Body as Art

So besides appearing in bits and pieces, human figures have been popular decorations for buildings for centuries.

I love this Mesopotamian mash-up that once stood at the gates of a city (I would be impressed if I saw this when I came to a city). It seems to be a man, some sort of winged creature and an ox? It makes me think something is amiss that all cities don’t have city gates anymore. It would keep out the riff-raff.

This is a modern re-creation of an ancient style, a caryatid, which is “a stone carving of a draped female figure used as a pillar to support a Greek or Greek-style building”. I have no idea why this was originally added to this building, but it now graces a pizza parlor.

This is a pretty standard kind of Baroque decoration with both an angel and putti up near the ceiling. It’s gotten rather dusty up there, but it still adds to the magnificence of the building.

This rather sad looking female form is carved into a decidedly uncomfortable position. She is there to hold up the mantlepiece on a fireplace. Only a man would think that this is a good idea for the decoration of a room.

Yes, we’ve finally come to the representation of an ordinary (well not really ordinary) man. It’s the famous explorer of the South pole, and he’s not really part of the building, he is standing there frozen into a purpose built niche to celebrate his activities. It’s too bad that he is mounted into a wall rather than the city gates as he could also inspire awe at the power of the rulers. (Why did he go to the South Pole? Because.)

Body Works

I love this city, there is always some small bit of weirdness about it.

I wonder about the designer of this building. Did he (of course it was designed by a man) look at the plans and think “I really should add some arms to the outside of the building, that’s just what it needs.”

Or what went through the mind of the designer of this window display? “I’m envisioning what a golden cyclops would look like, because this will make passers-by want to come in and purchase things”.

Golden knee high boots also deserve to be placed on a handy (sorry for the pun) pedestal. And I know that now you want them, maybe.

Do ladies still have matching shoes and handbags? And what would the handbag look like waving about from your feet? Well, now it’s possible to visualize this before you buy.

Someone spent a lot of time beading and embroidering these eyeballs so that they might startle the neighbors. I can’t imagine them fitting into one’s home, but perhaps I lack imagination. With so much to choose from, one needs a bit of weirdness to stand out in a crowded city, so I salute these designers. Well done.


Now that the first snow has fallen, I’m finally getting around to celebrating the beauty of fall leaves. Yes, I know that there are masses of fall colors in other parts of the country, but, this is what’s here at high altitude.

Because there aren’t great masses of deciduous trees here I appreciate each individual tree as the play of light on the leaves changes the appearance. It’s brief and beautiful, just like life.


Well, I am generally healthy, but this week I caught a bug (and I hope that I never cross paths with said bug again). With some illnesses there is an obvious cure, one gets the Rx and starts to feel better right away. But that’s not what I have. ;-( But there is folk wisdom, so that’s what I’m going with. At the present time, chicken soup is considered to be beneficial (though not for the chicken of course) and the standard is the red can.

Soft, slightly soggy noodles with tiny cubes of chicken in a golden broth, this is probably familiar to everyone who was ever a kid. I don’t think I have eaten this in a number of years, but I put some faith in it (and it was on sale).

This is my white grandmother’s solution for illness, a spoonful of whiskey with sugar in it. Although as I think about it, it might be the cure for hiccups (oops).

This panacea is from my great grandmother who was born in the 1860’s, a time of alcohol and opioid based remedies. It is just apples fried in butter, with a sprinkle of sugar if needed. I think it’s the tastiest remedy and it’s most effective when your mom makes it for you.

A major pharmacy chain just pulled a bunch of cold remedies from the shelf because there is no evidence that they work. There is also not much evidence that any of these work, but, it’s tradition and far less expensive than OTC cold remedies. Mom based medicine still has a place in the world.

On the Hood

Is a car just a means of transportation, or is it something more: a statement, a totem? Cars started becoming popular just a hundred years or so ago. There were lots of competing companies, but how to distinguish one from another? Body styles were based on coaches, but these things had motors, motors needed cooling and as it is right up there in front, the radiator cap became the perfect place to differentiate the brand.

The engine on this highly modified Ford is obviously a replacement, but a useful and decorative radiator cap is part of the original beast.

And from there the practical gave way to the exuberant and symbolic. This is also from Ford and features a racing greyhound, to suggest that this car is fast (and it probably could go 50 mph at least).

The radiator is no longer exposed in slightly later cars, so now the signifier has transformed into a hood ornament. This stylized woman is taking a leap into the future.

But why let the ladies have all the fun? This hood ornament is a man (I think?), perhaps he is faster than a speeding bullet.

But there is no need to get completely literal, it’s hard to say just what this represents, but whatever it is, it’s fast.

But there is still room for the literal, this car boasts a rocket as it’s mascot (note to designers: this is an airplane), and one can “blast off” down the road.

But what caused the demise of these symbols? Why if one is struck by a car with a fixed hood ornament, one could be injured (yes, they are missing the obvious). So these were finally outlawed except for ornaments that are on an elastic tether so that they bend on impact (I’m looking at you Mercedes and Jaguar). But they still exist as testament to the art of automotive styling in these decorative details.

Low Art

Cars are just a thing to get one from place to place for most people. But sometimes one develops an emotional attachment to a car; the first car, the car one had fun in with friends, your daddy’s car, the car one regrets selling. But selling the car is not the end, one can always buy the same model from somewhere and then the art begins.

This is the classic dream of many car aficionados, the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. This one is especially desirable as it is a convertible, a symbol of the freedom of the open road. In tomato red with those gorgeous fins it is a spectacular car. It was further customized to be a low rider and it has a trunk full of hydraulics.

Chrome details on many vintage cars are beautiful, but the custom work of plating and engraving on the tiniest details make these cars truly amazing.

This 1955 Bel Air (which is a desirable car, but not like the ’57) also boasts a fantastic paint job, they sure didn’t come off the assembly line like this. These two also show the hydraulics in action.

Even the mundane parts of the engine have been chromed, plated and engraved in a gorgeous way!

The places that these owners find to detail are amazing. The ordinary bumper, the thing that prevents other cars from dinging one another are engraved on these cars. The show was set at a local art museum and these certainly are works of art and love. (And these artists are much better than the artist whose work was a pile of clothes). I hope that this is an annual event, (and of course I want one for my very own).


We all have an Arcadia in our minds, the perfect place of abundance. As a city person it is easy to imagine the joys of a bucolic existence. Delicious things growing effortlessly, that only require picking. The reality of this lifestyle is somewhat different. This area features a short growing season, and this was complicated by a late spring and plenty of hailstorms. So the harvest is only just happening now. We were going south, and so we joined the others in looking what the hard work of these local farmers had produced.

I love the taste of vine ripened tomatoes and my favorite way to eat them is to pick and immediately devour. Supermarket tomatoes look like the real thing, and are often quite beautiful and uniform. These beauties are the sort that can only be purchased at a farm, their essence is too fragile to be available at a supermarket.

This farm does grow many sorts of vegetables, but it is famous for various kinds of chilis. I’m not sure of the actual name, I just called them “pequenos” and they are small, but mighty.

These sacks hold about 2 bushels of green chili each, just waiting to be roasted. The smell of roasting chilis is a sign that autumn is coming, but these chilis will keep a body warm throughout the winter months.

The bounty of summer continues with dried peppers. This is the old way of preserving the harvest, and it is still delicious.

I love that these families are preserving the traditions of farming and are also looking for ways to bring year-round income from their harvest. These are jars of chili flavored olive oil. I bought some delicious garlic and chili flavored dill pickles that they had made. Farming seems idyllic, if one’s fantasy is working like a dog for the growing season. But we city people only see the blessings of farm life, not the hardships. And I thank them for it.


The clock is ticking down on summer, yet it is still summertime, except in our friendly local shops.

The pre-season has already started (who cares?), but it isn’t actually football season until next week. But in case one can’t wait, there are things to purchase that declares one’s allegiance to local-ish teams.

Halloween is just around the corner, if by corner, one means two months from now. The candy already on display is being guarded by this dragon, protecting it from summertime camping gear.

And still these puny seasons pale before the juggernaut that is the Christmas season. These expensive holiday decorations are harbingers of the season to come. Fortunately the creeping plague of Christmas music has not yet started (but it will be here sooner than one likes).

This is the true symbol of summer, the backyard barbeque. Pictured here is my brother’s attempt to turn hamburgers into charcoal. But there is no easy way to merchandise this symbol, so I have provided an image.

Enjoy the last bits of summer!

Farmer’s Market

One of the great pleasures of summer is going to an open-air farmer’s market. Sunshine, blue skies, and fresh produce, with finding a parking place the only negative. The locations change from time to time, but this one in a city park has been around for a while.

Oh yeah, it’s located in a funky older part of town (it’s gentrified, but not too much).

This tent features pickles of various sorts that are made by actual farmers from south of here. They are delicious and I have some in the refrigerator right now.

I’m not sure if sprouting seeds counts as farming, but one can also purchase such things here.

Yeah, I guess he would be considered a farmer of sorts. One can also find persons selling fancy dog biscuits, soap, juice drinks, pasta, crafts and other sorts of miscellaneous items.

But surely the best reason to go over to the market is this! Fresh from the tree and grown on the other side of the mountains these are fabulously delicious. The season will soon be over and I will have to wait an entire year for this succulent treat. (Note: store peaches look exactly like this, but they are a fraud, and do not taste the same.) So enjoy the bounty of summer while it lasts, and I will eat a peach just for you.

Art Day

There is a local (maybe it’s everywhere?) tradition of having the first Friday of the month as an “art day”. Galleries stay open late, sometimes they have drinks and nibbles (always guaranteed to bring in folks) and various art shows have openings. And on this day, there was one at the local museum, so there I was. There are the superstars of art, they rake in the bucks for the least doodle, the 1% of the 1%. Then there is everybody else.

I was standing in line to get my drink (no nibbles) and looked up at the Chihuly overhead. This museum has three such pieces. I would rank him as a superstar of art because he not only sells pieces, he doesn’t even make these himself. Individual bits are made by the assistants, and the artist directs how they are put together (pretty sweet deal). However, today’s artist is a local.

So besides creating art for the wall, he also creates practical art in these decorated skateboard decks. Perhaps they will be more interesting once they have seen use, or maybe they will remain pristine.

This artist is versatile, if you don’t want to wreck your skateboard, you can have a full size version of the art.

The artist was there with a bunch of friends and we chatted for a bit. He had also made an art vending machine, instead of bubble gum one could get a tiny Xeroxed ‘zine for 50 cents. And there were embroidered ball caps for $40. I wished him lots of sales (and I took home a ‘zine).

Besides art there was also music. Mostly the groups around town that I have heard play oldies, but these guys were playing original (at least I thought it was original) music described as “alternative and neo soul” to an invisible crowd.

Art is about ultimately about inspiration and creation, and this takes a variety of forms, independent of money. Sometimes it even can be found right outside our windows.

random bits of life