Tag Archives: Art

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.



Party in a bag: Some assembly required

In college art class, it wasn’t the charcoal drawing or the acrylic painting that I loved, it was the found object sculpture.

Found object sculpture describes art created from undisguised, but often modified, objects that are not normally considered art, like toilets or empty pop bottles. The memorials around the country made from World Trade Center girders would be a form of found object sculpture. I used a broken television in my college found art project, and as I recall, it spoke “good concept, poor execution” to my professor.

I’m not a sculptor, but I still appreciate the challenge of assembling aesthetic beauty from odds-and-ends around the house. I use these skills in creating an epic frittata from leftovers, for example, and I used them today in creation of a mini party for my Dear stepdaughter.

It’s her birthday later this week, and we met her for dinner. Her gift arrived over the weekend, so I cloaked it in wrapping and a recycled bow in the perfect color. Birthday card? Check! I had one in my stationery drawer. Delivery mechanism for the cash portion of the gift? I got all origami on the bill, and inserted the president’s smiling face into a tiny oval photo frame for which I hadn’t yet found a use.

Hmm, what to use for a stand-in to birthday cake? How about this fabulous package of white chocolate-macadamia nut cookie mix that’s been lurking in the cupboard? Whew, I’ve got butter and egg in the fridge. Handily, my mother-in-law had some time on her hands during her visit today, so whipped it up and put the cookies to bake in the oven. Disposable container in the perfect size for a dozen cookies? Found this in the package saved from a selection of deli meats. Birthday candles? Ta da! In the junk drawer. Lighter? Yes, there’s one floating around in the bottom of my purse.

cookieTo haul the whole kit and caboodle to the restaurant where we met Dear stepdaughter? How about an adorable reversible shopping bag I’ve been keeping in my gift closet for just such an occasion?

Our dinner was perfect, including the off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday” over the lighted cookie.

Like a work of art.

Close encounters of a beachcomber

One can drive for miles on South Padre Island’s beach and see nothing but sand and waves. There’s a certain meditative quality to it.

Then, just as big events punctuate the hum-drum cadence of life, one happens upon a real find.


This strange space capsule sits on the beach on the edge of the dune several miles north of the municipality.

And it’s mine.

Can’t you see the spray-painted sign?


Wild, huh?

The other side has a message, too.


It might be a rescue pod from a ship, but in any case, it’s been wasting away on the beach a long time. A man was inspecting it as I approached, and he told me it’s been there at least 7 years; that’s when he first found it.


The man (who coincidentally happened to be from Willow Creek, Minnesota) told me someone had glued the crushed cans and lighters to the hull in the years since. I found this community art to be strangely appealing.


The man on the beach suggested we drive a few miles north, and we’d find another bit of community art, and we did.


Now one finds a lot of garbage on the beach including abandoned coolers, water bottles and clothing. But construction hats? That’s just bizarre.

Here’s what’s really weird: On our way back, the engine in the Escalade inexplicably quit within yards of the space capsule. It would not restart despite my Beloved’s best efforts. A Good Samaritan in a Jeep with a long tow rope towed us off the beach. While we waited for rescue (our cell phones had no service so we were at the mercy of passersby), the clock in the Escalade gained about 90 minutes (or lost about 22 and half hours, we’re not sure which). Only the battery worked the whole time; my Beloved suspects our fuel pump pooped out, not our electrical system.

So why did our engine quit, right there, next to the decorated space capsule? And if it really was the fuel pump, why did we lose time?

Cue theme from “Twilight Zone.”

Art borne ‘In Tension’ or of intention

With a last name like “Brilliant,” one might expect a lot from him.

I walked by a pop-up art display in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, earlier this week, and I was struck with the title: “In Tension.”

Say it a few times fast. Sounds like “intention” doesn’t it? Did the artist, um, intend that?

It’s a strange-looking work in a former drug store of what turns out to be coffee stirrers and coffee cup sleeves; it looks like a big, airy tornado. Or possibly a representation of Jabba the Hut’s intestinal tract. It’s the work of artist Jonathan Brilliant, and it’s on display only until Saturday.

For images and a description, click here. According to the story at Al.com, the entire structure is woven together (get it? with tension?) and supported by tubes of the coffee cup sleeves.

Like good art, the work made me think about the difference between tension and intention. Tension is bad, right? But in this case, tension is required to keep the structure together. Intention was required to create the work (that amount of coffee stirrers doesn’t just appear out of thin air). But the work is on display for only eight days. Who intends that?

Now I’m thinking about “In Tension” in my own life. Is my life full of tension? Or intention? How about yours?

For another post today on tenses and intention, check out my author blog here.

Colorful distraction

Every year about this time, I have to force myself to walk past the school supplies displays that dot the Big Box stores I frequent.

This year, I succumbed to the undeniably colorful lure of a new box of crayons.

I bought a box for my 8-year-old nephew.

Not only did the box have such delights as mauvelous and wild strawberry, it had a bonus: A free invitation to Crayola’s StoryStudio which promised to convert photo portraits into cartoon characters.

The project kept my nephew occupied for about five minutes, which isn’t bad for a toy you can’t plug in, but it seems you get what you pay for. The free StoryStudio didn’t really turn a photo into a cartoon — it offered a catalog of attributes (eyes, eyebrows, mouths, chins) to puzzle together into a character that looks sort of like you.

I’ve always said I had cartoon-like eyes. Here’s the proof.

This is what I got in the Haunted House storyline — me, about to be nabbed by a scary alien. Not to give away the ending to the coloring book, but the alien turned out to be a not-so-scary friend in costume at a Halloween party.

Do not ask me what the yellow green vapor is. It wasn’t identified in the story. That’s probably the scariest part.

White board art

My white board beckoned me, and a quote from an Atlanta librarian inspired me. Isn’t June all about parades?