Sitting still (for a bit)

Once again, I forgot to post yesterday. It was a long day of activity, ending with a trip up to Maryland for a visit to a close friend from high school. I fly back home tomorrow. After several days of lots and lots of walking, it was nice to have a day mostly sitting around today. On that note, here is a photo I took yesterday of some people sitting around on benches in the Hirshhorn museum sculpture garden in DC.

Ceci n’est pas une peep.


Ceci n’est pas une peep.

Or, perhaps, the Treachery of Marshmallows. (After Magritte’s Treachery of Images, in case you don’t recognize it.) ceci-nest-pas-une-peep

A few years ago I had a sudden inspiration to create this image, by posing a Peep on a piece of card stock, and writing with a brown Sharpie.  A few weeks ago (though it also feels like years), in a fit of stress-induced work avoidance, I decided to revive and revamp the design. I cleaned it up a bit to make it into an image I could put on a t-shirt in time for Peep season.


In case you need more surrealist t-shirts in your life, too, you can find it on TeePublic. (I ordered one for myself, and it came at least a week ago. But I haven’t washed it yet, and almost forgot about it. What with life taking on its own surreal quality.)

posing and perching

When I travel, I enjoy admiring public works of art, and have many pictures of statues in my photo library. I am also often amused at the way that pigeons will adorn the statuary, especially in parks. Here are a few photos from our 2017 visit to New York City of  a few statues at an entrance to Central Park.


I actually have accumulated a collection of photos over the years of statues with birds on their heads. But putting together a retrospective is beyond my capabilities for tonight.

concrete composition


In spite of the many hours I spent working on it over the last couple of days, the abstract I was working on last night failed to completely materialize. I did make substantial progress in bringing about the substance of the study, but my co-author was not available for the final push before the submission window closed.

The good news is that the project is much more substantive, and I was able to scare up some concrete data that will move us forward.


And on the theme of concrete, since that’s the way my mind works, I figured I would share these photos of some concrete art. The installation pictured was one I saw at Heritage Gardens and Museum in Sandwich, Massachusetts back in June. I really wish I could remember and/or find the name of the artist and the piece (or pieces?) because I found the installation quite enjoyable. What looks from afar like a field of gray rocks, upon closer examination turns out to be varied little concrete forms, created by pouring wet concrete into little cloth bags. The resulting abstract figures have a lot of character.


rust blossoms

I’ve said before that I love the patterns produced by rust and weathered paint. The bold compositions produced by the elements working away at metal surfaces covered in their flimsy dressing of paint can rival those of some of the most venerated abstract expressionists. These canvases, however, are not so much the kind you find in museums, but rather on dumpsters, storage containers, parking lot barriers and such. Here are several examples of compositions of rust and weathered pain that caught my eye, several for producing patterns that were almost floral in appearance. (I realize that what these also look like are inkblots. What do you see in the pictures?)

The base of a lamp post in a parking lot in Providence, RI.

This was in Dublin. I think it was some sort of a garage door.

A parking lot barrier post in New York.

A parking lot post of some sort. In Massachusetts.

Some sort of wall at the Völklingen Ironworks, in Germany.

Last night my front porch was visited by the ghost of William Morris

William Morris (1834-1896) was, among other things¹, an Englsh artist and textile designer. His iconic designs featured intricate and highly stylized plants and flowers. I became familiar with his work largely through my familiarity with the variations of his Acanthus leaf design that was used for the wallpaper, signage and even wrapping paper in Barnes & Noble stores through the late 1990s.

It came as quite a surprise to me this morning to find evidence that his ghost had visited our home in the night, and apparently had a tryst with Jack Frost on our front porch.

Intricate patterns of ice covered the whole width of the porch, and varied in detail and density and style.

There were ferns, leaves, flowers, and brambles.

Mr. Morris also included some beadwork in some of his designs.


A view from my standing height, to give a sense of the scope and size of the patterns.

Wherever I looked were more things to photograph. (Click on any of the photos to see a larger version and zoom in. You will be very impressed by the designer-ghost’s attention to detail.)

It snowed overnight here, and there was apparently freezing rain and wind as well. I had opened the front door to get a look at the snow in the front yard, and was greeted by all of this. As best I can guess, little drops of watery ice that landed on our porch were blown around by the wind, leaving little streaks of ice behind them. (This is much like what I guessed happened the morning I found frost feathers on my car.) Either that or it was indeed the ghost of William Morris, and he spent the whole night drawing his patterns on the porch.

¹ I had no idea that he was also an author of fantasy novels. This may support my ghost theory.

Giant spiders of Northern California (friday foto finder: spiders)

Back in June of 2008, we had a trip to California to see my family in Oakland. One of our favorite things to do is to take the ferry over the bay to San Francisco. This particular visit, we were greeted by this cheerful fellow:

This is a sculpture by Louise Borgeois, and it apparently left the piers of San Francisco not too long after I saw it there.

The spider sculpture may have left, but I believe that there may be other giant spiders in the greater San Francisco area. At the Oakland Zoo, for example, the playground has a super cool spider web made of ropes for kids to climb on. At least, I believe it to be made of ropes. It is just possible that it was made by a giant spider who was scared off by the swarms of small children.

This week’s friday foto finder challenge was to find and share photos of spiders. I’ve got quite a few photos of real spiders in my library, as well as photos of their webs. I have posted photos of real spiders before, too. (One of my favorite posts with photos was about a little green spider.) Come to think of it, I also have a fairly large collection of things with a spider or web motif, thanks to my love of Halloween. (I did, in fact, put spiderweb placemats on my wedding registry.) When it came time to post, though, this spider scuplture came to mind. (Perhaps because I missed the statue fff a couple of weeks ago.)

To see what other spiders have been caught, or to find out more about joining in on the foto-sharing fun, check out the fff blog.

I feel I must offer an apology to Sally, who has a phobia relating to all sorts of arthropods, for the images and especially the title of this post. Sorry, Sally. I hope that I haven’t given you nightmares!

I also thought of YTSL, who has displayed many photos of interesting spiders and webs from her hikes around Hong Kong, including some real giant spiders. Check out her tag critter spottings to spot a few such critters. (Sally, I strongly recommend that you don’t do this…though you may enjoy some of her other photos of critters, some of which have fewer than 6 legs!)

The journey was as much the goal as the destination.

We decided to have an excursion into Boston today, to do something fun for my mother’s visit. We didn’t have a specific plan in mind, but thought we’d take the train and play it by ear for the afternoon, and then get dinner at Pho Pasteur. (2 years ago, we took the train into Boston and happened to eat there after wandering around the Common, and now it has become a tradition when we take the train into Boston. They have really yummy soup.)

On the train ride in, we decided that we’d check out the Institute of Contemporary Art, which none of us had been to (at least in its current location). It looked to be a reasonable (~15 to 20 minute) walk from South Station.

The building itself is very cool, with amazing views of the harbor.

We all enjoyed looking out, as well as looking at the artwork in the exhibits.

The walk from South Station may have been a bit long for those with shorter legs, especially bundled up and wearing clompy snow boots. There may have been some tiredness. We ended up staying about 2 hours, which was about right. Then we took the T toward dinner.

Whenever we go to art museums, Phoebe and Theo are always inspired to do their own art. Here we are at the restaurant before our food arrived. Theo was drawing a train.

Taking the T back to South Station after dinner, and looking a bit like poster children.

On the train home, we managed to score one of the coveted tables. Theo was happy to be able to draw some more. He spent most of the train ride drawing.

He was looking a bit tired, but his picture was super cool. He later explained to us that it was a robot as big as a planet that had thousands of robots inside.

3 rusty dumpsters

I love the patterns often formed by peeling paint and rust. With their constant exposure to the elements, along with the rough treatment they receive due to their function in the world, the outside surfaces of dumpsters are often home to particularly fascinating non-objective compositions.¹

Here are 3 dumpsters I have come across in the past few years.²

¹ In posting this, I realize that may well have now proven to many of you that I am completely insane. That may well be, but I assure you that I am quite harmless.
² The two blue ones are in parking lots where I park frequently. I can’t remember where the green one was.