Margaret Brassler Kane’s Harlem Dancers — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 items or the number two

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 items or the number two.

We recently visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D. C. One piece of art that we particularly liked was Harlem Dancers, a sculpture in Tennessee marble created by Margaret Brassler Kane.

This website is a good source of information about Margaret Brassler Kane.  Born into a wealthy family in 1909, she married in 1930 and began sculpting human busts and animal figures, creating models in clay and having them cast in bronze.  After the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent reduction in income, as well as the birth of her first child, she switched materials from the more expensive bronze casting to marble, which she could process closer home with the full support of her extended family. Her first marble piece, completed in 1937, was Harlem Dancers.  Later in life, this sculpture was duplicated in bronze and she donated the original marble statue to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1993.

The figure is generously sized at 29 7/8” x 14 ½” x 14”, although the table on which it stands is tall enough that viewing the individual heads is a bit difficult.  What we particularly appreciate about this piece is how its simple curves are able to suggest more complex shapes and emotions.  The dress of the female dancer is form-fitting yet elegant; the pattern of the skirt was, in fact, based on the design of peanut shells and suggests movement. Using only a few simple lines, the man’s suit is classically formal.  The two forms, man and woman, fit together well.  Our favorite part of the piece is the quiet serenity of the woman’s face.

 

The Urban Art of Dunkin’ Donuts

This is our entry in nancy merrill photography’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Urban.

We recently visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C.  As we wandered among the many wonderful pieces of art on display, we glanced out a window to observe an urban icon gently distorted by the glass and screening of the window.

This photo was taken on June 14, 2019. Specs are:

Olympus TG-5, ISO 800, f/4.9, 1/25 sec, 18 mm

The Art of Blowing Snow

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Open Topic.

Here is a photo to help get you though the hot days of summer.  The image was captured between sweeps of our car’s windshield wiper as we traveled home this past January in a snowstorm.  (Never take photos from a moving car, right?)  Heavy snowflakes are being blown sideways to add to the blanket already covering the pine trees bordering the roadway.

This photo was taken on January 29, 2019.  The color is original.

A Road between Eastern and Western Europe

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Road.

The Charles Bridge in Prague, built in 1347, was the only road across the Moldau River — connecting Eastern and Western Europe — until 1841. There is a tiny, almost obscure, door at the base of the bridge’s tower which opens to a long flight of steps leading to the top (for a fee — it’s still Prague, after all).  The tower is the only way to see the bridge without wading through a sea of tourists and vendors.

There is also a good view of the bridge from the deck of one of the scenic river cruises. The view is nice, but the cruise is hampered by all the locks along that stretch of the Moldau.

The final photo is an eye-level view taken while crossing the pedestrian road across the bridge. We found it to be the least interesting way to see the bridge.

Platform No. 1

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 1 Item or the Number One.

In February of this year we rode the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) toy train from Coonoor to Ooty in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. We boarded the train at the Coonoor Railway Station (ONR), which has two platforms where travelers queue to wait for their train.  Platforms are indicated by signs in two languages, one of which is English.  Our best guess for the second language is Sanskrit.

This photo was taken on February 5, 2019. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 6400, f/9, 1/500 sec, 61 mm.

Finding Paris’s most interesting people

Paris limits the number of burials within its city limits. In fact, more than six million skeletons were dug up and arranged in artistic piles in their underground crypts. However, as in life, some people get very special treatment after they are gone. One of the places very special people go when they are gone is the Père Lachaise Cemetery. As strange as it may seem, it is a major tourist attraction with millions of visitors each year (we have been there three times). We were near it this April and decided to walk through on our way to the metro.

Père Lachaise wasnt very popular when it first opened because, in 1804, it was too far out of town. In a stroke of marketing genius, the operators decided to dig up famous people buried elsewhere and rebury them in their cemetery. Two of the first were star-crossed medieval lovers Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil. This really classed the place up. Now there are more than 800,000 people buried here.

There are supposed to be maps at the entrance but we couldn’t find one. That didn’t bother us since we were just taking an interesting shortcut. However, Père Lachaise never fails to delight (at least people taking a shortcut). One of the first graves we came upon was an angel who appeared to be giving us a thumbs up.

Passing the angel, we wandered downhill and found Oscar Wilde’s grave. It is interesting to note the lipstick on the tomb and the glass wall surrounding it. The tomb of his next door neighbor appeared to have been toppled by admirers climbing on it to plant kisses on Wilde’s avatar. Walls never seem to work.

A little farther downhill and we found a tomb marked by a large bronze pelican. We don’t know who this is but suspected he might have had something to do with pelicans. Alternatively, this could be the tomb of a very famous pelican.

The cemetery is full of broad avenues, side lanes, paths, and little trails. They are all full of tombs, a few simple but many ornate. The cemetery is huge but we could actually find our way — and a few interesting tombs — using Google Maps.

Many of the tombs would be at home in Disneyland, especially the Haunted Mansion.

When we found this tomb, we wondered if someone was trying to get in or if the occupant was trying to get out.

 

About two-thirds of the way down the hill, we found Jim Morrison’s (of the Doors) grave. It was relatively simple but seemed to be one of the most visited. It was surrounded by another fence which seemed to have no affect on passage to or from the grave.

The picture of a tomb for this post was one of the most ironic. The words above the door say “Perpetual Concession” (apparently, one can rent a temporary spot here). As far as we could tell, the tomb was empty and the door had turned to rust. So much for long term planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Drawings from the Terezín Ghetto

We generally like to post beautiful and interesting images. This post is different.

While in Prague this April, we toured several of the synagogues near our AirBnB. One was the Pinkas Synagogue which includes an exhibit of art made by Jewish children who were incarcerated in the Terezín ghetto during the Second World War. The ghetto was used for propaganda to convince international observers, such as the Red Cross, that German treatment of the Jews was humane. The children were props and almost all were murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau after being put on display to show how well they were being treated.

We found the exhibit to be emotionally challenging. Many visitors were in tears. We looked at every piece of work and were heartsick.