Grounds for Sculpture

July 17, 2017 – Just outside of Trenton, N.J., about 50 minutes from Philadelphia, sits a gem known as Grounds for Sculpture. The 42 acre property is unique art museum that features indoor and outdoor exhibits, a mixture of nature and modern sculpture and 3D characters from classic paintings. Yesterday’s sunny sky and lower humidity provided the perfect weather for a Sunday morning stroll through the grounds.

Grounds for Sculpture is the perfect venue for families looking for a little exercise and something different to do. The grounds change with the seasons, so anytime is perfect for a visit.

Here’s a sneak peak of what to expect if you go:

Monet’s Bridge

The Water Lilies beneath Monet’s Bridge

 

Couple with boat

More water lilies in bloom because I can’t get enough

 

One of the indoor exhibits; a cartoon room

Best Beach Reads for Summer 2017

July 10, 2017 – Summer vacation season is in full swing, and whether you’re headed to the beach, the lake or the mountains, there’s nothing better than sitting in the sun and reading a good book.

If you’re looking for suggestions, here is a list of 30 of this summer’s hottest reads.

And if you’re really adventurous, here are the best beach reads of all time according to NPR’s audience.

 

The Test of Time

hourglassAugust 19, 2016 – This month marks the 77th anniversary of the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” As a fan of old movies, it is one of my favorites. I can quote from it and sing along with its upbeat tunes as if I were performing it myself.

A true classic appeals to all generations. Here are a few other entertainment vehicles stands the test of time.

Movies:
There is abundant of movies to choose from, but the first two that pop into my mind is “Casablanca” and  “Citizen Kane”, although the latter isn’t one of my favorites. And, of course, “The Wizard of Oz”. Honorable mention goes out to anything by Alfred Hitchcock, and to the wonderful family movies made in the 1960s, such as “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, to name a few. My own personal favorite, “So I Married an Ax Murderer”, makes me stop flipping through the channels immediately.

Television Shows:
Classic TV shows are readily available to new generations now that so many cable channels broadcast them. However, classic and stand the test of time do not always go hand in hand. “Seinfeld”, for example, is relatively new, but it can stand against any classic now and probably in years to come. Others include “Bewitched”,  my personal fave from childhood, “MASH”, “Cheers” and “I Love Lucy”. They are examples from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. I’m not sure any television show beyond that (at least so far) qualifies.

Singers/Bands:
How about Frank Sinatra, or anyone in the Rat Pack to start? They are still wildly popular today. You could also include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Bob Dylan in the mix because all of their music still has a strong audience, even though many of the songs were recorded 50 years ago. I wonder how many people will listen to Kanye West or Justin Bieber in 50 years. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say not many.

Songs:
Funny how Led Zeplin didn’t cross my mind as a band, but their song “Stairway to Heaven” certainly makes the cut for songs that stand the test of time. At least it continuously makes top five of every classic rock list. “Hey Jude”, “Let it Be” or anything by the Beatles is also a qualifier, and it’s the same for any hits by the Stones or The Who. Let’s reach back a little further and consider those romantic ditties from crooners past, such as “The Way You Look Tonight” or “Fly Me to the Moon”? They are still making present generations swoon. Or,  how about the most popular song ever—“Happy Birthday”?

Books:
This is probably the easiest category because schools will always push the classics on students, although they probably won’t really appreciate them until they are adults. So, what books stand out? How about “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Anna Karenina”, and “The Bell Jar”, to name a few? I would be remiss not to mention Judy Blume because I know that young girls in the future will still likely be captivated with “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?”. And something tells me the Harry Potter books will stick around for a long time, too.

I could add more, but this post might end up as long as a Marcel Proust novel, and I’ve been working on knowing my limits.

 

Bloomsday is coming!

Bloomsday-On-BondiJune 10, 2016 – “How can you call yourself a writer if you’ve never read Ulysses?”

It’s a question my son asks me on occasion as if there is a law against putting pen to paper without first succumbing to the words of James Joyce.

The question is meant to inspire me to read the classic novel and push myself to achieve a similar feat. I’m certain I’ll never write another Ulysses, but I visited my local Barnes and Noble anyway to page through a copy. With a cup of tea in hand, I sat in the café and began to read.

Next week, we commemorate the 112th anniversary of Joyce’s first date with his wife-to-be Nora Barnacle. Their relationship was the inspiration for Ulysses, a story that takes place all in one day on June 16, a day that will be forever known as Bloomsday in literary circles, named for the character of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses. It seems Joyce was not only a serious writer but also a serious romantic.

To honor James Joyce and his beloved Nora, Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library at 2008 Delancey Place will host their 24th annual Bloomsday celebration. Events will be scheduled at the museum, the Free Library of Philadelphia at 1901 Vine Street (on the Parkway), in Rittenhouse Square and other locations. Visit the website for dates and times.

To all the serious writers out there who have read Ulysses, I commend you. It may be considered a 265,000-word work of art written in a stream of consciousness style that was used by several writers in the early 20th century, but I wasn’t able to do it.

Fictional Intruder: How I’d like to spend my summer vacation

imagesJuly 18, 2014 – It’s the height of vacation season, and perhaps the best time to entertain the WordPress Daily Prompt that asks bloggers this question: If you could choose three fictional events or adventures to experience yourself, what would they be?

I enjoy reading fiction, but gravitate to mainstream, and not action, adventure, or fantasy, so this question used a few brain cells. Coming up with great novels is easy. Three of my favorites include “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb, “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch, and “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells. However, I may not be strong enough to be a character in any of these stories, and endure what they did to entertain me, so I came up with a few lighter choices:

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
This Dickens’ novel is one of those perfect stories because it’s full holiday spirit, forgiveness, and second chances. The characters are richly developed, and although I can’t actually relate to any one in particular, I’d like to be a fly on the wall who tags along with Scrooge as he embarks on his Christmas Eve journey. I’d be  a better lurker than participant in 19th century London, anyway.

Still Life with Woodpecker – Tom Robbins
As the description on the book jacket states, “This is sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes.” In reality, the story ponders the big question: “How do you make love stay?” I would love to be a character in the wacky world of any Robbins novel, but this one has my heart because it is how I discovered him, and because of characters like heroine Leigh-Cheri (her idol is Ralph Nader), and hero Bernard Mickey Wrangle (who isn’t a criminal, but rather an outlaw). What an entertaining way to spend a summer vacation.

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
The Anne Shirley series of stories by L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorites, and I have always wanted to visit Prince Edward Island in Canada, so the combination of the two would be perfect. Anne could show me around Avonlea and the rest of the Island, introduce me to her adoptive family, and allow me to take in what life was like at the turn of the 20th century on their quaint island town. I’d bet the weather would be perfect.

Pop art in Philly, part 2

MagicGarden_R.Kennedy_12-587July 7, 2014 — Last week, this blog highlighted Philadelphia’s pop art sculptures in the downtown area. Today, we’ll venture over to South Street, to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

In the 1960s, local artist Isaiah Zagar (pictured) began decorating South Street with mosaic tiles, producing more than 120 displays during the 50 year period. His amazing work is also featured at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, located at 1022-1024 South Street, a display that took 14 years to create. For the Magic Gardens, Zagar used mosaic tiles, along with folk art statues, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, mirrors and china.

The display is definitely worth the trip to see in person!

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Pop art in Philly, part 1

June 30, 2014 – Pop art, or art based on modern popular culture and mass media, is alive and well in Philadelphia. In this two-part series, we’ll explore some of the pop art sculptures around the city in its downtown district.

The Clothespin; location: 15th & Market Streets
This odd sculpture, commissioned to commemorate Philadelphia’s Bicentennial celebration in 1776, is the brainchild of artist Claes Oldenburg. I’m not sure what a clothespin and the 200th anniversary of American independence have in common, but legend claims that if you look at it from the right angle, you can see a “76” in the steel springs of the pin. I can clearly see the 6, but the 7 escapes me.

clothespin


LOVE Statue;  location: 16th Street & JFK Blvd.
Robert Indiana’s LOVE statue, created in 1970, is showcased in a few American cities. In Philly, the statue sits in JFK Plaza, appropriately nicknamed “Love Park” in honor of the pop art sculpture.

love statue


Your Move; location: Broad Street and JFK Blvd.

In the pop art world, even the most common items can be interesting.  Giant game pieces, including dominoes, Parcheesi pieces, Monopoly pieces and chessmen, can be found scattered about the Municipal Services Plaza, also known as “Game Piece Plaza”. “Your Move” is the work of artists Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White. The group assembled the pieces in 1996.

parcheesi piece

chess pieces

iron


Franklin’s Kite and Lightning Bolt; location: 6th & Race Streets

This stainless steel sculpture of a kite and a key by artist Isamu Noguchi was created in the 1950s in honor of Philly’s own Benjamin Franklin and his electricity research. Supposedly it sits at the same site where Franklin actually conducted the experiment.

kite
Next Monday, we’ll highlight the wonderful works of art in Philadelphia’s South Street area, known as Philadelphia’s Magic Garden.