Oct 242012

Jamaica Pond or ‘Pondside’

My base in Boston.  Jamaica Plain, a lovely historic neighbourhood outside Boston, was founded by Quakers.  It’s now  home to professionals, political activists and artists.  Here’s Jamaica Pond, which is near the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.  This large park is an inspiration for plein air artists, and their work is frequently on display at the Visitor Centre there.

I love Jamaica Plain.  It’s got a friendly main street with Post Office, Fire Hall, Public Library, lots of independently owned shops like the one above, and many good restaurants.

Home away from home at Taylor House.  Affable owners, Daryl and Dave, are the creative forces behind this beautifully restored Victorian era Italianate B&B in the Monument Square Historic District of Jamaica Plain.  It’s just down the street from Jamaica Pond.

Taylor House is filled with contemporary art and ceramic pieces.  With a schedule of  jazz and classical music concerts in the large drawing room, Taylor House has become a cultural mainstay in the community.  JP has plenty of artists.   Painter and Printmaker Nancy Marks small piece, above, is one of many outstanding original paintings by Boston area artists on display throughout the house.


In the parlour a mix of old and new.  Breakfast is my favorite time at Taylor House. Daryl is a talented chef and does extraordinary things with eggs.  And he does this amazing thing with bacon…


On my way to the Green Street ‘T’, a pleasant few blocks walk from Taylor House. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Downtown Crossing station in Boston on the Orange Line train.


Oct 182012

This is Boston City Hall.  My first visit was a shock.  I had a big visual disconnect with this space and the rest of the city.  It’s an example of what’s called brutalist style architecture.  There’s a whole lot of brick and concrete in the Government Centre Plaza as well, all part of a redesign in the 1960’s.  Building  by Kallman McKinnell and Knowles.

After passing through security at the entrance, I found shelter in the first of two small galleries in City Hall featuring emerging Boston artists.  In the Scollay Gallery on the 3rd floor small work by art collective RIFRAKT was featured.  This piece is by member Jeff Desrosiers and has the names of many of Bostons neighbourhoods.

My Boston Diary, the photographic work of Benedicte Lasalle, is in the  Mayors Gallery on the 5th floor.  I like this one of the bicycle.  Bike commuting is not so big in Boston.  It would be terrifying to bike commute as Boston drivers take the rules of the road as a suggestion.  In fact, being a pedestrian can be terrifying.

Here’s one with the eggs easy over a reflective layer.  Check out her work at www.benedictelassalle.com.

Very near City Hall, and much more representative of Boston style, historic Faneuil Hall and the marketplace.

Always lots going on at the marketplace like buskers, all kinds of good food, and stuff to buy.

Oct 092012

Big & Small

I’ve been visiting Boston for a number of years and always enjoy the city.  Yes, there’s exciting art and architecture.  But what makes this city even more enticing is lovely historic neighbourhoods and plenty of great restaurants.  Most importantly, friendly folks.

I’ll highlight a few of my Boston favorites in these next posts.

Passing by the Big Dig Building with the super cool mural by Brazilian brothers, Os Gemeos, on the side.  I’m heading to their show at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

It’s a great day to cross one of the bridges and stroll along the Harbour Walk at Fort Point to the ICA.  Boston generally has good public transit. But when the weathers fine, walking is a fantastic way to get to know the city.

Inspired and influenced first by hip hop music, they started dancing.  They now paint and do BIG murals round the world using house paint, brushes and rollers.  Their paintings on show are vibrant, joyful and a breath of fresh air in the rarefied atmosphere of the ICA.

A wall of glass and a great view from the fourth floor of the ICA.  Designed by Diller Scofidio and Renfro, it’s an inspired siting and has big space and openness.What’s also great about the ICA siting is looking back across the water at downtown Boston.

Looks particularly beautiful at night, doesn’t it? Completed in 2006, the building anchors the end of current redevelopment along the waterfront.  This work seems to be taking forever, what with the slow US economy. Navigating to the ICA from downtown takes effort and transit connections are not the best. Work will  be completed soon and it will then be possible to walk waterside all the way there.








Oct 042012

National Gallery of Canada – Ottawa

More is Less

Louis Bourgeois’ ‘Maman’  in the plaza  near the entrance – one of seven of her spider sculptures worldwide.  The National Gallery, with its glass tower behind, was designed by Moshe Safdie.  It nods to the Parliament Buildings across the Ottawa River.

I always enjoy seeing Joyce Wieland’s work at the Gallery, whom they have titled Canada’s first feminist artist. The back story on this piece is interesting and speaks to a time in the Canadian political landscape and Prime Minister Trudeau, who brought the National to fruition in 1988.

When I see the work of the Group of Seven so strongly represented here I think of Emily Carr.   She was another unique woman and accomplished painter.  She struggled and worked very much as an outsider in her time.  She stood on Government St. in Victoria selling her small clay pots to make ends meet.

I’ve visited the National Gallery many times.   On this day, a Saturday, the grand interior spaces had a kind of chilly austerity. They were between exhibits.  The place can feel daunting with so few exhibits.  I spent my time there with the many exceptional pieces in their permanent collection that now seem like old friends.

I went looking for lunch at 2 PM.  I look forward to having a good meal when I visit museums.  You can work up quite an appetite walking the halls of the National. I could write a wee book on some of the terrific restaurants, cafes and cafeterias in art museums I’ve eaten in over the years.   In the National’s enormous glass rotunda, heaps of metal chairs were piled up by the Cafeteria des Beaux-Arts.  I was turned away by a closed sign.   Cafe l’Entree,  which occupies a wonderful light filled space on the river side, was a disappointment.  More like a middling cafeteria with a stale bun kind of food service on offer.

The gift shop has a good selection of books.  You can also find an unending supply of Group of Seven mugs, ties, scarves, fridg magnets, posters, place mats, key chains…

Signs of  life in the Gallery were people visiting for the animation festival.

Signs of joy with Joe Fafards ‘Running Horses’ as I trot off toward the Byward Market.