Buenos Aires – December 2019 – Random Scenes for the Last Days of the Year

With some spare time due to the holidays at the end of the year we checked out a few sites in the Recoleta neighborhood including a visual arts museum, which of course because of the holiday’s was closed.








The library itself was also closed. Good thing there are a number of public sculptures nearby.












The famed Floralis Generica. The pedals close each night and reopen in the morning.




Next door is the law school, which has a great lobby which was…closed.




The former design center.




A museum next to the Recoleta Cemetery. The museum was closed but the cemetery was open 🙂





Enough closed buildings, lets go hang out in Olivos Harbor.
















The setting sun gave a great ‘Olivoshenge’ – not quite Manhattanhenge, but still cool. And the sun has set on 2019!






Across Connecticut – August 2019 – From Yugos to Yale

If you are going from Boston to New York City you have no choice but to pass through Connecticut. We did, and found two very different stops along the way.

At the edge of the town of Middletown we found the Yugo Ranch!









Just 15 miles, but about 2 light years culturally, is Yale University in New Haven.







It seemed much of the university was under construction but we eventually found what we were looking for – Beinecke Library, one of the most amazing libraries in the world.







Enough stops – on to New York City.






Cleveland – June 2019 – Architecture and Public Art of University Circle

Featured on a number of postings, the University Circle area of Cleveland is home to Case Western Reserve University, as well as most of the museums for the city.

We were in town on this sunny Saturday for ‘Parade the Circle’ (featured on an upcoming posting), we also wanted to participate in a walking tour of the area lead by the volunteers from ‘Take a Hike Cleveland’, but apparently because of the parade they cancelled. As with other times like this, we made our own tour.



The Cleveland History Center features a carousel from a long lost amusement park – Euclid Beach.



The Cancer Survivors Plaza. A local independent newspaper named this the worst public sculpture in America, with the surreal look of the people seemingly running away from something.




The tower in the background (and on the featured photo for this posting) has unique brickwork.




Just across the street the Museum of Natural History has an excellent welcoming sign.



While the population of Cleveland has dropped precipitously over the last 50 years, there are still some grand old apartment buildings in the city, as evidenced by the Park Lane Villa.



The Maltz Performing Arts Center. Built in 1924 as the Temple Tifereth, it now serves the arts community.



There are statues scattered throughout the area.



A view of University Circle United Methodist Church.



There was once the largest skating rink the world located in here – the Elysian. It is celebrated by art on an electrical box.




Mark Hanna – While William McGinley was officially the president, Mark told him what to do.




A view of the Museum of Art.




Severance Hall – home of the Cleveland Orchestra.



The Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve.



Case Western Reserve was at one time two separate entities, including the Western Reserve College for Women.



A chapel at Case Western Reserve.




Finally, the best building in the area. It is now home to the Cleveland Institute of Art, but it’s first life was as an assembly plant for making Ford Model T’s!






Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Civic Culture

For more than 100 years Birmingham was the center of manufacturing for the southern United States. It was often referred to as Pittsburgh of the South in reference to all of the steel mills. As with Pittsburgh, the industry has for the most part left town.

As with the northern industrial cities there was significant investment in civic culture, and in Birmingham there is none better than the main library.


While the primary entrance is a modern building, across the street is the Linn-Henley Research Library. Built in 1927 it reflects the art deco style of the period.



The building is most known for the Ezra Winter murals. Most depict historic events such as below left – Dante and Virgil. On the right is Don Quixote.



In addition to the murals, the main reading room has a fantastic ceiling.



The west side of the room shows the interesting mix of the murals with the art deco balcony railings.



Ezra Winter was raised in Michigan, but spent his early adult years in Europe where he was classically trained in painting. Interestingly they were completed in New York City and applied to the Birmingham Library walls with white lead.



The Children’s Library has a mural depicting fairy tales.



A seemingly out of place modern art piece is also present.



The library, county courthouse and city hall all frame a public park. As they were all built about the same time all reflect the art deco style.

The courthouse was designed by the famed Chicago firm of Holabird & Root.



Reliefs high up on the building reflect local history.



Outside is the Statue of Liberty – well a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.



Murals depicting the history of the region are in the lobby of the courthouse. This mural, entitled Old South, has caused great controversy as it depicts slaves picking cotton. A multi racial committee of 16 reached a consensus that they would create a retractable cover that would obscure them except during educational tours.

They apparently haven’t yet decided to cover up their history as it was available for us to see.



The accompanying mural entitled ‘New South’ depicts the industrial work. As previously noted, the industry is gone, so I suppose they will have to come up with a ‘New New South’, depicting Birmingham’s current major employers including Education, Finance and Engineering firms.



As part of the agreement on the Old South mural, a new mural entitled Justice Is Blind was added with a modern collection of symbols that show, among others, a black lady justice along with a white lady justice.



Less controversial is the scales of justice relief as well as the art deco clock.



The final building in the area is Birmingham City Hall.



City Hall has a gallery of noteworthy city residents over the years.



While not a Birmingham resident, Martin Luther King was instrumental in bringing social justice to the city, and is honored with a portrait in the gallery.

Birmingham turned out to be far nicer than I was expecting. It is a city that is recognizing it’s past (good and bad), and moving forward into the future.





Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Scenes of the City

Two things are important in Lexington – horse racing and bourbon!




Even some of the public art – including giant sculptures of books often depicts horse racing.


A number of artistic horse sculptures are scattered around town.

A downtown sculpture area is called Thoroughbred Park – depicting the finish line in great detail.


The best ‘ghost sign’ in town is for Horse Racing Oats.

But there is more to Lexington that just horses and bourbon – there is the University of Kentucky, and their stunning library.



For a city this far off the east coast there are a number of early 1800 or older buildings and homes.



A former courthouse is now the main visitor center – as well as other civic offices.



The area has been growing, and there is evidence of new investments downtown with government buildings and plazas.



The main library is newer as well, and features this 5 story pendulum clock – reputed to be the largest in the world.



We visited Transylvnia University and an art fair that was occurring there. The college was the first institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is named for the Transylvania Colony – a proposed 14th colony that never really came to be – but the university name stuck.




Our final stop was the arboretum shared by the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. On this spring day there were a number of groups using the setting for their backdrops – homecoming groups, weddings, engages, and others…




Our final stop was a memorial to 49 people who lost their lives in a commuter airline crash in 2006. They are represented by 49 birds in flight.

For a mid sized city Lexington has a lot to offer – a good place to spend a day or two.






Bienvenue a Paris (Kentucky) – May 2019

So many small towns in America are named after other places – and Paris is no different. According to Google there are 23 towns and cities in America called Paris, but the one in Kentucky is one of the nicer ones.



This town was originally called Bourbontown because it is the county seat of Bourbon County (more on that later), but was renamed to Paris as a thank you to France’s contribution during the Revolutionary War.

They have a small Eiffel Tower next to the Visitor Center/Farmers Market.




The town itself is very well preserved, as there is a lot of money in the area from the thoroughbred farms (more on this later as well).




Horse Racing is a recurring theme throughout all of Central Kentucky.




The pots along the street for flowers and bushes are re purposed horse troughs.




Hollywood has a walk of fame – but so does Paris – with horseshoes for the great ones – including the greatest – Secretariat.




Most of the downtown area buildings are 100 years old and in good condition.






The Duncan Tavern is the oldest building in town – dating from 1788.




The highlight though is the Bourbon County Courthouse. Completed in 1902 it is spectacular.


From the mosaics in the floors….




To another horse racing tribute.



The fantastic view of the dome from below.



Much of the ironwork came from nearby Maysville.



Great care has been given in the upkeep of the courthouse. We were lucky enough that on this Saturday morning it was open for absentee voting – and the Boubon County Clerk of Courts Richard Eads gave us a detailed history of the building, taking time out of his busy day for us.



The ceiling of the courtroom has a mural of Lady Justice.



But with that it was time to head out of town….






Detroit – April 2019 – Cultural Center

The Cultural Center of Detroit is located in the Midtown section, just north of downtown. We had the opportunity to visit two of the centerpieces of the neighborhood, the Main Library and Institute of Art.

We started at the Library where one of Detroit’s newest features, a streetcar called the Q Line’ was passing as we arrived.





We made our way around the building to the Cass Avenue entrance, which is much newer than the Woodward Avenue side.





The original building is in an Italian Renaissance style, with it’s impressive stairways and ceilings.





This look is carried over to one of the exhibition halls.





While one of the hallways on the second floor resemble a cathedral.





Reliefs celebrating the classics adorn this level.





A look at the main entrance ceiling.





We are still in the library, not the Institute of Art…





Directly across Woodward Avenue is the Institute of Art, with a statue of the Thinker greeting you.





The exterior had a significant amount of sculptures.





It is immediately apparently that the library and art museum were designed in similar style and completed at the same time.





Coincidentally there was a celebration of India going on the day we were there.





We came for the Rivera murals and ended up celebrating India as well!





The artists were happy to tell you about their culture.





A Rangoli demonstration.





This henna artist was very skilled, with a steady hand.





The east lobby had this great display.





Another exhibition hall featured pop art.





Some great chairs.





Ruben & Iabel Toledo had an exhibit called Labor of Love.








They also paid homage to the River murals. The DIA is a destination just for the murals, but the rest of the exhibitions are world class as well.