We bought a new piece of art (not in view here) in the late fall that spurred us to rearrange most of the art in the house. There are a few things that always stay where they are but most things move around a lot. Being lovers of art as well as makers of art, with many friends who are also artists, our house is full of art. So are a number of closets and the basement. When a new piece comes into the house, we typically "shop the basement" to see what we have that might enhance the new work.
But rearranging multiple rooms means that we don't want to do it again for a number of months. Thus, this year, I tried to create holiday displays that did not detract from the art or cause us to have to move anything. In the case of the fireplace mantle, I came up with a solution that I've left in place post-holiday. It feels wintry to me, but not Christmas-y.
If you compare what the mantle looked like at the beginning of December, you can see that I left most everything in place. But I spiced it up with pomander balls, some wrapped in gold cord. Then I draped one of my few new holiday purchases across the mantle: a chain of thin brass discs.
These are made from two pieces of soft metal glued together with a cord running between them. A splurge but worth it. I like a bit of metallic glimmer at the holiday but this is more subtle because it's not shiny.
Happy Birthday to my sister Meg who was born on this day. Yes, I do mean December 25.
During the heyday of New Wave and Punk she was in a well-known West Coast band, Los Microwaves. She's the female vocalist on the left in these monster blow-ups of the band (above). She also played bass guitar.
She's the one in the pix on the far left and in the corner, though someone's head is hiding her face. The band did a reunion tour in 2014. Is she one cool sister or what?!!
I'm afraid I can't tell you much about this charming little embroidered and appliquéd scene other than it depicts harvesting cotton and was made by a Peruvian craftswoman under the auspices of SERV. It was hanging (framed under glass) in one of the hallways at UW Hospital and Clinics. I barely had time to pull out my phone and snap this shot as Mark and I whizzed by on our way to the clinic where he had kidney stone surgery at the end of the summer. But seeing such a bright and inspirational piece of work was enough to lift our spirits as we made our way deep into the clinics' labyrinth of corridors.
Last week on my way to the grocery store, I noticed the city tree-trimming crews had worked on all the crabapple trees in the median on Whitney Way not far from my house. I decided I'd take a chance that everything would still be there when I drove back from the store. It was, but I wasn't going to take another chance and go home to get clippers and change my clothes. So I pulled over, took off my coat, and hauled a branch loaded with berries to my car. Then I struggled to get it in the back seat. Took up all the room and the end of the branch hung out the open car window.
Of course, the minute I looked at all the branches on the ground, I realized the ones that were loaded with bright red berries were not crab apples at all. They were Hawthorns, most likely Washington Hawthon (Crataegus phaenopyrum), a tree we had growing in our garden until it got wiped out in a snowstorm a couple of winters ago. Check out those thorns! Real killers. Mark helped me cut it into manageable sized branches and then I decided how I'd use them. (Note I am working outdoors in mid-December in Wisconsin!)
I cut the the branches into shorter lengths and trimmed out some of the deadwood and some of the thorns. The presence of thorns meant this bouquet had to be where no one was going to accidentally bump into it. So, first I added a halo of berries to the big Mark Skudlarek platter hanging by the front door. No vase needed!
The platter is just to the right of our bright red front door so the berries were just what I needed to add another touch of holiday color to match what was on the other side of the front entrance. Last year this pine cone garland was draped over the windows in our bedroom, held in place with long ochre-colored satin ribbons.
I bought a couple of stems of red-twigged dogwood at the grocery store and clipped some pruning from evergreens in our garden. I put them in the front hall in a red enamel Haws watering can. Then I added as many branches of Hawthorn berries as I could manage to squeeze in.
A big glass jar of pine cones gathered in our garden repeats the theme from the bench outside.
Love how the red picks up the color from Leslie Nelson's needlepoint/quilt. And I love the fact that I was unexpectedly able to pull this all together thanks to city work crews and warm and snowless December weather. To see what other gardeners have put in a vase this Monday, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this weekly meme.
When we were in Buffalo in May for my high school reunion, we visited the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Time spent with my favorite art works is always a priority on a trip home. My experience has been that the works I've seen again and again over the years are the ones that are most meaningful to me and the ones that will always be at the top of my list.
I first went to the A-K when I was in grade school and visited often as an art student in college. I saw two of my four favorites in May but half the gallery was closed for renovations and 70 major works — including my remaining two faves — were touring the country while the construction was being done. Lucky for me, they came to the Milwaukee Art Museum (below) this summer. The Milwaukee's museum's own permanent gallery is closed for renovations so the art from Buffalo is all that is currently on display.
The show runs through the end of this week (Sept. 20) and is a must see.
Here's how MAM describes the exhibit: "Vincent van Gogh to Jackson Pollock, Camille Pissarro to Andy Warhol, the 68 artists represented in this exhibition created against the tide to invent new kinds of art. They challenged convention and pushed the limits of what art was; they were rebels. Today, most everyone knows their names—they are the “superstars” of modern art.
Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels features over seventy works from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, renowned for its exceptional collection of twentieth-century art. This survey offers one of the most cohesive and beautiful representations of modern art, a movement of constant rebellion against the past and invention of the new."
MAM had new phone like devices for those who wanted commentary as they viewed the work.
We went to Modern Rebels on the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend and people were pouring in.
I loved this family with Dad doing a personal art lecture.
Lots of lone art lovers . . .
The show included a few pieces of sculpture but paintings predominated.
Most of the gallery goers came with a friend. Ten percent of the works in this exhibit are by women, including Helen Frankenthaler (background), Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Lee Bontecou.
This painting, "Spirit of the Dead Watching" by Gauguin, is one of my top four favorite paintings. It was fascinating to see a such a familiar work in a very different space. The galleries in Milwaukee's Calatrava Wing are large, with high ceilings and quite bright light for an art gallery.
My other love: Motherwell's "Elegy to the Spanish Republic XXXIV". Motherwell painted over 100 works in this series that refers to the fascist takeover of Spain. He was in his early twenties at the time and considered it "the most moving political event of the time." I was a similar age when I first saw it, but I think I was less moved by the subject matter than the expressiveness of the paint itself. Today, both the politics and the paint move me equally.
I was so in love with this painting as a college art student that my best friend made me a silver ring putting its flat forms in three dimensions. Still wear it. Still love it as much as the painting.
Stop! says Buddha. That drumstick Primula is hogging the spotlight, or at least the sunlight.
Let's balance this bouquet's blooms with a little shade.
White Fritillaria meleagris, yellow Erythronium 'Pagoda,' deep yellow Caltha palustris (Marsh marigold), Viola 'Etain,' the tiny white flowers of Isopyrum biternatum (False rue anemone), Hyacinthus orientalis 'City of Haarlem,' Muscari latifolium (Grape hyacinth) and Primula denticulata 'Alba' (Drumstick primrose).
. . .
Last year I dug out the City of Harlem Hyacinths and moved them to a shadier area with the late daffodils. They came up this Spring with the same soft yellow color but stems that have fewer flowers. Hope they stay this way as I love the simplicity. In their old location, they were so top heavy with flowers they always fell over.
When I am reading about gardens in books or magazines, I am always frustrated if there is no drawing of the overall garden plan. Since I began blogging in 2008, I've intended to add such a plan to my blog. After seven years, I've finally managed to do just that. In the early days I wrote at length about designing the garden (My Garden Odyssey posts from 2008/09) and about naming various areas of the garden.
Early on, my husband and I discovered that we could actually lose sight of each other when we were both working in the garden. A half acre is not huge, but with the house in the center of the garden and lots of trees, shrubs and hidden corners, we often wandered around calling the other person's name because we could not see them. So we started referring to areas of the garden by name: the Dry Stream, the Compost Corner and so on. That way, we could indicate where we'd be working when we went out into the garden.
If you look at the map, you will see a couple of dozen named areas. I usually refer to the specific area by name when I am writing about it so you can search old posts for photos and more information. The map also makes it clear that we laid out the paths first and they created the spaces that became gardens.
South is at the top of the map. The garden is about 100 feet (30.48 meters) wide by 200 feet (60.96 meters) deep. Double click on the map to enlarge it.