Monday, August 30, 2010

Monhegan Island - Piece of Paradise

'You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.' Henry David Thoreau, Am. Philosopher and Essayist, 1817-1862

Monhegan , Island out to Sea, is the Algonquin name for this magnificent rocky enclave ten miles off the mid coast of Maine. Known to native Americans for prime fishing, it thrives as a working lobstering village.

Since the 1890's, Monhegan has been a summer haven for artists who appreciate its tranquility and ensuing wilderness of untamed beauty. Among those who have found inspiration include N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Rockland Kent (1882-1971), Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), and Jamie Wyeth (1946- ).

The spirit of Monhegan prevails in the 75 independent year round souls who toughen it out during the extremes of weather while providing that sense of community to each other and that connection to the land. Although the population swells to 700 visitors in summer, this 1.7 mile long by .7 mile wide island retains its private character and charm. There are no paved roads on Monhegan, nor cars with license plates. It is in fact a remote respite encompassing 17 miles of hiking trails through Cathedral Woods with its fairy houses, meadows, headlands along coves and ledges. Cliffs on the east side of the island are some of the highest on the coast of New England while Lobster Cove houses the wreck of the D. T. Sheridan (a tugboat that ran aground in 1948) as Harbor Seals frolic on Duck Rocks near Pebble Beach. The Island Inn is a gem!

Departing Port Clyde on the hour long ferry leads to spellbinding beauty in a place that feels other- worldly. As an artist who has painted on Monhegan, I can attest to the extraordinary light and limitless images that inspire creativity. It is an experience of heaven on earth in a deeply relaxing atmosphere, shrouded in fog, brightened by lupines;...truly, isolation at its best!

Monday, August 23, 2010

L is for Lustreware

Lustreware is the term given to porcelain or ceramic pieces over-glazed with a copper or silver finish. The effect is shimmery with a pearlescent brilliance, unique to the process. Lustred glazes were created during the 9th C by Islamic potters who coveted the formula for centuries. Egyptian potters perfected the process during the 10th - 12th C, with Spanish and Italians carrying on the tradition in the 15th C. Lustreware came into vogue in Staffordshire, England in the 19th C by Josiah Wedgwood who introduced mother of pearl glaze (pink and white), as well as gold, copper, and silver.
Silver lustreware is actually oxide of platinum, a result of platinum that has been dissolved in nitric acid. Adding gold to the lustring compound produced other colors, including deep purple, rose-pink, and copper. Most pieces of English lustreware are unmarked.

From the 1920's through the 1940's, Lustreware from Japan was marketed and became highly collectible. The cheery colors and lively display of a few pieces certainly bring a unique sparkle to a room in need...Happy Hunting!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ladies to London

In March, 2010, five ladies from the East Coast of the United States ventured across the Pond to Londinium for some fun and frolics. The opportunity presented itself due to my daughter's enrollment in a Masters program at Laban University, and her ability to guide us around this illustrious city while on break. From its square mile Financial District with Medieval boundaries, to its Tudor inspired architecture, Shakespearean roots, and Georgian influences, London proved to be everything - and more. Now, if only it were so simple to rival this trip with our next adventure...Any suggestions?

Buckingham Palace, first occupied by George III and his 17 year old bride Charlotte, 1762. 600 rooms surrounded by a 40 acre garden

Ladies to London - Queens of Elsewhere
Queen's Foot Guard with Bearskin ceremonial cap from Canada Black Bear. Caps are 18 inches tall and weigh 1.5 pounds.

St. James Park, oldest of London's nine Royal Parks. Laid out by Henry VIII, 1532, as a deer park
London Eye, world's largest observation wheel built for the millennium, rises 443 feet above the Southern bank of the Thames
House of Parliament and Big Ben, destroyed by fire and rebuilt by Charles Barry in 1834
Big Ben, quintessential symbol of London

Kensington Palace, 1689, built for William III and his wife Mary. Queen Victoria was born here in 1819.

The Victoria & Albert Museum, 1852; seven miles of gallery on 6 floors of space

Trafalgar Square, designed by John Nash, 1839

Windsor Castle, largest inhabited castle in the world, 480,000 square feet. 900 year history dating from William the Conqueror
Queen Victoria in mourning for 40 years after the death of Prince Albert, 1861. They had 9 children together. Queen Elizabeth II is the great-granddaughter of Edward VII, who inherited the crown from his mum, Victoria.

Pam, Patty, Me, Audrey, Talia, Karen - Ladies to London Queens in Residence

"You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford." Samuel Johnson, 18th C English author

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