Category Archives: Virginia

Feeding the birds and squirrels in the snow

Old Country Club Rd NW

Hello to you all,

I hope anyone who has had to deal with the snow and wind these past few days is safe and warm and with heat! I think we were really lucky here because the winds didn’t come as predicted. I never lost power and was stocked up with food and books. And being retired I didn’t have to worry about getting to work. I did go out for my morning walk today and am glad I don’t have to drive anywhere. The roads in our neighborhood have been sort of plowed once but now the snow is packed on them. At the top of each hill is a stop sign so that makes it a bit tricky. I’m glad Randal is home and his truck has 4 wheel drive. Once upon a time these snow-covered hilly roads wouldn’t have fazed me at all. But then I had a Volkswagen Bug which went everywhere when I lived in New York and worked up on a mountain. And I was 30 years younger and used to snow driving. Not now.

I spent the “Blizzard of 2016” clearing the walk and part of the driveway (hired neighborhood guys did some of it too), ‘praying’ the power would stay on, worrying when Randal would get home from his forced layover in Chicago, AND making sure the birds and squirrels had food during the storm. I kept clearing the patio table and refilling the bird feeder and cob holder and shoveling some of the patio so I could put out seed and then along the edge of the dining room sliding door which was covered just enough so the birds could feed. And given day we get at least 75 to 100 birds feeding. Some are repeat feeders but often during the day we’ll see a dozen cardinal and 20 or so mourning doves, several blue jays, nuthatches, titmouse, towhees several different woodpeckers and a variety of other small brown birds. Word has definitely gotten out about the Johnson Backyard Buffett. We have two feeders and two suet holders as well as the patio table where each morning I put out sunflower seeds and unsalted peanuts in their shell for the jays to carry off in two seconds flat. It’s all very entertaining.

I took some photos, but even standing in the house looking out the windows they sense I’m there and it scares them off. I hate doing that especially now so I didn’t take many photos. I even have to sneak quietly to wash the dishes because the patio table is just outside the window and my movements causes them to fly away.


Through the kitchen door windows.


One of the many cardinal families.


Red Bellied Wood Pecker at a suet feeder,

My sister and my niece unbeknownst to each other gave Randal and me tractor shaped suet holders and several cakes of suet for Christmas/Hanukkah.




Squirrels gotta eat too.

I put sunflower seeds in the flower pot. My brother-in-law Jim made the cob holder and the squirrels are so funny sitting there eating.


Looking across the road to the golf course. The Roanoke Country Club owns the road along the course. Sunday mid-day the grounds crew plowed the road also clearing away any snow blocking the entrance to our driveway and even finished the U-shape stretch between our driveway and next door too!

Words of wisdom from our friend Heidi Trautmann

1058 Old Country Club Road

Roanoke, VA  24017


Hi All,

    I add the USA because we still have many friends around the world.  And because we have traveled we know the world is the people we met and not what we see on the news. 

I recently received an email from our friend Heidi Trautmann.  We met her and Kalle, her husband while we were in North Cyprus.  Heidi is an artist and writer and very wise woman.  I asked if I could share some of her email to me about the release of her most recent book about the arts of North Cyprus. 


Terra Firma


If you want to paint a chair, you must become one …….

Heidi Trautmann’s new book: ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus,  Volume II’

Presentation of the book and Exhibition at the National Archive and Research Centre in Kyrenia on September 29 at 17.30 hrs.

“If you want to paint a chair, you must become one or if you want to paint and describe a tree in a painting or in a poem, you must become a tree to know its roots, to feel its skin with scars and knots and to know why the branches reach high to learn the rules of the kingdom of the winds….and if you want to know a people you have to become one of them.

You have to sit with them and talk, see their eyes change colour when you ask questions; you have to visit their homes and drink their coffee and see their souvenirs on shelves in their home; you need to know the games they played as children and the books they have read and the hopes they had from the very beginning till now, the tears they spent on mishaps in life, the anger or pride they have felt when things went wrong.

I learnt to read their paintings and their poetry, in them I found their ways of judging the situations they live in.  I went to see their theatre plays over many years. ……”


Heidi with her newest book ready for distribution. is Heidi’s website which is filled with art and wisdom.

“You will live among so many beautiful trees. I love trees, they were my first friends and I hid all my treasures among their roots.”    Heidi Trautmann in a recent  email to me.


Heidi’s lino cuts of her trees. 

Art Journaling at the Roanoke City Market

Roanoke, VA 24012

Happy 4th of July everyone!  Imperfect as this country might be, all of our travelling made me truly appreciate being born here! 


DoraMac / Terra Firma

   I signed up for a morning of sketching and painting and really enjoyed it immensely though you might not tell that from my art work.  But I did learn a lot.  And I know it takes me at least two or 3 tries at the same thing to get a finished product I sort of like. (So I need to go back and try again!! And again!!!)   I had talked my friend Jane Field into going along and we both vowed that we needed to draw and paint more often as we both needed lots of practice.  The weather cooperated perfectly with enough sun for shadows but not blazing heat!  “Everything’s good!” to quote Cape Cod Coni

A Morning on the Roanoke City Market: Pen & Ink + Watercolor studies—Robin Poteet
1 class: Wednesday, July 1 • 9 a.m.–noon • $15
The Roanoke City Market is ideal for quick studies of people, produce, flowers and architecture. Join Robin for a stroll through the market—we’ll look at the sights, shapes and colors, do quick studies and take photos as we walk around. There are plenty of benches to settle into as you refine your sketches and turn them into little watercolor or pen & ink gems. So… pick up a coffee and pastry and meet Robin at the corner of Market St. and Campbell at 9 a.m. for a fun, relaxing morning!

Jane and I did meet for coffee and then went off for a really fun morning!


We sketched some and then moved to tables for the painting


.  Jane working on her painting.

This is Barbara Dickinson whom I know as the author of The Rebellious House and  Small House, Large World.   I learned that she has also written a book called Lifeguards –and Safeguards which I’ll pick up from the library on Monday from the library.   Now I know what a wonderful artist she is!


Barbara Dickinson

Her contribution to the Roanoke Arts scene is huge!

Posted: Friday, April 10, 2015 12:00 am (sadly we were still in Turkey so I missed this.)


        “On April 5, 1956, Barbara Dickinson boarded a boat bound for Europe, embarking on the first of a lifetime of world travels.

  The sketches she made of the sights she saw in foreign lands over the next 60 years adorn the walls of the LinDor Arts gallery in downtown Roanoke, where her new show, “Well Traveled” will stay on display through the end of this month.

More than 200 paintings and drawings depict scenes from Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Egypt, the Netherlands, Japan, China, France and elsewhere. It’s akin to a detailed travel diary, but recorded in pictures rather than words.

“I think I’m a frustrated architect because I love buildings,” she joked about her choice of subject matter.

Dickinson, 82, was the first paid director of the Roanoke Fine Arts Center, now the Taubman Museum of Art. During her two-year stint, from 1958 to 1960, she founded the city’s best-known, longest-lived arts event, the Sidewalk Art Show.

     She’s quite proud of what the show has become. She called the expansions of both the show and the museum over the next 57 years “amazing.”

     After leaving the museum, she taught art in Roanoke City Public Schools for 20 years. She also raised five children, all of whom returned to Roanoke last week to catch the opening of her show.

     “It was a highly successful, rambunctious, wonderful opening night,” she said. “I’m still sort of in euphoria.”

She was flattered that a number of regional artists whom she considers her betters stopped in to see her show, among them Botetourt County artist Vera Dickerson.

     Dickinson credits Dickerson’s classes at the Studio School in southwest Roanoke with inspiring a new interest in oil painting, although her passion for art began in childhood. She remembers drawing with pastels and pencils when she was 6.

     She earned a degree in art history at Wellesley College and worked at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., just prior to her first trip abroad.

     Had she not taken that boat to Europe, she wouldn’t be in Roanoke today. While living in Heidelberg, Germany, she met Robert Rogers, stationed there as a lieutenant with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. “He won my heart,” she said.

     Rogers, a son of the co-founder of the Woods Rogers law firm in Roanoke, brought her back to the Star City in 1958 as his bride. He died in 1976, just 18 months after his appointment to a circuit court judgeship.

     Dickinson has been married and widowed three times. She speaks fondly of all three husbands. “I’ve had a charmed life,” she said. “I feel very blessed.”

Her travels, though, were undertaken on her own initiative. Sometimes they were vacations with her spouse, sometimes study trips or art tours, sometimes visits with children living abroad.

“These are not extravagant trips that I took,” she said. “I have been very fortunate in my travels and I love it.”

She recalled telling Billy Dickinson, the man who became her third husband, “Marry me and see the world.”

She views her show, too, as a way to let people see the world. She’s priced her work modestly, from $15 for a small sketch to $200 or more for a painting. She wanted her pieces to be available to anyone who might want to own “a slice of Europe,” she said.

“I think it’s important to have original art in your house,” she said.

“Before I leave this world,” she said, she hopes to travel back to Europe by boat once more, and take time to visit many places she hasn’t seen yet.”

My attempts below. 

I had no clue how really to begin but finally did though not with the quick sketches around the market.  Next time I’ll really make myself quick sketch just to see how to fit what I want to draw on the paper which I did rather badly this time. 

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Reality and then my attempt but I ran out of paper at the bottom of the picture. And humans add interest so I included one of the group in this picture.


Again, I ran out of room on the top for the actually hanging planters and I needed to have shaded the glass windows of the Roanoke Weiner Stand.  I was mostly practicing on the planters. 

Robin did a wonderful job of encouraging everyone with their work.  Before we started she gave us a handout of tips for creating better and more interesting travel sketches.  I should have read mine many more times before I started but will re-read it many more times while I’m out sketching!

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Robin at work

Nancy Dahlstrom exhibit at Hollins University

Roanoke, VA  USA

One final email before I pack my computer.  I’m so glad my friend Sarah and I discovered the Eleanor D. Wilson gallery at Hollins University.  We went to see the exhibit of Nancy Dahlstrom’s work.  Sarah had taken an intro to drawing with the artist.  My friend Martha had also so we had to send lots of photos to Martha in Brookline.  I’m sending a few now so those in Roanoke might be tempted to visit the exhibit or the upcoming one that I’m sorry I’ll miss.  There is visitor parking just near the museum and an elevator if you need to avoid stairs. 


DoraMac  is the artist’s website


Nancy Dahlstrom exhibit at the Eleanor D Wilson Museum at Hollins University

“Nancy Dahlstrom: Luminous Spirit   December 8, 2014 – February 21, 2015

       The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is pleased to present Nancy Dahlstrom: Luminous Spirit, a major exhibition showcasing a wide variety of recent and older works by Hollins professor emerita Nancy Dahlstrom. Whether printmaking, drawing, or painting, Dahlstrom creates art that celebrates the vitality and spirit present in the natural world. An avid gardener, she finds inspiration for her detailed and intricate images in the many gardens that surround her home and studio in Fincastle, Virginia. Her extensive travels have taken her to France, Norway, Scotland, Greece, Malaysia, and along the length of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. In 1995, she spent time in Kyoto, Japan, drawing and photographing the city’s Zen gardens. Upon returning to her studio, she created Fuzei: A Breeze of Feeling, a series of monotypes celebrating the beauty and quiet energy of the spaces she visited.

     Dahlstrom was professor of art at Hollins from 1973 – 2013, and holds a B.F.A. from SUNY at Buffalo and an M.F.A. in printmaking from Ohio University. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad. The recipient of many awards, she was honored in 2011 by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, Roanoke, Virginia, with the Perry F. Kendig Award for Outstanding Visual Artist, for her contributions to the local arts community.”

“An avid gardener, she finds inspiration for her detailed and intricate images in the many gardens that surround her home and studio in Fincastle, Virginia.”




Final artwork about 3 inches by 2 inches if I remember correctly which isn’t necessarily so but it was quite small for all of the detail

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A step by step set of images showing how the work was created.  The book itself is a work of art and gloves are necessary for looking through the pages.

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Uncommons Box Turtle


The actual etching


There were so many that one could spend hours with them.

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My friend Sarah and I are really enjoying the gallery and I look forward to visiting quite often when we move home.  Here is info about an upcoming exhibit. 


Upcoming Exhibitions

New Acquisitions

January 15 – April 25, 2015

     The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum’s permanent and teaching collections include artwork in a wide variety of styles and media. This exhibition features holdings acquired in 2013-14, including large-scale prints by Andy Warhol, a delicate egg tempera painting by Roanoke-based artist Susan Jamison, a portfolio of prints based on online source material, and a painting by Garo Antreasian given by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. We are pleased to share the museum’s growing collection with the community.


While in London I took a life drawing class and really enjoyed it.  And that’s where I met my wonderful friend Coleen!  And her husband John.  Not being so brave I’d  opt for the clothed model and might give it a whirl next time we’re home.  It’s not easy as you have to hold some poses for quite a long time and must learn to adapt to the students’ needs.  But if you have some spare time….

Our "new to us" Caterpillar Crawler-Loader !

Roanoke, VA  USA

Hello and Good-bye,

   Tomorrow we leave for Marmaris, Turkey.  We fly from Roanoke to Chicago to Munich to Izmir.  We’ll stay overnight (and eat in our favorite fish restaurant) and then take the bus on the 18th back to Marmaris. 

   These have been the fastest three months!  We accomplished some stuff; Randal’s cataract surgeries and my root canal.  We laid out a tentative plan for the road to our future home.  Randal, being a hands-on kind of guy wants to do some of the work himself.  To do that he needed a crawler-loader for clearing land.   So now we own one. 

   Much or our time when we return to Marmaris will be spiffing up the boat so not so much touring.  But we’ll see.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season if you either celebrate or enjoy time with friends who do.  And I hope the weather here is kinder to you all than it was last year. 

Lots of love and hugs to you all



The Caterpillar Crawler-Loader  977L about to arrive at our Roanoke Wreck Repair/Norandex Complex on Plantation Rd.  One day it will move up to Little Brushy Mountain but for now will stay here. 





Signing the papers

One of the men who had delivered her from Mount Airy drove her off the flatbed






She’s all yours!  (Randal in sunglasses.)


I call this “Reflections on Owning a Bull-dozer”


All Randal wanted for Christmas……. And all MS Dozer wanted was a new home.  Together they’ll build a road to our future home and clear the land where it will be built. 



As close as I’ll ever come to driving her.


Model of an artificial tree

One day this structure will stand near our new house and wisteria will grow gracefully from it creating a lovely shady spot. 

On a small scale of construction, my nephew Andrew whipped me up this two-toned, two-layered infinity scarf on his knitting machine.  I’d picked out the colors when we visited his studio in Philly.  I’m learning the many ways to wear it and it definitely keeps me warm! 

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Family Friends ThankSgiving: Food, Food, and More Food!

Roanoke, VA  USA


   Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.  It certainly is the season of eating!


Randal’s (and Linda’s) niece Tammy had never been up to visit Linda and Ken in Big Island so we planned an afternoon /early dinner visit.  Happily it was also their anniversary so we could wish them many more years together. 


This photo to me is “so Linda and Ken.”                              


Ribs, slaw, slow cooked beans!  


Slow cooked and then finished on the grill!


Linda Randal Tammy and Ken

Thanksgiving at my sister’s house


A dusting of snow remained from the Wednesday morning snow storm.

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Brother-in-law Jim deep fried the Turkey

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Some dishes were quick and easy and some were from scratch: Jim’s sister Beth mashes the potatoes


Thanksgiving Day shopping inserts courtesy of the Roanoke Times


Max warming himself by the fire


My sister Harriet talking with Andrew in Philadelphia



Harriet and Clark were helping themselves to Turkey, stuffing etc while the rest of us were digging into beans, roasted veggies, pickled beets, rolls, cranberry sauce….  And then it was time to clean up!

And then it was time for dessert:  Jess’s apple pie/whipped cream and Marie Callender’s Peanut Cream Pie with chocolate crust!


My niece Jess and her friend Clark.  (Jess is wearing a scarf made by Andrew on his knitting machine.  Soft and warm!)


And then it was time to sit and relax unless you’re Max who only rarely relaxes.   Beth’s son Tyler (a really wonderful artist) watches the antics.

Bruch at Our Daily Bread and a visit to “our land” with friends Becky and Mike


Randal and Mike

I had yummy French toast made with Portuguese Sweet Bread.  Randal had the whole wheat but we traded pieces.    We had gotten there about 11 am and snagged the last table!  Place was packed as it was the one other time I’ve been with Becky at 8 am. 


Randal showing Becky and Mike a map of our land before we walked the future driveway up to the future house.  Pretty chilly here in Virginia except for this afternoon when it’s about 60!

Eleanor D Wilson Museum : Hollins University

Roanoke, VA USA

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,

     Last Thanksgiving, plopped down right in the midst of all that London history,  Randal and I actually spent some time thinking about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. We ate lunch at the Mayflower Pub and visited the church in Rotherhithe were Mayflower Captain Christopher Jones was supposedly buried.  Hard to believe that was only just last year.  It feels so long ago at this point.  But it’s nice to be home this year having Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I think it’s just about my favorite holiday. 

    Last week my friend Sarah and I visited the Eleanor D Wilson Museum at beautiful Hollins University.  We’re lucky to have both Hollins University and Roanoke College as well as Virginia Western Community College here in the Roanoke Valley.  This is the first time either of us had visited the museum but it’s a lovely venue and easy to access if you enter the campus and turn left.  If you turn right as we did you have to look a bit but the campus is small enough so we easily found it with some help from two passing students.     

     There were many works, some I liked more than others.  Here’s a bit of what we saw.  Looking at art certainly gives a jump-start to my visual thinking.



Eleanor Wilson  (Museum Website Photos)

     “Eleanor Delaney “Siddy” Wilson graduated from Hollins with a degree in chemistry. She went on to become an accomplished actress on Broadway and to receive a Tony nomination. She directed plays, performed with the USO, and worked in television and movies. She pursued her interest in art by studying with Margaret Stark and Rafael Soyer in New York City. Siddy’s desire was that her beloved Hollins have a world-class art museum. This museum, named in her honor, is the culmination of her philanthropic generosity and benefits both the Hollins and greater Roanoke communities. “

Tony-nominated actress : July 29, 2002 | 07:22PM PT

Eleanor D. (“Siddy”) Wilson, Tony-nominated for her performance in Gore Vidal’s 1968 “Weekend” and who played Warren Beatty’s mother in the 1981 film “Reds,” died of lung cancer at her Williamstown, Mass., home May 31. She was 93.

Chester, Pa., native attended the Mary Lyon School in Swarthmore, Pa., and graduated in 1930 from Hollins College in Roanoke, Va., where she majored in chemistry. She later studied at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art and New York’s New School for Social Research.

She began her professional theater training at the Hedgerow Theater in Olney, Pa., under the tutelage of director Jasper Deeter and made her Broadway debut in “Watch on the Rhine” during its 1941 New York run. Other Broadway appearances were in “The Eagle Has Two Heads” in 1947 with Tallulah Bankhead, “The Silver Whistle” in 1948 and “The Wayward Saint” in 1955. She appeared Off Broadway in “The Villa of Madame Vidac” in 1959.

Wilson’s acting career also included seasons at Houston’s Alley Theater, Milwaukee Rep and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. She performed on radio and on television as well and toured with the USO during WWII; she was the first woman to land at Anzio, Italy, to perform for the troops.

For many years Wilson lived in New York and had a summer home in Stockbridge, Mass. In Stockbridge, she appeared in 25 summer productions at the Berkshire Playhouse, the first being “Junior Miss” in 1947. She was the theater’s artistic director for its 1957 season. During her career she was a member of Actors’ Equity union council.

After her retirement from acting in 1984, Wilson devoted herself to mathematical abstract paintings. These were exhibited at a number of galleries and colleges including New York City’s Hundson Guild and Touchstone Gallery, Widner U., Hollins U., Williams College Museum of Art and the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University
P. O. Box 9679 : 8009 Fishburn Drive : Roanoke, VA 24020-1679
(540) 362-6532 •

Tues-Fri: 10 am to 4 pm
Sat: 1-5 pm


“The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University features the work of renowned, emerging, and regional artists. The museum presents exhibitions in a wide variety of media and genres, including selected exhibitions from the permanent collection. Through this programming, the museum provides a forum for art through viewing, dialogue, and an understanding of the creative process. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a state-of-the-art climate controlled facility with three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum has a Resource Center available to students, teachers, and other patrons who are interested in furthering their study of the art in the museum’s permanent collection. It also functions as an instructional center for groups and classes, and hosts projects based on current exhibitions.”

Just near the entrance is a Betty Branch sculpture.


Gaia, 1987 Betty Branch  BA ‘79  MALS ‘87

Carrara Marble

Collection of the Eleanor D. Wilson Musuem at Hollins University, 2010.006

Gift of the Artist

Gaia was the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; the heavenly gods, the Titans, and the Giants were born to her.


Upstairs on the “1st floor” is the gallery.  When using the elevator the entrance is on level E. 


We arrived to find the door locked with a note telling us where to go for assistance.  But some students with their family came along with one of the gallery curators who opened the door for us and gave a mini-tour. 


Sarah and I were lucky enough to catch the exhibit’s final days!

Contemporary Photographers, Traditional Practices: Vision and Method in the 21st Century

  “The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University enters its second decade this year with a fall exhibition celebrating photography. In collaboration with the Schmidt-Dean Gallery in Philadelphia, the museum presents an eclectic exhibition of thirteen contemporary photographers represented by the gallery, all of whom enjoy regional and national reputations. Curated by Schmidt-Dean Gallery director Christopher Schmidt, the exhibition features a wide range of both technical and conceptual approaches. Included are historical procedures such as the tintype, cyanotype and gum-bichromate process; alternative techniques such as pinhole and hand painting; and more traditional methods in both analog and digital. Throughout, these various approaches are applied to a wide range of subjects and ideas.

Exhibiting artists include Linda Adlestein, Thomas Brummett, Susan Fenton, Larry Fink, Alida Fish, Sarah Van Keuren, Stuart Klipper, Christopher Moore, William Smith, Krista Steinke, Ruth Thorne Thomsen, Ida Weygandt, and Samuel Worthington.”

From the Schmidt-Dean Gallery 

The Worthington photos grabbed my attention.


Samuel Worthington, IV  Untitled works  Mordancage : Courtesy of the artist and Schmidt-Dean Gallery

“Samuel Worthington, IV uses a chemical process known as Mordancage to produce images with intricately detailed surface features.  Based on a late 19th– century process known as etch-bleach, Mordancage alters silver gelatin prints allowing dark areas of emulsion to be lifted away from the paper to create a degraded effect.  The tonal quality of the images may also be affected by the oxidation of this process, further enhancing the perceived “ages” of the photograph.” Information posted near the photographs.  I would love to watch this being done.  Below I played with one of the photos….


I cropped and enhanced  a bit of one of the photos to show what captivated me about the actual photo. 

This explanation made more sense to me which I found looking for info about Worthington.  Apparently there’s an actor named Sam Worthington.

“Samuel Worthington IV employs a rarely used 19th-century technique to fashion a pair of contrasting landscapes from the same negative. Mordencage allows a photographer to reverse a film negative to positive.  Using the painstaking process, Worthington bleaches the original image to produce prints that resemble the intense lines and bold patterns found in an etching.”’%20PRESS.html%20

Photographs from the Collection  (Permanent Hollins University Collection)

     “Since its invention in the nineteenth century, photography has been alternatingly viewed as a way to faithfully represent the world and an opportunity to portray illusion. Curated from the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum’s collection, this exhibition includes photographs by Nancy Spencer, Sally Mann, Eudora Welty, and Carrie Mae Weems. Representing a spectrum of styles and perspectives, these diverse works hint at the field of observation that the camera’s lens provides.”


Eudora Welty

Photograph of Abandoned House, ca. 1940

Silver gelatin print

Gift of Barry Jones

     “Welty took photography seriously, and even if she had never published a word of prose, her pictures alone would probably have secured her a legacy as a gifted documentarian of the Great Depression. Her photographs have been collected in several beautiful books, including One Time, Once Place; Eudora Welty: Photographs; and Eudora Welty as Photographer. In hiring Welty, “the Works Progress Administration was making a gift of the utmost importance to American letters,” her friend and fellow writer William Maxwell once observed. “It obliged her to go where she would not otherwise have gone and see people and places she might not ever have seen. A writer’s material derives nearly always from experience. Because of this job she came to know the state of Mississippi by heart and could never come to the end of what she might want to write about.”

One Writer’s Beginnings, Welty’s celebrated 1984 memoir, was part of a reading series years ago at the County Library.  I remember truly enjoying it and going on to read some of her fiction.  I hadn’t realized that she was also a renowned photographer.


This photo of Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman was part of a series that juxtaposed real world people with famous Hollywood women.  I should have gotten more details but I really just liked the photo.

Ida Weygandt

“In the large format photographs presented in this exhibit, Ida Weygandt uses the landscape to expand on her themes of interior world aligning with exterior, of the interconnection between nature and self and the concept of home. “My interaction with the landscape has always been very strong,” Weygandt says. “I am always absorbing the elements around me.” 

And, in turn, the elements absorb her, taking her in, making her at home. In some of the photographs Weygandt herself appears, tucked into the foliage or brush…


Corn & Apples Archival pigment prints courtesy of the artist and Schmidt-Dean Gallery

It appears that she is also a wine expert.

“Ida Weygandt grew up in the rolling hills of PA, just outside of Philladelphia. She recieved a BA from Bard College in 2004 and an MFA from the Massachussets College of Art in 2008. She received her wine education at her father’s table. At every meal during childhood and still to this day, Ida would learn first hand about new and exciting wine, wine regions, and producers. Eventually, her father’s passion became her own. Over the last few years she has accompanied Peter on wine trips to France, Germany and Austria and has helped promote the portfolio throughout the U.S.”


I just like the image of Sarah contemplating this photo.  It wasn’t a favorite so I can’t tell you anything about it but it does show the variety or works in the exhibit.


Hollins Studio Faculty Exhibition    October 2 – December 6, 2014

   “The Wilson Museum is pleased to host a Hollins studio faculty exhibition, sharing with the broader community the work of these talented artists and professors: Robert Sulkin, photography; Jennifer Anderson, installation; Elise Schweitzer, painting; Donna Polseno, sculpture; Richard Hensley, ceramics; and Annie Waldrop, painted constructions.”



My turn…


Pen and wash?  Or just wash? 


Man looking at woman looking back






Chagall Bride and Groom


Luckily I’ve lots of hair.  When I wash it, rather than letting it clog the drain I roll it together and place it on the shower wall to collect and toss away.   I noticed it looked like pen and wash so took some photos. 

Salem Museum & Historical Society

November 22, 2014  (Coming from Massachusetts I’ll always think of November 22 as the day President Kennedy was assassinated.)

Roanoke, VA  USA


        After a morning at Salem’s Lake Spring Park back in October with my friend Sarah,  I learned the park’s history on the website of the Salem Museum & Historical Society.  This past Thursday Randal and I finally went off to visit the actual museum.  We both enjoyed the visit a great deal and will certainly return when we’re home for good!

   Not only is the museum a place for history, but for art as well as you’ll read below.  I became fascinated so with the story of Walter Biggs and also Peter Ballard.  And my niece and nephew share a teacher with Cece Bell.  Mrs Eichelman.

Location:  801 East Main Street   Salem, Virginia 24153  (540) 389-6760  

Hours:  Tuesday – Friday, 10 am to 4 pm   Saturday, 10 am to 3 pm  (But check for holidays or inclement weather closings. )

Admission – Free (donations gratefully accepted!) 

Directions:   From I-81, take exit 140 and bear right on Thompson Memorial Blvd. At Main Street (US 460) turn left. Go .3 mile; the Salem Museum is located at the top of the hill on the left. 

     “ Since 1970, the Salem Historical Society has been dedicated to the mission of “preserving the past, informing the future.” Located since 1992 in the Williams-Brown House (built 1845), and since 2010 in our state-of-the-art, environmentally sensitive addition, the Salem Museum is a vital part of our community. Enjoy your visit to our website and come back often–but we’d also love to welcome you in person at our Museum! “


The Williams-Brown House (L) with the new addition (R) where the entrance is located. 

  “In a lush valley of the Blue Ridge–along what was once the “Great Road” leading westward through Virginia–sits the historic Williams-Brown House. A two-story brick home listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Brown House is typical of buildings which served travelers in the mid-19th century. Originally used for the dual purpose of a residence and post office/general store, today it is home to the Salem Museum.”


In the museum foyer was an exhibit of student art inspired by the 2014 Art on the Way  Art Show

“Art on the Way is dedicated to the memory of local Salem, pioneering artist Harriett Stokes, responsible for 40 years of the successful Art in the Alley art show. She was an accomplished fine artist and considered the “grande dame of art in the valley”; most importantly, Harriett is most remembered as a passionate mentor and for giving back to the arts community with art education.”

I missed  attending this year’s art show but hope not to miss them in the future.


“El Deafo!” — An exhibit featuring the whimsical work of Salem-bred children’s author and artist Cece Bell. Her important new memoir about growing up in Salem with a hearing disability is generating national buzz. Book available in the museum gift shop!

     “I am a children’s book author and illustrator, and, quite possibly, a hermit. I eat nuts, avoid nits and gnats, and make lovely nets out of knots.

My books include RABBIT & ROBOT: THE SLEEPOVER, CRANKEE DOODLE (with Tom Angleberger), BUG PATROL (with Denise Mortensen), ITTY BITTY, BEE-WIGGED, two chunky board books, the SOCK MONKEY series, and coming soon: EL DEAFO!”



“Pre-Salem: What was here before 1802?  — An informative exhibit highlighting what happened in our valley long before Salem began as a town in 1802. Learn more about local Native American evidence and the lives of the earliest pioneers, including General Andrew Lewis. “


Walter Biggs Remembered: Artist Was Story Teller

by Richard Persinger

Richard Persinger, Salem native and graduate of Roanoke College and the University of Virginia Law School, lives in retirement in Dobbs Ferry, New York, with his wife, Mildred Emory, also a former Salem resident. These are his recollections of Salem artist Walter Biggs.

     Walter Biggs, 1886 – 1968, had a sufficient reputation as an illustrator and fine arts painter so that his biography has been sufficiently recorded. He was born at Elliston, Virginia, about ten miles west of Salem, Virginia, the two places being joined by U.S. Route 11. I remember traveling through Elliston, which consisted at that time of a very few houses.

      He came to New York in 1903 and had a studio there until after the middle 1940’s. After that he moved back to Salem where his mother and sister had lived for many years.

     While I lived in Salem, until I left permanently in 1939, I didn’t really know Walter, although the Biggs house was just around the corner from where I lived. Of course, like most people in town, I recognized him on the street when he came for visits about once or twice a year. He was a striking figure — tall, very thin, black hair and a neatly trimmed mustache –the epitome of an artist as a popular ideal during that time.

     When I moved to New York, I shared living quarters with Randy Chitwood from Roanoke, Virginia, then a much younger and less well known artist, who for some six or seven years had been studying and painting in New York.

     Soon after I arrived, we moved into an apartment on West 68th Street. Neither of us could afford a whole apartment. At the time my income as a law clerk, including unpaid overtime, allowed discretionary expenditures of about seventy-five cents or less a day. That included newspapers, going to a movie now and then, getting my pants pressed and everything else.

     Through Chitwood I immediately became a dinner regular, as part of the group eating at a Child’s restaurant located on Amsterdam Avenue, a short distance from our apartment on 68th Street. Every evening about dinnertime, from three to about seven of the group of eight or nine regulars would assemble for dinner more or less together. Almost every evening there were lots of complaints about the food, but the company was great. There were, besides the newcomer, artists, a couple who had a business or renting photos from their extensive library of pictures, a bachelor who had been an engineer, an editor of the Chicago Tribune and a highly successful author of short stories, and, of course, Walter Biggs.

     After two years I moved to an apartment on the East Side, but continued to see Walter from time to time. These contacts were much more frequent after the arrival of my new wife, Mildred Emory, when we were married in 1942. Walter had been a good friend of Mildred’s mother and the Emory family for many years.

     Besides the conversations during the extensive time I spent in Walter’s company, when I think of him my thoughts quickly go to some of the scores, if not hundreds, of stories that he told.

     During this period, when something reminded him of another story he would say — “I’ve probably told you about — “. This was usually accompanied by a very much raised eyebrow. He had a talent for raising an eyebrow so high on his forehead that it gave the impression of going up several inches, turning over one or two times and then falling back into place.

     In spite of the many stories he told, I do not think he ever repeated a story. My wife wishes I had the same record.

     After spending a good deal of time with Walter, I had never known that he had, you might say, been a professional baseball player. Some time before he had moved to New York, he had played for Richmond or one of the other small cities in the eastern part of Virginia. These teams were organized in the Atlantic League.

     He told one story of a game to decide the League Series winner for the year, a game that went into numerous overtime innings. Walter’s team scored a run and pulled ahead. If they could keep their opponents at bat from scoring another run they would win. With two out, an opposing batter hit a long drive that landed just at the perimeter fence. The nearest fielder ran toward the ball. When he got close, his spirits sank. Just where the ball landed by the fence a fence board was missing. The ball was nowhere in sight. He was desperate. Nearby he saw a potato – rather round and about the size of a baseball. He picked it up, threw it in; it was relayed to the catcher and the runner was out at home plate. Walter’s team celebrated winning the series and went home. He never told me the identity of the hero who won that game. I have sometimes wondered whether he was later a well known artist in New York.

     Soon after Walter came to New York he had a studio in the Lincoln Arcade, located about where Lincoln Center is now. Walter lived in his studio, where the living arrangements consisted principally of an old steel army cot. He told a story of a painting he was doing, on commission for an illustration, that included a number of human figures. He worked quite a long time on it and, as he neared completion, painted in the skin tones — hands and faces– of the figures. Then he went to sleep on his cot in the studio. Next morning, as he prepared to finish the picture, he was much disturbed to find that the hands and faces of all the many figures were completely bare — no paint, only bare, clean canvas. He was sure he had put in all the skin tones the night before. He painted in the skin tones again and in due course went to bed. Next morning, the same bare spots on the canvas, while the rest of the painting remained untouched. That night, after painting in the skin tones a third time, and after a small dinner staying at all times in sight of the painting, he turned out the lights and sat down on his cot, determined to watch the painting all night. As soon as the light was turned off and the studio was quiet, he watched by the light coming in from the street, many large croton bugs came out of the drain of the sink, rushed to the painting and started eating the fresh paint. Next day, he realized that the paint for the flesh tones had been mixed with glycerin, which those large water beetles evidently considered a great delicacy. A day or two later he delivered the painting which had been elaborately protected in the interval.

     My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have a number of Walter’s paintings. These were acquired by gift from Walter, purchase from him or because they were given by Walter to Mildred’s or my parents.

     The first one, given us as a wedding present, was a watercolor which had recently won second prize in the Chicago Watercolor Show. The scene is a small street or alley in Charleston, South Carolina, depicting the homes of some black people. Some are leaning out a front window, sitting on the front stoop, or standing in the street. Others are in the street at a distance. Like much of Walter’s work, as the picture becomes more and more familiar, the viewer continues to find more figures and build in more detail as understanding of the scene continues to grow.

     While we were living in New York, we suggested that if Walter had time between his other invitations he should have Thanksgiving dinner with us at our apartment. On Thanksgiving, when he arrived at the appointed hour, he pulled from his overcoat pocket a rather crumpled piece of paper, saying that we probably wouldn’t want it. It was a watercolor of the old slave market in Charleston, long since demolished, painted from sketch notes which he had made by moonlight some years earlier.

     Of course, we have always treasured this painting and it has always hung on our wall.

Walter never dressed like a modern hippie artist. Always, when I saw him on the sidewalks of Salem long ago and when I knew him in New York, he was carefully dressed — jacket, white shirt and tie — as if about to make an afternoon call on a Southern lady. I never saw him in a painter’s smock or paint-covered work pants. Typically he bought very fine tweed suits and topcoats. He did seem to wear them rather a long time, but if the material might lose a little of its body, the garments still retained the distinctive look of fine clothes. On occasion he might drop a little paint — sometimes oil paint — on his suit. His practice was to let it dry and then scrape it off the fabric with a very sharp knife. The good quality fabric seemed to tolerate this treatment quite well.

     Walter’s habit of rather careful dressing did not carry over to neatness in his studio. It appeared that when he finished painting for the day he just quit. On his palette there might be gobs of paint of many colors, open and broken tubes of paint lying about, a few discarded brushes and other debris of the work day.

     In his studio there was a long-unused fireplace in which were sitting a large number of crockery containers in which were stored what appeared to be literally thousands of used brushes, caked with paint. The high ceiling studio had a large balcony across one end which was filled with trunks, boxes and piles of costumes of all kinds. When he needed a costume for a model he could usually search through the inventory stores on the balcony and find what he needed. He might need an elegant outfit for a gentleman of the days of the three musketeers. It would probably look very bedraggled after years of haphazard storage, but under Walter’s hand guided by his artistic eye it would come out as very elegant indeed.

     Walter solved many of life’s problems by ignoring them. Usually this seemed to work out fairly well. After I had seen a number of photographs of the interior of the homes of black people living in the country, some of them showing the kitchen area with the wood fired cook stove, I asked him how he had gotten such good pictures with such limited light. These had been taken around or soon after 1900. It was often difficult to take good time exposures with the camera equipment of that period.

     Walter said he had just snapped them with a box camera that someone had given his sister, Lucy.

However long Walter worked on a painting, he was never satisfied that it was finished; that it was the best that it could be. For many years he provided illustrations for stories in the Ladies Home Journal. He was nearly always late for due dates. On one occasion, he painted nine different versions of an illustration for a story scheduled for publication. Finally, after about a year of delay, the frustrated editor called Walter and said he had to have the illustration. Faced with this ultimatum, Walter looked over his nine attempts and selected number two, which he shipped off to be used.

     Usually late in finishing his illustrations, Walter had a regular method of making these last minute deliveries. There was no Federal Express or other guaranteed overnight mail. He would wrap a piece of paper around the canvas, take it down to Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 34th Street, give it to a porter on the club car, hand him a dollar and ask him to give it to a messenger from the publisher who would meet the train. Then he would call the publisher in Philadelphia and report that the picture was on the way and should be picked up. This form of special delivery seemed always to be successful.

     For a while Walter was involved in an arrangement, which I am sure was unintentional, , that took out of his hands to a large extent the decision as to when a painting was finished. A young woman opened an art gallery on the street floor of West 67th Street where Walter had his studio and living quarters. She very much admired Walter’s work and was eager to have as much of it as possible in her gallery.

     She visited his studio frequently and watched closely as he worked. When she decided that a painting was finished, she snatched it away, let the paint dry and put it on exhibition in her gallery — with Walter protesting that it was not finished. This system seemed to work out rather well for a while. I do not know the reason that it was discontinued. Probably Walter did not like anyone organizing him or interfering with the way he did his work.




Courtesy Salem Museum and Historical Society

     “War News” is part of the Salem Museum’s exhibit titled “Favorite Son: The Hometown Art of Walter Biggs,” which includes about 10 paintings. The painting, which depicts an anxious-looking black family gathered in front of their house while a boy plays with a toy gun, won a gold medal from the American Watercolor Society in 1951.”


Photo  from

   “The city of Salem’s pride in its most famous artistic resident gained a permanent monument this week, with an official Virginia historical marker dedicated at the intersection of Roanoke Boulevard and College Street, across from Biggs’ family home.

The city, the college and the Salem Museum and Historical Society split the cost of the $1,500 marker, said museum director John Long……”

“Though the Salem Museum’s most popular exhibition remains its retrospective on Lakeside Amusement Park, the Biggs exhibit draws visitors, too — mostly locals.”

Full article link below


Lakeside Amusement Park display

     “In In the hot summer of 1920, a mammoth swimming pool named Lakeside opened just east of Salem. Soon the resort added a Thriller (roller coaster), Twirl-Around (Ferris wheel), and other rides until Lakeside became the destination for summer fun in western Virginia. From 1968 until the park’s demise in the mid-80s, the centerpiece of Lakeside was the Shooting Star, a wooden roller coaster that at the time was the fastest in the world. Photographs, souvenirs, a scale model of the Shooting Star, and a million fond memories tell the exhilarating history of Lakeside’s sixty summers.”

“Before the rides came one heck of a pool. In 1919, a group of investors led by Robert Lee Lynn and H. E. Hogan purchased the orchard of John Bower for the purpose of operating a “general pleasure resort” known as Lakeside. The name referred to the 2 million gallon swimming pool, complete with sandy beach, that they soon built. Lakeside’s swimming pool was described by the Salem Times Register a few days after opening: “The lake is 300 feet in length and 125 feet wide, with a maximum depth of 8 feet. A space of 40 by 125 feet has been provided for children, and ranges in depth from 2 to 4 feet. The Lake is surrounded by a sand beach along which a numerous benches. . . and thousands of electric lights illuminate the entire grounds. The pump used in furnishing the lake with water has a capacity of 20,000 gallons per hour. . . In the pavilion will be found cloak rooms for both men and women, a soda fountain, a newsstand, and also restaurant service. The bath houses are equipped with individual dressing rooms fitted with lockers and shower baths.” Lakeside later claimed to run the world’s largest swimming pool.”……….

“Lakeside became a center of controversy in the 20s when local Judge W. W. Moffett decreed that the pool opening to “half naked” swimmers on Sunday was detrimental to public morals. The local sheriff disagreed, saying that Lakeside prevented law-breaking, since skinny dipping along the creeks and Roanoke River had diminished as a result of the pool. The case went all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that Lakeside could remain open on Sundays. Park manager Robert Lynn (also president of Heironimus) soon closed the park on Sundays anyway, claiming that he had proven his point but didn’t want to offend anyone.” ……..

  “The center piece of the new Lakeside was an immense new roller coaster, the Shooting Star, replacing the old 1920s Thriller. At a cost of some $225,000 and a length of 4,120 feet, the Shooting Star claimed to be the world’s fastest roller coaster when it took its first ride in 1968. The Shooting Star was designed by the legendary John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster Company, who has been credited with a renaissance of wooden coaster development in the 60s and 70s, designing 19 coasters in 20 years. According to design specs, the Shooting Star was 84 feet tall and 4,120 feet long. It took approximately 120 seconds for loading, running on track, and unloading in the station. It had two trains (red and blue) consisting of four cars per train, and carrying six passengers per car (24 passengers per train). The coaster required 320,000 board feet of lumber, 19,000 lbs. of steel, 1,600 gallons of paint, 7,000 lbs. of nails, 14,000 lbs. of bolts, and 600 feet of lift chain powered by a Westinghouse 100 horsepower motor.”

Once upon a time many of these portraits hung in the small conference room at the Roanoke County Public Library HQ branch where I worked for 26 years.  I think Mr. Garretson, my first library director had agreed to house them at some point.  I found them rather daunting.  I think many of them were Confederate soldiers which, for me, a “forever New Englander” was …..  We had monthly staff meetings as well as book buying sessions in the room.  So I saw the portraits a lot!


    “History in Oak Frames: The Courthouse Portraits of 1910–  for the new Roanoke County Courthouse in 1910, a local judge commissioned the creation of one of Virginia’s finest collections of historical portraiture. Come learn more about these local notables!”

“The Fashion Dolls of Pete Ballard: West Virginia artist and fashion historian Pete Ballard created these

lovely ladies especially for the Salem Museum, to highlight women’s fashions in bygone days. “

In his conservation efforts, Ballard went through vast amounts of fabric and would have many leftover scraps when the projects ended.  “Over the years, I realized the scraps were getting finer and rarer,” Ballard said. At the point I decided I was no longer interested in museum work,  I found I was stuck with a mountain of fine scraps.”  These scraps launched him on his next career, creating fashion dolls, which he dressed in researched authentic period costumes.

Ballard’s fashion dolls are now known across the United States. Like most of his art, the hundreds of dolls he has produced have been donated. “I do not make money producing my art. I donate it,” he said.

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I was captivated by their marionette-like hands and stylized faces…  is a 6 page interview with a very fascinating Mr. Ballard.


Looking out at Longwood Park and the mountains behind…maybe Little Brushy Mountain!

We didn’t stay nearly long enough, but it was a great first visit.  The volunteer at the desk was very helpful as was Museum Director Richard Long.  I think when we return to Roanoke permanently it might be a great place to volunteer! 

Current Exhibits at The Salem Museum & Historical Society…..

“El Deafo!” — An exhibit featuring the whimsical work of Salem-bred children’s author and artist Cece Bell. Her important new memoir about growing up in Salem with a hearing disability is generating national buzz. Book available in the museum gift shop!

The Brand Collection: Aboriginal Artifacts from across the Globe  A collection of exotic pieces from Third World cultures, reflecting the travels and tastes of Cabell and Shirley Brand, two of Salem’s leading citizens.

Favorite Son: The Hometown Art of Walter Biggs: The best known artist from the Roanoke Valley

was famed illustrator and Salem native Walter Biggs. His worked graced many a national magazine,

advertisement, and book, and his local scenes are especially prized today in his hometown.

The Fashion Dolls of Pete Ballard: West Virginia artist and fashion historian Pete Ballard created these

lovely ladies especially for the Salem Museum, to highlight women’s fashions in bygone days.

History of Salem exhibit

Salem’s Attic: Amazing Artifacts from our Archive– an exhibit of some of the really cool stuff from the Salem Museum collection

History in Oak Frames: The Courthouse Portraits of 1910—  for the new Roanoke County Courthouse in 1910, a local judge commissioned the creation of one of Virginia’s finest collections of historical portraiture. Come learn more about these local notables!

The Fiery Ordeal Through Which They Passed: Salem and the Civil War— an exhibition commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, this exhibit chronicles the surprisingly active role Salem and Roanoke County played in the war, as well as how it has been remembered through the years.

Pre-Salem: What was here before 1802?  — An informative exhibit highlighting what happened in our valley long before Salem began as a town in 1802. Learn more about local Native American evidence and the lives of the earliest pioneers, including General Andrew Lewis.

Exhibit Opening   When:  Thu Dec 4, 2014  – Paint & Pieces: An Exhibit of Mixed Media by Pam Odgen & Quilts by Mary Ed Williams   Runs through the end of January.     

Visit with cousin Naomi in Manhattan

Roanoke VA  USA


   The weather wasn’t as bad as predicted.  The rain stopped by 11am so I could go for a walk.  I need at least one walk per day to stay somewhat sane.  The forecast for tomorrow is for the twenties.  But our friend Ed sent us a photo of snow covered Iowa so we can’t complain. 

     This email is the New York half of our visit to Philadelphia/New York. 



   The main reason Harriet and I went north this year was to see our cousin Naomi.  Most of our cousins grew up in New York; Harriet and I were pretty much the only cousins who lived someplace else.  Thanks to Facebook and other “family group websites” Harriet has reconnected us with many of them. 


Harriet, Cousin Naomi and me. 

We posed directly under a light which made the color version less flattering than the B & W.  But I like B&W portraits. 


Audrey, Naomi’s friend, neighbor, and colaborator on social projects stands in front of just a small part of her amazing museum quality glass collection.  Naomi had invited her friend Audrey to join us for lunch because of Audrey’s  interests in artisans and the arts.  After lunch at a nearby restaurant, Audrey graciously showed us her collection.  Amazingly her two cats never bother any of it!

To catch the train and connecting BOLT bus to Manhattan,  Harriet and I were up and checked out of the hotel by 7 am.  We drove to Andrew’s house where we unloaded our luggage and then drove the short distance to the train station.  We would take the train to City Center and then catch the BOLT bus to Manhattan.  The train ride was about 15 minutes; the bus about 2 hours.  Luckily Andrew had already purchased the  ‘A’  BOLT tickets so we could go to the head of the long line waiting to board the bus. 

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Book Exchange in the train station waiting area as well as a heater!  We could have used the heaters in the train stations in England!  Maybe they have them, but we were only in the ones that were unheated while we were there.  Andrew did say that not all Philly train stations were so inviting.

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In the US we “watch the gap” rather than “mind it” as they do in “British speaking” countries. 

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Our first stop was the Jacob Javits  Convention Center to use the “ladies.”   

And I was such a wimp!  I didn’t climb on to the chair which is a first for me.  New York is so theatrical,  I could have passed it off as “performance art.”  Or gotten arrested?   The Javits statue is holding a bag for the convention taking place at the center.  Something about design in the hospitality sector. 

From the Javits Center we caught a taxi to Naomi’s building not far from the East River. 

Manhattan doesn’t feel like London.  Duh!  But why?  I have never lived in NYC or attempted the public transit.  Hong Kong, Singapore, and London seemed less intimidating.  And were in many cases newer and brighter.   The pace of NYC seems faster and more energetic than anywhere else.  Grittier.   I found this NYC/London comparison article and found my same feelings though I’d not thought of the ‘horizontal ‘of London vs the ‘vertical’ of NYC.  I think I prefer horizontal in architecture with maybe a few verical sprinkled in.  Quirky ones like in London. 

    “people are calling the capital {London} a new Manhattan — but is this accurate? How do London and New York compare in their versions of the vertical?

     One man well-placed to answer the question is Rafael Viñoly, architect of not only the Walkie Talkie but also 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, a residential tower which in 2015 will become New York’s tallest building. How has he found it, having a skyscraper in each camp? ‘Verticality is in Manhattan’s DNA,’ he tells me. ‘Being an island, it was always going to build tall. Whereas London is by tradition a horizontal city. What I’ve been fascinated by is the way its planning process engages much more actively with the idea of urban form.’…

     In New York a building’s design is governed by zoning regulations, which dictate height, shape and so on, producing largely formulaic results. London, on the other hand, encourages the unusual. So for Viñoly ‘The idea was “how can you make a vertical building that’s totally site-specific?” Something that wasn’t just an abstract Platonic form you could land in London or Barcelona or anywhere else.’ Hence the ‘widening out at the top’ concept that has given 20 Fenchurch Street its nickname of Walkie Talkie…

     The man behind the City’s individualistic approach to skyscrapers is its chief planning officer, Peter Rees. ‘Everything is much more standardised in New York,’ he says. ‘Not just the zoning regulations, but even components — they’ll only have three types of door you can use, or two types of urinal or whatever. Over here an architect will design his own.’ Rees also points out that London has been around for 2,000 years. ‘So it has a tradition of throwing different designs together — a Victorian office block next to an Elizabethan hall next to a 20th-century bank next to a Wren church. These new tall buildings are just the next chapter in that story. They fit within it.’ In fact it’s Wren’s most famous church that helped dictate the Cheese-grater’s sloping design: if the sides had been parallel they would have filled too much of the sky behind St Paul’s, as seen from Fleet Street. Even as far away as Richmond Park there is a particular bush which by law has to be kept trimmed to preserve a sightline to the famous dome….

     London’s genuine need for the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie is shown by the fact that they’re both already half-let, even in a time of economic uncertainty. Back in 1931 the Empire State Building wasn’t so lucky, opening just as the Great Depression took hold; for its first few years it was known as the Empty State Building….

     It goes without saying that New York and London are both fantastic places. Fans of one tend to be fans of the other, hence the acronym ‘Nylon’, expressing the idea that the two cities are almost one and the same. Received wisdom has it that London wins on history, Manhattan on energy. But walking around the Square Mile, where hard hats mingle with pinstripes, you can’t help feeling that even the second quality.”  (I think NYC wins on the energy factor for sure!)


Narrow streets and tall buildings made me think NYC “grittier” than London. 

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Interesting Snapple ad.  I don’t remember “advertising” being as obvious. 


Wood scaffolding  on the right surrounds  the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree soon to be decorated.

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. | An 85-foot Norway spruce that belonged to a central Pennsylvania family of “Christmas elves” will serve as Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree this year.

Workers cut down the 13-ton tree and a crane hoisted it onto a trailer Nov. 5 for the 155-mile journey to midtown Manhattan. It’ll be illuminated for the first time on Dec. 3 in a ceremony that’s been held since 1933.

The tree was donated by Dan Sigafoos, 38, and Rachel Drosdick-Sigafoos, 29, who live in a century-old farmhouse about three hours west of New York City.

“Once it’s hoisted into place at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the tree will be decorated with more than 45,000 LED lights and a 9½-foot-wide Swarovski star.

     The annual tree-lighting event at Rockefeller Center attracts tens of thousands of people and is watched by millions more on television.

     After Christmas, the tree will return to Pennsylvania and its wood will be used to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, Drosdick-Sigafoos said.”

“The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. The 2014 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, December 3 with live performances from 7–9 PM, at Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Tens of thousands will crowd the sidewalks for the event and hundreds of millions will watch it live across the globe. The Tree will remain lit and can be viewed until 8pm on January 7th, 2015.”


Murray’s Bagels where we had a small snack before the 3 hour journey home.  We would arrive back at Andrew’s  by 10 PM.  A long but really good day.


The New School just near the Parson’s building where Andrew had taught a seminar class.  So much life and activity going on.


Street food is great for folks who work in the city.  London had lots of storefront food vendors and too few seats in restaurants during busy lunch hour times.  Andrew had to keep reminding us that “in the city” you have to learn to wait. 


New Yorker Hotel and the Empire State Building on our way to catch the BOLT bus for our return to Philadelphia. 

On the bus from Manhattan back to Philadelphia  I sat next to a young woman.  She read her book; I read mine.  Just as we neared Philadelphia we started to talk.  She spoke with an accent so I asked where she was from: perhaps Randal and I had been there.  Iran was her answer.  She didn’t hesitate though I wonder at the reactions she might get at times.  She told me she was working on a PhD in archeology at NYU.  Her husband was working on a Post Doctorate at either Temple or U Penn.  I can’t remember which.  They liked living in Philadelphia though it meant travel to her classes in NY.  She also told me that Iranians feel very favorable towards Americans.  In our travels around the world, we have found most people like Americans and still see it as the place for a better life and study.  We both expressed the wish that we’d started talking earlier in the trip.  Next time.


Philly/NY trip part 1

Roanoke, VA  USA


Today it’s a sunny 70 degrees in Marmaris, Turkey.  Roanoke, VA’s late afternoon temperature is about 45 and gloomy .  It was colder yesterday and it will be much colder Tuesday.  Thankfully after last year’s winter in London, I’m not so incapacitated by cold weather.  I just bundle up and go for my daily 2.5 mile walk.  My blood seems to have thickened back from its years in the Tropics.  Actually I thought London’s weather last winter not as cold as I’d expected, but Marmaris, Turkey the year before, colder than expected. 

Last weekend the weather cooperated perfectly!  My sister and I drove to Philadelphia to visit my nephew Andrew, meet up with “growing-up” pal Harriet G, and Monday go into Manhattan to visit our cousin Naomi  (and Andrew teach a class at Parsons.)  We had a wonderful visit.  While in Philly I took some photos of places that will be fun to visit when we have more time. 

My nephew teaches design classes at U Arts, U Penn, and Parsons.  He also has his own studio where he creates products on a knitting machine.  We visited his studio on Sunday. 



Herman Street Studios 20 

     “Built in 1928, Herman street artists’ studios offer an authentic appeal to some of the most innovative, creative artisans in the Philadelphia area. Extraordinarily appealing is the location in historic Germantown. Iconic historical buildings lead the way to Herman Street Studios invoking creative inspiration and a sense of community.”


Herman Street Studios foyer mural

“Found Window”

     While renovating the entry foyer from it’s ’60s office style to it’s original look of wood wainscoting John and Michael Fiorella found an original window in this 1928 mill building.  The entry had a large glass mullioned window with a small office cash or transaction window but had been completely covered with drywall on the foyer side and plywood on the inside.  Hoping to save the original window which had glass damaged, the Fiorella brothers asked Elena Bouvier, an artist and photographer at Herman St. Studios to think about the project.  What she came up will thrill you!”

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Art is in the eye of the beholder; I love buildings like this. So artsy!

Below are some of Andrew’s designs


Knitted yarns dipped in ceramic and fired at the Clay Studio

“I want to show people that knitting is not just about a scarf or a sweater,” says Dahlgren, who also has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from North Carolina State University and is a senior lecturer in the Industrial Design program at UArts. “Using knitting techniques in a design makes it more sustainable. You can use those techniques in architecture to build structures. My goal is to get knitting techniques widely used, because of their sustainability and flexibility.”


A close up lets you see the knitted material more easily

“People are doing high-tech knitting, where they will knit with a material to make tubes, and heat-treat it to make it a rigid structure,” said Dahlgren. “If you can imagine a shape that has multiple connectors, that has a combination of rigid and flexible, that can be done with knitting.”


Andrew worked with artist Jenny Sabin

Jenny Sabin: Knit Lab, After Chreods   from Temple Contemporary Plus  shows the installed work at Temple University in Philadelphia

This short video documents the completion of Jenny Sabin’s new work after Chreods. Sabin is an architect, laboratory researcher, and educator. Since September she has collaborated with Andrew Dahlgren, founder of Knit Lab, and numerous Tyler students, at Temple Contemporary to create a generative, parametric, knit installation.

Andrew’s Germantown Studio


One of the knitting machines

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Samples of designs created on the knitting machine


Knitted ceramic-lamps in Andrew’s house.  I want some!

Andrew’s housemate Kathryn was working this 1000 piece Ravensburger puzzle and just about completed the entire puzzle in two days.

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I liked all of the twisted book titles  such as The Climb of Miss Jean Brodie; Lady Chatterley’s Ladder; The Lord of the Rungs.

“It was quite a hard and challenging puzzle but entertaining. There were no boring bits and it kept my attention from beginning to end. “


From Andrew’s studio we drove into Center City to Café Ole where we’d meet our pal Harriet G for lunch.


Another “camera-face” photo.  Har and Andrew were clearing up a table for us.  We were lucky to get ; Café Ole was full up when we arrived.  Famous for its Israeli style dished including Israeli salad, Israeli pickle and shakshuka.


Harriet G with her new “Andrew scarf.”  Harriet grew up around the corner from us so we’ve known each other since we were 5!  I liked the sunlight in her hair.  Har just retired and moved to Philly to be near her daughter and 2 granddaughters.   (Like me, part of her soul will always be in New England.)


Getting ready for the “formal photo.”


Ru, Har G, and Har D :  Very colorful group!  We have one very similar from grade school but we’re all holding pretend guns!  Saturday morning cowboy shows were a big influence back then. 

(For Bruce back in New Bedford…Happy November Birthday.  And the Pats are doing well!!!)


Fireman’s Hall Museum was just down the street from the café.

“This museum was designed to be a showcase for Bicentennial visitors to partake of the rich firefighting history that occurred in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the first organized volunteer fire company in Colonial America, established in 1736 by Benjamin Franklin. “


I’d rather ride a bicycle…..or walk.


United By Blue catty-corner from the museum.

     I liked the blueness of the place and assumed it was named for the blue paint that united the parts of the building.  But it’s not for that.  Read about its name and mission:

     “We have always been passionate about the ocean and the waterways that lead us there. United By Blue was founded in 2010, driven by the idea of associating the sale of each product with a concrete environmental action. For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups.

     In September of 2013, we opened our flagship store and coffeehouse in Old City, Philadelphia at 144 N. 2nd Street in an early 1900s building. Using repurposed materials, we created a space that mixes our complete line of apparel and accessories with a full-fledged coffeehouse serving up some of the city’s finest organic coffee and food.

     An outdoor apparel brand crafted in Philadelphia is something you don’t often hear, but we’re happy to start changing that mindset. We’re inspired by the go-getters, the landscape around the waters we clean, and a really good cup of pour over coffee. We are endlessly putting in that extra effort to make sure our apparel and accessories are not only made responsibly, but also durable for that next great adventure.”

We didn’t go in but it sounds like an interesting place!

We visited the Clay Studio where Andrew has some woven products for sale and where his ceramic knits were created.  I think I’ve got that right.

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Knit hot pads and coasters which I would think keeps dishes hotter as wool is a great insulator.  And they’re nice and soft too!  No scratching the table.  And you could use it as a pot holder too!


Har G and Andrew admiring some of the ceramic work

     “Viewed from a local perspective, The Clay Studio provides studio space, educational programs and exhibition access to a broad array of artists and residents. It is a vital part of the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, having taken a leadership role in the revitalization of the area through the development of its own multi-use arts building and the promotion of the Old City gallery district. The Clay Studio’s dedication to the region is evidenced by its program collaboration with area cultural institutions, artists, schools, and community centers. Its Claymobile program has become a local and national model for art educational outreach. – See more at:


Art and Industry: New Work by Bobby Silverman for anyone with several thousands of $$ to spend.

     “His commercially manufactured ceramic tiles for his company Alsio Design combine the reflective properties of ceramic and metallic surfaces with topographical forms that are created by 3D modeling programs.” – See more at:–body#sthash.PXiL4LdK.dpuf



Harriet D and Andrew strolling along Elfreth’s Alley

“Representing three hundred years of history, the thirty-two buildings along Elfreth’s Alley were built from 1720s–1830s, and reveal the fascinating stories of everyday life in the spaces that America’s founders knew. You can learn the house-by-house story of the Alley’s early residents through our guidebook, available at the Museum.”

“Two colonial craftsmen, blacksmiths John Gilbert and Arthur Wells, owned the land where Elfreth’s Alley now sits. In 1702, each man gave up a portion of his land to create an alleyway along their property line that connected their smithies near the river with Second Street, one block away. By that date, Second was a major north-south road, connecting Philadelphia with towns north and west of the city and the frontier beyond.

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, numerous artisans and craftsmen resided on Elfreth’s Alley, often living and working in the same building. Even at that early date, Elfreth’s Alley had a diverse population. English colonists who worshipped at nearby Chris Church lived next door to Moses Mordecai, a Jewish merchant who was a leader of Mikveh Israel Synagogue. Cophie Douglass, a former slave, began his life as a free man in post-revolutionary Philadelphia while living on Elfreth’s Alley. During the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, the Alley became a neighborhood of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and other parts of Europe who sought new opportunities in America.

Since 1702, Elfreth’s Alley has been home to more than 3,000 people. Today thirty-two houses, built between 1728 and 1836, line the alley. They form one of the last intact early American streetscapes in the nation. Elfreth’s Alley is a National Historic Landmark District, one of the first districts that celebrates the lives of everyday Americans.

The Elfreth’s Alley Museum tells the story of everyday life in the Colonial period and into the 19th century. The house at 126 was in the 18th century home and business to a pair of dress-makers whose sewing business reveals the lives of early American women, workers, and the transformations that came with the age of factories and industry. A combination of artefacts and interpretation shows both their professional lives (and bits of the lives of other professionals and residents of the Alley) and their personal lives, revealing what it meant to live, love, work, and die in Philadelphia at the start of our nation.

The Museum also sponsors ongoing research on the history and inhabitants of the Alley. This includes research into the past residents, geneologic data, and ongoing archaeological research. Information about this past summer’s dig, conducted by Deirdre Kelleher from Temple University in the rear of the 124 house, may be found on THE RESEARCH BLOG.