gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Time Out

0

Man coming back from vacation is the WORST. It almost makes me wonder if it’s worth going on vacation because going back to your daily routine is just too hard. But I think it’s a reminder of how important it is to take time off and, if anything, we need to take more time off. What constitutes ample time off is relative to who you ask or where you live. In the U.S., if we compare our time off to most of Europe, it pales. Their standard seems to be 4-6+ weeks off, while we get 2 weeks off in the U.S (if that). But, if we compare the U.S. and Japan, a country that doesn’t seem to have much of a work/life balance at all, 2 weeks might sound like a luxury. In any case, I live in the U.S. and I wish I lived in Europe! If, for no other reason (which of course there are many), for their generous vacation time.

I went to Michigan for a week with my boyfriend over the summer and it was my first week off of work in a year and a half. I realize that complaining about not having enough time off is a luxury these days when I should simply be grateful to have a job. And I am VERY grateful to have a job (for the moment at least). But I think we still need to uphold the importance of time off for one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being, if one’s job is labor-intensive.

The week in Michigan was very much needed, and fun and relaxing and all of the things that a vacation should be. We went to Traverse City, Beaver Island, and Mackinac Island. We drove to Traverse City and took ferries to the two islands. It felt quite safe, as everyone wore masks and all of the places we went to provided hand sanitizer. Each place was different and we stopped at some unexpected places along the way, which were lovely surprises!

The setting of Traverse City is beautiful, on a bay of Lake Michigan. It’s a great place if you like water activities – sailing, kayaking, etc., and maybe an even better place if you like wine! There are several vineyards and wineries where you can sample the fruits of the land. We also stumbled upon a cider place called Sutton Bay Ciders that has an incredible view of the bay! Back on track, we went to a winery called Mawby, which specializes in sparkling wine and is nestled in a rolling vineyard. Next stop was Hop Lot, a brewery in a forest-like setting. The beer and pretzel we got were delicious. We explored Leland, a small historic fishing town, and got some amazing smoked whitefish at Carlson’s Fishery.

Back in Traverse City, we grabbed dinner at The Little Fleet, which is a parking lot full of food trucks and a bar that serves very tasty cocktails. The food trucks offer a variety of good eats and it was a fun spot to people watch. There were also lots of dogs all getting up close and personal to get to know each other. We checked out Grand Traverse Commons, which is an old mental hospital that has been converted into shops, restaurants, and apartments. Trattoria Stella was a real treat – Italian fine dining in a wine cellar in the basement of the former mental hospital, with a high quality menu and excellent service.

If you like biking, kayaking, and beer, Kayak, Bike, & Brew is the activity for you! It’s a four hour tour to four breweries and you get to each one by bike and kayak. You get some exercise, try some beers, and meet people on the tour. It’s a fun time!

We stayed at a goat farm Air B&B one night just outside of Traverse City, which was my favorite place that we stayed at. It’s no secret to those who know me that I LOVE goats and that I dream of having a little goat farm of my own someday. So it was really cool to get to spend some time with the goats and run around in the pasture with them. I even got up at the crack of dawn in the morning to watch the milking! The guest suite in the farmhouse was modern, minimal, and clearly Scandinavian-inspired. It was perfect – the kind of place I’d like to call home in my future. The farm also had a couple cows, chickens, and vegetables. Oh, and we were greeted by amazing goat cheese, crackers and jam.

Beaver Island was an experience. It was quite remote, which we knew before going, but I think it was even more remote than we had anticipated. There are a few main roads that are paved and lit, but most of the island is made up of a forest with dirt roads throughout that are not lit at all. Driving on these dirt roads at night felt like we were driving towards our death in a scary movie. We had a very interesting and hospitable Air B&B host who gave us a tour of the island and told us about the island’s history, including its spiritual nature. He even made us breakfast one morning! I don’t know if I would have taken notice of the island’s spiritual presence had he not told us about it, but there clearly seems to be an energy of sorts there. I am not a spiritual person so I can’t say much about it, but there was a special feeling on the island. Our host owns a meadow, Tara’s Meadow, which, after discovering it, is what drew him to stay on the island after visiting out of curiosity for its history and spiritual nature.

The island’s shores are very pretty and serene. The water is crystal clear! The beaches are rocky though. There was plenty of social distancing on the beaches – two to five other people besides us at most. Having a beautiful beach to ourselves was amazing. We made our way from one beach to another around the island’s perimeter, and each one was more beautiful than the last. We went on a couple hikes, and visited Protar’s Home and tomb. Feodor Protar was an Estonian immigrant who became a healer on the island and is highly revered there even now long after his death.  The temperature was a little chilly, despite it being the first week of August, but our Air B&B host told us that it was unusual for it to be on the chillier side at that time of year. So unfortunately the water was cold, but the Beaver Island locals didn’t seem bothered by it. We watched the most beautiful sunset at Donegal Bay, and it was just so colorful and picturesque.

The ferry ride back to the mainland is a little over two hours, but it’s a nice and comfortable ferry. Charlevoix is home base for the ferry, which is a cute town on the harbor, if a bit touristy.

The charms of Mackinac Island stand the test of time. I had been there once before as a kid with my family, and it was mostly as I remembered it. If you haven’t been, or don’t know about it, there are no motorized vehicles on the island. So you have to get around on foot, bike, or horse & carriage! There is something refreshing and endearing about seeing everyone ride around on bicycles and ‘parking’ them to go into shops. I will say that seeing the horses truck along with a carriage full of people or luggage made me sad, but hopefully they are strong enough to handle it. We rented bikes and rode all the way around the island (which is 8 miles), as well as on smaller trails throughout the island. One thing I noticed this time that I hadn’t noticed when I was there the first time was the variety of the island’s landscape and vegetation. I didn’t realize how wooded and hilly it is! It’s beautiful. I wish we would have had more time to explore the island and take some hikes because the trails looked really dreamy. We visited a couple historic forts and Arch Rock.

We stayed at a bed & breakfast that apparently is quite haunted. My boyfriend likes scary movies and stories, so we bought a book about the hauntings of Mackinac Island. It turns out that our B&B is one of the most haunted on the island! Just my luck…I don’t like spooky stories and I couldn’t sleep. We played a really fun and beautiful game of mini golf right on the water at sunset with glow in the dark golf balls. The island was crowded with tourists, but not as much as it normally is. The crowds can be unpleasant, so I’m glad that it wasn’t to full capacity.

On our last day we stopped at Sleeping Bear Dunes as we were leaving northern Michigan. It was a rainy day, but we still hiked up to Pyramid Point through a beautiful forest full of birch trees (my favorite). Seeing them in all of their glory made me so happy. The rain and the fog made it all the more magical. The view of the lake from Pyramid Point is also quite stunning, with the vastness of Lake Michigan sprawling out before you. We were really lucky with the weather all week and the last day of the trip was our only rainy day.

Please remind yourself of how important it is to take time off, and unplug and recharge and adventure! I know that I’ll need to continue to remind myself of this.

Public art

0

Copy-of-Copy-of-Yestermorrow-2B-scaled

Mark Blanchard, Yestermorrow-2B

Public art can sometimes be overlooked because of its place in an open space – not confined by walls or curated as part of an exhibition, standing in conversation with other works around it and all encapsulated by a an aligning thread. I think we’re certainly developing a stronger appreciation for public art these days since museums and galleries  have been closed for the past few months. Not only is it of great value for public art to be admired more emphatically, but it’s also an important reminder that art is for everyone and not only to be accessed, in many cases, by paying for a ticket to get in to a museum.

This article about public art in Chicago by Luke Fidler in New City Art magazine struck me for its simple message conveying our appreciation for public art in a very thoughtful way. I only wish that I always appreciated it so much and that it didn’t take these circumstances to serve as the catalyst.

To be moved and made to think: I’ve always known that public art can do these things, but I’m more grateful now than ever for its capacities. – Luke Fidler

As the streets have been more deserted than usual, we have the opportunity to sit with public works of art more intimately than before – to spend more time with them and get to know them better.

 

Virtual voyages

3

One of the biggest disappointments for people amid this pandemic has been the cancelled travel plans and not knowing when we’ll able to plan a trip again in the future. I really enjoyed this article by Reif Larsen in the New York Times advocating for virtual travel since, well, it’s our only option right now. I especially liked his virtual voyage to Charleston, SC with his son because I went there last winter with my parents and we were enamored by its southern charm. His voyage was powered by Google Street View, which albeit is amazing that we’re able to see the world through the lens of Google, it doesn’t compare to being there and feeling the history and beauty around you. I admire Larsen’s creativity in recreating the trip as much as possible, complete with landing at the airport and getting a rental car to navigate through Charleston.

Larsen also identifies why we travel in the first place, which is not only to see places we want to explore, but also, or perhaps mainly, to chase that ever elusive feeling of getting away –

“This is why we travel: to force ourselves to take a breath, to bend space and time, even if just for a moment. We go there so we can come back and appreciate the here.”

The not being able to get away that we’re experiencing right now is wearing down on all of us. In an effort to find new ways to get away, maybe we consider how spending time at home, which we might not normally do, can be our new refuge. Instead of resenting our homes because we have no choice but to be there, let’s try to embrace them and treat them like the humble escapes they can be. I personally love my new lifestyle of spending more time at home and all of the warm cozy feelings that go along with being at home, including endorphin-producing bonding opportunities with pets (who seem to enjoy this newfound abundance of company and time together just as much, if not more, then we do).

A positive effect of the quarantine is a healthier and more sustainable environment, at least for now while many continue working from home and generally staying put more than usual. This certainly makes a good case for virtual voyages rather than contributing to pollution with air travel and car travel.

Larsen also points out that there are other ways to travel other than exploring physical places. Reading a piece of literature can take you on a voyage to a real or imagined place. Or create your own story about whatever kind of magical place your imagination allows. These seem to be lost arts, but worth revisiting in a time like this.

My Collection of Plants

2

I remember feeling indifferent a few years ago when I noticed that some of my friends began collecting plants for their apartments and actually seemed to enjoy taking care of them. Like actually felt a sense of joy in the company of their new friends and prided themselves on their accomplishment as they watched them grow. Well, over the past year or so I’ve gotten a taste of the plant bug. These are just a few of my plants, as not all of them are photogenic. But we can work on that together. Not only do I find pleasure in taking care of my plants – watering them, deadheading them, repotting them when necessary, turning them to even out their sun exposure, etc. – looking at them and feeling them around me simply makes me happy. It must be that air purification getting to me.

DSC_0482

I’m very grateful that my cat (who I picked up off the street, not knowing anything about him) doesn’t bother my plants. He’s never tried to eat any of them, so I don’t have to worry about bringing a toxic plant into the apartment (hallelujah because so many beautiful plants are toxic to cats). Instead of being taunted by my plants, he enjoys sunbathing and napping in his favorite cat tree, complete with a view of much larger plants outside.

My sweet alley cat, Ollie

Waves

0

Waves1-01-735x420

I am by no means a film critic, so I’m not going to try to say anything groundbreaking about Waves. I can only talk about how it made me feel. I saw it at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago a few months ago, but it’s still sticking with me, as the powerful ones usually do. I first saw something about this movie last fall when it was part of the Chicago International Film Festival, but I wasn’t able to see it then. Man, was it worth the wait. From the start, with its enveloping soundtrack, it feels a bit like a music video – each vignette making up the whole in a moving, shocking, and intimate way.

While the plot begins by following a teenage boy and his high school experience in a somewhat typical coming-of-age type of way, you quickly realize that it’s a different type of story as you get to know him through his health struggles, the tense relationship with his parents, and the unraveling situation with his girlfriend. Not only does the plot take unexpected twists and turns, but the talent of the actors to convey their inner sensibilities is unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time…not since Blue is the Warmest Color, which I first saw in 2013 when it came out. Waves perfectly encapsulates that devastating, raw, heartbreaking sense of loss that I so loved about Blue is the Warmest Color. I felt this heartbreak throughout the second half of the movie while sitting in that dark, fairly empty movie theater, sitting next to a good friend and fellow film lover, and I continued to feel a sense of sorrow afterward. It’s a profound movie about tragedy and loss and love. So many feels that embody the human condition.

Art Institute of Chicago Color Wheel

0

Capture

 

The Art Institute of Chicago has a new search filter on their website. You can now search their collection by any color on a color wheel and it will bring up all of the artworks they have with that color in it. How cool is that?? It’s blowing my mind a bit and I can’t stop going around the color wheel… Well done, Art Institute! Click on Show Filters, Color, and viola. Give it a whirl 🙂

A marriage between art and design

0

JennyMain

Chicago Gallery News 

There’s something about designer Jenny Brown’s story that resonates with me so much, as I also share a love for art history and design and have felt a bit torn between the two. I studied Art History in grad school and then did an internship at the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, which focused on planning their annual housewalk in Oak Park featuring ten or so houses and buildings designed or inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. I really enjoyed the internship, having the opportunity to go to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio every day, and interact with people interested in the architecture. At the end of the internship I was a point where I could a make a decision to either keep pursuing a more full time, permanent position in the arts, or explore another longstanding interest of mine – interior design. Although I love art and spent my time in grad school wanting to work in the arts after grad school, I couldn’t shake the desire to pursue a more creative outlet, so I did an internship with an interior designer. Since then I’ve been working at a kitchen and bath showroom. Not having a degree in design, working in sales and helping people envision their kitchen or bathroom and guiding them through the selection process fulfills the creative pursuit I was yearning for.

Collecting things as I see them is also a practice I started when I was in high school. My mom and I discovered a fair trade store called Ten Thousand Villages when I was a teenager and I fell in love with all of the unique home decor pieces they have from all over the world. I also loved the fair trade approach and hearing the stories about the artisans who crafted the pieces. We went there what seemed like almost weekly and I started buying things for my future grown-up apartment. The things I bought ended up in boxes and trunks in our attic (many of which are still there because I’m still looking for places to put them). My parents have always liked going to antique shops, auctions, and estate sales, and while I hated them when I was younger because I thought they were SO boring, I began to appreciate them as I got older and now I actually think they’re fun! The idea of finding unique things, both old and new, became an exciting adventure and proved to be a relatively inexpensive way to add to my collection. While buying things as I see them and storing them until I need them might not seem very practical, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The thought of going to a furniture store or a Home Goods to get something generic when I need it just doesn’t appeal to my treasure-hunting, collector’s heart.

I admire how Jenny has drawn upon all of her life experiences, from working at an auction house, to an art gallery, and with a top Chicago interior designer to eventually give life to her own firm, Jenny Brown Designs. I was always frustrated both in college and post-college when I had to choose one thing to study or pursue as a career, but Jenny proves that you don’t have to choose just one. You can have multiple passions that overlap and converge into a multifaceted career. I look forward to forging a path that combines my love for art and interiors in a way where the two draw from one another and influence the other.

 

Hut philosophy

0

hut2017_mainimg02

Muji Hut, Japan 

As a Philosophy major in college and a lover of anything to do with one’s home/intimate space, I was intrigued by this article about a class at UChicago called A Curating Case-Study: The Hut taught by Dieter Roelstraete. In conjunction with an exhibition at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society last spring, Hutopia, both explored three philosophers and their construction of their huts, real and figurative. Wittgenstein and Heidegger had physical huts where they liked to retreat to think and write, but Adorno did not and instead a sculpture was made by artist Hamilton Finlay to represent his hut. 

The idea of using a place as inspiration, whether for creative or intellectual endeavors, is alive in anyone who cares about the physical space around them – their room, apartment, house, hut, cabin, etc. It doesn’t have to be a faraway remote place that you escape to, although perhaps part of the inspiration lies in the escaping; it is something you can construct wherever you are.

It’s exciting and freeing to think that we can make choices about our space that can affect not only how we feel, but also potentially our productivity. If you were to build yourself a hut, what would it look and feel like? Would the colors on the walls be light or dark? Or would you have patterned wallpaper? Would you want light streaming in through the windows or dark curtains blocking it out? Would you put art or other decorative pieces on the walls, or do blank walls allow you to stay more focused? How about adding some plants for visual interest and air purification, or a cozy rug to feel beneath your toes. Where will you place things like a sofa or chair or writing desk so that it has a good view of the room or out the window? What kind of lamps/lights will you choose and where will you put them to create an ambiance that feels perfectly cozy and balanced? In other words, how will you strive for the hygge that will allow your thoughts and feelings to do what they need to do?

When trying to picture my hut, I can think of a million countless possibilities. It’s hard to even attempt to define one vignette before thinking of another that feels just a little bit better. While this can be frustrating because it seems like nothing will ever be quite right, it’s also part of the beauty of creating our hut – that it can constantly evolve along with our desires.

People matching art

0

08

A friend showed this to me recently and I am so fascinated by it. People matching artwork. I’m an art lover and I go to museums every chance I get, but I’ve never noticed visitors matching the art on the walls. I mean what are the chances? Some of these pairings are more spot on than others, but I’m so impressed by the photographer’s commitment and patience for such a project. Stefan Draschan is the photographer behind these spottings and he has other similar series on people touching artwork, people sleeping in museums, couples matching, etc. All are humorous, but I think the people matching artwork is just perfection. I can’t decide which pairing I like best, but the colors in this one are so striking. I was surprised to find out that Draschan only spends a couple hours in each museum where he captures these moments. But he does go frequently – every few days. He thinks there’s something subconscious that draws people to their matching works of art and that it’s not purely coincidental. We do seem to be attracted to things that mirror us in a way and that provide an opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves. I think a work of art can certainly be that looking glass. Draschan’s love for going to museums and observing people isn’t so much a love as it is necessary, “I really need art…It fills me”, a sentiment that I can certainly relate to.

 

 

Top 100 movies

2

IW_2019_Films_Sketch8@2x

Since the Chicago International Film Festival is about to start in just a couple of weeks, I’ve been reading up on movies lately and I came across this list of top 100 movies (one of a gazillion top 100 movie lists). I always get overwhelmed by them and they make me feel like I have to drop everything and dedicate the next 500 hours of my life to watching the movies in order to feel complete. I’m happy to see some of my favorites on this list, like Melancholia, Frances Ha, Cold War, Before Midnight, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Tree of Life, and Inside Llewyn Davis. I”m also happy to see Call Me by Your Name, The Master, Carol, Shoplifters, Roma, Phantom Thread, and Beasts of the Southern Wild included. I’m surprised by a couple omissions though, like Blue Is The Warmest Color and Amelie, but maybe I’m just biased because they’re a couple of my personal favorites. I never quite know how these lists are ordered and how they choose which movie merits the top spot, but this one doesn’t seem to be arranged in any particular way. Thank god! I mean how could one ever decide on an order of best to worst…? Happy watching!