Category: visual arts

Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Posted May 10th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Gounod’s Faust was the first opera I ever saw, and I saw it at Palais Charles Garnier in Paris in March 1970. As we ascended the massive stair forty-eight years later, studied Marc Chagall’s rainbow of a ceiling and gazed out over the loggia outside the ornate Grand Foyer, it all came back. I was…

I-35: Minneapolis

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Minneapolis

The Mall of America is… just…horrible. My Dear One suggested we visit. We weren’t in the mood to shop but we were curious about this place that is a destination for visitors from around the world. Parking was well-nigh impossible. There were lots outside and multilevel structures under cover. Having no idea as to how…

I-35: Mason City

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Mason City

There is sculpture everywhere. Sofas, side tables and chairs in the park, children playing, bears looking confused, a marching band worth of horns, welded dinosaurs, silvery dancers, and even Frank Lloyd Wright looking approvingly at his hotel and bank downtown. Realism, abstraction, high art and humor. Who knew. And who knew that Mason City, a…

I-35: Des Moines

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Des Moines

There were dropped jaws and more polite phrasings like, “What has persuaded you to make this move?” when I told people that I was moving to Iowa, in 1985 for a job as curator of education at the Des Moines Art Center. “Big careers are made in smaller museums,” I often answered. But the truth…

Beautiful Blue Danube 2: Through A Dozen Locks

Posted June 4th, 2016
Beautiful Blue Danube 2: Through A Dozen Locks

We are cruisin’, really bookin’ down the Am Europakanal (aka the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal) toward Regensburg and our hook-up with the Danube. The water rippling by in he damp, gray chill is all I can hear–although a few kilometers back the birds were in forte chorus. A flock of sheep surged onto the shore for a…

Reading Unfriendly: My Barnes & Noble Is Freaking Me Out

Posted June 3rd, 2016
Reading Unfriendly: My Barnes & Noble Is Freaking Me Out

Went to my local Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple copies of Dan Lyons, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble (Hachette, 2016).  I had heard most of the interview he did with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and immediately got the book. Just finished it. It’s not only a great read,…

La Jolla 3: Why can’t the writers…learn…to…think?

Posted January 27th, 2016
La Jolla 3: Why can’t the writers…learn…to…think?

Professor Henry Higgins—or the voice of Rex Harrison—is stuck in my brain. It is not so much that I lament English ill-organized and -enunciated in ordinary communications. It is more a matter of abuse heaped on words and syntax by whoever is writing those damned labels for modern art. This is not a new whine…

La Jolla 2: In the Flight Path Above the City

Posted January 12th, 2016
La Jolla 2: In the Flight Path Above the City

Planes roar down from the west, above Balboa Park and I-5, to the runways at Lindbergh Field about every minute or so during the day. The first plane seemed loud but in a familiar way—I did, after all, live here in the 1980s. We woke to a pearly Monday sunrise and the promise of a…

Christmas Letter 2015

Posted December 29th, 2015
Christmas Letter 2015

Dearest all, whoever and wherever you may be: Newscasts from Paris in November would cut to Brussels and all we could think was, “We were just there in April.” We recognized streets, buildings, monuments. We thought about our little apartment on rue Potagère (Warmoesstraat) in Saint-Josse not far from the Botanical Garden, our Halal butcher…

In Flanders Cities 5: Brussels is Art Nouveau

Posted April 19th, 2015
In Flanders Cities 5: Brussels is Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is not really my thing—too ornate, too feminine, too precious. I admire certain artists and objects and connect to the focus on materials and their unique qualities, but l would not want an Art Nouveau home or Art Nouveau furnishings, or even much in the way of Art Nouveau jewelry. I understand—and teach—that…