gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

About gooollysandra

When thinking about how to describe myself, I find it hard to say exactly what defines me. I think we are always evolving and changing, creating ourselves and growing into ourselves. So it is not easy to have a clear-cut definition of who one is in one instance that can apply at all times, because we are never the same. We are always changing.

Savannah, GA

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I went to Savannah, GA on a family trip for the holidays this year and I absolutely loved it. I’m really beginning to like the south, at least what I’ve seen of it. It seems that every time I go there I like it more and more. Savannah felt historic and charming, and touristy, but not too touristy. The beautiful squares are quiet retreats amid the touristy spots. The weather in late December/early January was amazing, but I think it was unseasonably warm. It was 70s during the day and 50s-60s at night. I will say it was definitely humid and my hair was big the entire time we were there. It never adjusted. It was 77 degrees in Savannah on the day we left and 27 degrees when we landed in Chicago, which felt absolutely devastating. Seeing the planes get de-iced at O’Hare was not the sight I wanted to come home to after a lovely warm vacation.

We did a lot of house museums while we were there, eight in six days! Not all in Savannah, also some in Charleston, SC. My family loves our art and history. I love hearing about the families who built these mansions and the lives they lived in them, not to mention just getting to look at the stunning architecture. Hearing about the slave history was definitely tough though. We did, of course, go to the Mercer Williams House, the setting of John Berendt‘s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and we stood in the dining room where the murder took place.

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Mercer Williams House 

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Statue represented on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, now at the Telfair Academy 

We also went to Owens-Thomas House, Andrew Low House, Telfair Academy, and the Jepson Center. The Jepson Center, designed by Moshe Safdie, is a beautifully light and airy space, inspiring for looking at art. They had a very nice exhibition on Monet to Matisse and an interesting exhibition on Savannah artist Bertha Husband.

Jepson Center

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Andrew Low House 

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Owens-Thomas House

Telfair Academy 

River Street feels a bit touristy, but there are definitely good restaurants to be found there, like Huey’s and Olympia Cafe. We heard Vic’s on the River is supposed to be really good, but we couldn’t get it. And we celebrated New Year’s Eve at Boar’s Head.

Cathedral of John the Baptist 

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City Market 

The city market is a cute area if you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and sit outside and just enjoy your surroundings. SCAD‘s presence around town is sprinkled all over, and they have a cool shop where they sell things made by their students. You can find great gifts there or a souvenir for yourself to remember your trip!

The squares were my favorite part of Savannah. I can just picture walking my dog through the squares if I lived there, and reading a book on a bench while taking in the warmth and greenery. It was amazing to see so much greenery and even flowers in December/January!

Walking down Oglethorpe Avenue I felt like I was in New Orleans. The big old oak trees create a canopy over the street, as they do over the squares too, and the architecture lining the street is just magnificent. The median in the middle makes it feel like the most important street in town. The sense of history and southern pride is definitely well-preserved and you can feel it all around you. The architecture is a mix of Federalist, Italianate, and Neoclassical.

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Gucci Director, Alessandro Michele, on creating ourselves

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“It’s like a laboratory, you know?” he says. “Your life can be like a laboratory. In the past, the idea of being human was what the earth and nature gave to you.” That’s not so anymore. He calls this era “post-human”, explaining that “you can really manipulate everything. It’s pretty scary, but it’s also pretty interesting. You can lead different lives. You can decide to be different things.” 

I’ve always been drawn to the existential idea that our lives are what we make of them and that it’s up to us to define ourselves. I think this point brought up by Gucci Director Alessandro Michele in The New York Times Style Magazine is a poignant testament of how true this is particularly in our day and age. It has never been easier to create and recreate ourselves with ever-changing fashion trends, the re-emergence of old fashion trends, the urge to be individuals, the ability to present a curated version of ourselves on social media and present a different side of ourselves over and over again through these social media outlets. I think there is something interesting and exciting about this prospect, but it’s definitely also unnerving because not only does it make it hard for others to know who we really are, we can become completely unaware of who we are as well. It can even allow one to not truly be anything because it’s so easy to be a multitude of things.

Design vs. Art

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I subscribe to Chicago Gallery News, and since I am a lover of both art and design, this interview with Helen Maria Nugent peaked my interest. Nugent teaches architecture and design at SAIC (School of the Art Institute Chicago), so she is well equipped to discuss this topic. The distinction she makes between art and design in that design is directed towards a purpose and a function for an end user, and art holds more of an aesthetic value not necessarily intended for a purpose, is spot on.

We are constantly talking about this. One of the ways I think design is different from art is that designers are typically thinking about how their work will fit into the life of another person; most design work is not complete until it has a life beyond the designer. Even if the work is self-initiated, the goal is often for it to be able to function in the world. It’s not that artists don’t think that way too, but it’s not as common.

The design of objects also plays into the way that we define ourselves. We look to collect objects that are both of functional value to us, but also aesthetically pleasing and in some way particular to us that help us define our persona to present to the world.

Objects play a big part in how people want to be seen—they express themselves through objects, like with clothing. When looking for objects or furniture, many people now demand that the design meet their functional needs, but they also want it to have aesthetic appeal, be smart, and be made of good materials…

 

Ukrainian artist Konstantin Kalinovich

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I went to the Ukrainian Institute of  Modern Art during Open House Chicago this year and I saw some lovely prints by Konstantin Kalinovich that I just fell in love with it. I loved their ambience and cozy feeling. And of course the detail and skill. They were part of the Contemporary Ukrainian Graphics exhibit, which is still up until December 9th. Sneak in there while you have the chance! 

I’m having a hard time finding a lot of information about him because it’s mostly all in Ukrainian, but Arthive, Warnock Fine Arts, and the American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers have some basic information about him, as well as images of his works. I love Ex Libris because they are small and whimsical, and it seems like he does a lot of those. Take a look at them!

“I wish to belong to it…”

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This is perfect.

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I couldn’t find a digital version of this article from Driftless magazine, so bear with my pictures. Driftless pays homage to the coziness of the Midwest, which I find delightful since I’m from Indiana. “Who We Are at the Edge” by Michele Popadich is an ode to the struggle between the city and the outdoors, which I can definitely relate to after moving to Chicago from a small town nestled in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts (which I absolutely loved)! It’s not that I don’t love Chicago, because I do for its diversity and cultural richness, but man I wish I could go for a drive in a beautiful, peaceful countryside sometimes…escape to a place that allows for reflection and renewal.

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Popadich points out an interesting conundrum of wanting to belong to nature, but feeling like an outsider looking in no matter how hard one tries to be fully immersed in it. I think this is especially true for those of us who live in a city and have to travel to nature for some respite. Perhaps those who live within nature feel more connected to it. Either way, how lovely is it to get away from the buildings and cars and people and pollution, and see some trees and cows and take in the fresh smells of the earth?? Trying to feel as one with nature as possible by absorbing all of its splendor 🙂

The photographs are by Isabel Fajardo. Check out her nature photos, but also all the rest because they are magnificent!

Life as a movie

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What would our lives look like if we could watch them in a movie?

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This picture is from one of my favorite movies, Amelie, where she’s watching a movie in a theater and she looks behind her because she likes to watch other people watching a movie. My love for movies makes me wonder what our lives would look like if we could watch them as a movie. Movies are such a condensed, simplified, hyper emotional version of real life, so I can’t help but wonder what my life would look like in the form of a 2 hour long movie. What would I wear in different scenes, would my hair always be perfect, how would my relationships with others play out, how would my feelings and sensitivities for things fluctuate, how would other people feel watching me, etc…these are some of the questions that come to mind. Anyone else ever think of their lives like this?

Present vs. Past

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Ok one more shout out to The New York Times Style Magazine Letter to the Editor…for now at least! “Present Tense” by Hanya Yanagihara spoke to me because in it she discusses how different the sense of history is in the U.S. versus other parts of the world. She mentions Rome specifically and its deep history that is literally alive all around you. Growing up in Rome I had the unbelievable fortune of experiencing this everyday, without realizing the magnitude of it at the time.

Any first-time (or hundredth-time, for that matter) traveler to Rome can’t help but marvel at how lightly, and with what matter-of-factness, the Italians live among antiquities: A walk down the street is a stroll across thousands of years; the 2,000-plus-year-old Largo di Torre Argentina, excavated in the late 1920s, was where Caesar died, but it is also where the city’s cats congregate for a sun-drunk loll. Other cities would have placed such a monument in a museum, behind walls and off-limits — here, though, there is so much history that such an approach is impossible. Instead, the Italians have learned that every building, every structure, is a palimpsest, and that their lives within it, superannuated or brief, contribute another layer to its long narrative.

It’s true that Romans walk around their city with ease  and a nonchalantness about their surroundings. I mean how lucky are they to have been plopped there by birth and can call that parcel of this world their home. How lucky was I?? And as Yanagihara points out, Romans contribute to their long, ancient history, in whatever finite way possible.

The oldness of a place like Rome, and the newness of the U.S. is apparent in the way that we, as Americans, approach our daily life, versus the Romans. The impatience and instant gratification of American culture is a testament to this. We don’t have a long history to look back on, and therefore looking forward, with a sense of restlessness, is the only way we know. Romans, on the other hand, take life as a stroll, literally and figuratively. They have such an extensive history to look back on and to reflect on how they got to where they are  now, that they are not in a hurry to go anywhere. I think this is true in the larger scheme of things, but it is also apparent to anyone who visits Rome and has to slow down their pace to match that of the Romans. While this may be frustrating for Americans, I think slowing down is only a positive practice.

Fashion meets a sense of self

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Once again, I’m loving Hanya Yanagihara‘s Letter to the Editor in The New York Times Style Magazine about fashion’s role in defining our sense of self, as well as the greater implications it has on how we relate to others and the world around us.

The word fashion tends to allude to a luxury not attainable for everyone, but here fashion means the very basic practice of people dressing themselves to get out the door in the morning. Not everyone pays close attention to what they wear and they do it simply out of necessity. But other people, including myself, dress with a purpose; whether that is trying to align themselves with the current trends, going against current trends, wearing what is comfortable both physically and emotionally (yes I do think that what we wear affects our mindset and emotions), making a social or political statement, etc. are all wrapped into what we decide to put on our bodies.

At T, that language often takes the form of fashion — specifically, fashion as a way of communicating not just something about who the wearer of it is, but also, and with increasing urgency, the kind of world we live in…

Despite its reputation, fashion is a democratic art: We all engage with it in some way or another (even if engagement means disengagement, rebelling against what we interpret as its rules and conventions), and it remains the single most effective way of telegraphing who we are to the rest of the world. What we choose to wear is who we think we are, or who we think we would like to be.

We’re constantly looking for ways to define ourselves and to set ourselves apart as individuals from the overwhelming world around us – to be someone. Fashion is an easy way to do that because it is perhaps what those around us notice first, after our physical characteristics. If someone has a consistent style, people who spend time around that person will assign that style to him/her as a quintessential piece of that person.

I know I like to wear things that make me feel good. At work, for example, I like to wear clothes that make me feel productive and professional. At home when I’m just lounging around I like to wear something comfortable and whatever will inspire the most hygge at that moment (something I’m always trying to achieve, but as we all know, it’s hard to attain it; rather, it happens spontaneously when everything is aligned just perfectly). I don’t always dress with a purpose, but I tend to feel better when I do.

“But Beautiful” – Hanya Yanagihara

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As an art lover, the question of what beauty is often crosses my mind in the context of admiring art. I took a philosophy of art class in college, which allowed me to explore this question further. The primal question of whether or not beauty can even be defined in  is perplexing enough, let alone attempting to assess the level or quality of beauty. I found this Editor’s Letter by Hanya Yanagihara, the Editor-in-Chief for the The New York Times Style Magazine, very insightful. I thought her whole letter was thought-provoking, but especially the bit below.

But of all the ways in which art and design test our understanding of the world, one of the most important is how they make us question what exactly beauty is. Great art and design remind us of two things: first, that what is beautiful is not necessarily what is pleasant or pretty; and second, that the search for beauty, in all its forms, is elemental to the human condition. Every person in every culture, no matter how impoverished or restrictive, tries to ornament her life. This desire — to stimulate the senses, to remind ourselves of the wildness of the imagination — is not an indulgence or a luxury, but an instinct, one that defines us as human. What, after all, is the entire arc of history but a compendium of things — the pottery, cloaks, jewelry, houses, furniture, vessels and tapestries that humankind has always made (and will always make) to assert its presence in the world?

…to find and reveal and present beauty in all its forms, even if sometimes those forms don’t resemble what we understand as beauty at all. Beauty might be something ephemeral, made more potent for the brevity of its life…

I think Yanagihara perfectly captures that beauty is not simply an aesthetic characteristic we assign to things, but that it’s actually present in virtually all that the human race brings forth in the world. We have this drive to create something for ourselves or for others in an effort to exercise our creativity and imagination not only for a useful purpose, but also to simply satisfy our instinct to surround ourselves with what feels good.

 

Goat Yoga

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Most everyone who knows me knows that I love goats. I’m not quite sure how this love started, but like most loves, it just happens when you least expect it. I suppose my earliest recollection of my love affair with goats is from when I was in grade school and went to the 4-H Fair in the summertime. Among other animals, there were always goats. Adorable goats. And I started looking at pygmy goats for sale online, at a very affordable cost! It escalated when I lived in Massachusetts for a year about 4 years ago, where I regularly visited a goat farm, especially when they had babies. I’ve been dreaming of having my own little goat farm ever since!

This past weekend I got to do goat yoga, a craze that is attracting goat-lovers and non-goat-lovers alike. There’s something about it that is just intriguing. The hour of goat yoga was everything I thought it would be. Fun, filled with goats jumping on top of me (yay!), and light on the yoga. It was hosted by GlennArt Farm in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. I’ll let these pictures tell the story. Ignore my form though…it was hard to focus with a 20 pound goat on my back…haha