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Posts from the ‘Reviews of Museums, Openings, & Books’ Category

Hercules and Norse mythology

Sometimes events pop up in the local newspaper.

Sometimes there are TWO interesting events on the same night.

We had a choice between Norse mythology and cowboys.

Interesting contrast that–maybe some similarities–adventures, all life’s belongings in one small container–for the Norse it was a chest used as a rowing seat, for the cowboy it was a bedroll.

We had toured the Clifton Steamboat museum in the distant past but were surprised to see how the complex has grown.

There is a tugboat there—Hercules! sitting there in the middle of a nicely mown lawn; and Remington bronzes scattered about the grounds. I have not seen so many ship models in one place other than in a ship museum in Virginia.

Inside a handful of people including some Boy Scouts in their uniforms listened to stories about Norse mythology, trolls, rosemaling, design details and then the two tapestries. Most people have heard of the Bayeaux tapestry and these are similar in nature although embroidered recently. According to the curator (who carved the frames and the Viking/Norse models), upper aristocracy would begin a tapestry upon the birth of a son; it would include the details of his life and was kept rolled up on large reels–similar to the spools used in commercial weaving/cloth factories. I have two of those spindles from a closed factory in Georgia.

The museum is not crowded, the parking is plentiful and close. The opening hours are limited but it is a fun visit.

I may be inspired to make a tapestry detailing a story.


One, Two, THREE, Four, Five Six, SEVEN


Salsa Night at the Event Center was filled with wonderful music, a Salsa lesson from the piano player and lots of dancing. After all my back surgeries–I am left with neuropathy of my feet–I need to see my feet to know where they are-no more running up or down stairs–and -dancing while looking at your feet the entire time–is not exactly fun–but watching the dancers and imagining myself there was.salsa201-m

I don’t know what kind of instrument this was–the other musicians played drums and piano and guitar—and sang in Spanish, Portuguese, and English–all in the same song. They were from Cuba, Mexico, and Brazil–quite a combo–but a fun evening.salsa2-m

Music is frequently much too loud in the actual auditorium for me–so after a bit, I sat outside the Event center with the music piped outside, the fountain flowing, and ducks swimming in the lake.img_8491-m


Faculty Show off their Stuff

Last night was the opening of the Lamar Faculty showcase. Since I graduated there have been some new faces in the faculty and it is always interesting to see their work.

Keith Carter always has something new to show–this year it was old photographs paired with old picture frames–the cardboard kind that came with things like your formal wedding photograph or your senior picture. I have several dozen of them–from family photos waiting for inspiration. Keith used the imagery of bees and queens—–he kept bees for a very short time in his youth–said it didn’t end well.

Christopher Troutman had three large pieces meshing some place in the Far East with local images. These pieces were quite large–several feet tall and were printed on canvas–one striking piece was an image of a large estate–maybe the McFadden Ward house flanked by a gate from the Far East–almost like a fisheye lens effect.

Kurt Dyrhaug had two 3 D printed sculptures and two gesso/rust/sand pieces on paper–most intriguing process. I always enjoy seeing his work as it is so reminiscent of his rural background.

Donna Meeks had one piece, a negative photo that was water-colored and embossed–again an interesting technique.

There were a lot of people there–and the food was great–a great show—and tonight there is another show at the Art Studio.

Sorry I didn’t take any photos–although plenty of cell phones were out taking photos.


Barbed Wire

wall20of20barb20wire-mCollections of the many varieties of barbed wire are in museums or restaurants featuring ‘country fare cooking’ . This collection is the largest I have ever seen. So many samples of the various types–all designed to keep cattle in designated places.

Barbed wire is attributed to the taming of the American West–it was relatively low cost, low labor intensive, and quick. Previous fencing had consisted of planting Osage orange–a prickly tree that took time to grow. Eventually the fenceposts were of Osage Orange and the barbed wire of choice strung along.

The first barbed wire in the U.S. was attributed to Lucien Smith of Kent Ohio in 1867 with modifications later by Glidden in 1874. And there is the familiar concertina wire and the barbed wire around prisons and concentration camps and trenches used in war fare–but lets not think about those uses.

For now–just look at the huge variety of barb wire—all to contain cattle within their allotted grazing areas.


And the other side of this wall had an equal number of plaques all displaying more types of barbed wire. All at the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio Texas

Poppy Girl

poppy20girl-mThis isn’t the official name–but I always run by this painting to say hello.

And then there is Matchstick Man which used to greet everyone in the Sculpture Garden across the street from the MFA in Houston but has since been moved indoors–and now is somewhere hidden in its archives.

I think I like the bold color, the simple clean and unfussiness of this painting.


A little bit of Eden

We have had rain for several days now..pouring rain..with water over the driveway up to 8 inches and many places flooding…schools closing due to the rain. So I like to look through my photos and pick out something fun to share.

mf20garden2011-mAbout a block away from my house is the McFadden-Ward House Museum. The house is huge, the carriage house is across the street and then there are several other buildings associated with the Museum. And tucked away behind the building that stores much of the objects not on display is a tiny little garden.mfw20garden205-m

There are several prospering tomato plants, a huge dill plant, marigolds, and zinnias.mfw20garden204-m

Whenever my life seems a bit hectic, I like to stop and wander–all eight feet of it to gaze at the flowers–and sometimes I am greeted but more often I have to content myself with just a glimpse of the guardian of this universe.mfw20garden207-m




Point Taken

One of my favorite classes in school was Art.

Mrs. Boyd took care to have interesting lessons in drawing and color but I think that she had never actually seen any of the paintings she described in person.

One technique was ‘pointilism’. She described it as hundreds of tiny dots of primary and secondary colors dabbed on a canvas to create an image. I thought of it as a dot matrix–pixel –only there weren’t such things as pixels then.

Imagine my surprise when I encountered Seurat and other’s pointilism paintings in person.

pointilism-mThe dots are more dabs–irregularly shaped and multi-colored===almost as dipping the paintbrush in one color and then another and putting it on the canvas.

pointilism202-mI’m not sure I would have the patience to do that. The results are best viewed from a distance–a challenging task in a museum where everyone walks just a foot away from the paintings.


And none of these paintings were by Seurat.

Traveling to India via Houston TX

I have never been to India; I do have friends who lived there for many years in the Northern part and of course, some of the fleet of doctors I see are from India. The colors of India are always so intense and rich; I was pleased to find this exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

jodpur20india20elepahnt-mThe trappings of royalty were incredible. First there was this elephant in royal robes with a carriage atop seating four with an umbrella overhead.carriage-m More carriages were inside along with elaborate pavilions. I was fascinated by a game board set out with what looked like thimbles as playing pieces.

game20set-mThen there were the bejeweled daggers and turban ornaments and fancy outfits for the male warriors–precisely block printed.block20print-m A mortar was particularly interesting–it was elaborately decorated with swirls and flowers and leaves and vines.

What was impressive was the vast usage of red and yellow. And I wondered where did they get the red dye–was it cochineal? or cinnabar? or madder? More investigation!

One of my favorites

woodcut20depicting20michelangelo-mI have three favorite artists—Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Klee. There are some others that take second place but these are my faves.

I have had the privilege of seeing a retrospective of Klee’s work at the Menil some years ago–there was a large group of art students there lounging about–and I really wanted to ask them to leave–they were chatting and texting and doing everything but looking at the artwork–.

Then there was the Caravaggio and friends in Fort Worth–just a few pieces of his–and none of my favorites but the museum was populated by serious connoisseurs–no-one was texting or chatting or just wandering aimlessly.

And Thursday I went to see Michelangelo and the Vatican. There were only two pieces–both cartoons; the rest were all copies of his work by others. Apparently he made cartoons or patterns for sale-cartoon20by20michelangelo20as20pattern20for20sale-mcupid20kissing20venus-m-and the one depicted was of Venus being kissed by Cupid–painted several times by other painters. There was the one cartoon of a Roman soldier in preparation for the painting of the martyrdom of St. Peter–pinpricked for copying onto the freshly plastered wall.

pope20paul20frances20ii20by20titian-mPope Paul Frances II by Titian

cardinal20to20become20pope20paul20frances20ii20by20raphael-mPope Paul Frances II as a cardinal before becoming Pope by Raphael

Although I like history and have learned various timelines–I did not realize that Martin Luther and his tenets, Pope Paul Frances II–an art afficionado, Michelangelo, and the Council of Trent were all contemporaneous. Martin Luther’s view of religion being for the common man may well have influenced Caravaggio’s less romantically idealized figures.

Tomorrow: Jodpur India

A day of Disappointment

I always look forward to a day spent browsing through the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. I leave my house around 8:30 or so–thus missing the early morning traffic workaday rush. I thought I-59 would have been cleared out–but it wasn’t.

parking20lot-mI usually park across from the Museum but it was filled with cranes and construction equipment.

My second choice is Bartlett Street–I can remember the name of a pear–but those street were all occupied by others–and those streets are incredibly narrow–they should probably be all one way. So I had to park in the underground garage—which is not constructed with anyone with a relatively long wheel base to access. I have to get out of my truck to pull the ticket–and when I left–I had to get out again to put my credit card in–it is poorly lit with a bright background obscuring any lettering on the payment box.

matisse20backs20are20covered-mMy two favorite sculptures were not available to be viewed–Marchetti’s Matchstick Man and Matisse’s Backs—the Backs were covered by construction and Matchstick Man was nowhere to be seen.

egg-megg20upclose-mI ate at the Museum Cafe–this is the second time for the ‘new’ Cafe. And it was as disappointing as the first time. Note to self–bring personal sandwich next time.

Traffic wasn’t bad though and I spent far too much money at Texas Art Supply–some dye-pens, another sketchbook–I like to feel the pages, and two pieces of pastel to experiment with on fabric and fabric medium.

Home to find the dogs still in the fence–my fence repair earlier that day having been successful.

constructing20new20exhibit-mThis is the exhibit that is going up–a lot of pieces of bamboo everywhere and the smell of sawdust. I assume the man in the red shirt is the artist.

I’ll review the two shows I did see tomorrow.