A Trip to the Seattle Art Museum & The Olympic Sculpture Park

We were so excited recently to take a quick trip out to Seattle simply to soak in the scene and to enjoy the good life. Retirement may be the best thing ever. While we were there, we spent an entire day at the Seattle Art Museum. While the museum was an incredible treat for the eyes (more on that later), something else called to us even more.

If you haven’t ever been to the Olympic Sculpture Park, it is a must-see in Seattle. This nine-acre industrial site right at the Seattle Art Museum has been transformed into an amazing green space reserved just for art. It’s set on the waterfront with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound and it couldn’t be more peaceful or beautiful if it tried.

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden

And the design of the park is as intriguing as the sculptures in it. In 2001, SAM picked the New York-based Weiss/Manfredi Architecture company to design the space. They created a Z-shaped design that connects three areas into four distinct landscapes. They’ve done an amazing job with their environmental restoration projects which have included salmon habitat restoration, native plantings, sustainable design strategies and more. The works of art scattered throughout the space are quite modern, and hard on the eyes at times. However, they do serve as an interesting juxtaposition to the soft scenery around them!

And then, of course, there is the SAM itself. They have everything from a listening room where you can enjoy music pleasures from times gone by to ceramic installations to modern art and more. The space is scrumptious and there is so much to see that one day didn’t even do it justice.

Enjoying the Art Walks 2012

Paintings from the Aesthetic Gallery

I wait all year for the Art Walks sponsored by the Asheville Downtown Gallery Association, and the day finally arrived. On March 6th, the 23 downtown galleries in Asheville opened their doors from 5-8 pm for an evening of food, fun, festivities and creativity. This yearly event truly exemplifies the best that is Asheville, and it’s sheer pleasure to be part of it. Don’t worry, however, if you missed the first of the 2012 Art Walks. There are more coming on June 1, August 3rd, October 5th and December 7th.

So the idea behind the Arts Walk each year is to open the city up to the incredible art opportunities we have and to enjoy an evening together. Each time there are hundreds of people enjoying downtown Asheville with street musicians playing, food vendors selling their products, and the galleries abuzz with the arts.

It was such a fun evening. I particularly enjoyed browsing through the textiles at the Aesthetic Gallery, the contraption paintings by Kathryn Phillips at the Asheville Gallery of Art, the amazing photography at the Castell Photography Gallery and so much more.

A Trip Down Memory Lane at Woolworth Walk

If you’ve never been to the F.W. Woolworth building at 25 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC, you simply must come at some point. This historic landmark was first established in 1938 and was revived and restored to its original state in 2001. It not only operates a throwback, traditional soda fountain, but it now features local artists.

On March 2, I enjoyed an open reception for the work of Barbara Sokolowski and Terry Friday. Barbara is a fabric designer who features beautifully designed fabric art. Terry is a potter who uses a procedure called graffito, where she creates carvings on the surface of her pots.

Her pots are all functional, but they also include vivid and stunning floral and geometric patterns and designs. As Terry explained,

“Some of the most intimate moments we spend with each other are done while sharing food and drink. I strive to make beautiful functional pieces that I hope enrich the lives of the user and bring a bit of celebration to each occasion of their use.”

While visiting this exhibit, that will be featured for the whole month of March, I couldn’t resist enjoying the Soda Foundation. It is actually open daily and serves all sorts of items from my childhood. They have egg creams, club sandwiches, coffee, old fashioned ice cream sodas and more. Sitting at the soda counter brought me back to the 1950s and offered me such a fun experience!

Woolworth Walk Soda Fountain

Woolworth Walk Soda Fountain

There are few places where you can enjoy the work of 160 local artists while sipping your 1950s ice cream soda. Woolworth Walk is definitely worth the visit – even for those who live far away. And what a fun experience for one Asheville resident on a Friday afternoon in March.

Pat Passlof at the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center

As I’ve mentioned before, while I live in what many regard as a small town, it’s amazing to see the wealth of talent that I continually encounter. I recently had the privilege of visiting the most recent exhibition at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. If you haven’t ever been to this center, you simply must come and enjoy at some point.

At the moment, there are featuring an exhibition called Pat Passlof: Selections 1948-2011. Pat Passlof was an abstract expressionist, and the exhibition includes a wide range of Passlof’s paintings from her early days as a student at Willem de Kooning at BMC to her last paintings which were made in 2011.

Apparently, there is a companion show at the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University. Together, the two exhibitions have a 64 page catalogue that includes an amazing essay by art critic Eleanor Heartney and also had Passlof’s writings and correspondences.

The show was lovely, featuring 43 paintings that showed her growth and development during her 60 year career. In addition to the exhibit, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center has a number of intriguing programs planned. I’m hoping to return on March 6th when they have Eleanor Heartney talk about Pat Passlof and the changing role of women in the arts.

Finding the Best in Asheville

Sometimes the loveliest experiences are found at home. While sitting tight for a bit, and with no plans to travel just yet, I’ve been exploring the amazing choices offered here in Asheville. And although I’ve lived here for quite a while, I’m always amazed by the breath of choices here in this small town.

First, I recently had the pleasure of going to the 16 Patton Fine Art Gallery located on the corner of Lexington Avenue and Patton Avenue. Their intimate setting is perfect for their display of residential and private collectors. They showcase everything from paintings and sculptures to glass and ceramics. Last week, I was spellbound by Linda Cheek’s exhibit entitled “Seasons on the French Broad.” Her paintings showed the changing seasons on the French Broad River. Gorgeous.

Then, I enjoyed another afternoon at the most divine location here in Asheville. The Ariel Craft Gallery is not to be missed by residents and visitors alike. This is a gallery that’s actually owned and operated by the artists – so you’ll always have an artist on hand when you go to visit. They first opened in April of 2002 and they are now located on Biltmore Avenue.

You never quite know what you’ll find at the Ariel Gallery, as their displays of sculptures, glass, fiber, clay, mixed media and others are always changing as they feature new artists and showcase others.

Art Work in Asheville at the Asheville Art Museum

Asheville Art Museum

With a free day recently with nothing to do (isn’t retirement simply the best?), I decided to head over to our own Asheville Art Museum. And I must say, as one who has traveled the world and enjoyed many art museums, that I still find so many treasures in my own backyard.

This past summer, American Style Magazine actually named the Asheville Art Museum as the number one small city for art. Our art museum is actually planning to break ground for renovations soon, with an expansion that should double its size. They say that the permanent collection exhibition space is going to grow by 70% and that the special changing exhibition space will double. Wow.

So, today I relished in enjoying the exhibits at the museum. In Gallery 6 they are showcasing Josef Alber’s mid-century series entitled Homage to the Square. It includes hundreds of works that play with color and spatial perceptions. All of the art work there centers around the square and highlights various ways that the museum’s artists have focused on the limitations and possibilities of the square. On display were worked by Richard Anuszkiewicz, Jack Tworkov, Sally Gall, Sol LeWitt and others.

What a great way to spend the day.

Image courtesy of Aislinn Weidele, Ennead Architects, LLP (2012).

A Glimpse at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show

Just found this great video that gives a glimpse into the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show that was organized by London promoters Anna and Brian Haughton at the Park Avenue Armory from October 21–27. I wrote about the show in my last posting, but was very excited to find this video to share. It beautifully captures the amazing antiques and fine art that were on display, including works by Frank Partridge of London, Phoenix Ancient Art with Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam, the Brian Haughton Gallery of London, the Douglas Dawson Gallery of Chicago and many others.

While I didn’t see any of them, one article even said that many heavy hitters attended the glamorous show including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the king and queen of Sweden, the prince of Qatar, and even actor Steve Martin.

Definitely an event not to be missed!

Enjoying the International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show

While I certainly don’ t have the money for virtually anything they were offering, I simply can’t miss out each year on the International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show that takes place at the Park Avenue Armory each year.  This year, the show took place from October 21 through 27, and the only word I can really use to describe it is “WOW!”

It was hard to figure out where to begin, as I was wowed and amazed by so many incredible antiques that were on display.  Phoenix Ancient Art, owned by brothers Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam, was there, displaying a marble sculpture of a female from the Aegean region of the Neolithic period.  This 7,000 year old statue may only have stood five inches tall, but it captivated everyone who saw it at the show.

Brian Haughton Gallery of London was there, showcasing a pair of realistic owls that were made by the English firm Bow in the 1750s.  The Tomasso Brothers had a gorgeous micromosaic table top on display that was made in Rome in the early nineteenth century. It had bits of ancient Roman glass in it and was just stunning.

Another exhibitor was Samina, the London specialist in antique Indian jewelry from the Mughal and Deccan courts.

The list goes on and on.  It was absolutely a privilege to be at the Show and to be witness to so many opportunities to admire and to own antiques. Now I’ll have to wait for the Art Antiques in London coming next June!

Defining New Realism

I realized after I wrote my last post about the Galerie Sonia Zannettacci that not everyone knows what New Realism is.  The Gallery features New Realism as one of its main attractions, and it’s certainly a type of art that people should know about and be able to appreciate.

Called Nouveau Realisme, or New Realism, it’s a movement that was founded in October of 1960.  A number of artists, who actually signed their names on a declaration together, said that they were coming together for a new awareness of their “collective singularity.”  Their goal was to capture everyday reality without any idealism clouding the portrayal.  The original term Nouveau Realisme was coined by art critic Pierre Restany during an early exhibition he did in May of 1960.

The reason that it was seen as being “new” rather than as simply being realism is because it was connected to the new and growing urban consumer society.  Similar “new” forms of expression were taking place in fiction with the Nouveau Roman and in the New Wave in film.  It also focused on the presentation of an object that was chosen by the artist, rather than on the making of an image.

Artists who spearheaded this field included: Yves Klein, Arman, Francois Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Pierre Restany, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Jacques de la Villeglé, César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Gerard Deschamps.

The art above is that of Martial Raysse, Soudain l’été dernier (Suddenly Last Summer), 1963.

Galerie Sonia Zannettacci on the To-Do List

Another gallery that I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing is the Galerie Sonia Zannettacci at 16, rue des Granges.  I realized after our trip in Switzerland that you simply can’t do everything the first time around. So, during a future trip, I certainly hope to be able to visit this lovely gallery that’s been open since December of 1980.

The gallery focuses on three main trends in European art. They fancy Surrealism, New Realism and Figuration Narrative.  They also enjoy featuring Photography as part of their central mission.

Some of the artists who are most strongly represented at Galerie Sonia Zannettacci are Horst Janssen, Piotr Kowalski, Olivier O. Olivier, Yvan Salomone and many others.  Right now they are featuring Kosta Alex.

I’ve been most taken with the New Realism movement and with artists such as Raymond Hains, Cesar, and Arman. Another thing to put on my to-do list for our next visit to Geneva!