Sunday, June 24, 2018

Glasgow School of Art

On June 15, a fire all but destroyed the most important building in Glasgow. The school was in the final stage of renovation after a fire in 2014 decimated the library. Why is the GSA so important and why is it worth saving---somehow, some way? This is a detail of the north facade. If you had no hint as to when it was built or who designed it, would you guess that it was completed in 1909? We do not usually connect such simplicity with Edwardian-era architecture. I have been lucky enough to stand in the street and admire those dramatically graceful railings and how they contrast with the windows. I have experienced those interior spaces. And somehow, future generations should be able to experience it as well.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Roses On a Stone Wall

There are flowers assigned to each month, just as there are birthstones. The rose is the flower for June. Although roses now have a reputation for being high maintenance floral divas, anyone who has seen a rose flourishing along the edge of a neglected parking lot or in front of an abandoned house knows that roses have perseverance. Their ancestors spread from the inhospitable heights of far eastern mountainsides all the way to the half-wild hedgerows of the British Isles. This fine specimen climbs up a wall in the Oxford Botanical Gardens. The stone wall is a textural counterpoint to its flamboyantly colored blooms. It’s easy to see why roses are one of the world’s most popular flowers.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Flower Power

Diane Muse has lots of responsibilities making sure that things run smoothly at the Quilt & Surface Design Symposium. If you are surrounded by students making various forms of fiber art, the urge to do something creative cannot be denied. In her little bits of free time, Diane tore apart bunches of fabric flowers, reassembled them into new, much more fabulous button-centered flowers. They are destined to end up on costumes for her daughter’s band. So what have the rest of us done with our bits of free time this week?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

One Section of the Color Wheel

At the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus Ohio, one group of students are  working together under the tutelage of master dyer and art quilter Heide Stoll Weber to create hundreds of dyed swatches. This exacting and laborious process results in mixes of complementary colors and runs from light to dark. I took this photo as Heide was laying out the groups, preparing to cut them. Each student will end up with a set of swatches that can go in a notebook, an invaluable tool for future dye sessions. By the time you read this, all the swatches will have been finished and everyone will be happily dyeing fabric, T shirts, whatever they please. The rest of us can only covet those swatch books.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hot Dog Sign

These days, hot dog stands are found most often at the baseball park and the local state or county fair. This mishmash of signs suggests that hot dogs, weiners, frankfurters or chili-embellished coney islands have been served in this building for a century. The sign painted on the bricks is probably from the 1950s, but the font styles hearken back to an earlier time. Each generation has added signs in their chosen style. Yes, I would walk five doors down, how about you?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Front Garden Poppies

Orange is not my favorite color, but I am happy to have orange poppies in my little front garden. They shoot up confidently, while the summer plants are still deciding whether they even like their surroundings. The poppy buds crack open like tardy Easter eggs, a hint of orange showing for a few hours. Then suddenly the crepe paper blossoms are waving in the breeze. When the afternoon sun slides down towards the horizon, the poppies put on a glorious show, posing like divas. This is when I enjoy them the most, in all their flamboyant orangeness. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Art Nouveau Buckle

Richmond’s Virginia Museum of Fine Arts boasts a world-class collection of Art Nouveau. Along with the Tiffany lamps and Mackintosh chairs, there is a selection of belt buckles from the collection assembled by Gisela and Karl Kreuzer. Why belt buckles? Belle Epoque women loved to highlight their tiny corseted waists. An elegant buckle was an accessory as necessary as a hat. This fine silver buckle, designed by Archibold Knox and sold at Liberty's in London, explains Art Nouveau in a few square inches: an asymmetrical arrangement of flowers and leaves with a tangle of whiplashing stems. It's a masterwork that deserves its place in a museum.