Contemporary Art

Art Trolling at The MAC (part 2, the last stop)

Above is a still from Quin Mathews' video now showing in the third gallery at The MAC.
Above is a still from Quin Mathews’ video now showing in the third gallery at The MAC.

The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC). If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought I had stepped into a church. And there was Leslie Connally and Judy Niven constantly reminding me to tone it down while Kitchen Dog‘s play was performing in the black box theater next to the galleries. Normally, all three galleries would have had festive Mexican music shaking the place up for this show, but not on Kitchen Dog’s nights. And then there was the church smell, aging flowers and burning candles.

Contemporary Art

Thursday Evening’s Art Trolling (part 1)


The Impossibility of Doing Nothing at The Reading Room. Across from Fair Park on Parry Avenue in a tiny space, Karen Weiner has set up an unusual kind of gallery experience. Described in her own words, “A project space which, through occasional readings, performances and installations, will explore the many ways in which text and image interact.” Personally I believe that most, if not all, good things happen only in small rooms.

Landscape & Gardening

Black Lab + Tiny Pond = Muck-Up


Totally trashed: seven year old unnamed pond plant, brand new filters, brand new pump, lemon bacopa, dumped rocks and mud, and three scared fish. And where was the owner of this destructive critter? “Busy”. Entitled “busy”. My foot. I want my leash back and an apology. But when one is “busy”, one’s time is too important for such an endeavor. Hey, did you not notice me drenched from head to toe when you drove up in your brand spankin’ new white mercedes suv? Did you not notice the terrified next door neighbors’ 18 year old cat dying of heart failure? The cat that the your precious killer pooch decided to hunt down once she finished her bath. NO! You were more concerned about having to put a muddy wet dog into your fancy-pants-mode of transportation. Fortunately for you, you don’t live on my block. And where’s my leash? I know that you probably have a large collection of leather designer accessories for your well-trained princess and trophy husband and would not need my humble black-canvas-Petco-variety. So can I have it back?

Well, it’s all fixed now. Seven (unplanned for) hours later after searching, driving, buying replacements, and cleanup, I now have my pond happy again. It took several hours waiting for the mud to clear up before I could do a fin count. All three fish were still there and intact. Small miracle.

The above photo is of the replacement for the seven-year plant of an unknown name, and it’s called a Water Poppy. It’s perennial and will die back to its rootball in the winter and then reemerge each spring. AND it tolerates shade and constant water movement, unlike the lily pad varieties. I like this much better than the seven-year plant of an unknown name.

Film: Design & Architecture

The Divorce of Lady X


The Divorce of Lady X is a 1938 romantic comedy starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. This delightful slice of escapism, produced by Alexander Korda, was shot in three strip Technicolor, showing off both the expensive sets and Olivier’s green-shirt-and-brown-suit combo to best effect.

Most of the stills that I captured were from the first part of the film in Laurence’s hotel room. Between the colors, patterns, and textures, there was too much to take in watching it as a film. Fortunately for me, there are “ways” to get around this. And hopefully, I won’t get into any trouble for posting these stills. But I had to capture all of this eye candy and share it with you.

Landscape & Gardening

The Season’s First Red Spider Lily


Well, at least it’s the first in my garden. It looks like I’m going to have a whopping total of four Red Spider Lilies. Last year I had five. So what gives? And on top of that, since purchasing and planting them, it took two years before they bloomed for the first time. One must be patient when it comes to gardening and dealing with perennials. Especially perennials that can survive Dallas’s weather and temperature extremes. Between last year’s nine to ten months of El Niño accompanied with too much rain and too little sun and this year’s months of extreme heat and intense sun exposure, no wonder my plants don’t feel like performing the way I’d like them to.

Travel: Culture & Architecture

My Photo of the Visconti Family Crest


The last post linked you to Wikipedia’s page on the Visconti crest. Since that post was strictly about fig ivy, I didn’t want to include the above photo. So I’m showing it to you now. In it, you can see how the Visconti crest is interpreted on Villa Balbianello’s balustrade. It seems to me that the artists, rendering the crest in both locations, had problems creating the baby, and both figures ended up resembling a “man” child. Which is probably a good thing.

Landscape & Gardening

Fig Ivy Here and There

All the massive coils of ivy you see snaking along the walls belong to one single fig ivy plant. This is the veranda of Villa Balbianello. The villa overlooks Lake Como on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore, and this portion, the loggia, was built by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini around 1790. It’s been said this loggia is where coffee was served for the first time in Italy.
All the massive coils of ivy you see snaking along the walls belong to one single fig ivy plant. This is the veranda of Villa Balbianello. The villa overlooks Lake Como on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore, and this portion, the loggia, was built by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini around 1790. It’s been said this loggia is where coffee was served for the first time in Italy.

I joined The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America in September of 2007 on a two week tour of the Northern Italian Lakes, where we visited numerous villas and gardens. I could not pass up this experience knowing that a lot of these places are not usually open to tourists and that seeing all of them as an individual tourist would be next to impossible. This was the chance of a lifetime. The lakes we visited were first Lake Maggiore, then Lake Orta, third was Lake Como, fourth was Lake Lugano, and the last stop was Lake Garda.

I’m not posting this for its view and history. I want you to notice those huge snaking coils of fig ivy all of which belong to one single plant. Just one. I don’t know how many years it took to train it to its current shape. Speaking of snakes, the Visconti family owned this villa at one time, and their emblem/crest, which is carved onto the stone balustrades, shows a huge snake devouring a child. How they came up with that design is a mystery to me. Perhaps the Viscontis are responsible for training the fig ivy into its current serpent shape. But probably not.

Landscape & Gardening

Rain Lilies Everywhere


These rain lilies are the result of last week’s storms. There are bunches of them throughout my garden and front parkway. But because they are kind of on the small side, any photo taken of an entire spread of various bunches just does not do them justice. So, for me, focusing on a single group was the only effective way to photograph them. Enjoy.


An Old Building Survives


The Ladies’ Clubhouse at Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club in East Texas is one of those hidden time warps. To walk through its rooms and recognize that time has stopped is like some eerie dream. And it’s very important that I tread quietly so not to wake it, because the last thing I want is for it to follow me into my century.

Several years ago, I worked with John Crow Miller on a 400 page historical book for Little Sandy written to celebrate a century of seasons at the club (it had just celebrated its 100 year anniversary). And at that time, there was talk that the clubhouse would have to be demolished. But now, John has written to me to say that there has been a change of heart. He also included a bit of its history.

Interior Design

Traditional Spring Roller Shades


When it came to making decisions on window treatments for my the two bedrooms, I knew that I wanted the kind of window shades I grew up with in the 50s and 60s. The kind of shade we see in old black and white movies. The kind of shade your grandparents had. The kind of shade that feels like overly starched cotton. The kind of shade that wrinkles like paper and yellows in a funky way as it ages. Three years ago, after gobs of google searches, the only site that offered exactly what I wanted was The Handwerk Shade Shop. My six shades were custom-made at that time, so I don’t know if they are still taking orders. And today, just before typing this post, I did another google search and came up with the same results—pretty much nothing. There are plenty of the vinyl or plastic types, but nothing like what I have. Perhaps interior designers have their own secret sources which I’m not privy to.

In my opinion these shades are perfect for an old house like mine. During the day, I keep these shades uniformly pulled down to the first top muntin bar (also called the glazing or sash bar). I had noticed that in old movies the shades were always pulled to line up with a muntin. From the outside, my house’s windows give the impression of having sleepy eyes, since the front living and dining room windows’ roman shades are also pulled down to that first muntin.

If any of you out there, know of a source for this kind of shade, please leave the names and links in the comment section of this post, and I will include them in my future resource guide. Thanks.