Monday, June 20, 2011

College Series - Belgorod State University

Lately it's been a "Paucity of Postcards" rather than a "Plethora of Postcards".  It's been a crazy summer with lots of house guests and a new job!  But back to the college series....

Here's a university I  had never heard of (or the town either):  Belgorod State University (BSU?).  It is located in Belgorod Oblast, which is in the southern part of Russia, on the border with Ukraine. [Note:  "oblast" is an administrative division in slavic countries.  This is not the same as "state", but rather more like "zone", "province", "area" or "region".]

Belgorod State University is quite large, with 89 departments.  It is known for its program dedicated to teaching Russian, both on campus and around the world.  Looks beautiful!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

College Series - Loyola Marymount

Haven't posted any colleges for a while, and in this month of college graduations, perhaps I should.

My niece just graduated from Loyola Marymount (LMU), located in Los Angeles.  She was (and still is) a deejay for the campus radio station, KXLU, which she tells me is known as one of the best campus radio stations in the country.  I take her word for it!  One thing the station is known for is a program "Demolistens", in which only demo tapes are played.  The station claims it was the first to air the music of more than a few of today's top bands.  (Here's a link to my niece's  play lists.)

For spring vacation, each year for four years, my niece would bring a friend or two and come stay with us in San Francisco.  On the last visit, with two of her radio station pals, Ali and Pascal, they left me a KXLU snuggie.  It's black with a tasteful, if too small, KXLU logo on it.   One of the best house guest presents of all time!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Crater Lake

I may have mentioned my son is in college in Oregon, so we've driven to and from there multiple times over the last few years.  On one of these drives, I took a side trip over to Crater Lake. 

It really is as beautiful as the picture, and it's easy to stand at the edge of the cliff and just stare into it for a long time.  There's some sort of a boat trip on the lake, but I don't care to ever take it.  I'd rather just stare into the lake from above.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Art Series V, Louisa S Cooper

Louisa S. Cooper was "Mrs. Witter" to me, and  a mainstay of our multi-family Labor Day beach weeks in Carpinteria, when I was a kid.  She long ago divorced Mr. Witter (now deceased), remarried and moved to Hawaii.  I don't know if she was a painter then, but she certainly became one.

It's funny how unaware of the interests, hobbies and professional lives of the adults around us we were growing up.  It seems kids now are much more aware, although perhaps I'm kidding myself (pun unintentional).

I do remember that she was a bit more exotic, and somehow different than some of the other moms.  Perhaps it was that she was slightly more liberal in the conservative domain of Pasadena, or perhaps it was the artist in her.  Perhaps it was because she smoked.  Who knows?  But it is fun to see her work, and know that she succeeded, living the life of an artist, in Hawaii no less.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Art Series IV, Polish Artist

This painting (oil on canvas) by Jerzy Wołoszynowicz is entitled, "Sunset over Ostrow Tumski, the view from Grunwaldzki Bridge".  The card came through Postcrossing from Dominik who lives in Wroclaw in the southwest of Poland.  Turns out Ostrow ("island") Tumski is an important archaeological site in Wroclaw.

I can't find much about Jerzy Wołoszynowicz, but a tourist guide features an exhibition for him, describing his as "... a painter, draughtsman and industrial designer. Best-known locally for his wild animal paintings on the walls of Wrocław, here you can see works showing the ruins of the post-war city and other later aspects of Wrocław. Also included will be the artist's surrealist paintings and drawings."  The wild animal paintings look amazing.

Here's something I might not have mentioned about Postcrossing before.  People post profiles of themselves, and often name specifics types of postcards they might like.  On mine I mention that I love learning about local music and art, and when I'm lucky, I get music and/or art postcards from a variety of countries.  In this way, I learn about artists I would probably never  hear of otherwise, such as Jerzy Wołoszynowicz.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Art Series III, Art of the Bahamas

Here is "Sacred Spaces", an installation by Antonius Roberts, the most renowned artist of the Bahamas.  In his own words, Sacred Spaces

 "...was born out of my deep-seated respect for the sanctity and significance of our trees and forests. This particular site on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas, has many Casuarina trees which erode our shoreline. Instead of simply cutting them down and discarding them, I transformed them, where they are still rooted in the ground, into the beautiful ‘Sacred Women’ that you see, with the intention to mark the triumph of hope and determination to conserve our heritage over that which is discarded or destroyed in the name of progress.

This site is also of historical significance to us as these cliffs, bordering a former sugar plantation, were the landing site for some of the first African slaves to be brought here. These elegant carvings bend towards the ocean and to Africa. Their eyes delineate the space and the metal bells in the trees, fabricated by a fellow artist, Tyrone Ferguson, carry their voices back to Africa.

It was important to me to create within this space rather than bringing sculptures to it. This place, like others, has its own almost tangible energy and beauty to be discovered, uncovered and tapped into.

To me, Sacred implies not only spiritual inspiration and creative freedom but encompasses all those things that should be left intact to bear witness to the significance of our cultural heritage. It is my belief and my intention, given the opportunity, to continue to create Sacred Spaces not only throughout the islands of The Bahamas, but throughout the world where each site would dictate to me its own unique energy and guide my hands to define the form and shape that it should take."

Not much I can add to that, but here's more on the park itself (Clifton Heritage National Park).

P.S.  Thanks to Jennifer for brining me this card from her travels!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Art Series, continued - Puppet from France

Here we have Gnafron, a classic Lyon puppet and character in the French puppet show, Guignol (also the name of the main character).  From the wiki: 

Although often thought of as children's entertainment, Guignol's sharp wit and linguistic verve have always been appreciated by adults as well, as shown by the motto of a prominent Lyon troupe: "Guignol amuses children… and witty adults".

I suppose Guignol would be the equivalent of an English "Punch and Judy", although unlike any character in Punch and Judy, Gnafron is a drunk.  Leave it to the French. 

A translated wiki shows a little of Gnafron's history, and it appears he is the inseparable companion of Guignol.

It must be time for marionettes to make a comeback, as it's an art form that hasn't enjoyed a resurgence for a while. Hmmm.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving on to Art - Yuki Moinuma

Yuki Moinuma is an illustrator in Japan, much of whose work is used on stationery type items.  I could find several fans of her work, but not a lot of information about the artist herself.

You can see more of her work here.  Or the work of another Japanese modern artist, Chinatsu Ban, whom I've blogged about before here.

This postcard was sent by Tomomi from Shizuoka, Japan through Postcrossing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Japanese Umbrellas

In case you haven't noticed, I'm having fun with segues, shifting effortlessly (at least in my view) from "The Umbrellas" of Christos in California and Japan, to umbrellas in Japan.

Another Postcrossing postcard, this time from Kazue who lives in Nara, close to Kyoto. To me, this is a spectacularly beautiful, and very Japanese image, which came to mind often during and after the tsunami in Japan.  I find the stark contrast between this shot and the shots of the tsunami destruction particularly moving.

Japan is a bucket list place for me, in part because I lived there for a couple of years when I was very young, and while I spent a lot of time with our Japanese neighbors, I don't remember anything. I'm told I spoke Japanese at a two-year old level, which is how old I was.  When I am with a group of Japanese speakers, I feel the rhythm of their language at a visceral level, and would love to immerse myself in the culture one day.  I'm convinced the language is buried in the deep structure of my brain, and through a combination of studying and total immersion, I might actually be able to learn the language without too much difficulty.  Wishful thinking, perhaps, or not..

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Umbrellas (Christos II)

It's been unusually wet this June in California.  In fact, by the time this is posted, we may have broken all recorded records for amount of rain in the month of June, and the month isn't even over.  For that reason, these postcards seem particularly appropriate.  My mom recently unearthed them while packing up her home of 48 years, saved from an excursion she and a bunch of friends took to see the "Umbrellas" in 1991.

One of many environmental works of art that Christos (and his wife Jeanne-Claude) have installed around the world, "The Umbrellas" were erected simultaneously in Japan and the United States. From the wiki: 

 In December 1990, after much preparation, the first steel bases for the umbrellas were installed.  In September 1991, the umbrellas were brought to their places by 2,000 workers. In California, some of the bases were transported to the site by helicopter. The final cost of the project totaled $26 US million. By 7 September, 1,340 blue umbrellas in Ibaraki and 1,760 yellow umbrellas at the Tejon Ranch in southern California had been set up; the exhibition opened on 9 October 1991. In total, 3 million people saw the umbrellas, each measuring 6 meters in height and 8.66 meters in diameter. The umbrellas became a huge tourist attraction, finding use as everything from picnic spots to wedding altars.

Also from the wiki:

Although their work is visually impressive and often controversial as a result of its scale, the artists have repeatedly denied that their projects contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of their art, they contend, is simply to create works of art or joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.

I saw this installation only from the highway, while driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but I remember well all the excitement it generated.

P.S.  I wrote a post about the Christos New York "Gates" installation a while back.  You can read that here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Swiss Cows

We have to love Swiss cows - from them we get Swiss cheese and Swiss chocolates!

This is another Postcrossing postcard, from a Swiss mom.  She sent me a big stack of postcards, some made from pictures she'd taken herself, as a "thank you" for sending her a stack of San Francisco postcards.  Turns out her daughter, age 12, is a HUGE San Francisco fan, and the mom wanted to give her a bunch of San Francisco postcards for Christmas.  I was more than happy to oblige, and sent several.  In return, not only did I receive several great postcards (including this one), I also received a picture of the daughter, in a San Francisco t-shirt, holding up my postcards and looking very happy. 

Definitely made my day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Last Cows Standing

Another cow postcard, this one from Leny, a fellow Postcrossing member.  From the back of the card, "I'm Leny...  I live in the south of the Netherlands, a few km from Germany and Belgium...."  How many beautiful corners of the world there are, and here's a postcard from one of them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

And Even More Cows

Should I be calling this the "cow series" instead of the "animal series"?  This is the third postcard featuring cows and I actually  have a couple more!  Do the cows warrant their own series?  It is a subseries of the animal series?  One could get carried away with classifying, if one were so inclined. 

Note to self:  must reconfigure postcard classification system.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Cows

It's a two- fer!  (Two for one, for the non-native English speaking readers.)

Not only does this belong to the animal series, but it also qualifies as part of an art series - "Sofa Art XIII Down on the Farm".

Actually, Sofa Art is an annual art competition in Visalia, California, and recently completed its 16th year. Visalia is in the central valley of California, an area not necessarily known for its art scene. However, you can't beat if for its tree fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots) and nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts).

 From the website: 

The first Sofa Art Show was held in 1996 as a playful response to an unflattering depiction of Visalia’s local art scene as described by a local newspaper writer. Sofa Art Co-Founder Varian Mace, then an art instructor at College of the Sequoias, shared the article with her classes and challenged them to make some “real sofa art” in response. The resulting exhibition was a hit, to say the least, and has been an annual Visalia tradition ever since.

It sounds like a lot of fun, and I can only imagine what additional sofa art might look like.  Is all sofa art 2-dimensional, or does it include sculpture as well?

P.S.  A shout out to my friend, Steve, who lives in Visalia and is a constant contributor to my ever-growing postcard collection.  Thanks, Steve!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Speaking of Beefeaters

Speaking of Beefeaters. 

I have to say, though, that these look like milk cows, not beef cows.  Not that I'm an expert on cows, but  I did visit a Texas cattle ranch once.

In any case, here's the first in a new animal series

I present to you, the cow!