Sunday, March 30, 2014

Winter Cardinals and Artic Sea Mural

Left: Winter Cardinals; Right: Artic Sea Mural
Winter CardinalsArtic Sea Mural

Location
: Rainier Ave S and S Lane Street, West Coast Printing, Central District.

By: Game Not Fame, same as Game Not Fame – Lo Fi Performance Gallery Mural.

Description: I like these birds. The Game Not Fame site says they are winter cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). The basketball area mural is called the Artic Sea Mural.

Left: Corner of West Coast Printing with Cardinals; Right: Cardinals Moving Toward the Back of the Building
Corner of West Coast Printing with CardinalsCardinals Moving Toward the Back of the Building

Left: Cardinals Miniaturized; Center: Single Cardinal at the Back Corner of the Building; Right: Two Murals Together
Cardinals MiniaturizedSingle Cardinal at the Back Corner of the BuildingTwo Murals Together

Game Not Fame, Artic Sea Mural

Game Not Fame, Artic Sea Mural
Game Not Fame, Artic Sea Mural

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Miró: The Experience of Seeing – Seattle Art Museum

Feb 13 – May 25, 2014 at the Seattle Art Museum. This exhibition focuses on Miró's "late" work, but that might not mean a whole lot when you don’t know what the early work is. Okay, off to a bad start. And then, no audio guide. I guess I’m kind of hooked on audio guides and I didn't get my fix. Reading the information written next to the works wasn't so bad, but it was on the sparse side, perhaps taking their cue from the canvases on display.

The exhibition was a sedate affair for me (in comparison to past SAM exhibitions). Nothing stirred me to pull out a notebook to jot down a note or two. I’m not sure why. I loved our visit to the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona back in 2004. That same magic didn't happen here. The other half of Travelmarx was digging the sculptures here in the SAM exhibition. I wasn't moved by the sculptures or paintings. And, a 1974 interview film of Miró was annoying with it’s self-conscious existential questions, improvised hand slap “action” cues (the filmmakers apparently left their clapperboard home), followed by close-up of Miró's nose or something like that.

From the exhibition notes: “Bold and colorful paintings employing his personal visual language alternate with near-abstract compositions.” In this exhibit, that language includes the following French words: femme (woman), tête (head), paysage (landscape), étoile (star), and oiseau (bird). Almost all the pieces in this exhibition seemed to include one or more of these words. (Miró was Spanish, but titled almost all his pieces in French.)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Museo dell’Arpa and Natural Riserve Ciciu del Villar

Left: Ciciu at Villar San Con Costanzo; Right: Detail of Harp at Museo dell’Arpa, Piasco
Ciciu at Villar San Con CostanzoDetail of Harp at Museo dell’Arpa, Piasco
On a pleasant day spring day in May 2013, we visited the Museo dell’Arpa Victor Salvi in Piasco and the Natural Ciciu del Villar Reserve, near Dronero, both in the Province of Cuneo (both are north of the town of Cuneo). We were spending an afternoon and evening with one of our Italian families.

Museo dell’Arpa

Left: Map (Google) Showing Location of the Harp Museum in Piasco; Right: Entry to Harp Museum
Map (Google) Showing Location of the Harp Museum in PiascoEntry to Harp Museum
The Museo dell’Arpa (Harp Museum) is a small museum attached to (really, sitting on top of) the Salvi harp factory. It’s a bit tricky to find (see map included in this post). The museum experience is a 20 minute film followed by a look at the items on display, which change over time. Only a fraction of the 100+ antique harps in the collection are on display at any given time. The museum brochure claims this to be un museo unico al mondo because it is the only museum dedicated to the harp. You will see harps made by Sébastien Érard (1752 – 1831), who invented the double-movement that revolutionized how the harp is played. And, you’ll see Salvi harps, of course.

The museum as a destination is going to please harp fans and classical musicians. Others, may find the location and the chance to chat in Italian more interesting. (We wouldn’t string you along.) Some considerations:

  • The visit will be short. We took less than an hour.
  • We didn’t get to see the workshops (building or restoring of harps), which is what we expected, so it was a bit disappointing on this account.
  • The museum itself was hot, not just warm, but very hot. It was only May and we were baking up there, so be warned.

Who is Victor Salvi? His family came from Viggiano, a town in Basilicata, renowned for the construction of harps. (His father came from Venezia.) Salvi’s family immigrated to America, fleeing World War I and Salvi was born in Chicago. His sister and brother were harpists and his father was an instrument maker (un liutaio). Victor became the harpist for the New York Philharmonic and the NBC Symphony Orchestra directed by Arturo Toscanini. In 1954, in New York, Salvi created his first harp. He returned to Italy a few years later to continue making harps near Genoa. Later, in the 1970s, he transferred his workshop to Piasco, by various accounts to enlarge it and take advantage of the local woodworking tradition of the Varaita Valley.

Museo dell’Arpa Brochure Pages
Museo dell’Arpa Brochure PagesMuseo dell’Arpa Brochure PagesMuseo dell’Arpa Brochure Pages

Left: Entry to Museo dell’Arpa, Spiral Staircase (There is an elevator.); Right: Reception area in the Museum.
Entry to Museo dell’Arpa, Spiral Staircase (There is an elevator.)Reception area in the Museum.

Ciciu

La Riserva naturale dei Ciciu del Villar (official site) is a park that contains the "ciciu del Villar" translated as "puppets of Villar". The puppets are large stone formations that look like large mushrooms. These stone mushrooms with a tan stalk (composed of earth) and a dark cap (gneiss) or as the Italian Wikipedia article says “i massi erratici sorretti da colonne di terreno: dei camini delle fate” – boulders supported by columns of dirt: fairy chimneys. The mushrooms or puppets were formed by a three step process (taken from a sign in the park):

Step 1: “Le colonne di erosione di Villar San Costanzo ebbero origine al termine dell’era glaciale, quando il torrente Fanssimagna (un affluente del torrente Maira) con lo scioglimento dei ghiacciai and`o ad erodere le pendici del monte San Bernardo, portando a valle una enorme masse di detriti.”

The ciciu of Villar San Costanzo During were formed at the end of the last ice age (approximately 12,000 years ago), when the Fanssimagna river (a tributary of the Maira) overflowed with glacial melt, eroding the slopes of Mount St. Bernardo and carrying a huge mass of debris to the valley.

Step 2: “Si verificarono inoltre delle forte scosse sismiche che staccarono grandi massi scuri dal Monte San Bernardo e li fecero rotolare a valle, proprio sulla grande massa di detriti prima trasportati dal torrente.

Later, strong earthquakes caused large boulders of darker stone (gneiss) to break away from Mount St. Bernardo and roll down to the valley, covering the debris transported by the glacial melt.

Step 3: “Successivamente il Fanssimagna, continuando inesorabile il suo lavoro, andò a ricoprire I massi che si erano staccati dal Monte San Bernardo. Nei secoli successivi imponenti movimenti tettonici provocarono l’innalzamento della pianura cuneese obbligando I torrenti a scavarsi un nuovo letto. Il torrente Fanssimagna riportò così all luce quei massi che precedentemente aveva ricoperto; ma mentre il terreno no riparato e compattato dalle grandi pietre veniva trasportato velocemente a valle, quelle sotto I massi rimase sul posto formando orginali colonne di terra rossa con un masso scuro e rotondeggiante come ‘cappello’.”

The Fanssimagna continued to carry debris and cover the dark rock, which had broken off from Mount St. Bernardo. In the following centuries, massive tectonic events caused the Cuneo plain to rise, forcing rivers to find new paths. The Fanssimagna, in finding a new path, uncovered the previously covered dark stone. And the earth not compacted and protected by the darker, larger stone was transported away, while the earth under the stones remained in place and formed columns of red clay with a dark boulder as a ‘hat’.

We arrived at the reserve in the late afternoon, took took a short hike on the path winding through the ciciu, and then finished out the evening with a barbeque – picnic in one of the park’s common areas.

The Parco naturale del Marguareis site contains some good information on the reserve, including some cartoons on protecting the ciciu and information on how they are formed [1]. This website also includes information about two other sites we have been to: the Benevagienna site (post: Augusta Bagiennorum) and Gotto di Bossea (post: Grotta di Bossea).

Left: Map of the Riserva; Center: Ciciu Story – Cartoon [1]; Right: Il fenomeno scentifico [1].
Map of the RiservaCiciu Story – Cartoon  Il fenomeno scentifico

Left: Looking Southeast from La Riserva Naturale dei Ciciu del Villar; Right: A Single Ciciu Looking Southeast from La Riserva Naturale dei Ciciu del VillarA Single Ciciu

Left: Ciciu Stalk (made of compacted soil), and Cap (made of gneiss); Right: A Grouping of Ciciu
Ciciu Stalk (made of compacted soil), and Cap (made of gneiss)A Grouping of Ciciu

Informational Signs from the Riserva Naturale Ciciu del Villar
Informational Signs from the Riserva Naturale Ciciu del VillarInformational Signs from the Riserva Naturale Ciciu del VillarInformational Signs from the Riserva Naturale Ciciu del Villar

Left: Example of Sign about Trees in the Reserve: Sambuco, Elderberry; Right: Elderberry
Example of Sign about Trees in the ReserveElderberry

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Chair - Free

A piece of furniture outdoors always makes me pause. It seems odd, like something unloved. Also, a bit ignoble. Slapping a free sign on makes it worse. Then it rains. Sad.

Indoor furniture should not venture outside. You can't convert it to indoor/outdoor furniture, a designation I've always been suspicious of.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Augusta Bagiennorum

Left: Aerial View [Google Maps] of Augusta Bagiennorum with Cardo and Decumanus; Right: View of Farmhouse and Wheatfield near Augusta Bagiennorum
Aerial View of Augusta Bagiennorum with Cardo and DecumanusView of Farmhouse and Wheatfield near Augusta Bagiennorum

Left: View of Theater and Hospitalia at Augusta Bagiennorum with Monviso (Monte Viso) in the Background; Right: View of Uncovered Part of Forum
View of Theater and Hospitalia at Augusta Bagiennorum with Monviso (Monte Viso) in the BackgroundView of Visible Part of Forum

Last May 2013, we spent an early morning at Augusta Bagiennorum in Piedmont, near Bene Vagienna, Cuneo. We were staying a few weeks in the region (see Two Weeks in Villanova Mondovi - Off the Piemonte Tourist Track) and ventured out for early morning forays as we waited for the rest of our party to assemble.

Augusta Bagiennorum is a site that was an old Roman town dating to the last quarter of the first century BC (according to the sign at the site), probably at the same time as Augusta Taurinorum (Torino) and Augusta Praetoria (Aosta). Only a few tantalizing bits of Augusta Bagiennorum are visible in the surrounding farm land on the site. Today, the site is part of a reserve, Riserva Naturale Augusta Bagiennorum.

According to a sign at the site, the first inhabitants were probably veterans of Augustus and the town is named for him. Before the Romans, the area was occupied by the Bagienni, an ancient Ligurian people that lived in what today is southwest Piedmont. The Bagienni lend their name to the modern-day commune of Bene Vagienna. The Bagienni were conquered by the Romans around the middle of the 3rd century BCE, becoming part of the Roman Republic.

The layout of the town follows the standard Roman city grid. The decumanus maximus (the main east – west oriented street) actually runs southwest to northeast here. The cardo (the main north – south oriented street) runs southeast to northwest.

Views at and from Augusta Bagiennorum, View toward Podi and Monviso
Views at and from Augusta Bagiennorum, View toward Podi and MonvisoViews at and from Augusta Bagiennorum, View toward Podi and MonvisoViews at and from Augusta Bagiennorum, View toward Podi and MonvisoViews at and from Augusta Bagiennorum, View toward Podi and Monviso

The site was discovered by Giuseppe Assandria and Giovanni Vacchetta. Assandria was born in Bene Vagienna, and Vacchetta in Cuneo. The comune site has a summary of their lives and how they found Augusta Bagiennorum – of which a piece is shown below:

All'inizio del secolo i due storici benesi si dedicarono con successo alla ricerca dell'Augusta tante volte citata dagli scrittori latini. Gli studi sul territorio vennero condotti tra il 1892 ed il 1908 con tecniche archeologiche ormai largamente superate. I due, disponendo di ingenti somme di denaro, poterono pagare di tasca propria dei braccianti, arruolati prevalentemente nella zona del Podio e della Roncaglia, per scavare su quelle terre che intuitivamente si credettero custodire i resti della romanità. Le perlustrazioni del sottosuolo venivano effettuate nei periodi di incolto, quando non si arrecavano danni alle colture. Gli appezzamenti venivano infatti affittati in autunno, scavati nei mesi a seguire e nuovamente spianati in primavera e restituiti ai proprietari per la nuova annata agricola.

Feeble translation: At the beginning of the century, the two prosperous historians devoted themselves to looking for Augusta, a site cited many times by Latin writers. Their studies were carried out between 1892 and 1908 with archaeological methods of the day. The two, with their own large personal wealth, could pay for laborers, recruited from the area of Podio and Roncaglia, to excavate where they [Assandria and Vacchetta] intuitively believed the remains of the Roman site were located. The subsurface explorations were carried out in times of fallow, when they would not be causing damage to the crops. The plots were, in fact, rented out in Autumn, excavated in the following months, and leveled again in Spring to return the property to the owners for a new crop.

The most visible parts of Augusta Bagiennorum are the amphitheater (l’anfiteatro) and the theater (il teatro). The foundation of approximately one half of the amphitheater is visible and atop it sits Cascina Ellena – a bed and breakfast. At the theater enough is uncovered and reconstructed to get a sense of the size of it and how it might have felt have watched a performance there. The theatre has two reconstructed doorways are called hospitalia – the passages for the actors to access the stage.

A few years ago, we wrote about the proportions of Vitruvian Man, a study of symmetry of the human body by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. Vitruvius, in his book De Architectura, also talked about the design of theaters (Book V/Chapter VI) which likely is the design for this theater.

On this day in late in May when were there, nobody else was there. Granted it was early in the morning (before 9 am). Entrance is free and parking is marked on the map included with this post. Augusta Bagiennorum is one of the few Roman ruins in Piedmont that are out in the open like this. We did not make it to the Museo Archea (it was closed and we didn’t have enough people for a private group) – archeologia didattica e sperimentale located a stone’s throw from the ruins in Podio or the Museo Archeologico di Bene Vagienna in the Lucerna Palace of Rorà in nearby Bene Vagienna.

Left: La Cappella San Pietro at Augusta Bagiennorum; Right: View of Podi
La Cappella San Pietro at Augusta BagiennorumView of Podi

Left: Augusta Bagiennorum - Ruins of la basilica cristiana; Right: Cascina Ellena and Ruins of Amphitheater
Augusta Bagiennorum - Ruins of la basilica cristianaCascina Ellena and Ruins of Amphitheater

The Theater (il teatro) at Augusta Bagiennorum with Schematic from Vitruvius Book V – Chapter VI of De Architectura
The Theater (il teatro) at Augusta Bagiennorum with Schematic from Vitruvius Book V – Chapter VI of De ArchitecturaThe Theater (il teatro) at Augusta Bagiennorum with Schematic from Vitruvius Book V – Chapter VI of De ArchitecturaThe Theater (il teatro) at Augusta Bagiennorum with Schematic from Vitruvius Book V – Chapter VI of De ArchitecturaThe Theater (il teatro) at Augusta Bagiennorum with Schematic from Vitruvius Book V – Chapter VI of De Architectura

Informational Signs from Augusta Bagiennorum
Informational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta BagiennorumInformational Signs from Augusta Bagiennorum