Sunday, November 18, 2018

"An Old Woman With Joyous Face"

The Houston International Quilt Festival truly is a global event. Over a dozen countries and 37 states were represented in the judged IQA Show. Above and beyond winning first place in each of the many categories, there are eight special awards, including Best Of Show. This colorful quilt won the World of Beauty award. Created by Brazilians Marina Landi and Natasha De Souza Bugarin, from the moment it was unveiled at the awards ceremony, it became a favorite. Crowds gathered to examine it closely, phones waved above heads, like appreciative fans at a Bruce Springsteen concert. All week long, every time I walked past it on the show floor, the quilt drew people over to look and linger. Everyone walked away with a smile. Joy is contagious.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Geometric Sidewalk

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, there is a stretch of sidewalk unlike any I've ever seen. A pattern of arcs and stripes spreads out along the front of a tony apartment building. The neighbors don’t seem to give it much thought. Do they like it or think that it’s too bold, too different from the rest of this subtle, well-heeled neighborhood? I want to know the story behind it. Who was the non-conformist who dreamed it up then managed to get it installed? If you could design a special sidewalk, what would your design look like?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Art Deco Memorial, Milan

This has been the week of spirit-related holidays: All Hallow's Eve, Halloween, Day of the Dead, a time long believed to mysterious, when the veil is thin between the living and the dead. Cemeteries hold clues as to how any particular generation remembers and honors those who have passed. In Milan’s Monumental Cemetery, the Morgagni family built this decidedly Art Deco monument. Can you look at this and NOT see a chorus line of eternal-flame-holding dancers, right down to the "curtain" behind them? Design trends come and go but eternity is, well, eternal. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Jailbird Skeletons

Halloween decorations used to consist of pumpkins carved into jack-o-lanterns and a cardboard black cat hung on the front door. Now you can go to the store and buy a life-sized plastic skeleton. It's fun to see what people do with them. This house has one of my favorite neighborhood tableaux. Dressed in traditional prisoner togs, the skeletons gather around an arrangement of orange lights that really does look like flames after the sun goes down. Their friend, skateboarding down the porch railing, is a holdover from last year. The row of skulls on the porch is a nice touch. It’s all in the little details...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bicycling In Amsterdam

We relish the spectacular sunny days of autumn, when the trees are dressed in bright colors, but let’s face it, autumn has its share of gloomy, chilly, damp days. Residents of Amsterdam are used to this. A sunny day can suddenly turn into a torrential rainstorm. Bicyclists find themselves pedaling through sleet, as clouds sweep in off the North Sea. Being a less hardy soul, I clutch my umbrella and stand on the bridge admiring the shining bricks, the more saturated colors of the trees and the texture of raindrops in the canal. They pedal on, intent on their destinations.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tardis Little Library

Our neighborhood is home to several "Little Libraries" where people can choose or leave books My favorite is in the shape of a Tardis, Doctor Who's vehicle that takes the Time Lord through time and space. The thirteenth Doctor has just debuted and this time (finally!) we have a woman, Jodie Whittaker, playing the part. The perennial joke about the Tardis is that it's much, much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. The books in this little Tardis share that same quality. They are little packages that can take you on big adventures or lead to big thoughts, big plans, big dreams.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Saint Michel Metro, Paris

Last week we enjoyed hearing about a friend's wonderful trip to Paris. I thought about our visit there some years ago. The weather was almost too fine to spend indoors. We searched out spectacular art nouveau landmarks and enjoyed everyday life out on the streets and plazas. A very kind man who worked in a camera shop near our hotel told me that I "must experience Paris in black and white." He was right. This is a lesson I have taken to heart in big cities everywhere. Distracting colors disappear, Lines and shapes take precedence. Sepia, instead of black and white can imply a sense of age. That is how I captured the Place Saint Michel one morning as the light transformed the Metro entrance into something magical.