Friday, November 30, 2012

Vance Kirkland's water colors and my photography

Tuesday I wrote about the Kirkland Museum and today I wanted to share with you some of his earlier works, his water colors.  I was impressed with his subject manor and his composition and how they reminded me of some of my photography.
Ronda, Spain - Monastery 
watercolor - 1930
Hacinas, northern Spain
My husband and I had been driving around the Rioja area in Spain and came across the somewhat isolated church.  What a beautiful setting with the color of the stones against the sky were spectacular.

Piccolo Marina, Capri
Portofino, Italy
What a wonderful time we had up on the hill at Hotel Splendido sipping Prosecco with a plate of prosciutto and fresh figs overlooking the blue, blue Mediterranean.   Kirkland really captured the colors of the buildings in his watercolor.
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Such dimension and rich colors.
Ruins of Central City
1935 - Oil on linen
Ruins of the Rioja region, northern Spain
When I saw Kirkland's Ruins of Central City, immediately I thought of the eerie sight that we had seen in Spain.  Both scenes in the photo and the water color are very haunting and both have somewhat muted buildings with patches of green grass.  Wild!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vance Kirkland

One of my favorite little museum's is the Kirkland Museum in downtown Denver.  The museum has on display more than 3,300 pieces of modernist decorative art and a retrospective of Vance Kirkland.

 Vance Kirkland
(1904 - 1981)
The Energy of Explosion - Twenty-four Billion Years B.C.
65" x 55"

Kirkland's career spanned more than fifty years.  He first painted in water colors and later he adopted his unique technique of oil and water mixture applied as dots.  Many of his color combinations were derived from classical music.  He was synesthetic, he could hear color as he applied it.
Kirkland's canvases were big and his was only 5'2" tall.  In order to paint his abstract paintings, he lay across straps that were hung from the ceiling above his painting.  He used a skateboard under the canvas to move it around the table.  He also preferred to work in this manner for he did not think of his paintings as directional (an obvious bottom).  He rarely signed his paintings because of this and if he did, he might have signed it twice.

The museum is a real gem and one I really love to visit.

Kirkland Museum
1311 Pearl Street
Denver, Colorado 

For further readings on the  museum, see my posts dated June 29, 2011, July 3, 2011 and July 6, 2011.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Spuntino, a neighborhood Italian style restaurant in Denver

Over the weekend I went to Spuntino, a neighborhood Italian style restaurant/cafe in the Highland area in Denver.  The tables were set in a simple but attractive way.
And the decor and layout was very inviting.
They make their own Gelato but by the time we were done with brunch, I had no room for anymore.  Next time because they looked really, really good.
We started with a orange olive oil cake with toasted fennel sugar and a raspberry marmallatta.  It was very moist and the mild hint of fennel was just perfect.  I definitely would order this again along with a latte.  

For my entree, I ordered the Uove con polenta.  The nicely cooked eggs were set on top of a delicious creamy polenta along with a tomato sauce and some fresh basil and sage.
Len had the chorizo scramble which had golden potatoes, caramelized onions and Fontina cheese in it.  He liked it but the Spanish chorizo was way too smoky for my taste.
After brunch, we soaked in the beautiful weather. Here it is mid November. There was not a cloud in the sky and the temps were in the mid 60's!  You have to love the combination of signs on this building.  Do you go to your Karate lesson and then the chiropractor?
But the clincher of the day was this person walking around Civic Park in downtown Denver with his homemade helmet on and some kind of "ray gun" that looked like a combination of toy parts and who knows what else.  ( I shot this out of the sun roof.  I just could not resist) The warm weather certainly brings them out!   Well, it brought us out.

Back to Spuntino...  Len says they have a nice lunch menu.   And we plan on trying it for  dinner some evening.
Bon Appetit!

2639 w. 32nd Ave.
Denver, Colorado

Monday, November 12, 2012

An Oaxacan Adventure in October

I am in fine tuning the itinerary for a week in Oaxaca, Mexico and

the surrounding villages for September 29 - October 6, 2013. 
For those who have joined me on my San Miguel de Allende tours 

and my Artisan and Architecture tour in the state of Michoacan,

I know if you join me, Oaxaca will also capture your heart.
The main plaza, the zocalo, is one of the most spectacular in 
all of Mexico with its gazebo that usually has mariachis or 
a marimba band playing in it at night, vibrant cafes and restaurants
lining the plaza on the main and second floor, the Cathedral on one 
side, townspeople visiting...

One morning we will explore Monte Alban, the Zapotec 
ruins that was founded around 500 B.C.  At its grandest
over 25,000 people lived here.

The architecture is diverse from this brilliant painted 
church in Santa Ana Zegache,the 16th century monastery
in Cuilapam de Guerro,  the Baroque Santo Domingo Church
in the historic center of Oaxaca with its amazing ethnobotanical 
gardens off to one side to the impressive modern building that
houses the popular art of Oaxaca in Ocotlan.
Oaxacan cuisine is some of the  most interesting and colorful 
in the world.  It is known for its queso de Qaxaca (string cheese), 
chocolates, empanadas with squash blossoms...   
And famous for its numerous and diverse moles
We will visit the City of Oaxaca market, the true spirit and soul
of Oaxaca with the indigenous people dressed in their colorful 
clothingA real stimulation of the senses.
We will take in a cooking class one day.

We will visit many of the Oaxacan masters in their villages 
such as the Aguilar Sisters famous for their ceramic figures,
the weavers in Teotitlan de Valle, the Jimenez family world 
renown for their hand carved wood and beautiful painted  
Alebrijos (animals), Senor Esperanza for his filigree jewelry, 
Dona Rosa's family for their stunning black clay pottery,  
a town known for its cotton and silk blouses embroidered with
figures of flowers and other intricate designs....
There is an abundance of museums:  Rodolfo Morales Museum
in Ocotlan, Rufino Tamayo Museum, Museum of Textiles and 
Museum of Contemporary art in Oaxaca.  
There is even a Stamp Museum, the only one in the country. 
There are cutting edge galleries in the historic center of town.  
Lovely climate and fabulous restaurants.

Oaxaca has maintained its artistic identity.
The culture, folk art, contemporary art, music, native dress, cuisine....
An adventure I would love to share with you.

An Oaxacan Adventure in October
Sunday, 29 September - Sunday, 6 October, 2013.

I will be sending out a detailed itinerar

along with costs in December.
I am limiting the group to only 14 and I already have 5 verbal "yeses".
Should you want to join me, please give me a call o
send me an email and I will reserve your place now.

Robin Mullen
660 Fairfax St., Denver, CO  80220

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gatos y Perros

With the elections behind us, I thought I would write a silly little piece on Gatos and Perros.  It seemed only fitting since cats and dogs usually do not get along.

Walking around San Miguel de Allende is always great and you never know what you will come across.  It doesn't hurt either to have your camera on hand at all times.  This gato was up on the top wall of a house on Calle Barranca.  He was either protecting his dinner or deciding on what bird was going to be his next meal.
You have to love the ceramic sign warning you of the perro!  The perro actually looks like he wants to play.
And then this guy doesn't have a care in the world with the grand daddy of dog bowls.  
I know, he's a Pitt Bull but what a nice dog. I interrupted him from a little siesta over in the French park.  He could hardly keep his eyes open.
These guys were hanging out on Hernandez Macia, just people watching.
This white Lab was supervising the grilling that was going on at a countryside restaurant.  With all that has gone on in the political world these last few months, A "Dogs Life" looks pretty good!  Viva los perros.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Remembering Carter

Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) is one of the most popular celebrations in Mexico and one that I totally can embrace!  The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day on November first and All Souls' on November second.  Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using marigolds, sugar skulls and favorite foods and beverages of the departed.  I had the help from my friends from the pool scavenging their gardens for Marigolds for my altar.  I made this home altar in the niche in my hallway in honor of my brother, Carter.
I filled it with some of Carter's favorite things.  He loved to hunt and fish.  The pheasant feathers are from one of his hunts in North Dakota.  The string of straw fish is something I picked up in the jardin in San Miguel de Allende during Palm Sunday.  Carter would have loved the craftsmanship that was put into making them.  

There is a bottle of Turnbull, one his favorite Cabernets along with a shot glass with a naked lady on it.  As I said to one of my friends, what man would not want a shot glass with a naked lady on it!  She agreed.   There is one of his favorite fruits to nibble on, a pear.
A few mini masks representing his fabulous mask collection.  And I am happy to report, the Museo de Las Americas in Denver is going to add his collection to theirs!

He liked to do the Sudoko puzzle in the morning paper.  And he was infamous around his office with his red pen, ready to edit some copy, make suggestions....

Carter loved the desert, the Grand Canyon and especially Lake Powell.  You will see a book on Hiking the Grand Canyon and the ceramic Prickly Pear cactus.
He loved Mexican wrestlers, something he and my husband had in common (the purple tin skeleton with a wrestling mask in his right hand).  He loved sitting in the jardin (the main plaza) in San Miguel with its magnificent Parroquia parish church (the hand-carved stone church).  There is a bell that was our grandmother Mullen's that is reminiscent of the 81 bells we hear around San Miguel.

A basketball, a sport Carter excelled in and a little Scottie dog that our Dad had carved as a child representing his own little doggie, Remy.

This altar embraces Carter's full life and in my book, it is Day of the Dead everyday.  Everyday I rejoice in his memory and our times together!