Posts tagged Sculpture

Yosemite Valley 6/1/17

It’s an hour drive from Mariposa to Yosemite Valley, winding road, one lane bridge, along the Merced River. This may be the rockslide that closed the road, requiring the 1-lane crossing:

We started at the Valley Visitors’ Center, and strolled this native village display, telling the story of the Ahwahneechee people who called this area home (before the Gold Rushers displaced/killed  them):

Morning hike – Yosemite Falls, tallest in the Park (and 20th tallest in the world) drops 2,425′ from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall. You can see the falls from nearly every spot in the Valley:

There’s a lovely Falls View spot (doubleclick any photo to enlarge):

This is a good view of the upper fall to the right and lower fall on the left – the middle cascade can’t be seen from the Valley.

The trail up to the lower falls viewing spot crosses the river, and gets into the spray:

Since Yosemite Falls is mostly snow-melt, the Falls can be completely dry or just a trickle by September. Not likely this year, after the record snowfall in the Sierras. We walked back towards the open valley, and kept turning back for different views of the Falls:

Next trail was across Swinging Bridge to the other side of the valley:

Areas of the meadow valley were flooded, turning sections of the trail into dead ends. And the view of Yosemite Falls just keeps coming:

Across the valley from the Falls is Yosemite Chapel, the oldest building in the Park, from Yosemite Village 1879, although moved to this location in 1991:

We took the park shuttle to the Happy Isle stop, and walked to the Vernal Fall trail. Happy to rely on the shuttles, by the way. Not yet peak season, but the parking lots were nearly full when we arrived early morning. The shuttles get you all over most of the park, without worrying about finding a parking space. There are shuttles from the nearest towns, to get you into the park. Glad to have the shuttles cutting down on the emissions from idling cars – good place to be good to the planet. But first, a picnic lunch along the Merced:

There’s also a starting point for the hike up Half Dome – but the cables were out (like that’s the reason we didn’t do it!):

Onward to the Vernal Fall, all uphill, and a real challenge for my sea-level lungs, just to the footbridge at the base of the waterfall. Lots of stops – and views – along the climb.

The trail continues up to the top of the fall along the Mist Trail – wet, slippery, steep, and dangerous. Lots of signs in the park about the deadly dangers of slipping into the rushing waters. Didn’t tackle it.  Headed back down to the Valley. Don’t know what this “free speech” sign is about, but there were no groups there at the time.

Half Dome from the valley:

On the drive out we stopped at the El Capitan viewpoint. Some folks had set up camp chairs to sit and watch the climbers through binoculars – tiny specks of color and movement against the massive sheer wall:

I’ve never been good with heights, but I still can’t imagine someone looking at this and thinking “I should climb that.” And this guy just did it in 4 hours without ropes.

Long drive back to Mariposa, which has a nice little western town feel. Their Arts Park has this memorial to 9/11. The rusted steel is salvage from NYC’s twin towers:



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San Francisco Downtown – 5/28/17

Walked down to the government center area to City Hall – passed a lot of street art on the way:

Lots of beautiful churches:

And witty businesses (happy to serve ogres and krakkens):

The city is celebrating light-based art installations throughout the city. This is one, where the wind moves the squares- they light up at night, but it’s just wind patterns by day: doubleclick any photo to enlarge

City Hall is spectacular, with a dome modeled on St. Peter’s at the Vatican. City Hall’s history is powerful – from the ire-hosing of protesters objecting to the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee holding their commie-hunting hearings there to the murder of Harvey Milk:

The cultural district is right next to the government buildings – opera, symphony:

Another light installation – Caruso’s Dream – shows illuminated pianos up above the sidewalk, where Enrico Caruso had performed and was awoken by the rumbling of the 1906 earthquake:

More murals and public art- The ornate building houses the city’s Human Services Agency, while the giant swirling Venus is blocked by private apartment towers under construction:

Next we come to museum-central. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, construction for the Mexican Museum, and the striking SF Museum of Modern Art:

These museums are adjacent to Yerba Buena Gardens the centerpiece of which is a stunning fountain in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Waterfalls cascade over a walkway with panels of Dr. King’s quotes – some well-known, some surprising. A powerful monument, very moving and inspiring:

The gardens are lovely, too.

Another fountain:

A few blocks away is the Museum of the African Diaspora, with giant collage of photos which blend together to create a portrait of a little girl:

We stumbled onto the California Historical Society, which was featuring an exhibit on the movements that led up to San Fran’s Summer of Love, which is being celebrated for its 50th anniversary.

Janis Joplin, folk singer

Folk singers Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, 1962

Grateful Dead

Alan Ginsburg!

The Historical Society Stairs are name in honor of:


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Boulder Farmers Market, NCAR, Chautauqua – 10/22/16

Last day in Boulder. Visited the very busy Farmers Market with vendors, music, all kinds of produce, along Boulder Creek. Double-click any photo to enlarge:

This is a mandala pattern kids had made entirely with seeds and grains:


Here’s the Gilbert White Flood Lever Marker – art as education – showing how high an 18′ flood-water rise is. It’s named in memory of the professor who led the efforts to study and prepare for flooding risks. Boulder is one of the most flood prone cities on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. The 1976 Big Thompson flash flood, caused by 12 inches of rainfall in 4 hours up at the top of the canyon, swept down with a 20 ft wall of water into Boulder, killing 143 people.


On to our last hike in Boulder in 2016 – drove up to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) up in the Flatiron slopes overlooking the city. The striking building was designed by I.M. Pei (JFK Library, and Hancock Tower with the falling glass panes in Boston, and the glass pyramid at the Louvre).


Love this eagle sculpture carved out of a tree out front:

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The exhibits are fascinating – and easy to understand proof of the facts of global climate change, the shrinking polar ice caps, and rising/warming sea waters causing more and more frequent catastrophic weather events.

The grounds include a short nature walk, leading to more ambitious hiking trails. We kept it short:

View of the back of the building, from the trail:


Along the trail, you get great views of the Flatirons and the valley:

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After NCAR, we headed over to Chautauqua Park, a National Historic Landmark, which was part of the Chautaqua adult education movement. This one was started as a summer retreat for Texas school teachers.  Now it has a performing arts venue, speaker series, cottages, and historic preservation as well hiking trails and recreational areas.


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Kennard Park Sculpture Trail, Newton, MA 9/11/16

Kennard Park is part of a surprising 100 acre open space in Newton/Brookline, MA, now hosting a Sculpture show on its trails through November 11, 2016. The park includes beautifully preserved grounds, apple trees, woodlands and wetlands, and it houses the Newton Parks & Recreation Department in the old Kennard Estate (1906).  You can reach the park on Dudley Road, off of Route 9.

The artworks now on display are all site-specific, designed by the artists for each work’s particular micro environment location.


You’ll first see the bright red aluminum Red Gate and Sun Pavilion by Murry Dewart:


Jean Blackburn’s Kennard Web weaves wide fabrics of different colors around a group of 5 tall trees at the edge of Dudley Road:


Beyond the web is Kit Clews’ inventive Propeller Bench, with the instructions to take a seat, spin the propeller, feel the breeze, and contemplate whirled peace.


Nearby are apple trees hanging with porcelain Japanese lanterns.


A triangle of lawn pointing to the estate was filled with pieces sticking out of the ground – some black & white target circles, and orange amoeba shapes with cut out circles – but some had fallen over, their support stakes broken (by wind or human?). We enjoyed talking with the artist Marek Jacisin and his wife as they considered ways to repair/re-position the piece titled Don’t Believe Everything You See:


Into the woods:

Strata, by Caroline Bagenal:


Peter Diepenbrock’s multi-piece installation:




The discs on the barely-visible mobile above shine circles of light on the ferns, trees, visitors, depending on how each catches the sun.

These are part of Deborah Putnoi’s interactive totem and stone messages, inviting visitors to take pencil and paper and create. Doubleclick to enlarge any photo:

Next comes Marco Vargas’ Hombre Pato, with a pile of sticks, symbolizing the tree growing in the place where the Aztec wind god arrived to earth, then the god himself. And worshipers.

The woods themselves are lovely, with great colonial/early 19th century stone walls marking where farmlands were once cleared.

The next piece is Carolyn Kraft’s Sacred Space – celebrating the natural and the opportunity to stop and “be” in nature. The sheer fabric tenting the moss-covered chair and table remind me of the marriage canopy, symbolizing the new couple’s new home/life together, open yet protected. And the glittering crystals hanging throughout the space  – a hint to notice what sparkles in life?

Moved by Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring, which told how pesticides were wiping out bird populations, Mary Dondero created this memorial to the birds – over 200 porcelain bird shapes climbing many trees far along the trail, plus the red hands in the dry stream bed.

Boardwalk and bridge:

Allison Newsome’s Biomimicry Raincatcher, a very fancy functional rainbarrel with a garden hose attached on the far side – it can actually be used to water plants.


The Kennard estate, and Park Dept office:


Zoe Friend’s collection of Bromeliads, out in front of the Estate:

And just so that nature and the sculptors wouldn’t get all the accolades, the architects and painters in Newton Highlands, on Lincoln St., had to get involved, showcasing Newton’s dramatic Victorians:

Highly recommend Kennard Park, for an easy hike with or without the sculpture. Free and open to the public.

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Andres Institute of Art Sculpture Park, Brookline, NH – 8/27/16

Andres Sculpture Park is a perfect combination of New England nature, art, hiking, vistas, and surprises around every corner. Hiking boots and sticks strongly recommended, since you’re actually climbing Big Bear Mountain – while distracted by the art.


140 acres and over 80 sculptures on miles of trails, just over the NH border from Pepperell, MA. Print out the trail map before you go – mildly confusing, but fairly well marked. And if you take a wrong turn and miss the trail you were planning on, you get rewarded with more sculpture! There are no public facilities at the entrance at 98 Route 13 (GPS got us there!), just parking and a port-a-john. And then start climbing and gawking.

We begin up the stairs to this piece Negotiation Table. The works in the park are all stone, metal, wood, plastics, wire, maybe some ceramics – durable materials to withstand the outdoors. Doubleclick any photo to enlarge.

And then they just keep coming:


“Human Boulder”

This one is called “Old Man In The Mountain’s New Home” by Alak Roy from Bangladesh:



These 4 are “Community & Diversity”


Community & Diversity


Community & Diversity

This is “Still Loading” – get it?

It’s a stone version of the whirling circle on your laptop while you’re waiting for a website to load!


Horse of Inspiration




“Rebirth I Am Reborn”


“Touch Me” boulders


“Silent Conversation” – looks like a shofar


“Before the Kiss”

Directional sign, but I don’t think we’ll be hiking to either location (no distances listed).


As we’re approaching the summit we reach this sign for the “Windows Into Big Bear Mountain” artwork, with instructions to sit on the stone seat, think, and leave our written problems on a slip of paper – sort of like leaving written prayers in the cracks of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.



Cairn collection:

And then we reach a clearing at the top and Phoenix, the largest piece at the park at 15 feet tall and about 11 tons.


SPOILER ALERT: I hate to give away the surprising delights of this spot for those who’ll get there. So, if you’re planning to go, stop reading and don’t watch the videos……


But for those who won’t hike this place, this summit felt other-worldly. At the top of the clearing are benches where you can sit and enjoy the view of the Phoenix and the vista beyond. But not just any benches – these are two curved fiberglass aqua and cream bowling alley benches. In the middle of all this nature, the most unnatural of all sights – but a welcome resting spot. Surreal.


And the spot has a panel naming the mountains you can see in the distance – apologies for the shaky lack of focus:

Unbelievable spot! What a treat. And then it was time to hike down, and see the other half of the mountain.


“Cuerpo Díafano”

This one is “In-Side” –




“Growing With The Flow”



Mbari House


All Things Are Flowing

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Even the mushrooms are getting artsy:

This next piece “Upheaval” was one of the most striking, creative pieces – spent a good while trying to comprehend/interpret its story:




Upheaval’s mouth


story stones in Upheaval’s mouth

And the trails and sculpture just keep on coming, all produced here at the Andres studio up in the woods:





Enjoying The Stars

This stone and metal sofa, Contempo Rustic, is a good not-cushy resting spot:


Frida Carrying The Marble Player


A4 Entrance Gate (Dreamcatcher)

We didn’t hit every trail, but came close. Didn’t photograph every sculpture – my cup already runneth over. Four hours hiking, admiring the art and the view, snacking, and being generally amazed. HOW HAD WE NOT HEARD OF THIS PLACE!!!

And leaving New Hampshire, of course, a covered bridge:



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Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA – 8/26/16

Fruitlands Museum in the central MA town of Harvard is home to a variety of historic collections on 200+ acres of farm and woodland, plus well-marked hiking trails. Double-click any photo to enlarge.

This land on Prospect Hill was the summer retreat and working farm of Clara Endicott Sears overlooking the Nashua River Valley. The only original building still standing in its place on the property is the Fruitlands homestead, which she preserved and opened to the public as a museum in 1914. Fruitlands was the 1843 communal Transcendentalist experiment – to live off the fruits of the land — led by Bronson Alcott. The entire Alcott family, including 10-year-old Louisa May, lived in the house, a total of about 20 people.


Fruitlands homestead

They were hard-core principled folk, refusing to benefit from the enforced labor of animals or humans. So, their diet was vegan – no meat, eggs, dairy, fish – and they wouldn’t even use animal labor to plow the fields. With such a small group, many of whom were children, they didn’t get the seeds into the ground until June – too late to grow much to eat for a full year. They also wouldn’t wear wool (from animals) or cotton (from slaves), so they were bitterly cold and hungry by December. When Mrs. Alcott took the girls and left, for food and warmth, Bronson dejectedly followed and the experiment ended after only 7 months. But Louisa May Alcott got material for Little Women and Transcendental Wild Oats out of the experience. The kitchen had period tools like candle-making forms and a popcorn popper. The wall in one room had a health-food book, Treatise on Bread and Break Making, promoting whole grain bread, by Sylvester Graham – the inventor of the Graham cracker!



Fruitlands is now home to a Shaker Museum – they moved the Shaker community house from Harvard to Clara Sears’ land when they disbanded (celibate community, so they grew only through conversion) in 1920. The house holds historic simple Shaker-style furniture, and informational panels about the community.


When Clara found arrowheads in the earth of her farm, she became interested in preserving artifacts and learning more about the Native people who had lived and hunted there. She created the Native American Museum in 1928 to house what they found locally, and brought in Native artifacts from throughout the country including the Plains, Southwest, and Northwest tribes. An honored relic is reputed to be King Philip’s (Metacom’s) club.



Fruitlands also has an art museum, opened in 1939, with a large collection of landscapes from the Hudson River school as well as one of the largest collections of early 19th century portraits in the country. But it was closed for a few days – between exhibits – so we’ll have to go back.

But we did enjoy hiking the property – woods, field, stone walls, the foundations of 1700s farm buildings and a brickworks, with a few bricks lying around.

Fruitlands also has a visitor center and gift shop with local artists crafts, and a cafe, landscaped terrace, fountain, and tented patio with gorgeous views, suitable for weddings.

We spent four hours there, and that’s without the Art Museum! Fruitlands is now part of the Trustees of Reservations family, so our Trustees membership got us free admission into Fruitlands. Both – visiting Fruitlands and joining The Trustees – are well worth it.

Thoreau bench

Thoreau bench

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Boston Literary Evening 8/3/16

Just a typical summer evening in Boston, the Hub of the Universe, the Athens of America, the New World’s original City on a Hill.

At the corner of Charles and Boylston Streets, across from that corner of the Boston Common, is a broad sidewalk with bistro tables for the Boloco restaurant.  A small statue, maybe 2/3 lifesize, with his back to the Common, is surrounded by plaques in the pavement with a variety of quotations carved in them, like this one:

The Bostonians are very well in their way. Their hotels are bad. Their pumpkin pies are delicious. Their poetry is not so good. Their Common is no common thing — and their duck pond might answer — if its answer could be heard for the frogs.  That’s some serious “editorial miscellany,” from the New York literary magazine Broadway Journal, 1845.


Who wrote that? This guy, with a raven:


and a Telltale Heart:


who was born to Boston Theatre parents nearby:


Speaking of theater, back on the Common was Commonwealth Shakespeare Company‘s free production of Love’s Labours Lost, ending August 7th:

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The fake Russians:


Laugh-out-loud funny, with slapstick, silly accents, bicycles, crazy dances, and mined for every bawdy joke to be found, and then some. We groundlings were delighted.

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