EXPERIENCE ESPARDRILLES

Leopard & black

Leopard & black

Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.

Like picking candy, which one?

Like picking candy, which one?

Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children. images-7 images-9

Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.

In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet. images-10 images

Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.

Here’s where – Carrer d’Avinyo, 7 – 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. +34 933 010 172 – amanualalpargatera.coml

Are you espardrille owners? What do you like about them?

 

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

Antonio Gaudi, unappreciated in his brief life as an architect. His genius gave life to an edifice in Barcelona, never before done . . . anywhere. We were witness to his genius in 2010.

Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Spires of the church.

Spires of the church.

Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers; the sacristy was damaged, and the fire took 45 minutes to contain.

Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows

The stained glass windows were placed perfectly to permit sunlight penetration, spreading colors from the stained glass onto the massive columns.

La Sagrada is an architectural wonder, however, yet unfinished. Worth a trip to Barcelona. Then you can see other works of Gaudi’s architectural ingenuity.

You can purchase your ticket on-line the day before to avoid the long lines and make sure you include a trip up to the top of one of the towers for an amazing view!

For those of you who have been and seen, what details were your favorite?

 

THE BIG CITY

NY statueoflibHasn’t everyone been to the big city? New York City. That’s also known as the Island of Manhattan. That plot of land in-between two bodies of water, the Hudson River on the Westside,  and the East River on the, well, you can guess.

 

The Westside has the Battery with the Statue of Liberty,

Ellis Island in the distance

Ellis Island in the distance

Ellis Island and One World Trade Center and Chinatown. The East Side has Gracie Mansion (NY Mayor’s home) and the Brooklyn Bridge, a historic landmark. Battery Park, seen here,  is worth a visit.

It’s because of Lana, our house guest, that we visited all these places, neglected when you live in their midst. Here’s pieces and pictures of the city. Over the city sounds you can  hear the hawkers selling food, pictures (a law prohibiting hawking by Spider Man and his friends is coming), clothes, souvenirs, and more. Below there are photos of St. Patrick’s under renovation, the flags at Rockefeller Plaza, city view lights, cars, people, Lana taking it all in.

One World Trade Center (Renamed from Freedom Center)

One World Trade Center (Renamed from Freedom Center)

 

Ellis Island

Ellis Island close-up

P1110523 P1110536 P1110534 P1110513 P1110391 NYchinatwn nystreetview1 P1110500You have to love living here with all there is to explore. When’s the last time you toured “the city”?

LES MIZ

Les-Miserables-Playbill-03-14Wonders of youthful dreams. He was a boy when I met him, my grandson’s best friend.

David & Kyle

Kyle’s dream was to be on Broadway.

Off to the pub for dinner.

Off to the pub for dinner.

Here he is, the guy on the right, a star in Les Miz. The other guy is my grandson, David. The photo was taken after the show backstage. Kyle got us house seats and joined us for dinner. It was more than special, and so exciting to see him perform. Lana, our guest from South Africa, although she had seen the show at home, she, with us, enjoyed interfacing with a Broadway cast.

Les Miz photos

Les Miz cast photos

Here’s some scenes from the show.

Everyone want his autograph and to take pictures with him. He is good looking and charming, of course.

Everyone wanted his autograph and to take pictures with him. He is good looking and charming, of course.

Here we all are, not everyone get a group shot with a star. Thank you Kyle.

Here we all are, not everyone gets to take a group shot with a star. Thank you Kyle. Have you seen this revival?

 

 

 

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM

Fashion Collection at the Met

Fashion Collection at the Met

Can you really see New York in three days? We sure tried, we wanted to give Lana, our guest, the grand tour. In an email quote from her today. She said, “And my visit with you is still a highlight, despite the speed, as u say.”

Metropolitan Fashion collection

Metropolitan Fashion collection

I hoped we would get to at least two museums on Friday, the 5th, but alas, after only one, we were ready for the heap. Have you been to the Metropolitan lately? Egad, it’s a few cities in one building. It’s a place to get your fill of the innovative and of antiquity. The rooftop is amazing. If you don’t go anywhere else in this building, you must visit the rooftop. The glass-like structure, a 2-way mirror was fun, like the fun-house mirrors in a carnival.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rooftop glass garden exhibit until Nov. 2nd

Rooftop glass 2-way mirror garden exhibit until Nov. 2nd

Glass structure

Glass structure

There is an app for the Met, so you can plan your visit, but since I claim naivety in the app realm, we visited the Met without a plan.  At one time, I was familiar with the museum. I thought there would be no problem. I was sorely mistaken. The museum app starts with a lovely, clean design that begs to be explored. It doesn’t open on a home screen, but takes you immediately to its featured exhibitions, listing those that will end soonest at the top and exhorting you to “catch them while you can.” Clicking onto each exhibit’s page provides a nice description of the work being shown, while other sections of the app showcase both masterpieces and oddities in the museum’s extensive collection. These tabs are expertly curated, and echo the Met’s larger social media strategy, which feels surprisingly current for an institution filled with antiquities.

Entry into Temple Dendoor

Entry into Temple Dendoor

I was overwhelmed. But after a brief deep breath, I said, “Follow me.” I led Lana, and hubby Tom to the newest exhibition. The Temple of Dendur (Dendoor in nineteenth century sources) is an Egyptian temple that was built by the Roman governor of Egypt, Petronius, around 15 BC and dedicated to Isis, Osiris, as well as two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain, Pediese (“he whom Isis has given”) and Pihor (“he who belongs to Horus“). The temple was commissioned by Emperor Augustus of Rome and has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since 1978. If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth the trip, you get to walk through a real Egyptian temple. Those folks were really small, the door openings are quite narrow.

Central Park

Central Park

Lunch in the Member’s dining room, was the delight of the day, a lovely quiet space overlooking Central Park. Best place in the museum to dine. Next stop was to see the paintings, as much as we had the energy to see. 15-17th century, 18th century Impressionism, 19th century Hudson River, it was endless. To get to each exhibit, we walked miles and miles and miles. The museum is ten cities in one.

Monet

Monet

We had lots to see, so we ran, didn’t walk, over to the American Wing, since this was Lana’s first visit to America. Make sense? We whizzed through, which was frustrating for me since furniture and the decorative arts is part of my soul. But most important, I showed Lana and Tom (who bless his heart, chauffeured us into and out of the city) the Herter Brothers furniture that once graced the rooms at Lockwood, the very same company that decorated the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in 1867. I had to show Lana Lockwood, although we didn’t get there until Monday on the way to the airport.  Where else would she get her very own private tour of an American National historic landmark built in 1867.

What is your favorite at the Metropolitan Museum?

Albert Bierstadt part of an American Indian painting

Albert Bierstadt part of an American Indian painting in the West.

THE CLOISTERS

1024px-Penn_Station_NYC_main_entranceJust imagine. This image depicts the busiest hub in the world. Seriously. This is Penn Station, NYC at Madison Square Garden. We were there picking up our house guest. Lana, my editor’s daughter from South Africa, came to get the best tour ever of New York City, after four weeks with her daughter and new baby in Virginia. Tom manned the MDX, and I paced the sidewalk. We had never met and she had never been to the States. We had skyped briefly once or twice, so we knew what each of us looked like. She didn’t have to wear a red rose and neither did I, but just imagine finding each other in this people maze. We did it. She recognized me first, and a moment hence, I recognized her. She arrived mid-afternoon, Thursday, the 4th. The plan was not to waste a moment. The timing was perfect to visit the Cloisters on the way home. The first of many sights. We had every minute  of each day planned until she had to leave on Monday, the 8th. So, here goes. I will share what we experienced on this day. I hadn’t been to the Cloisters since the days of historic investigations while in interior design school, long, long ago.

The tower at the Cloisters

The tower at the Cloisters

The Cloisters is a museum located on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, in Fort Tryon Park in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, used to exhibit the museum’s extensive collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe.

P1110090

 

 

Lana in the cloistered garden

Lana in the cloistered gardens

The area around the buildings was landscaped with gardens planted according to horticultural information obtained from medieval manuscripts and artifacts, and the structure includes multiple medieval-style cloistered herb gardens.

 

Cloistered columns

The cloistered columns

The Cloisters was designated a New York City landmark in 1974, and Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters were listed together as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

History

One of the many tapestries

One of the many tapestries

The 66.5-acre Fort Tryon Park was created by the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. beginning in 1917, when he purchased the Billings Estate and other properties in the Fort Washington area and hired Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of one of the designers of Central Park, and the Olmsted Brothers firm to create a park, which he then donated to New York City in 1935. As part of the overall project, Rockefeller also bought the extensive medieval art collection of George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor and collector, who had already established a medieval-art museum near his home in Fort Washington, and gave it to the Metropolitan along with a number of pieces from Rockefeller’s own collection, including the Unicorn Tapestries. These became the core of the collection now housed at the Cloisters.

Vaulted ceiliings

Vaulted ceiliings

The museum was designed by Charles Collens who incorporated parts from five cloistered abbeys of Catalan, Occitan and French origins. Buildings from Sant Miquel de Cuixà, Sant Guilhèm dau Desèrt, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigòrra, and Froville were disassembled stone-by-stone and shipped to New York City, where they were reconstructed and integrated by Collens into a cohesive whole by simplifying and merging the various medieval styles in his new buildings.

Collection

Medieval depiction of Christ on the cross. Notice the stiffness of this early work of art.

Medieval depiction of Christ on the cross.

The Cloisters collection contains approximately five thousand European medieval works of art, with a particular emphasis on pieces dating from the 12th through the 15th centuries. The Cloisters also holds many medieval manuscripts and illuminated books.

 

 

 

 

 

Library and Archives

The Cloisters Library is one of the Metropolitan Museum’s thirteen libraries. It contains 15,000 volumes of books. The Library and Archives contains Museum Administration papers, the personal papers of George Grey Barnard, early glass lantern slides of museum materials, curatorial papers, museum dealer records, scholars records, recordings of musical performances at the museum, and maps.

Italian Savonarola chair 15th-16th century. Back splat is embossed leather

Italian Savonarola chair 15th-16th century. Back splat is embossed leather

Although the Cloisters was established specifically to house Medieval Art, we noticed that over the years the collection grew, encompassing the art of later centuries up to and including the seventeenth century.

Friendly birds looking for handouts. We were seated right beside them.

Friendly birds looking for handouts. We were seated right beside them.

We enjoyed a rest and cool bottled water. Lana was shocked that the two waters, one carbonated, cost $8.00. So did we, in fact.

 

 

Come back for more of what we did during the days of Lana’s visit. It was amazing.

Did you find anything here inspiring you to visit the Cloisters? Be sure to take the tour.  Fascinating.

 

 

 

GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY


Green-Wood Gothic Revival Gate Entrance

Green-Wood Gothic Revival Gate Entrance

Did you know that New York’s Central Park, an historic landmark, was designed based on the lay of the land of a cemetery? The Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006 by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Located in Greenwood Heights,  it lies several blocks southwest of Prospect Park, between Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Kensington, and Sunset Park. Paul Goldberger in The New York Times, wrote that it was said “it is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon the Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.

The plots

The plots

Inspired by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a cemetery in a naturalistic park-like landscape in the English manner was first established, Green-Wood was able to take advantage of the varied topography provided by glacial moraines. Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn and built in 1838, is on cemetery grounds, rising approximately 200 feet above sea level. As such, there on that spot in 1920, was erected a Revolutionary War monument by Frederick Ruckstull, Altar to Liberty: Minerva. From this height, the bronze Minerva statue gazes towards The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Chapel

Chapel

The cemetery was the idea of Henry Evelyn Pierrepont, a Brooklyn social leader. It was a popular tourist attraction in the 1850s and was the place most famous New Yorkers who died during the second half of the nineteenth century were buried. It is still an operating cemetery with approximately 600,000 graves spread out over 478 acres (1.9 km²). The rolling hills and dales, several ponds and an on-site chapel provide an environment that still draws visitors.

Decorative Sylvan Water pond at the cemetery

Decorative Sylvan Water pond at the cemetery

There are several famous monuments located there, including a statue of DeWitt Clinton and a Civil War Memorial. During the Civil War, Green-Wood Cemetery created the “Soldiers’ Lot” for free veterans’
burials.

The gates were designed by Richard Upjohn in Gothic Revival style. The main entrance to the cemetery was built in 1861 of Belleville brownstone. The sculptured groups depicting biblical scenes from the New Testament are the work of John M. Moffitt. A Designated Landmarks of New York plaque was erected on it in 1958 by the New York Community Trust.

mausoleum swiss chalet

mausoleum Swiss chalet

Several wooden shelters were also built, including one in a Gothic Revival style,

Gothic Revival mausoleum

Gothic Revival mausoleum

and another resembling a Swiss chalet. A descendent colony of monk parakeets that are believed to have escaped their containers while in transit now nests in the spires of the Gothic Revival gate, as well as other areas in Brooklyn.

Green-Wood has remained non-sectarian, but was generally considered a Christian burial place for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of good repute. One early regulation was that no one executed for a crime, or even dying in jail, could be buried there. Although he died in the Ludlow Street Jail, the family of the infamous “Boss” Tweed managed to circumvent this rule.

The cemetery was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006. In 1999, The Green-Wood Historic Fund, a not-for-profit institution, was created to continue preservation, beautification, educational programs and community outreach as the current “working cemetery” evolves into a Brooklyn cultural institution.

A piece of Egypt

A piece of Egypt

Cemeteries are architectural landscape wonders. I took my interior design students to Green-Wood Cemetery to sketch the mausoleums. Some structures looked like cottages, some looked like  palaces. I remember this one, fashioned after an Egyptian pyramid. I have sketched and painted cemetery landscapes. How about you, what do cemeteries mean to you? Do you like cemeteries?

Resource: Wikipedia

 

GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The Gothic style, 1150-1500, originated in France and spread over the whole of western Europe.

Rose medallion window

Round centered rose medallion colored glass window above the large windows

Tracery

Tracery sections outlining the center of this window

Flying buttresses

Flying buttresses

Gothic art and architecture were the spirit of piety, humility and asceticism, which was the fundamental teaching of the church during the Middle Ages. The style was to appeal to the emotional side of a joyless people who were steeped in ignorance and superstition.

Notre Dame section

Notre Dame section

Chartres Cathedral, France

Chartres Cathedral, France

Typical architectural features  are the pointed arch, ribbed vault, rose medallion windows, tracery and the supporting flying buttresses. Gothic cathedrals are tall, with soaring arches pointing heavenward. Rays of sunlight pour through high, stained-glass windows and bathe the wood, masonry and marble. Walls, columns, entrances and doors are carved with figures and scenes from the Bible.

Not only great cathedrals and abbeys but also hundreds of smaller churches were built in the style. A style that not only was expressed in architecture but in sculpture, painting, and all the minor and decorative arts.

Trinity Church in New York’s Wall Street area at 75 Broadway was built in 1846 by architect Richard Upjohn as Gothic Revival.  The Revival style became prevalent from the mid to the end of the nineteenth century.

Have you been to France’s Chartres, Notre Dame or New York’s Trinity Church? Would you like to play hide and seek in one of these buildings?

 

NEW YORK’S WRECKING BALL

Looks like one of New York City’s top museums, The Frick, could become another mammoth site. One of my favorites, is going bye, bye. Not that they are destroying the existing, but rather stretching its wings. This expansion will eliminate the prized garden on East 70th Street and revamp how this mansion is used.

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has the power to turn down the proposed expansion that will wipe out

Frick Garden

Frick Garden

the cherished garden with an inelegant addition. Our city has suffered from tearing down the old beautiful buildings from the Gilded Age and replacing them with clumsy additions. Remember the handsome historic Beaux-Arts Penn Station, built in 1910, on West 34th Street and 8th Avenue, by architects McKim, Mead and White? For the sake of New York City’s wing stretching, it was taken down in 1963 and replaced with a modern version in 1969, a characterless space. New York suffers from an ephemeral philosophy. Do we really need to continue to destroy our precious history?

Entry

Entry

In a recent article in the New York Times, by Michael Kimmelman, he said, “New Yorkers have seen the consequences of trustee restlessness and real estate magical thinking, which destroy or threaten to undo favorite buildings.” Kimmelman goes on to remind us about buildings that had additions stuck onto them, and then the use of the building flopped. “Even the New York Public Library wanted to disembowel its historic building at 42nd Street before thinking better of it.” said Kimmelman.

Dining room

Dining room

Although the Met does have a great decorative arts collection, just think of how Frick gathered his  to decorate his mansion. What the Frick has meant to me is its personal, magnificent, historic works. While studying interior design at the New York School of Interior Design, I spent many hours and days studying, sketching and absorbing history. Housed on Fifth Avenue in his former home, the private collection of Henry Frick is the perfect escape from the larger galleries and museums. This is a great spot to unwind after a long morning walking and of course enjoying the shops, the people and the architecture.

Conservatory

Conservatory

The central conservatory space can be peaceful and relaxing. Try to time your visit with one of the free talks provided. The museum staff is knowledgeable. The audio guide excellent.

In 1910, Frick purchased property at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street to construct a mansion, now known as The Frick Collection. Built to a massive size and covering a full city block, Frick told friends he was building it to “make rival Carnegie’s place look like a miner’s shack.”

Frick collection gallery

Frick collection gallery

To this day, the Frick Collection is home to one of the finest collections of European paintings in the United States. It contains many works of art dating from the pre-Renaissance up to the post-Impressionist eras, but in no logical or chronological order. It includes several very large paintings by J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.

Living room

Living room

In addition to paintings, it also contains exhibitions of carpets, porcelain, sculptures, and period furniture. Frick continued to live at both his New York mansion and at Clayton until his death in 1919.

Frick and his wife Adelaide had booked tickets to travel back to New York on the inaugural trip of the Titanic, along with J.P. Morgan. The couple canceled their trip after Adelaide sprained her ankle in Italy and missed the disastrous voyage.

What are you thoughts? Is bigger better? Should they stretch their wings and make another New York behemoth out of this charming historic mansion?

SO–YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER!

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Connecticut Writers Welcome Bestselling Suspense Author to Teach Multi-Day Workshop

Cherry Adair to teach master class workshop to writers of all genres this fall

Meriden, CT–July 28, 2014–Connecticut Romance Writers of America (CTRWA) is pleased to announce they will be welcoming author Cherry Adair

Cherry Adair, Author

Cherry Adair, Author

to teach a master level workshop, “Everything and the Kitchen Sink.” The workshop will take place at the Four-Points Sheraton in Meriden, CT, on September 13-14, 2014. Writers of all genres are welcome and can benefit from this workshop.

Adair will be teaching writers how to build 3-D characters who leap off the page, how to create luminous dialogue, and how to layer and texture your novel so that every word does at least two jobs. Students will learn the elements of plotting in order to write faster and smarter. Adair will even discuss how to construct a viable career plan so writers can have the career they want. Many CTRWA members have attended Adair’s workshops in the past and can attest to her passion for both writing and teaching.

New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Cherry Adair has carved a niche for herself with her sexy, sassy, fast-paced, action adventure novels which have appeared on numerous bestsellers lists, won dozens of awards and garnered praise from reviewers and fans alike. She hates first drafts, has a passion for mentoring unpublished writers, and is hard at work on three series – T-FLAC, CUTTER CAY and LODESTONE.

For more details on how to register for the workshop, as well as information about the hotel, please visit www.ctrwa.org and go to the heading “Cherry Adair Master Class.”

Cherry Adair is Imaginative, inventive, innovative and, oh yes. . .fun. She is patient, yet stirs things up. I speak from personal experience, Cherry was one of my teachers. She is lovable and as personable as it gets.  And to add to the pot brewing great stuff, the writers you will meet at this workshop are some of the nicest, kindest, best people you will ever shake hands with, hmm, bump hands. (To avoid 90% of the germs you get with our traditional handshake.)

It’s easy to register, see the link above, or here it is again: www.ctrwa.org and go to the heading “Cherry Adair Master Class.”

What do you think? Want to have a wonderful day learning about writing? Now’s your chance. Go for it!