Category Archives: USA

USA, Miami – My Street Art fix at Wynward Walls – Vhils

Thanks to my friend Beth I have learned to admire the work of the Portuguese street artist Vhils and searched out his work when I was in Lisbon – there is not much as they keep pulling down the buildings he uses!

This artist started by etching into the external walls of large commercial buildings and creating giant faces in the process. No idea how he does that especially given the size of the works. So I was very pleased to find five new works of his at Wynyard Walls which he did for the 2018 Art Basel event and equally pleased to find a solo exhibition of his work on different media including paper and incredibly polystyrene!!

His original works in a nearby Carpark that I saw last year.

These are the new faces on the wall plus faces using the medium of paper.

And finally, who knew you could create with polystyrene?

USA, Las Vegas – 2018/19 New Year

Spent the tail end of 2018 and the start of 2019 in Las Vegas with my friend Beth. Always fun to be here even at this especially crazy time of year.

Flower decorations abound in the hotels

Saw Bruno Mars on New Year’s Eve and BoyzIIMen (throwback) at T mobile centre.

And also day 2 of the brand new Lady Gaga residency at the Park MGM – and Celine was in the audience too!!

USA, Xmas in New Orleans, Louisiana with a hint of voodoo

Great to be back in New Orleans after 16 years and of course post Katrina. The city continues to have a certain charm that is unique compared to anywhere else I have visited in the US.

The combination of the architecture in the French Quarter, the mansions in the Garden District, the cemeteries where everyone is buried above ground, the music on every corner, the food and drink (plus the luxury of walking around the city with plastic cup of anything Alcoholic you like in hand) make it a great place to spend a few days and while Xmas was festive it was thankfully not over the top.

Buildings in the French Quarter and the St Charles Street Tram

Mansions in the Garden District

The famous cemeteries – you now need to take a guided tour rather than wander around on your own – too much desecration especially of the voodoo graves!

Music is everywhere and so is Louis Armstrong!

The Riverside Park is great for a stroll to check out the steamship Natchez, sculptures and on to Armstrong Park where the sacred voodoo tree near Congo Square has regular drum beat events to respect their ancestors. The fruit under the trees is a typical offering – no beheaded chickens – that’s just the movies – at least so they say?

And the food here is excellent as are the cocktails and the oysters dishes.

USA, New York – The Bronx twice (Botanical Gardens and Woodlawn Cemetery); One World Trade Centre and last few Manhattan snaps

Bit of a mix for the last post for this NYC trip. Sunny blue sky crisp days make getting out of town without having to go too far a great idea. My first stop for the first time was to visit the NY Botanical Gardens – which also happened to be housing a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit. An excellent way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny day.

I then headed for Arthur Avenue in the Bronx – the authentic Little Italy and ate real Italian food – not the touristy stuff you get in Little Italy in Manhattan.

The day after I was back in the Bronx to do the once a month free history tour of Woodlawn cemetery where numerous worthies from the commercial, entertainment and literary world are buried (including Duke Ellington and Miles Davis in an area where a lot of jazz related people are together). They do an impressive turn in mausoleums – some have curtains, are carpeted and many include Tiffany windows too. Another lovely spot to get away from it all and walk around quietly. I will definitely go back to try out some of the other tours.

Back in Manhattan I visited One World Trade Center (or the Freedom Tower for a spectacular ride to the top and pretty amazing views. They spend a lot of time telling you how safe this building is – a bit too much time….

And then I always love the light in NYC – especially when the sun its parts of buildings and provides a natural illumination. Farewell NYC – until the next time.

USA, New York – a pot pourri of NYC experiences – Tnhe Met Breuer, The Met, The Guggenheim and Phil Collins

This was my first visit to the Met Breuer which has taken the space where the Whitney used to be (it has moved to brand new premises in the Meatpacking district). In my view this building has always been ugly and lacking in flair as a place to showcase art and frankly that hasn’t changed with the Met moving in. However it has enabled them to showcase more items with special exhibitions. The first I visited was a throwback to my recent trip to Vienna – Klimt, Schiller and Picasso – but with an emphasis on their more salacious drawings. Interesting artistically but some of the drawings of obviously very young girls seem somehow less appropriate with a modern day eye on feminism. Here is a sample of some of the less salacious art.

The second exhibit was sculpture by Jack Whitten who dies last year. Some of his work was intricate and thought provoking as there is so much in each piece. Also below is a mobile that I just loved – I am a sucker for mobiles.

Although I focused on the amazing Heavenly Bodies exhibit from my last visit to the Met – I also chose to focus on some of the sculptures around the museum. The first is a starving prisoner with his sons who is trying to decide whether to die or eat his children – the children are imploring him to do the latter and one child has already died. Very graphic but amazing piece of work. Completely different this young girl is so clearly in a hurry – great physical movement. The thin lady is a Frank Lloyd Wright sculpture for one of his homes – he rarely did these so interesting and the last one is a very old Chinese ceramic of a lady of high position.

Then a trip to the gorgeous Guggenheim whose design never fails to amaze me. I always start at the top and work my way down the spirals. I attended the opening of a new exhibit by a lady called Hilmer Af Kint – a Swedish female artist who worked in the early 1900s and who rarely displayed her work publicly as she didn’t feel that people were ready for abstract art. Indeed she also insisted that her work not be shown until at least 20 years after she died. She was very spiritual and her paintings in this exhibit reflect her later works which are her “translation” of spiritual messages (not from the dead – more just being in touch with things beyond the obvious) into art. Incredible colors and designs and some very large canvases. It is great that her work is finally becoming accessible to a wider audience.

And then for something completely different – Phil Collins live at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. Took me back to seeing him in the 80s both in Genesis and solo. He hasn’t aged as well as Elton or Billy J – but he has a great band to support him and his 17 year old son was the drummer.

Couple of bursts of music for those who remember….

USA, Pittsburgh, PA – a side trip to see Elton John’s farewell concert and the “other Frick House”

Pittsburgh is only a 90 minute flight from NYC and my friend Beth had kindly obtained floor tickets for us to see the Elton John Farewell concert. As I am a major fan of his this was a good reason to use airline and hotel points for a quick two night visit.

The Elton John concert didn’t disappoint – it is about my 26th time of seeing him but I never tire of watching him perform and remembering what I was doing when all those classic songs were first released. It really takes you back. Two of my school friends reminded me that we had all gone to see him around 1977 in a concert tour named “As loud as Concord but not quite as pretty”! Great name and of course I have to point out that Elton is still around – just saying……

A few memories from our night at PPG Paints Centre with Beth, Courtney and Lynn.

And for any of the other big fans – a couple of music bursts.

Henry Clay Frick – the steel industrialist came from Pittsburgh. I have always been a big fan of the Frick in NYC which was his house and holds an amazing personal art collection. I never knew there was also a family home of his – Clayton plus an adjoining art museum and classic car and carriage museum – in Pittsburgh. This property is about 20 minutes from downtown in a ritzy area called Squirrel Hill. We paid $15 for a 90 minute tour and there was only 4 of us – excellent value. No pics allowed inside though but our guide knew everything about the house, the art and the family.

A great surprise was getting a bit of early access to an exhibition that was due to open two days after we visited. It was the works of Isabelle de Borchgrave – Fashioning Art out of Paper. She is Belgium and in her 70s and she started to make full size clothing out of paper only about 15 years ago. She seems to have exhibited all over the place including the V and A so if you ever see her work coming to your town I would strongly recommend it. It is hard to explain how amazing her work is so hopefully a picture makes it clear. Incredible to think this is all paper!

USA, New York – Heavenly Bodies at the Met

I used to live quite near the Met and visited regularly. It is a world within a world and somehow I would always magically find new parts of it on every visit – this still sometimes happens when I visit now – which I always do when I’m in NYC.

This time I visited on the last day of the much lauded Heavenly Bodies costume exhibit (seems the costume exhibits are now often curated by Anna Wintour). This theme was all about – fashion, medieval art (it was mostly housed in the area of medieval art and buildings) and Catholicism. An eclectic mix and all to the bellowing sound of orchestral church like symphony.

It was amazing – I hope this photos show why.