art

The Met Turns 151!

Happy Tuesday, friends! On this day, 151 years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was granted an Act of Incorporation. This means that today is the Met’s birthday!

Google Doodle commemorating the Met’s 151st birthday

Now, I’ve not been to the Met yet, and, seeing as how I probably won’t be going to New York this year, I can’t say for sure when I will visit. But this impressive museum is on my bucket list, and for good reason. The museum has over 2 million works in its permanent collection and is by far one of the most famous art museums in the United States. As a matter of fact, they have multiple works by my favorite Neoclassicist, Jean-Leon Gerome (you all remember that I wrote about how much I love Gerome’s work in this post and in this one).

However, my admiration of the Met includes a serious criticism. One thing that has made me raise an eyebrow at the Met is the decision in 2018 to start charging $25 for most out-of-state and foreign visitors. The original Act of Incorporation indicates that the Met should be free in perpetuity, but museum president Daniel Weiss decided to break tradition and start charging fees. At first glance, it seems like a shameless money grab (and in many ways, it is), but it’s a little more complicated than that. This decision to charge fees was allowed by the City of New York, in exchange for decreasing the Met’s funding from the city. These funds that are no longer going to the Met have been allocated to increasing “artistic diversity” and will support other facilities that give a platform to more diverse creatives.

However, ever so often, we get to see balanced restored in our world, and what seems like fairness reappears for a brief shining moment (if you know the reference, leave it in the comments!). Yes, the Met collected fees in 2018, 2019, and the early part of 2020. However, COVID-19 reduced the annual visitors from nearly 6.5 million per year to just over 1 million. The loss of revenue has left the museum in the awkward position of deciding whether to deaccession or sell of part of its collection, just to cover their expenses.

I can’t say that I’m not partially amused that greed came back to bite the Met, but my chuckles are tempered by two things. Firstly, this loss of revenue caused 20% of the Met’s staff to lose their jobs (this saddens me tremendously). Secondly, this is even more motivation to keep the admission fees, as the Met will need to build up its cash reserves and avoid becoming insolvent as best it can. Now, I’m sure that the Met will do just fine (I don’t foresee any long-term closures, especially now that there are safe visiting procedures in place). I’m just concerned that COVID-19 may have built a stronger case for admission fees than anything that the museum could have offered in a public statement.

So, today, I’m celebrating the Met, praying that they eliminate the admission fees, and keeping my fingers crossed that I may be able to purchase a Gerome sketch during some sort of auction of the Met’s works. A girl can dream, right?

art · culture

The Scribe – Egyptian Keepers of Culture and Subjects of Timeless Art

I’ve started this post multiple times (and even accidentally posted it once or twice) but I struggled with putting this into words.

Until now.

A couple of years ago, I went to Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA), my favorite local museum. I always try to spend a little more time in the permanent collection, so that I can be really familiar with the contents of the museum. On this particular visit, I focused more of my time on the Egyptian collection. I was struck by one particular piece.

Statue of Seated Scribe, Sema-tawy-tefnakht is more than 2500 years old, and appears just as wise and intuitive today as it probably did when it was first sculpted. The scribe looks toward the horizon, with a soft smile on his face and hands resting comfortably on his thighs as he holds a roll of papyrus. He appears to know a lot but, instead of it filling him with arrogance and an unapproachable energy, his face seems to invite you to ask questions that he will gladly answer. The piece is sculpted from alabaster, and still features the original text at the base, no doubt describing who he is and his role in the kingdom.

I loved, too, the plaque posted next to the Statue of Seated Scribe. The museum notes that being a scribe was often a hereditary role, with fathers preparing their sons for positions as bureaucrats for future pharoahs. It also touches on the significance of Thoth, the patron deity of scribes. Thoth himself was a scribe within Egyptian mythology, recording the judgments of human souls who had entered the afterlife.

What’s significant about this piece to me is the power held by a scribe. In the spiritual realm, it was believed that all information about whether a person would live in peace or eternal torment was captured by the scribe. It’s true, in a sense, that the “scribes” of today – journalists, novelists, memoirists, and the like – function much the same. We as writers keep the records of the actions of others, whether they be good, bad or neutral.

Another thing that really impacted me was the fact that this role was more than a job: it was an inheritance. Being the male child of a scribe meant that you were born into a legacy of being a gatekeeper of the empire’s history and secrets. This made me think of the children being born to us today: how many parents are preparing their children for their legacy? As a mom, I understand how overwhelmed we all are right now, with many schools being closed due to COVID. But what little things are we doing daily to prepare our children for the heavy roles they will have in the future, as responsible citizens, future artists and patrons, the builders and organizers of society, and possibly parents themselves?

It’s a lot to consider. I’ve been toying around with these ideas for years, which is why I knew I had to write this post. I’m just glad I finally got the words for it.

Anyways, that’s it for today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I share with you all my amazing body balm recipe that is great for muscle and nerve pain. Take care, and I’ll talk to you soon.

art · life curation

For The Love of Letters

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a touching appeal posted by Victorian Senior Care, requesting letters to be sent to their elderly residents. I have a soft spot for the elderly, and writing letters has always been something that I wanted to do more often, so I quickly decided to participate. I mean, why wouldn’t I spend some time connecting with someone older that could use a little conversation?

However, before I could write my letters, I saw that Victorian Senior Care was inundated with letters from other well-meaning folks like myself. This got me to thinking, maybe there are other senior facilities looking for pen pals. And, as it turns out, a simple search of “letter writing to seniors” on Facebook pulls up several different senior facilities that have letter writing campaigns currently. However, you don’t have to go to Facebook: you can always reach out to a local nursing home if you want to connect with isolated seniors.

I’m mailing a bundle of letters this week. I’m looking forward to writing to elders that aren’t able to connect with people outside of the facility. Letter writing, as an art, is dying and I am glad that COVID and the subsequent quarantines have brought to light this precious form of communication and how it can connect unlikely groups of people.

In this age of social media, who would have thought that letter writing would bring us together? I could have never seen it coming, but I’m glad that it’s happening. I hope you all join me in writing to the elderly.

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China, Part 2

Happy Thursday, friends! I first posted about my trip to China several years ago, and then I shared a Throwback Thursday Travel post highlighting my time in Beijing. But my trip to China didn’t end with Beijing: I also traveled to Hangzhou and Shanghai. Today, I’m sharing some pictures from Hangzhou, my favorite city in China. I loved West Lake, and I learned that many Chinese citizens love Hangzhou for weekend getaways. It’s such a picturesque city: I can’t wait to return!

At The Ramada in Hangzhou: such a beautiful lobby!

Touring the Dream Town Incubator

At beautiful West Lake

Shopping at Hefang Old Street

Riding around in Hangzhou

Visit to a tea plantation

art · culture · luxury · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: Las Vegas

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Sin City. What happens there, stays there. The Entertainment Capital of the World.

Of course, I’m talking about none other than Las Vegas, Nevada. I went there in November 2019, and I loved it! Much like last week’s Throwback Thursday Travel post, I think I’ll have to break this one down into two (or maybe even three!) posts to capture all of the things that I saw and did. However, for today, enjoy these pics from what is sure to be the first of many trips to Las Vegas.

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We’ve arrived!

For this trip, I rode with my friend from San Diego to Las Vegas. On the way there, we saw Seven Magic Mountains, a vibrant art installation that offers a striking contrast of color against the desert backdrop.

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I couldn’t get a good picture of Seven Magic Mountains, but I still loved it

I stayed at the luxurious Bellagio Hotel. However, staying at just one luxury hotel would be a disservice to yourself: there are so many exquisite hotels in Las Vegas, so why limit yourself to one? The next time I go, I’ll definitely try either the Venetian, the Waldorf Astoria (formerly the Mandarin Oriental) or Caesar’s Palace. Here are some pictures as we drove to the hotel, as well as photos of the pool and courtyard area.

Valeting at the Bellagio and views from my hotel window

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The entrance to the courtyard surrounding the pool area

The Bellagio’s pool area

My motto is ABS: Always Be Shopping!

Souvenirs for family members that enjoy novelty shirts

 

That’s all for today’s Throwback Thursday Travel post! Have you ever been to Las Vegas? How did you like it?

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: New Orleans

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Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

I went to New Orleans in 2011, a few weeks after I got married. So, this trip was almost like a honeymoon, though we had an official honeymoon trip several months later.

I fell in love with the Big Easy, and I hope to return within the next year or so. However, I’ll be sure to visit during the cooler months: the summertime is unbearable hot! In any case, here are some of the pictures I snapped during my trip. Enjoy!

I loved seeing the street names in the sidewalk

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A souvenir shop on Canal

Fun in the French Quarter

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I wish I had a chance to go into Harrah’s, but we were having way too much fun taking in all of the sights

 

As I look through my photos, I realize this post really needs a Part 2. So look out for some additional New Orleans pictures soon.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? I’d love to hear all about it. Have a great Thursday!

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: Kenya, Part 1

Nairobi remains one of my favorite places on Earth. I wrote a while ago about my Kenyan adventures. Here are some few more pictures from that trip that I hadn’t shared before. I’m breaking this into two parts, because one day of my trip involved a trip outside of Nairobi (to my friend’s family farm) and there are pics from the Nairobi National Museum that weren’t shared in this post. Today’s post features pics from the farm. Enjoy!

This particular cow was my friend’s favorite on her family’s farm

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Just a turkey, minding his (or her) business

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Adorable piglets and their momma!

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Because the climate in Nairobi and the surrounding areas is favorable for gardening during most of the year, my friend’s family farm basically produced food year round.

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Lush views surrounding the farmland

art · culture · international · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: China, Part 1

I shared some photos of my trip to China almost two years ago (to the date!) on this blog. I remember this trip fondly and I can’t wait to return when international travel is an option again. Until then, here are some photos that I haven’t shared before. These are all from Beijing: I’ll add pictures from Hangzhou and Shanghai in a separate post. Enjoy!

Meal I enjoyed at a local mall: one of the best veggie curries I’ve ever had!

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A quick snap at The Forbidden City

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The Great Wall

Local shopping district: I visited Plastered8 t-shirt shop and found some cool stuff

Yum!

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Spots of beauty everywhere

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Cute bib from Haidilao restaurant (their hotpot was superb!)

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A philosophy for life

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art · reading list

What I’m Reading Right Now

I’ve been reading a LOT recently. This has been a great time for me to get through my tremendous book list (which I’ve been mindful to NOT add to during this time). I’ve read several Agatha Christie novels that I’ve had for a long time, but now I want to get back to my first love: self-improvement/life-enhancement books.

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I started reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron as a way to tap into my creativity and to consistently feel inspired. I began reading it in 2018, but I never got past the first few pages (I don’t think it was the right time to embark upon this journey: this was when I was trying to figure out the status of my health and my creativity wasn’t a priority). But now that I have a better handle on my physical health, now seemed like a good time to pick this book up again. I am seeking to access my creativity on new levels, and after reading the introduction and reviews of The Artist’s Way, I was convinced that this would be the perfect book to kick-start my creative endeavors.

The Artist’s Way takes would-be creatives through 12 weeks of exercises and guidance to set up a “framework” that encourages the pursuit of artistic endeavors. I’m in week 1 right now, and I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of the process.

Have any of you read The Artist’s Way? I’d love to hear about your experience with the book!

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art · hollywood glamour · life curation · music

Andrew Lloyd Webber Loves Us . . .

I’m taking a break from “Fibro Friday” (I’ll be back with FF next week) to share some exciting news. One of the most heartbreaking things that has happened since the emergence of COVID-19 is seeing Broadway go dark. While I don’t intend to minimize the tragic loss of life during this time, I was still saddened to see the live theater tradition halted in NYC.

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But with every cloud, there is a silver lining. I’m thrilled to share that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals will be available to view for FREE on YouTube. The musicals started premiering today, at 11 AM on the YouTube channel “The Shows Must Go On“. The musicals will be available for 48 hours for your enjoyment. The first musical showing this weekend is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

This is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak experience. I hope you all take time to enjoy some amazing live theater in the comfort of your home this weekend.

Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you all are well and taking good care of yourselves. Much love to you all!