Tag Archives: art

Art, Accessibility and Selfies

I know, she’s a bit off today, what on earth do these things have to do with each other? A lot. I didn’t grow up with art, except in the days when they still had art classes in public schools. Even then, no-one could ever say what I created there was “art.”

I’ve never understood why people travel and incessantly take pictures, especially of fellow travelers in front of the castle, next to the Eiffel Tower, overlooking Niagara Falls. I’ve always enjoyed seeing whatever I’ve gone to see in my own time, for my own reasons. One thing for which I have no love or patience for is selfies. Get in, grab a photo of yourself in front of whatever everyone wants to see, and dash out. That’s just rude, not only to all the fellow tourists but to the artist himself/herself, dead or alive.

When I was five years old my family traveled to see the World’s Fair in NYC. It was a big deal. All the kids probably remembered Sinclair Dino Land (Sinclair was an old oil and gas company) and Ford had cars on the track and we traveled in a blue convertible with Mom behind the wheel. What I remember clearly to this day was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

The exhibitors brought in Michelangelo’s Pieta from the Vatican. I remember going down an escalator into a dark space with light shining on one thing, the incredible statue of Madonna and her dead son. We walked several feet in hushed silence and before we knew it were on an escalator back to light and humanity. Twenty years later I saw it back at it’s home in Rome’s cathedral, before it was shot at and it was surrounded in bulletproof glass for eternity. Either time I saw it, no-one grabbed their cell phone and took a selfie. Of course cell phones were not yet invented or perhaps they would have. It would have been highly inappropriate, in any case.

There’s only one time I’ve been to Florence without seeing the Uffizi Gallery. It was the last time I visited, with my husband, for a brief weekend with my Dad. We were living in Scotland for a few months and only had 36 hours so we pretty much walked, ate and got a few hours sleep before returning to Glasgow.

COVID-19 has made a lot of tourist attractions re-think their operations, having been shut down and now allowing only small groups in if possible. The Uffizi is such a fantastic place. The Cimabue Altarpiece, Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, the Da Vinci Annunciation, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, so many historic works of art. The Museum has always been popular, with about 12,000 tourists a day, and getting tickets has always been difficult but not impossible. But now I believe that selfie rudeness has made its mark and it’s OK to just run in and out, grab a photo in front of the Birth of Venus and not even look at the art itself.

Premiering this summer is Uffizi Diffusi, which will lend works of art to neighboring towns in Tuscany, often where the artist lived or worked, so that art lovers, and lovers of the Italian countryside, can see it without flocking to Florence. I think it’s a brilliant idea. What could be better than a road trip to a town or two on a nice day, visiting a few works of art and having a nice meal or two? I really hope it works and hope that COVID vaccinations begin to allow world travel once again.

How to get to these far-flung towns? Driving is always an option. I’d suggest an international driving permit, but at least in Italy they drive on the right (as in correct, as we Americans invented the car, not the Brits) side of the road. Tour bus? I hate them, following the lady with the pink umbrella. I’ve only done that once, with a dozen culinary students, and it wasn’t bad at all. We were staying in the Val d’Arno and drove up to San Gimignano one day. A fellow traveler and I thought we could have enough time to see the freschi at Santa Maria Assunta. We ran all the way there and back, and had ten minutes to see the church. If you’ve ever seen the wonderful film Tea With Mussolini, that’s the church they were sandbagging to keep the Nazis from destroying in WWII. I didn’t have much time there, but it was a destination that I did get to see for its sake, not to take a selfie of me in front of a di Bartolo, Lippo Memmi or Ghirlandaio.

It’s about respect. I like to research where I’m going so that I can appreciate it, and take it in hopefully at my leisure. Standing behind twelve people packed in like sardines is not how I like to see the Mona Lisa but that was my only choice. There was much more of interest at the Louvre to make it worthwhile. I do take photos, like the ceiling in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. I got in trouble for that, even though I didn’t have a flash and I was 300 feet from the subject matter. I’m more likely to capture a beautiful old door, or geraniums on an ancient balcony. Framed in my home are photos of gnarled Concord grape vines in New York State, an old mill in Vermont, and several of islands in the Ionian Sea, of Lefkada, Zakynthos and Korfu.

I am not an artist, no talent in that regard. Not an art historian, either but I do love beauty that others create, and nature. So it you get to Tuscany this summer please check out Uffizi Diffusi and let me know how it is. Ciao, Dee


Dancers and Musicians

My third “Musketeer” the morning my father died was an art aficionado with eye problems. He spent an hour looking at art works and couldn’t believe that my father took up art at age 80. His wife was in the hospital recovering from hip surgery at the time and is fine now.

I brought in a charcoal sketch of dancers to my framer. My best guide, K was off that day. T made me choose everything myself and threw a Hail Mary at the last second.

When I called the next day K answered. I told her I awakened in the middle of of the night thinking I had created and paid for a disaster. Dad gave me that dancer drawing 27 years ago. I wanted him to have a photo of it before he died. It was not finished until two days after his funeral.

It is gorgeous and I look at it every day. He knows that he gave it to me eons ago but would be proud of me for making the Velveteen Rabbit real, in a real frame that honors his commitment to art, music, dance and education. That’s what he taught me. I’ve a plan that will at least bring it back to his gravesite, which I’ve not seen since the day he was lowered. They drove us all over the place so I had no idea where we were.

As for the Third Musketeer and his wife, they’re coming over for Brunch later this month. I’ve new works for him to peruse and his wife has never been here. Here’s to neighbors! Dee


Curveballs. I’ve never hit one. I learned that my college sisters were all lefties so our team was Lefties, Inc. No-one who mattered ever showed up to challenge us so we ended up in the finals without ever playing. Yes, we lost. I was the pitcher and a switch-hitter. Ambidextrous is the word.

While my husband thrived on mechanics, how things worked, science and math I looked at people. Soc/psy was my bailiwick. Perhaps that’s why we get along so well, we’re different, smart thus somewhat similar.

Let’s just say that I choose art museums and he chooses others for planes or motorcycles. We both learn when we go together but getting him into an art museum is a chore.

Know how to meet and greet your neighbors. Who is best at that task? Old dog Zoe. Everybody knows her and pets her. Years ago when an old elected official tried to hit on me I asked how daughter Sally was doing in art school, and how is his wife Judy? It was so good to finally meet her. If you want to nip something in the bud without saying anything about it, I found it was the way to go. Learning about life. And politics.

Life and consulting can be different. Often there are different factions, the Board that hired you and the administration who has to deal with you. My new car was keyed, then when the miscreant was named executive director he fired me and took my key to the office. The next day he called me and demanded everything I had on the organization including confidential data I promised the Board I would never disclose without their approval and me in the room. I said “I’m fired. I don’t owe you anything.”

A few moments later I was at the Chairman’s office and we laughed. The guy was gone at the next Board meeting. That’s learning. Both of us learned. The Chairman played everything and everyone and I ended up on the Board, working hard for free. That was probably part of the plan. He got canned and I got “knocked up” to supervise the enterprise that is thriving today. It is difficult changing from consultant to Trustee. But I’m a proven multi-tasker. Ask my husband, who is not.

Another story. I told my park woes to a confidante so he made me a VP of another board, one where the chairman spent meetings reading mail. Snore-fest, indeed. It was over lunch-time so everyone had to bring their own and there were some sodas and iced tea. My hips are getting better but I don’t know if or when I’ll be back. Pass it around the room, spend ten minutes of my day. Let’s get to an agenda. Let’s do SOMETHING.

I learned to formulate off-the-cuff motions and order them. Second. All in favor. Passed. For years the Minutes show that I made all motions when ripe. My favorites, J, K and S agreed and seconded. Unanimous votes followed. I re-wrote their by-laws, spent months of “free time” and they were passed after significant opposition by an opponent. That is how I spent my single life. With a dog and two cats. Now I’ve a husband and an old dog and things will change once again after 16 years.

Before I went to those park meetings I would de-compress in a free museum nearby, upon which my recruiter and fellow VP friend was on the Board. I sat in a room with my favorite Italian altarpieces and just breathed for 15 minutes before the Board meeting. Then I could be gracious to those who denigrated me.

My husband always says that my life was easy. He has to deal with profitable organizations. He doesn’t know the half of it. Non-profits can be really good, or snake pits. They keyed my car. Dee




As to interior design, I’ve no experience but have made good decisions according to our parameters.

For several years I’ve been working with a framer. What good is art if it is in a box in storage! In the front entrance it’s mostly yellow, orange and red. Two of my father’s works of Tuscan and Maori origins, and one a wood block from Japan, the first artist to ever do full-color wood block prints in the 1700’s. Something about a letter to a courtesan. If a kid comes in here and asks, I just say her little sister is delivering the mail.

Then you see the kitchen, a mash-up of culinary memorabilia and one homage to dance from the Stuttgart Museum, just a Degas fan print currently in a plastic frame for over thirty years.

The living room ended up mostly blues and browns and charcoal. I had a charcoal drawing taken out of the cheap “uni-frame” it came in nearly 30 years ago, a gift from Dad from a winner of an art school review. My inspiration came from Dad. The owner was at the shop, not K, my usual consultant who throws ideas at me to consider and has a great eye for framing art.

I decided on everything myself with no consultation except to use a fillip. It is a charcoal sketch of dancers and I wanted to evoke the movement of the dancers with a dark red mini-matte, beaded fillip, charcoal matte and undulating frame. Five layers. I called K the day after and wanted to ask if I made any major errors without her. She didn’t let me ask, she just said that she loved my choices and she couldn’t wait to work on it.

Dad’s charcoal gem was done two days after his funeral so he never got to see it. It is a focal point of our living room along with a quilt which portrays the seasons, a gift created by my mother-in-law. Most of the colors are blues and browns. The blues include small paintings from an artist in Florence.

The only thing in the den worthy of note is a gift to my husband, a B/W photo of the Brooklyn Bridge that I had framed for him that one sees directly upon entering our abode.

The hallway and entrance to the master are the “greens.” Mostly photos I, family and friends took. Each photo has a different green hued matte. Our bedroom has a large Tuscan scene painted by Dad in his 80’s, when he took up art. My husband’s favorite is a crayon drawing from me, of me at age five, of me/Dorothy with the scarecrow, lion and tin man. I’ve also one for him waiting at the bus stop with his old dog who brought the brothers there in the morning and picked them up in the afternoon.

There is also a collage of a play book for a theater event I created and had funded. In the hallway to the bedroom there are also framed collages of my parents’ wedding, and one of me and my sister as little kids.

Yes, I’ve things to add. Dad gave me artwork from southern Italy that shows the seasons. Once I get those framed they’ll go in our room or the den, I’ll figure it out to echo his Mom’s creation. I just didn’t know that my individual choices became themes until now. Two more walls to go. I’ll work on it.

I had a cooking toolbox, red metal, that I decorated in culinary photos. It now holds small office equipment and looks cool next to my desk. All we need now is to move to the country on land with a view and use all our shared experience to build the right home. Cheers! Dee


I know I’m a good cook but no-one has called my ten-minute lasagna (recipe on this site) sublime, before now.

Dear neighbors of five years moved last week, several blocks away. I made them a dinner they could pop in the oven and be sustained when they were exhausted from unpacking boxes.

So, I got a call telling me my dish was “sublime” and that they’d had it twice. Well, it did weigh a couple of pounds. We walked to see their new home and gave them the dish.

They offered us a teachers’ desk from a nunnery. It is gorgeous, old, oak and my husband fought it. I’ve figured out how to get it.

My husband has come around, saying if I want this desk so badly, I should have it. The saddest thing is that I asked only to borrow the desk until the older couple has room for it. E said “you never go back.”

That is for my home(s) as well. I could try to tell you how many times I’ve moved in my entire lifetime but it wouldn’t be worth the effort. What we have, we move. I’ll replace a plastic foldable “suitcase” desk with my 1910 English oak gate leg table for my husband’s desk. That space with a view will have the nunnery desk and “altar to food.”

I don’t know that I’ll have much time or access to cook for my father, who just turned 85 and has cancer. We haven’t seen each other in a while but are solidifying plans to travel there in a couple of weeks. I’ve a few things of his here that are close to my heart.

Over 20 years ago Dad bought a pencil drawing of dancers that won a student award at a college for American art. He is now a founder of a dance company and has led one before he retired.

Three of his paintings (he took up painting at age 80) are beautifully framed and on our walls. I think of him every day. No, I see him in his art every day. When I take down the dog’s leash five times a day I see dance, Tuscany, and images of Aboriginal art.

As to the nunnery table, my father is Lutheran but was hired as president of a Catholic college with much vitriol. Then he went to a Protestant place as president and received hate mail about my mother, who was Catholic. So now we’ll have a nunnery desk. What goes around, comes around.

Around age seven my little sister and I left school every week to go to CCD, Catholic doctrine taught by nuns, you know, joyful and sorrowful mysteries to memorize. One day the Sister passed out envelopes from St. Joseph’s, 52 weeks, with our names on them so they knew we went to Mass there every week and could count our donations.

My sister declined, several times. Sister finally asked why. My little sister said “we go to St. Matthews.” Have you ever seen a nun looking like a deer in the headlights? A seven year-old girl sent her there.

I do think we know where the nun’s teaching table will be placed. Now, I must alter this altar to food to include a trip to the hardware store for a proper ruler, just in case there are errant students who need discipline. This is a long one, but worthwhile, Dee


I Missed a Lot

I get up in the morning to walk the dog, of course, but before I do that I put down the shades.

Why? To protect art. In our living room I’ve a story that will keep you going for weeks. It is a quilt by my dear mother-in-law. After years we’ve made it into a seasons quilt. I only helped a little bit with the concept as I failed my Girl Scout sewing badge at age seven.

In our “den” we’ve a 100 year-old quilt from my husband’s family with many stories to be told. I close the blinds to prevent the sun from shining too brightly on these cherished works of art.

Don’t worry, I leave them up to the bottom window so our old dog Zoe can watch squirrels out the window. It won’t hurt the quilts, or squirrels.

Our neighbor is a Swedish architect, retired now. He liked one work I picked out at the University of Glasgow. When James McNeill Whistler died he left everything to his sister. When she died, she left everything to the University. I got to see his entire studio as it was the day he died. Going out, I found a print I really liked, a nude (not really because her legs were crossed and she had a book over her upper parts) that was not Whistler’s mother. It’s dainty and I framed it well and not expensively.

I’ve had over thirty years to travel, have not used much of it but Fr. John would be proud. A cook, not an artist, I may make my teachers proud. I did learn history! Dee

Note: Try Video Later

I got a great history in art from Fr. John, then a lesson in Renaissance and Reformation in history from said priest.

When my father turned 80 he took up art. As you walk into our home we’ve a Tuscan landscape on one wall and Maori art on the other. Plus a charcoal drawing of dancers from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, from a student about thirty years ago. Dad painted two, and bought me the drawing.

There is a print to the left and more photos to the right in the kitchen. Not all food-related. Directly in front I framed the Brooklyn Bridge in b/w for my husband. Down the hall there are two framed photos I took on an historic tour, one of a mill in Vermont and another of Concord grapes near where I grew up.

I call these three “the greens” because they each have a different frame and matte color but our focus is on the Creek. I’ve loved that creek for many years and the photographer was much better than I, though I do hope my framing choices do it justice.

In the bedroom the piece de resistance is over our bed, another raw Tuscan countryside. I went to a consignment shop in Houston perhaps ten years ago and was looking for a nice piece to store china. Checking out the drawers I found two Tuscan, signed and numbered lithos and scurried out of the store. Forget the dresser/server, I paid $4 for them and then $150 to double-mat them years later.

There are three Tuscan artist-made paintings of local towns from a guy I really liked. They’re all double or triple-matted in wood frames. My framer also helped me do a tryptich of my long shots of the Greek seas. And, for my husband, a crayon drawing of The Wizard of Oz. It’s his favorite.

I’ve others to put up, but one is newly important. I took care of a dog for a friend and she brought back a Japanese wood block print for me. It is key because in the 1700’s he was the first artist in the world to make full-color  wood prints. It is of a courtesan receiving an invitation and I look forward to meeting with Ms. K. to frame it. Let’s see what shows up below from former work. That’s my Dad’s Tuscan work.


Too dark to do photos. New phone so no experience except not answering wrong numbers from gang members and just making a few calls. Kindergarten level. Framing art to make it look as good as it can be is fun. Also expensive. As to my mentor’s photo below, I will be buried there. Not there but miles away. She always made my and many others’ days. Cheers! Dee


Monuments Men

I wrote this about Ghirlandaio:


Please do take the time to see Sta. Croce and the Pazzi Chapel, then cross the bridge behind it and make the walk. Stop at the church halfway up and give some money to the lady who takes care of the feral cats there. Make sure she knows the money is for the gatti, or cats, otherwise she’ll be insulted as if you called her a beggar. She used to bring them great trays of pasta from a local restaurant.

Then I went to cooking school in Tuscany for my birthday one year and went to San Gimignano for an afternoon. 18 of us were on a custom bus and we had one hour to see the town. Two of us ran 20 minutes to Sta. Fina, with earlier Ghirlandiao fresci. Spent 20 minutes there then ran back and made it just in time.

If you don’t have the resources for an art tour of Italy right now (I don’t) please check out Tea With Mussolini, a film with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Cher. If you’ve been to Florence or San Gimignano you may even recognize the streets as it was filmed beautifully. Yes, Cher, and brilliant as a newly rich American with a heart of gold.

Take care and think about how art changes lives. Then remember that art was all people had before Guttenberg and reading. Think of your reading skills and your children’s and have them appreciate art as well. There is a reason for all those religious stories in painting and sculpture, no matter what religion you follow of if you follow none at all.


Hitler stole all the art. We liberated some of it. I don’t like war movies per se but love this one. I can see paintings go by and thanks to Fr. Murphy can identify them in a heartbeat. Our monuments men, at the end of WWII could not save the millions of people who died during this war. They did save our history and culture. Whenever I visit a gallery I question “who owned this painting?” Where did they die? I did visit Dachau, no German wanted to tell me where it was. There were no signs. Only a camp.

The Germans stole lives and culture. Please go visit your local art gallery and find the art that families died for and could never retrieve. Dee

Favorite Walks

Santa Croce to San Miniato al Monte. I’ve walked it alone many times and would love to have my husband join me one day. There are two churches and an ancient cemetery.

I aways brought lira for the cat lady who fed the ferals. She denounced it but I said it was for dei gatti, the cats. It was a trek through the tourist-strewn mini-David viewpoint. No-one walked up the hill. The umbrella tourists, heaven forbid.

“Follow me, never let the umbrella get out of sight.” What kind of exposure, willingness to learn and accept different cultures, does this type of “tourism” allow? Lots of money in lots of pockets and people who want McDonalds at every stop.

Santa Croce is my favorite church in the world. San Miniato al Monte is close, behind Notre Dame and Westminster Cathedral and certain ruins. I haven’t done the walk in at least ten years but if my health is good I’d like to do it again. There’s a simple church with an amazing Annunciation that is worth the walk. The view over Florence is amazing.

Then I walked down and to dinner with family and friends. I did that walk every trip, unbeknownst to others, and hope I can do it again soon. For all the joy Italy, Greece and Scotland have graced me, I say grazie, grazie mille, Dee

Sun, Shadows and Magic

Our walls are not complete with artwork and we just received another work to frame that will go well with the color scheme.

In the meantime I just moved a few around. It makes such a difference! I had three long photos framed together of water off islands in the Ionian sea. Yes, I took them. They were in a dark hallway and no-one ever commented on them.

Now I’ve my altar to food with a blue/yellow/green theme, then the picture and the windows and the lake and it’s perfect in blues and greens. In the dark hallway I moved Dad’s painting inspired by Maori art to the other wall. Its undulating frame echoes the waves and the sun intensifies the lake effect.

Yes, my husband is away until midnight. I’m becoming a framer and decorator. At least not a shopper! I didn’t pay a penny, only moved things around a bit and will have to paint. You tell him that. Oh, I did spend three cents to replace a cookbook I lent out and never came back. Plus shipping so it was $4.02. Sue me.

When you live somewhere for a few years, you stop thinking what someone else would think walking into your home. What is the first impression? For me, what I’d want to hear is “smells great, what’s cooking?” I do know that color has a visual impact so I frame art with that in mind.

Our latest piece is Japanese, from the inventor of color wood blocks, of a courtesan receiving an invitation. It goes into the color palette of the dark hallway. We cannot turn a light on there else it hits two others and gives a very stark view to our guests. I would like to frame it simply, and have it shine.

The sea is working for me now, with light playing off the windows and pictures I took many years ago following the trail of Odysseus through the Ionian Sea. Every once in a while the tumblers fall into place. Hopefully that’s today. Dee