Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Words inspired by Art - The Whitney Museum

Sometimes, when I am walking through a museum I am inspired by a piece that I observe. Last month I visited the Whitney Museum here in New York City and found inspiration by two pieces that found there.

Perspective - inspired by Untitled by Laura Owens

Perspective is a funny thing 
Look closely at an object, and it is meaningless
A piece of information cut off
Floating in space

Other objects float nearby
Holding more information to observe
each is totally incomprehensible
On its own

But step back
Adjust your viewpoint
And it all come together

Then turn around
find another place to stand
and its meaning completely changes

Sunday Morning - inspired by Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

It was early. He knew it because the sun was just coming up over the East River. But for him, it was late. His gig had ended at three, and then the band went to an after-hours to wind down. Now, here he was, making his way home while greeting the dawn.

As tired as he was, he loved this time of day. He had Seventh Avenue to himself. It was almost like all other people had been taken away, like a bad Twilight Zone episode. He could stand on the corner and lose track of where he was. The writing on the store windows becomes garbled and the street signs disappear. Was he in New York? Paris? Rome? He becomes lost in a day dream, standing still in the warmth of the rising sun, sending his shadow down the block.

SWISH! SWISH! RUMBLE! RUMBLE! His focus is brought back by the passing street sweeper. He shakes his head and picks up his horn.His bed is calling and the rising sun is saying good night.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fort Clatsop and Oregon Beaches

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Astoria Oregon sits in a beautiful and historic part of the country. Nearby is the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, where you will find beautiful beaches and where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the winter of 1805-1806.

Fort Clatsop National Memorial

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, which had departed from Missouri in the late spring
Statue of Sacagewea
of 1804, arrived at the Pacific Ocean on November 7, 1805. They decided to set camp near the Netul River, about five miles east of the ocean. They chose this spot on the advice of the Clatsop Indians, who lived in the area. The woods provided some shelter from the weather, and the Netul River was a much calmer alternative to the Columbia River. The area had plenty of deer, elk and fish for them to live on.

The expedition stayed built an enclosure to live in that they named Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local tribe. The expedition stayed there until March 23, 1806. They used this time to recover from various illnesses, repair their canoes and restock food for the trip home. During their stay, the local people visited almost every day to trade goods and help them explore the area.

The original buildings have decayed in the wet conditions of the Pacific Northwest. In 1955, the state of Oregon recreated them fort and in 1958, the national monument was dedicated. A fire burned these buildings down in 2005, but they were again built and rededicated in December 2006. The Fort Clatsop National Memorial has a very informative visitor’s center. There are displays outlining the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and also of the local peoples. There are also two historical films. The one I saw was a very thoughtful film on Lewis and Clarks time here told through the eyes of the native people who were here.

The Canoe Landing

It was Banana Slug season at Fort Clatsop

There are several hiking trails that start at the visitor’s center. You can take a 13-mile roundtrip hike on the Fort to Sea trail. This follows the trail from Fort Clatsop to Sunset Beach at the Pacific Ocean, where members of the expedition had set up a salt refining site. They needed the salt to prepare food for the trip back to the east. I chose a shorter hike, to the Canoe Landing. This is a highly developed trail from the visitor’s center to the Lewis and Clark River (originally the Netul). It is easy to see why the members of the expedition chose this sheltered area over the open shores of the Columbia River.

Oregon Beaches

The Beach at Fort Stevens State Park

If you want to spend time at a Pacific Ocean Beach on your visit, there are many choices. One is the Fort Stevens State Park. This state-run recreation area sits at the extreme north-west corner of the state of Oregon, right at the mouth of the Columbia River. Fort Stevens served as a guard to the Columbia River from the Civil War until the end of World War II. Today it is a 4300-acre park that includes a fresh water swimming lake, beaches, a nine-mile bicycle path, nature viewing and both camping and cabin facilities for over-night stays.

Seaside Beach
If camping is not your style head further south to the towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach. Seaside is a resort town with 6500 year-round residents, and several large hotels and condominiums right along the beach. Its cement boardwalk offers beautiful views of the beach. There are many activities for visitors, including an aquarium and a convention center.
Lewis and Clark at Seaside OR
Further south is the town of Cannon Beach. This community is 1500 residents is named for a cannon from the sunken sloop, the US Shark. The cannon washed ashore in 1846. Cannon Beach has a different feel than Seaside. Its buildings are smaller, and the area closest to the beach is filled with shops selling everything from touristy tchotchkes to fine art.

This is the last of my pieces from my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. I hope that my blog has given my readers a reason to explore the area beyond Seattle and Portland when you visit.

Getting There from Astoria OR:
Fort Clatsop – Head west on Marine Drive. Follow signs for U.S. 101 south. Travel 3 miles, then turn left onto Buisiness-101. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto Fort Clatsop Road. The Fort Clatsop NM is 0.75 ahead on the left.

Fort Stevens State Park – Head west on Marine Drive. Follow signs for U.S. 101 South. After 3 miles turn right onto E. Harbor St. After 1.3 miles turn left onto N. Main Street (WA 104S). Go 0.5 miles and turn right onto SW 9th street. Go 1 mile and turn right onto NW Ridge Road. Ridge Road will tale you into the park.

Seaside and Cannon Beach OR – Take Marine Drive west. Follow signs for U.S. 101 south. Seaside is 17 miles from Astoria. Cannon Beach is 26 miles from Astoria.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Chrysler Museum - Norfolk VA

The Chrysler Museum

If you throw 4 or 5 pieces of art into a room and call it a museum I will probably stop in and see it. So, on my one day in Norfolk VA I decided to visit the Chrysler Museum of Art. It is a lot more than just 5 pieces of art, and well worth the trip.

Walter P. Chrysler at White House (cropped).png
Wlater P Chrysler - Harris & Ewing, photographer via wikicommons
The Chrysler Museum was founded by Walter Chrysler Jr., the son of the car magnate. In 1971 he merged his collection with that of the Norfolk Museum of the Arts and Sciences. He chose Norfolk because it was the hometown of his wife, Jean Esther. The museum sits at the head of The Hague, an inlet that serves as the border to the Ghent District, an area of historic homes, mostly built between 1890 and 1902. The main building opened in the 1920’s and was renovated and expanded, reopening in 2014.
The permanent collection of the Chrysler is an excellent survey of art history, ranging from Greek/Roman statuary to contemporary art, with excellent examples from the entire history. There are also collections of Asian, Egyptian and African art.
Art of Life in America by Thomas Hart Benton (top) and American Beauty by Walt Kuhn
What is most impressive to me is the organization of the display of the art-work and the thought that has gone into the writing of labels throughout the museum. Galleries are not just organized by genre or era, but also with thought to connecting historical themes. Landscapes or portraits of a given era, if not the same genre, are displayed together in the same gallery. What I really loved were the labels written for almost every piece. In addition to the name of the work and artist, they included additional information about the style, genre or history of the piece. There are also explanatory videos placed near some pieces that the curatorial staff feel need extra information.

Museum Entrance Hallway

MacPherson and MacDonald by Gari Melchors

Soldiers Wives Waving Goodbye by Kathe Kollwitz

This care in arrangement and labeling is just as evident in the two special exhibits at the museum. Highest Heavens is a collection of European style art from the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Americas from the 16th and 17th centuries. Art of the Revolution consists of photo and posters from China created during the 1960’s and 70’s. In both displays the works are organized by themes, Angels or The Virgin Mary in Highest Heavens; military or cultural posters in Art of the Revolution. Here, again, the labels are fully explanatory, and in Highest Heaven they are in both English and Spanish.

Ife by Elizabeth Catlett

Beauty - inspired by Ife by Elizabeth Catlett
There you lay
Ebony skin
Like the myth of Africa

You smile slyly
Inviting me in
Knowing that the reality
Is so much deeper than myth

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Museums in Astoria Oregon

Astoria, Oregon, started as a fishing and cannery town. Today it is an art and culture center. It is home to several museums and galleries exploring its history and arts scene. Here are some of my favorites.

The Oregon Film Museum 

Over the years, may films have been made in Oregon. They are memorialized at the Oregon Film Museum. The museum is located behind the county court house, in what used to be the County Jail. The have left the cells in place, partly because the jail played a role in Astoria’s most famous film – Goonies. Each cell is filled with memorabilia from a different movie. There is also the opportunity to film yourselves in key scenes from Oregon films. There are props, green screens and cameras available, ready to catch your acting skills for prosperity.

The Goonies Crew

The Museum of Whimsy

Trish Bright is a collector. She has collections of many things that have caught her eye over the years. Head dresses, costumes, and dolls are just a few of the items that you will find in her Museum of Whimsy.

When Ms. Bright and her husband moved to Astoria, they purchased the 1924 bank building in downtown, and turned it into a catering hall. After several years they decided to close that business. Having this wonderful space, and a vast collection of items, they created the museum. Today it houses Ms. Bright’s eclectic, and growing collection. When arrive at the museum, there are rooms on either side of the entrance way. One houses a collection of African art, the other aviation related materials. Entering the main room, you may find your breath taken away. There
is so much to see, that it is hard to figure out which way to go first. There are dolls, and antique dresses. Paintings and toys. Just about anything that you could imagine is represented somewhere in the museum. The Museum of Whimsy is two floors and thousands of items, all designed to put a smile on your face.
Bag Lady by Mario Rivoli

Pie Plates

The Columbia River Maritime Museum

By Steve Morgan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The gem of Astoria’s museums is the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Its beautiful building houses a collection that explores the history of navigation on the Columbia River, as well as the science of weather forecasting, a major factor in maritime life.

Founded in 1962, the museum was originally housed in Astoria’s old Town Hall. In 1982, it moved to its current location, on the banks of the Columbia River. Its new building comes thanks to a major renovation in 2002. 

Begin your visit with the Hurricane 3-D film. You will get to see how a small weather disturbance over the Serengeti Desert in Africa grows to become a category 5 hurricane over the Caribbean. After the film enter the main hall of the museum, home to several retired boats that have sailed the Columbia. In other galleries you can follow a Coast Guard rescue crew as they work against time to save the sailors on a fishing
boat in distress. You can try your skill at navigating a freighter up the Columbia River, or you can learn about the tools used to forecast weather and try your hand it. When you are done inside the museum, don’t forget to visit the Light Ship Columbia docked next door. The Light Ship was anchored off shore from 1959 until 1979 to help ships navigate the dangerous Columbia Sand Bar.

Getting There:

The Oregon Film Museum – 723 Duane Street. $6 – Adults/ $2 – Children
The Museum of Whimsy – 1215 Duane Street. $5 – Adult/$10 – Family
The Columbia River Maritime Museum – 1792 Marine Drive - $14 – Adults/$12 – Seniors/$5 – Children. 3-D movie - $5.