Tuesday, November 29, 2011

St Kitts in November

Each time we visit Bill's mother in St Catharines, Ontario, we walk a different route to her home. This time we walked along  Academy St just south of the bus terminal and found this magical little house hidden behind rather wild shrubbery. What fun it must be to enter that gate into the hidden courtyard. So Romantic!
When we got to Church St, Bill took a shot of the old First United Church building and it's manse, built in 1878 and recently sold to an evangelical church group, Royal House, the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
We loved its signage advertising "A Night of Healing, Miracles, Signs and Wonders".
Bill has discovered that the old Manse is going to be turned into an International Student Centre for students attending Brock University and Niagara College. 
Reta had lunch prepared for our arrival and afterwards we settled into watching the Wasikowska/Fassbender Jane Eyre. It was great! Afterwards, Bill and Reta had some trouble working out how to return to the TV channels on her newly-installed digital television connection. In a moment, Reta will flop back against the back of the couch cover her face with her hands and say, "This is giving me a headache!" In how many homes around the world is this little scene being enacted?
After dinner at Coppola's, our favourite Italian restaurant, we went to the Buns Master next door for some fresh local produce and bread. I liked the saturated colours of the Buns Master sign and the evening sky as we arrived.
Inside the shop, Bill pushed a shopping cart while Reta chose some groceries for her larder. Spending time with Reta is always a treat.
By the time we left, the sun had set and Bill and Reta looked like Orphans of the Storm as they waited to cross Carlton Street for the short walk home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Phillips Collection

Let's slip back to Washington, DC, for a moment to have a quick tour through the wonderful private collection of Duncan and Marjorie Phillips, in a Georgian Revival house on Q Street near Dupont Circle. It's one of John and my top five museums in Washington!
This private museum houses one of the finest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in North America. Duncan Phillips was an avid collector of  the work of Pierre Bonnard. Above, we see Bonnard's Woman with a Dog (1922) and The Palm (1926). We think of Mr Phillips buying still-wet Bonnards directly off the easel.
Probably the most famous painting in the Phillips collection is Pierre Auguste Renoir's stunning Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-1881).
John loves this beautiful Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Civita Castellena, (1826-27)
and, as usual, went in for a detail.
The Phillips were also excited by Modern American painters and the foundation continues to add to their collection in the addition to the original home. This beautiful Morris Louis, Seal (1959), is a recent acquisition.
When we visited in October, it was being showcased in a room with other examples of Louis' stained canvases like Number 1-82, (1961), above.
Duncan Phillips was also a huge fan of the work of Mark Rothko and in 1960 with the artist's collaboration created a "chapel" of 4 of Rothko's Abstract Expressionist canvases. It's one of our favourite rooms in the museum.
John wanted to capture the amazing quality of viewing the canvases in the chapel up close.
One simply dissolves into the gorgeous colours.
Even stairwells look like art after an hour in the Phillips.
How can we leave the Phillips without gazing in wonder at the works of Paul Cézanne, the painter who inspired the great innovators of Modern painting. Here's Fields at Bellevue, (1892-95).
John zoomed in for a delightful detail.
Or how about his contemporary-looking, The Gardens at Les Lauves, (circa 1906)! The details show how Cézanne continues to influence new artists.
Amazing, isn't it? Such inspiring brush strokes!
Is it any wonder that we never fail to visit the Phillips Collection when we're in Washington? Put it in red on your itinerary!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Julie Beugin at Paul Petro

Julie Beugin's Blaue Stunde (Blue Hour) which opened at Paul Petro this week is one of the highlights of the season for Bill and I.
These large, airy, paintings would feel at home in a swanky penthouse with floor to ceiling windows. That's Blaue Stunde, 2011, above and Transparency, 2011 below.
Beugin has spent the last year living in Germany. She's now back in her home base of Montreal.
Bloom, 2010
I found Beugin in the blue light of the gallery kitchen, just behind Petro's reception desk.
She modestly accepted our praise and enthusiasm. Blaue Stunde is on until Christmas. If you love painting you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Niagara Street, Toronto

Bill and I were riding our bikes along Queen Street West last weekend when we turned on to Niagara Street to get to Bathurst.
Niagara Street was looking very beautiful in the overcast blue light.
I called to Bill to stop. We got off our bikes and he waited for me to take some pictures.
This squirrel jumped right up into view when I approached this Rackham-esque corner.
Then we hopped back on our bikes and rode home through our beautiful Toronto.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hell on Heels

Thanks to [my favourite critic] Robert Christgau, Bill and I have discovered the Pistol Annies. Here's the official video for their debut single: Hell on Heels.
We just bought the album and think there will be great things to come from this trio. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Royal Winter Fair

Last Saturday, John and I had the pleasure of visiting the Royal Winter Fair at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto.
John snapped me entering the dairy-cattle space with a few of the exhibitors.
The smell of hay and manure always brings back memories of the many barns that 
I spent time in during my youth in the countryside of Southern Ontario,
and of the farm people who worked in them.
The competitors are so charming and friendly!
John loved this fellow sitting amongst his heifers catching up on the news.
and this cow doing her Elsie imitation from the old Bordens Milk ads.
He also loved the grey outlines on the markings of these dairy cows.
I myself loved the comradeship of this farm boy and his calf.
The main action during our stay was of competitors leading their entries
to and from grooming sessions.
The competitors carefully groom their wards like this young man inspecting his calf in a grooming cage.
Every detail becomes important. Expertise and concentration are always so attractive.
We also loved this farmer and his son talking with a judge about their trio of attractive goats in their pen.
It's always fun to inspect the prize-winning vegetables. These are big!
Our wanderings eventually took us to the Horse Palace and it's Exercise Ring
where city visitors can enjoy close-up views on the horses in the competitions.
Like this horse and rider leaving the ring, John and I eventually had to leave the wonderful rural world that the Royal brings to town each Fall. It's on until Sunday November 13th and we highly recommend a visit!