Elkhart, Indiana – July 2018 – Gardens and Public Art

Our destination this day was Elkhart, Indiana – home of a collection of ‘Quilt Gardens’ and ‘Quilt Murals’. But first a quick stop at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.

Hammond is in Lake County, which is a mix of industrial, suburban and farming set along the south shore of Lake Michigan. Their welcome center is built to represent the waves, silos and steel mills of the county.

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The movie A Christmas Story was set in Hammond (although filmed in Cleveland and Toronto). One of the famous scenes is where a little kid is talked into sticking his tongue on a freezing cold flag pole, thus getting stuck. It is recreated here in a statue.

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Once we arrived in Elkhart we saw our first mural.

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As well as the quilt garden. To us the gardens were somewhat of a bust – they are difficult to see because they are too flat to the ground, and just appear as a mix of flowers (albeit nice flowers)

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The entire county did have a collection of decorated elk though.

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We spent an hour at the Wellfield Arboretum, which has a nice collection of sculptures, plants and flowers.

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A steel rodent?

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There were also some water features along with a number of painted ‘sticks’.

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The arboretum was well kept.

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In nearby Middlebury is the ‘World’s Fair Gardens’. These gardens were first presented in the Chicago Century of Progress fair in the 1930s.

They were later moved to Middlebury where they have existed ever since.

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The Middlebury site had a quilt gardens that was easier to see as it was on a small hill.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Art of the Brick Revisited

The art of Nathan Sawaya is so amazing we decided that even though we had previously seen the Art of the Brick exhibit in Cincinnati, we would check it out again since the exhibit was in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that much of the exhibit was the same, the opportunity to photograph a second time was more than enticing enough to go. In addition either I had forgotten many of them, or Nathan has added new ones in the last couple of years.

The exhibit still opens with a short video along with a presentation of a hand holding a single brick – keeping with the theme it starts with 1 brick.

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Many feature famed works of art including American Gothic. On this day I tried to vary the angles of the shots to give perspective to the brick work involved.

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A section called The Sculpture Garden.

We were there on a Sunday morning and the place was empty – in part I believe in the additional cost, $20 over the normal museum entrance fee. But it made for great photos without people in them.

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Tiki Man had interesting lighting for his close up.

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There were some smaller pieces on display as well.

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Ancient Egypt meets plastic bricks.

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Exhibit Name: The Human Condition

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The Lego people of the Human Condition.

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A swimmer (and a voyeur?)

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Note the amazing number of bricks to form the head.

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The Artist’s Studio. Everything, including the paintings in the background are made out of Lego’s.

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Through the Darkness.

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This piece is normally used in all of the advertising.

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Even a simple bucket is very cool when made out of Legos.

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One great feature of the exhibit in Pittsburgh was a 2nd floor balcony where you could view many of the pieces from above.

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Tiki Man is hollow!

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The Human Condition being viewed by a human.

Art of the Brick is one of the best exhibits we have ever had the opportunity to view, and it was not disappointing the second time.

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Logan, Ohio – June 2018 – A Sharp (Pencil) Place

A couple of years ago we were in Logan, Ohio and made a brief stop at the Pencil Sharpener Museum. Since we were back in the area we made another stop, spending more time to really check out the amazing collection, put together by a man named Paul Johnson – 3,479 in all!

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Paul died in 2010, but the Hocking Hills Tourist Information Center maintains his collection in a small building that looks more like a garden shed from the outside – but is very cool inside.

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The thousands of sharpeners were arranged by categories, including photography items. I wish I had a ‘roll of film’ pencil sharpener!

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Household items like a chair, gas grill and cement mixer sharpener.

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An entire collection of airplanes

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Famous buildings of the world.

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Office and retail shop tools.

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Presidents.

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And finally globes. If you find yourself in southern Ohio and need a break, give the nice ladies at the Hocking Hills Tourist Information Center a visit, and check out Paul’s collection – well worth the visit.

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Columbus – June 2018 – Annual Arts Fair

After our morning and early afternoon in Amish Country we returned to the city to attend the annual Arts Festival.

Our first stop was one of the music venues, where all the spectators were off to the sides to sit in the shade on this hot day (including us).

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There are hundreds of artist and vendor tents, with an expected 3 day crowd of over 400,000 people.

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The young lady playing the violin was very skilled – much to the amusement of the old man.

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An artist who specialized in what appeared to be high end comic art had decoration on top of their tent.

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A demonstration of pottery making.

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Our plans were to check out a baseball game in the evening, but the weather did not cooperate. It was however a spectacular thunderstorm.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Museum of American History

Our final stop was the Museum of American History, also known as America’s attic. There is so much to see starting with – Children’s TV icons…

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A shirtless George Washington?

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A tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

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Early computers.

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Early money.

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Commercial advertising standards.

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Batman’s ride.

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A collection of model ships.

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Washington DC streetcar.

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In the transportation hall they had a couple of displays of life in the 1950s.

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And a feature of the growth of the suburbs.

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Julia Child’s kitchen.

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And her awards.

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Early telegraph.

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The random eagle.

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A section about Latino’s in America included this cool Statue of Liberty only featuring a Latino woman holding tomatoes.

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There was a section about democracy in America, including a stunning presentation on voting in America, and how often people have tried to control who can vote so they can stay in power – it sadly continues to this day.

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Presidential election tchotchkes.

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A 1940s voting machine.

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A collection of protest signs.

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Another room housed mechanical items – an early sweeper.

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Finally in the presidential section was a collection of street signs named after presidents. The Museum of American History is a sensory overload – in my opinion it is second to Air & Space for museums in DC.

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New York City – May 2018 – Life Underground

Most New York City subway stations have some level of artwork in them. The 8th Avenue Subway station’s 14th Street station takes it to another level. There are around 130 small sculptures scattered throughout the multiple levels of subway platforms.

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Titled ‘Life Underground’ and designed by artist Tom Otterness in the 1990s, they were initially displayed above ground – eventually being installed in the station in the early 2000s.

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They are literally scattered everywhere.

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Underneath a gate to make it look like he his trapped.

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On the beams above the walkways.

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Some of the more popular are the legendary sewer alligators.

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Some of his inspirations were that the subways were designed in the 1890s, during the Tammany Hall/Boss Tweed era. This statue at the top of with a money bag head is one of the most popular with the commuters – the artist believes people rub it for good luck.

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We spent an hour wandering the station – many shots provided interesting backgrounds.

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This couple must be on happy hour.

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Many of the statues have some representation of poor versus rich.

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Some were hiding under stairs.

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One of my favorite, which I found in a couple of places, were two guys attempting to cut down the structural beams.

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Some were harder than others to figure out the message.

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Waiting on his train.

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One final look at another alligator and a number of others. If you find yourself in Manhattan it is well worth the effort to stop by this station.

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Cambridge, MA – May 2018 – MIT Buildings

A couple of hours on a Sunday morning provided the perfect time to wander the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts and check out the buildings.

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The Stratton Student Center faces Mass Avenue – featuring the 2010 piece ‘Alchemist’.

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Nearby is the Kresge Auditorium. Designed by Eero Saarinen it was completed in 1955.

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Across Mass Ave is the Rogers Building. While much of MIT was built in around 1915-1916, this building was built in the 1930s to provide an interface to Mass Ave, but built in the same style – with an impressive dome.

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The Maclaurin Building’s dome is equally impressive – highlighting a reading room on an upper floor.

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The Green Building. Cambridge has laws restricting height, so to get around this MIT built the first floor 30′ high. Unfortunately because of this design the winds around this building hamper the ability to open and close the doors some days.

The artwork in front ‘The Big Sail’ was rumored to be an effort to deflect the wind – but MIT says this is an urban legend.

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Finally the Ray and Maria Stata Center. As anyone who has studied any architecture can immediately tell it is a Frank Gehry design.

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