Sunday, October 30, 2011

New York 2011 2 (Me and Art 3)

  Let's see... do I go with food, art or walking around...Hmmm.... A little art, me thinks.
  As I have mentioned in previous writings, I am taken with minimalist art. Even the cliche stuff gets me. I just like that some artists come up with it.... and that it's taken very seriously. At MOMA, there is a room filled (sparsely,of course) with the "Biggies" in the world of minimalist Art.

A beautiful illuminated piece by Dan Flavin. I liked the subtle colors
it made on the wall. I want this in my house.

Donald Judd, a favorite of mine, on the left. On the right, "Primary Light Group, Red, Green, Blue" by Jo Baer...

I know, right? Lawrence Weiner just removes a piece of the wall to expose whatever is behind.
I love this....

  With the minimalist stuff, I don't think too hard. I don't have the formal art education to really have an "informed opinion". I just go from the gut. Either it appeals to me or it doesn't. These works, many which I have seen before, all appeal to me for whatever reason. I don't try to intellectualize it at all. Sometimes it's the idea, or the texture... or that it makes me laugh, or creeps me out...

Maybe it's because the artist's name is Blinky Palermo. Whatever, I like it.

Eva Hesse is a favorite of mine, too. I've always loved this piece, and wish I had it for my own.
19 forms made of fiberglass and resin.

Another from Eva Hesse. This was really interesting, all alone on the wall.
I will never forgive myself for not demanding to see the Joseph Beuys exhibit years ago in Paris.


  After spending a bunch of time viewing what we came to NY for, the de Kooning retrospective,(no photos allowed) we had a little bite to eat, and wandered around the rest of the galleries. MOMA has such a great buzz to it, with lots of people cruising around, and classes of kids sitting on the floor being taught the wonders of of it all. How lucky to be a student in NY, getting to have field trips to the Museums. Jeez.
  There was this great interactive piece on one floor that I just had to check out. It was a couple of stories high, all billowy and gorgeous. There are speakers hanging all through it, and they pump in bits of crowd noise, or whispered conversations, even the voices of a bunch of little kids laughing and screaming. We couldn't figure out where the noise was coming from, since you could here it all through the museum...then we came upon the piece.
  The idea is to walk through it, touch it, listen to the sounds. I loved just sitting outside and watching the ghost figures going through. I did go into it myself, of course. The artist is Carlito Carvalhosa, titled "Sum Of Days"

Huge blankets of gauzy, cloud -like fabric, hung from way up there. Dreamy from outside.

Walking inside the layers of cloud-ness.

  Then it was coffee time, and also time to visit the gardens outside in the courtyard. We really lucked out with the weather. The day we left a storm moved into the east with snow and everything. We had great fall weather....

I just enjoyed this flower arrangement so much in one of the MOMA cafes..

Looking out at the gardens of MOMA from an upper gallery.

In the garden. Where's Waldo?

A parting shot...Rachel Whiteread's amazing  resin water tower. Sigh.
  It's such a divine luxury to be able to take the time and have the ability to make a little trip like this. We feel lucky and grateful to enjoy this sometimes crazy, always overwhelming, and ultimately rewarding life in the arts that we share. 
  Go out and see art. If you can't make it to MOMA, take the time to visit whatever your local area has to offer. Visit your local museums and galleries. Go to local exhibits. Get inspired, don't be timid..or intimidated. Join local art associations and museums.. Do what you can to help support the arts in your town, no matter at what level... you can only benefit from it. Encourage kids in your life to be artful and creative. 
  My heart jumps at the possibilities of ART.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New York 2011 1

  Still totally exhausted, I have to share at least a little of our whirlwind jaunt to the Big Apple. This will be the first of a few posts on the trip. And, no, you won't see anything here on the Occupy Wall Street happenings. Sorry... this trip was all about getting away for a couple of days to see art and eat food.
  Having just flown in late late last night, it's all fresh in my sleep deprived mind..... Johnny had to see the DeKooning Retrospective that just opened at MOMA, so that was the excuse to play "jetsetters" and go all bi-coastal for a few days. Fly in, see art, eat food, fly out. Done. Two nights in Greenwich Village was not close to enough, but that's what we could get away with right now. A great reward for all the hard work we've been doing lately.
  One thing I was really interested in seeing was the High Line, a walking park that runs through the Chelsea District. Originally an elevated freight line that served the meatpacking district and warehouses of the West End, it is now a fantastic public green space (
  We decided to walk off the overnight flight, and headed over first thing, after checking in early. The day was beautiful, and chock full of that magic light that only October can bring. Of course we got lost right off the bat, but everyone was nice and pointed us in the right direction. We headed up the Hudson River until we spied the end of the line at Gansevoort Plaza.

One end of The High Line

  Up the stairs, and WOW... There is a similar type park in Paris that we have had the pleasure of strolling through, the Promenade Plantee, and I can't help but think this marvel must have been inspired by that one. Both take full advantage of the surrounding views, and give the walker the feeling of being in a true green space, while in reality, you are on a walkway no more than about 30 feet wide. 
  As in Paris, this lovely park has several areas to sit and linger, pic-nic, lay in the sun...a nice diversion from the hustle and bustle of the big city just a few feet below and around you.

Really nice areas to sit, and all the plantings are so well thought out. 

  The water towers are so much a part of the New York skyline. I just can't get enough. Seems like they are everywhere, and there were several sightings along the High Line. I also appreciated that they included some wider, open spaces, with full on plantings and benches to lay or sit on. Nice.

An area to soak up the sun, with a nice wall for a windbreak. Good thinking!

  After The High Line, we checked out several galleries and grabbed a couple of fantastic falafal gyros from a street vender doing a brisk business. I had great plans to hit a bunch of food carts, but in reality, this was it. Except for water... ah well, next time... We did a run through at the Chelsea Market, mainly to find a public was ok, lots of people chowing down at the various food stands, and some fun Halloween decorations. Then off to find a subway to take us uptown to check out some more galleries. 

A cool building with reflections in Chelsea District....

   After hitting the galleries, we strolled to Central Park to relive a moment from our last trip to New York...we fell in love with the little boats that are available at the lake. Also, a glass of wine was a must... It was so beautiful, with the colors changing in the park. Also, it was getting to be that gorgeous time of the day when everything goes all nostalgic..

Johnny actually rented a little boat to float around...
  Johnny had fun remote controlling a sailboat around the lake. A couple of other kids had it out for him, though. He soon found himself in defense mode, put-putting his little boat away from danger as fast as it could go. It was all in fun, and they were really little kids. I guess all he really could control was the sail, and then it was up to the wind to get it to safety. The woman at the rental place got a big kick out of Johnny renting that boat.... Probably the only person over the age of 10 or so to do it.
  And that's one reason I adore my husband.
  Then a walk about the park, just to take in the freaking beauty of it at the golden hour.


I love this, and always think of  "Angels In America" when I see pictures of it..

  So, after we made it back to our hotel, we rested a little, cleaned up, and went out to find some place for dinner. I had wanted to find this little tapas bar we went to, just for a glass of wine and some munchies, but could not find it. 
   I can get a little grumpy about where I do and don't want to eat. Especially when we are in one of the great food cities. Johnny got a little fussy with me, because I didn't like this menu, or that place, or the looks of that other one...we get in little fights over it. Sometimes I'll give in, and be all pissy because I'm wasting money and calories on mediocre food. We actually sat down and were given menus in a place I totally did not want to eat at...and then I slapped myself and grew a pair. "Let's go, I don't want to eat here." God bless him, when I do speak up for myself, he'll back off and be ok about it. 
  Sure enough, just around the corner, we find I Tre Merli. ( This ends up being a fantastic find, and there are a couple of restaurants owned by this group. We went to the "bistro" at 183 W.10th. A tiny place with an amazing buzz to it. Great food, really nice service, and superb music being piped in, just loud enough to make you feel like you are cool.
   I was instantly attracted to the appetizer "Flash Fried Mushrooms w/Truffle Oil". Oh, man.... The best thing ever. Well, in the top 5. A nice big bowl of crunchy on the outside, succulent on the inside delightfulness. Not over the top with the truffle oil, which can be a problem, and just enough with the rosemary. I swear, I would, no I will fly back to NY, just for these mushrooms. 

Flash Fried Mushroom delights.

A close up,  just because. Will someone, PLEASE, try to add these to your menu, here in our town?
The perfect bar snack, by the way. Crunchiness heaven.

   I could have just ordered another bowl of shrooms, but thought better of it. I figured that if they were that good, the rest of the menu would rock. It did. I had the house made Paparadelle pasta with roasted tomatoes and cacciatti cheese. Perfectly made pasta, just al dente enough for me, and not too much "sauce"... just the juices of the tomatoes, maybe a little white wine, reduced.
  Johnny went for the porcini filled ravioli with truffles. Again, not too much truffle to overpower the lovely porcini filling. The filling was so rich and had a great texture. I was thinking it was porcini that had been sauteed down with some shallots, and just pureed. Very simple, pure flavor.
  What can I say, we are "Pasta-Centric".
  We had a nice bottle of wine, a Barbera from Piedmonte. The meal really called for a good red.
  Did I mention the mushrooms?

My yummy pasta Paparadelle

Thank god Johnny is the type of diner who likes to share. 
Creme Brulee, that didn't wow us. That's ok.

  We totally cleaned our plates. We actually ordered dessert, a creme brulee, which was only ok. We should have known better, but we are suckers for creme brulee.
  The place was hoping with patrons, and for good reason. It's small and noisy and fan-tas-tic. Basta. More food adventures tomorrow, if I get a chance to write again. For now, my body is crying "uncle" and we still have stuff to do tonight....Ciao!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Gatti

  I gatti... "cats" in Italian. And they are all over the joint (In Paris, it's little dogs. And, until recently, you really had to watch where you walked). It seems like every village in Italy is full of cats. For better or worse. It's hard to tell if they belong to anyone, or everyone. Most likely it's no one. But there are always bowls and plates of last nights leftover pasta strategically placed about town.
  For Johnny and I, it's a treat to have a little ball of fluff to pet, as we lost our much loved kitty a couple of years ago. Johnny is a total "cat magnet", so anytime he sits down and there's a cat around, it's only a matter of minutes before the cat is in his lap. No matter where we are. Into the lap, a couple of spins around, and purr-purr-purr, it's nap time. Cracks me up. He had a very close encounter with a pony on this last trip... if that little fellow could have, it would have been in Johnny's lap, for sure. Animal magnetism, I guess you would call it. My Johnny, the St. Francis of artists.
  Anyway, I love to take pictures of "i gatti", of course, like everyone does. I try to be on the lookout for odd places to photograph them in, if possible, because cats can find the most unusual places to catch a nap. They can be such clowns, or so serious. When we were traveling this year, it was still pretty brisk out most days, so any little warm spot was the spot. On other trips, it's been the shade they are searching out. Like us.

I just love this shot because of the texture. This was on Torcello,
one of the islands near Venice. It was a toasty day out, and this little one
was conked out, big time.

Catching some zzzzs on a rooftop in the Cinque Terre. I remember it being a pretty
good drop, so this little gatto was taking no chances.

This kittle is a close copy of the love of our life, now gone.
I'm thinking this was at the farmhouse we stayed in one year, just
 outside of Montepulciano.

  We had our sweet little one for close to 19 years. I had picked her out from a litter when she was only 3 or 4 days old. Then I waited and waited until I could bring her home. So cute and so little. I had her a year or 2 before Johnny came along. Boom, right into his lap. He passed the test, and we had our family of 3 for many, many years. When we lost her, it was really losing a third of us. The house still seems too empty.... We have no interest in finding another kitty these days. With travel and work, I just don't see it happening anytime soon. Wouldn't be fair.
  So we love to have the chance encounter with cats on out trips, or around town. The last year or so, a little fluff ball has decided our yard is an awesome place to hang out. She has a home, is fixed and healthy, so someone in the hood loves her. For us, it's all the fun without the commitment. Well, not all the fun. We don't let this one in the house, she is strictly a garden visitor. We've named her "Eve", as she first showed up on New Year's Eve, last year. She is a perfect guest pet.
   I hope we can have a similar situation when we are in Panicale next year. Maybe our rental will come with a cat? For sure, we will enjoy seeing all the regulars around town.

A teenager in the Cinque Terre, soaking up the rays. This one hung out
 while we were enjoying a glass of wine, and Johnny painted. 

Another teenager...maybe a sibling to the one above...... both shots taken in Corniglia.

This tabby cat was in this spot day after day, waiting. It's the doorway to the local fishmonger!
This was in Vernazza a few years ago.

Just a couple of pals out for a stroll in the sun. I spied them just outside the walls of Panicale.

  Someday, when we settle down, I would love to have another kitty. There is nothing like that purring weight on your lap while you are watching TV, or reading in bed. Speaking of bed, I loved how Birdy would stay with me all day long in bed if I was sick. She was a good one. I won't go on too much, because it's still hard to think about her. I miss her every single day. 

Dinner with a view. In the amazing hilltown, Civita di Bagnoregio. 

Finding some shade in Panicale.

Finding some sun in Panicale. 

In Cetona, I caught this scene in the local hardware store. A working cat, no doubt.

I love this funny shot. A balcony kitty, just checking it all out.
  Hi, Little. I miss you.

Me And Movies 2

  There is a Film Festival in town this week. Lots of hoopla going on, some big stars to see, and lots of films showing, all day, all over this little burg. We are excited to go watch a movie at the beach... hopefully the weather will hold. A bunch of Pixar shorts. Sounds like a good time.
  The thing that got me writing, though, is that one of the films they are showing is an all time favorite of mine, and a classic, to boot. "Harold and Maude". Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon, and magic. They are showing it in conjunction with a conversation with a former Paramount Studio exec from those wacky 70's. He's going to talk about those wacky 70's. I'm glad that it's "Harold and Maude", and not "Smoky and the Bandit". Just saying.
  Having grown up in a small town, knowing your pals since pre-school, it was huge to be moving away at the start of junior year in high school. Actually we moved in November of that year, so class was already in session... brutal.
  I was at the most awkward of ages, and kind of a weirdo, on some levels. Sure, I was nice, and polite, did ok in school,but I was fixated on vampires, zombies and Neil Young. I had just started spreading my teenage wings, meeting up with some of the cool "art class" kids at parties, and even delving into the evil weed. I was in the marching band, and on the swim team... just a semi-normal 70's teenager waiting for my life to start. Then we moved, and it was like starting from scratch.
  It was so scary, because all the old pals sort of knew who I was, and what to expect from me. Vampires. Zombies. Neil Young. Swimming. Tomboy girl. The one who pretty much gets along with most groups of kids, not cute enough to have a boyfriend, always has a crush on the unattainable cool guy... we all know the type. These days I might be a goth kid. "Look at me, but don't look at me".
  So. New school. No friends. What's a girl to do?
  Well, this girl found salvation at the local "art house" movie theatre. Soooo early 70's, with no seats, just big old pillows on the sloping, thickly carpeted floor. "Healthy" choices at the snack bar (my first taste of Tiger Bars!), real popcorn. And all the best of the art house films. Of course "Rocky Horror", but also stuff like "The King Of Hearts", "400 Blows", "Nosferatu", all the classics. And the late night concert movies, where everyone in the place was smoking pot.
  I'm not sure just how I found this place, but it's a small town, and I must have searched it out. I was just old enough to drive myself into town to catch a movie. My dear parents, wracked with the guilt of moving me at such a dicey time in my life, let me do pretty much anything I wanted. God Bless Them. It was heaven, to enter the darkness, curl into a pillow, and be taken way away for a few hours. It was a way to spend a few hours at night, trying not to feel like a loser with no friends. Hell, it was the perfect escape.
  So. "Harold and Maude". Sigh. The perfect tincture for what was ailing me, which was loneliness. A story of 2 odd people finding comfort and love in each other. I related to Harold like I had never related to anyone in my young life. I don't think I even knew what it was to relate to a character in a movie until this. Well, except vampires. And zombies. This was a whole different feeling. He was lonely, and decidedly odd. He liked... no loved, the dark side. He hated his Mom, which I did not relate to. His family was filthy rich, too...another difference. But he was a weirdo, dressed in black suits, drove a souped up Jaguar he turned into a hearse, and that's what sealed the deal. The strangeness. See the film. Ruth Gordon is amazing. I loved her gentle hand with Harold, and how she helped to heal him, and transition him into adulthood. And he helps her transition into the next life. I wanted to be Maude. I wanted to be Harold. And let's not forget the soundtrack...Cat Stevens singing "Trouble" still brings me to tears. That banjo bit at the end...I mean come on. Plus it was filmed in the Bay Area, so some of it was like seeing home again.
  I remember seeing the movie with my cousins at one time, and we got obsessed with it. They lived a couple of hours away, but at some point we saw it together and bonded over it. We all needed something that it provided us. We were each going through our own particular version of teenage hell.
  Then, in a new town, and on my own, I binged. After the 15th or 16th night in a row, they started letting me in for free. I brought my sweet little brother, my only "friend" at the time, to see it. I brought my dear mother to see it. I brought my older brother, home for a week from college, to see it. I could not get enough. I believe I saw it 28 nights in a row, by the time it left the theatre. Really. I don't know what my parents must have thought, or if they even knew I was going night after night like that, to the same movie. I just love that they understood, and gave me the freedom to "go see a movie", not really knowing that they were making my life a little less like hell.
  "Harold and Maude".....  just another little art house film from the 70's.... yeah? For me it was more. For me, it saved my life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Morning Walk

  Thanks to my pal Leslie, I have become a pretty serious walker. A "for exercise" type of walker.  I guess it was 2003, or 4 that we started in with the routine of walking a few times a week. We would meet at the beach, and walk for at least an hour or more. So nice to walk and talk about stuff. So lucky to live on the coast, and have this luxury. I would often find times during the day to go out by myself, listening to Italian language CDs on my big old Walkman, or books on tape from the library. What a great way to get in some aerobic exercise, and have some "me" time, which I don't get much of. 
  A couple of years into it, I started having some pretty ugly pain, and had to give up walking on the beach. Only hard, even surfaces for me now. I try to sneak in sandy beach walks, but always have the fear that I will rupture a slightly torn Achilles tendon that is, well, my Achilles tendon.
 I know how much Leslie loves walking barefoot in the sand, and every once in a great while we still walk together, but I always have to keep us on the pavement of the bike trail that runs through the dunes in our area. Not as much fun for my beach loving pal.
  As my schedule has changed, I have found it best to go out way early in the morning. I did this for a few years by myself, earphones lodged in, books taking me to other worlds, while I gaze out at the wonder - world we are lucky to live in. Last year, I got Johnny out there with me. He doesn't try to keep up with me, and that works out just fine. We both plug into our digital books, and off we go.

Early, before the sun is up, at the start of the Morning Walk...

  In the fall, the walk starts before the sun is up. The sun is there, just getting ready for it's big entrance, setting any clouds in the sky on fire. First, a sweet pinkness, then flame on. I love this. It's so great watching the clouds, and then the upper dunes, lower dunes, and finally the beach getting hit with the morning light. 

Always, vapor trails from the nearby airport. Great design..

  The beach itself can be glassy, with dolphins slowly cruising through, or rough and full of white water and choppy waves. I really like it when there are surfers out there at the crack of dawn, taking it all in. The pelicans ride the waves so close, it seems they must be grazing them with their wing tips, but no.  I've seen, only once, a pelican mistake it and get totally tumbled by the wave break. Fortunate that it came out of it ok, because it looked brutal to watch. The normally graceful, giant, prehistoric looking fellow just being rolled over and over in the surf. Big old beak thing flipping over huge, flopping wings. Yikes. But all was well, in the end. Mostly, I just see seals and seagulls. An occasional otter or two.

Sunrise at the beach on a very mellow day.

  For the first part of the walk, the dunes are still in the dark, waiting for the sun to hit. The air smells so great, all herby and beachy. The dune plants have the most wonderful fragrance. Just after a rain, it all gets so much more amplified. I like to stop and take a big breath, smelling the air. It's like sage, and dry, sweet grass.  Before the sun comes up, the dunes are just big shapes, with dark areas and light areas...

Dunes before sunrise.

  Around the same time as I make it to the top of the rise, the sun starts to hit the dunes. The colors begin to pop on the foliage, and what seemed like plants that weren't anything too special, turn into beautiful mounds of amazing texture and color. Especially in the fall... the native buckwheat is all rusty and gorgeous. The artemisia is silver - grey and filagreed. I love the subtle, earthy colors against the sandy dunes. Especially when they are just getting hit by the sun.

Sunshine just coming onto the upper dunes. Beauty colors!

Mother Nature has a swift hand with texture and color.
Rust buckwheat flower heads, just going to seed, with lacy artemisia.

Another lovely combo, with sun just creeping in.

  There are some great moments early in the morning. A couple of old, dead oaks make for natural sculptures. When they are lit by the rising sun, it's so high drama. On many mornings, especially sunny mornings, we have the grandest pleasure of seeing the local hawks. They are our favorites. I like to wave a big hello to them, and will spend way too much time just staring at their magnificence. More than once, I've had the good fortune of seeing two hawks, leaning into each other on a branch, just soaking up the first warmth of the day.
  Since I never really walk with a camera in hand, I don't have any hawk photos to share. They are fleeting and beautiful, and I count myself so lucky to ever even see them. Stare in wonder? Who wouldn't?

This is where the blue jays hang out.
The loveliest trees, and a regular spot for seeing hawks hanging out.

  I guess the walk is about 4 miles, or so. I like to really chug along, sometimes even pushing it into a joggy thing. Mostly, I like to look around, and see how the seasons really do change, even here on the coast...

Love the play of light and color on these early morning walks.
So nice to see the ocean out there.

 Once, I was coming down the path from the top of the dunes, and (you won't believe me, but it's true)  I saw a whale come up and do one of those big, full on the side splashes. Big, horizontal splash, from so far away. It must have been huge! Usually, I feel really lucky to just see a whale come up a little bit to spray a little burst of  air, before going back down. This was a one time magic moment.

Sun almost all the way up, heading down the path. Nice, long shadows...

  Back down at the bottom of the hill, it's a treat to see and hear the waves doing their thing, over and over and over... forever. 
  Time to get back to reality, down some more coffee, get going to work..... and wait until tomorrow morning, when we get to go back out and walk again.