Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Never Mind What's Inside

A while back Susan had a birthday and I wrapped up some presents for her. We aren't big on gift-giving because we know that if we really want something we just tell the other person "I'm getting that for myself." And besides, we don't need any more stuff.  Except for books, which are two of the above gifts, thank you, Amazon (even though you are making publishers mad).

So I've got these nicely wrapped gifts in some great paper we bought a roll of at a garage sale and then I didn't know how to wrap the last one which was red nylon tote bag you can fold up real small. Dumb gift but we have No Bag rule now in Austin at stores and she is always forgetting to take in her own bag. This way the tote bag will stay at the bottom of her purse and she'll always have it. That's the plan anyway.

Well, I found some burlap scraps and then tied it up with a little metal piece I had made before. What the heck - it was a last minute thing.

Being married to a person who loves art and goes to museums and makes art herself makes life much easier. She totally ignored the nicely gift-wrapped books and charged off to photograph the little tote bag wrapping and then started fiddling with the burlap.  It was sort of like when people give a toddler an expensive toy and all they want to do is play with the box it came in.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Really Fine Pods ... that aren't mine!

Way cool! These two pods, made of slip decorated porcelain, are called "Pair of Sea Urchins", by Maggie Barnes and are from the Arkansas Arts Center Collection.  They were on display at the Crystal Bridges Museum and I am in total awe of the fine detail she got on them.

Here's a close-up:

This is my feeble attempt at something I did a while back, before I saw her work. Do we need to discuss any more why she is in a museum collection and I am not? Well, not yet anyway. Hope springs eternal or something like that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crystal Bridges and a Lonely Pod

Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas.
In the rain, as seen from inside the museum.

In April we took a road trip to Bentonville, Arkansas, just to see the Crystal Bridges Museum. We were prepared to be underwhelmed by the whole experience -- Arkansas??? Wal-Mart town??? A little museum in Arkansas???

Instead, we were totally impressed. We drove the first day to Tulsa where we found out that their rush hour traffic lasts for about 25 minutes, as opposed to Austin's rush hour traffic that lasts for about 3 hours. Seth, the friendly clerk at the hotel checking us in, asked where we were from and when we said Austin he said "Why would anyone want to leave Austin?" Sure enough, Seth is an aspiring musician. We warned him Austin is expensive but he's young so he'll probably come here anyway. If you are Country-Western you go to Nashville, everyone else aims for Austin.

The next morning we headed for Bentonville with a stop on the way to apply for the TSA pre-check program. We were lucky enough to be randomly selected for this the last time we flew and it was great - shoes on, no baggage checking. Probably now that we have it ($85 for 3 years), we'll get unlucky and be randomly selected to go through the regular lines! It involved documents providing who we were, citizenship, residence, etc., answering questions (not many) and photo and fingerprinting. Everything went smoothly except for the fact that fingerprinting Susan was not an easy task - the grooves on her fingers have worn down! She surmises that it is from years of quilting and handling fabrics and years of messing with paints and repeatedly scrubbing at her hands with rough sponges. That, and the fact that she really wants to be in the Witness Protection Program so Time-Warner will quit calling her and asking her to upgrade her TV connection.

We were skirting bad weather the whole trip and it finally caught up with us as we got into Bentonville. Regardless, the town is lovely -- really neat and clean. We almost felt like we were in the movie Truman. Everyone is pleasant and friendly, and did I tell you everything is clean? I guess when you are the Wal-Mart headquarters you want to look good and you support the town with your tax base and there was NO trash anywhere at the public park we went to.  Added feature? That area of Arkansas is really pretty.

Yes, there was a lot of rain once we got into the muesum. This is a shot looking at the section of the museum that has the restaurant where I stuffed myself on Chicken and Waffles. It spans over the river which was very full due to the thunderstorm that came through while we were in there.

Maybe it's not a river but a creek? Whatever, this is looking downstream at some of the outdoor sculptures. Because of the rain we didn't do the hiking paths around it, we'll do that next time.

The galleries are spacious with benches in each area so you can sit and look at the art or just rest your feet. Why do so few museums have places where you can sit? Is it like having a noisy restaurant - they think you'll find it uncomfortable and hurry out so they can bring more people in?

One of Susan's favorites - Giocometti's Annette.

And of course I have to admire Odalisque by Matisse.

One lonely pod.

Friday, July 11, 2014

And Pods Again

Not sure how I'm going to glaze these.  Susan is beginning to mutter stuff about leaving them unglazed.

No, this isn't a pod. This is the lunch I ate at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was the first time I ever had Fried Chicken and Waffles and you could walk on me with high-heel shoes and I'd still keep right on eating it. Wow! How did I ever miss this treat?  Arteries, prepare to abandon ship, cholesterol, just surrender now.  Here I come!

More on Crystal Bridges later. We were prepared to be disappointed but instead were surprised and absolutely delighted with the city. the state, and the museum.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pods Again

These are similar to others I've done but this time I'll try to get the glazing right so we don't have to touch it up with acrylic paint. Although I do like the effect the gold paint can provide.

Latest Netflix: The Artist gets 5 stars. We put off watching it because, honestly, who wants to watch a silent movie? It turned out to be a great movie with a clever twist and thoroughly held our attention. Before that one we watched Paul - a totally stupid, cute, funny movie (4 stars) that made us laugh out loud at the scene of an alien mooning people. We ran that back 3 times and laughed every time.  Loved the references to old alien movies, which I'm sure anyone under 40 would not get unless they watched oldies.

Latest book finished: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It won a Pulitzer prize and definitely deserved it.  I'm dyslexic so I listen to books on Audible.com and wasn't sure about this one because it seemed so long (over 33 hours) and I only listen an hour or two at night.  It was so good that after finishing listening to it I took Susan's hardback copy (she hasn't read it yet) and carefully read the last chapter just to savor it all over again. 

Trivia: We were lucky enough to see the goldfinch painting by Fabritius at the Frick when we were in New York City.  Let me rephrase that: Susan remembers seeing it and pointing it out to me. I don't remember it.  OK, OK, there were a lot of paintings in that place!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July, 2014

The Fourth of July is our Independence Day and is a federal holiday. That means the day off from work and time to enjoy family, friends, a lot of flag-waving, picnics and fireworks. Party hearty! Or, as Erma Bombeck put it:

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

One of the classic events is often an evening performance by the local symphony or orchestra, followed by the fireworks display. One of the more famous ones, often televised, is the Boston Pops Orchestra, composed of some members from the Boston Symphony.

The following pictures were taken in July 2013 as the Boston Pops prepared for their rehearsal on July 3rd. The frightening thing about the thought of people being wanded (oh yeah, a new vocabulary word) and FBI and heavy security for a rehearsal is that it almost seems normal now.  Kind of makes you wonder about the meaning of "civilization".

Meanwhile, in Kabul, Afghanistan, a re-enlistment ceremony: