Two Steeples

Found this photo just now while cleaning out the “Camera Roll” in my iPhone. I don’t remember taking this picture and have no idea why I did. But I like it, so thought I’d share it with you ūüėĄ

Milwaukee's City Hall and Old St. Mary's Church

Milwaukee’s City Hall and Old St. Mary’s Church

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Road Trip: Seattle

I had a conference to attend in Seattle last week, and since my daughters were able to come along this time, we made a bit of a vacation out of the trip.

Some pics:

A view of Puget Sound from our hotel room. LOTS of construction throughout Seattle! Hence the cranes.

A view of Puget Sound from our hotel room

No 13th floor in our hotel.

No 13th Floor

I don’t know why I love reflections so much, but I do. ¬†Here is a¬†cool “windowscape” I shot from our hotel room.

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And another, same building, but later in the day.

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And sunset reflected in the glass of a building.

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And a few minutes later . . .

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And a few minutes after that . . .

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Until finally . . .

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Of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without a monorail ride to the Space Needle. Both monorail and Space Needle were constructed for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

From “1962 Seattle World’s Fair: A city in orbit,” The Seattle Times, Feb. 18, 2012; updated Mar. 3, 2012 (http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/1962-seattle-worlds-fair-a-city-in-orbit/)

The Space Needle is located in the Seattle Center, a 74-acre park that served as the grounds for the World’s Fair. Once we arrived there, we decided to forego a trip up inside the Space Needle in favor of two other things we decided were higher priorities.

First, my younger daughter had her “portrait” drawn by a really great caricature¬†artist named Max (“like Mad Max”). We waited a long time in line, but it was worth it. ¬†The caricature is my daughter’s favorite souvenir of our trip, and she kept it closely by her side¬†throughout the journey back home, awkwardly carrying it (framed¬†in a matte about 18″ x 24″) through the airports, while also dealing with¬†her bags, and stowing it on the plane in¬†the narrow space between her window seat¬†and the cabin wall.

After getting the caricature drawn, we went into a fabulous museum located at the foot of the Space Needle: Chihuly Garden and Glass, containing glass sculptures by the famed Dale Chihuly.

What an incredible experience!

Inside, the museum was a fairyland of glass and color and light and darkness.

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You probably noticed the reflections in the pictures above. Chihuly is famous for hanging his glass chandeliers above water. For a wonderful intro to his work if you’re not familiar with Chihuly, see Chihuly Over Venice, a 90-minute documentary about his 1996 installation of chandelier sculptures over the canals of Venice (you can view a sample/trailer here, at Chihuly’s website). Once you see the glass reflected in the dark water, you’ll understand as I did why his work in museums always seems to be¬†placed¬†above a polished, black reflective surface. The mirror image¬†is as important to the viewer’s experience as the sculpture itself.

The photo below is a panorama I shot of two canoes laden with glass bounty‚ÄĒseemingly gliding through still¬†waters at night.

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Sometimes the larger sculptures are impressive but kind of meh from a distance‚ÄĒrevealing their intricate beauty only upon closer¬†examination of the details.

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Outside the museum was a garden to rival Mon√©t’s home¬†in¬†Giverny‚ÄĒexcept with lots and lots of glass.

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With a couple of very tall, sculptural-glass “plants.”

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One of which rivals‚ÄĒbut will never match :) ‚ÄĒthe height of the Space Needle.

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Dale Chihuly was born in Tacoma and is now based in the Seattle area, so maybe it’s no¬†surprise that the bath in our hotel room was graced with this photograph bearing Chihuly’s handwritten caption: “Cobalt Blue & Green Chandelier over Black Rock, Nuutaj√§vi Finland Part I, June 1995.”

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All in all, a very good trip (sigh of contentment).

So¬†now we’re back. And I have all my usual post-conference stuff to do (not to mention a mountain of laundry :) ). But I wanted to get this post up before jumping¬†back into Milwaukee life.

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Stream of YouTube Consciousness: Fred Astaire, Bob Hope, and Elmer Bernstein at the 1970 Oscars (plus Ellen DeGeneres’s selfie, Janis Joplin’s “Ball and Chain,” and the themes from “Ironside” and The Magnificent Seven)

I came across this clip of Fred Astaire dancing at the 1970 Academy Awards¬†ceremony the other day‚ÄĒand marveled that one could have watched the Oscars¬†broadcast that year and witnessed such entertainment. (If you want to cut straight to the chase, you can zip ahead to where Astaire starts dancing, around the 3:20 mark.)

Several things in this clip stand out to me.

For one, Fred Astaire and Bob Hope, presenters of the Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short, actually talk with each other instead of reading some lame “joke” off the teleprompter.

For another, the winners of these Oscars actually get a chance to make little speeches and thank people instead of being given the bum’s rush to get off the stage ASAP.

Third, everyone in this clip, even the guy in a tux who hands the Oscar statuette off to to the winners, seems like an adult to me. ¬†Being a “grown-up” meant something quite different in 1970 than it does today. ¬†There’s something juvenile about the Oscars shows now, from the incomprehensible “in” jokes to the pseudo-impromptu moments of product-placement (as apparently Ellen’s “selfie” was‚ÄĒalthough I love Ellen and everyone who was in that photo :) ).

One last point: that melody Fred Astaire dances to is pretty jazzy. It reminds me of the jazzy scores that hip movies or television shows had back in the late 1960s, early 1970s. Like the theme from Ironside, by Quincy Jones.

Apparently jazz had a moment around that time and could have become as dominant as rock in popular culture. ¬†At least according to what I read in Clive Davis‘s memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life (a really good book, by the way).

Davis, the man behind the “American Idol” television show, was also once president of Columbia Records and founded (and was president of) Arista records. ¬†Davis discovered all kinds of talent; I mean he¬†has sort of been the man behind American popular music for decades. ¬†I truly admire his talent.

At one point in his book, Davis talks about discovering Janis Joplin at the Monterey Pop Festival and describes her performance as mesmerizing, something you couldn’t take your eyes off of. ¬†I was quite skeptical reading this. ¬†Janis Joplin was before my time, but all I could think of was this drugged out woman with bushy long hair parted in the middle hiding her face and screaming out lyrics in a coarse, hoarse voice.

But out of curiosity I looked up the video of Joplin’s Monterey Pop Festival performance. Yep, mesmerizing. ¬†Something you can’t take your eyes off of.

Especially her rendition of “Ball and Chain.” ¬†(That’s Mama Cass Elliot of The Mamas & The Papas in the audience there at the very end, clearly saying, “Wow.”)

Back to the original clip of Astaire dancing, that’s Elmer Bernstein down in the orchestra pit, FYI. ¬†Yes, Elmer Bernstein of The Magnificent Seven‘s musical score, not to mention many, many other films’ musical scores. And he’s the musical director for the 1970 Oscars show. ¬†That would be like, I don’t know, Howard Shore or John Williams turning in a stint at this event, which I’m pretty sure neither of them ever has. I found this clip of Bernstein talking about his work that year.

Every song he mentions that was nominated for Best Original Song is one that I’ve heard of and even sort of know well enough to sing‚ÄĒand I’ll bet you do, too. (I can’t say the same for any of the lists of nominees in recent years.)

On YouTube I found this homage compilation of someone’s favorite scenes in¬†The Magnificent Seven, complete with Elmer Bernstein’s¬†score. Enjoy!

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Update on that ship in my last post

After I put up¬†my Saturday photo of Lake Michigan, my friend Jo, who lives on¬†the lakefront downtown, told me that¬†ship in the picture had been anchored there all week. Apparently the¬†ship has been the topic of much conversation¬†the past several days!¬†This morning’s paper had an article about it, and I just found an¬†update saying that the ship is¬†getting ready to leave.

FYI :)

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Lake Michigan, on a blustery end-of-May day

I had lunch today with my writing group at one member’s¬†residence on Prospect Avenue overlooking Lake Michigan. In January I took a photo from the bluff, braving bitterly cold wind without gloves for the few seconds it took to snap the picture.

This afternoon the wind was so stiff ¬†that I¬†had trouble standing still in one spot to take this picture of a ship out on the water. ¬†I could barely keep my footing‚ÄĒand I had to grip the phone tightly with both hands to make sure the gusts¬†didn’t snatch it right out of my fingers! ¬†The wind pelted me with rain and lashed my hair across¬†my face, so I really couldn’t even see whether I’d gotten the photo I wanted until I checked my phone later.

As you can see, that¬†wind out of the north was¬†so strong that¬†I couldn’t¬†even take the picture¬†straight :)

Ship on Lake Michigan, from Milwaukee bluff on a windy, rainy day katherinewikoff.com

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Tree shadows growing along a wall (√† la Edward Hopper)

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Somehow these slanted early-morning shadows remind me of Edward Hopper’s “Early Sunday Morning,” which you can see here in the Whitney Museum of Art collection.¬† That sweep of light washing swiftly down a street, stretching everything in its path into¬†spindly lines across the¬†landscape.¬† The sharp angles as these shadows encounter and are bent by obstacles of their own.¬† Such drama in the stillness :)

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Sixth Street Viaduct

Milwaukee's Sixth Street Viaduct

I took this photo of the Sixth Street Viaduct over¬†Milwaukee’s¬†Menomonee Valley while waiting¬†to cross the street after dropping my younger daughter off¬†at the train station this morning. ¬†She¬†caught the 8:05 Amtrak¬†Hiawatha for a field trip with her art history classmates to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. What¬†a sweetheart‚ÄĒand so looking forward to¬†this experience! ¬†She even made¬†a list of all the artworks she wants¬†to see so she won’t¬†miss out on anything.

But going back to my picture, I love that the¬†iPhone camera lens has a zoom feature. ¬†The above close-up shot of the viaduct makes a cool photograph, while the image below taken with the “shorter” lens is kind of “meh.”

 

 

IMG_0627[1]The Bublr Bikes are a relatively new addition to the Milwaukee scene.  There are bike stations like this scattered around Downtown, the Lakefront, and the Lower East Side, which makes it easy to get on a bike in one place, ride it to your destination, and then just leave it there instead of needing to return it to the original location.

 

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