Thursday, March 2, 2023

En Provence

Hôtel la Magnaneraie, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

In the courtyard are several ancient plane trees (sycamores).  Napoleon III apparently loved them and planted them everywhere.  They lined the two-lane highways wherever we went, speckled sentinels from the Second Empire.  This time of year, they were without their famous broad leaves that were immortalized in Dickens' Tale of Two Cities (though in London):

"It was an oppressive day, and, after dinner, Lucie proposed that the wine should be carried out under the plane-tree, and they should sit there in the air. As everything turned upon her, and revolved about her, they went out under the plane-tree, and she carried the wine down for the special benefit of Mr. Lorry. She had installed herself, some time before, as Mr. Lorry’s cup-bearer; and while they sat under the plane-tree, talking, she kept his glass replenished. Mysterious backs and ends of houses peeped at them as they talked, and the plane-tree whispered to them in its own way above their heads." 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

2022 AIA National Convention - Chicago

Glessner House

During a session on the Obama Presidential Library

Pritzker Pavilion - Grant Park - free performance of Brahm's Symphony Number 1, Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Frank Gehry's open air amphitheater

Keynote address by Barak Obama

Calder's Flamingo looming over protesters of the SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Scotland '19

Gardens Cottage, Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye

We had been in Britain for almost a week by the time we boarded the ferry in Mallaig for Skye.  The sea approach gave dramatic views across the water to the island and the outer Hebrides beyond.  Once on Skye we drove toward Dunvegan, stopping at Broadford for groceries.  It was after 6:00 pm.  Traffic was heavy in the opposite direction with folks leaving the island.  We continued northwest, like heading to the edge of the earth.  The Cuillin Mountains were an otherworldly backdrop to the late afternoon sun.  We drove past Loch Bracadale where in 1802 my g-g-g-great grandmother had left Skye with her eighteen month old son, John, my g-g-great grandfather (see previous post).  

We arrived at the Gardens Cottage on the grounds of Dunvegan Castle where we stayed for three amazing nights.  

Stone cairn erected in memory of Roderick MacLeod, d. 1530.  Mountains of the Isles of Harris and Lewis beyond.

Before our trip I read up on what genealogy I could, and benefited greatly from the efforts of a cousin in Nashville, TN.  A chance meeting with an uncle of mine in 1963 spurred him on to a decades-long involvement with the Associated Clan MacLeod Societies.  Through that group, and before the internet and, he was able to piece together a detailed family tree of our ancestors on Skye.  In his research he discovered stories of their exploits from centuries ago, including those of my 15-great grandfather, Roderick MacLeod.  Roderick and his father, John, were killed in 1530 in the second of two "Battles of Waternish." (see this link)  

In 1983, my cousin oversaw the erection of a stone pile, or cairn, in memory of Roderick on the site where he was killed.  A similar monument to John stands about a quarter of a mile away but visible over the treeless moor.  We spent a day hiking that part of the island and visiting the cairn. It was well worth it if only for the hard-earned "wow" from our two children.         

Dunvegan Castle

With the rental of the Gardens Cottage came access to the castle grounds after visiting hours.  The grounds consisted of a walled garden, a wooded trail that passed by two waterfalls, a lawn, and several other areas around the castle.  As great as that was, stopping to sketch would attract a swarm of midges, leaving my pages smeared with the guts of several hundred.  Keeping moving was the key, and the gardens are beautifully maintained with modern sculpture and creative interpretations.  

In the loch next to the grounds is a large seal colony.  We took a seal boat tour of the loch and were able to get pretty close.  They were unimpressed with us as they sunned themselves on the rocks.  Late one afternoon as the tide came in we saw from the grounds a large group of adults and young perched on rocks near the castle.   

Lewis Chessmen at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.  Detail of a "berserker."

In Edinburgh

Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh

St Pancras Station, London from our hotel room on the first night in the UK

St. Paul's Cathedral 

Sir John Soane's sitting room

Docent showing Hogarth's original oils of A Rake's Progress in Sir John Soane's gallery.

The London Eye from across the Thames River

WWII era fighter plane in the Munich airport

Saturday, July 7, 2018

AIA '18 - NYC

In New York for the National AIA Convention in June.  Revisiting some previously sketched sites.

Main Concourse at Grand Central

I met up with the NYC chapter of Urban Sketchers at Pier 17 and the South Street Seaport.  Initially had trouble finding anyone, but when I sat down to this view of the Brooklyn Bridge, I was joined by a half dozen other sketchers.  The funky cantilevered chairs shown here were well used during the lunch hour.  A great group on a beautiful day.

Below, Washington Square Park with Stanford White's triumphal arch.  Plane trees and ancient elms cool this public space on the hottest days of summer.

The first stop with a sketching tour led by Clemson University's Lynn Craig was the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Ave looking toward Jean Nouvel's swooping Tower Verre, now the MoMA Expansion Tower.

We made our way to Central Park.  I've always enjoyed the relics of old advertising schemes still in use, such as the Essex House Hotel's lofty letters along Central Park South.  The super skyscrapers are popping up like weeds around these old buildings, casting shadows well beyond the park.

The name of this diner was Eat Here Now, so I did.

I was notified of my flight cancellation while making this sketch at Grand Army Plaza.  I can't look at Sherman's tribute without thinking of the anonymous Southern wag who, upon its unveiling said, "Well ain't that just like a Yankee, letting the woman walk!" 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Front Door

Our house, close to the middle of our street, built in 1934 for a mother and her daughter's family. An over and under double residence, it was designed by Swedish-born architect J. Carroll Johnson.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Roseneath Farm

The old home place, once a farm, now in the middle of the small town that grew around it. The house was built in 1919 by a timber man, who, from his tree farms, picked the pines to be used in its construction. My grandparents moved there in 1934. My mother lives there today.

My grandmother named the place Roseneath Farm after the peninsula in Scotland from which her g-great grandmother, Catherine Campbell had come. A highly romanticized account of Catherine Campbell's immigration and life in the New World is given in Gerald Johnson's By Reason of Strength. Johnson was a cousin of my grandmother's, and took a few liberties with Catherine's lineage. Though the book has Catherine as the daughter of the Duke of Argyle, in fact her origins were more humble, closer to those of the family into which my grandmother married, the McLeods. I told a bit of that story in a previous post titled Over the Sea to Skye.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Paris, the Dordogne, and Bordeaux 2017


Hotel view overlooking courtyard

Hotel view overlooking Rue du Faubourg du Temple and Place de la République

From beneath the Eiffel Tower


Hotel view overlooking Rue des Cordiliers and Place de la Petite Rigaudie


Medieval buildings in Sarlat


Hotel view looking northwest from Rue de Montesquieu

Statue of Francisco Goya in the Place du Chapelet

Roman Ruins at the end of Rue du Colisée