A Veterans Day Story for Children

In honor of Veterans Day, I had the pleasure of reading Stubby to elementary school students @Murch Elementary School in DC via Zoom.

Stubby: Inspired by the True Story of an American Hero in WWI is a tale of friendship between an American Soldier and his best buddy, a dog that became a hero in WW1.

Thank you to Shirley Payne, Regina Bell, and all the students and teachers for zooming in. A special thanks for all the great student questions.

Available at:

*Bonjourmama

*Amazon

*Museum store (second floor, near Military History Hall) at Smithsonian’s American History Museum

‘We’ll Always Have Paris’ … Just Not This Year

Recently gave a Zoom talk for the Levy Center in Chicago about Paris Off the Beaten Path to over 400 people!

With Covid-19 limiting foreign travel, my armchair tour around Paris was warmly received by both those who had never visited as well as those who have made multiple trips. The Evanston RoundTable profiled me and the Levy Center posted my virtual presentation on YouTube.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to view the talk on YouTube.

Notre Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedral

After 11 months of shoring up Notre-Dame, the scaffolding came down. It seems the powers that be in Paris have decided to go traditional on the hope that the restoration will be complete by 2024 for the Olympics. In my opinion this is a mistake, especially regarding old versus new material. And I believe the 19th century visionary, architect Viollet-le-Duc, who did the major reconstruction, would agree.

Viollet-le-Duc believed in preserving the past while creating something new. Most of the Cathedral’s gothic appearance is his 19th century recreation. Among other changes, he restored the western facade, replaced damaged sculpture, updated the flying buttresses, made the spire taller, and added gargoyles and chimera. To read more and celebrate Notre-Dame through pictorial history, order my book, Notre Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedral.

Reviews of Notre Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedral

Reviews of my most recent book:

https://www.secretjourneys.travel/gazette/notre-dame-de-paris

https://www.dosafl.com/2020/01/02/a-celebration-of-the-notre-dame-cathedral/

ND Cover

Recent Publication

My Children’s Book Published!

A heartwarming tale of friendship between an American soldier and his best buddy, a dog. Stubby is the true story of the most heroic dog in World War I. From stray puppy to the only dog ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant through combat and winner of the Purple Heart, Stubby’s remarkable journey is appropriate for all ages.
Available on Amazon

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It’s Not Easy Being Green

Find my most recent personal essay online at PurpleClover.com: It’s Not Easy Being Green.

Milan’s Moonlight Castle Concerts

Castle at night

Castello Sforzesco

Under a moonlit sky in Milan, my friend and I discovered a rare evening treat: an ingenious pairing of art and music. Enclosed behind the Castle walls, for only 15 Euros, we thrilled to dramatic staging of details from the paintings of Caravaggio accompanied by the Milano Chamber Orchestra playing Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Monteverdi among others.

Three actors from Teatri 35 captivated us as they deftly draped fabric around themselves changing scenes, positions, and dress 19 times using only the billowy material. They enacted images from Caravaggio’s artwork, then adapted final postures, posing like statues for up to a minute or so while Baroque music enveloped the emotional staging. How they held the poses for as long as they did was astonishing to witness.

Called Vivant Tableaux (Living Paintings), this performance technique of scenic representations originated in the Eighteenth Century and gained popularity in the Nineteenth.

Another night we watched an operatic rendition of Cinderella, using student actors in a parody of the fashion industry as a setting. Among the more amusing takes we recognized were four men in white, pony-tailed wigs and sunglasses lampooning Karl Lagerfeld, and a blond-wigged woman spoofing Donatella Versace in expression and gestures. Though clever and amusing, the performance–accompanied by the beautiful operatic voices of students–went on too long.

We noted (but did not go) that Notturni in Castello (Nights at the Castle) planned a fantasy Harry Potter performance another evening. Clearly, the Castle has something for everyone.

Innovative concerts starting at 9 PM en plein air at Castello Sforzesco run from June through August. You can buy tickets in advance on the grounds during the day. For more information: https://www.notturnincastello.it/

 

Renwick Rocks!

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

Exhibition at Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery is ongoing through January 21, 2019. For more info: https://americanart.si.edu/ exhibitions/burning-man

Ren Truth is Beauty Marco Cochrabe

“Truth is Beauty”  by Marco Conchrane

Pushing the outer limits of their own space, the Renwick Gallery brings the boundless creativity of Burning Man from Black Rock, Nevada, to the conservative confines of Washington, DC.

Since the first sybaritic spectacle in 1986, the dry lakebed outside Reno has been home to phantasmagoric sculptures, whimsical mechanical devices, and radical art. Minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the Renwick indulges our curiosity in this countercultural contemporary art scene both in the museum and out into the neighborhood. Pick up a map at the museum to find six street art installations nearby, including the giant Grizzly Bear (photo below) made of pennies. Read more ›

Massena Museum in Nice, France

 

Massena MuseumMassena Museum, Nice, France

http://www.nice.fr/fr/culture/musees-et-galeries/musee-massena-le-musee 

Housed in a stately, 19th century villa on the promenade des Anglais overlooking the Mediterranean, the Massena Museum —the façades and roofs of which are classified by French Historic Monument Association—offers visitors a viewing of Empire Age salons and furnishings, tranquil English-style Gardens, and temporary exhibits, such as its current photography exhibit, Jean Gilletta et la Cote d’Azur, paysages et reportages, 1870-1930.

 

As the primary and inexhaustible landscape photographer of the Riveria, Gilletta documented its art and culture, commercialism, and tourism. According to Gilletta’s great nephew, “…nothing escaped his lens,” as he captured a time in flux, casting that lens on the modest and humble as well as the privileged. On construction sites, railways, and bridges. On market vendors, washerwomen, presidents and princes. He recorded rural life and the high life of Nice and Monaco among other sites. From fashionable spa towns, olive groves, and snow-covered mountain peaks to the 1887 earthquake, he was an exemplary reporter and witness for his times.

A 19th century Cartier-Bresson, Gillette preserved those times–forever gone or transformed–through at least 10,000 photos as he tooled around the Cote d’Azur on his three-wheeled, motorized bike—an example of which is on exhibit. In addition to snapping photos, he was also a prolific publisher of postcards and books.

Massena Museum Cut out photo 2The delightful exhibit opens with head cutouts of peasants of the day. Go ahead, stick your head though the opening slot and journey back in time. (I did; Noel was less enthusiastic.) The guards will take your photos. The balance of the exhibit holds numerous original photo prints of people at play and work along the seaside and in the country. The photographs are small and require time and close-up inspection, but to get a sense of the larger exhibit, the designers have created life-size impressions projected on the walls in each room recreating the ambience in which Gilletta worked. In addition to the photos, there’s a three-wheeled, motorized bike that Gilletta tooled around the Cote d’Azur setting his sights on images to snap. A large box camera he used is also on view.

The show recalls an insouciant time along the Cote d’Azur through five principle themes: Nice the resort capital of France, Nissa la Bella (Nice the Beautiful–the city’s unofficial anthem. Listen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15oZvZtsYYw), By the Mountains and the Valleys, Under the Azure along the Coast, and The News in Pictures.

The exhibit closes March 5, 2018.

The Museum’s permanent collection displays the history of Nice from the 19th century up to the end of 1930s. Highlights include Napoléon’s death mask and Josephine’s tiara with its glittery gemstones, gold, and pearls.

Massena Museum view from window

Practical Info

http://www.nice.fr/fr/culture/musees-et-galeries/musee-massena-le-musee

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-6, winter; 10-6, summer.

Closed Tuesdays and certain holidays

Tickets: 6 Euros or buy a 7-day pass for 20 Euros (Access to all 12 municipal museums and galleries for 7 days in Nice)

Location: 65, rue de France (ticket entrance)