“Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.” Charles Colton
“Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.” Charles Colton
When the Chinese Lantern Festival came to Norfolk, Virginia, my sister and her family reported back that the display was amazing and not to be missed when it comes to Philadelphia. On opening night, the display was spectacular, illuminating over seven acres of Franklin Square!
Artists create the lanterns using cloth and heavy wire, creating a mosaic-like effect. In addition to light shining through the cloth, thousands of LCD lights outline some of the designs. Against the night sky, the colors looked brilliant. Wheels whirled along one of the pathways, and a two-hundred foot dragon glowed with yellow and red.
The festival marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, typically held around the beginning of February but postponed in Philly to April for friendlier weather outcomes.
Not to be missed: a ride on the carousel . . . for all ages! Spinning around while riding the horses, viewing the kaleidoscope of colors, truly a magical moment.
Percussion in the Park
Enchanted by the beautiful gardens of the Morris Arboretum on a early September afternoon a year ago, I returned to visit again, this time on spring day in April. This weekend the arboretum celebrated their annual Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival. As part of the celebration, KyoDaiko, a community-based taiko drumming group, presented a stunning visual and sound performance. I admired their synchronized movements as they beat the drums in unison. According to Wikipedia, taiko drumming goes back to the 6th century; the Japanese used the drum for communication, theatrical performances and religious events.
That’s what they’ve called it when trees, bridges and gazebos are covered with crocheted yarn. Melissa Maddonni Haims is the local fiber artist who wrapped up the limbs and structures, mostly from recycled materials. Well, I think I’ve seen everything now after finding trees adorned in sweaters.
Fish and Fowl
Gurgling streams flowed into peaceful ponds where swans paddled gracefully and ducks splashed around in the water or in one case, take a nap on the nearby wall. In the fernery, carp swam in the shallows of a rock garden.
The arboretum has 92 acres to wander and each vista offers something interesting to study. Stepped into a grotto, passed through the rose garden and explored a woodland path–a warm spring afternoon at the Morris gardens has stayed with me for days.
November 6, 2015
On this day, Philadelphia became the first city in the United States to be designated as a World Heritage City. Philly has joined 266 cities with this honor, including Paris, Florence, Prague and St. Petersburg. The City of Brotherly Love, so named by William Penn, who used the Greek words for love (phileo) and brother (adelphos), has earned its nickname: abolitionists, animal rights and Aids activism and origins of ACLU. Philadelphians are active protestors.
Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and each has their own charm. An exploration into any one of the city’s 18 districts, visitors can find ethnic food, bike paths, hiking trails, historical streets and buildings, entertainment facilities, parks, sport’s arenas, cultural events and eclectic shopping. The visitor will not have to travel far to find a mural to admire.
In celebration of this wonderful accomplishment of our city, I’ve posted my favorite photographs of our hometown.
Years ago, I rode the Market/Frankfort Elevated Line into the city for my summer job, when the General Electric Company occupied a building on Walnut Street and 30th Street. So I thought that this tour would remind me of that time, but the city had renovated all the stations, and some of the familiar sites along the route had disappeared. As I looked through my reflection in the window, I wondered about all the passengers stepping on and off the train. Where are they now? Much has happened over those years, and I never could have predicted that I would return to ride the el on The Love Letter Mural Tour. Is my camera out of focus or is it the distortion of tears, as these moments pass away as quickly as those many years. I look to the murals for inspiration.
Over 3,000 murals occupy places in the Philadelphia landscape. The mural program began in 1986 as a anti-graffiti initiative. I’ve written several posts that have referenced some of these murals: Art Imitating Life and Using Art to Create Scenes. A popular project in the mural series is Steve Powers’ A Love Letter For You. Fifty rooftop murals follow the Market Street corridor from 45th to 63rd Streets. In these love letters to his girlfriend, the artist expresses a tender reconciliation, while also showing his appreciation for his neighborhoods in West Philadelphia. In Powers’ own words,
Love Letter is “a letter for one, with meaning for all” and speaks to all residents who have loved and for those who long for a way to express that love to the world around them. He considers the project “my chance to put something on these rooftops that people would care about.”
The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and PBS have all featured stories on the Love Letter Tour.
The tour began at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which is both a school and a museum, and describes its mission as, “promoting the transformative power of art and art making.” I felt as if I had crash landed there upon seeing this scene in the adjacent alley way, Lenfest Plaza.
Jordan Griska created this sculpture in 2011 from a Navy combat airplane; and as if finding a plane nose-dived into the sidewalk is not surprising enough, inside the cockpit a greenhouse supports a garden.
The museum was equally fascinating, with many interesting displays and exhibits, which was an added a bonus to the start of the tour.
We were fortunate to have as our guide, Harry Kyriakodis, a historian who has written several books on Philadelphia history including Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront, Northern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward and The Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Harry is a founding member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.
Harry related the history of how and why the murals were created by Powers, who began his career as a graffiti artist and eventually earned a Fulbright scholarship. After handing each tour participant a token for their ride on the Market/Frankford line, we walked to the 15th Street el stop.
Ride with a View
Harry pointed out the murals as we sped through the Philly neighborhoods. We stopped at several of station platforms to study the paintings. One of the first murals we viewed was this one along the side of a brick building:
What makes these series of murals so compelling is that they arise from tattered rooftops, with crumbling chimneys, rotating vent fans, noisy air-conditioners and rusty gutters as companions. The contexts make the murals even more endearing, affirming that love can spring from the most mundane of locations. Despite these rooftop distractions, the messages are clear.
Powers and his team created the murals by painting directly on the walls without the protective cloth that is used on most of the city’s murals, which means that the paint is slowly fading. For now, these messages offer to the el riders the inspiration of love that reconciled and lasted. That’s all I needed to know.
I often purchase clothing that I believe is a great buy: on sale, has all the right elements of color and style, yet when I bring it home, the item remains hanging in the closet, with the tag still attached.
I found a coat in the bowls of my sister’s storage closet. I pulled it from the other temporary cast offs, attracted by the color and velvety fabric. I said to my sister, “It looks like it has possibilities.” And immediately tried it on. For six years the coat stayed in the closet. Was it time to release it from its confinement?
The coat felt heavy, and in response, I slumped my shoulders. The sleeves were too long and there was too much padding on the shoulders. Still, I checked it out in the mirror hoping it might recover if only I hem it or take in or something! In the end, all I could do was laugh with the realization that this coat would return into the back closet.
What do you think? Is this redeemable? Or should I pass it to a thrift shop? Or would this be best on a chair? Post your comment below and let me know what you would do.
A good novel captures the imagination, and I attempted create a scene from a book into a sculpture project.
Working with porcelain, I carved the clay into the shape of a book and then created a scene from Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece, Moby Dick. As the piece air-dried, I had to fix and fix again the clay cracking along the sides but finally stabilized the splitting. Unfortunately, when it came out of the kiln, the book had nearly broken in two with a quarter-inch gap across the front. A corner had fallen off, and the sides had split and warped in several sections. Still, I set to work to see if I could make repairs. With glue, paint and glaze I began the patching process thinking that, in the end, this is not going to work.
Perseverance prevailed and the porcelain representation returned, however imperfect, to one piece.
Yellow owns it.
Like the sun that shines on a bright day, yellow claims its space. For the Dagger caterpillar, yellow serves as a warning to predators: I’m poisonous. The Swallowtail butterfly outlines her wings against a black outline. Golden tones in the sky or on metal sparkle against low light. Gold is a stable element and the sun our constant celestial companion, it’s no wonder that yellow captivates our attention.
To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
~ Kurt Vonnegut
When I was growing up in Springfield, my mother signed my sister and I up for membership in the Junior Garden Club. Mom was a member of the Garden Club of Springfield, still an active organization in the community today. The junior club was organized to teach school-age children the techniques of floral arrangement. We would attend regular meetings where we would learn how to arrange bigger flowers on the bottom, hide your stems and cover the holder. Sometimes the club would hold a competition and award prizes. I liked flower arranging, but after childhood, did not attempt any new projects.
Just recently I thought why not revisit trying a few arrangements. All these years I had saved Mom’s flower holders, tapes and a few containers. I guess I was meant to come back and try again. I decided not to buy flowers, but rather use what I could find in my garden, back alleys or in waste areas. I added an accessory or two, just because they are fun.
Cape Gooseberry, with its charming lanterns, comes up every year. I have never planted it, and don’t know how it came into the garden. By late fall the lantern shells turn lacy brown, revealing a round yellow seed.
I added a charm hanging from a hook to this arrangement. The little door opens.
I found white snakeroot growing in front yard and Queen Ann’s Lace along railroad tracks. The larger flowers are from hosta, a fragrant variety.
Goldenrod, plentiful along roadsides, turns fields into a seas of yellow. Great plant for arrangements as they last a long time.