorite medium that I saw in Barcelona, and, I swear, that will last as long as it takes me to process all of my trencadís (mosaic) photos, and all of my art museum photos, and all of my tapas photos…because…this was one swell trip and I liked everything. My only regret…just last month we had to rebuild the two balconies on our house when we found dry rot prior to painting. We rebuilt them with wood as they were, but, maybe, if I had seen Barcelona before the job had to be done, I would have gone in the direction that Gaudí and his collaborator, Josep Maria Jujol, went on Casa Milà (La Pedrera, which means the quarry referring to its massive stonework). The cold, hard material of metal gets a treatment that makes it look like flowing tendrils of ribbon and damp paper draped over a slump mold. Oh, to die for…

  
        

The inside…

  
            

Casa Milà is a constant curve inside and out. It was built between 1906 and 1910. It had neglected days during the 1940’s to 1980’s when the interior was painted totally tan but it has been restored and is very colorful on the inside with pigment pressed into concrete. This last stairwell is highly buffed and looks like leather.

Iron, back on the street…

  
          

It was difficult to take pictures of the full buildings because you could only back up the width of the two lane street and a side walk. A lot of my pictures, therefore are details or almost abstracts. This is Casa Calvert, Gaudì’s first apartment building (located one block from our apartment) and I wanted to compare its elements to Casa Botlló…but I could not get all the floors in one picture…

  
  

This was a dress shop in our neighborhood that was originally a farmacia…flowery iron, mosaic and stained glass…perfection!


Palau Güell…

  

Iron???


NO! Chocolate at the Chocolate Museum. Ha, ha, ha, I like that, too!


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A positive…

A positive thing that came out of standing in a line to get into Casa Batlló was that it meant that there was time to read all the brochures available about the structure. Wouldn’t you know they are having a photography contest where if you tag your photos on Instagram you have a chance of winning a digital Fuji film camera. What could I lose?  So here are my entries and a few others…

   
                 

Gaudí did not like straight lines and used nature as his starting point…


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Riding the rails…

Recently, a group of women I drink coffee with each week decided to catch a train to Sacramento for a day trip visiting the Crocker Art Museum. Some of the group have been my friends since our kids were in early elementary school together and some are new friends, just since I retired and could actually partake in a weekly coffee klatch in the morning. What a luxury that is! One of the group moved to Sacramento and the rest of us decided to meet her for a tour of the Museum and lunch. So “the women who coffee” caught the train in Martinez. It is called the Capital Corridor and, for seniors, only costs $19.00 for a round trip. Takes an hour and is the best deal in town. Also, Toulouse-Lautrec was playing at the Crocker. Eleven of us hopped the train and enjoyed the rolling view.

Martinez Train Station

Martinez Train Station

Train View as we rolled along

California Train View, as we rolled along

Our tour guide met us at the station holding up a large sign so we would not miss her (just like the best of tour guides!)

Michelle Leong (Peet's is where we usually drink coffee)

Michelle Leong (Peet’s is where we usually drink coffee)

Then she led us down to the museum (only about a mile’s walk from the station…)

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The Museum is a combination of old and new…the original building donated by the Crocker’s and a new portion that expands the exhibit space, holds the restaurant and museum store, and has classrooms.

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The Toulouse exhibit did not allow photos but I visited with some of my old friends…

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Jade Beads Guy Rose c. 1907-1912

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Sacramento River Gregory Kondos 1981, oil on canvas

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Wayne Thiebaud

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Early California Artifact

Then we discovered two small gallery rooms that were fabulous. In the first, there was a display of the tile-makers art. In particular, early California faience art tiles and some Julia Morgan designed pressed tiles for the Hearst Castle bell tower. Heaven!

From the museum website:

William Bragdon was a ceramic engineer trained at Alfred University in New York. He moved to Berkeley in 1915 to teach at the California School of Arts and Crafts and shortly thereafter formed a partnership with his Alfred University classmate Chauncey Thomas, then running a Berkeley pottery studio. Together they created decorative tiles, vases, and sculpture, calling their wares California Faience. The most prestigious of the company’s projects came in the 1920s when architect Julia Morgan commissioned a complete environment of tiles for William Randolph Hearst’s palatial home and grounds in San Simeon.

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Showroom Display 1914-25 California Faience

Showroom Display
1914-25
California Faience

Display Panel 1922-23 Earthenware press molded

Display Panel
1922-23
Earthenware press molded

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Hearst Castle Bell Tower Julia Morgan design

Hearst Castle Bell Tower
Julia Morgan design

The Green Man

The Green Man

Julia Morgan's elevation drawing

Julia Morgan’s elevation drawing

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Snowflake and Daisy California Faience by Julia Morgan Winged Seahorse by Julia Morgan Spanish Tile 16th century

Snowflake and Daisy California Faience by Julia Morgan
Winged Seahorse by Julia Morgan
Spanish Tile 16th century

This exhibit will be there until May 17…the Crocker Museum website is here

My next post will be about the gallery in the next room and BLOCKPRINTS!


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Under my canopy…

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The cherry tree is in bloom. Stand under it and be totally covered in a cloud of cotton-candy pink with sound effects. The number of bees that are buzzing is so loud that you think that your ears are exploding or you are ready for lift off into the great unknown. Must enjoy it at every opportunity because it only lasts for a couple of weeks before all the blossoms rain down in pink snow caused by an errant wind. Like anticipating the blood oranges or Chandler strawberries coming into the farmer’s market, the week of March 17 marks the blooming of the cherry tree. It is superior to the marking of a year by school vacations or holidays, in my humble opinion…

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I spent the last few weeks painting my gate…easier said than done it turns out.

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The paint had gotten chalky after nine years and there were rusty spots. After some research on the internet my process was this:

1. Sand the chalky paint and sand any rust away

2. Wash with a rag and a spray bottle filled with 50% water and 50% vinegar

3. Immediately spot prime with rustoleum oil based primer for metal

4. Paint with metal paint…since I wanted a color that was not standard I had to use an alkyd. (At least the clean-up was easier.) I am hoping that if it needs repainting in another nine years I will have moved to Rossmore and somebody else will get to paint it. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…It was not the easiest painting job because every joint is soldered and needed pouncing with a small foam brush to get the crevices painted. Then, I could use a foam roller on the flat places but had to go over it another time with the brush to smooth any pooled paint. Oh, and also I did not want to totally cut back the Dutchman’s pipe vine and there were a few places I could not get paint underneath the vine that has such a vise-like grip. One of those jobs that the best thing about it is that it is done!

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Now the pipe vine has a beautiful purple background…and we are still waiting for those special butterflies that are supposed to be attracted to it.

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Dutchman’s Pipe Vine flower


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Due to circumstances beyond my control…

First there was November…what was I thinking? I agreed to do two boutiques on the same weekend. Eventually it dawned on me that it meant double production of items to sell. Then I started muttering, “I am too old for this…”

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I took a break from making art to welcome everybody home for Thanksgiving and cook, cook, cook; but then did a fast push until the first weekend in December.

The boutiques went off without a hitch, but I had double shifts at both of them…back and forth, back and forth…and I started to think, “Why am I doing this?”

The Monday after, a construction crew arrived and began to install four windows in the living room after we scrambled to remove everything from the room because they were also going to repair cracks in the walls accumulated over the years. (A side-product of living in earthquake country.)

They worked until the Monday before Christmas Day and we rushed out and got a two-foot high tree to put on a table, removed boxes and paintings from the floor in the dining room, and temporarily tidied up the living room so we could have a Christmas day where everyone could find a seat…

The day after Christmas we started painting. Not being spring-chickens, this took us two and a half weeks. I had an extreme case of the “I am too old for this madness” syndrome (I am sure I was not that polite).

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We did take one day off for my birthday. We visited the winery cats in Healdsburg and I picked up olive oil. The tree eventually got taken down and became enrichment material in the aviary for a Barn Owl.

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The muttering really started when I was sitting on the floor painting the baseboard…but at least I am not tall enough to do the ceiling…

It has taken until now to rehang all the pictures, push the furniture back in, and put things in order. Oh, and there were a few muscles to nurse back to health…

I guess it wasn’t all circumstances beyond my control…I did not have to say “yes” to two boutiques and I could have accepted the outrageous bid from the “real” house painters…but, anyway, that’s where I have been…

Love that I have a Benjamin Moore paint store two minutes from my house, love my new colors, love the new layout, and so happy the job is done!! The ceiling and walls are painted in a grey Farrow and Ball color called Pembroke Stone, only I had Ben match from a sample so that it cost a fraction of the price. There is an accent wall in Ben’s Black Raspberry and the entry hall got Ben’s Pale Avocado which definitely brightens things up. Ben’s Simply White did the wood work. Sorry about the bad pictures. With all the different light sources it is hard to get pictures…or maybe it is just the ultra-clean windows!!!

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