Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


Looking back, looking forward…

Even though my middle name was chaos these last few weeks, I was able to make an iMovie compilation of my year in pictures. When I got it together, I was struck by how many birds there were because of all our field trips. It turned out I even forgot to take pictures of my classmates at my high school reunion…just got the peacock strolling the grounds. I am glad I took the time to do this movie because, except for a sad thing near the end, it was a very good year. Although I am a little belated, Happy New Year to you and may your 2015 be stellar!!

Don’t forget you can watch the movie full-screen by clicking the small box on the lower right hand corner…

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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.”


An early sketchbook showing a central perspective view…


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

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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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)…