Art Museums and Galleries
Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
Last Thursday, Mother and I drove up to Port Angeles (again) and took the MV Coho of the Black Ball Line to Victoria (again) and began a short excursion that included Salt Spring Island (again) and Courtenay/Comox (again) and the Saanich peninsula (again). It’s something we enjoy, places that are beautiful, laid-back, filled with kind people and wonderful friends.
And I needed it. I need a little space to just relax and enjoy, to be myself and not have to worry about “everything” for a while.
It worked. Here in a nutshell is the trip we took, that encompasses shopping at Mouat’s in Ganges on Salt Spring Island, taking ferries between islands and peninsulas, walking in gardens, vistas off mountains (no pictures of that one, sorry) and amazing indigenous arts. If you have a chance to stop in Duncan, B.C. and take the tour of their totem poles (most of which were carved by native carvers just for this purpose!), do. It is full of insights into the history and life of the Cowichan and other local tribes.
There will be more pictures, but right now I need to sleep… seems every time I sit down to write, I get distracted by “real life!”
Posted by stidmama on 01 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Art Museums and Galleries, British Columbia, children, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, holidays, Politics and War, rain, travel, Uncategorized, Vacations, weather
Took the elder stidkid with me this past weekend to give him a chance to visit friends and see the sights of Victoria, British Columbia, in the winter.
Unfortunately, the same snow that hit us hit them also. So we were unable to meet up with some of our friends. We did however get to see our dear friends Hetty and Alan, and we met many lovely people over the four days of our trip.
Here’s the basics (with a few pictures to be added as I edit them in tomorrow — in the new year!):
We left home EARLY Friday morning to catch the 8 am sailing of the Victoria Clipper from Seattle (I had taken advantage of a package deal in November to be able to afford this — usually too expensive for us).
A quick trip across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and we were in Victoria and at our favorite hotel, the James Bay Inn, by 11 am. Lunch at the inn, followed by a bit of walking around downtown, we eventually found ourselves on the tour bus to Butchart Gardens for the Winter Lights display.
The gardens were lovely. We loved the singing and the brass quartet (two trumpets, a trombone and a bass trombone) that alternated sets while we were there. We started with supper at The Blue Poppy, the cafeteria-style restaurant so we could enjoy the walk. The gardens were truly magical in the snow, though I found myself slowed down by the crutches. Slowed down enough in fact, that by the time I got through the checkout line in the gift shop we had missed our bus by (imagine Maxwell Smart saying this…) “THIS MUCH.” Fortunately, another tour bus was still there and offered to take us back to town. This man even drove everyone to their hotel!
Saturday… we slept in.
A late lazy breakfast, followed by a short stroll to Miniature World. Well worth the admission if you go to Victoria, especially on a cold, windy or wet day. A couple of hours looking at very fine detail work, with some historical pieces and some whimsical. It was a good activity for us.
Lunch at “The Noodle Box” close by, each item can actually be two meals for most people! If you are noise (and loud music) averse, take out is a good choice. And it was close to the next tour bus — the one for the Victoria tour. A narrated run through the city’s commercial and historical districts, a good way to see where things are and get some background. Goes in a circuit from the Empress Hotel through the “posh” district to Oak Bay (brief stop for coffee/seal watching) and then back downtown.
Then we did a little bit of shopping before returning to the Inn for a nap and supper.
Sunday: all day at the Royal British Columbia Museum. The temporary exhibit called “Free Spirit” was lovely — if you read this in time, it was a great intro to the people who made British Columbia — from earliest times to the present. We also saw two IMAX movies, “Alps” and “Extreme” — very interesting. I am definitely in no danger of becoming a rock climber, skier, snowboarder, surfer…. but the scenery and cinematography were excellent. Spent nearly an hour in the gift shop as well — got some nice trinkets for a few people. The permanent exhibit on the First Nations people who have inhabited British Columbia is always a big deal for us — we nosed around that for nearly two hours! We didn’t go to the Natural History section this time (ran out of time) but I remember it from a couple years ago, and recommend it highly as well.
Monday: leisurely breakfast and packing, taxi to take the bags to the Victoria Clipper and then a short walk to the Parliament Building. Caught the tail end of a tour as well, so got a little more information about the government. Very pretty — not quite what I expected. Of course, we are from Washington state, which has a very large dome, open concept in the center of the capitol building, while the B.C. Parliament is housed in something that resembles the California capitol a bit more. I suppose I could complete the West Coast capitol experience by visiting the Oregon state capitol sometime. Then lunch at the Noodle Box again — keeping half for our supper later; and a taxi ride to our friends home.
After a couple hours’ great conversation and tea (and a shortbread Hetty made that I am told was stellar), we took the taxi back to the terminal to wait for the preboarding for the trip home.
Interesting people to talk to made the hour fly by. The Border/Customs officer was efficient, but not mean, and answered a question of the kid’s very well. Then, while we are sitting in the waiting area to get on the boat we are informed that there is a weather delay. We have the choice to go aboard and wait (can’t get off again because of immigration things), or leave the waiting area and get a hotel room until the next day.
Argh. We got on the boat. FOUR HOURS LATER… we leave the dock. I am glad I called my parents collect (before I got on the boat) to have them call Tom and let him know he needed to contact the Victoria Clipper terminal in Seattle — otherwise he and the younger stidkid might not have been able to ice skate and see an IMAX movie at the Seattle Center! They also saw our dear friend (riemann of babble fame) at supper — we missed him of course, but will catch him next time he is in town. Because we only pulled in about midnight, and being toward the front of the boat (with the exit in the rear) we got off nearly last.
At 2:30 when we pulled into the driveway, we were pretty exhausted. But happy to be home and pleased with our fine adventure.
It was a fine trip, but it is SO GOOD to be home!
On March 1, the day we did our big museum day, we also made block prints — my mother, the children and I. I don’t have Mother’s block or print to scan, but here are the boys’ and mine. They are actually all the same size, but to fit the horizontal one on the page I had to shrink it a lot. You can see a high level of detail and thought went into these! On mine, the print made on yellow paper was the second state — I cleaned it up and added my initials for it.
I hope that, decades from now, the children will look back on this last March 1 as one of the more pleasant and interesting days of their lives — I hope that they will always be able to enjoy visual, literary and musical arts and share them with people they love.
I wish that our society’s current emphasis on “basic education” would not reduce children’s exposure to these arts. In contemplating art (music and visual), the entire brain is engaged. Shape, proportion, the way parts relate and inter-relate. All of these (and more) are essential skills for an educated person. Truly educated people, people who think, need all of these ideas, all of these ways of looking at life and its complex problems.
If we teach our children merely to read and write passably, to calculate and compute, even to research, but we do not teach them to question, to enjoy or to create…
then they not only won’t be able to compete on the world stage —
their very existence won’t hold much meaning.
Days like yesterday are the reason Life is worth living! Unfortunately none of the pics of one of the kids turned out.
Oh well, here are: The Tacoma Art Museum (a couple of establishing shots, and one each of me, stidgmere and a stidkid with the blocks or prints we made yesterday) and the Glass Museum in Tacoma, outside shots only. As soon as they are scanned, I will add images of the three blocks that were cut and the prints we pulled from them.
Today I took my child out of school early today, not for a doctor’s appointment, or a religious reason, not because he called home feeling ill. This was planned.
We went to the Tacoma Glass Museum to watch Maestro Lino Tagliapietra in the hot shop.
Now, some parents (and schools) are sticklers for attendance. ONLY if a child is sick (and they mean, in the hospital) should a child be late, tardy or absent. In general, while I am not that uptight about attendance (any fever or lethargy qualifies as a home day), I do try to impress upon the children the importance of showing up and doing one’s best work.
One might think, given his many absences last trimester that I would want him in school as much as possible this trimester — so he doesn’t fall behind, or miss too many opportunities to support his learning.
But this is the first year that his school doesn’t have an art program. I strongly believe that the arts are not just a “nice” part of an education — I believe they are essential to a well-rounded individual. If my child does not have access to art in school, then it is my duty as a parent to be sure he gets it outside of school. Fortunately, they still have an excellent music program… and the literature/social studies teachers make sure to incorporate culture things like art when and where they can.
So Wednesdays are the day that all the classes are a little shorter, and they get out of school more than an hour earlier than usual to allow the entire staff to meet together or work in small teams on projects. Last week, I checked with his teacher for the last two classes and discovered that today she would be gone! And, with her blessing, I snagged the kid as soon as he was done with science and skee-daddled for the hills. Or, in this case, the Port of Tacoma.
Tying this in to the “something new” that is the theme for the day… This is the first time I have ever deliberately taken a kid out of classes for a “frivolous” activity. So that’s new.
But more importantly, it was looking at the art — and the artisans through my child’s eyes. His wonder, his joy, the en-joy-ment with which we watched each new layer being gatherered onto the pipe, the casual but elegant choreography between the team members, the care and interest with which the master blew, turned, passed the work to his “students” — many of whom are close to masters in their own right, I am sure.
New. Not brand-spanking, gleaming and scratch-free, but fresh, interesting, exciting.
Watching a 73-year old man blow glass? Highly new. And wonderful. Continue Reading »
Mother and I visited theTacoma Art Museum today. We went primarily to visit the lovely quilts by the ladies of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective. We got lucky and were able to speak with Loretta Bennett, one of the quilters. She is only a few years older than I am, and her quilts (she is prolific) are amazing. Like Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass windows… I noticed several other ladies there, they were all so kind and happy to talk to the people who were looking at their quilts.
Of course, not all the quilts appealed to me equally. Some I liked for the colors. Some for the patterns. Some I admired for the technical skill displayed though the actual quilt was not something I particularly liked. Some were just really really amazingly cool. (Can you tell I liked them?) I appreciated them all.
The textiles in the quilts tell a spectacular story of people living the motto:
Use it up, wear it out;
Make it do, or do without.
Now quilts, like most things we now collect, started out as something utilitarian. In this case, something to keep the cold at bay. Like the people in my mother-in-law’s family for generations, the people of Gee’s Bend lived a rural, relatively low-income life for many generations. They used their resources wisely… and part of that is taking pride in your work. Making something utilitarian is the starting point. The pride comes in when you make it well, either by making it function better than the minimal, or by making it beautiful. Like the women in my mother-in-law’s family, the women of Gee’s Bend showed their pride by taking scrap fabrics (often pre-used) and making beautiful – and warm – quilts.
Quilts of jeans. Quilts of shirts. Quilts of dresses. Quilts of any materials they had. And following both traditional designs and their own hearts. I wish I had some pictures I could show you… alas! I can only hope to describe the way the thin-wale corduroy absolutely glowed from a distance. Or how the patterns in the quilts made more sense, formed a sort of static dance, as you stood back and followed the patterns. I wish I could describe the stitching — difficult enough to do on pure, thin cotton fabric — on everything from flannel to cord, to denim to silks and broadcloth. A textile historian would have a field day. Some of the prints were quite unusual…
The history of Gee’s Bend starts before slavery ended, and the quilting can be traced back to one particular former slave, ancestress of Ms. Bennett (and many others). Left somewhat isolated by the end of the 1800s, the women of the town, seemingly all related by blood or marriage, carried on the tradition of making quilts to keep their families warm. Eventually, one lady (I forget who) formed a quilter’s collective. They have been working together to make quilts for over 50 years. Some of the women who made these quilts are way up in their 80s and 90s. One quilt displayed was by a woman who lived 103 years.
Events like this quilt exhibit make me hopeful for humanity. We can live in difficult — inhuman — situations, and still we can make beautiful things for those we love. We can do something, even if it’s small, to improve our lot, or the lot of those around us. Rather than sitting in their town stuck in poverty, the women through the generations have worked to improve their families’ lives. And though it took a while for outsiders to find them and begin to send money in to the community (they actually made quilt tops and pillow shams for Sears in the 1970s!)… it happened, not because they were aggressively self-marketing, but because their work was perfectly wonderful.
If these quilts come to a museum near you, please attend. Even if you don’t ordinarily like fabric arts, check this one out. The design and variations on themes are magnificent and beautiful. The ladies are even more so.
On to the rest of the day…
We also visited the Washington State History Museum, but instead of going to see the temporary exhibit on quilts, we spent an hour in the Native American section, and I told Mother all about the things I am learning about the Squaxin Island history and art. Many similarities in materials, design and history with the tribes who are represented at the state museum.
Then we had lunch at TwoKoi, a Japanese/Sushi restaurant across the street (uphill) from the Tacoma Art Museum. They are celebrating their first anniversary this weekend. I had not eaten there before. I found the service slow but friendly… the food was excellent. Not a budget restaurant, but reasonably priced if you want something a bit nicer than a sandwich shop. I didn’t have sushi this time, but the Unagi Don (broiled eel on rice) was excellent, as were the miso soup and seaweed salad. The tea, a light corn tea, was the perfect foil.
I think it was just about the perfect day.
Monday morning, another gray and cloudy (and slightly cool) day, no different from home — except we were the guests of gracious hosts… stidkid#1 and I at Hetty and Alan’s house, stidkid#2 at Jillbus’. Like so many times when I am away from home (or just on vacation at home as this week) I woke fairly early and wandered downstairs to enjoy the quiet.
I had an early breakfast of tea and toast, then wandered upstairs to finish packing. When I came back down, stidkid was sitting at the table, happily chowing down and chatting with Hetty. Here is a pic I snapped quickly while their backs were turned. You can see that, from the main floor of Hetty’s home it feels like one is standing in the treetops.
Hetty is perhaps the best conversationalist I have met. She doesn’t just like to talk, she has things to say — and is at least as good a listener as she is a talker. Like many Babblers, she has a multitude of interests, and can hold her own I suspect on nearly any topic. I had a couple very nice conversations with Alan also over the course of the visit. I am so happy that Hetty married a kind and gentle man. He reminds me in many ways of my own Tom. Just a bit older… I suppose by the time we are their ages we will also have some wonderful life stories to tell!
Hetty treats every person as important and worthy of attention, she doesn’t talk down to kids, but I noticed she carefully modifies her words to match the understanding of the person with whom she speaks. Jill does the same, but in a different way. It is interesting to me how people can accomplish the same things in such different ways. Hetty is sweet, like cotton candy — Jill is tangy like lemon meringue pie. Both are the icing on the cake.
Speaking of Jill, it was time to bid Alan and Perky adieu and head down the hill to Jill’s house. The younger boy’s belongings were already in the foyer… and away we flew to Vesuvius… in time to watch the ferry pull away from the dock. Even the bald eagle on the tree seemed surprised that we missed the boat!
While we waited (and hour until the next sailing time) we walked to the little store just up the hill and the boys got ice creams (after all, it had been at least an hour since breakfast), then down to the beach.
Here is Hetty, waiting for everyone to catch up (as usual):
The beach at Vesuvius is an interesting little shallow harbor, looks like it was carved out by an ice cream scoop, so perfectly round! The rocks are a mix of upturned sedimentary and boulders (granite perhaps?) deposited during the last ice age.
Here is are two views from above, you can see the lines in the rocks:
Part of the curve of the beach, you can see that here wave action has left the beach covered with small boulders and pebbles — most between one and three inches diameter.
A stidkid looks for aquatic life from a precarious perch…
On the way to and from the beach, we stopped to admire the blooms in a couple gardens. The monarda (bee balm) caught our attention in this one:
And the combination of penstemon and osteospermum (I think) were striking in this garden. I think the purple foliage behind it was a type of coleus.
The ferry ride was lovely — a quick, calm crossing and this time we were the first on and the first off! At Crofton, we turned left/south and headed for The Malahat which I had envisioned as a sort of deer trail. Surprise, it’s Canada Highway 1, a multi-lane freeway that takes you straight into the heart of Victoria! The views, had it been fairer weather, would have been spectacular. As it was, it was merely pretty (ho-hum, yet again another pristine view). [please note: the last sentence was sarcasm]
In no time, Hetty was pulling into a parking space just around the corner from one of our favorite shops, Murchie’s. This tea shop is over a hundred years old and sells some of the nicest teas I have tasted. And spices, and coffees. They have a nice little deli as well, and it was here that we had arranged to meet the final babbler of our trip, raelite.
Sure enough, we had barely sat down with our salads and sandwiches, than Raelite showed up! Of course, we babbled on about Babble and Babblers, houses, places one can see on on budget in Victoria (always a consideration for us), and Life in General. But in no time, the parking meters were about to expire and we had to leave. Time for a couple more pictures, here is stidkid#1 again, with Raelite:
And the six babblers all together, this one taken by a kind parking enforcement officer who was checking to be sure Hetty was about to move her car! Behind us is the Thai restaurant, Siam where the children and I later ate supper. If you are in Victoria, this is a good place to eat!
And then, they were off and we were standing there, suitcases in hand, expectant looks on our faces. Where to first? Was there time to catch an earlier ferry?
We arrived at the dock in time to wave goodbye… So back we went to Government Street. First stop Munro’s bookstore, then Murchie’s again to pick up souvenir teas for the family. Then the Irish Linen Shop across the street and down a little to find some nice handkerchiefs for me and a pretty table runner for my mother-in-law who actually has space to put such things.
And then… The Maritime Museum, a very interesting place for two boys and their mother! Again, wonderful, nice people. I think we had the whole museum to ourselves, being Monday afternoon only an hour and a bit before closing… they kindly kept our suitcases behind the counter so we could explore freely. And I asked before taking pictures — they are a little dark and blurry because I had to take them without a flash.
The museum starts out with an historical perspective on water activities, which the children and I found most interesting! Here is something that puts modern day punishments into perspective…
And one that shows just how much bigger people today are. stidkid#2 is standing next to a soldier’s breastplate and helmet. Considering he hasn’t even begun to stop growing…
A unique item in the museum is the Tilikum, a dugout boat found on Vancouver Island and converted into an ocean-going sailboat in the early 1900s. Here are the boys at the stern. the original canoe stopped at the lower blue stripe:
And stidkid#2 at the bow.
Opposite the bow of the Tilikum was a figurehead. I regret that I did not write down the name of her ship:
This was the permanent exhibit. Upstairs were more, we were able to view the one on the second floor before closing time, titled “P.O.S.H., for Port Outbound; Starboard Home.” It is a look back at the heyday of ships as the major mode of distance transport. The museum curator said they were able to interview a number of people who had either traveled on the boats or worked on them. What a terrific experience that must have been! If you can get to this museum, I do recommend it. It fronts on a pedestrian street, but is easily reached from either Government Street or Wharf Street.
After a very satisfying supper (complete with a delicious black-rice in coconut milk pudding), the children and I made our way along the wharf toward the ferry terminal. Here are my most precious traveling companions with a beautifully decorated orca:
A reasonably smooth and quick crossing and a short drive home, and we slept in our own beds that night…
What a treat it had been to spend time with Hetty and Jill: from the walks in downtown Ganges to the evenings spent discussing any topic that came to mind, to the narrated tours of the areas around Salt Spring Island. What a joy to finally meet Raelite and learn more about her life in person. What a grand adventure the boys and I had, wandering the streets of Victoria with all the time we needed to explore! I enjoyed every minute. This is what makes British Columbia so beautiful to me — the slower pace of vacation time and the scenery are nice to be sure, but mostly the beauty is in the people.
One last pic from the journey, the one that makes me smile the most, Hetty and Jill by my favorite mural in Ganges. I think they look like the fairy godmothers they surely are to me! [bippity-boppity-boo?]
Waking up Saturday morning to a lovely view out Hetty’s living and dining rooms, I had a leisurely breakfast, then woke up stidmatt and he had a lovely porridge made by Alan.
Dropping by Jill’s to be sure stidgrant was ready to go, Alan took the boys on a walk while Hetty and Jill and I headed into the “big town” of Ganges to walk in the farmer’s market, see the library (they both volunteer there) and have lunch. First stop was a lovely performing arts center where the “Fiber Festival” was taking place. We didn’t walk about much, but I was intrigued by a quilt display. So many ideas!
People are wonderful and creative… there is much beauty in this world if we only look for it.
Next stop, the library, where we parked. Here are pics of the library and of Hetty and Jill inviting us all to read. Don’t miss the posters up for the Harry Potter party from the previous evening!
A quick jaunt then across the main drag toward the harbor, and to see the dozens of really great stalls for the artists, artisans and farmers on the island. I didn’t take pictures of them, but… imagine yourself in a medieval bazaar: people changing money (yes, Salt Spring Island has its own currency); offering baked goods — including some vegan cookies and cakes which I promptly snapped up; displaying their garden’s bounty (garlic, greens, root vegetables, potatoes) in many colors, shapes and sizes; potters with mugs, plates, bowls and platters; an armorer — yes, a chain mail specialist from whom I bought a small ring for one of the boys; clothes from scarves to dresses to shirts and hats; art; and musical instruments – I bought a clamshell ocarina for the other boy. Good smells, pretty sights, and never enough money in the pocket!
Close to the market, we stopped at an Italian-style restaurant for lunch. Looked like they had good food, though most of it had dairy in it so I just had a green salad (which was excellent). Waiting for our table, I snapped a quick pic of the ladies:
And then back to the car with another small stop at Mouats, a century-old store to get pirate T-shirts for the family and for the boys’ penpals. Car rides on this island are fun. There are so many great views — old farmsteads, forested areas, quaint clusters of dwellings, curious remnants of old places, a mix of new and old architecture that tells the story of life on the island over the last 150 years. Of course, habitation on the island goes back much longer than that, but most of the structural clues are left by non-indigenous peoples.
Supper that evening was at Jill’s place — rice, broccoli and a great chicken dish; dessert was chocolate cake with ice cream, and fruit salad with meringues. Wine or soda with supper, coffee or tea with dessert. By the time we left Jill’s cozy home with instructions to stidgrant to help with finishing clearing up… it was nearly 10 pm!
Sunday’s report in the next post…