Monday, October 31, 2011

Seafood Risotto

Nancy doesn't let very many people into her kitchen when she's cooking for a dinner party, so when she went to put on some new music I was honoured to be taken up on my offer to stir the risotto.
You see the bottom of the pan looks dry as I'm stirring. This means it's time to add some more stock.
Nancy is the best cook. Her delicious scallops were cooked with military precision.
She let me back into the kitchen for two quick pictures
of the plating of our delicious dinner. No one passes up on a dinner invitation from Nancy!

Enter the Faun

After dinner a local musician -- let's call him Ken -- dropped in to join up with Nancy's son for some Hallowe'en party hopping.
He's wearing a costume from the collection of Diane Nellis.
He said, "I'm more or less naked under this."
When I asked him to pose for me (John) he responded with this advertisement for literacy. Keep Toronto Reading!
Love the stubby tail.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

John Abrams at the Cameron House

The Cameron House tavern has been a centre of the Toronto art scene since 1981. The Queen St West building has long been decorated with Napoleon Brousseau's giant, ghost ants and a series of John Abrams' murals. This shot shows Abrams image of, apparently, Claudia Schiffer (I admit I always saw the goddess as Brigitte Bardot) executed in 1998. 
The new owners appear to want to continue the tavern's history as an art centre. In  September I caught Mr Abrams painting a new image on the front of the Cameron.
And yesterday I shot the finished mural, freshly completed. It's fantastic! May it tempt a whole new generation of artists and musicians to gather inside. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The National Mall

Let's take a break from the museums of Washington, DC, and wander into the fresh air of the National Mall. Bill and I were staying in the Capital Hill neighbourhood so let's walk along the Mall from there.
I was standing in the shade while Bill took that picture of the Capitol Building. I looked up at this statue and the sun looked great behind the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial.
Bill took a few steps into the National Garden near the Botanical Building. The water garden was a perfect foreground for the Capital.
We walked along Independence Ave on the south side of the Mall to the Freer Gallery of Art and the Sackler Gallery -- we'll show you the pics from there soon. Looking south I loved how the streets disappeared in the distance.
Walking back into the Mall I tried taking some pictures without looking through the camera, trying to catch the feel of walking along. The Mall is a huge expanse of open grass leading from the Capital Building to the Washington Monument. It always seemed so wasted but probably fills up during celebrations or demonstrations.
We've crossed to the north side at Constitution Avenue where federal buildings predominate.
Look -- the food kiosks still sell film! But do they sell memory cards?
At last we arrive before the lovely face of the White House. Bill took this picture
and I took this one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last of the National Gallery

After lunch, John and I returned to the main floor American Galleries passing the lovely East Garden Court. Come along as we quickly finish our tour.
We love the drama of John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark, 1778, in which a teenage swimmer is rescued in Havana harbour. We also love Copley's uncompromising portraits of Boston notables.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens' sculpture, Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, 1897, in honour of the first African American army unit is equally powerful.
I thought Randolph Rogers' Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompei, appeared to be rushing past this museum guard while he was distracted by his cell phone.
John couldn't resist getting up close to Edward Hicks' The Peaceful Kingdom
with its bear and ox sharing some grain.
Nor could he resist catching me stripping off my sweater at the 4th St exit to the National Gallery of Art and chatting with a resting visitor. He thought the scene looked like an annunciation.
We're headed to the National's Sculpture Garden just south of this grand Deco fellow who adorns the National Archives on Constitution Avenue.
The Sculpture Garden is mostly dedicated to American 20th Century sculptors. I love this jaunty thinker!
And his elegant signage.
And who could resist Claes Oldenburg's surreal and funny, Typewriter Eraser, 1999. Funny how things seem old-fashioned so quickly. Now we just 'delete'!
The fountain surrounded by benches in the center of the Garden is a perfect place to end our quick final tour of the treasures of the National.
The cascades grow from the side spouts of the circular pool until they meet in a grand crescendo in the centre, then begin all over again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In the European Galleries

Let's return to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where Bill is enjoying a wander through the 18th Century French rooms. That's Nicolas Lancret's Picnic after the Hunt, 1735, behind him.
John pauses in front of Anthony van Dyck's portrait of a young aristocrat from the London court of Charles 1st, Phillip, Lord Wharton.
One of the big cats in Rubens' painting of Daniel in the Lions' Den seems to be taking a keen interest in a passerby,
while another visitor enjoys a quiet moment in an elegant, panelled room with the Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria looking down from Rubens' portrait of her.
We both loved Andrea Mantegna's Portrait of a Man in the Renaissance rooms. He looks like a tough customer.
John got up close to a portrait of Lorenzo dé Medici in the same room.
Looks like Lorenzo isn't amused by his interest.
Bill's fast approaching John's favourite painting in the National.
Looks like this lady loves The Feast of the Gods too. Begun by Giovanni Bellini and finished by Titian, it had just been restored when we last visited.
John can't resist going in close to treat us to a detail. So beautiful!
As are his details from Giorgione's exquisite Adoration of the Shepherds,
with its touching Holy Family.
At one point, Bill said, "Is that an El Greco in the distance? We headed that way immediately
and found ourselves in a room full of El Grecos as well as Jacopo Tintoretto's Christ  at the Sea of Galilee on the left.
Bill couldn't resist shooting this relaxed couple with their tour phones enjoying Titian's Venus with a Mirror, c. 1555.
When we found ourselves in the West Sculpture Hall we were already considering lunch before going on to the American galleries,
but we found ourselves drawn into more European galleries when we saw Goya's portrait of the Marquesa de Pontejos beckoning beyond this sculpture of a languid lady in repose
and Giovanni Battista Moroni's A Gentleman in Adoration before the Madonna,
although we longed to relax like this fellow enjoying Sir Joshua Reynolds' gorgeous portrait of Lady Elizabeth Delué and her Children.
At last we resisted the call of the restful powder-blue rooms in the distance and made our way to the Cascade Café for lunch.