Nestled between New York City and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia can be easily overlooked. We’re often underrated. But the City of Brotherly Love has some incredible secrets, especially when it comes to art. The Rocky movies memorialize the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But within the walls of the impressive building is, unquestionably, a world class museum. Only recently has the Barnes Foundation’s indescribable treasures been opened up to the public and is also accessible from the Ben Franklin Parkway. Just like Philadelphia can be overlooked, the Rodin Museum is often passed by for the bigger names. No, not the one in Paris; the one in Philadelphia. Just as Albert C. Barnes collected priceless art, so, too, did Jules E. Mastbaum collect the works of Auguste Rodin. The museum houses the largest collection of Rodin’s work outside of the French capital. And it’s in Philadelphia, just a stone’s throw from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation.
I feel like taking photographs of monuments, busts and sculptures in parks has become my thing. They seem like such underrated works of art that we all take for granted. During our recent trip to the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, I loved turning every corner and not knowing what would be next. Often, it was a statue. Who would it memorialize? So often it seemed somewhat random. English great Shakespeare holds court in the sunny park with German greats Goethe and Schiller. The three rubbed bronzed elbows with United States presidents, Beethoven (although as a bust he was elbow-less), Francis “oh say can you see” Scott Key and Czech philosopher and politician Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who is also lacking in the below-the-chin area. And these are merely the statues that we stumbled upon. It’s simply lovely! Continue reading →
It wasn’t that long ago I was wishing I could attend the exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Berlin. Then it was announced that the famed (or infamous) dissident would be showcasing a new collection — @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz — at the famed (or infamous) Alcatraz Prison. To be honest, I really didn’t have all that much interest in Alcatraz, especially given that we were only in town for 48 hours. But that changed once I found out about the exhibit. And it changed again once I arrived on the island prison known as “The Rock.” Continue reading →
Recently, every time I watch German television online or read a digital newspaper, I keep seeing specials about the past 25 years popping up. In one week from today, on November 9, 2014, it will be 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In October of 2015 it will be 25 years since the official reunification of Germany. For millions of people, everyday life has changed in ways that many of us could never understand and probably never will.
Likewise, it has made me reflect on my own trip to Berlin in 2009. While there, I stayed in former East Berlin along Friedrichstrasse. I didn’t stay there because of the East German connection. Instead, I simply stayed there because today it’s central Berlin. The area is around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten and many of the city’s museums on Museuminsel. During my visit, the East Side Gallery, the longest section of the Berlin Wall, was in the process of being restored. Wherever possible, the original artists were repainting their pieces. We walked along the open air gallery, at times separated from the wall by fencing protecting the restorations in progress.
Now look at the German capital. It’s truly amazing how quickly things can change. Continue reading →
With work, life, errands, household routines and so on, it’s not often that we make time to visit the local area outside of predetermined, pre-scheduled vacations. So it was a lovely little break on Saturday when we journeyed into Philadelphia, despite some cold and wet weather, to visit the Barnes Foundation and then enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at the Stephen Starr German biergarten-themed restaurant Frankford Hall (more on that in another post). Unfortunately, I think this is when I’m going to start sounding like some half-baked conspiracy theorist. Let me assure you that I am not. But, then again, isn’t that what you’d expect a half-baked conspiracy theorist to say? Continue reading →
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, or perhaps you know it better as the building whose steps Rocky ran up?, is getting some work done! Recently the museum announced that it would be renovating and expanding the City of Brotherly Love’s premiere art museum. Famed architect Frank Gehry has been named in charge of the project which will see the addition of 169,000 square feet of space. Continue reading →
Have you ever heard of the European Capital of Culture? I’m not sure that we have anything similar Stateside but it’s a lovely idea. The concept of the Capital of Culture is that every year a different European city receives the spotlight and the city puts on different cultural events. In the words of the organization itself, the “Capital of Culture [is intended] to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values.” This year, the European Capital of Culture is Umeå, Sweden. Continue reading →
My husband who doesn’t drink has been drinking a beer a day for the last month or so. He swears the health benefits of the brewed beverage. He’s been sticking near exclusively with German beer — more specifically Bavarian beers — so I certainly can’t complain…but it doesn’t mean I’ll be joining him anytime soon. I’d rather eat my bread than drink it.
But I have really been enjoying examining the bottles. It is a disappointment that the labels have little to no German on them as they’re bottled exclusively for international export. But the labels still have some nice packaging, colorful artwork and sometimes a special design on the bottle cap. One variety even came with a small plastic trinket hanging around the neck of the bottle from a red string. Yes, I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying — in a somewhat guilty fashion — the German beer bottles. Continue reading →
Apparently there’s a Billy Joel song about Allentown. I’m not aware of ever having heard it — he’s not really my cup of tea. But I had a fun time doing a little driving around Pennsylvania’s third largest city this past weekend. We had to go up for another errand and decided to turn it into a day trip that was highlighted by a visit to the lovely Allentown Art Museum. Continue reading →
When I visited Berlin in 2009, I had a list of places I wanted to see and visit. One of those places was Tacheles, an art commune created decades ago by squatters in an old department store. As Berlin was reunited and rebuilt, it did so around Tacheles. But after years of fighting with the city and developers trying to take back the building and its prime real estate, in September of 2012 Tacheles finally closed. And boy it a shame. Continue reading →