Wind Sculpture II, Yinka Shonibare MBE

The North Carolina Art Museum, located in Raleigh, has a park full of wonderful works of art.  Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture II is one of them.

Shonibare is a London-born British-Nigerian artist whose work has been exhibited all over the world.  He has a disability that has left him partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, but that hasn’t stopped him from creating beautiful works of art.  Unable physically to carry out the making of the art, he directs a team of assistants who help him bring his creations into being.

Though he uses a variety of materials to create his art, one of his favorites is Dutch wax cloth, a printed cotton material popular throughout Africa.  Shonibare uses the material extensively.  In the case of Wind Sculpture II, the material was formed and then covered with a heavy coating of clear fiberglass to keep it’s shape.  The result is a work of art that looks as if it’s being blown across the field by the wind.

It’s one of my favorite pieces from the Park.  I love the colors and the playful feel of it being caught by the wind.  It’s a beautiful work of art and one that makes me smile when I see it.

Wind Sculpture II (2)

 

 

 

Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

It had been many years since I’d visited Cartersville, a small city of 20,000 north of Atlanta.  In October of 2017 my wife’s sister took us to the Booth Western Art Museum.  I never imagined that this gem of a museum was in the little town famous for the world’s first outdoor Coca Cola sign and the Etowah Indian Mounds.

The museum is home to the largest collection of western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia.

Booth Museum of Western Art
Booth Museum of Western Art

The grounds contain sculptures by leading western artists, including the wonderful “An Honest Day’s Work by Fred Fellows.

The museum hosts hundreds of paintings and sculptures from artists as diverse as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell to Andy Warhol and Leroy Neiman.  The art is divided into galleries focusing on various aspects of western art.  There are also galleries dedicated to the American Civil War and U.S. Presidents.

 

 

 

The Millar Presidential Gallery is fascinating, with portraits and information about each of our presidents.  There is a trivia question for each president.  Did you know that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything and that Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to be pulled over for speeding?  Interesting and fun stuff.

My favorite gallery was the Modern Art gallery, but all the galleries were full of beautiful works. There was a lot of art by Native American artists and African American artists as well as famous artists like Frederic Remington.  Here’s a wonderful painting by Shonto Begay titled “Our Promised Road”.

Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road
Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road

Bob Vann has a couple pieces in the museum including “The Victorio Campaign”.

Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign
Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign

Andy Warhol’s “Sitting Bull” is one of the highlights of the Modern Art gallery.

Andy Warhol - Sitting Bull
Andy Warhol – Sitting Bull

And now for something completely different.  Bill Schenk’s beautiful “From Dust to Dusk” celebrates the beauty of the western landscape with an unusual jazz theme.

Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk
Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk

We spent hours at the museum and could probably return to find new art or art that we failed to notice on the first trip.  If you’re in the Atlanta area I hope you’ll visit this wonderful museum.

Ogromna, NC Art Museum Park

Ogromna is a wood sculpture by American artist Ursula von Rydingsvard.  Starting with cedar blocks, von Rydingsvard creates works of art that are both abstract and natural. Interestingly, her works start as 4″ by 4″ cedar beams, which are then cut into blocks before being assembled, chipped and carved into the final sculpture.  Her works feel natural, rather than man-made.

This twenty foot tall sculpture reminds me of a tree turned upside down, or the face of a cliff.  It appears to have been formed by nature. Ogromna is a beautiful work of art.

Ogromna

 

San Antonio’s River Walk Mosaics

I was able to spend a couple days in San Antonio, Texas.  Most of my time was spent at work, but one evening my company took us on a tour of the city’s River Walk.  One interesting aspect of the tour was a series of mosaics by local artist Oscar Alvarado.

Most of the murals are under the many bridges that cross the San Antonio River.  I wasn’t able to photograph all of the murals, but here are some of my favorites.

The first is a portrait of José Antonio Navarro, a Texas Patriot.  Navarro was one of the original signers the Texas Declaration of Independence, was instrumental in drafting the first state Constitution of Texas, and served three terms in the Texas Senate.

SA Riverwalk Mural 4

The next is a mosaic map of the San Antonio River, with the five historic frontier missions pictured along the river.  The five missions- Mission Concepción, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, Mission Espada and the Alamo- are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

SA Riverwalk Mural 6

This mural is a street map of San Antonio.  I’m not sure what the structure in the upper left represents.  It is interesting, though, and I like the stone bench in front of the mosaic.

SA Riverwalk Mural 3

This beautiful piece shows famous landmarks of San Antonio, including the Alamo and the Tower of Americas.  I’m not sure what the dog has to do with San Antonio, but, hey, I like dogs.

SA Riverwalk Mural 9

This beauty is a strange one to me.  I get the clouds, but I’m not sure where the hills come from.  San Antonio is one of the flattest places I’ve ever seen.  You can see for miles, but there are no hills in sight.

SA Riverwalk Mural 5

This mural is a bit different from the others in that it integrates part of the bridge structure into the art.  The center of the swirl is a cover of some kind.  My guess is the mosaic represents a hurricane or storm and the cover may be part of the flood prevention system.  A hurricane in 1921 did flood San Antonio, killing 50 people.  San Antonio’s River Walk is a direct result of this hurricane and flood.  A bypass channel was designed and built to alleviate flooding.  This man-made section of the San Antonio River became the River Walk.

SA Riverwalk Mural 10

I’ll be honest.  I have no idea what this represents.  I do, however, find it quite beautiful.

SA Riverwalk Mural 7

Oscar Alvarado’s mosaics are just one reason why the River Walk is the top attraction in San Antonio, making it even more popular than the Alamo.  The mixture of old and new architecture is quite fascinating as well.  And it’s a beautiful place to spend time.  If you’re in San Antonio, don’t miss it.

Stone Sculptures

These wonderful sculptures were part of the collection at the now defunct Chinqua Penn Plantation near Reidsville, North Carolina.  Built in the 1920s by tobacco magnate Thomas Jefferson Penn and his wife Betsy, it was once one of the best preserved early twentieth homes in North Carolina.  Eventually, the financial failures of the last owner led to the foreclosure of the property and the sale, at auction, to all of the wonderful art that had been collected by the Penns.

We were able to visit the home a few years before it was sold, while it was still a tourist attraction.  The Penns had collected many works of art from around the world.  These  particular sculptures were outside the gift shop and winery.  I love the expressions on the faces.

Asheville Urban Trail

The Asheville Urban Trail is a 1.7 mile self-guided walking tour that celebrates the art, architecture and history of Asheville.  There are 30 stops on the tour that loops through the historic downtown area.  The entire tour takes about two hours, and there’s a lot more to see along the tour besides the designated stops.

There are five sections of the tour, each marked with its own unique symbol carved into pink granite and embedded in the side walks.  This is the beautiful angel symbol that marks the Thomas Wolfe section.

Asheville Sidewalk Angel

The first section of the tour celebrates the city’s pre-depression boom.  A few of the highlights are the Grove Arcade, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence and the huge Flat Iron sculpture.

Another section of the trail celebrates Asheville’s most famous son, Thomas Wolfe.  Among the stops in this section are the “Dixieland,” a bronze replica of Wolfe’s size thirteen shoes, a wonderful abstract sculpture on the side of the Asheville Community Theater, and a beautiful art deco sculpture honoring the history of transportation.  The central wheel on this sculpture can be rotated.

There are also many places and items of interest that are not official stops on the trail.  The Buncombe County Courthouse is a beautiful art deco structure and you’ll pass The Old Kentucky Home, Thomas Wolfe’s mother’s boarding house where the author spent much of his youth.  Also, keep your eyes out for the street art, which is everywhere in the city.

Asheville is a wonderful little city.  The art and architecture are just one aspect of the city.  The food scene is remarkable for a relatively small town.  It’s one of our favorite places and I’m looking forward to our next visit.

 

Painter Essentials 6, by Corel

I recently upgraded from Paint Shop Pro X9 Ultimate to the new Paint Shop Pro 2019 Ultimate.  The Ultimate version of the software comes with a “bonus collection” of software applications that work hand in hand with PSP.  One of them is Painter Essentials 6, a hobbyist, or “lite’ version of the professional design software Painter X.

Painter Essentials 6 allows you to take a create painting-like images.  It’s designed to be used by users with a drawing tablet.  Since I’m using a traditional laptop with a touchpad and keyboard, I’m a bit limited, but it still allowed me to use templates to convert a couple of my photos into “paintings.”

The software allows you to load an image, select templates such as “Impressionist,” “Oil,” “Modern,” “Pastel” and several others.  Once you select your template, you click “Start” and sit back as the software creates your painting.  It’s pretty interesting to watch.  Here’s a before and after view of a photo I converted to an “impressionist” painting.

Of course, you can do a lot more than just let the software create the image for you.  You can use a tablet and stylus to paint your own images.  Painter Essentials 6 allows you to simulate various “surfaces” such as canvas, woodcut, and rough paper.  It also allows you to control the brush strokes.  It will be fun to play with, and I can see the possibility of saving so-so photographs by turning them into virtual paintings.

It’s an interesting tool.  I look forward to learning to use it.

River Arts District, Asheville, NC

One of my favorite aspects of the River Arts District is the outdoor art.  Whether you call it graffiti, murals, or street art, just walking through the warehouses of the River Arts District is fun.  Here are a few of my favorites.

This wall on the back side of Summit Coffee has been turned into a beautiful work of art.

RAD Wall Portrait

This work by Asheville artist Dustin Spagnola has a different kind of beauty.  Spagnola has works of art displayed around the world, including in NYC, Japan and Nepal.

Dustin Spagnola Mural

This portrait of the late singer Charles Bradley is another of my favorites.

Charles Bradley

Even storage sheds have been turned into works of art.

RAD Art Shed

Asheville’s River Arts District is a treasure trove for art lovers.  It’s not just the building exteriors.  Over 200 local artists have studio space in the warehouses and buildings of the River Arts District.  It’s a great place to wander through the studios and, if you’re so inclined, to take home a work of art.

Dollhouses, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the world’s oldest continually-operated museum for the exhibition of American folk art.   The museum has been collecting and exhibiting folk art since it opened in 1957 and now holds over 7,000 pieces of folk art.

On our last visit to Williamsburg, we were lucky to be able to view their dollhouse collection.  The dollhouses ranged from a dollhouse constructed from a wooden crate and filled with handmade furniture to an elaborate, and huge, dollhouse White House.  The dollhouses were made to be played with.  There’s a little farm, complete with animals and fences, and a wonderful cardboard castle.

While the White House was quite impressive, I was much more taken with the more “play friendly” pieces.  They were designed to be played with, not as a display piece.  If I were a child, I’d want something I could actually touch rather than just look at.

The museum is full of wonderful works of art.  We’ve been there several times and there’s always things we haven’t seen before.  If you visit Williamsburg, I highly recommend a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.  You won’t regret it.

Street Art, Asheville, NC

This beautiful painting peaks out of an alley along Woodfin Street in Asheville.  I love the colors, but I also love that if you look closely, the “feathers” of the rooster are made up of words and letters.  I can’t figure out what the words say, but it adds a dimension to the art that keeps you studying the painting.

Asheville is full of beautiful works of art.  If you visit the city, it would be worth the time to follow the Asheville Urban Trail, which explores many of the city’s highlights.  This painting is not an official stop on the  trail, but you’ll pass it along the way.

Asheville Street Rooster