Art Serendipity/S. Santa Fe Drive in Denver

 

 

 

So it is Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend and I am driving over to the relatively new-ish art district on South Santa Fe Drive in Denver. (When you have been showing your art as long as I have, Denver’s “new-ish” art district has probably been on the rise for the past 15 years. Seems to have flown right by….. ) I am on an errand to pick up my painting titled CASCINA ( see top gallery photo ) that was juried into the Mixed Media Show at Core Gallery on S. Santa Fe and 9th, that is ending today after a 2 week run. Lots of great feedback from the staff there about my painting put me in a somewhat heightened mood of satisfaction, reinforcing why I continue to pursue this often thankless, ridiculously painful, but always colorful career in the wild and crazy world of art. After loading it into the car I decide to wander around the neighborhood and take some pictures which I usually do not give myself permission to do, unfortunately. I was instantly rewarded for my attention.

I am immediately joyful with what I see, finding nuances that I had never stopped to notice  before. It almost feels like I am in Puerto Vallarta, or even Santa Fe or Albuquerque. And I love that. Contemporary art and extraordinary, edgy wall graffiti juxtaposed with weathered Mexican pinata colors, fresh flowers, funky tattoo parlors, barber shops, aromatic taco joints, bright umbrellas over crowded tables of lunch crowds and many many art galleries. Escaping for an hour or so was just what I needed, and there were many other folks doing the same thing. The galleries were busy.

The cherry on the top of this delicious, aimless, decadent, vividly memorable meandering was an accidental ( but not really ) discovery on a back street, between 9th and 10th on Inca. I turned the corner to find two guys collaborating and executing the most fabulous, enormous, graffiti mural on the long wall of a building; a building, I am told, that has been a coveted and honored location for such art for almost 30 years. It is a group effort with several contributors but at the moment Quentin and Soul are the ones with the spray cans. And it is gorgeous! A jungle theme is in place with some dinosaur images coming next to the party and I am fascinated to hear the whole plan unfolding as  ideas are bounced around. Spray and step back to take a look, spray over some of it and then add more. The image is all about sharp lines and curves; intense color against black; hidden images and ones that stand right out. Humor and messages. It is mesmerizing to watch. So…..it really is a jungle out there.

I ask how they can be sure that some other taggers are not going to mess it up by painting over it – my god I cannot bear even the hint of that tragic possibility. I already feel vested in it, just by standing there and watching it happen – I feel protective of it by osmosis. Is there someone who guards it by night? I want to volunteer.

They tell me that leaving no empty spaces is part of the key – no tempting, inviting blank areas that some jerk might believe need his additional touches.

And it is also about R ES P E C T. And T R U S T.

No respectable artist would ever ruin another guy’s work.

I learned a lot in a short conversation of only 20 minutes, as they worked, and added vastly to my meager knowledge but huge respect for the BIG guys of universally recognized graffiti art – like King Banksy and the others.

Ahhh. In another life…..I would love to do that. It was a whole new slant on art for me.

 

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Preoccupied with Concern

The pretty images above were all taken in Singapore, several years ago. Singapore is a lovely, orderly country where there is literally no crime or corruption, where people respect the laws of government and place a high value on history. Singaporeans exist peacefully with each other and their neighbors. The locale is heavenly, the food is fantastic, the architecture is stunning and the people are quite curious about America. The pictures were placed in this blog as eye-candy in hopes that you will read down to the following text.

But these days I am preoccupied with thoughts of destruction. I tried very hard to write something else today but I could not control my seething fingers. I have become so distracted, so preoccupied, almost oblivious to the memories of the way things used to be in our lives, before he was elected. All I see in my future is conflict. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my country for the poor choices we are allowing to be made for us and the new set of despicable values that have become the norm in Washington DC. We have lost our honor, America.

America, bless its ignorant heart, is killing itself. We have become suicidal.

I thought we had become better educated than this. I have become sadly preoccupied with watching America self-destruct as it unfolds in the daily news. There are not enough hours in the day for every single thing that needs our “powerless” attention and our hollow “hopes and prayers”. In a miniscule period, equal to one ten-millionth of the blink of an eye in  the universal scheme of Time, we have lost our democracy to an uninformed, poorly educated, narcissistic, sociopathic, immoral lunatic who takes sick delight in chaos and hatred.

Our fragile world is fish-tailing across time, bobbing and weaving under the pressure of the increasing number of internal negative elements whose common purpose is to take us to our knees and render us helpless to change anything. The path of destruction widens daily as new levels of insidious corruption and malfeasance reveal themselves. Things have always been dicey on this planet; no consistent certainty of which side is winning during the time of our existence. But now… these days, it seems clear that the good side is losing. Before I was preoccupied, I woke up optimistic about humanity. Now a disproportionate portion of my waking hours are spent in terror of what is unfolding right before my eyes.

I am ashamed of my government. It no longer stands for the greater good. It is infested with greed and corruption and hunger for power in epidemic proportions, destroying our foundation in methodical precision. As if by hoards of ravenous grasshoppers on a rampage, we are being chewed down and eaten alive by our elected officials, leaving a barren path of nothingness; devoured by politicians who are getting fat and sick on rage, revenge and the new Republican mantra of apathy toward the people who elected them. Do these people in Washington not have children and grandchildren? Where is their vision for the future? What sense of responsibility do they have, other than to their own egos? For all this their dark legacy will be remembered; they are the destruction-ists.

If you are a person who cannot see it, you are more than just blind; you are self-absorbed, in denial, numb to the truth, ignorant of past history or too lazy to care. You are not preoccupied enough with the current state of affairs. You must fortify your courage and read about this phenomenon. You must be informed. You need to know what we are losing on a daily basis and define just what it is that you personally believe is worth fighting for, not abstractly but in the bloody trenches. Do not remain blind, deaf and dumb to history being made in the daily decisions of ignorant fools.

Major accomplishments that have taken decades to put in place are being vaporized right before our eyes. Not only basic human rights and privileges for every human being, but environmental protections critical to our planet’s survival. Water and air are becoming more and more contaminated but clean water and fresh air are no longer considered a basic human right. Education loses and guns win. Poverty and hunger remain as ostentatious military parades are planned. Parks and national treasures are being destroyed and dismantled for the sake of more oil and minerals. Walls are built and fear is mandated. Does this sound like it could be a description of North Korea or Russia?  Germany during WW II? Hell yes it does, but it is happening here in America.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that a handful of treacherous men and women in high places have taken it upon themselves to promote, follow and enable a warped and perverted leader in the process of accomplishing his murderous agenda.

How can we allow this to happen?

What is wrong with us?

Must we allow everything to be torn down in order to see the light again?

History is always our teacher; nothing good can come from this.

 

 

The Grand Lady of Paris, Notre Dame

The ancient marble steps leading through the doors to French Gothic Notre Dame are slightly grooved from centuries of weekly worshipers. You can feel it under your feet as a reminder that you are merely one of millions who have gone before you – people on pilgrimages, wandering vagabonds, visiting kings and queens, street people, modern day gypsies, students of ancient art and architecture and folks just like you and me who are in awe of the grandeur and the sacred space. As we arrived the bells for Sunday mass were tolling and a long line was forming for entrance; a huge Christmas tree decorated in blue bulbs stood in the entrance courtyard and it was brutally cold and windy. I was almost hyper-ventilating from reverence and excitement.

The cathedral is gargantuan; the air I was breathing was rarefied, the enormity of the experience was profound. There are few words worthy of the time I spent there…

I lit candles and said some silent prayers; I tried to catch my breath as I wandered through. I knew I had to come back again the next day when there might be an empty pew where I could sit and spend more time. My photographs do not begin to reveal the size and scope I was seeing. The proportions in the nave are astounding. There was not an empty seat in the place.

And I returned the next day, every bit as anxious as I had been the first time, on Monday, my final day in Paris. After wandering for an hour or more, taking more pictures,  I found the gift shop and purchased some little six inch Notre Dame Christmas angels crafted from what looked like humble material and a few gold charms for necklaces. Treasures that will become family heirlooms…for some treasured people in my life.

I cannot help but wonder how many people down through the ages, no matter their beliefs about a higher power, have journeyed to this magnificent place of worship,  praying for peace on earth. For me, Notre Dame is a symbol of hope, an ancient wonder of a place, begun in 1163 and mostly completed by the 14th century. The famous flying buttresses support its walls and roof, heavily damaged during the French Revolution. In the South Tower hangs the cathedral’s original bell, 13 tons, named Emmanuel ( all the bells are named) which announced the liberation of France from the Nazies in 1944. Emmanuel is extremely important to French history. The bell was recast in 1631 from copper and bronze, and Parisian women threw into the pot their precious gems and jewels, thus incorporating them into the bell. In 2013 as part of Notre Dame’s 850th anniversary since construction began, nine new bells were installed replicating the original chimes.

Notre Dame is very much the center, the heart and soul of Paris, in both location and adoration. You must go visit her. She is a beauty.

Additional photos of Notre Dame and my entire Paris trip can be found on my Instagram pages at The Creative Epiphany and on FB under Jo Ann (Rossiter) Brown-Scott.

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, author and artist –   www.acanaryfliestheycanyon.com

http://joann-brown-scott.fineartamerica.com

My Birthday in Paris, Part 4

The Splendor of Musee d’Orsay

On Friday of our astounding week in Paris we visited the Musee d’Orsay, an enormous  destination that is now dear to my heart. The famous clock, that spot-on perfect icon that defines this museum in the minds of folks who are passionate about art history was clearly visible and unmistakable as we approached from a bridge on the right bank crossing over the Seine to the left, an easy walk from our hotel in St Germaine. What better symbol, what better icon, to identify such a priceless location commemorating the very passage of time and the treasures therein? What time has given us is personified in Paris and its museums. All that is right in the world of art, antiques, fashion, food, design, music, literature, treasures small and large and tradition I found in abundance during our week of wandering this gorgeous city. A city that remains easy to explore, welcoming, comfortable and always extraordinary in its offerings.

The gigantic rotunda of this museum might reveal that it was once a railway station built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle but by 1939 rail travel ceased at this building. Later from 1848 to 1914 the government set about transforming it it to what became the country’s premier showcase for art. It is grand and glorious but not uncomfortably so, with comfy beanbag chairs accessible for relaxing in the upstairs space where you see the interior photo of the window clock, which reveals an amazing panorama of the city’s Montmartre area including the Sacre-Coeur. It was nearly shrouded by fog the day we were there….

As with the Louvre and its Mona Lisa, I had one primary goal in the Musee d’Orsay and that was Degas’s ballerina sculpture titled Little Dancer. Once again, blotting tears streaming down my cheeks, I walked around and around her as I remembered my own tiny dancer daughter when she was in the Nutcracker at Denver’s Christmas season years ago. I have always been a fan of Degas, and this sculpture is tres magnifique and especially realistic with its unusual addition of a pale peach-colored gauzy  tutu and a wide satin hair-ribbon to match that have remained almost unscathed since it was incorporated into the 1880 sculpture. The young girl depicted in the sculpture is a fourteen year old Belgian, a student at the Paris Opera Ballet School of that time named Marie van Goethem. Little did she know that she would live forever in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and become a worldwide symbol of the ballet. Degas’s huge body of work portrays many ballet scenes; this one is by far his claim to fame.

I also viewed more Van Gogh’s than I had ever seen in one space that day in the Musee d’Orsay, as well as Manet, Monet, Renoir, Gauguin and many others who were made real to me through my viewing of their Impressionistic art.

To be so fortunate, so blessed and so enlightened on one day in Paris, just one day out of seven, was rare and immensely joyful for me. I am forever changed by it and thankful that my daughter sent me there for my birthday. If you read my own grown-up ballerina’s travel blog here on WordPress at http://www.compassandcamera.wordpress you will be reminded that she wrote about my mother’s (and her grandmother’s) trip to Europe of many years ago including a trip to Paris, based upon the postcards she sent home. Of course my daughter has also been to Paris, included with many other countrys on her travel resume.

Hhmm…. this Paris thing is a golden heirloom thread running through our family now and it is no accident believe me. We women know where to go and what to see that will enrich our lives and add to our appreciation for the life we have been given and the very brief time we have here on earth in which to live it….. I wish for all of you a trip to Paris.

For additional photos of Paris please follow me on Instagram at “the creative epiphany” Jo Ann Brown-Scott

 

The Spell of Paris, Part Three

Oh Paris I am deep under your spell. Seven days spent in your magical bubble took me entirely away from all practical considerations into the sublime realm of the ancient and the artistic. I felt almost the same visiting Rome and Florence only different. Paris is different. Different in what way is the question I continue to ask myself…how can one define Paris?

Paris is a celebration, a happening, an event unto itself. People go to Paris to commemorate an enormous occasion, or as a second time, longed-for treasured gift of a trip because they cannot stay away…Paris is made of romance, of visual delights, of a longing for quiet strolls along the Seine and magnificent museums, outdoor cafes (no matter the weather) with bread,cheese & wine and people watching. Paris is a beautiful lady bearing timeless glittering gifts inside long and lovely evenings. She welcomed us with open arms and we were never treated as tourists. People actually spoke to us for no reason and helped us and giggled with us about our feeble attempts at the language. We never felt ridiculed or laughed at. I don’t quite know where Parisiannes got the bad rap for being aloof and cynical because we saw none of that.

Our second day in Paris began with a 10 am reservation at the Louvre, located just across the Seine from us, looming as a magnificent iconic monument  in the distance as we walked toward the glass pyramid by noted American architect IM Pei. When we entered I was overtaken by emotion, awed by the sheer size and reverence I have for the most splendid of all museums, I believe. Please visit my Instagram account for a more extensive selection of photographs from Paris at The Creative Epiphany, Jo Ann Brown-Scott

If we had devoted our entire week in Paris to only the Louvre, we still would not have seen everything. The foremost item on my list was absolutely the Mona Lisa and yet I was transfixed by the rooms along the way that contained ancient sculpture including Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Roman artifacts such as the bathtub pictured above. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, a superb Hellenistic sculpture from the second century BC which we studied extensively in my art history class at CU in Boulder took me by surprise as we walked the stairs toward her. Full body chills – it has been a very long time but I finally saw her in the flesh, and she is amazing, especially the draping of her robes so expertly executed in marble.

The ceilings in the Louvre are ornate and fascinating – floors and ceilings will be a fascination for me my entire life and I was mesmerized and in pain from looking up for such long periods of time in Paris, but every bit worth the discomfort.

The Mona Lisa was as I expected with so much more – enigmatic, hypnotizing, eyes seeming to follow you as you walk from side to side. In the newly published book I read before leaving home titled Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) by Walter Isaacson I learned all the newest and re-learned the oldest information about this famous painting and so I came to the Louvre with some questions answered and other new ones to ask…. Leonardo was indeed a complex and multi-faceted artist and inventor and scientist of his time and right up until now, time itself having enhanced respect and admiration for his insightful, ingenious  discoveries. But his brilliant, delicate rendering of this mysterious woman remains as his most iconic work. The gift shop was dominated by all things Mona Lisa – it was rather humorous to see just how many items could display that unforgettable Mona Lisa smile. She is charming and shrouded in mystery.

After leaving the Louvre on that windy cold day we ate lunch at La Fregate along the Seine and I had the Frenchiest French onion soup I had ever eaten in a French cafe. After lunch we walked miles and took in the sights before having dinner at a favorite location back in our St. Germain neighborhood – Les Deux Magot. I highly recommend it – great food and people watching, frequented by sophisticated and prominent locals, as we discovered when it began to snow in big cottonball flakes and the local Parisiannes began to honk their horns and laugh and whoop it up as if they were 7 years old! Snow is rare in the City of Lights and it was so much fun to watch! Our favorite little church across the street was gorgeous in the indigo blue evening with snow blowing in swirls around it. It was the perfect ending to our second day in Paris. I am the luckiest girl in the world!

 

My Paris Birthday, Part One and a Half

Beautiful Surprise

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Sometimes when you have your mind set on one thing (Notre Dame) you are surprised and moved by a different thing discovered along the way…..maybe not as grand or as  monumental as the thing you were seeking, not as polished and elegant, a little bit more weathered and worn around the edges, but certainly worthy of a visit. So you walk in. It is then that you understand the value of never passing up the chance to investigate and perhaps be rewarded for your effort with an unforgettable experience.

Just a short block or so up in the square, a five minute walk, from our Hotel des Continents located at 25, Rue Jacob in the Saint Germain district of Paris we found the well worn little lady of a church named Saint-Germain-des-Pres – astoundingly the oldest church in Paris! Construction on its Bell Tower was begun in 990 making it the oldest one in Paris plus a belfry dating from the 12th century. It is considered quite a prestigious site for the Romanesque style of art and architecture and people have been attending services there for fifteen centuries. It was a Benedictine Abbey with a major intellectual influence over the course of all that time. From the outside it is rather unimpressive, but the gorgeously colorful interior takes your breath away. Reds! Blues! Patterned columns carved with Romanesque capitals that are among the very first of the Romanesque period line the passageways on the sides of the church. There is some much needed renovation going on. Paint is peeling off and colors are fading but it is all being restored to its rightful splendor as we speak.

I was astounded at the beauty of this church and visited again several times while in Paris for several reasons – it seemed to be the center of our familiar little neighborhood with wonderful shops down every street from the church. Also one of our favorite cafes, Les Deux Magots was just across the street from the church and we ate there several times and did some serious people watching. The Saint Germain district is a perfectly positioned area in which to stay, on the Left Bank and just a couple blocks from the Seine. Everything we wanted to see was easily accessible by walking or cab if it was raining. A pastry tray was offered to me at Les Deux Magots that raised the French pastry bar by several notches. I limited myself to just one since they were all the size of melons.

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We  could hear the church bells ringing from that centuries old Bell Tower from our hotel room and the church had an outdoor Christmas bazaar happening every evening with rows of cute little wooden houses with red trim that we loved to frequent for food and gifts. Last but not least I loved this church because I am just a total fool for cathedrals and churches. They indicate so much about the people who lived centuries ago and that has everything to do with my art history courses at CU in Boulder, my own artistic gift and the ways I like to be inspired to paint and create, and then of course my sentimental longing to pay my respects to places of worship that have been so significant in the history of humankind. One of the rainy days when I visited the church a man was taking refuge there.

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On a freezing cold night with strong wind stinging any exposed skin, we bundled up and braved the situation to have our dinner standing up outside at a counter at one of the Christmas booths at the church – Raclette at its finest! Gooey melted cheese, scraped dripping, bubbling and hot off a huge cheese wheel then combined with thin sausage slices, slathered onto a French baguette cut lengthwise. Oh! And with a side dish of the best scalloped potatoes I have EVER had being constantly stirred in an enormous wok-like pan on a burner. I asked her what the recipe was for those potatoes and she told me in English with a lovely French accent – of course heavy cream played the biggest role in that yummy concoction. It was honestly one of the best meals we had in Paris and it was well under 15 Euros, and we had to brace ourselves against the wind as we wolfed it down.

One night it actually snowed which is a rare and wonderful freak of nature in Paris and we also happened to be in the square next to the church. Well, absolute crazy chaos ensued at the sight of snow coming down in flakes the size of cottonballs! Car horns honking! Sophisticated French folks yelling and laughing and catching snowflakes in their mouths! I wanted to invite them all to visit me in Colorado. (see photo of the church in snow above) We can show you some snow!

Days before I ever saw Notre Dame in Paris, which left me breathless and teary, I found this sweet little church of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, and I am forever grateful for that. It reminded me of a lesson I already knew – beauty comes from within and is undiminished by age.

Please stay tuned for Part Two of My Birthday in Paris! Your response to this series has been quite amazing and much appreciated. I am also posting photos on Instagram under Jo Ann Brown-Scott,  The Creative Epiphany

My Birthday in Paris – Part One

 

Photos by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, late November 2017  – The Christmas tree is directly in front of Notre Dame. The weather was quite cold, rainy and it snowed one night, but it made the scenery look like fine etches in dark contrast .

Please read my previous blog titled Simple Things That Stir My Soul in order to have the foundation and perspective for this new blog. Paris is by no means a simple thing….you need to read the back story to understand how it happened that I spent my birthday there. Paris is monumentally impressive and a life-changing experience. The people could not have been more kind, cooperative, polite, funny and charming. Parisiennes  are quite eager to be of help and often eager to know who you are, exactly where you are from and anxious to have brief conversations with you if possible. Tres magnifique!

I ate onion soup almost every day for lunch, with a variety of cheeses and salads, in some little cafe or another but of all the places where my traveling companion extraordinaire and I decided to stop,  this photo was taken at the Frenchiest of French cafes serving the very Frenchiest French onion soup I ever ate in my life. One just cannot have enough onion soup, sinfully sweet flaky whip creamy pastry, fat puffy croissants and creme brulee to die for while in Paris. AND if it is also the assignment from your daughter then you must do it. After all, she is the bottom line reason I was there in the first place! (again, refer to previous blog)

My friend Susie Angeline, who also writes a WordPress blog titled The Sunday Traveler and is posting some of the exact same views that I am in her blog (we each see the same things a teensy bit differently ) and I put in a week’s worth of epic, happily exhausting days. We packed a lot in those 7 days – we jam-packed them with major monuments, art museums, cathedrals, elegant shops, a 2 hour day tour of the Latin Quarter, restaurants, and dozens upon dozens of smaller priceless discoveries that warmed our hearts and fed the voracious  appetites of our phone cameras and our digital cameras. When you go to Paris you must take both kinds of cameras – phone camera for ease and spontaneity and digital for clarity when photographing stained glass, rainy shots and distance. Yes it does become a juggling act since a new photo opportunity crops up about every 5 feet.

We hit the ground running about 10:30 am or so from the hotel (after checking in immediately from the airport) and ignored our jet lag to race off on foot to the Eiffel since it is the ultimate icon of Paris and we did not want to be inside a cab as the scenes blurred past us. We approached it from the back side (excuse my French) and found the neighborhood around it to be charming and exceedingly photogenic. We wanted to rent a flat there. We already started planning…we wanted to chuck our lives in the USA and live in Paris for a while. She would become a writer and travel photographer, I would paint and write my fourth book. We would dress the way French women dress. We knew we could do it. We discussed it over pastries, in lieu of birthday cake since it was the actual day of my birth when we landed in Paris. Too large a birthday to mention any numbers here. Don’t even guess please. Just leave it alone. I had 2 huge pastries and a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Combined with jet lag.

I was stunned to finally be in Paris – I thought my chances of getting there anytime soon would be like …… pigs flying. I remained in a constant state of awe for all the next 7 days, 24/7, to such a degree that I had to repeatedly pinch myself. Paris is a state of mind, I learned. Much more than a mere city. It is now in my DNA and I must go back.

Please stay tuned for Part Two of My Birthday in Paris!

Please visit these two extraordinary Blog sites for beautiful, enlightening travel posts by my daughter Kelly K. Heapy at CompassandCamera.wordpress.com  and my traveling companion Angeline Susie Munoz at TheSundayTraveler.wordpress.com