Monday, April 29, 2013

Museum Monday - Legion of Honor

The  Legion of Honor in San Francisco is one of jewels of the San Francisco museum crown. Spectacular views, fabulous exhibits and stunningly beautiful landscaped grounds have delighted visitors, provided movie settings and hosted innumerable weddings. 

High on the headlands above the Golden Gate—where the Pacific Ocean spills into San Francisco Bay—stands the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the gift of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels to the city of San Francisco. Located in Lincoln Park, this unique art museum is one of the great treasures in a city that boasts many riches. The museum’s spectacular setting is made even more dramatic by the imposing French neoclassical building.

Entrance to the Legion of Honor
In 1915 Alma Spreckels fell in love with the French Pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition. This pavilion was a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, one of the distinguished 18th-century landmarks on the left bank of the Seine. 

Outside Arch
Alma Spreckels persuaded her husband, sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels, to recapture the beauty of the pavilion as a new art museum for San Francisco. At the close of the 1915 exposition, the French government granted them permission to construct a permanent replica, but World War I delayed the groundbreaking for this ambitious project until 1921. 

Parking Lot Art

Constructed on a remote site known as Land’s End—one of the most beautiful settings imaginable for any museum—the California Palace of the Legion of Honor was completed in 1924, and on Armistice Day of that year the doors opened to the public. In keeping with the wishes of the donors, to “honor the dead while serving the living,” it was accepted by the city of San Francisco as a museum of fine arts dedicated to the memory of the 3,600 California men who had lost their lives on the battlefields of France during World War I.

Kim Novak in Vertigo gazes at a
 painting in the Legion of Honor
Architect George Applegarth’s design for the California Palace of the Legion of Honor was a three-quarter-scaled adaption of the 18th-century Parisian original, incorporating the most advanced ideas in museum construction. An assessment performed in the 1980s showed that the landmark building needed to be made seismically secure. Between March 1992 and November 1995—its seventy-first anniversary—the Legion underwent a major renovation that included seismic strengthening, building systems upgrades, restoration of historic architectural features, and an underground expansion that added 35,000 square feet. Visitor services and program facilities increased, without altering the historic façade or adversely affecting the environmental integrity of the site. 
Rodin's The Thinker and Chihully Chandelier 

The 1995 renovation realized a 42 percent increase in square footage, including six additional special exhibition galleries set around the pyramid skylight visible in the Legion courtyard. The glass pyramid sits atop the Rosekrans Court and special exhibition galleries located below. It is a key second focal point in a formal courtyard otherwise focused solely on Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, as well as a light and tensile counterpoint to the heavy stone materials of the Court of Honor, lending scale and interest. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Suitcase Saturday Travel Score - Catalina

Several years ago Margot and I packed our suitcases

and  took the boat from 
Long Beach to Catalina to spend a long weekend.

We stayed at a delightful little B&B a few blocks from the harbour.

One of the things we loved most was all the tile work,

The above graces the facade of the famous casino and
 the others are found on the walk way from the harbour to the casino.

Of course we found a bit of time to
go shopping while we were there.
 This gorgeous and generously sized blue bowl,
which we love to fill with fresh vegetables
and fruit from our local farmers' market,

and two beautiful examples of Catalina tiles -

using the old patterns and colours.

If you live within a 5 hour radius of Long Beach -
Catalina makes the perfect 3-4 day vacation.
What are you waiting for?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Journal Spots - Near & Far

J P Licks - Ice Cream and Cafe - Jamaica Plain, Boston

 Wherever we go on our travels, near and far,
 I always like to find a favourite spot to
 sip a latte or chai and journal.

 The Old Crown Pub in Uley, Gloucestershire, England

The main things I look for are a great ambiance, 
room to spread out a bit, and friendly staff.
But  good coffee and delicious scones are important too!

Lovely journaling spot in the garden of 
Anne Somerset Miles in Warwikshire, England

I've never been to Anne's but when
she posted this picture on facebook
it just looked like the perfect spot to sit, relax
and do some journaling.

Kelley's Espresso and Desserts, Cayucos, CA.

Here's my"local" -Kelley's.  You'll find me here every Saturday morning before work, with a big cup of coffee and the most delicious scones on the Central Coast.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Last Time I Saw Paris

The Last Time I Saw Paris  16x20"

I love doing collages on these great frames I get from Michaels. They come in a couple of sizes and have a plastic back, a glass front and are held together with thin black plastic strips that run along all four sides.

This latest creation holds a handful of French memorabilia including old tickets, vintage maps and photos and an ombre ribbon in blue, white and red - the colours of the French flag.

It was fun to do (even with the extra helping "paw" I received from my cat Mouse.)  The piece will be available at the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts on May 25.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life on the Coast

California sea lion, enjoying the weekend sunshine.  
We spotted this big guy while in line for fish and chips
at Morro Bay Harbor.

Friday, April 19, 2013

From the Bookshelf

This is an over sized tome  of wonder and delight. Plate after plate after colourful plate of all things weird and wonderful from the noteworthy and extensive collection of Albertus Seba, a Dutch apothecary of the late 17th - early 18th century.  His collection of natural specimens was vast and is documented here in his meticulous renderings.  Seba would collect, preserve (many in huge glass jars), and then painstakingly draw each animal, shell and plant.  His collection is generally regarded to be the most extensive, not only of his time, but possibly of all time.  I was lucky enough to pick up my copy at an amazing sale at Barnes & Noble several years ago.  They are still out there, in various editions, for various prices. A wonderful reference volume and for those of us who like this sort of thing - massive eye candy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wonder Web Wednesday - Wendy Addsion

Wendy Addison was born and raised in Missouri, to artist parents. She studied fine art at an early age. In 1993, she opened her studio in an old garage, and combining her interest in art and antiques began to create what she called ''objects for an imaginary life''. 

Using antique materials found at flea markets, including old sheet music, tarnished tinsel, vintage crepe paper, Victorian scrap, and silver glass glitter, Addison's work connects with some lost sense of magic from times past. Her signature look evolved quickly and her creations soon found their way to fine stores across the country, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany, Gumps, and John Derian.

In 1997, Wendy moved to a tiny town north of San Francisco and opened up her own shop, called the Theatre of Dreams, which is open ''by chance or appointment''. She has continued to create new and innovative paper objects, and in her store you can find everything from shadow puppet plays, miniature paper theatres, letter-pressed poetry books, tiny furniture made of antique newspapers, and optical devices of wonder. Her designs are also licensed to: Tinsel Trading Company in NYC; Midwest of Cannon Falls; West Elm; and sold in gift stores everywhere.

 Look for Wendy's designs at
                          Anthropologie's new wedding collection.

Ms. Addison has made appearances on Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic and Martha Stewart. She has been featured in numerous magazines including Victoria, House Beautiful, Home Companion, Country Living, Domino and Somerset Studio, and in several books, Where Women Create, Where Women Create Organization, Family Spaces, and soon to be released Celebrations. 

Wendy has just finished her 1st book. It was written, illustrated and produced all by Wendy herself as a limited edition titled The Theatre of Dreams.

photos and text courtesy

Monday, April 15, 2013

Museum Monday - Louvre, Paris

One could literally spend a lifetime visiting the Louvre.  Its extensive collections and multitude of galleries and exhibit space are legend.  We had a Wednesday morning in early May and went with a plan of the few things we most wanted to see and where to find them once we were inside.

Margot had been before, but this was my first time.  On this midweek morning, before tourist season geared up, the museum was delightfully uncrowded.

Our first goal was La Gioconda -  Mona Lisa.  We were incredibly blessed. When we reached the gallery where she waited on the end wall, no one else was there!  We actually were able to stand right in front of the panting and gaze our fill without being surrounded by jostling, noisy crowds.  Surprised by the relative smallness of the work, and awed to be in the presence  of this iconic image, it was wonderful to have the time to really see and study her.

Then to one of Margot's favourites The Winged Victory, standing tall and proud (and oh so impressive!) at the top of her staircase. Interestingly enough, I was overwhelmed by how big this piece was -definitively awe inspiring.

Margot loves this picture she took of me looking up at the Venus de Milo -two beauties she says, but then, we were on our honeymoon!

Marie Arrives at Marseilles

Our last stop of the morning was the Rubens gallery -
Baroque overload - opulent, colourful,
 over the top and wonderful.

I would love to visit again and again, and I know we'll be back the next time we get to travel to Paris. I envy Parisians many things - their macaroons, their sidewalk cafes, their flea markets and their daily access to one of the most amazing museums in the world.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Suitcase Saturday Travel Score

The first big trip Margot and I took together was
an Olivia cruise in the eastern Caribbean for
a week on a five masted sailing ship!
 It was sheer magic.

Hand painted blouse from Nevis

We stopped at several islands as we sailed from
 Barbados up to St. Martin's and back again.

Watercolour and larimar ring from Iles des Saintes

It was my first cruise (and the sailing aspect has
 spoiled me for regular cruise liners) and I loved it. 

 Pastis from St. Barts

Sitting around the pool, drinking pina coladas,
 hearing the wind fill the sails and watching the beautiful 
Caribbean ocean slide by underneath the bow.

Pussy Willow necklace and earrings from Barbados

We sat on virgin white beaches, 
climbed through jungles and 
swam under waterfalls.

Ceramic fruit stand from Sint Maarten

And of course we brought home a
 few souvenirs to remember our trip.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Birds on Books in Box

 Start with a pile of little gift books,
 gesso them - front back and sides.

 Then paint them in shabby chic craft acrylics -

  soft pinks, blues, lavenders and greens

add birds on the front and back of each book.

 Paint an old handmade box with
Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint
in Tattered Rose and Weathered Wood.

Arrange the books inside,

Add a length of French ribbon to the handle,

And you have birds on books in box!