Category Archives: Town

Faces in Places

I had ended up downtown at the terminus of the annual cattle drive through town.  It always starts near the private college and ends at the former county courthouse, which is now a museum.

I had always noticed the large faces on the facade, there is a Native American (also known as Red Indians in the UK) over each of the large windows in the place.  These faces don’t look to be too pleased with the goings on in the building, but perhaps that is only fitting.

The animal kingdom is represented by this lion’s head.   He would be part of a fountain, if only the water had been turned on.

The intermediary between man and beast can be seen in the base of this light pole.   With cherub faces and lion feet, one wonders, ‘what on earth was the artist thinking’?

This woman is just part of the woodwork in this former district courtroom, but she appears to be happy about it.

Unlike the previous sculpted faces, this figure is painted and shows the entire body.   And what exactly the figure means is rather enigmatic.  She has wings (is she an angel?), she is holding a banner labeled gold (representing Fortune perhaps?), and has a dangling, trussed up person in front of her (no idea what so ever).   The more usual figure of blindfolded Justice holding a sword and a scale is nowhere to be seen in this courtroom.   Perhaps this is an allegory of how our local justice system works.

Going South

I once again found myself in the city to the south.  At one time, it was much more prosperous than my town, it had industry and lots of good paying jobs.   But the industry is gone, and now the city looks to attracting the leftover tourists from our town.   And one of the many reasons to go there is this tourist area.

I think that they call it neon alley.   There is always the question of what to do with the signage of a building, folk art that let one know instantly what the business was selling.   (Although I am not sure what the lamp with Aladdin written on it was advertising, possibly magical wishes).  Most of these are no longer going concerns, although at least one of these businesses still exists.

Cigar stores used to be part of the urban landscape, it was a manly thing to smoke a cigar (me and M used to smoke cigars when we went camping to annoy the insects).   And back in those days when smoking was allowed they also sold cigarettes.   The turquoise sign came from a little family-run cafe over on Main street, and we did patronize it when it existed.

These bits of ephemera are just randomly placed on this half block long brick building that has been partially restored.  Located right across from the train station, it had a commercial function at one time.   But now it houses a Senator’s office, a lawyer’s office, a cafe, tavern and an antique shop.  The newer part looks to have been built in 1903 and the building survived years of neglect to remind us of the past.

The background painting surely was done a really long time ago.   I can’t imagine anyone bragging about selling wine from Herrman, MO (I have tasted these on a bet).   Greyhound still offers service, but doesn’t even have an office, let alone a waiting room.   One just stands on the corner near a parking lot.

And a final bit of unusual ephemera is an ancient British telephone box.   Of course it does not contain a telephone, or even cards advertising ladies who will answer one’s every need.   But it does make one wonder “how the heck did this get here”.   And possibly “why”.

Art of the Street

In the last post I showed you (dear reader) the bird-like art of a local sculptor at the new arts center.  But wait, there is more in the bird art category on view at another business in town.

How about a giant chicken (readily recognizable as poultry) perched atop a saloon, right on a major thoroughfare.   Surrounded by artificial palm trees (sadly, palms do not grow here naturally), the chicken is master of all it surveys.

Or perhaps a flamingo is more to your taste?

Instead of rusting, enigmatic, possibly industrial art, one can admire a rusting 100+ year old cast iron stove here.

And how is this different from art that one would have to pay millions to possess?  Other than not being for display and sale in a fancy gallery by a big name artist.  (The city did make the owners take down car henge,  a previous artwork, which was made using cars instead of standing blue stones).

So instead of just a weird face, this place has the entire figure!   Yes, a giant fiberglass cowboy, complete with an enormous fiberglass beer.  Just to let one know what is on offer at this location.  It is the art of the pour, rather than the visual arts.   And this artwork is just as striking as the expensive stuff at the arts center.

Downtown

Halloween only comes once a year, October 31st (although people do sneak in extra parties around this date), so what is a person who likes to dress up to do?   Cosplay offers the opportunity for one to dress up as a myriad of sci-fi and popular culture icons.  Young women favor sexy characters, like Harley Quinn, etc.  but there really wasn’t a way for old people to play too.  Until now.

Star Wars created the opportunity for some great cosplay, this was a temporary booth where one could rent fancy dress, be an empress for a day.

But for some costumes one has to have the build to wear them.   If you’re tall, and wish to be anonymous, how about Chewbacca?  And you don’t have to say anything.

Then there is dressing up as an old Luke Skywalker and princess Admiral Leia?   (And save the rather chilly slavegirl Leia outfit for the very young women).

 

He seemed a little tall for a Han Solo, but obviously was having fun with it, and I suppose that is the main point of doing this.

More Inspiration

Although my town is in always in the shadow of the metropolis to the north, we do get the occasional bits of interesting things happening.   Besides getting to see Lynda Barry, this month also offered a chance to see in person some artwork from another artist that I admire, but only know from the internet.  And it was fabulous!

This is a picture that I took from a video installation (sorry for the picture quality, I am an indifferent photographer).  Chiho Aoshima does these anthropomorphic high-rise buildings, mixed with images from Japanese folklore.

It makes me want to squee with adorableness of these buildings.

But there is a fly in the ointment, a mythological figure turns into a cloud of black smoke and then the volcano erupts in this paradise.

Alien ships appear.  Notice that the foreground is a cemetery, yikes.  And what does it all mean?

A floating deity appears briefly in  a cloud.

Then a  tsunami knocks over some of the buildings, and makes the rest wobble about.

Bad things are happening, the black and white building grows legs and gets up to move because things are so bad.   But the standing buildings grow construction cranes to repair themselves, the sky clears and the rainbow returns.

There’s a happy ending, until it starts all over again, much like life.

Inspiration

Back in 2014 I decided that I wanted to go to Europe, and that it would be nice to combine this trip with some sort of workshop or real reason to be there.   So I came up with two great choices:  One was learn to write a blog, with the author of the blog Spitalfields Life.  This was a two day workshop in London (and this is why this blog exists).  My other choice, was eight days over two weeks in France, to learn to write cartoons.   As I speak terrible French and could not leave Miss Dog in the kennel for too long I decided on London.

So later I was going to take a class in New York state from this second choice, I had signed up and paid my money, but Miss Dog was ill and I was afraid to leave her lest she die in my absence.  So I had never seen this artist in person until now and I was really excited to have the opportunity to see her right here in town.  The snow didn’t materialize, and it was two wonderful hours of hearing Lynda Barry speak.

She has moved from drawing about life, to the intersection of neuroscience and art, which are two things that I like.

And I love that she shares some of my obsessions, like octopi,  blackbirds, chickens and ghosts.

I did say that she was inspiration too, here is a page from my first collage book, which she kindly signed.

I had shown this page to the author of Spitalfields Life last November, and he mentioned that he had gone to the same college as the poet, just 400 years apart.  🙂  (So they never got to hang out together).

It was fabulous to see her in the flesh  and hear her talk.  And I decided that if I ever get a chance to take a workshop with her I must seize the opportunity.  (Maybe).

 

 

 

Reflections

A reflection can be either a thought or an actual thing.  I keep most of my reflections on things to myself (for the sake of sanity) but I do have a fascination with the reflections seen in mirrored and other glass.  I love the way things get all wiggly and distorted, like this view of the back entrance of the old AT & SF train station, as seen in a nearby building.

The tip of the Gherkin rises out of the top of a smaller building, looking quite stumpy.  The towering monument to commerce overlooking the scene looks as though it is ready to wobble into a massive pile of rubble.

This dark and gloomy view of Cheyenne Mountain results from the smoked glass on the building.   The sky was actually overcast on that day, but it wasn’t this dull.

This is a more typical reflection of the beautiful blue skies and mountains.   I had gone out to get the newspaper (yes, I read a physical newspaper as I am a dinosaur) when I noticed how glorious the sunshine and clouds were.    If I was better at art speak blather I could go on and on about the inner meaning of the juxtaposition  of the double images, but I’m not.  So I’ll just say beauty is where you find it.

Power to the people

I get a number of invites to things, for this day I got an invite to tour our municipal power plant.  The local real estate interests would love to close down the power plant as it is located where tourists might see it.   What we will do for electricity (especially to power our electric cars of the future) remains unclear, but realtors would make lots and lots of money off the deal, they imagine.   Anyway, I decided to take a peep at what goes on there.   (Sorry but no pictures were allowed inside of the giant machines and such).

There has been a municipal power plant here for a long time.   Under the nearby downtown area, there are tunnels for steam heat pipes, connecting a several block area.   But they haven’t used this feature  for a 100 years or so.

Of course it has been updated and expanded over the years and so we enter the facility through a more modern part of the plant.   This turbine that sits out front, is from the unit that caught on fire last year (user error) and could double as a bit of art, for the art on the street program.  🙂

It is rather large to disguise from tourists, but it has a lovely graphic quality.  Perhaps we could shine lights on the side of the building to help pretend that it is something else.

My proposal is to simply re-categorize it.   When a friend’s grandson was small, he thought it was a cloud machine.  Municipal cloud machine sounds so much more friendly, then it could stay where it is until 2035.

 

About town

As I drive around town I often see the standard sort of thing common in any town (yes I’m talking about you Starbucks.  And your ilk).   But then again, in my wanderings I often come across things that are unique to here.

This particular piece of civic pride stirred up a major shit storm controversy as soon as it was installed.  A committee decided this would be a great idea, and without notifying anyone, stuck it in at this city park which gets thousands of visitors.   They were forced to take it down within the week, but I did snap this photo before that happened (I did not think this would last, but you never know).

Even the cat eyeballing this skeleton though it was a little weird (I mean, what does a skeleton even need with toilet paper?).

This tiny bit of street art was back in it’s cubbyhole after being stolen.   (Actually this is a replacement Kissing Camels, they never recovered the original.)

These hilarious leftist signs are located on the private, expensive college in town.   I’m not sure how effective these are, as the students need to have large signs telling them: to use a crosswalk, push the button to stop traffic in a crosswalk and to look before they cross the street.   All they need is the poster that says ‘Obey’ and they will be set to face life.

And then there are the deer, thick as fleas in some fancy neighborhoods in the foothills (there is just a small herd in my neighborhood).   There is a proposal being floated about to shoot them dead in the streets.   Which would be both unsporting (they are quite tame) and cruel and unusual.   So I hope this never happens, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


 

A lump of coal

In the Harry Potter books, a hat sorts persons based on their personality into one of four houses.   But at Christmas time, one is sorted (presumably by Santa Claus or some other authority) into one of two categories:  Naughty or Nice.   The Nice are promised that they will receive lots of lovely presents as a reward for being nice, and the Naughty are threatened with only getting a lump of coal in lieu of a present.   But is a lump of coal really such a bad thing?

Here is some coal near my house, free for the taking (sort of).   In fact at one time there were working coal mines right in the city limits.   As the sources for heat were either wood or coal, this was probably a good thing.

Many of the old houses here in town have a little window to the basement and coal was tipped into the cellar to be shoveled into the furnace by the householder.   But in London, there are these splendid covers out on the pavement that were the access point for coal deliveries.

Rather than being drab, utilitarian things, these covers are little works of art.

I suppose that someone had to deal with the business of actually carrying the coal to the fireplaces, etc.

This cover which features mugs of beer was by the Truman’s brewery.

A radiant sun is nice, especially when one has gone a day without seeing it.

And some are just pretty.

As I am possibly on the Naughty list, I expect I shall have rather a lot of coal to burn.   😉