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

Polychrome Pass, Denali

One of the highlights of our visit to Alaska was the Tundra Wilderness Tour of Denali National Park and Preserve.  The tour lasted about seven hours and we were fortunate enough to see a great many of the park’s wildlife.  The wildlife sightings were just one part of the tour, though.  There are also many beautiful landscapes in the park that will take your breath away.

One of the stops along the tour was a roadside overlook at the stunning Polychrome Pass.  Polychrome Pass was formed many millions of years ago by the pacific tectonic plate sliding under the continental shelf.  The pass gets its name from the colorful geologic formations, including volcanic rocks.  The mountains, part of the Alaska Range, are home to several small glaciers.

We were there in mid May, and things were just beginning to green up.  I love the colors of the new growth, the blue of the braided rivers that meander through the pass and the whites of the snow on the mountains.

The immensity of the landscape makes you feel very small.  Scenes like this make our trip into the park something I’ll always remember.

Polychrome Pass D

Rodan Garden, NC Art Museum

When the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation donated 30 works by french sculptor Auguste Rodan to the North Carolina Art Museum in Raleigh, it gave the museum the largest collection of works by  Rodan between Philadelphia and the West Coast.

The Rodan Garden, outside the West Building, is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the sculptures.  The reflecting pond, with its lily pads, are quite beautiful.  An added benefit is the garden rarely has more than one or two people, so you can enjoy the day in peace.

Rodan Garden

Monument to Pope John Paul II, Braga

Braga is the oldest city in Portugal, with a history going back to pre-Roman times.  It’s not exactly where you’d expect to find a modern art sculpture in the middle of the city.  Yet, there it is.  The Monumento ao Santo Papa João Paulo II was created by Portuguese sculptor Zulmiro de Carvalho and architect Domingos Tavares to commemorate the Pope’s 1982 visit to Braga.

The shape of the monument is reminiscent of the mitre, the tall pointed ceremonial hat worn by the Pope.  According to one website, the three points of the sculpture represent the three great mountain top sanctuaries of Braga- Bom Jesus do Monte, Santuário do Sameiro and Igreja de Santa Maria Madalena.

The sculpture is a beautiful monument to the Pope’s historic visit, and one of the many monuments celebrating Braga’s reputation as the religious heart of Portugal.

John Paul II Monument

Hippocerous, Edgar A. McKillop

This whimsical work of art one of the many pieces of folk art on exhibit at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Edgar A. McKillop (1879-1950) was a blacksmith from Balfour, North Carolina who began his art career when a neighbor offered him four black walnut trees in exchange for removing the trees from the neighbor’s property.  McKillop used the wood to create hand carved sculptures as well as practical items such as furniture and kitchen utensils.

The hippocerous is one of his largest works.  Created in the 1920s,  the piece is actually a hand cranked phonograph.  McKillop carved the cabinet from walnut and created a fantastical beast with characteristics of the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus.  It looks like a creature that would have populated the pages of Where the Wild Things Are.

I find it interesting how many folk artists integrated technology into their otherwise rustic art.  In this case, McKillop used the work as a cabinet for a hand cranked phonograph.  The hippocerous doesn’t simply hold the phonograph.  When a record is played, the sound comes from its mouth.  But wait, that’s not all.  As the record plays, the beast’s tongue wags back and forth with the music.  It’s a wonderful and whimsical work of art.

Hippocerus (1)

 

Resting Grizzly, by William Berry

This beautiful sculpture resides at the Denali Visitor Center in Alaska.  Interestingly, the life size bronze was replicated from the original sculpture, which was only 8 inches in length.  The one you see here is 8 feet long.  It’s one of the most photographed works of art in Alaska.

Bill Berry was a California native who, along with his wife Elizabeth, moved to Alaska in the 1950s.  Berry worked with many media, including oils, pastels, murals and of course sculpture.  He also wrote several books, including William D. Berry: 1954-1956 Alaskan Field Sketches and Deneki, An Alaskan Moose, which he wrote and illustrated.

The enlarged sculpture was created by Alaskan sculptor Skip Wallen, with the support of the Berry family, and was installed at the Visitors Center in 2012.

Denali Slumbering Bear

 

12 Bones Smokehouse, Asheville, NC

Asheville, North Carolina is a food lover’s paradise.  My wife and I love visiting this great little city and make a point of visiting restaurants we haven’t yet been to.  There are a few restaurants, however, that we have on our must visit list, no matter how many times we’ve been there.  12 Bones Smokehouse is one of them.

12 Bones came to prominence when then President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama dined at the restaurant not once, but three times on trips to Asheville.  We’ve been there three times as well- once to their Arden location, once to the original riverside restaurant and, most recently, to the new location in the River Arts District.

I loved the Arden location, a converted automobile service station, for its funky feel.  The now-defunct riverside location had a great outside dining area next to the river.  The new location, though, is probably my favorite.

The River Arts District was once a run down industrial area, but it’s been converted into art space for Asheville’s creative community.  More than 200 local artists have studio space here and, with the artists, several restaurants have moved into the district.  One of the things I love about the River Arts District is that the exteriors of many of the buildings are covered with art.  12 Bones is no different.

12 Bones Artwork Detail
12 Bones Smokehouse Entrance

Dining at 12 Bones is a little different from most restaurants.  First, you have to wait in a queue to get into the restaurant; as the group at the counter places their order and moves into the dining room, the next group moves into the restaurant.  Second, by restaurant standards 12 Bones’ hours are unusual.  The restaurant is only open for lunch Monday through Friday (it’s actually open for takeout until 6pm, but the dining room closes at 4).  If you get there late you’re out of luck.

We got there just before the Friday lunch rush, so our wait outside wasn’t long.  We placed our orders and chose to sit outside to enjoy the great weather and the fascinating wall art of the surrounding buildings.  We enjoyed watching an eagle soar high overhead against the beautiful blue sky.

12 Bones River

The food at 12 Bones is great. Ann Marie ordered their award winning blueberry chipotle ribs with potato salad and collards and I had a pulled pork plate with mac and cheese and collards. I tried several of the barbecue sauces- a vinegar based sauce, a mustard based sauce, and an awesome jalapeno sauce.   It’s country cooking, but taken to a whole new level.

 

There are no secret sauces at 12 Bones.  They don’t keep their recipes locked in a safe.  If you’re up to it, you can “try this at home.”  They’ve got a cookbook with recipes for pretty much everything they serve, including their blueberry chipotle sauce.  Ann Marie makes a pretty awesome barbecue, but she’s always looking for new things to try.  The cookbook was one we definitely needed.  I see blueberry chipotle ribs in our future.

If you make it to Asheville, head to 12 Bones River.  You won’t be disappointed.

Praça da Republica, Braga

The Praça da Republica Square is considered by many to be the heart of Braga.  Located at the north end of Avenida da Liberdade, the square was the trading center in sixteenth century Braga.  Today it’s a great place to start your tour of Braga.

The Arcada, as it’s popularly called, is home to two excellent cafes, both over 100 years old, Cafe Vianna and Cafe Astoria.  We chose to have breakfast at Café Vianna.  In operation for over 150 years, the café is supposedly where the 28 May 1926 coup d’etat began.  Portuguese novelists Eça de Queriós and Camilo Castelo Branco are said to have been visitors to the café during its long history.

The view from Cafe Vianna is spectacular.  You look past the Praça da Republica fountain, across Jardim da Avenida Central, all the way to Bom Jesus do Monte, 5 kilometers away.  The cafe is also a great place for people watching; there are always crowds of people passing by.

This view of Praça da Republica was taken from the Jardim da Avenida.  You can see the Braga Tower, the last remnant of the castle, behind the Arcada.

There are so many things to see and do in Braga and it’s nice to have a central point where you can sit and relax while catching your breath and enjoying a drink.  For us, Praça da Republica was that place.

Braga Arcada

Arctic Brotherhood Hall, Skagway, AK

In February 1899, towards the end of the Klondike Gold Rush, eleven men founded the first Arctic Brotherhood in Camp Skagway, one of the starting points into the Klondike.  By the Summer the Arctic Brotherhood Hall had been erected as their meeting place.  The Hall was needed; a month after it was formed the Brotherhood’s membership had swollen to over 300 men.

The Arctic Brotherhood was more than just a drinking club for the men of the Klondike.  Despite initial objections by the churches, the citizens of Skagway soon found that the Brotherhood took care of its sick members, buried their dead and worked to improve the educational and social systems of the mining camps.  The preamble to the Brotherhood’s constitution states:

“The object of this organization shall be to encourage and promote social and intellectual intercourse and benevolence among its members, and to advance the interests of its members and those of the Northwest Section of North America.”

The Arctic Brotherhood proved so popular among the men of the Northwest that 32 camps were eventually established across the North and more than 10,000 men called themselves Arctic Brothers.  They included miners, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, government officials, American Senators, Canadian Members of Parliament and celebrities.  Among its honorary members were King Edward VII and American Presidents Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley.

The Arctic Brotherhood lasted into the 1920s, long after the Klondike Gold Rush had faded into history.  Today, the building is home to the Visitor Information Center, hosted by the Skagway Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The building is one of the most photographed buildings in Alaska.  The facade is covered with over 8,800 pieces of driftwood collected by the Brotherhood’s members and nailed to the facade in a checkerboard pattern.  The letters A and B, the name Camp Skagway No. 1 and the date of its founding, 1899, all made of driftwood, designate the building as the membership hall of the Arctic Brotherhood.  It’s a unique and beautiful piece of American History and one you shouldn’t miss if you visit Skagway.

Arctic Brotherhood

Gyre, NC Art Museum

Gyre is a sculpture by North Carolina artist Thomas Sayre.  The three huge rings were created on site in 1999, using reinforced concrete.  Circular trenches were dug, the reinforcements were placed and the concrete was poured.  Once the concrete was dry and cured, the rings were lifted into place by crane. You can still see the circular depressions where the rings were formed before being raised in place.

Gyre is one of the centerpieces of the NC Art Museum Park.  The sculpture is especially striking when, beginning at sunset, the rings are illuminated by flood lights.  It’s quite a sight.

Gyre 1