Artfully Urban

The urban environment can be noisy, dirty, artless and unfriendly. But these images from Seattle suggest that there can also be whimsy and artfulness if you look for it.

Sometimes these qualities happen by accident and are fully in the eye of the beholder, as with the “Building Blocks” and “Waterfront Whimsy” below. In other cases creative people add whimsy on purpose, such as with the “Artful Fence” which stands in for chain link and barbed wire to make perimeter defense something more fanciful. And the installation of hanging laundry adds lightness to what might otherwise be a dull and confining alley.

Building Blocks of Downtown Seattle

Building Blocks

Waterfront Whimsy

Waterfront Whimsy

Artful Fence

Artful Fence

Art Installation in Seattle

Art Not Laundry

Industrial Counterpoint

Thousands of people travel to Southeast Alaska every year to experience the grandeur and wildness of its natural wonders. But getting to those wild places is itself a business of industrial scale — an industrial counterpoint to the experience of nature that is the goal of so much travel.

There is tension between the experience of nature and the means to achieve it. It is important to acknowledge that tension, while recognizing that the man-made and the natural environments each have their own rhythms, needs and contributions to make. Each can make room for the other.

Ships in Skagway Harbor

Crowding In

Intrusion

Intrusion

Skagway Harbor Tug

Skagway Harbor Tug

Distant Snowfield, Alaska

Distant Snowfield

Seattle Skyline

Seattle Skyline

Glacier Bay, Alaska

These images are from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Southeast Alaska. Although accessible only by air and sea, a chance to visit the 3.3 million acre preserve should not be missed.

[See more in the Glacier Bay gallery.]

The day these were taken began with heavy fog and mist that lifted, shifted and settled back in again several times during the day. The mountains and even the sea would be fully shrouded for a while, and then the fog would gradually lift revealing perhaps just the ice scattered on the sea, or perhaps a mountainside and glacier before closing in again.

Bergy Bits and Growlers

Bergy Bits and Growlers

250 years ago, glaciers covered the entire bay, but now one must travel as much as 65 miles up to the head of the inlets to see the face of tidewater glaciers that barely touch the sea. The experience reset my sense of scale, of awe — and of loss.

Lamplugh Glacier, Alaska

Lamplugh Glacier

[See more in the Glacier Bay gallery.]

Things Seen Along the Bayfront

A recent proposal to bring a second war-themed statue to Sarasota’s Bayfront stimulated heated discussion about public art and the types of sculptures that are desirable and appropriate there. But throughout the discussion no one mentioned one of the biggest sculptures of them all — the tall blue glass monument to finance and commerce located just across the street. Whether or not you believe buildings can be art, this building’s scale, prominent location, and impenetrable reflectivity say something about the activities that take place within.

One Sarasota, on the Bayfront

Monument to Finance

At a more human scale, the object below was “just lying there” in the sand along the breakwater. You can make of it what you will. Regardless of what you see, its presence and the light were a reminder that sometimes meaning can be found just lying at our feet, needing no monument to be raised into the sky.

Just Lying There

It Was Just Lying There

Signs of Summer

The summer heat is here, and many other signs of summer are appearing now as the days lengthen and the rain brings explosive greening growth and brighter colors.

Enjoy these signs of the riches nature offers each year.

 

papaya

Still Green Papaya

 

sunflowers

Sunflowers

Sometimes the Light Is Everything

Sarasota High School

High School Doorway

I’ll admit it, the doorway to the old Sarasota High School doesn’t always look like this. But maybe it did just for moment as the afternoon light glanced off the stones — even though the doors are locked, the students elsewhere and the old building sits empty awaiting its destiny. That flash of light invites the question of how it looked to the generations of young students who walked under that graceful arch on their way to learning about life and becoming adults.

Sometimes the light is everything. In the late afternoon, low dark clouds began lifting off the horizon at Coquina Beach on the south end of Anna Maria Island. As the bright light from the sun first began to illuminate the Gulf, the green water shone like an emerald chasing away the dark.

Coquina Beach Anna Maria Island

Afternoon Clouds at Coquina Beach

Bob’s Train and “JOMAR,” the Private Railroad Car of John and Mable Ringling

Bob's Train restaurant, Sarasota

Bob’s Train

Tucked away in a semi-abandoned storage and industrial area on the edge of downtown Sarasota is Bob’s Train, a restaurant in an old train car run by a passionate circus enthusiast. In addition to getting a reasonable lunch, one can tour three train cars loaded with the owner’s collection of pictures and other memorabilia from the long history of the Ringling circus. For anyone interested in trains or circus history, a visit to Bob’s Train is a must-do experience.

John Ringling and his brothers built an empire out of the circus business, and John and Mable Ringling began wintering in Sarasota Florida in 1907. They ultimately helped shape the community and gave it some of the cultural landmarks that Sarasota is famous for today. A bit of this history is attached to Bob’s Train, in the form of the “JOMAR – The Private Railroad Car of John and Mable Ringling.” It is the newer of two private cars owned by the Ringlings, and in need of restoration.

JOMAR - The Private Railroad Car of John and Mable Ringling

JOMAR – The Private Railroad Car of John and Mable Ringling

The Private Railroad Car of John and Mable Ringling

JOMAR – The Private Railroad Car of John and Mable Ringling

The Historic Sarasota High School

Sarasota High Scool

Reusable

The Ringling College of Art and Design is raising money for its planned Sarasota Museum of Art, an adaptive reuse of the historic Sarasota High School. As part of the fundraising, sculptor Patrick Dougherty was invited to construct one of his stick sculptures on the front lawn in full view of the busiest road in town.

The sculpture is magnificent, but in these two photos the partially and colorfully boarded up windows on the old school steal the show. The old building stands there as a symbol of history — and also of change, aspiration, and imagination.

Sarasota High School

Building Blocks

A Map of the World

map of the world

Map of the World

We’ve applied geology, engineering, chemistry, physics, biology and other sciences to the study of our earth. But there is so much more to this ball of rock and water we live on.

This map of the world gives a sense of interconnectedness and beauty, while the image below suggests the intensity of processes that take place within. While science and engineering have taught us a lot about Mother Earth, remembering that at her heart she is not so unlike ourselves might teach us even more.

internal volcanism

Internal Process

Bob’s Boathouse

On a stump

Bob’s Boathouse

Along Tamiami Trail on Florida’s Gulf Coast there is a deep parking lot with old derelict boats scattered around between the parking spaces. Some are on stumps, others stuck in the ground pointing skyward. Perhaps they have been put there as decoration, or perhaps to help you find your car after a long day (or night). The sign out front says “Bob’s Boathouse,” and indeed there is an establishment set way back from the road, near the water’s edge.

Some checking revealed that this is a relocated restaurant that has been wanting to reopen for a long time, but has been stalled due to county requirements. On the day I was there, a bulldozer was at work in one corner, so perhaps things are moving again.

Much of Florida has been taken over by the new, the sleek, and the homogenized. In the midst of all this ordinariness, the originality of Bob’s Boathouse parking lot stands out. I, for one, hope it will stay.

stuck in the ground

Hard Aground

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