Friday, September 27, 2013

An Exhibition in Atlanta

While reading up on local Atlanta events for the month of September, I saw that, starting September 8th, 2013, and running through December 8th, 2013, Oglethorpe University was having a special exhibition in their Museum of Art.  It is called "Picasso, Braque & Leger: 20th Century Modern Masters" and includes 80 works of lithographs, etchings and aquatints by these painters.  I drove by Oglethorpe University many times but never really visited the campus - just seen the campus on old postcards.

Sunday 8th September was a sunny and warm day so we decided to visit this exhibition.  It opened at noon but we went a bit early so we could walk around the university.  Arriving close to 11 am the campus looked deserted, or asleep, which was nice for photo taking.

Oglethorpe University is a small liberal arts college which was chartered by the state of Georgia in 1835 and started operations in 1838 with four faculty members and 25 students in a small town near Milledgeville, which was then the capital of Georgia.  It was named in honor of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the state of Georgia.  Because its students enrolled in the Civil War the university was closed in 1862 and the buildings were used for barracks and hospitals.  In 1913 it was re-chartered and building started in 1915 on Peachtree Road in Atlanta its present location on the 100-acre (0.40 km2) campus.  Several of the buildings, in Gothic style architecture, and the stadium are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The university is also home to the Georgia Shakespeare Theatre Company.  (Click on collages twice to enlarge.)

It was quite warm that Sunday but the breeze under the large old trees helped.  We walked around on the beautifully kept lawn.  We did see one student on a bicycle and later on another one talking on her cell phone.  We took several breaks and sat in the armchairs or benches which are plentiful.

While my husband sat in another armchair under a large tree, a Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) which dwarfed him, I went to look at a sculpture.  I found out later that it was an eagle by American sculptor Duane Hanson (1925-1996.)  Hanson was an art professor at Oglethorpe University between 1962 and 1965.  I walked by the imposing doors to the interior halls, wondering what the interior looked like.

The carillon stroke at 11:45 am, so it was time to get back closer to Lowry Hall where the museum is located.  After looking down at the bricks on the ground, adopted by former students, I looked up to the 42-bell carillon which is the only cast bronze bell carillon in Georgia.  The sounds of these bells created the right ambiance for the Gothic style campus.

Later on I did find out that there were 1,144 students enrolled in 2011 (41% male / 59% female) - the total cost for the academic year 2012-2013 was $44,480 (tuition and fees $30,150, room and board $10,840 the rest for books and other expenses.)  However, 99% of the students receive some type of financial aid.  I am giving these numbers for my readers overseas who obtain free education so they can see why some young people cannot afford to travel far.  The small museum, with two galleries, was opened in 1984.  We took the elevator to the second floor of Lowry Hall, where the museum is located.  (Entrace fee $5.00.)  Below is the poster greeting the visitors.  It is by Fernand Leger - an illustration to Arthur Rimbaud's poem Fetes de la Faim (Feast of Hunger) 1949.

A card was given to us, explaining the exhibition.  It said that "these fine prints were the result of collaborations or interpretations of major literary works by post WWII writers and poets such as Le Cocu Magnifique by Fernand Crommelynck and illustrated by Pablo Picasso; Le Tir a l'arc illustrated by Georges Braque and Arthur Rimbaud's poem Fetes de la Faim illustrated by Fernand Leger." These three artists illustrated many art books.  I took a couple of pictures in the hall of the museum but photographs were not allowed in the gallery.  Below are two Picasso lithographs illustrating a book published in 1961 Picasso de 1916 a 1961 (Monaco, Editions du Rocher) about the 45-year friendship between Picasso and the French poet Jean Cocteau.  I found two of them on a French free site.

Jean Cocteau (French poet, artist, designer, dramatist, playwright and filmmaker - 1889-1963) had met Picasso in 1915 and remained a close friend.  Below is a photo showing Cocteau on the left, next to Picasso, next is Igor Stravinsky near Olga Khokhlova in Antibes, France, in 1926.   Olga was Picasso's first wife.  She came from the Russian Empire and became a ballerina in Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.  (Photo courtesy French Wikipedia.)

The Oglethorpe Art Museum has two large galleries.  In one of them were the Picasso, Braque and Leger drawings and lithographs.  I found some illustrations by these artists on free sites on the French web and I show them below as example of the works that were shown in the gallery.  Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963) was an artist and sculptor who, with Picasso, started the "cubism" movement.  He was fascinated by birds and used them in many of his illustrations - he illustrated more than 50 book.  Braque is on the right below and the illustration on the bottom left says "Avec l'age, l'art et la vie ne font qu'un."  (With age, art and life are one.)

Fernand Leger (1881-1955) was a French painter, sculptor and filmmaker.  He also created stained glass windows, tapestries, ceramic works and illustrations.  He met Picasso and Braque in 1910.  His illustrations showed modern life and included dancers, cyclists, musicians, plants and mechanical objects.  There is a museum Fernand Leger in Biot, near Antibes on the Riviera. This was the place where he painted until his death.  In 1950 Leger created 63 black and white and colored lithographs for a book on the circus.  It is shown below with some other of his work.

Below is a photo of Fernand Leger and a page from his book on the circus.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881.  He came to Paris in 1900 and spent most of his life in France, but he did not become "French" in attitude or spirit - he always stayed loyal to his Spanish origin.  His body of work was prodigious.  He illustrated more than 150 books during his life time in addition to all the other work he created - paintings, sculptures, ceramics, tapestries, drawings and more until his death in April 1973, aged 91 years old.  He loved books and was the friend of many writers and poets.  Below is a white eagle, one of the illustrations he did in 1936 for L'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History) written by Buffon.  Picasso also illustrated works by the poet Guillaume Apolinaire (1880-1918.)

In 1970 Picasso participated in the design of an art book "Le Gout du Bonheur" (A Taste for Happiness.)  Here are two lithographs made from Picasso's drawings.

This was a small exhibit but, this way, we had more time to read the explanations near each illustration.  I was happy to see that these artists had loved books.

We visited more exhibits at the museum, on other subjects, so they will be featured in future posts.  We went downstairs and tried to find the library, but could not find it, just an illustration of one of Virginia Woolf's books.

By then it was only 1:45 pm or so.  We decided to have lunch close by.  We stopped at "Au Rendez-Vous" a French Bistro.  It has relocated in a small house and does not really look like a bistro (it is the owners' home with the restaurant in the front area,) but the interior was nice and airy.  I had read about this small French restaurant in Chamblee (2 miles from Oglethorpe University), the Oriental area near Atlanta, and was intrigued.  All the reviews were very good.  The owner, Jean-Claude Changivy, is Vietnamese but trained in France.  Our server spoke perfect French.  They serve classic French family cooking and the menu included many traditional dishes.  (Au Rendez-Vous, 4102 Clairmont Road, Chamblee, GA.)

It was hard to decide which entree to select.  Should I have the Cassoulet ($11.90) or Choucroute Garnie a l'Alsacienne ($11.90) or Couscous de Volaille ($11.90) or Coq saute aux Champignons ($11.50) ? I finally decided on rabbit,  the Lapin roti a la sauce moutarde ($13.50) and my husband selected the Beef (tenderloin) a la sauce poivre ($11.50.)  Both dishes were delicious, served with home-made mashed potatoes.  To end the meal my husband had the chocolate tart with raspberry coulis and I had the chocolate fondant - both so yummy!  The prices are quite reasonable for a French restaurant in the Atlanta area - we will be back.  It certainly was a nice ending to our afternoon in town.


Note:  Blogger break - post pre-programmed.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

End of summer at the Smith-Gilbert Gardens

In just a few pages I'll be finished reading my current book.  The book is one I found at a flea market.  It is very old - I like these types of books as authors write sincerely (I hope) about current events in their life time.  I can place myself back then with him or her.  This book, published in 1890, is "A Frenchman in America" by Max O'Rell.  He describes the trip he took in the winter of 1888-1889 to the US and Canada.  Some of the remarks he makes could be applied to today, such as many Americans eat their meals too fast and don't take time to enjoy them, and that was back in 1889!

Since the weather has been so nice I closed my book and we went back to the Smith-Gilbert Gardens.  I wrote several posts about these gardens.  When we visited them the first time in August 2011 I gave the history of the gardens and you can read it here.  I wrote three more posts about them (here, here, and here.)  The gardens are only about 4.5 miles from our house.  After walking with the crowds at the Decatur Book Festival and the Marietta Art in the Park it was a nice change to walk in deserted gardens.  People may visit them on week-ends but when we went, last week on Tuesday September 10th, and again yesterday, Wednesday 18th, we only saw a couple of people who were leaving.  Only one tree was turning gold; most of the others are still green.

Last week we spent most of our time at the Bonsai Garden and the Rose Garden.  Yesterday was spent at the Rose Garden again, then walking around the ponds and the waterfall.  I took many pictures of course (250+) - more than I can show here.  If the rain we experienced all summer made me a bit sad and depressed, the nice weather and low humidity - 82 F / 28 C last week and 77 F / 25 C yesterday brought the sunshine inside and out.  More than the weather, though, being among the 3,000 species of plants in the gardens, walking on the lush woodland paths, listening to the sound of rushing water and the calls of the birds - how can one not feel contented?  Just after a couple of hours in these gardens and any stress, worry, problem or sadness I may have had are all gone and forgotten.

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth
are never alone or weary of life.
- Rachel Carson, American Conservationist, 1907-1964

After walking by the Hiram Butler House (circa 1882) - the former home of Richard Smith and Dr. Gilbert, I saw pretty purple flowers around a sculpture I had not noticed before.  It is called "Transformation" and was made in 1990 of stoneware by Tom Suomaleinen (American, born in 1939.)

 Going by a large brown clay pot I saw an orange butterfly.  It kept flying away but finally stopped on a daisy and I could take its photo.  (Click on collages twice to enlarge.)

Then I could see the rose garden.  I have traveled far to visit rose gardens, such as the International Woodland Park Rose Garden in Seattle, Washington, the South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes, California, the Columbus Park of Roses in Columbus, Ohio and the rose garden at the Malmaison Castle near Paris, France.  I also took many film pictures at the small rose garden when we stayed at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC., and I used to have a 150 rose garden many years ago.  Last year in May we visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in New York and I spent hours in the rose garden there (will write a post on this in future.)  But now, I can be in a beautiful rose garden very close to our home.  My husband usually goes ahead to other parts of the gardens as I stay so long among the roses where I am surrounded by beauty and lovely fragrances.

 It is almost October and the roses are still giving a good show.  I truly believe I could stay among the roses all afternoon.  Here are some of them.

Some of these roses I know very well as they were in my garden, too.  Double Delight was one chosen by my daughter and is lovely at any stage of its bloom.

Dainty Bess is one of my favorite and true to its name.

There are so many varieties of roses - all beautiful, as the little white rose called Iceberg in the bottom left of the collage below.

One of the most heat tolerant and hardy of roses is the warm butter-yellow rose called Julia Child in the US.  In the United Kingdom they changed its name to Absolutely Fabulous, but whatever its name, it is a lovely and strong floribunda rose.  The brilliant happy yellow color of the rose goes well with Julia Child, American Chef and author (1912-2004.)

But there was more to see.  I found my husband partially hidden by giant leaves near the entrance to the Bonsai Garden.  The informative panels explain well how to grow Bonsai trees.  (Don't forget to click twice on collages to be able to read the panels.)

The Japanese art form of growing Bonsai trees is thousand years old.  A gentleman was in this garden and explained to me that some of these trees had been cultivated in the ground for up to 20 years or more.  Every year or so the trees have to be dug up from the ground and the roots cut down so the trees can stay in a dwarf state.  You certainly have to be a patient person to grow bonsai!  But it is said that the primary purpose of growing bonsai is for contemplation ... I was able to contemplate quite a few aesthetic specimen.

Time for a break though.  We walked through shady and sunny paths to arrive at the little picnic area.  It will be a while until leaves turn gold - maybe early November.

I had brought a small piece of home baked fresh fig cake and our strong expresso blend coffee.  I also picked up two coffee mugs - those we received as a souvenir for going through the North Cape in Norway while aboard the Lofoten.  It was so peaceful and quiet in the picnic area - we should come more often to drink our second cup of coffee.

But we could not linger as we still wished to go watch the Koi fish swimming in the front water garden pond and the birds splashing in the large bird fountain.

To get back to the back pond and waterfall I walked by pretty little wildflowers and other exotic species.  

I found the waterfall - softly gurgling and soaking the rock boulders.

 Then I walked down the little stream and stopped to sit on a bench and listen to its flowing sound as it tumbled over the rocks.  From my bench I could see the small pond bordered by large green leaves vegetation and could smell the fragrant lilies.

Sitting in the middle of this little green oasis my head was clear of life's demands - just the birds and the water made a small babbling noise.

Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, 
whatever is done and suffered by her creatures.
All scars she heals,
whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.

- John Muir, Scottish-born American Naturalist, 1838-1914

Friday, September 13, 2013

Leaving the Book Festival and watching Capoeira

This is a continuation of my last post on our visit to Decatur, Georgia, to visit the Book Festival taking place during the Labor Day weekend.  After spending many hours there we walked by the garden pavilion then the DeKalb County Courthouse.  There is a statue of Thomas Jefferson sitting on a bench in front of the courthouse - to sit sounded good and we decided to find a place to have a late lunch-early dinner.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

We stopped at a couple of booths then walked by City Hall.  A large crowd was waiting to have their book signed by the authors - the book was "Where Did Our Love Go."

We kept walking and passed some shops selling clothes and funny sculptures.

We stopped at Cafe Alsace to have a bite to eat.  My husband had a steak sandwich in a baguette with brie cheese.  I had the salmon salad with fresh peaches and pecans in a balsamic vinaigrette.  Both were delicious.  We ended the meal, him with some cinnamon chocolate ice cream and me with some lavender honey ice cream.  The cafe is decorated with many nostalgic French signs and pictures.  In the background Jacques Brel was signing, then Edith Piaf.

We slowly walked toward our car and could hear some music behind a crowd.  We stopped and watched a group dancing in an acrobatic style.  I found out it is called "Capoeira" (pronounced Kah-poe-air-ah) a Brazilian blend of martial art, dance and game originating in Brazil.

Since then I have read about this capoeira, which I had never heard about.  My husband said that he had seen some of it in TV, but I don't watch much TV.  The story is fascinating.  I have been reading quite a lot about it.  I know that there are some blogging friends reading my blog from Brazil and Portugal so I hope my short account is accurate.  In 1500 the Portuguese came to Brazil under the leadership of Pedro Alvarez Cabral.  After many of the local Brazilian Indians died of infectious diseases or escaped in the jungle the Portuguese brought slaves from their colonies in Africa, i.e. Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, etc., to work in their tobacco and sugar plantations.  Two millions slaves were brought from these different areas with a multitude of languages, cultures and traditions.  Many slaves escaped the horrible conditions in the plantations and established settlements in remote areas called quilombos.   One of the largest quilombos was the quilombo of Palmares.  There they perfected the capoeira combat dance.

"Negros lutando com passasos de capoeira, 1824" painted by Augustus Earle, English 1793-1838

There is still a debate about where this style of martial art started.  Some say it came from the N'golo or zebra dance of Angola.  Others say it came from the combat dance called Danyme or Ladja from the Caribbean and mostly Martinique where it is danced inside a circle of people and accompanied with tom tom drums.  Below is the Bele dance from Martinique and Guadeloupe. (Alan Lomax photo.)

But in Brazil in the plantations where martial art was forbidden, the slaves disguised their fighting training as an innocent dance.  They added music, dancing and other rituals to capoeira to conceal their fighting techniques; actually, it is more the art of evasion rather than striking or blocking.  One theory is that, in Brazil, it originated in the "Senzalas" or living quarters of the slaves.  Another is that it was practiced on the quilombo colony of escaped slaves to fend off attacks from the Portuguese slavers.

Jogar Capoeira - Danse de la Guerre, 1838, painted by Johann Moritz Rudengas, German 1802-1858

After slavery was abolished many men, unemployed, turned to crime using moves from capoeira.  In 1890 the practice of capoeira was prohibited in Brazil by President Da Fonseca.  If caught practicing capoeira the punishment was the cutting of tendons from the back of the ankle.  However, in 1937, after demonstrating in front of President Getulio Varga, a young man, Manuel dos Reis Machado, called Master Bimba, was authorized to open the first capoeira school.  Master Bimba created a new style of capoeira and called it "Capoeira Regional" with new martial techniques.  He had convinced the authorities that the martial art was of great historical and cultural value for Brazil.  Capoeira Regional is a unique blend of acrobatics, with fluid fakes, leg sweeps, kicks, feints and other maneuvers.  I found many videos on it as it is now practiced worldwide.  Below is a demonstration from a club in Boston.

When we were watching capoeira in Decatur I did not know all this history but enjoyed the moves and the music.  A young boy with a Canadian cap came into the circle and danced with one of the group members.

 Actually I would not call it a dance as it looks physically exhausting.  You have to be fit with good balance and flexibility if you wish to become a "capoeirista."  It is beautiful to watch.  The participants form a roda or circle of people chanting folk songs with a few musical instruments such as the berimbau (a single-string percussion instrument, a musical bow) where two capoeiristas ritually start their fight/dance.  Here is another demonstration, from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Each capoeira move is responded by a combination of defensive and offensive moves that look like a dance.  Modern day capoeira is up-tempo, fast paced and known as Contemporanea (contemporary.)  It is an active exporter of Brazilian culture as many capoeira masters have been teaching the art in many countries.

In Brazil capoeira is practiced as a national sport at schools, universities, clubs and military academies and a source of pride for Brazilians.  I watched videos of demonstrations and matches from New York, Paris, London and all the way to Kazakhstan.  It was fun to watch the group from Atlanta but I am not nimble enough to ever participate...

We finally walked back to our car after passing a field of brilliant red roses - a good end to our day at the festival -  music and flowers.

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