Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Museum of Broken Relationships

Probably the most interesting of the quirky museums that I've seen on my travels, (the Paprika Museum in Hungary and the Opium Museum in Thailand make the list) The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia is a fascinating collection of hysterical and heart wrenching memorabilia from relationships from around the world. Romantic relationships, of course, are well represented, as are relationships between children and absent fathers, deceased mothers, and those destroyed by abuse and drugs.
Some of my personal favorite highlights from the museum are: 
The museum also has some excruciating reminders of what a cruel world we live in:

Although this exhibit was the first one that I saw when I walked in, I like to think it was actually the last and was the museum's happy ending:


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Impending Senility

I promised more information on Antoni Gaudi, the renowned architect of the magnificent Sagrada Familia Cathedral.  Gaudi was born in 1852 and died in 1926.  His works are mostly found in Barcelona and are in the Catalan Modernism style.  His passions in life and his influences in his work were architecture, nature and religion.

Gaudi rarely drew plans of his work, but preferred to create three-dimensional models. "Gaudi had a deep appreciation for his native land and great pride in his Mediterranean heritage.  He believed Mediterranean people to be endowed with creativity, originality, and an innate sense for art and design. He described this distinction by saying, 'We own the image. Fantasy comes from the ghosts. Fantasy is what people in the North own. We are concrete. The image comes from the Mediterranean' ". *

At the beginning of the twentieth century he worked on many projects simultaneously.  These works show his shift to a more personal style inspired by nature. One of his most memorable projects, to me, Park Guell was an unsuccessful urbanization project.

Due to my impending senility, I am referring you to a website for photos. (Cleared cards out for next trip, can't find files on easy drive, can't find cards that I cleared...)

From 1910 on, Gaudi dedicated himself to his work on Sagrada Familia, which remains unfinished to this day.

On June 7, 1926, while taking a walk, Gaudi was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. As he had no identification on him and was shabbily dressed, he did not receive immediate aid and died a few days later.  His remains are interred within Sagrada Familia.

You can read more about him on Wikipedia.


As my next adventure is quickly approaching, and my next glass project will come from Pittsburgh...I don't expect to make a trinket about my Spanish trip for awhile.

Coming soon: Crossroads of the Adriatic: Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro & Bosnia.

Goal for next trip:  take better notes...not that I can read them, anyway, blog while on trip or shortly thereafter...while I can still remember the trip!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ay Macarena!

Last church--I promise!  Bob and I have been lucky to be in Catholic countries (See Holy Week in Costa Rica) during times of religious celebration.  We just happened to be in Seville during the Festival of the Macarena--yes the city and the celebration honoring (and inspiring the song!) the Virgin of Hope of Macarena, a wooden image of the Virgin Mary, depicting her grief and piety during holy week.  Of course...from what I gather there seems to always be a festival in her honor.


The feast of the image is celebrated in December of each year.  It seems that, in Spain, religious images are repeatedly venerated, this one on Dec. 20 in 1962, February, 1963 and again in May of 1964--when the image was moved to the Cathedral of Seville--which is what I assume they were celebrating when we were there.

She is known as the patroness of bullfighters, is always depicted with a tear dripping from her eye.  Images of Our Lady of Sorrows are often depicted in dark blue or black.  This one has never been depicted this way, except for during the funeral of the Matador El Gallo.

Thanks to Wikipedia for this information.

The town is also draped in beautiful shawls in her honor:



Saturday, July 12, 2014

It's My Blog...and I'll Post What I Want to...

Not yet leaving Spain...just taking a small detour to...Pittsburgh? Another class at the Pittsburgh Glass Center with the amazing Robert Mickelsen
and his assistant, the equally talented Lisa Demagall

I am thinking and working larger this time.  Thinking a hanging sculpture, app. 30 inches wide, 7 feet tall and 12-15 inches deep.  Multiple pieces.  Of course, I only got part of the first piece finished, and as it is taking a detour through New York and Pennsylvania before returning to me, I will probably start additional pieces before finishing the first one. And you all know how that goes for me...

My inspiration for the technique that I am using is a sculpture that I went to see in Grand Rapids last December...or was it a year ago last?

Anyway...the artist is the very talented Anna Skibska

Today I'm posting progressive views of my starting point for my sculpture.  It will grow from both top and bottom before it is finished.  I will make additional pieces and hang them (probably over the next several years!) and post pictures as they become available.

And mine...

First the basic framework and a bit of texture.

Next comes just a bit of color:

Then another layer and a bit of texture.  Now it's about three layers deep, but that could still change, too!


And, far as I got:


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jewish Guilt


The Valley of the Fallen is a memorial to those killed during the Spanish Civil War.  Many find it to be eerie and distressing, as some feel that it is Franco's shrine of victory, as opposed to a memorial to those lost on both sides of the conflict, in fact more than 11,000 are buried on its grounds.  Franco is also entombed within the basilica...which is a sore spot for many.  It is an architectural feat as well, as it is carved into the rock at the base of the mountain.  Walking in you are flanked by giant angels on both sides, which I found to be artistically spectacular.  As photos are not allowed inside, I am referring you to photos from the web.  Unfortunately there are not many interior shots there, either.;_ylt=A0LEV1F.E6NTJRwALNFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0MWoxNW52BHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTM5OV8x?_adv_prop=image&fr=mcsaoffblock&va=valley+of+the+fallen+spain+madrid

For a more in depth discussion, please visit:

We then visited St. Thomas Church in Toledo, where, remarkably, the only part of the church that we visited was the corridor which housed one of El Greco's masterpieces, "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz", which was breathtaking in its richness and almost sparkling depth of color.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia:

The next day took us to the Great Mosque/Cathedral of Cordoba, which was a surreal hybrid of a mosque/church.


The mosque was built during the tenth century, when Cordoba was in its glory as the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus, one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in Europe.  In AD 1236 the city was conquered by King Ferdinand, who had the mosque consecrated and constructed a cathedral in the middle of it. 

While the Moors partook of cleanliness and brought running water and soap to Spain, the Spaniards were still dumping chamber pots out of the windows.  They believed that filth kept the evil spirits they rarely bathed.  You would think they'd be kissing the the Moors' sweet-smelling feet...but, no.

We visited Jewish ghettos in practically every city that we visited in both Spain and Portugal,
a bit of an odd feeling as they drove the Jews out in the 15th century.

We also visited an old Jewish Synagogue, now a national monument, but at one time served as (what else!)...a Catholic Church.




In Portugal, we visited, perhaps the most interesting church of all.  As Portugal is a relatively poor country, the church was (refreshingly!) in a sad state of disrepair.


Books of interest:  The Last Jew by Noah Gordon

Friday, June 13, 2014

And More Freakin Churches...

After travelling with Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure Travel for some time, I'd thought I'd seen enough churches to last me a lifetime...after 3-4 they all seem to blend together...

Welcome to Spain and Portugal...delightful in many ways, but mostly for its unique and varied places of worship.

My personal favorite, of course, is Barcelona's famous Sagrada Familia; its construction started in 1882, by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villa.  Its construction was taken over by Antoni Gaudi* in 1883.  When Gaudi died in 1926 the project was only 15 percent completed, and it is under construction today and completion is not expected before 2026.

For further information on its history and construction, please visit:
 favorite photo from the whole trip, taken inside the cathedral.  I went back inside after leaving to see Gaudi's grave, which I couldn't find!  When I entered, I saw the light streaming through the windows and draping the interior:

                    be continued...

*As he is the reason that I went to Spain (Filipa--he was all I knew! Much, much more to love about Spain & Portugal), I will elaborate further on Gaudi in another post. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thailand's Disneyland

As I don't read much in preparation for our trips, after three days on a bus, as we were approaching our destination of the White Temple, I was expecting to see, perhaps what was left of a very ancient, very heavenly, eternal (I know...another church!) and awe-inspiring edifice.

What I saw was--alright--it was gorgeous--a creation by Thai artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat.
My first thought, upon approaching the "temple" is that it would make one heck of a wedding cake.  The pictures don't do it justice, as it is covered in mirror tiles and really sparkles in the sunlight.
It is, as an art project, no less than spectacular.  It was started in 1997, at the complete expense to the artist, who doesn't charge admission and takes no corporate donations so that he remains free to pursue his own artistic vision.  He expects it to take 90 years to complete and has a team of apprentices to continue after his death.

As at any proper Buddhist temple, you must remove your shoes to enter and no photographs are allowed inside. (You also must remove your shoes when entering the restrooms both here and at other temples, which somewhat turns me off to religion!)  Inside you can expect to see a regal Buddha and monk, scenes of both heaven and hell, as well as Spiderman, Batman and Michael Jackson, among other deities and the eyes of the demon with George Bush and Osama Bin Laden seen within them.

I, personally, find Hell much more interesting than Heaven:

In reading to prepare for my blog post...I found something that I missed there, the golden toilet, "the most beautiful toilet".  I guess I'll have to go back.