28 June 2013

And we're off... just about...


This has been a very long June, and at the same time a very FAST June. Is it already time for my trip to Montana? Why, yes it is!

Tomorrow afternoon, my sisters and I leave for a week-long road trip/camping excursion to Glacier National Park, and we're super pumped. My last road trip was in September, that time eastbound with only one of my two sisters (the photo above is from that trip, taken in Columbus, OH) and I'm suuuuuuper excited to head west this time. I'm more of a west-leaning girl. That may or may not have something do with having been born on the Oregon coast. But I digress! Tomorrow! Montana! And maybe Canada! (Passport stashed safely away.)

I will be out of commission for a week... but I'll make up for it with some awesome photos and hopefully an even better story or two to share.

Bon week-end! 

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 71

Edge of the cell


Just a wee peek at the tiny bit of storm chasing my mother and I got sucked into last night... ;) We left dinner to see the clouds to the north looking quite fantastic. I sort of flippantly mentioned driving into the country, which is only about two miles north of where we were to find one's self in proper "country" -- it was totally worth it. We managed to find some high ground in an open area just before the rain started to fall. No photos can ever really capture that feeling and the smell and sound, or the distinctive lightning (it was interesting in this storm--mostly horizontal fat bolts)... but my minor league iPod did the best it could. ;)

photo-28photo-27 photo-26 photo-25 

27 June 2013

Oh no! Bear with me...


Oh nooo! Some of you who are new to this blog may be experiencing what Photobucket is calling my "bandwidth limit," or, in normal blog-reader terms, pictures that won't load. Well, enough of that. I'm new to the blogosphere, so finding all of the tips, tricks and other helpful sites is proving a learning experience. Artsy Abroad is just too darn popular! ;) (Thank you!!) While I try to figure out the best route, I appreciate your patience and I'm so glad you stopped by. Everything will be fixed soon! :D

Also, don't forget to check out my Facebook page where I am always updating with interesting finds and photos! :)

Photo above is from Kew Gardens, London, from a trip back in 2009.

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 72

26 June 2013

Take it or leave it

I really like clothes. I'm no fashion guru, and I don't read Vogue magazine every month, but I really like to get dressed. It makes it very difficult to think about parting with things-- even the things I never, ever wear (anymore). Additionally, I've never left an apartment without planning to return to it at some point, and therefore had to consider that everything must go. It has to be packed to take with me, shipped to me, sold at a rummage sale, donated, or simply thrown out.

Thus, the challenge begins. I attempted to "begin packing" by throwing all of my winter garments in my suitcase. Essentially, my suitcase now has two jackets and a ridiculous mountain of wool scarves, none of which I feel I can part with. My suitcase has taken up a home on my little-used couch and my cat loves to try to sleep in it.

I like to avoid throwing things out for simple environmental reasons -- if someone else can use it and it's still in nice shape, at the very least I'll donate it. It only makes sense, since probably half of my wardrobe consists of secondhand apparel anyway. So, I've been compiling boxes to price and try to sell at a garage sale, and a few more to simply donate.

Anyway. Today marks the beginning of a concerted effort to pare down even more than I already have. I feel that this process is best tackled a little bit at a time.

More challenging and intimidating in the take-or-leave decision department are my books and records. I've worked at a bookstore for the last 4 1/2 years, and in that time I've amassed a pretty decent library of art books, records and other various history books and niche items that I'm hard pressed to get rid of, so logistics will prove interesting. However, I think that's a challenge for another time...

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 73

23 June 2013

A little of this, a little of that

My attention has been pulled in various directions today--my first proper nothing-needs-doing day off in weeks--starting with a lovely little message in my Edinburgh mailbox about setting up my student email and welcome booklets! Nothing gets me more amped than reading about the logistics and the practicalities of life in a new city. I know, I know, it sounds like it should be the opposite, right? Finding out where the closest grocery stores are, how to open a bank account, what the most affordable public transportation is, who will meet me at the airport and so on... it's all rather boring in and of itself. But when you're talking something like Edinburgh (or throw in anywhere from San Francisco to Tokyo to the two two hours away from you that you've always wanted to live in), even the little things sound like great fun.

At least to me. ;)

My youngest sister made from-scratch pancakes for my mom and I this morning, meanwhile discussing other logistics and practicalities -- the kind pertaining to camping in less than a week! So looking forward to my sibling road trip to Montana. We leave next Saturday!

And then, to top it off, after a quick trip to the store for dinner items and things like Off Deep Woods bug spray, I got home and popped in a CD I've been listening to constantly for the last couple of days. An odd choice, but so it is: Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Wasps performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. One of my favorite classical tunes is "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" and second up is "The Lark Ascending." Kind of chill-yet-exciting classical stuff, very English, and just what I happen to be into today.

And on an English note, my other purchase of note from yesterday:

Great Houses of London by James Stourton, photographed by Fritz von der Schulenburg, and published by Frances Lincoln. It's an amazing, gorgeous book. It's no secret I'm a self-proclaimed Anglophile (it just happened), and although I don't usually find it necessary to own architecture and interior photography books (I love to look at them, but usually can't justify their cost) this one just drew me in. I just wanted to be in every single image. I want to visit all of these houses. I want to be in London right. now.

I want to be a lot of places right now, it seems. It's this summer, the weather, the plans and determination to go somewhere very soon. It all adds up. I've got the travel bug, full force! And of course I can't wait to share all that comes next.

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 76

22 June 2013

A painter is a kind of poet

I've been wanting to do this post for some time because I find this artist and his work pretty exciting. The artist would be Tobias Keene, and the work would be monumental! Generations, on display through July 21, 2013, is something a little bit different for this area. It's an exploration into the work of three generations of English artists, Arthur Keene, Sr., Arthur Keene, Jr., and Tobias Keene. Tobias's work is generally more exciting and appealing to me personally, but seeing all three generations' work up in one place makes for a really interesting exhibition.

The show is at The Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, WI, a small museum established in 2010 from what was previously the Appleton Art Center. It is now housed under the umbrella of The Fox Cities Building for the Arts, consisting mainly of the museum, but also now an official home and gathering places for other arts organizations in the area. 

Tobias Keene's work is what I want to focus on, largely because it's much different than what one typically finds in this part of Wisconsin. And that's because he's not from Wisconsin! Well, I never. ;)

Tobias Keene is currently based in Los Angeles, where he has lived and worked for several years. It might be an understatement to say that his work marks a departure from that of his father and grandfather. Tobias's work has an immediacy about it, a sort of run-stop quality, exemplified by the bright colors, thick textures, and juxtaposition of still-standing figures in environments that are innocently empty, abstracted, and sometimes harsh. He clearly recalls painter Francis Bacon in works such as The Orange Pope (below, top of frame), and in his use of diptych and triptych compositions.

The reason I like these works so much comes down to three things: color, scale, and expressions. The colors, for one, are vivid and explosive, and they draw you in immediately. The scale approaches architectonic, with canvases such as Black is the Beauty of the Brightest Day (Winged Victory) that span entire lengths of wall and reach from floor to ceiling. Some of the paintings clearly indicate some sort of open room, such as in The Girl in the Golden Chair #4, or Standing Red Man (not pictured). And lastly, the expressions on the faces of the subjects are just wonderful: to look into the eyes of the slouching girl in the golden chair, or the small, solemn face of the Forgotten Saint, we are drawn into their worlds, wherever they may be, past the bright colors and uneasy terrain or space they find themselves in -- we're drawn to their humanity. Even The Queen with Umbrella has a thousand words written upon her face.

And not only do you have Tobias Keene's large-scale pieces hanging around the gallery, but you get to see them in the context of his previous generations' work. His father and grandfather both subscribed to a method best described as academic--more interested in the studies of figure and movement with numerous sketches to back up that pursuit. Tobias claims he's mostly interested in painting on canvas, frankly skipping the academic drawing aspect, and it's clear that he takes a more visceral approach to his paintings. Therein lies the immediate strength, which comes through in the thickness of the paint and the expressions on his subjects' faces, or the positions of their bodies.

A few walls of the gallery are focused exclusively on Arthur Keene Jr. and Sr., and their more academic sketches and drawings. Also featured are numerous sketchbooks that visitors can page through with cotton gloves.

I strongly urge everyone interested in contemporary art, as well as drawing, to check out this show. Information on museum opening hours can be found at troutmuseum.org. Tobias has shown in numerous solo and group shows in New York and Los Angeles, including "Fresh" at MOCA Los Angeles and Earl McGrath Gallery. For more information on his exhibition history and other cool items of note, please check out Tobias Keene's website at tobiaskeene.com, where you can also find lovely images of his work.

All images taken by me; all original work by Tobias Keene, Arthur Keene, Jr. and Arthur Keene, Sr.

21 June 2013

Appleton Summer Concert Series

Before the rain and storms blew in overnight, we had an utterly gorgeous evening to enjoy -- and the local summer concert series! Normally the Summer Concert Series, held in Appleton WI every Thursday during the summer, is located in Houdini Plaza, an open square in downtown. But Houdini Plaza has been under construction for the last few months, and wasn't finished in time to pick up with the concerts quite yet. So, they've held them in Jones Park, merely two blocks away, and wow. Why doesn't the city hold more events there?

Jones Park is like a bowl, a natural amphitheater if set up the right way, and was such a perfect location for a concert. The musicians last night, Grand Union, were a local country band -- I admit I know little and care even less for country music in general, but it was entertaining and they weren't too bad.

My favorite part were the zeppole, or "zeppoles" as they are apparently called in Wisconsin, an Italian doughnut (singular: zeppola). My mother and I ordered a baker's dozen of them for some reason, I guess not realizing that they were about twice the size of your typical doughnut hole. But they were fried fresh while we waited, and it's not the first time time my mother and I have seriously overdone it on the doughnuts--within the last two weeks! (The last was National Doughnut Day, when we sort of bought a dozen Dunkin Donuts.. for ourselves). Anyway. I digress.

Turnout was amazing. I don't know where they would ever find the room for as many people downtown, even in the newly refurbished Houdini Plaza, and even then, there isn't a playground and a lot of grass for kids to run around. And there were a lot of kids. So, parents can be adults and drink a beer or two while their kids dance along to Kenny Chesney covers (I don't know if there was one of those, just guessing).

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

If you're in the area, the schedule of musicians for the Summer Concert Series can be found here.

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 78

20 June 2013

Par avion!

It's really difficult to make a piece of paper look exciting, I know. But holy cats! I just got my first piece of real mail yesterday from the University of Edinburgh and for the very first time in this whole process -- even the filling-out-the-visa part -- I feel like this is actually happening. They sent me my ID card application, to which I have to affix a passport sized photo so that when I arrive on campus, I'll be able to pick up the card. My own UE identification card! Should I be this excited?

It's also the little differences that are so amusing -- the standard copy paper size in UK is A4, so all the papers are a little longer. It really is the little things, isn't it? Ha! I am really easily amused, it seems. Remembering these minute details brings me back to when I studied abroad in London seven (seven!!?) years ago, and it makes me all the more excited to get back to the UK and do it all again, except better. Cooler!

Glancing at the calendar, I realize just how quickly time is going to fly. I have so much going on between two jobs, my upcoming trip with my sisters to Glacier National Park, the UK visa process, and having to pack up and move out and away. All within a little over two months! Insane! I remember when I was staring at the countdown widget on my phone and it said something boring and uninteresting like "226 days"...

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 79

18 June 2013

The good life

I think I may be mostly back in Normal Mode after my luscious weekend consisting of my sister's marriage and Father's Day, all of which feels as if it was wrapped up into one weekend-long celebration of family and love. If I could sound any mushier, I would, because it was just that sweet.

I've been back at work for a couple days now, surprisingly surpassing the sort of back-to-work bewilderment that often accompanies the return after a few days off when I've been so totally mentally elsewhere. Only once did I sit blankly in front of a computer screen at one point and think, "What the hell is my password?"

Anyway. All is well! Fantastic, actually. Sometimes I wonder how it has come to be that I'm so damn lucky. Looking forward to camping with my sisters in about a week and a half -- we're headed on a sibling road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana! Simply can't wait for that.

And on the topic of not being able to wait, I'm starting to really anticipate the Scotland move now, considering I have an address to visualize and a suitcase that has magically filled up with scarves, sweaters and jackets. Other than that, how does one pack to move overseas? Is it better to pack suitcases or ship packages of extra stuff? I've packed for long trips, one that lasted a few months, but never to the extent that I was emptying an apartment and taking as much with me as possible abroad. This is going to be a learning experience... recommendations and suggestions are more than welcome!

The first stage of my UK visa application has been submitted (and paid for, yikes!), so next we're talking a new passport sized photo and a brief trip to Milwaukee in early July for what they call a "biometrics appointment," ie. fingerprints. Then I send all that paperwork mumbo jumbo, along with my passport, off to New York and get a visa in return. All in due time!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 81

16 June 2013

June 15: Ali + Rod

Well, we made it. My sister Ali is married! It went so well that we're still somewhat in disbelief... and breathing huge, numerous sighs of relief. Be forewarned: this post is a MAJOR photo explosion. But be patient... I promise it will be worth it!

We did a lot of setup the night before, and put together all of the gift tables, dining tables, and strung up all the decorations. It was a party unto itself, wrapped up with the rehearsal. The next morning, the bridal party met at my parents' house to drop off dresses and then we booked it to the salon for our pretty party! The amazing stylists at our favorite salon, Shear Chaos, went above and beyond to make it an amazing morning, and we all had a great time! 

I'll take this moment to show off my own hair: 

Voila! While we double-fisted coffee and champagne, we snacked on homemade egg bake and muffins, and then it was out the door and back home for dressing!

We girls ran around like crazy people trying to get out the door in time to make it to the farm and get Ali down the aisle. I was put in charge of music for the ceremony, and a playlist for the reception, so I was anxious about timing and songs -- all of it was last-minute. But let me just say... the ceremony was so. sickeningly. lovely.

Being in the wedding party, I realized pretty quickly, one doesn't really have the luxury of stopping to take photos all of the time. The ones I managed to get were mostly of the decorations and surroundings. As much as I wished I could have photographed the ceremony, I was obviously ten thousand times more honored to be standing up in it, so I left that to everyone else. ;)

We arrived with simple white hydrangea bouquets, and we all wore dresses in alternating light blue and red (mine was red). The groomsmen were in simple grey vests with black Chuck Taylors on -- red for the groom! Once the bridal party was down the aisle, "The Very Thought of You" by Billie Holiday was queued, and Ali arrived on the winding drive in an old Model T Ford! My dad led her from the car through a small copse of trees up the aisle, and vows were exchanged. 

It was only when asked for the rings that we all realized that -- we forgot the rings! Although only back in the tent, so we paused for a moment while the mother of the bride ran after the rings, and while we waited, we were treated to a flyover by a neighbor's adorable red and white plane, and he made a couple of rounds for fun. Once the rings were back and securely on their respective fingers, we jammed out to "Happy Together" by The Turtles for the recessional.

My beautiful and talented cousin Jena Schleis was the photographer, based in Madison. We're a little obsessed with seeing the outcome of her shoots; they promise to be spectacular! We had so many friends and family who went out of their way to make the day run as seamlessly as possible.

The tent was full of people, and dinner was a pig roast and countless potluck dishes. Pretty much every kind of pasta salad, cookie, bar, salad, slaw, bake, you-name-it -- the tables were crammed and everything was so delicious. And we were meant to make sure to catch this awesome event:

And then we partied!

Cupcakes were provided by the ever-amazing Amanda Cupcake, located in New London, WI. I mentioned her previously in my Bachelorette party post, and she didn't fail to deliver. There were two different kinds to choose from: red velvet with blue buttercream frosting, and vanilla with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting. To die for. Oh, and did I mention cake pops?? 

There was plenty of dancing...

Ali's dress was altered from a vintage original -- our grandmother's, one that we have always had around the house on a wicker mannequin. Seeing it on her was really dazzling. Also, the little beaded trinket around the bow is Ali's "something blue," a necklace that belonged to our late, loved aunt Sharon, whose birthday was yesterday, along with her twin sister Karen, who was happily there to celebrate with us!

And cake cutting...

And sparklers... even when it started to rain. 

It was an absolutely magical evening. My little sister is married, and we had a fantastic party! How much sweeter could that get?

I hope everyone has enjoyed a wonderful, cheerful weekend!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 83