The Other Zoo News – Washed Ashore

With all the tragic news about Harambe, the silverback gorilla that was shot to save a child at the Cincinnati Zoo, it’s nice to see other positive zoo news.

Washed Ashore is a multi-venue sculpture exhibit that is currently being hosted at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo through September 5, 2016. The large sea-life sculptures are made with plastic and other such trash items that have washed ashore.

What a great and colorful use of everyday, tossed-and-forgotten objects that really validates the statement, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” In this case, artwork that is truly everywhere.

washed-ashore-octopus-_Art Is Everywhere

washed-ashore-shark_Art Is Everywhere washed-ashore-parrotfish_Art Is EverywhereHere’s a little more info about Washed Ashore.org, their other exhibits and educational programs and what you can do with trash that you may find washed ashore on your beach this summer.

Jake Weidmann Wields a Mighty Pen

I ran across this video below about Jake Weidmann and his Master Penmanship, which is beyond just writing. His calligraphy, illustration, artwork and control over the pen just blew me away. I know how easy it is to mess up. He does to, Considering the detail involved in his work, it’s hard to imagine how many times he might have to start over to have a perfect version. I gave up perfection a long time ago but certainly can appreciate it as well as some human flaws that might add character.

I wasn’t familiar with his work but he wields a mighty pen.

He’s passionate about maintaining the human touch to art. The physical activity of putting pen to paper is strong enough to link the brain with intelligence, communication and engagement and learning beyond what just modern email or phone call, for that matter, can do.

Handwriting as we know it is inspired by Nature and how we interpret it. Writing for him is drawing and an artistic form of expression.

His art form calls for the necessity of making sure every human knows how to physically draw a letter onto paper. Bringing back the art form of writing letters is more than just nostalgic, it is a serious, time-labored endeavor with significant long-term meaning.

For instance would the Constitution have the same significance if it was an email?

In an age when we’re all moving to be more cloud based, which I certainly follow suit for convenience and backups, I also realize that “Digitality” loses permanence! Hard copy lasts, even if it does take up physical space. There is something “noteworthy” in the physical “indelibility” and maintaining a sense of dynamic culture through handwriting.

Weidmann is a true Renaissance man, not only mastering the pen but carving, creating them, building and carving a frame for his Master Penman certificate, that he wrote, illustrated and made — all art forms in and of themselves — but centered around the humble but mighty pen.

Jake Weidmann_Mightier_on Art is EverywhereJake Weidmann_Steward painting on Art IS EverywherHis handmade pens are beautiful but all sold out except this one.

Jake Weidmann_ergonomic pen on Art Is EverywhereAs he so eloquently says, “the written word gives such powerful life to [his] artwork.” And, I’d say in life. His portrait of Christ below was created in one single pen stroke!

Jake Weidmann_single stroke portrait of Christ on Art Is Everywhere

Down by the Sea

While vacationing in the OBX what better way to celebrate life than posting about a recent discovery about Google’s Ocean Project and in the process finding this Men at Work song that I hadn’t heard before — jazzy and reflective of the beach’s beauty and beyond.

Down by the sea
I found your hidden treasure
Just you and me,
We overdosed on pleasure…

Imagine searching for directions to somewhere on Google Maps and looking at the street view so you’ll know what your destination will look like in real-time as you drive to it. Google’s Ocean Project gives you this street view in the ocean — under the water. They are mapping the world’s oceans and I can’t think of anything more other-worldly, right here on earth and without having to travel far to find. Truly fascinating!

When you go to the site, click on any map marker in the bottom left and it will take you to a 3-D panoramic view of that underwater spot. You can click on any thumbnail picture view and go there as well.

Google Ocean project_2 on Art Is Everywhere

Google Ocean project_1 on Art Is Everywhere

Have fun searching and discovering a whole other word that most of us will rarely see in person. Here’s a magical spot in the Florida Keys, where I hope to visit someday in person.

Florida Keys_Google Project_Art Is EverywhereIn the meantime, I’m enjoying this Australian sea-side video set to Down By the Sea and the ocean at Ocracokein real-time. Just hope not to see any sharks this trip.

…Down by the sea
I found your hidden treasure
Just you and me
We over-dosed on pleasure

Listen to your heart
Screamin’ at the sky
Can’t you feel it tremble?
Don’t you wonder why?

Test Your Color Vision

How you see art, may be related to your color acuity.

Test your color vision with this simple iGame Eye test and see if you see more colors than a cat or better than a bat. Remember bats live in the dark so do not need to see a lot of color. Cats on the other hand have better vision than dogs. Does this relate to intellect? Hmmmm, I wonder. Read here about the evolution of color vision, and learn which animals see in color and which don’t. It might surprise you to know that invertebrates do see color but most mammals have a limited range of color.

iGame eye test 1 on Art is everyhwereiGame eye test 2 on Art is everyhwere

Full disclosure, the first time I did the test I got a 19 and color vision of a cat. The more you take the test, the better at it you will be. Also, memorization won’t help you because the color grids chage each time you take the test. A smart color test!

iGame eye test 3 on Art is everyhwere

iGame eye test 4 on Art is everyhwereMeanwhile there’s an artistic bent in the test itself, the more colors you see, the more creative you may be. Find out!

Here’s another Color Hue Challenge that’s not as easy as it looks. Farnsworth-Munsell test was first created by Dean Farnsworth in the 1940’s but Pantone (the “color experts”) provides this free one online, for their X-Right Computer Screen color calibrator product, that I’ve used before for print color management.

Pantone color hue challenge 1 on Art is Everywhere Pantone color hue challenge 2 on Art is Everywhere Pantone color hue challenge 3 on Art is Everywhere Pantone color hue challenge 4 on Art is EverywhereGoogle is researching the links between color, creativity and productivity (via a New Orleans study effort).

Creative Thinking Hub’s article on Thinking more Creatively by Using Color is pretty interesting. No wonder blue remains my favorite color, but I love it more in combinations with other colors.

A Graduation Performance

I attended my goddaughter’s high school graduation recently. It was one of the best graduations I have witnessed with the focus being on the arts and the overall achievements of the senior class.

The weekend started and ended traveling with gorgeous weather over Memorial Day weekend. We headed to George School, a Quaker boarding school in Newtown, PA, just outside of New Jersey, where we were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn because there was nothing available closer in. Luckily for us, because this was a surprisingly pretty hotel.

I hadn’t stayed at this type of Hilton before but it is geared toward a high-end experience, with multiple interior vignettes, as well as outdoor seating areas (one around a fire pit) and a mini-golf / gaming lawn, where one can sit and enjoy children playing nearby. I was taken with the tall sheer curtains in the lobby, raising up at each corner of the vestibule to a tiered, vaulted ceiling with hanging lights as the centerpiece, surrounded with ever-changing fluorescent lights covering the color spectrum. It was modern, comfortable, welcoming and a pleasant stay.

Hilton Garden Inn, Trenton, NJ on Art Is Everywhere

Hilton Garden Inn, Trenton, NJ

Hilton Vestibule Lights surrounded by ever changing florescent lighting on Art Is Everywhere

Vestibule Lights surrounded by ever-changing fluorescent lighting

Hilton lobby sitting vignettes on Art Is Everywhere

Hilton lobby sitting vignettes

Hilton lobby sitting vignettes on Art Is Everywhere

Drum light with metallic table and comfortable seating in piano vignette

It was beautiful, almost-beach-weather for graduation day. The setting was at the school’s grotto, which was shaded with dappled light. Because the sides were naturally on an incline, everyone had a descent view. We had a several moments of silence, as is Quaker tradition to take in and reflect on being in the moment. The leaves were rustling among the trees and birds were singing.

The graduates filtered in and instead of calling them continuously, one-by-one, to received their diplomas, each row was punctuated with performances by the students — either a spoken reflection or a musical piece with signing and piano accompaniment. I found out later that the students had to audition to play these parts. The ceremony was a well-executed performance, with all the students having their shining moments. One even did backflips across the lawn to pick up his diploma. It was hard to top that but others added their own personal strut.

grotto graduation on Art Is Everywhere

George School graduation in grotto

This past performance will just be one of many. I’m so proud of my goddaughter and happy that she has now graduated and proceeding on to enter what will probably be a career of screen acting. I have no doubt that I’ll probably see her name in lights one day as a famous star.

graduation on Art is Everywhere

My goddaughter graduates

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!

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’ll take a 2 week celebration any day. 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! 😉

http://www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Birthday-Cards_2349_AIE.jpg

 

Art Patrons in the News

I was glad to read about these two stories regarding well-known celebrities bringing art to communities.

Actress Viola Davis has given $1500 to Segue Institute for Learning for their campaign to paint Martin Luther King Murals for 2015. The charter-based school for at-risk, 6th – 8th grade students, is located in Central Falls, RI, where Ms. Davis is a native. She has helped to support the school since its inception in 2006.

Viola Davis via GoLocalProv on Art is EverywhereAlso in the news, Bill Gates is commissioning over 30 artists to create artwork that promotes getting vaccines. The campaign is called “The Art That Saves a Life.

Art That Saves a Life on Art is EverywhereThe Birth of Vaccines Photo by Alexa Sinclair on Art Is Everywhere Clicking on the link above will show you all the artists involved, including the Russian illustrator Evgeny Parfenov, whose portrait of Tom Yorke, of the famed Radiohead band,    that I find interesting.

Tom Yorke Portrait by Evgeny Parfenov on Art Is Everywhere

 

 

 

Looking out for that Starry Starry Night

I’m posting early, so you won’t miss something at the end. When you think if VanGogh, you might think of this one painting, Starry Night. It’s iconic. It’s the one that pops up first in Wikipedia. I is a masterpiece too. It’s also interesting to see how it can be used in other ways — to educate, for other artists, public art…

Starry-night_AIE_via Wikipedia

I know we’re still in summer and have a lot of enjoyment of it to do — before we get back to school and/ or work (although I haven’t stopped), but I though this was interesting. The Camp Ernst Middle School in Cincinnati  has painted a version of VanGogh’s Mural as a math project. Who says learning can’t be fun.

Camp Enst Middle School_ via Cincinnati.com on AIE

Like my previous post, Kristen Dillenbeck-Anderson has painted a subject inside a mural of VanGogh’s painting, creating a “living” piece of public art.

Living Mural_plymough Canton Patch on AIE

Cafe_Terrace_at_Night_VanGogh

This painting’s subject is actually a Cafe Terrace at Night that VanGogh painted from a street scene in Arles, which I have also reproduced, many moons ago and have it on my website. I did this after I took a pastel painting course while traveling in France and I was taken with the town of St. Remy. Van Gogh’s painting, although of Arles, could have been exactly where we enjoyed a midday lunch.

VanGogh_Repro-painting by Ashley Spencer 0059_blog

Speaking of stars, this is the time to be looking for them. It’s around this time every year that the Perseid meteor shower happens — around my oldest son’s birthday. Piers turns 25 today, when this year’s meteor shower is at its peak. I can’t believe he’s this old!! What a milestone, especially considering his birth was surrounded by many health concerns and so much uncertainty. It’s amazing how he’s grown into a responsible, independent adult with his own career path, domicile and girlfriend. He seems happy and enjoying life. That’s the most a mom could wish for but I’m also very proud of him and couldn’t even imagine my life now without his existence. I’ll be thanking my lucky stars as I make note of all the many blessings with each falling star. I already have this wish granted.

Here’s a great explanation of what to expect and you can even get the free Meteor Counter app for counting all those meteors!

 

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