Monday, November 30, 2020

WE WENT TO BRUSSELS ON SATURDAY

Brussels, Illinois, is home to 188 souls according to the sign at the edge of town. There is a finger of southwest Illinois stranded between the Illinois and Missouri rivers with little access to either side except for small ferries. The rich farmland in between is isolated, rolling countryside with a couple of tiny towns. 

The Great River Road runs under the bluffs up the east shore of the two rivers. At a quiet spot we found the Brussels ferry, a flat deck that holds about 15 cars. It is a free service of the State of Illinois, going back and forth on demand 24 hours a day. It took us to this bucolic nowhere.         



Sunday, November 29, 2020

PIASA BIRD

The land from St. Louis to Alton on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River is very flat. It would be flooded often were it not for the large levees. However, from Alton upstream along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers there are tall limestone bluffs overlooking the waters.

The first one rises abruptly on the western edge of town. There you will find an imaginative painting of the legendary, monstrous Piasa (PIE a saw) bird. There are several versions of the story. Look at http://www.altonweb.com/history/piasabird/ if interested. The photos on the link are old, with much brighter colors.          

Saturday, November 28, 2020

THE SAMURAI OF ALTON


Everybody is more than a little stir crazy. The Crowe family is on a post-Thanksgiving getaway, although not very far from home. The town of Alton, Illinois, is an outer suburb of St. Louis, on the Mississippi straight north of our home. We are spending two nights at the splendid Beall Mansion, https://www.beallmansion.com/. It is a luxurious Victorian confection turned into a grand B&B. They have taken great safety measures for guests and we feel comfortable. Plus, I think we are the only guests here.
 
Out exploring the waterways on Saturday. We are near the confluences of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers.            

Thursday, November 26, 2020

THEY SAY THAT CURVED LEADING LINES ARE A GOOD THING

That's something you hear a lot in photography classes. I suppose it's generally true. This curved fencing surrounds one of the gates to the south side of the park on Arsenal Street. It's just decorative. You can walk right around it.   

We wish a happy Thanksgiving, or as happy as you can get, to our American friends. We often go to Kansas at this time of year to see Mrs. C's family. Today it's just the four of us at home. However, we are doing something different over the weekend that involves minor travel. Pix here soon.         

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

THE GROVE IN TOWER GROVE

Tower Grove Park is relatively long and thin. It is 1.6 mile / 2.6 km east-west and less than a quarter of than north-south. Most of the park has a single road on the center of the long axis. It bulges in two places, leaving a landscaped ellipse in the middle. This is one looking east in beautiful late afternoon light. I'm sorry I don't know what kind of trees these are. I'm a city boy. I don't even know when Arbor Day is.         

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

TURKISH PAVILION

I've mentioned that Tower Grove Park is my favorite in the area. It is quieter and more elegant than the big one, Forest Park. One unusual feature is that it has a dozen unique pavilions that people can reserve at no charge. It's common to see big family groups there in the warmer months (except this year).  https://www.towergrovepark.org/pavilionspicnic1 

There was gorgeous late afternoon light on Sunday so I went poking around with my camera. This is the Turkish Pavilion, the largest and most ornate of the group.  You could have quite a party in there.       

Monday, November 23, 2020

I SAW THE LIGHT

The whole family was supposed to go to the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden Saturday night. I had several posts about it recently from my first visit. Unfortunately, there was cold rain all evening and we decided to try it another time. Ellie wanted to see something entertaining so we drove around looking for entertainment.

We heard that Kiener Plaza had a special display. Bogus. There were some white lights strung in the trees. We heard that there was a block in St. Louis Hills where every house had over-the-top displays. Nuh uh. Only one or two houses were done. We heard that the huge Anheuser-Busch brewery was festooned with illumination. Sorry. No one had flipped the switch yet.

Our last chance was Union Station. Some web page said there was special stuff under the old train shed, where there are various entertainments. There wasn't much beside the usual stuff, but the usual stuff is okay. There is always the Ferris wheel, open 365 days a year, and it had a a few customers. The lights are state of the art.              

Sunday, November 22, 2020

VISI D'ARTE


Back out on the streets, Nothing going on, Dullsville, so back to the same old haunts. This is part of the facade of our art museum. The full motto is Dedicated to Art And Free To All. And it is, supported by local real estate taxes. It makes me think of Tosca (https://youtu.be/gnqa94oeGfw), but it doesn't end as tragically.                

Saturday, November 21, 2020

WONDER

I really need some new material. The family was all supposed to go to Garden Glow tonight but the forecast is for about 45F / 7C with rain all day and evening. We will probbly go another time. As for now, what does St. Louis look like when it's cold and wet? Maybe I'll go find out.

So, for now, another view of Henry Shaw's house in the botanical garden with a mother and daughter taking in the scene.            

Friday, November 20, 2020

LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN

Um, I'm running low on material and reduced to making Rocky Horror references. This light tunnel, possibly a wormhole, is at all of the botanical garden evening illuminated events. I'm always disappointed when I walk out the other side and feel exactly the same as when I entered.              

Thursday, November 19, 2020

HA. GET IT?

Three French hens, right? Although, if you ask me, they look about as much like fat cranes.

I wish it was safe to go back to Paris. A certain other member of this group would be on a plane tomorrow if it were possible. I'm 70+, the better part of retired and have some savings. Mrs. C and I sometimes daydream about spending a month in the fall in London and a month in Paris in the spring. Maybe it will be possible. You never know. Actually, New York would be okay.               

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

GUMDROPS

Across the long reflecting pool at the botanical garden. At the back is the Climatron, the remarkable multi-ecosystem geodesic dome. 

It would be nice to scare up some new material but the restrictions in our area have gone up a couple of notches. Local hospitals are a week or two from bursting over capacity as the virus surges. Well  spaced outdoor stuff is okay and the whole family is going to Garden Glow on Saturday night.                    

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

THE WAY THROUGH THE DARKNESS

Garden Glow contains hundreds of thousands of tiny colored lights.This section was entirely blue and a bit dull visually despite the dramatic setting. Monochrome seemed the way to go.I think it works.

Daughter Emily finds her way, alone, through a strange landscape. It had been raining through most of the afternoon and evening and few people showed up. The rain stopped just after we arrived.           

Monday, November 16, 2020

THE PATH

Between the old buildings at the botanical garden. Henry Shaw's house is off to the left. A statue of Juno has its back to us while gazing at the 19th Century mansion.             

Sunday, November 15, 2020

HENRY AND PIOTR


Locals often refer to the Missouri Botanical Garden as Shaw's Garden. Henry Shaw was a 19th Century rich guy with vision and an interest in plants, His estate provided the cash and land for today's garden, its extensive research program and adjacent Tower Grove Park (our loveliest, IMHO). 

This building was his home. It didn't have dancing ballerinas in silhouette in the late 19th Century. Today there is a son et lumiere show on special occasions. You can guess that The Nutcracker was going on here. Tchaikovsky and Shaw were rough contemporaries, although Shaw lived far longer. The water and air must have been better in St. Louis than Moscow. Still, you can almost hear the flutes and celesta over the bassoons and low clarinets as you look at the image.              

Saturday, November 14, 2020

GARDEN GLOW

It's a St. Louis tradition. At this time every year, the Missouri Botanical Garden has an event they call Garden Glow. It's been going on a long time and appears on this blog year after year. There were some members-only nights early this week. Daughter Emily and I went; other members of the family had conflicts. This is just a taste. The whole family goes back in a week.              

Friday, November 13, 2020

MAPLES, GINKGOS AND PRAIRIE GRASS

Citygarden covers two full blocks downtown. The landscaping is done in zones, reflecting the variety of flora in our region. The ginkgos we saw recently are flanked by a flaming Japanese maple and still tender birch. A few varieties of Midwestern prairie grass fill in the bottom. This is the best of the gardener's art.                 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

THURSDAY ARCH SERIES

From Citygarden last weekend, looking east along Market Street through the ginkgos. They won't be around much longer.                   

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

CITYGARDEN IN NOVEMBER

Autumn colors can come late here, or not at all. If the late summer and early fall are dry, everything goes brown and then plops. We've had some periods of rain this year and things are better if not perfect. We are also not that far north, about on the same parallel as Washington and San Francisco (and Rome). If colors come, they come later than much of the country. Last weekend, Citygarden was awash in golden ginkgos. People's clothing tells you how warm it was.

I'm getting a Covid test this morning. First time. One of my co-workers tested positive and I was in her vicinity in the office last Friday. Not very close, everyone wearing masks, but still. I'm 70 and immunosupressed by my meds for rheumatoid arthritis. Fingers crossed if my joints would let me.                  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

STILL GOOD ADVICE

By the same token, this has been a year that made me glad I don't have a Twitter account.      

Monday, November 9, 2020

LETTING IT SINK IN

There was a post-results rally downtown on Saturday and not a MAGA hat in sight. The crowd was mostly ebullient but some seemed sobered by the weight of the repair work still to come.        

Sunday, November 8, 2020

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS

Okay, the reference is a little obscure, but bear with me. It's how I roll.

The Latin Catholic mass (my background) has a section referred to as the Te Deum, or, more completely, Te Deum Laudamus: we praise you, God. Not that I'm at all religious but I'm filled with such feelings of gratitude and joy today that it almost rises to such a level. 

I was thinking all afternoon of the finale of Act 1 of Puccini's Tosca. (Sure, melodrama, potboiler, but of unsurpassed beauty.) The bad guy, Baron Scarpia, had the most intense lust for the heroine, Tosca, while wanting the life of her S.O. and his political opponent, Cavaradossi. Scarpia is Trump. Scarpia craves sex and power. Trump craves adulation and power. In the opera, the congregation rings out with the Te Deum while Scarpia bellows that Tosca makes him forget God. Make your own comparison. https://youtu.be/0euYKIMfV4I            

Saturday, November 7, 2020

AT THE PULITZER - INSIDE JOE

You must walk just over 360 degrees through the spiral to reach the center of Joe. The visitor arrives at a nearly circular enclosure. There is plenty of room but you might feel some panic about being able to escape over the high walls. (The museum staff won't let you bring in a grappling hook and rope.) Of course, the way you came in is still there but the space can give you the feeling of being trapped with plenty of space.

I looked through the archives and found one overeposed shot in which you can look down and see the overall shape. https://tinyurl.com/yyfx32ap

Friday, November 6, 2020

AT THE PULITZER - JOE

The courtyard of the Pulitzer contains Richard Serra monumental sculpture Joe, named for his friend and patron Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. You can hardly take a bad picture of it on a clear day but it's also impossible to view the whole unless you find an elevated viewpoint. Maybe that's part of the point. It is made of bent slabs of COR TEN steel, solid as rock but with a lovely rusted patina. The walls are at least twice as high as me and I'm medium-tall. You wander into the curve as if into a maze of light, dark and space. I think we'll see what you get to tomorrow, depending on what happens overnight.           

Thursday, November 5, 2020

AT THE PULITZER-ELLSWORTH KELLY

This painting was in the background of yesterday's photo, Ellsworth Kelly's Blue Black. It is one of the two large works that have been in the Pulitzer since it opened. The other is Richard Serra's monumental steel construction Joe, which we will come to shortly.  

Kelly's work is often super-minimalistic color field painting. It leaves some people shaking their heads and others in rapture. Kelly, though, could be a bit of a prig about it. When the place opened in 2001, there was a public discussion at the symphony hall with Kelly, Serra and Emily Pulitzer. Serra was warm and funny. Kelly was a bit arrogant and uptight. He claimed that when Blue Back was installed he could tell from down the hall if it was a quarter-inch out of position. The audience laughed. Serra laughed. Now you can look at it for yourself.         

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

AT THE PULITZER: THE LAST TRUMPET

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation is small enough that an exhibition is often about the work of a single artist. The current show is devoted to Terry Adkins, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Adkins. His oeuvre and resume are spectacular. I wondered why I'd never heard of him. Perhaps for racial reasons, but he certainly made an impact on the art world.  

This work is called Last Trumpet. Adkins used sousaphone and trombone bells attached to tubes of cast brass. You can actually play them.           

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

AUTUMN AT THE PULITZER

The architecture of the Pulitzer is decidedly spare. It was designed by the multi award-winning Japanese designer Tadao Ando, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tadao_Ando. The walls are featureless concrete slabs that direct the viewers attention entirely to the art work. (For similar reasons, there are no placards on the wall describing the art. There is always a brochure to read after the visitor engages the the work.) Ando makes ingenious use of outside light and water to create spacial and material balance.

Visitors can step outside into courtyard. It contains a site-specific monumental sculpture that we will come to. Last weekend the simplicity had fiery accents.              

Monday, November 2, 2020

AT THE PULITZER

Mrs. C and I paid a visit yesterday to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, a small, exquisite museum not well known outside STL. The plan was conceived by the late Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and son of the person who founded the prize, along with his wife, Emily Rauh Pulitzer. The building and its contents were based on their fortune and collection.

We will see something about the unique architecture and current show in following days. For now, I'll note that the place is open Thursday through Sunday by reservation only. You get a timed ticket and up to four people have the place to themselves for 45 minutes. It wasn't enough. We'll go back before the current show ends.

        

Sunday, November 1, 2020

CITY DAILY PHOTO NOVEMEBR THEME DAY - KINDNESS

This month's CDP theme day asks us to find something that is in short supply. It may not be seen much in public in this terrible year but I suspect that there is plenty of it behind the scenes - in homes, in hospitals, between neighbors (but certainly not the White House). I had very little in the archives I could use for the theme. Maybe, since I'm mostly a street shooter, I tend to see the harder side. These two, though, were radiating such warmth I thought they would do the job.       

AT LEAST ONE THING ISN'T SCARY

 

I don't remember things being like this when we moved into our home thirty-plus years ago, Sure, some houses had fancy Christmas decorations but now other holidays are pretty crazy, Halloween first among them. This is down the street from us and the view is only half the yard. The display does have one very redeeming feature. There are other houses that are crazier. We only do a little.