Wednesday, August 25, 2010

King Tut & Garage Sales

The King Tut items were on display at “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” in the Discovery Times Square Exposition.  Having always been enthralled with the mystique of the Egyptian tombs — I HAD to go.  After seeing a partial and wonderful display at the provincial museum in Victoria, I went prepared to spend time soaking it all in.  It was fabulous.  (New York is its last stop before the artifacts return to Egypt in January.)  I felt blessed to be able to see more!  The average time to go through the display is estimated at 90 minutes.  I took three hours.  Of course there I was making notes and sketches for future projects, taking down details and just generally studying everything.  And then, going through the souvenir shop, I bought the book!

A girl who was travelling at the same speed as me started speaking with me (altho the general mood is one of silent awe) and she told me she'd been to Egypt and seen the actual pyramids, and many other details, adding exponentially to what we were looking at.  She made me giggle amid the silence when she said "they thought the scarab, a dung beetle, was the beginning of life.  I don't really want to believe that I descended from a dung beetle, but they do look artistic don't they?"  Several pieces of jewelery on display were absolutely stunning when you consider how primitive their tools supposedly were!

I particularly enjoyed this exhibit.  A "funny story".  Several years ago, my sister-in-law and I held a garage sale.  We cleaned out my sewing room, our kitchens, our book shelves, our garages and our crawl spaces.  We advertised.  We set everything up in the garage and advertised in the local paper.  The morning of the sale arrived and we were out there bright and early.  The garage door went up and there were at least five cars parked in the street already!  Things moved so fast after that we hardly had a chance to catch our breath. 

We had agreed that we would put all our profits together and take our partners with us to Victoria to see the Egyptian display at the BC Museum.  Between her awesome collection of pocketbooks, and her knowledge of who wrote them and which series they were part of, and my quilting and needlework supplies, we did very well.  So, a couple of weeks later, off we went to Victoria.  We wandered around downtown, had a great dinner, stayed in a motel where we visited together, and the next day had breakfast at the Empress Hotel, all on the funds we had earned at the garage sale! 

After breakfast we went to the Museum, where we waited in line for quite some time, winding back and forth and down the hall before we got into the actual display.  Needless to say, our husbands were less than enthusiastic by this point, mine in particular.  He had HIS dog in the car and didn't like him being alone this long, let alone the time it would take to see the display.  When we got in, it was dark, quiet, and we had the headphones to listen to the details about the displays.  Needless to say, I lost him within five minutes.  I suspected he had sped through the displays and went back to his dog.  At first I felt I should worry about him and look for him, but I decided no, I was going to enjoy this as it was likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  (I had no clue I would be lucky enough to see more in New York City!)  So I did the same thing every plaque, listened to each description, sometimes more than once, made some sketches, and generally took my time to absorb it all. 

When I came out, hubby was indeed outside walking the dog.  I accused him of roaring through to get back to his dog and...... he denied it.  I asked a couple of questions about what he saw and what were his favorite things.  He gave answers that showed he'd seen something but not much detail.  It was a long quiet ride home!  So he and his dog still enjoy themselves together while I travel with girlfriends or alone, and thus I truly enjoyed this opportunity in New York to see such splendorous objects with NO pressure to hurry! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harlem Gospel Tour and Lots of Walking

Sunday was the Harlem Gospel Tour – great history of Harlem....good out and walked around taking pictures, went to church service, fantastic music, no sermon. There are two tours, one with a "soul food" lunch and one without.  I chose without ...thinking I would have that time to wander around, but no, we were whisked back onto the bus and back to the beginning.  Next time I would do Harlem Tour but with lunch.  Would have liked to get off tour and just take pictures of people. Very interesting.  Would do it again, and get permission to take pictures of interesting people like the tiny elderly lady in a black dress black and white scarf, black heels, black stockings and the wildest black and white hat you've ever seen was dancing like hippies used to do in front of the stage when they were stoned. Only she was about 90 by the look of her., and stoned on Faith....Adorable. And she was so busy that I couldn't get more than a blur of her as a picture because we weren't allowed to use our flash.

After the tour, I changed, and then went on subway for first time to go find The Ink Pad.  I took the train too far and ended up in Brooklyn! Got out, crossed platform and got back onto the train.  There was a young man, about 7 feet tall with dreadlocks that were to his waist.  I asked him if I was in the right place to get back to where I had intended.  He was helpful and informative.  We carried on a conversation in the subway, on the train and right till I got out onto the street.  I don't know where the reputation that New York people are rude comes from.  Absolutely everyone I talked to was overly helpful!  When we parted he said "Good luck Mum."  I loved it! 

I got off at Canal Street this time, which  was an overcompensation for going to far south the first time!  And, of course turned the wrong way and wandered in huge loops to get there. I wandered through Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and into Chelsea....finally I had to put my I-phone on roam so that I could get a map with directions. That worked, but still lots of walking.  I found the shop, got stamps for Angie and I and was pleased with my mission being accomplished. 

Little Italy....Sidewalk cafes, streets blocked off for walking, delicious aromas!

That being done, I decided I would find The City Quilter, so that I could arrive on Monday at 4 for the class (which I was invited to) looking fresh and clean. I again had to resort to the I-phone directions. It was at this point that I discovered it makes a great difference if you put it on walk instead of drive when dealing with one way can walk them in any direction but cars have to go extra walking was my own fault!

Surprisingly, the store was open on Sunday! It is closed on Mondays.  I didn’t go in. I needed a shower, and was exhausted so I headed back to the my walk was a very convoluted route from Canal Street to W 45th Avenue. I thought of doing the subway again, but couldn’t find an entrance so just kept plodding along. Luckily I hadn’t been doing a lot of shopping so only had a little bag of rubber stamps to carry!

I arrived at the hostel wiped out, tired and was incredibly grateful for my air conditioned room. Took a shower, relaxed for a while, and then went out to wander around in Times Square some more!

But, points I learned are:

• Below Greenwich Village is the oldest part of Manhattan

• The stone everywhere is called “Manhattan Schist

• 8.5 million people live in 5 burroughs

• 1.5 million people live in Manhattan (and then there’s the tourists!)

• Avenues go North to South and are either Uptown or Downtown

• Apartments in Uptown Manhattan rent for $6300 per month on average

• Streets run East & West.....even running East and Odd #’s running west

• This is called Randalls Grid and was created so that immigrants who can’t read can find their way to work.

• “Manhattan” means rocky hilly place

• Wall street got it’s name because when the Dutch Settlers were living there they built a wall to keep the indigenous people out. The indigenous people used it for firewood in winter.

• In 1658 Harlem was set aside for the aristocracy

The Dakota
• Harlem used to start at 106th but because of Central Park being built, now starts at 110th.

• The Dakota (John Lennon) was built in 1884 by Mr. Clark, who also invented Singer Sewing Machines. (picture #1678)

• The Church of St. John the Divine looks over Morningside Park, where camp fires and picnics are allowed and clean up happens each morning. Becoming a problem because people from other sections of NYC come there to experience this and it’s getting out of control.

• Next to the Church of St. John the Divine is St. Luke’s Hospital. St. John was a preacher and Luke was a Dr. One building was built to take care of man’s spiritual side and the other his physical side and the combination is meant to represent Jesus as God and Man.

• A lot of development was by Frederick Douglas who was a slave who arrived in NY via the Underground Railway 

• One area of Harlem, the oldest was built before real estate got so valuable and because of that, each home has a stoop and a back yard. The trees in those yards now “kiss” each other over the fences. They have “stoop sales” instead of garage sales.

• The Harlem Globetrotters are not from Harlem but were named that so that people would know they were all black.
City College of New York

• The corner of Broadway and Duane is an African Burial Ground.

• There are 400 churches in Harlem alone.

• City College of NY was created to allow people of little means to get an education. Even today the tuition is between 5 and 8K, depending on the program.

• The problem for those students is the cost of accommodation so many commute from the outer burroughs and also have a job.

• People in Harlem consider it not just a black Neighborhood, but THE black neighbourhood.

• The Harlem Bridge crosses the Harlem River to go to Yankee Stadium.

Friday, August 13, 2010

NASDAQ has a good point!

This was the rotating billboard for NASDAQ in Times Square.  I liked what it said.  In all truth, I took pictures of it out of order, as they rolled by on the billboard, and have cropped to place them in order here.  Good theory for life, art, and whatever you would apply it to don't you think? 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meeting New People, Making Friends

I’ve never been to a quilt class without a girlfriend accompanying me on the journey. This time I decided to go at the last minute, and was therefore alone and a stranger amongst many others. Normally I would be with my friend and we would an insular group amongst the larger group, which is wonderful and a privilege to have friends I can do that with. But this trip was different. I was there alone, as were most of the others. Only two sets of best friends were in our class. That allowed everyone to make friends with everyone equally and that has its own rewards.

I arrived in a taxi. My flight was to Newark and therefore was half the price return than a flight right inot Syracuse. The trains didn’t connect at a good time, so I bravely decided to rent a car. If you knew how easily I get lost and the reputation I have for doing that....well, it was brave. I picked up the car, and headed out on the Interstate. Approximately 20 minutes out of Newark, out on the highway, the GPS the girl had so sweetly programmed for me died! I felt a note of panic, but kept driving. Somehow I ended up in the center of a little town. Where you ask? I don’t know! But finally I stopped and asked a man at a gas station kiosk if he could give me directions. He scribbled on a scrap of till paper, the numbers for three highways .... I-80 and two others. I drove off and took the first turn as he had directed. Lo and behold, I drove straight to the Syracuse airport, where I turned in the car and caught a cab to Onandaga Community College. The plan for my return was to take an Amtrak train back to New York City, where I planned to spend three days before heading home. When one of the other students heard that, she asked if I would ride along with her to a train station within 20 minutes of where I was going, which was 10 minutes past her house. I said “Oh no, I wouldn’t want to impose.” Her reply was that she would be pleased to have me accompany her for the drive because it would go faster with someone to talk to. Isn’t that wonderful?

I made another friend who is creative, talented and fun to be with. She is Jewish and is studying Sacred Jewish Music and the Hebrew Language. She did some stitching with those letters on a bread cloth that turned out beautifully, and shared the use of a bread cloth and the story behind it. I was intrigued and happy to hear more of whatever she wanted to share. By the end of the class, we decided to keep in touch via Facebook and email. I look forward to a long term pen pal relationship with her, and hopefully, seeing her again at the advanced class.

Another woman in the class befriended me as well. Her work is so admirable and I couldn’t help exclaiming over its perfection and intricate detail. We started a conversation over lunch, and I hope to stay in regular email conversations with her too. She generously offered to spend an afternoon with me in her city before I go home. That’s New York, and I’m so pleased to have someone that was born and raised tell me about the intricacies of the history and the different areas. I am hoping she will be at the next class as well.

And there was Scott. A designer by trade, he was a pleasure to share the time with, as well as to watch his design choices and the confidence with which he approached the projects after only having been sewing since March! He was by far the most computer helpful person in the class and dedicated the better part of Day 2 to the needs of others. He was very generous with his knowledge and everyone appreciated him.

And then there were my room-mates! We were in a dorm situation where four people stayed in separate bedrooms with a shared kitchen /living room area. Those girls were generous and welcoming as well, and happy to show a “newbie” the ropes. Because I had flown in from further away than most, I didn’t have snacks or wine, nor did I have a car to go get any. Next time I’ll plan that one better! We were all in different classes so we got a smattering of information from them about the other teachers and their subject matter as well. Everyone was pleased with the class they were in, as varied as they were.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Carol Shinn, Machine Embroidery Artist

It has been my great privilege to spend the last five days taking a class from Carol Shinn..  The class was held at Quilting By the Lake in Syracuse, New York.  It was a last minute decision and I was encouraged by my husband to “just go.” I think he wanted to paint on his own as he is convinced I am a messy painter (???) We are at the last stages of the upgrades we planned to do this summer and I truly believe he wanted me out of the way! All that’s left for me when I get back is scrubbing and re-varnishing the interior walls!

However, I digress. Check out Carol Shinn’s website at Her work is stunning, I own her newly published book, and now I’ve met her in person and learned what a true and total artist she is ( work didn’t begin to compare to hers!) However, practice makes perfect and I do intend to practice. I LOVE the technique.

But best of all, besides the teacher and location,  were the people in the class. Firstly there was Carol Shinn, not only an artist, generous in spirit and with her knowledge, who has a great sense of humour and best of all, is an excellent teacher. She leads the class keeping everyone on track while doing their own thing. Each day of sewing was interspersed with little demos that showed us tips and tricks for different results, problem solving, color mixing....I can’t begin to cover all that she taught......I think just buy her book: Free Motion Machine Embroidery.

I loved her philosophy on teaching her skills to others. Unlike some who teach but not everything they know, Carol’s approach is that if the base of skilled people is broadened, it makes those who are presently on top try harder to stay there, thus increasing the skills of themselves and everyone else in the “pyramid”. I didn’t quite say that as well as she said it, but you get the picture.

The class was one of the best groups of students I have ever been part of. Usually there are one or two students who don’t quite fit with the mix when you are in a group that big, but this time it was absolutely the most perfect mix. Humour was rampant, design skills shared, personal stories told, and ideas offered freely. It was a precious group I hope to have the pleasure of meeting with again. Carol has promised she will put in a proposal to teach an “Advanced” class and we all hope to practice enough to go and take part in that one when it happens. Here is a picture of one of the pieces I did. I have to get in touch with others in the class before I post pictures of their work....I hope they say yes because there were some very talented people there and it showed in what they produced!

All in all, "Quilting by the Lake", Carol Shinn and the fellow students, were a fabulous experience.   Look for more work including this technique!!!!