Hack & Nearly Whacked!

I almost got whacked by a tree!

There was no good reason why a I should hear a crackling crescendo from a large branch shearing from our backyard tree when I looked up on that clear, beautiful, 70 degree, slight-breeze, sunny-spring day. It was cool air more than a breeze, a picture perfect day. I decided to finally plant the plants that I had bought 3 days before. I was finally filling the pot by our tree with a fairly large caladium so it would show where a clematis used to be in that shady spot. I heard the cracking and thought, “what’s going on at the neighbors?” Then, when I looked up, the cracking was a large tree branch breaking. I saw it in slow motion fall and the sheared edge came directly toward my face. I couldn’t move. I was pinned between the table, tree and pot at the corner of the garage. I had to move forward to get out and that would be moving in the direction of the falling limb. I put my hands up and got ready to crouch. The tree limb landed on our garage roof. The branches bounced when hitting 3 neighbors’ power, telephone and cable wires (including ours) that formed a net underneath. Amazingly, nothing snapped. The wires are still holding up the tree. When I looked up the sheared base of the limb was 2 feet away from my head. Our outside lights averted a break again. The base is resting directly on them.


The caladium I was planting and getting ready to remove the bird’s nest when….

Tree limb_AIE

…this cracked and fell right above me

Full tree limb_AIEThis is the second time a limb has broken after we’ve already had the tree cabled and pruned. That was  a few weeks before my son’s wedding just after we had hung the patio lights. Only 2 bulbs broke but the wire never did.,

Although I was sitting in the back room when that larger tree branch fell on the roof (which we ended up having to replace) @ 2am, this recent break was much more scary. There was a flash where I thought this could be it. I can only say it must have been by the grace of God that it didn’t hit me.

This brush with fate made me think of a more beautiful rendition of a tree with Emma Hack’s brushwork. The female is camouflaged by the artwork. The tree envelops her.

Emma Hack_Nude-Model-Background-7 on Art is EverywhereI thought I’d turn this frightening experience into an enlightening Zen moment — to be in the moment, peaceful surrounded by Nature’s beauty and profoundness.

Emma Hack’ artwork has all of these attributes. Click link for previous post.

Emma Hack Nude-Model-Background-6 on Art is Everywhere

Being in awe of the beauty

Emma Hack_Nude-Model-Background-3 on Art is Everywhere

Being brushed with Nature

Emma hack_Nude-Model-Background-1 on Art Is Everywhere

Being Zen – One with Nature

And being thankful that I wasn’t actually whacked by a tree!

How Has the World Changed in Your Lifetime?

This was a very cool interactive site I “stumbled” upon that is a welcome distraction from life about how the world has changed within your lifetime. It’s a little environmental at the end but the results will be different for everyone.

Artistic in the concept.

Here’s just one example of the many things shown.

one example of world change within a lifetime on Art Is Everywhere

Click here to customize for your life on earth adventure.

BBC_How life on earth has changed in your lifetime on Art Is Everywhereand a nice way to end this post with a stunning visual of the earth being lit.

Although the video just ends too abruptly, it music reminds me of one of my favorite pieces of music, Sentimental Walk by Vladmir Cosma, from Diva, one of my favorite movies.

Here’s a beautiful poetic, visual version.

If you want to listen to one of the most beautiful operatic performances just listen to Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernadez singing an aria from La Wally. This has stuck with me since the first time I heard it over 30 years ago. It is timeless.

Google’s Getting Street Wise

I’ve received several blitz notices about Google’s interactive Street Art Project. I decided to check it out and was pleasantly surprised. It’s part of a larger, even more impressive initiative, the Google Cultural Institute, where you can really delve into any cultural topic.

Google Cultural Institute on Art Is EverywhereGetting back to art, however, essentially Google is providing a platform for all public artwork to be recorded and shared as a Global Gallery Database. It’s reinventing how art can be viewed. For instance, you can put your nose right up to a Van Gogh painting to really see the brushstrokes without a museum guard thinking you’re crazy and setting off the alarm.

It’s always fun to travel but now you can enjoy art murals from all around the world from the comfort of your computer or even mobile device. Waiting at the doctor’s office can now be interesting. I’ve added the site to my sidebar where it can always be found.

I’m not saying everything is good but everyone has different tastes so some may suite your appeal while others not but there are all manners of murals as well as all public artwork. You can search by medium, place, person, date, museums, etc..

Google Street Art Project on Art Is EverywhereStart by taking a tour:

They provide many ways to view the site. Here are several links to view and see for yourself how Google is bringing art to the people and vice versa as the “Mural Conservancy.”

Finally, with Baltimore in the news a lot lately, here’s something positive to tout.

Baltimore murals on Google Street Art Project on Art Is Everywhere

Unexpected Art Weekend

We had just planned to ‘Meet Mary’ at the Picturing Mary exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts but ended up with an unexpected art weekend. I was looking forward to visiting the museum, my former workplace, via a jaunt on the Metro, viewing artwork and then returning. The exhibit was on my list of things to see and we barely caught it on its last day.

I was not only impressed with the many types of artwork (60 art pieces: paintings of course, as well as marble and boxwood sculptures, enamels, polychrome terracotta and mini altarpiece triptychs, to name a few) but also the exhibition design, a field that at one time I thought I’d pursue. Each room was painted in a deep bold color that truly made the art pop as well as helped the visual flow for the different aspects of Mary that were presented: Mary in the Life of Believers, Mary as Idea, Singular Life, Woman & Mother, Madonna & Child, Mother of Crucified. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but you can start your interactive tour here.

The exhibit was very accessible for the religious as well as secular. Here’s a good synopsis from NPR.

It included Botticelli’s Madonna & Child, one of my favorite paintings of Mary. I also enjoyed seeing Mary in a new light with Barbarino’s rendition that depicted exquisite Middle Eastern details.

Botticelli Madonna and Child on Art Is Everywhere

Nicolò Barabino's 1884 mural Faith with Representations of the Arts on Art Is Everywhere

Nicolò Barabino’s 1884 mural Faith with Representations of the Arts

I’m so glad we went! We had to celebrate being in the city, doing something educational and on such a beautiful day, instead of the usual extended work week.

We walked a short distance past the Penn Quarter park and found ourselves stopping for snack of delicious Belgium beer and classic mussels, Robert Weidemeir style, sitting outside at Brasserie Beck.

Penn Quarter City Park on Art is Everywhere

Penn Quarter City Park – Like these gold bistro chairs

We had to pry ourselves away it was so glorious to be enjoying the day with nothing do to but enjoy the moment.

Brasserie Beck on Art Is Everywhere

Brasserie Beck

Alas, it was time to go home but we took the long way. We walked all the way from Penn Quarter to Georgetown because Peter had a bottle of Pacharon on his mind and one of the oldest liquor stores in the city might be able to order it; although, we knew most likely they could not. It was a good excuse to extend our excursion. There are no stateside distributors. We didn’t realize how lucky we are that our friends have brought us several bottles from their ongoing travels to Spain.

pacharan on Art Is Everywhere

special pacharon – a Spanish digestif

All that walking, about 4 miles, made us hungry for a more substantial meal, so we stopped by a recent find, il Canale and were able to bypass a small wait since we were just 2 people. They have some of the best wood-fired pizzas and don’t take reservations. Again, we were lucky.

Peter at il Canale on Art Is Everywhere

Peter at il Canale

We needed to exercise off all this good food and drink, so instead of taking the nearest Foggy Bottom Metro (not all that close), we chose to walk across Key Bridge into Rosslyn and take the Metro there.

We must have walked a total of 6 miles that day. No wonder my feet had blisters.

It didn’t stop us from exploring some nearer by developments to us in Alexandria the next day. The entire area off Route 1 in Old Town on the Northside of town has been redeveloped. Bastille has moved here, where we recently celebrated our anniversary but found it OK, too loud and not as good as the previous location, which they have maintained as their bistro. There are other restaurants that we want to try like Maison Social. We like that the pocket park just across the street has a ping pong table that we’re gonna have to try out.

Bastille via Red Brick Blog on Art Is Everywhere

Bastille via Red Brick Blog

We settled for an afternoon beer at the Lost Dog Cafe. We had only seen it driving by from the front side where it always seemed packed. We didn’t realize they had outdoor dining in back and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate another glorious, sunshine-filled day.

Belle Pre Art Sculpture1 on Art Is Everywhere

Belle Pre Art Sculpture

Belle Pre Art Sculpture2 on Art Is EverywhereWe sat soaking in the sun on their newly opened patio while enjoying their “adult grilled cheese” and bottles of beer. We watched the light cast colorful shadows through the outdoor sculptured darts just to our right. We didn’t realize until we walked past this on our way home that the new condos were called Belle Pre for a reason — after the Bottle Factory that had been previously located on this site. There was an exhibit that showed all the different types of bottles they produced, including the first “lipped” bottle as Coke and other manufacturers came to use and has become the standard. Belle Pre made a lot of their money off the licensing of their patent.

Belle Pre Glass Factory Exhibit on Art Is Everywhere

Belle Pre Glass Factory Exhibit

Who knew such history was so close by. Unexpected adventures are the best!

Political Artisan Doodles

I guess we all can get bored in meetings but I guess I really never thought of presidents doodling their way through them.

This article on Artisan Politics had me in stitches — not only the doodles themselves but the commentary from professional cartoonists, who know their doodles for sure.

Click on each image to see a larger (readable) view. Click the back button to come return to the post.  I’m not sure why these images came out so small.

Artisan Politics on Art Is Everywhere Artisan Politics on Art Is EverywhereI have to agree, Barack’s sketches are not bad and may be the only thing I like about him.

Click here for previous posts about caricatures.

A Warehouse Celebration

When my ELDC (Elite Drinking Club) lady friends have a birthday, we celebrate.

The latest celebration was for my perpetually-young friend, Patsie’s birthday.


Vicky, Patsie & Wendy — a few of the great ELDC ladies

She usually organizes these fun get togethers. Her choice meeting spot was the Warehouse Restaurant in Old Town. I speed-walked to meet them about a mile down the street. The restaurant is a long-time staple in Old Town and has a very New Orleans vibe. The food is great too, which is precisely why Patsie chose it. She’s my New Orleans artist friend and we are often looking for exceptional food places. Being from NOLA, we are hard food critics when it comes to restaurants, especially those that claim to have a New Orleans repertoire.

Warehouse restaurant caricatures 1 on Art is EverywhereI hadn’t been to the Warehouse in over 10 years. I had forgotten how much it reminds me of New Orleans but even more interestingly, the walls are lines with caricatures of notable patrons. Patsie’s portrait is one of them.

Patsie Uchello caricatureWarehouse restaurant caricatures 2 on Art is Everywhere

Miss Patsie’s caricature. (No that’s not Michelle O to the right)

Warehouse restaurant caricatures 3 on Art is Everywhere

Some of these are 3 dimensional and perhaps a little alarming if looking up quickly

Warehouse restaurant caricatures 4 on Art is EverywhereThe food was wonderful, but unfortunately, the mint juleps needed help. Next time, I bet they’ll simply have simple syrup. This New Orleans-adopted,  Kentucky-classic drink can’t be made without it. Afterall, why would we all be sippin’ it on our verandas in the South, otherwise… 😉

Warehouse restaurant caricatures 5 on Art is Everywhere

The main caricature wall going up to the second floor

Looking forward to out next ELDC outing, as always.

Art in Fashionable Flowers

Unfortunately, this scheduled post never published when it was supposed to on March 19th. Good thing because it seems appropriate with Easter to post it now. I’ve changed some wording to put it in current context.

Spring is here! Already I hear birds chirping and see flowers popping up everywhere, in fashion that is.

Look at these gorgeous floral dresses and you can see a celebration of spring as well as beautiful artistic, flowery design.

Floral Dress_AIE blog

I love how this dress flows. It  reminds me of a Chagall

With the wild winter weather we’ve had, I wouldn’t be surprised if there might even be one more snowstorm [back in March]. However, this picture below shows the dichotomy in the window dressing, announcing spring with snow falling.

Window Dressing Dichotomy via Washinton Post on AIE blogI bet you’ll see more flowery dresses than ever in the market for this spring season.

Floral Dresses_AIE blog

I like the 2 tropical ones on the far right

And why not? Spring is the perfect time to celebrate the flower’s power of simple yet pretty petals, especially when they can form such kaleidoscope of color, as seen from above in this Dutch landscape of Keukenhof Gardens.

We actually visited these gardens in Holland. It just happened to be right before most of the flowers were blooming.Tulips_AIE blogBright, vibrant colors are not only prevalent in flowers but also in DC’s newest Marion Barry Mural. I think it’s a pretty good likeness and I like how it is portable, being painted on removable tiles that can be transported and installed in different locations.Marion Barry Mural on AIEGetting back to celebrating spring with flowers, there is a new DCGardens.com website that shows what are the latest blooming varieties in the DC area and where to find them.

It already highlights one of my favorite plant places, the National Arboretum.

It’s interesting for me to go back and read these previously written, related posts after so much time:

First Day of Spring

National Arboretum Posts

And this time, I know now how to post a video (and even center it).

Happy Spring & Happy Easter!

A Newly Discovered, Egyptian Archeological Wonder

Ancient Egyptian murals were recently discovered near Luxor during the archeological mapping of Sheik Abd Qurna, which is a courtyard known as Theban Tomb 110.

Egyptian Murals on Art Is Everywhere

Egyptian tomb photos via i09.com

Egyptian Mural Detail on Art Is EverywhereThe murals are 3,500 years old and in spectacular condition, except for the sad fact that they have already been subjected to some vandalism.

Egyptian Murals on Art Is EverywhereOn a side note, when I saw members of ISIS (ironic to me that the acronym is also an Egyptian Goddess) destroying ancient artifacts recently, it just sickened me. I don’t know why anyone would want to destroy art, especially that which documents culture and is an antiquity. When you see it happen, as they are systematically doing, you can only conclude that they want to wipe out all existence of humanity (past and present) which would even include their own history. Upsetting, strange and incomprehensible.

There really isn’t a lot of space to work or even stand but the decoration covers every corner, including the ceiling, which is fantastic!

Egyptian Murals on Art Is EverywhereLook at the entrance. Hard to believe it was even discovered, it could be easily overlooked.

Egyptian Mural Tomb Entrance on Art Is EverywhereEgyptian Murals on Art Is Everywhere

Not only is the full story on these newly discovered Egyptian murals and more pictures worth viewing on io9.com but the comments are hysterically funny, from arguing about the figures’ skin tones to adding in the Alien Creature where a vandalized section seemed to “take out” one of the figures, to my favorite, King Tut — Steve Martin’s portrayal.

Egyptian Murals_ Wardrobe malfunction Comment_on Art Is EverywhereEgyptian Murals_ Same Dress Comment_on Art Is EverywhereEgyptian Murals_ Persona non grata comment_on Art Is EverywhereEgyptian Murals_ Alen Comment_on Art Is EverywhereSteve Martin King Tut on Art is Everywhere

Before the Snow Goes

Spring is almost here! “Thank goodness,” as many might say. However, what’s going to happen to all the piles of endless snow, where it has mostly accumulated in the Northeast? Besides it melting (slowly), here is an artistic use. Too bad it cannot be shipped to help create even more beautiful snow and ice sculptures, as these seen below.

Winged Horses_AIE Traveling Snow Arc question mark_AIE Thinking Snow Angel_AIE Snow town USA_AIE Snow Princess_AIE Snow Paul Bunyan_AIE Snow Pan Shepherd_AIE Snow Michael_AIE Snow dinos_AIE Snow Conch_AIE Snow Chieftan_AIE Snow Capitol_AIE Snow Buddah_AIE Sleeping Snow Giant_AIE Santa and elves_AIE Poseiden Peeps_AIE Moby DIck in snow_AIE Male Portrait_AIE Lion and Prince_AIE Liberty Helloooo_AIE Its a Small snow World_AIE Greek Capital in snow_AIE Get on board the snow train-AIE Female Snow Portrait_AIE Egyptian Ice Pyramid_AIE Chinese Ice Sculptures_AIE Castle Sled tracks_AIE Castle on Hill_AIE Bathing Snow Beauty_AIE Asian Snow Temple_AIE The email I received with this information suggested that this “Gorgeous Use of Snow” was apart of the annual Snow Sculpture in Breckenridge, Colorado, which attracts contestants from around the world. However some pictures look foreign and could be taken from the annual ice and snow exhibit that takes place in China. Click here for previous post.

If you plan for Breckenridge next year, know that the “stomping days” (I’m guessing packing the snow, which could be the winter version of stomping grapes in Italy) are around the first week of January and the festival viewing begins 1/30/2016 – 2/7/2016  (weather permitting)….Something to do next year.

In the meantime, if you want to build snow sculptures of your own or just carve out of what may left in your backyard, here’s the skinny on what sculpting tools to use. The participants in the festival are not allowed to use power tools, by the way.

2 Week Celebration

Although 10 years ago, I had anticipated that I’d be sipping pina coladas somewhere in the Caribbean, life does have a tendency to change things and as you get older, you just take it in stride.

Carribean vacationInstead, I had what turned out to be a two-week celebration.

It started with my ELDC (or drinking lady friends) toasting with beers and pizza at one of my favorite Red Rocks restaurants on a Friday.

Red Rocks alexandria_AIEThat Saturday, Valentine’s Day, we went to visit our son for the first time since dropping him off at UVA. We discovered that the Business School has accommodations at the Inn at Darden. Who knew! We’ve already got the tip as to when to book this year for next year’s graduation. It’s not a bad place but certainly convenient and beats student housing.

Inn at Darden_2330_AIE  Maybe it was just that it was Valentine’s Day but I was impressed with the lovely tissue rose waiting for us in the bathroom. That took a lot of time to do.

Tissue Rose_2329_AIEWith everything in town being booked, we got reservations at the Milan Indian Cuisine restaurant. I have to admit, with a name like that I didn’t really know what to expect. I couldn’t really envision an Italian/ Indian dish medley. It was one of the first extreme cold snap of the year for Virginia. I was surprised so many people wanted to get out but the proprietors were turning people away. We felt lucky and even more so when we discovered it was delicious food. I have never had Gobi Aloo. At least I think that is what it was. Spicy appetizer of potatoes and cauliflower, which I think will be the next “it” vegetable. I’m going to try to make it at home; it was so good.

The next day we visited with Jackson and had a relaxing brunch at the Fox & Hound. They had pennies glued under their bar and bathroom counters that reminded me of the Lincoln. Jackson gave us a tour of all his study spots and a secret classroom in the Alderman (Environmental Science ) Library, which has remarkable murals. They are all done on canvas, however, except the eye-popping trompe l’oeil framework over the doorway. We saw the most students studying here, probably because it has the best natural light with cavernous ceiling and skylights. Gorgeous plus a welcomed respite from the cold. They even have a campus coffee stop that had great hot chocolate just inside the entry.

UVA-Library Murals_2332_AIEIt’s always a bit of a drive there and back but a good visit on a holiday, Presidents’ Day weekend. With Peter having off on Monday, we bundled up and walked to La Madeline, the closest place I could think of in Old Town that might have King Cakes. Glad we called; they were all out but they made one fresh for us. It wasn’t the typical style I’m accustomed to from New Orleans but is probably more authentically French. It was a rather flat almond flavored cake over a marzipan layer with a flaky pastry. We couldn’t resist having a piece fresh out of the over. It was so good warm. Notice how they don’t put the baby inside the cake. I bet for liability reasons they leave that to the purchaser. In New Orleans, we just stick it in there! I had to get a Linzer Tart to share too.

King Cake La Madeline Style_2333_AIEWe walked back in the snow and warmed our feet by the fire, first one of the season. Since DC cannot handle a small accumulation of snow, the entire city shut down when we got four inches. Yahoo, another holiday; even though I was working — a little. It was Fat Tuesday, after all, we were due to celebrate. I had mentioned we had better get groceries before the rush but Peter informed me that he was going to surprise me but instead, thought I better know he had made plans for dinner at Vermillion, one of my favorite restaurants in Alexandria. I was prepared for this and it was a perfect foil.

Winter fire_2334_AIEThinking surely others would be there with their Mardi Gras beads on, I wore mine; even though, this is actually a more touristy than native thing to do in New Orleans — except for Mardi Gras Day of course. Well that little booger completely fooled me! Hardly anyone was there due to the snow but upon walking upstairs, all our good friends were waiting! At first, I felt like saying a line from the Californians, “What are yoooooou doing here?” but then I realized Peter had arranged it all and they were all in on the surprise. The fact that one friend was there who is notoriously late, was even more of a shocker. It was a fantastic dinner! So much great food, spirits and fun spirit with dear friends.

There were a couple of snags that I learned later, like the birthday cake I mentioned in my previous post. It got stuck in a Dulles warehouse due to the weather. I never knew because my good friend purchased another doberge cake to take its place. She brought the “real” cake by when it arrived on my real birthday. I had 3 cakes by this point. Ilyda, who helps me clean our house, was happy to take the half-remaining King Cake off my hands and my hips.

Although I don’t have a picture of everything, I love all my cards and a birthday check to treat myself. I look forward to trying a tempting bottle of rosé, a six-pack of hand-selected wines with one beer that you can only get from Norcia, as well as wearing a beautiful Nola Jazz Hermés scarf and bee necklace and trying to decipher which of my friends and family submitted the 50 quotes that were put into a book to record the event, with pictures to come. Wow such heaped upon attention. Why did I want to go to the Caribbean, anyway?

Hermes_AIEhttp://www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Hermes-Scarf_2345_AIE.jpgWell, I intend on getting there one day — maybe on a cruise with a slower method of travel that takes time and takes it all in stride — must be my new-age attitude. ‘Til then, I can still go 80’s dancing (our night was rescheduled due to ice and below zero, double digits cold)  — until my knees give out — and also read up on my older son’s book, 50 things to do when your fifty! 😉



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