Archive for the Art and Culture Category

Looking for the right piece of art

Posted in Art and Culture, Gallery, Stuff with tags , , , , on June 7, 2012 by Val McCall

Over the past eight months, my first floor has gone through a much-needed overhaul. Actually, my entire house has got a face lift over the past few years. It began with a dream for a kitchen that worked and an insatiable desire for no clutter. Having five kids, I have all manner of clutter and stuff. Someone moves and if there’s that certain “something” that they can’t convince their significant “other” to allow in the door … Where do you think it lands? In my basement or my garage or my third floor/attic/drop off point for all things homeless.

The Blue Meanies | Photo credit Wikipedia

So I turned into Momzilla, or as I often threatened my children when they were small, a “Blue Meanie” like the ones in the 1968 Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” I got a dumpster and dumped anything that wasn’t nailed down; I did keep my other half.

We gutted half the first floor; created the much sought after “open concept” between the kitchen and dining room and went from a typical 1940s-1950s, Betty Crocker kitchen to a modern sleek design. Lots of stainless steel, granite and a minimal design in cabinetry.

I have tons of artwork to display but I began in earnest to search for something modern as a focal point for a new wall gallery. The color pallette is neutral so I needed something large with a punch of color and then to surround it with some neat black and white photos in various frames and sizes. I’m thinking Andy Warhol but I don’t want a picture of Campbell’s Soup or Marilyn Monroe.

And then it hit me. I have some great photos of my kids and my grandchildren; especially the ones they post on Facebook. I found one that I couldn’t have posed better myself. I passed the photo through some neat photo tools I have on my MacAirBook Pro and voila.

“IMK” Sasha 2012

I’m not going to say what the title “IMK” stands for. I’m going to let them figure that out the next time they’re here. Combining this with some neat photos of their parents and cousins in modern, traditional and ornate frames, and add some of my classical artwork, I’ll have a unique gallery; one that I plan to repeat in the living room and elsewhere.


Tracing my roots. Discovering new places.

Posted in Art and Culture with tags , , , , on May 31, 2012 by Val McCall

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” Gustave Flaubert

I’m writing a short novel about one of my ancestors (through marriage) — she has an amazing story to tell. Actually, I started out gathering up the research that my oldest son compiled about Nana. Nana’s colorful life is filled with intrigue and adventure and following the research lead me to her mother, which lead me to her grandmother and then I found her great-grandmother and that’s where a whole new world opened up.

No story like this can be without some great pictures; especially of the heroine. The Heroine was born in Madagascar, was the victim of a war between a few nations in that area, lost her husband and first daughter and then captured along with her second child. She was then taken from Madagascar and brought to the West Coast of Africa where she was sold to an English slave trader, placed on a ship and managed to survive it to Virginia. Then, her story begins in deepest earnest to keep track of her family and her homeland.

There are no pictures of the Heroine and I wanted desperately to have a picture of this great lady to share with the rest of the world. So, I did the next best thing. I began searching the Internet for pictures of Madagascar, trying to find some images from the 1700s – 1800s. None of what I have found thus far called out to me.

So I dropped every key word from my search but one, Madagascar. Here’s what I came up with.

This is Nosey Iranja where one can walk along this glorious white sandy stretch between two islands. Amazing. No wonder I’m part fish!

These are baobab trees. I’m learning much from my search. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and much of its fauna and foliage, etc., can be found nowhere else on earth.

The Anatananarivo mountainside covered with colorful rooftops and native foliage coming alive with color and form as the sun rises is living art. Now, I’ve got to find my way there.

I’ll need to go soon. Deforestation, poaching and human sprawl is depleting this beautiful island nation of its natural beauty. Many thanks to Mat_71 and others who took these beautiful photos that have inspired me to push onward with this book and to visit this beautiful country. Check out the rest of the photos at Beautiful Places to Visit including the photos of Seychelles Islands next to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places…

Posted in Art and Culture with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by Val McCall

I had to share this blog post. It’s an awesome use of space and creativity. Makes you want to head on over, find a cubby and become a child again. I loved it and you will too.

An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places….

via An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places….

Buttonwood Tree’s 3rd Annual Music Festival at Halfinger Farms!

Posted in Art and Culture, Music Festival with tags , , , , on May 19, 2012 by Val McCall

Today is a beautiful New England Spring day. Warm weather, clear skies and no humidity. Its perfect out there. If you’re looking for something to do, from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm in Higganum at Halfinger Farms, here’s something to bring the family and favorite vittles, and get your stomp on with some great music. BLUEGRASS MUSIC that is – fiddles and banjos, harmonicas and mandolins and so much more! On stage will be:

CHARTER OAK BLUEGRASS: The Charter Oak Bluegrass band is Connecticut tradition, solidly rooted in the bluegrass tradition of Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin. Known for its drive and bounce on up-tempo numbers, and soul and depth of emotion on the slower tunes, Charter Oak Bluegrass is the essence of bluegrass.  [….]

SOUTH CAROLINA BROADCASTERS: The South Carolina Broadcasters are an award-winning old-time trio with modern day appeal. Featuring Ivy Sheppard (fiddle,banjo, guitar, vocals), David Sheppard (guitar, vocals), and Grace Kennedy (banjo, triangle, vocals), their expert songwriting, tight harmonies and exceptional instrumentation give The Broadcasters their powerful old-time sound. Drawing their inspiration from the Carter Family and early country duos, The Broadcasters aim to keep alive the roots of American traditional music.  [….]

POOR OLD SHINE: From their hand painted cereal box cd cases to their thoughtful arrangements, Poor Old Shine, a Roots/Americana band from Storrs, CT is about honesty and hand crafted creativity. It’s foot stomping, mind racing, dirty bluegrass like you’ve never heard it before! They travel with an assortment of instruments including guitars, banjos, pump organ, string bass, cello, a swarm of harmonicas, and a yard-sale-scrap-metal drum set. It’s old songs with a new feel, banjos with paint peeled, shoes with holes and treadless soles, and music that is real. [….]

Ode to Freedom 1989, Leonard Bernstein in Berlin

Posted in Art and Culture with tags , , , , on May 18, 2012 by Val McCall

And the wall that was no more … I grew up on the three “Bs,” Bach, Brahms and Beethoven with some Ella, Ellington and Lady Day thrown in for good measure.There was also lots of Mozart and Coltrane. I have favorites. Lately, I’ve listened to the 1989 recording of Ode to Freedom (Joy) (Beethoven), conducted by Leonard Bernstein in Berlin. It was a celebration of taking down the wall that separated Berlin’s east and west. I listen because it fills my heart with joy and eases my countenance.

My own Bali Ha’i

Posted in Art and Culture, Dining Out, Movies with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Val McCall

I grew up watching the 1958 movie and singing the songs of the South Pacific. Its appeal is that it takes place on an island, a magical place where one can get lost in its natural beauty. Well, I’m definitely part fish, and I can float in any water instantly, keep my eyes open and my lungs are still pretty good; even as an old fart. Among my favorite songs is “Happy Talk” (sung by Juanita Hall) and “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair” (sung by Mitzi Gaynor). The one song that tops them all is “Bali Ha’i, sung by Juanita Hall as the character, “Bloody Mary,” in both the Broadway musical and the movie.

My own Bali Ha’i is Tybee Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The water can get rough on the ocean side of the island but nothing like that of Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Fortunately, I learned to respect the ocean at an early age. I grew up dodging the waves of Rockaway and Coney Island Beaches on New York’s shores. for me, there’s nothing like a sunrise or sunset on a beautiful shoreline.

Heading down to the beach for our morning walk.

The shore is just a short walk across the dunes. This is the north side of the island where the ocean and bay sort of meet up. I prefer this side because its less populated and while I love the ocean, I also prefer to have just a little “dune” between us.

Tybee’s Lighthouse where the light stays on 24/7

There’s a great restaurant called the “North Beach Grill” that sits right off the beach on the Lighthouse grounds. You can’t see it from the sand. They make the best red beans and rice and homemade salsa.

Here’s a shrimp boat most likely getting in the last of some good “fishing” for shrimp and tilapia fish before calling it a day.

After walking along the shoreline, the next stop is breakfast at the Breakfast Club to enjoy fresh shrimp sautéed in a butter-garlic sauce and ladled over creamy grits. My favorite dish! I have no business eating such decadent food, but I justify it by walking six to seven miles every morning along the beach.

During the daytime, we leave the island and go roaming to museums, Savannah’s River Street, or City Market. There are lots of places to go and things to see and do. But who would have thought going to a cemetery would be as beautiful. This is a picture of Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery on one of the smaller islands. My next post, I’ll share more of this incredibly beautiful place. We visited just as the azaleas were in full bloom.

Another glorious sunrise on my own Bali Ha’i.

Sand Art: Life’s precious moments

Posted in Art and Culture with tags , , , on May 16, 2012 by Val McCall

My husband and I spent what should have been the coldest part of New England weather on our favorite southern island, Tybee. Wind permitting, we would walk the shore from the north side of the island to the south, going further each day. Each day is different, except for the pelicans and winter shore birds. Each day, nature shares another part of her beauty, or her power and strength, and sometimes her wrath.

One day, we happened on an amazing sand sculpture. I quickly took a picture, knowing that as soon as the tide comes in again, this piece of art would be gone.

Baby dinosaur getting some morning sun

The next morning, when we headed out on our walk, I kept my eyes peeled for any remnants of this sand sculpture; there were none. It was gone. The sea reclaimed each grain of sand, placing it back into its original form, ready to be washed back onto the shore and crafted into yet another sand sculpture. And all that’s left of this beautiful artwork are the photographs morning beach walkers like me happened to take as we strolled along the shoreline sipping our coffee and enjoying nature’s best moments.