Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cherry Blossom Snapshots

The annual Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival started this weekend. The best-loved images of our nation's capitol are ones that include cherry blossoms. It all looks so serene in those post cards. The reality is that the walkways encircling the Tidal Basin can be as crowded as the Beltway during rush hour. Everyone wants that perfect shot, with branches reflecting in the water, perhaps with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. But more than anything, they want their wife and baby, grandchild, boyfriend or girlfriend perfectly posed in front of the cherry blossoms. This can lead to unsportsmanlike jockeying for the best position. Babies get cranky. Toddlers run away. I've learned to love this fascinating encounter between nature and human nature. It's the same, yet slightly different, every year. Just like the cherry blossoms.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Orange Stickers

When you pay to enter a museum, they usually give you something like a wrist band or a sticker. My favorite proof-of-admission is the little metal button at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tall boxy bins flank the museum's exit doors. Visitors remove their buttons and toss them in the bins as they leave. The buttons change color each day, so the clear plastic bins hold layers of color, like a large-scale version of colored sand in a bottle. At the Cooper Hewitt, a slab of clear Plexiglas stands near the door. You can place your sticker on the slab. I love this! It's art that requires the participation of gallery visitors. Each sticker has traveled through the museum. Each sticker represents an experience. And the gathering of stickers just looks really cool.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Mix

Last Tuesday was a perfect day to be walking up Madison Avenue. The morning was crisp and bright. I passed a corner market. A crowd of cut flowers in buckets edged the front of the store. It's still too cold for flowers to be outside, so a sort of enclosed porch made from clear plastic protected the tulips, gerbera daisies and irises. The bumpy plastic reflected the blue sky and the stone buildings across the street. The reflections mixed with the flowers just beyond the plastic. What an amazing sight, a muddle of color, encapsulating one moment on the edge of spring.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Crazy Window

Sint Janskirk, the church of St. John, is in the charming Dutch town of Gouda. It's a very large church for such a small town. As World War II approached, most of the magnificent 16th century stained glass windows were removed and hidden in safer places. Now they are back in place, along with newer windows commissioned after the war. High up, in a less-than-prime spot, are a couple of windows like nothing I've ever seen before. They are created from fragments of older windows, too damaged to be saved intact. Faces, hands, bits of foliage or angel's wings have been reset into glowing glass mosaics. My photo shows one of the "educational displays" in the back of the church, where a small version of this type of window is on display. I look at this and see a fantastic lit-from-within crazy quilt.