Monday, November 23, 2009
"American Legacy: Our National Parks"- that they have in conjunction with the national parks documentary by Ken Burns. The exhibit mainly featured paintings that had happened in plein air- only a couple were done in the studio- and all of them had been painted within the last few years. Something that I had not expected was that these paintings were actually for sale- some had already been purchased. I glanced at the price list to see that the prices ranged from $3000-10,000. It was fascinating to look at all of these different paintings of our national parks because they each evoked a different feeling than a photograph. Several of the nearby plaques detailed how several of the artists struggled to not exactly document the scene like a photograph but rather to capture a deeper level of emotion of the paintings. I particularly enjoyed this special series they had of Zions (a place I still need to visit) where they had 14 artists paint in the park for a week. It just re-enforced to me how unique each artists perspective is because most of them chose different objects and scenes to focus on, and it was fascinating to view the individual emotional experiences of each.
The main highlight of the museum for me was that they had about 10 paintings by Albert Bierstadt- this incredible landscape painter. Bierstadt took nature and elevated it to the spectacular. For me, his works evoke very spiritual feelings about the majesty and grandeur of nature, and that these masterpieces were designed by a greater hand. I have only seen a handful of his works in all of my other museum travels and so this was an unexpected delight. My favorite of his was entitled "Sunset in Yosemite Valley" and this image does not do it justice. You definitely have to see it in person to get the full effect. They also had several works by Thomas Moran, another great landscape painter of the time, and my favorite was "A Woodland Temple." These pieces alone made my visit, but there was still much more to be seen.
They have a small collection of Egyptian artifacts (including a mummified cat), Greek, Roman, Mayan, and Aztec, as well as beautiful elaborate French clocks and vases, Wedgewood china, and Chinese Jade. They also had a Renoir and a Gaugain mixed in among some portrait paintings. The opposite side of the museum houses artifacts, models, and replicas of the history of Stockton. I though that this area was particularly well done in that they had spent an enormous amount of time customizing backdrops for each scene- like this one about the Spanish missions- and and the shipyard where boats were constructed.
They had rooms decorated to illustrate what a Victorian home looked like, as well as a school, blacksmith shop, stores, Indian lean-tos, and they had an incredible gift shop. It was already elaborately decorated for Christmas with several trees, lots of art books, and other trinkets. And the staff was so friendly. I honestly cannot rave enough about this museum. I will definitely be back.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"As it is Written: Project 304,805"- which turned out to be quite fascinating. This project has a female scribe (in keeping with the contemporary nature of the museum) who is doing a complete copy of the Torah over the period of a year- which equals 304,805 characters. She was not doing the work as it was Shabbat, but they had a video interview of her doing the process. When she sits down to begin the transcription, she has to announce out loud that she is beginning the work and she had to say the Hebrew character before writing it. She has to copy the text; she cannot do it from memorization. If she makes a mistake, she can erase it by scratching off the ink and writing over it. This is her first full work and the copy of the Torah will be given to a congregation when it is finished. She said that the hardest part of the whole process is making the quill to write with. It has to be carved to precisely the right angle or the characters will not turn out right. The work is written on scored animal skin and once a page is finished, it must be covered unless it is being read. Old copies of the Torah- including ones partially destroyed in Hurricane Katrina- have to be buried. We were lucky enough to be able to see an unrolled copy that had somehow been "decommissioned" (not sure of the process). We were also able to see the mantle- a special cloth covering- that encases the scroll when it is not in use. We both felt that this was such a fascinating exhibit that we very highly recommend.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We also saw another exhibit at the Legion that we both DO NOT recommend. It featured the work of John Baldessari, a contemporary artist who is kind of a variant of pop art by Andy Warhol, but not nearly as good. He liked to place round circles over faces- which I guess is his trademark. Neither of us really cared for the work and so we had a very quick walk through of his work.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
They also had this calcite canopic stopper of Tut's- they had to have a separate container for each organ so it makes sense that he would have several different types. William thinks that this stopper bears a resemblance to Michael Jackson :-)
Also in the exhibit was one of the little coffins of one of two fetuses found in the tomb- they think that it was the daughter of Tut but won't be sure until some more tests are conducted. I highly recommend this National Geographic film about Tut. It was made a few years ago in 2005 and features the results of the MRI scan along with the history. As for the curse of Tuts tomb, it is mainly thought not to have been relevant since many of the individuals died several months after visiting the tomb. Some have speculated that they contracted so form of toxic mold but that probably would have killed them earlier.
And no trip would be complete without a stop a the gift shop where they even sold Ghiradelli chocolate in the shape of the headdress of the King Tut coffinette and don't I look somewhat similar to that (William thinks that I look more like a court jester than the wife of an Egyptian pharaoh). We didn't buy either of these items but don't worry- I did get the book about the exhibition :-)
Friday, November 13, 2009
The main campus really does have beautiful and unique architecture with a Spanish flavor and some Romanesque elements.
Hoover Observation Tower, which I still need to visit the top.
Even their "underground system" has decorative elements to the manhole covers- and don't worry- its "sanitary"
William then indulged me as I drove around this neighborhood in Los Altos where they do extreme decorations- particularly this one house. They really go all out with lots of balloon creatures like this spider on top of the skull, a cat with a moving head, a horseless carriage, a giant tarantula on the roof,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
They had the gummy candy bar where I loaded up on gummy brains and skeletons, caramel apples, cookies, and popcorn. They had a haunted house set up inside one of the buildings and the first part was pretty lame since it was just a black room with some barriers. But the last room was great because they poked fun at some of their projects: a Google Labs room where there were performing some interesting human experiments and a Blue Screen of Death. They should have gone more for the humorous aspect than the scary.
The highlight of the party was the costume contest. The winning costume was this group one for the movie "UP." They had the dog, a replica house, the old man with the walker, but the best part was the scout with the balloons.
Here's a better closeup of him
The second place winner was "the guy as the giant brown box" (how they announced it) but I think he was trying to be Domo
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
and homemade caramel for caramel apples along with lots of different toppings and melted chocolate (I chose to make mine and William's both Oreo)
3 c. sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 (12 oz.) pkg. butterscotch morsels
1/4 c. butter
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 c. chopped almonds
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. solid pack pumpkin
In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter, milk, pumpkin spice. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 234 degrees on candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butterscotch chips. Add marshmallow creme, nuts, vanilla; mix well until blended. Quickly pour into greased 9"x13" pan. Cool at room temperature.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Cynthia and I drove to Vegas and picked up some Cafe Rio takeout before getting my friend Michelle from the airport. We had planned to eat before the concert but the traffic getting to the concert was HORRIBLE. It took us nearly an hour and a half to make a journey that normally would have taken 20 minutes. PAINFUL. At least we weren't in a taxi- I can not even imagine just how expensive that would have been. So, we ate our dinner while in the car which meant that of course, I spilled on my Vertigo shirt :-( At least I have long hair that covered it up. We only saw a few of the performances by the Black Eyed Peas which was fine because they were not very good live. When we drove up, we could hear them and just how flat they were. We were just thrilled that we didn't miss any of U2.
I was unable to buy our 3 tickets together but luckily, I was able to squeeze on the end of the bench with my friend Michelle- the people next to us were super nice to let me do that.
I also loved all of the different colors and lighting effects that they had
Get on Your Boots
With or Without You
(I tried like 5 different times for several hours at a time to upload this video but it just won't work. At least I can still listen to it :-)
And you can also watch the entire concert from LA on YouTube- I've watched the first half again and it gives you a completely different perspective of the concert.
I will get to see this great concert AGAIN next June when they come to Oakland!! I have to sit by myself but it will be SO WORTH it to get on my boots again with Bono and the band :-)