Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Walk Around Tirano, Italy

I love old doors and walls.  This city has clean, cold mountain water running from public fountains.  I had a cold drink of it and it was better than Evian!
We had pizza for dinner from a wood-burning oven in a delightful small restaurant down the street from our hotel.  After, we wandered the streets and looked at the old buildings, walls, doors, and streets.  I had such a good time!
This is the post office parking lot!

I adore the old, gnarly boards that make up these doors, as well
as the plants lining the top of the arch.

Look at this old stone sink!

It was after 10 pm when we were walking around.
The street lights were just coming on....

Wouldn't you love to have access to this wonderful, cold mountain water?

The evening light was amazing.  We noticed that it stays light so much longer in this area than the central US.  It was light as late as 10:45.  The temperature was slightly cool and crisp.  What a wonderful evening to poke around this small, beautiful city.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Train Travel Adventure on the Bernina Express!

This little train has always captured my fancy.  The fact that it is the BERNINA train is icing on the cake!  When I found that I would be traveling to Basel with my husband (more on that in another post) I factored two extra days onto the trip so we could do a bit of exploring.
We began in Basel this morning by taking the tram to the central train station, or SBB.  First, a train to Zurich, then Chur, then St. Moritz.  Then, we boarded the Bernina Express Train in an observation car, which we had all to ourselves.  
The scenery is beyond belief.  One immediately understands why this was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the train:
The train leaves St. Moritz and takes the line to Pontresina (1,774 m) in the Val Bernina. It ascends progressively the valley to theBernina Pass passing the Morteratsch station (1,896 m), where the traveler can see the glacier of the same name and the highest summit of the Eastern Alps, the Piz Bernina. Before arriving at the pass the train stops at Bernina Diavolezza (2,093 m) where an aerial tramway leads to Diavolezza. The Bernina Express reaches the summit at the Ospizio Bernina station at 2,253 meters above the Lago Bianco.
Alp Grüm (2,091 m) is the first station south of the Alps, situated above the Lago Palü and right below the Piz Palü and its glacier. After many hairpin turns the train reaches Cavaglia (1,693 m) above the Val Poschiavo, then the Swiss Italian-speaking town ofPoschiavo at 1,014 meters. The train then follows the course of the Poschiavino and stops at Le Prese (964 m) and Miralago (965 m) both on Lake Poschiavo's shore. After Miralago it continues its descent toward Brusio (780 m), where it passes the spiral of the Brusio Viaduct. Shortly after having passed the Italian border at Campocologno (553 m) the Bernina Express ends its journey at the Tiranostation at 430 meters.

The Albula line and the Bernina line on the Bernina Express route were jointly declared a World Heritage Site in 2008. The trip on the Bernina Express through this World Heritage Site is a four-hour railway journey across 196 bridges, through 55 tunnels and across the Bernina Pass on the highest point at 2,253 metres in altitude. The entire line is 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) (metre gauge).

None of these photos can fully capture how magnificent this experience was.
And, tomorrow, we are doing it again in reverse!

And we are on Italian soil!

I love that my traveling companion is adventurous!

We walked to our hotel from the train station.

I love these old cobblestone streets even though they 
are very hard on my knees.

As a postscript:  when I texted one of our daughters that we had done this trip she responded by writing, "Well, you must have felt right at home on that Bernina train!"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland

My husband, Tim, and the film producer Farley Ziegler were invited to participate in a discussion with Q&A after the European premier of "Tim's Vermeer" during the film festival component of Art Basel.  Art Basel is what I would describe as the World's Fair of art fairs featuring contemporary works of art in all media.  It varied from large installations to paintings to performance art.  Open first to VIP buyers for two days, it opened to the public on Friday, June 20th, and ended on Sunday, June 22nd.  We arrived into Basel late afternoon of the 19th and immediately face-planted in our hotel bed.  I managed to shower and get in my jammies before doing this, but that was it:  no dinner or anything else!  Blam!
This seemed to work pretty well for me because I experience minima jet-lag afterward.
We managed to see most, if not all, the areas and galleries.  Tim discovered the design area, a separate part of the show for furniture design and lighting, and I loved it!  I'm a huge fan of architecture and industrial design so this was really fun to see.
I will share a sampling of the things I saw.  I must admit that it was an odd experience to walk amongst well-known works of art and see price tags next to them when one generally experiences these paintings and sculptures in museum settings!  It made being there seem a bit surreal.  Many well-known paintings and sculptures sold during the show which meant that the art market is alive and well.
Another exciting experience was the installation/performance piece called "14 Rooms".  I was able to see all but one of the rooms.  Tim and I stood in line for well over an hour but the time dwindled to the point where we had to step out of the line and move on with our day.  I concluded that the wait in the line was part of the experience of that particular room!  I believe I had one image of the open-area between the "rooms" that I will share here.  I may separate this post into two parts as I have a lot of images.  We shall see.  Enjoy!

The trip over consisted of changing planes in Chicago, then on to London Heathrow,
then to Basel.  Thunderstorms in the Chicago-area made for a lengthy delay, which then
caused us to miss our connection in London.  We waited in Heathrow for several hours before 
flying on to Basel.  Such are the joys of flying.  You just have to be flexible!

The wait on the ramp in Chicago encouraged me to draw and paint a bit...

Then I was able to watch a gorgeous sunset from the air...for a long time.

We arrived!  After sleeping, we were anxious to wander through the show.

I loved the fact that the "taco truck" in Basel was an airstream!  Also,
loved that the benches were covered in astroturf.

Tired, but happy!

This installation in the "Unlimited" area (meaning unlimited sizes)
really struck me.  I love the effect of reflections on glass through train, plane, and building windows.
It gives a very ethereal, immediate but fleeting, effect.
This installation is by Sabine Hornig, called "Double Transparency".  I love it.

Another, called "High Tide", is very compelling.

The architecture of the convention center buildings is quite unique.
Here is a cone-like opening in the building covered by a cool steel skin.

below is the placard for the Robert Rauschenberg collage, above.

This diptych was enchanting, and created with wrapped thread!

embroidery on paper.

tram riding throughout the city....

The following are images in the central area of the "14 Rooms" installation/performance.
Read about it, and watch a video about the experience, here.
For '14 Rooms', curators Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist invited fourteen international artists to each activate a room, exploring the relationship between space, time, and physicality with an artwork whose "material" is the human being.
Below is an example of what awaited the viewer inside the rooms:
Image taken from the Huffington Post article.
You may watch the video here.