cymry: (toothless)
Apparently this isn't the year for posting on LJ. Too busy, too many health issues, too much wallowing. I've had to hoard my screen time, making it really count... and I can't seem to justify spending it here when I could be writing.

March/April booklist )
cymry: (Rapunzel art)
May was spent preparing for Greece and the conference. Not much time for fun reading, sadly.

May booklist )
cymry: (redwitch)
It already feels like it was forever ago, but I will want this record in a few years, so I'm taking the time to write it down.

Day 1 (Montreal to Windsor): Wake-up at 3:45am, drive through sleeping Montreal for a 5am departure time. Slept off and on, stopped for breakfast at A&W, stopped for lunch at a rest stop. Arrived in Windsor around 4pm and left to our own devices: mom and I walked along the waterfront, taking in the sculptures and stretching our legs, before stopping at a BBQ chicken place for supper and going to bed early. Found out my mother had forgotten to request separate beds, so got to share for the whole trip (not as bad as I feared). The pool beckoned but I was just too tired from doing nothing.

Day 2 (Windsor to Chicago): Terrible hotel breakfast (worst I've seen in a long time), stop at the duty-free store (which happened to be right next to the BBQ chicken place) and through the tunnel to Detroit and the border crossing. Stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch, where the service was frighteningly slow but the food was good. Arrival in Chicago and my first impressions: tall buildings and a feel similar to New York. We climbed the Willis (formerly Sears) tower to the Skydeck, where we looked out from the 103rd floor and got to stand in elevator-sized plexiglass boxes that protruded from the building. Surprisingly, my fear of heights never even kicked in. Walked around The Rookery, where I finally woke up and started to fall in love with the city: it's a Frank Lloyd Wright building, heavy on the art deco, with sweeping staircases and beautiful lines. I could have stood there all day. Then a walk through the lobby of the Board of Trade, another beautiful art deco building that would have been at home in The Great Gatsby. Dropped off on the Magnificent Mile (a glorified shopping strip, similar to Fifth Avenue in New York) where mom and I headed for the Fourth Presbyterian Church and wandered through a mall in search of cheap food (on my mother's trips, it's all about cheap food). Walked past the Water Tower and marveled at the night skyline. Onwards to the hotel, which sadly had no pool.

Day 3 (Chicago): Much, much better hotel breakfast. Bus tour of the city, where we saw all the traditional sights: some sports fields, Oprah Winfrey's studios, Chinatown, Bronzeville, Hyde Park. Looked in on the Rockefeller chapel and got a few minutes to wander around the exterior of Robbie House (another of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings). Dropped off by the Field Museum for a good chunk of free time, where I crammed as much museum into my day as possible. Visited the Field Museum, where I was transported by the mastaba and gleefully surprised by a statue of Senmut holding Hatshepsut's daughter, complete with damnatio memoriae on the cartouches. Walked through Grant Park and had lunch by Buckingham Fountain, then on to the Art Institute of Chicago, where they had extended the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit. Saw that, marveled at the Thorne miniatures room, and took in as much ancient art as possible. Back on the bus for the drive to the Navy Pier, where we had supper at a food court and I took in the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows and the awesome ferris wheel. Then back on the bus for the By Night tour, with the requisite photography stops. Exhausted collapse into bed.

Day 4 (Chicago): Morning at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Walked around Wrigley Field. Back in the area around the Art Institute for lunch and free time: had lunch at a delicious sandwich shop (Potbelly Sandwich Shop) and headed for the Driehaus Museum, a fancy mansion with an exhibit on Tiffany glass. Generally wandered, did a bit of shopping, relaxed at a café. Met back up with the tour group for an architectural cruise down the canal, which was actually remarkably educational and interesting (the beautiful weather helped). Supper at the hotel and early night.

Day 5 (Chicago - Detroit - London): Bus towards Detroit. Visit and lunch at the Henry Ford Museum (mediocre, though most of the people on the bus seemed to enjoy it). Border crossing and bus ride pretty much all day. Arrival in London after supper, where I finally got to swim some laps (after a whole day on the bus, I needed it).

Day 6 (London - Montreal): Bus, bus and more bus. Stop for lunch at an apple-themed restaurant with a petting zoo outside. Got back around 6pm, in time for supper at home.

All in all, a good trip, though my temper wasn't great and I was just generally exhausted for most of it. Chicago was surprisingly interesting, mostly for the architecture and the museums. I would have wanted time to delve more into both but I got in enough museums to satisfy me. I'm not sure I should take trips with my mother anymore, since I only really enjoy myself when I'm on my own rather than with her or the tour group. I feel bad about it, but there it is. Still, free trip, so I can't complain.

Photos are on my Flickr account, as usual, and can be found here
cymry: (starbuck - look away)
September has been busy, so busy. So little time to relax, and no less than two large books started.

September 2011 )
cymry: (i'm a bird)
August has been a comfort-reading month. Lots of rereads as I try to distract myself with the light and fluffy stuff. The Boston trip also made for lots of museums 'n stuff...

August 2011 )
cymry: (green steps)
Making up for the tiny month of June, I guess. Read lots, saw lots of movies, and generally got to relax this month. Can't wait for the insanity that is August.

July 2011 )
cymry: (Sherlock - research)
For a few years now, I've been looking at the Mercer and Fonthill museums in the Pennsylvania guidebooks, intrigued by the sight of castles only a half-hour from downtown Philadelphia. Pleased to discover that our ever-gracious hosts hadn't been on this particular adventure yet, we set out on a very, very, VERY windy day for the Mercer museum.

Mercer Museum (photo by cymry)

A castle, a real one... )
cymry: (Rukia honorable)
So. Busy. 0_o

February 2011 )
cymry: (Museum World)
Due to the fact that we're interviewing the person in charge of traveling exhibits at the Museum of Civilization sometime soon, Caitlyn and I decided that actually having seen the latest exhibit would be a good idea. It hadn't interested me that much from the description, but we decided to give it a try.

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures From the National Museum, Kaboul traced artifacts that were hidden away before the Taliban descended on Afghanistan and which were only recovered a few years ago, after having been thought lost. The artifacts themselves were from 4 sites across the country, including a nomad tomb, a glass and pottery factory, and a Greek-influenced palace. The artifacts were quite varied in both substance and influence.

I was surprised to learn of the heavy Greek (from Alexander onwards) and Indian influences; the Persian and Bactrian were a bit more obvious. The tomb goods were almost all solid gold, which is what was so heavily portrayed in the posters and adverts, but it was the factory and palace artifacts that caught my eye. The factory was filled with glass vessels and wooden furniture inlaid with various materials: clear glass drinking cups with drawings on them (just like so many glasses today) and so many ways to use glass that I didn't think they knew back then, including a beautiful quartz drinking vessel that was so clear and precise that it looked like glass. A series of 3 ivory table legs were my favorites, depicting what they believe to be Ganga, an Indian river goddess - they were curvy and charismatic, carved with stunning precision. They were apparently discovered already stowed away in a packing crate, hence their relatively whole state (ivory is notoriously fragile and doesn't survive well).

There was also the Bactrian Aphrodite, a tiny gold ornament of Aphrodite with Indian adornments and posture, and Bactrian wings. She is a cross-cultural marvel. A mosaic mirror-back from the palace was my other favorite, with its teeny tiny pieces that each looked like a work of art in itself; even the fragments they'd recovered were breathtaking - the finished piece, whole and new, must have been a masterpiece.

some exhibit photos for the curious

The layout and design of the exhibit was equally impressive. We started noticing the mounts, all very precisely and unobtrusively molded to the shapes. Glass upright panels were often used as mounts to allow the visitor to see the back or inside of an object. The color schemes (red-beige for the palace room, which gave the impression of the sand dunes it was buried under) were particularly apt, with suede backing for the artifacts and even sand boxes for the pottery, as if they were in the process of being dug up. The semi-reconstructed pillars (fake pillars with the capitals perched on top) and the palace front, with its row of alcoves recalling pillared entrances and the procession of antefixes on top, just as they would have appeared in the palace, was particularly well done.

I still don't understand the CMC's habit of placing the big traveling exhibits in the back, in a hard-to-reach area, but not having to exit into a gift shop was nice (MBA, take note!). The CMC chose the more subtle path: a display case outside the exhibit with a smattering of relevant gift items, with no sign or price tags or "please buy me" encouragements. It's just enough to remind you that there is a gift shop, should you choose to purchase things. Much less jarring, thank you.

Very well done, overall. Which is good, because it means not having to dance around the issue when we interview the traveling exhibit manager. I could get used to this free museums thing, I really could. That little membership card is coming in quite handy.
cymry: (merging)
I saw the J.W. Waterhouse exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal this weekend; it now ranks as one of the best exhibits I've seen.

I'll admit, I spent as much time looking at how the exhibit was designed as I spent looking at the paintings themselves. The theme was black-on-black (and, having spent quite a while ranting about the whole white-wall exhibition technique, I was pleasantly surprised to see the opposite effect). All the walls were painted a mat black, the lights were muted, and the exhibit lettering was black vinyl (the lights were angled to create a reflection, so the words were visible, but very subtle). Each room was grouped by theme (the early years, the mystical, the garden/bower, etc) and the decor reflected that shift: the mystic room's centerpiece was a black velvet bench in the shape of a star; the bower had four black wooden benches and black plastic roses hanging down the partition wall; the study/drawings room had two black wood and black cushioned wingback chairs, a black vase with black flowers, and a fantastic compass rose circular black rug.

The paintings were all in their original (or at least close enough) frames, of heavy gilded gold. Black curtains framed some of the most important paintings, such as the famous Lady of Shalott. What was most striking of all, in my opinion, were the colors: rich and vibrant, with lots of shades of red and bright whites... until you chanced upon what was, for me, the show-stopper: Circe Invidiosa

I tried to pick the version that best represents the coloring, but there's no describing the richness of the green water she's pouring, or the blue of both her dress and the pond, subtly different. The blues and greens practically glowed against the gold frame and black wall. There's definitely something to be said for color choices in a gallery.

(It brings to mind the Egyptian statue I saw a few years ago, also at the MMFA: a white limestone statue, over life-size, on a dark, dark blue background. The image has stayed in my mind long after I've forgotten exactly what the statue depicted... and most of the rest of the exhibit, I'm sad to say).


Oct. 15th, 2009 10:58 pm
cymry: (Museum World)
i just ordered a giant hardcover book entitled Art and the Power of Placement. it's exactly what it says: a book on how where a piece of art is placed affects how the viewer experiences it. why did i order this? because when i consulted it at the library in Montreal, i wanted nothing more than to sit there all day and read it cover to cover, ogling the illustrations and absorbing the info. if i had been on less of a schedule, i probably would have - instead, i took the blurb i required from it and regretfully left it there, promising myself that, should i still covet the thing when i got home, i would try to find a copy.

delivery time: 1-3 MONTHS and i had to get it from Amazon. but i don't care.

this officially makes me a museum geek, i realize. but it's satisfying to know that maybe, just maybe, i've picked the right field of study.


cymry: (Default)

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