Category Archives: Art

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels more like you’re traipsing through Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home than an art museum near Fenway. For precisely this reason, it’s a must-go on my list. This unusual museum was the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was an avid art collector in the early 1900s, who set up the museum in her Fenway home and ordered it to be left exactly as it is – which is how you’ll view it today. There are no white gallery walls with succinct wall plaques to identify the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance pieces the house holds.No photos are allowed in the museum, so I’ll be sharing images from the Gardner Museum website.

The Courtyard

The Raphael Room

The Short Gallery

The Little Salon

The Dutch Room

The Spanish Cloisters

Where: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

When: Open daily 11:00am–5:00pm, Thursday until 9:00pm

Highlights: There are a number of large-scale paintings by John Singer Sargent, including a portrait of Ms. Gardner herself that was deemed so “scandalous” it was hidden from public view during her lifetime by her husband. Don’t miss the beautiful ceiling painting in the Italian Room and the Michelangelo and Raphael sketches hidden behind paneling. The glass courtyard is a beauty to behold with constantly rotating foliage to admire. There are a number of non-art artifacts as well, including a hand-written letter by George Washington.

Of Note: In 1990 a number of works in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum were stolen, and the robbery remains the largest theft of all time. The thieves stole a Vermeer, 3 Rembrandts, a Manet, 5 Degas, and several other items, amounting to $500 million in art. Several of the frames remain empty on the walls of the museum to this day.

Things to Know: The museum is quite dark inside to protect the artwork. We went on a Thursday night, and the added daylight from the windows would have been helpful in a few rooms. This is cell-phone free museum, you’ll want to keep it tucked away, or one of the many lurking docents will kindly ask you to. Public transportation recommended, as parking in this area of the city is notoriously difficult.

Admission: $15/adult. Free if your name is Isabella. $5/adult if you purchase your tickets through a local library.

 

The G Cafe inside the museum looks lovely, and gets great reviews. However, we were there at closing time, so we walked around West Fens and tested out a great sushi/hot pot place instead – Swish Shabu. It garnered two sushi-sized thumbs up from all of us!

Does art theft fascinate you as much as it does me?

Nautical Map Canvas Artwork for Less

nauticalmap2For a number of years I have been earmarking nautical maps as home decor. The day has finally come where I finally have one hanging on my wall – and I want to share how I did it for a fraction of the cost. (Are you surprised?)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) navigational charts are free for the public to use. Charts can be found for all coastal area of the U.S.A., and even the great lakes, which is perfect because you can choose an area that is meaningful to you.

The North Shore Harbormasters have conveniently added links to locals maps at this link for other local Bostonians.

(Charts are not to be used for commercial purposes)

nauticalmap1I chose Cape Ann, North of Boston – an area we lived in and loved for seven years, which makes it something I am happy to stare at.

Once you have your chart of choice on the NOAA website, just right-click and save the large-scale PDF to your personal computer.

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I wanted to have mine printed on canvas. I ended up trying Easy Canvas Print because they had the best sale that day. Cheapest isn’t always the best, but I wanted to give it a shot.

I purchased my 30″x34″ custom size canvas for $65 ($159 without the promo code). Similarly sized nautical canvas pieces I have seen in stores have been priced around $300.

My review of Easy Canvas Print:

Their online file-uploader does not take very large files – so I had to scale down my file quite a bit to get it to upload. In turn this made me worried about the end-result of the print quality, but I am happy to say that it looks crisp and clear.

Also, I am not sure how, but they cropped my image wrong so parts of the map were cut off. However, I called the customer service and they were very friendly, and sent me a new one straight away with no extra cost to me. It took time with shipping, and to get the new canvas, but I love the end result!

Even better, they are one of those website with constant promo codes. If you sign-up for their email newsletter, you can get 40% off. However, I struck gold when one day they were randomly offering 65% for first-time orders. Keep an eye on the website and I’m sure it will come around again.

This is not a sponsored post. Just passing on a good find!

Once I got my new canvas, I put it right up on the nail where an old painting was hanging. Not the right height, spacing, or anything – I just wanted to see it on the wall.nauticalmap4I plan to DIY a frame to help it stand out from the walls – the tones are too similar now. I’d like to replace the DIY Cabinet Door Numbers Artwork with something more colorful. But first I’ll need to learn how to use some new tools and cross something off my bucket list!

nauticalmap5You may notice we have a bit of work to do in the living room – we never re-centered the artwork over the couch after we moved it over for the newly widened doorway…. which is still missing the trim boards…. and the sloppy paint lines where the crown molding is supposed to go… 🙂

Such is a renovation life. And (spoiler alert) we’ve got a few other projects keeping us busy!

Do you think a white or stained frame would help the artwork to pop better?

The Art Institute of Chicago

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I have a habit of taking lots of pictures in art museums of all my favorite pieces. I’ve dragged my husband to more art museums than I’d like to admit. If I am ever in a new city I always try to make a stop into new, or favorite, museums.

I thought it would be a fun addition to the blog if I shared my reviews of art museums as I visit them throughout the year! I’ll start with the Chicago Institute of Art.

artinchicagoA personal favorite – the Chagall window

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Where: The Art Institute of Chicago

When: Open daily 10:30am–5:00pm, Thursday until 8:00pm

Highlights: “American Gothic”, by Grant Wood, (seen above, farmers) is one of the more popular pieces in this Chicago museum, as is the “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, by Seurat (seen above with children sitting on the floor). The Art Institute of Chicago has a sizable Impressionism collection, and a wonderful Modern collection as well. It unfortunately was under construction during my last visit, but opens this month. The museum reconstructed the Chicago Stock Exchange Room (from the 1890s) in one of it’s wings. It was beautiful and, away from the popular pieces, it’s quite quiet! It’s located near the Chagall window, which, is one of my personal favorites.

Things to Know: Mornings can be quite busy with field trips (which can be quite annoying, as they tend to hop to and crowd out the most famous pieces in the museum). One of museum’s cafes is located in the courtyard, which is both quiet and beautiful!

Admission: $23.00 for an adult (Admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5-8pm)

artinchicago2If you go, be sure to check out the outdoor installations in neighboring Millennium Park. Chicago can always be counted on for fantastic public art.

Have you been to the Art Institute of Chicago? What’s your favorite art museum?

LACMA Gets Dressed Up: Diane Von Furstenberg Exhibit

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Fashionista I am not, but even I am familiar with Diane Von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress.

My dear friend I was visiting had been to the Journey of a Dress exhibit at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and thought I would enjoy it – she was right! The exhibit celebrates the 40th anniversary of Von Furstenberg’s brand.

The exhibit is made up of three halls – one central hallway features large-scale photographs that tell the story of the dress and its inclusion in pop culture throughout its lifetime. (Everyone from a 1970s Sharon Stone to modern-day First Lady Michelle Obama.

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The second is an art gallery where Diane Von Furstenberg served as a muse to many famous artists. Many of you will recognize the famous series done by Andy Warhol. Fewer of you will recognize the haunting series of portraits done by Chuck Close (one of my personal favorite artists).

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The third is the Wrap Room – a large room where many dresses are displayed, organized by theme. The dress truly transcends time, as many of the original patterns I could easily see women wear today. Only the size and shape of lapels and cuffs gave any indication of decade.

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The concept of the wrap dress is simple, yet revolutionary. Truly a sign of the times when it came to the changing culture of women in the workforce. The dress, which wraps around the torso and ties at the waist, featured no tricky zippers, easily transitions from day to night, and work to play. A piece of fabric that is symbolic of the modern woman.

“For the women of the land had gone to work. Heigh-ho! It was the 70’s, and en masse, they left their sculleries and their hearths for careers in finance, law and other fields that had been the province of men… They went straight from the office out to dinner, they went around the world, washing the dress at night in their hotel room’s bathroom sink.”  – Holly Brubach, Fashion Historian

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The entire hall itself is attractive and exciting – from the hot pink walls of the entry way, to the funky floors mimicking the patterns from the textiles.

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The Journey of a Dress exhibit will be at the LACMA until April 1, 2014 and should you be in the L.A. area I’d certainly recommend checking it out!

Entrance to this particular exhibit is free. Parking at the LACMA is $10. For parents, if you register your child with the LACMA, your child and you (one parent) can get into any exhibit for free.