Tag Archives: Art

Saturday afternoon to-do list

The best use of a Saturday afternoon is reading a book, preferably as the sun streams through a nearby window or better yet, brightly overhead.

luxury reading

Woman Reading by Robert James Gordon

My appointment calendar for 2016 is The Reading Woman, filled with pictures of great works of art of women reading. (Yes, I still use a printed calendar because I’m a paperphile and digital schedules don’t have pretty pictures.) I’d like to think I look like Gordon’s woman when I’m reading, all dressed up and bejeweled, wearing a jaunty hat.

But most Saturdays, I’m more like this woman of a Mentha painting …


Maid Reading in a Library by Edouard John Mentha

I’m immersed in frilly description and ponderous plot. But I should be cleaning.


Hampshire hydrant art suggests more than just municipal upright water pipes

Woe to the lowly fire hydrant, mostly ignored or regarded as invoking a parking restriction. Unless it’s your house that’s on fire, and then its magnificence is evident.

You can adopt a dog. You can adopt a baby. Heck, you can even adopt a new lifestyle. But did you know you can adopt a fire hydrant?

Well, in Hampshire, Ill., you can.

Along with the responsibility to maintain the area around the hydrant and clear it of snow in the wintertime, the hydrant supporter earns the right to paint his or her hydrant, says Mike Reid, village trustee.

Modeling a program on Geneva’s Art On Fire program, Reid plans to get traction for hydrant adoption by hosting a contest next year and offering prizes to hydrant artists. “You can paint it any way you want to as long as you get the artwork approved, maintain the design for at least a year and avoid anything obscene,” Reid told me. Oh, and this is a painting project, not a sculptural one; artists cannot affix anything in any way, shape or form to their hydrants. Rust-preventative paint is required (i.e., Rust-oleum).

Talented artists in this little village already have taken to the streets. Here’s my art review of their work:

Kathi Drive

Kathi Drive

It’s not a passel of artists without a Photorealist in the bunch (an art style where the illusion of reality is created through paint). What’s a fire hydrant if not good ‘ol true red? Note the attention to detail: the artist on Kathi Drive left the chain in its natural rust color. Not sure what alien transmissions that little mesh hat is designed to ward off.

White Oak Realist hydrant

White Oak Street

Not to be outdone, this White Oak Street artist choose a more traditional Realism approach. If Rust-oleum doesn’t list this shade as Fire Engine Red, I don’t know what is. Careful inspection of this photo reveals even bits of grass around this hydrant are red.

White Oak Street

White Oak Street

A little ways down White Oak Street, another artist went the route of Precisionism, an American movement whose focus was modern industry and urban landscapes. R2D2 fans, take note.

Centennial Drive

Centennial Drive

Animation art in the Pop Art movement clearly inspired this Centennial Drive artist. Here’s looking at you, Carl the Minion.

Warner Street

Warner Street

On Warner Street, the artists (self identified as Reid and his wife) adopted the Painterly style. Note how the dalmatian’s spots celebrate the use of paint through evident brushwork and texture.

I’m waiting for some artist to employ Impressionism (think Monet and the art of light) or Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollack anyone?) in their design. Or even better? Let’s see some Dadaism (oh, don’t be absurd).

Want to adopt a hydrant in Hampshire? Lt. Jeanne Maki at the Hampshire Fire Protection District to claim your hydrant and learn program details.

Other Minnesota Transplant musings about Hampshire:

Does this work of art make my front door look like a lush?

Oh, my god, has it been three years already?!

Yes, it’s been three years since we painted the dining room (and the living room and the kitchen).


Time flies when you’re … um … not painting every wall on the main floor of your house.

In any case, when I showed off the before-and-after pictures of the dining room following that transformation, I left out the north wall, which has looked pretty much like this for three years:

entry way before

A little naked. It’s an expanse deserving of something dramatic, so my Beloved and I have looked for that Something Dramatic for a while now (I still can’t believe it’s been three years of dithering–I could have had a Mona Lisa commissioned, painted and paid for in that time). For a while, we were looking for something gnarly (as in literally gnarled) or possibly a unique piece of driftwood.

No dice.

This week, my Beloved painted the front door. What possessed him to do this, I don’t know, but I can attest it was not me who put it on his Honey Do list. It used to be a sort of tired pine green. Now it’s a lovely shade of Pinot Noir.

He apparently also got tired of waiting for the perfect Something Dramatic to show up unbidden at our front door so he went trolling on the internet to find something to adorn the spot above the church bench. He found Something Dramatic, and it arrived at our front door today:

entry way after

I think it’s cool. If you stare at it long enough, it feels like you’re traveling through the galaxy in hyperdrive.

Hey, wine has an other worldly lure. Maybe we should have gone with Pinot Noir three years ago.

Close-up view from the edge of the universe.

Close-up view from the edge of the universe.

Art or kitsch?

shoe 1

I discovered this sculpture while walking my dog yesterday. Let’s call it Das Boot, even though it is neither a boat or a large glass boot from which one drinks beer. It is a boot. Made of wood.

shoe 2

This is no clog! The artist, whom I could not identify, even drilled holes for the shoelaces. This is quite true to life: Boots have laces.

A little bit of green stuff was growing on this boot, proving it to be a still life (“a rolling stone gathers no moss”).

Do you consider chain saw sculpture to be art or craft?

I’m going with art.

Symmetry in chaos

My Beloved finds elements of World War II fascinating. If it has Nazis, death camps or slow-motion battle scenes, it’s a movie/documentary/television special he wants to watch.

I’m like, “yeah, yeah, never forget, this is depressing … when can I watch Project Runway?”

So when he suggested we tour the National WWII museum in New Orleans, I was less than enthused. A good marriage involves compromise, and he did let me wander through a bookstore for an hour while he stopped at Home Depot, so I owed him.

As it turns out, the museum earns its status as the No. 1 Attraction in New Orleans by TripAdvisor and the No. 1 “Best Place to Learn U.S. Military History” by USA Today.

As mentioned in a previous post, the 4D movie narrated by Tom Hanks, “Beyond All Boundaries,” is excellent. Elsewhere, visitors can walk through a multi-story exhibit of war history that appeals to almost all the senses (I didn’t get to actually taste C-rations, but you get the point).

A new addition is the U.S. Freedom Pavillion: The Boeing Center featuring full-size aircraft and other vehicles of war. The morning we were there, curators were repositioning a tank — we got to see a World War II tank moving!

I found many things interesting at the museum, but this artifact struck me as being artful, which I found ironic for relic of war.

weapons as art

This is a Pratt & Whitney twin wasp engine used in a number of Allied fighters and bombers of the time. The symmetry and level of detail were striking. I Instagramed the image and used an old-fashioned filter on it.

To think why this engine was built and how it was used — powering aircraft that dropped bombs to kill human beings — is depressing. But there is beauty in the design and craftmanship; to create is redemptive.

I benefited from the display, as hoped for by the museum’s promoters: “The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today — so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.”

Mystery section


This was scrawled on the wall of a bathroom I visited today.

No, not a graffiti-tarnished bar vestibule. A book store, actually. Probably the biggest Barnes & Noble I’ve ever visited. I had the opportunity to be there fr an extended enough period to visit the restroom because, alas, the Twins’ spring training game was rained out.

The “what you allow” line has value, I think, but I’ll let you, dear reader, decide was “S” and “D” stand for; it’s a the mystery to me because I was in the women’s bathroom.

Steamer trunk as art

Among the things I learned first-hand this year was how paint can transform a beat-up piece of furniture. I used liquid latex back in October to promote a dark dresser without personality into a shabby chic credenza for my office.

But I’m a kindergartener with finger paints compared to Rockford artist Theresa Rowinski who turned my very old steamer truck into a work of art.

I inherited the truck about 15 years ago from my grandfather who probably got it from his mother-in-law (my great-grandmother). In all likelihood, it transported one of my ancestor’s belongings from Europe to America in the hull of an ocean liner at some point more than 100 years ago.

I came late to the “paint fixes anything” show so it is my ex-husband who can be credited with painting the dirty, beat-up truck a pale yellow. He made it better but not much. It had good bones but wasn’t much to look at. Here’s how it looked recently in my spare bedroom:

Guest bedroom: After

See there? At the foot of the bed? It contained my scrapbooking supplies.

My Beloved hated the pale yellow and thought it deserved something better. So his Christmas gift to me was to have Rowinski repaint it, only this time, the trunk became the artist’s canvas. Her work is amazing. See what she did with it:

painted chest

I mean, it’s so beautiful I can’t bear to relegate it to the spare room anymore. I’m going to find a home in my master bedroom for it.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the top and front:

So often, I think of furniture for its functional value, but I love what paint — especially paint applied by a pro — can do for furniture’s aesthetics.