Hiding in Plain Sight

It’s amazing what you can find in the most normal of settings, and unexpectedly. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and actually look at your surroundings. For example, Philadelphia seems to be full of surprises such as this wonderful sculpture of a leopard on South 20th Street and Manning Street near Rittenhouse Square. One story has it that it the building which it is attempting to get into used to be a lingerie store and that this was used as marketing. The store has long gone but the leopard remains.


Where did the Red Owl go?

I am shocked! I was up at Temple University in Philadelphia earlier this week dropping off my daughter and when I was explaining the beautiful statue of the Red Owl at Alumni Circle on Liacouras Walk to another parent when I noticed it has been removed! I love this wonderful marble work by Beniamino Bufano and the fact that it was part of an installation that included an acoustic wall that had been specially designed to show off the properties of  sound reflection. The statue was dedicated in 1988 and now, under 30 years later it has disappeared!

In its place there now stands a larger, more sinister looking owl with outstretched wings. It was still attached to its supporting crane this week so it must have been a recent change. I can find no mention of what has happened to Bufano’s classic – I hope it is relocated but it is a shame it was moved in the first place. I will miss it.



Sculpture – Butterfly Effect

Several months ago I created a clay sculpture in the shape of a brain when I was at home and then made holes in it with view to turning it into an unusual piece, experimenting with different glazes. Well, it was only after I put it through a bisque firing that I realized I had used the same clay as my infamous “exploding bowls” that had caused me so many challenges earlier in the year, so I put the idea on hold as to how to finish the project.

Fast forward several weeks and I was reminded that there was an exhibition coming up at the Allinson Gallery at Chester County Art Association, with the theme “Color Obsession” so I stirred myself into a flurry of activity and finally created a work over a couple of weeks. To finish this piece I used wire, ten butterflies cut from an old map and several different colored cans of spray paint in place of glaze. I deliberately sprayed the brain outside on a windy day so that it was not an even covering but rather a series of small specks of different colors, which overlaid. It was a bit of a trial mounting the wire frame and then the ceramic onto a wooden board and then adding a burlap cover, but I was pleased with the effect.

Today I was even more surprised when I found that Butterfly Effect was the first piece to be sold in the exhibition!


52 Week Challenge: Week 39

WEEK 39: Art: Handmade – Your artistic interpretation should be inspired by another artisan’s handmade work. Literal or interpreted.

This was an easy one, living in a house with so many artistic people. As it was a nice bright day I popped outside and took some shots from my daughter’s large, “Earth Nest” work in the front garden. The three eggs represent the earth, wind and water sitting in the nest that is our planet.. The water egg is broken open to suggest the rising tides associated with global warming.




52 Week Challenge: WEEK 30

WEEK 30: Artistic: Patterns – Get inspired by the rhythm that patterns bring to your images.

I cannot believe I am back to playing catch up yet again for this challenge! I really haven’t been all that focused (pun intended!) with all the hectic activities of summer. This image does not so much show a repeating pattern but the “pattern” of chaos as the universe descends to entropy… 



Art Talk: The Modern Juggler

A few months back I had the opportunity to wander around Philadelphia with my camera after I dropped off my daughter for an art class. It was an overcast day but I wanted to stroll around center city and see if I could get any interesting shots of the architecture. It was only a couple of days ago that I went back over the images and recalled this excellent sculpture by Robert Taplin, The Young Punch Juggling, that sat atop a plinth above the entrance to the Philadelphia Academy of Arts. I was particularly taken by the piece because of its apparent simplicity of design, and the unusual items that Young Punch is keeping aloft. They are reminiscent of the pieces in the board game Monopoly, at least to my mind.
To me the piece represents how we have to juggle many things in order to make their way through the modern world, at least in the industrial west.  I don’t know how Mr. Taplin chose his objects but they seem to work. I’d be interested to see what others think, so please give me your opinion.


52 Week Challenge: Week 20

WEEK 20: Landscape: Nightowl – A tripod is going to be handy this week… time to shoot a night landscape. Look for some light for the scene! Car lights, city lights, or maybe just moonlight.

I finally got around to this challenge several weeks later than I had planned and, as is often the case, it was a spur of the moment shoot last night. We were staying in the heart of the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts and opposite the hotel was a wonderful outdoor sculpture made of beech twigs called “Stickwork” by Patrick Dougherty. This is a spectacular organic artwork in the form of a set of two storey high “houses”. They are very eerie looking, and seem to be wailing at the world, in my opinion; a fitting comment on their location in the heart of the infamous witch trials of 1692. I took several photographs but it was when we were on a walking night tour of the city that I thought this would make an interesting “nightowl” (or even night howl) image. 





I was fortunate to be in New York City for a day and had time to visit the High Line for the first time. This old elevated railway line ceased to be used in 1980 but was saved and converted into a 1.45 mile walk over the last 15 years or so. It first opened to the public in 2009 and includes planting and art installations as well as great views of the city. It is well worth the effort to see when visiting Manhattan.

Like many of the other visitors on this bright, but windy day I was particularly struck by Tony Matelli’s amazingly realistic painted bronze sculpture, “Sleepwalker.” Initially I thought it was a performance artist but quickly realized that there was no way he could have maintained that pose in the strong gusts of wind, and without goosebumps! It is a very interesting piece and got me a-thinkin’…

Sleepwalker by Tony Matelli


~ Sleepwalker ~

Immobile he stands

With arms outstretched

Reaching for something


What triggered his moment

Now frozen in time?

One thing is clear,

We all need a door.

Even those who sleepwalk

In daylight…



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