Caravaggio at the Getty

Spectacular birthdays are rare when you’re an adult. Most people, I find want to just pretend the years aren’t going by. Others celebrate with reckless abandon.  I’m for the latter. There is nothing you can do to stop the passage of time, so why not embrace it? Have fun with it?

This month we celebrate my Prince Charming husbands birthday, and I found something I knew would make his day special.

His favorite artist of all time is the incomparable, Caravaggio. His real name is Michelangelo Merisi, (no, not that Michelangelo that painted the Sistine Chapel, the other one), but he is known worldwide as Caravaggio.

Caravaggio is famous for his skill with light and shadow. A technique that would be copied by countless artists including Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer.

For those of us that paint, I enjoyed looking at the paintings, much like I do with Monet, (my favorite artist) trying to understand how he created these masterpieces. Studying brush strokes and drinking in their beauty.  Hoping that just being near them will instill in me some magical stroke of his genius and make me a better painter. My husband enjoyed them just for their beauty.

Seeing these paintings is extraordinary for several reasons. First, the Getty is located in Los Angeles and recently there was a fire raging on the museums doorstep. Fortunately the Getty was built with the foresight of just an event so all was well. But I admit, I was worried there for a while.  Second and probably most amazing is that these paintings haven’t been out of Italy for 400 years! They have been housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome and are just now being shown here in the US.  Finally, seeing these paintings is a gift because Caravaggio had a very short career that only spanned less than 20 years. He died, mysteriously at 39 years old taking his genius with him.

Fortunately, unlike some of us, and I mean me, I’m well past 39 years old and I still haven’t figured out what I’m meant to do. I’m so pleased that Caravaggio knew at a young age and pursued it, much like we should our birthdays with that reckless abandon I mentioned earlier. Otherwise we would never have seen these exquisite pieces of art that I believe, will change you forever once you see them.

The three Caravaggio paintings are on view at the Getty until February 18th and no matter where you are in the country, if you are an art lover, get yourself to Los Angeles and go see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re here, I can safely say there will be a layer of smog hanging over L.A. like a warm blanket. The day we were there, it was clear as a bell.  You could see the ocean in the distance, far off buildings and the homes that barely skirted the fires. Another gift toward making this a spectacular day.

I’ve included a video I took of the view and trust me, a clear day like we got, is as remarkable as seeing these paintings.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xSeSLilqu3w

Next birthday, I hope you get a day this good…and every birthday after. They truly are a gift, go ahead and celebrate!

 

 

The Getty Center

My Prince Charming husband and I went to the Getty Center the other day to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I love this museum. It’s one of the best in the world and for good reason. There is world famous art, eye catching architecture, manicured gardens and deletable dining all in one place, and it’s free to get in! What could be better?

The day we went, there was a Peter Paul Rubens exhibit in town and it was, in a word, spectacular.
In fact it is appropriately named ‘Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph Of The Eucharist.’

I was truly overwhelmed by this exhibit. If you get the free iPod guided tour you learn a great deal about the art and artists. In this case I learned that just one of these tapestries would take four master skilled weavers over eight years to complete!

Here are some images I took of the day. I was not allowed to photograph in the Rubens exhibit so click on the link to see some of the exhibit images. However, take my word for it, the pictures do not do the majesty of this art justice.

You can read my entire review on Tripadvisor, but here I wanted to give you more of a visual reason to go to this wonderful museum.

Enjoy!

Getty Center Museum  First view of The GettySoft fuzzy leaves Red Flower Purple flowers at the Getty Spiny and soft Pretty butterfly leaf plant at the Getty Plant that looks like silvery green lame Overlooking the Getty gardens Lovely flowers at the Getty Los Angeles Looking into the tree Look dangerous but they aren't Leaves decorated with Fall Getty Staircase Getty manicured gardens Getty in the Fall Getty from the garden Getty behind the garden Gardens at the Getty Fall leaves in the Getty garden Colors of Fall at the Getty Colorful leaves in the Getty garden Curly purple flower at the Getty Close up of flower maze Butterfly leaves Getty flower tree Getty fountain and maze Getty Center and gardenBoy with frog sculpture at the Getty Grand Getty architecture Getty Museum Getty grounds

Churches

I love photographing churches. It’s definitely my favorite subject. Recently I photographed this lovely historic church in downtown San Diego, California. The First Presbyterian Church. The stained glass windows alone I could have sat there and stared at them for hours. How does anyone pay attention to the service when you have beauty like this to be captivated by?

 

 

 

Architectural Salvage – Art or Junk?

Architectural Salvage – Art or Junk?

Brackets, door knobs, spindels and glass are everywhere. There is peeling paint, brass and wood; distressed, worn and in need of love. Lots of things in here are in need of love, but that’s why they’re here…right? Behind the facade of a tired looking warehouse is a shop giving these wonderful objects a second, or third, chance. After all, someone loved these pieces enough not to trash them. They respected them enough to clean them up a bit and bring them here. The person that buys them is the next hero in the story, taking these pieces home and giving them a new life. This wonderful “junk” deserves another opportunity to serve its purpose, to decorate and to fill a space with beauty.

 

They say “they don’t make things like they used to”, and that is no more evident than here in this architectural salvage shop. Iron gates molded and shaped into scroll patterns and flowers, ornate in design and beaming with character underneath the rust. Copper switch plates adorned with beautiful patterns and designs, some with detailed flower designs that rival the beauty of any English garden. Stained glass windows with patterns and colors from every spectrum of the rainbow, hidden under layers of grime.

Why? Why don’t you see this work anymore? This is a lost art, at least this type of craftsmanship. The caloused, rough and stained hands that made these pieces cared about what they made. They were concerned about making something that would be functional and beautiful, something that would stand the test of time. Today, we get the big three choices at the home improvement warehouse of switch plates; plain in bright white, off white or (oooh, my favorite) almond. Craftsmanship was replaced with speed, efficiency and the lower-the-cost-the-better point of view. It’s too bad. Although I appreciate these qualities in a car maker, walking into this shop I realize what we’ve been missing. Entering here is a step back in time, to the way things used to be.

In comparison to these craftsmen, my hands have never seen an honest days work. Sitting behind my desk with my computer and phone, being tired at the end of the day, doesn’t compare to the workmanship on display here.

Sure you see artists at arts and crafts shows, but these days it’s all paintings and jewelry. They seem to pale in comparison to me. Especially these days when booths are stocked with items bought wholesale over the internet from China or Vietnam. Not that these products aren’t nice, but why go to the show when I can find that stuff at Walmart?

 

Well, you won’t find the items in this shop at a discount retail store, that’s for sure. Art should be prized in this country like it is in so many other countries. This store is salvaging art, not just brackets and old doors.

 

This shop is as American as it gets. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, isn’t that what they say? Find that junk and capitalize on it, now that’s the American way. Well they are capitalizing on it and they should be. These people are providing a wonderful service, preserving the art of our past and breathing new life into the work painstakingly created by men long ago.

So get out some sand paper, cleaning cloths and paint buckets. Head down to the Architectural Salvage shop in Little Italy and buy a piece of art for your home that you will treasure and enjoy for many years to come. Trust me, it will hold up better than any almond colored plastic piece at the warehouse store and be so much more beautiful.

If you think about it, your getting a real bargain. We pay hotels huge sums of money for these little details in our room and we’re only staying a night or two. Why not enjoy these luxuries in your own home, everyday.

 

When I was in the store my friend texted me to ask what I was doing that day. I told her that I was in an architectural salvage store looking around and taking pictures. She retorted by asking if ‘architectural salvage’ was another way of saying I was in a junk yard. I laughed, and I suppose some would agree that it was a junk store, but I’ve never seen such lovely junk and to me I was walking through an art gallery.

U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition

Have you heard? The U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition is this weekend in Imperial Beach, CA.

The Sand Castle dance on Friday, July 22nd kicks everything off in style and benefits the Imperial Beach Boys and Girls Club.

On Saturday, the Kids-N-Kastles competition is held along with a huge street festival filled with music, food and arts n’ crafts.

Sunday, July 24th is the main event. Professionals and amateurs come from all over to carve these magnificent ‘castles’ out of sand. Vying for the title of Master’s Champion, the sand castle building gets going at 9:00 am and goes until 2:00 pm. The castles are judged and the winner announced. These beauties are a sight to behold, but get there early because the tide will wash them away just a few hours later.

Reminded of Paris

Reminded of Paris

It’s early in the afternoon on this warm summer day and I go sit at the beach to think, and do some writing. There’s a soft breeze and the air smells good. The sun feels good. It doesn’t take long for me to feel sticky from the salty breeze. I’m soaking in every moment. I’ve been away too long.

I moved to Connecticut from California for a job about eight years ago. It was a dream job, a job I’d always wanted to do. I did it for love, but when it ended, broken up, I promised myself I would never take a job solely for money. Next job, I did. Laid off, and now unemployed I’m looking for permanent work but also trying to make something of myself as a photographer and writer. I love traveling and want my passions to pay for it. Currently living in San Diego with many opportunities to photograph and write, I should be content. But I long for living out of a suitcase, street food vendors, foreign languages and cultures, and breathtaking architecture and history.

A women walks by me, she’s visiting here and she speaks French to her companion. One of the romantic languages. I loved listening to it in Paris.

Paris. The city of love is appropriately named. No one there takes a job just for the money. I know that’s not true, but I want it to be true. I want to live there and paint in the same spot where geniuses painted. I want the inspiration of the city to move me to write and photograph better.

Our first day we just meandered through much of the city watching the Parisians rush through their day. Probably going to jobs they hate just like we do. Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower after walking along the Seine. What a sight! You can, of course, see it in the distance from the banks of the water, but once you come upon it, it took my breath away. It told my disbelieving mind that I am now truly in Paris. The land of Kings, priceless works of art, impressive architecture and much to my surprise, friendly people. The Eiffel Tower, which was built to only be in it’s place temporarily, is still there over 100 years later. I’m glad it is. Although new in comparison to the some of the ancient parts of the city, it is truly the one sight that epitomizes Paris. But wait, it got better. When night fell on the city of lights, the tower lit up from underneath with lights that gave a golden glow that you can see for miles and every hour the tower lights glittered and sparkled like a disco ball. Quite beautiful.

Reminds me of the San Diego skyline. Equally beautiful. Big buildings, lovely architecture. Sure none of it was built hundreds of years ago, but it’s still gorgeous. Why isn’t it enough?

Notre Dame, built well before San Diego, is marvelous. I couldn’t wait to see it. Huge and spectacular and powerful. Heavily ornamental yet simplistic in design, it is a sight to behold. We took the 400 plus stairs up to the top of the cathedral to see Paris from the view point of the birds. I wish we had gone up on a clear day. If we had I’m sure we could have seen three countries easily. That day was very overcast and gray and my pictures clearly reflect that. While up there we took a close look at the gargoyles. Designed to be water spouts they are remarkable in their own right with faces that border on demented and evil, on this building designed to be a place of worship, and house of love.

I love churches. Every size, shape and religion. Being in them, feeling safe and full of peace. Relishing in their ornamentation and beauty. I love photographing them. I would make a living from only photographing churches, if I could. Oh, if only I could.

Art too. Well how can you love to paint and photograph without loving art? Paris is full of amazing art. Art that moved me, angered me and compelled me to look at it. Numerous museums housed works of art that moved me emotionally. The most famous of these would have to be the Louvre. The largest museum in the world and home to none other than the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and too many others to name. The day spent here was overwhelming and for me, much too short because I just couldn’t take it all in. But fortunately I have a camera. I filled card after card in my digital camera. I must have taken two thousand pictures here. Maybe a slight exaggeration.

Museum d’Orsay is another art museum but the priceless works of art were more recent. 18th and 19th century and much of the art is impressionism. which I enjoy, but my husband doesn’t. Something about the messiness draws me in. Next to Montmartre, where famous painters from practically every era came to paint in the square. The day we arrived there, the square was filled with easels, canvases and people milling about looking for the perfect painting to mount on their wall at home.

I didn’t buy one. I wanted to take the inspiration of the city home with me and let my photographs be my paintings. Or paint something fabulous myself.

But the concept of home is forever changed now that I’ve been here. The pictures and souvenirs I took home are not enough. Paris has stolen my heart. I came home and began decorating and designing to give me the feeling like I never left and somehow no matter where I go, I don’t think I will ever leave Paris. It’s one of those cities that stays with you. A welcome addition to your heart. A heart filled with a longing to return. I want to return.

I walk home from the beach and spend a few minutes looking at my pictures of Paris on my computer. I see the influences I’ve put into my home. The fleur de lis, the lamps I bought there, the towels in my kitchen. Reminding myself of our time there. In the grand scheme of time, only a moment.

With my current moments, I should be sitting down to write the current story I’m working on. I close out the pictures and get back to work. I need to practice my writing and photography skills, learn how to promote my blog, improve my social media skills and win the lottery. All in one day.

I have a charm that I picked up of the Eiffel Tower while I was in Paris. I wonder if it’s similar to a rabbit’s foot and if I rub it all my dreams will come true? I think I’ll try. Perhaps I should get my luggage out just in case.

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Village Theatre – A Relic Brought Back To Life

A Relic Brought Back To Life 

The smell of popcorn is filling the air with a scent the residents of this community thought they might not enjoy ever again. But after more than a decade the historic Village Theater on Coronado is finally open again.

Plagued by problems including a building in severe disrepair, asbestos and, of course, funding, this re-opening has been long in coming. Most residents of this lovely island would walk by the shut up landmark, built in 1947, and have fond memories of going to a movie with family and friends. But for so many years the seats sat empty, rotting, a lonely, seemingly unwanted relic.

However, this treasure never unwanted, abandoned or forgotten. In fact, many in this community rallied around the theater like wrapping it in a blanket of love. Now, the transition is complete and the blanket is coming off,  revealing a 3 million dollar renovation that brings back the glory days of this beautiful old theater, only better.

There’s an Art Deco mural behind the concession stand, new carpet designed only for this theater, a state of the art sound system, and a new ticket booth out front reminiscent of days past. But the take-your-breath-away moment comes when you walk down the short hallway into the main showing hall. The murals on the wall are so magnificent I’m sure I’m not the only one who had tears well up in their eyes. On one side is a mural of Coronado and on the other is the downtown San Diego skyline. Both were clearly painted by a skilled craftsman that obviously fell head over heals in love with the old theater, because the end result is truly a labor of love.

 

 

I understand being completely taken with this old theater and being part of this grand opening for me brings back fond memories. My husband and I lived on this island when the theater was operating before and we would have ‘island night’. We’d walk down Orange Avenue, go to dinner and then catch a movie. It didn’t matter that the seats had so many holes that you had to bring a seat cover and do your best not to fall through. The sound system wasn’t that great and the screen had rips, tears and pieces missing. But, I think these were some of the most romantic nights I can recall in our long and wonderful marriage. We had since moved away but would occasionally visit, always saddened by the loss of our beloved theater. Recently, after deciding to move back to the island again, we were thrilled to see work being done on the place.

So, hand in hand he and I went to dinner and then attended the grand opening. The seats, perfect, plush and new were filled once again with families, kids and movie lovers young and old. Everyone attending was awed by the work and love put into this old place and moved by the commitment and passion put into the job. The smell of popcorn was wafting out onto the street for residents and visitors alike to enjoy and be enticed in. The ticket booth was open and probably the best part of the evening was that there was a long line of people wanting to buy tickets to get into the next movie.

For more information about the theater or to purchase tickets please go to http://www.vintagecinemas.com/village/

History, Art and a Lovely Summer Day

History, Art and a Lovely Summer Day

 

Nestled in Balboa Park between the San Diego Zoo and the Natural History Museum is the Spanish Village Art Center. With 37 studios and over 90 artists this little shopping area has much to offer. But on this particular summer day in June I went to attend the pottery show and sale.

Amongst the blossoming purple jacaranda trees and the vibrant painted tiles of the Spanish Village the art was only another addition to the beauty of the surroundings. Merchants and students alike were selling their beautiful works of art in the center on tables set up just for the occasion. As the humidity rose and the heat of the day intensified, so did the crowds. Baskets in hand carefully choosing their next treasure. I too had a basket and had a hard time choosing from all the wonderful pieces on display.

Many artists were on hand to answer questions and tell you all about their passion. Live music playing and all the surrounding studios open offered hours of enjoyable shopping. Everywhere you looked were the colors to remind you of a lovely summer day in the park, the tile floor of the village, the pottery, the flowers, the trees, I couldn’t have been lost on the beauty if I tried. The pottery and art on sale were beautiful, crafty and skillfully created. There were cups, bowls and pots in every size, shape, color and design imaginable. I wanted to take all of them home with me, but ultimately I chose only a piece or two.

Treasures in hand, I make my way back to my car being lullabied by the carousel music at the other end of the parking lot. Someone is waiting for my space so sitting and listening wouldn’t be right. They’d like to go to the sale to find their own treasure. But I’ll be back and soon, after all Balboa Park is a treasure in and of itself.

Want to learn how to make your own pottery? Most of the studios offer classes in practically every art medium there is including pottery. Only visiting? Schedule your class for when your here. Go to www.spanishvillage.com for more information and a schedule of classes.

Although you may have missed the sale today, don’t worry this is a semi-annual sale and it will be back in November. There are many other sales throughout the year so don’t miss out. Check online today to find out what’s coming up.

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