Outspoken and Ancient Art in North Carolina by da-AL

Brash and outspoken, traditional and gorgeous, if you love great art, North Carolina is happiness. This and this post introduced how much I love the North Carolina Museum of Art. That was in only one of their two buildings…

A second one houses a collection that dates as far back as Egyptian mummies…

Ancient art at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
Ancient Egyptian art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

 

Ancient art at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
Woman in the middle ancient Roman art at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

… and as recent as works by the artists commissioned to paint official portraits of former U.S. President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama…

Judith and Holofernes, 2012, by Kehinde Wiley
Judith and Holofernes, 2012, by Kehinde Wiley. Here’s his website.

 

Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), 2013, by Amy Sherald
Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), 2013, by Amy Sherald. Here’s her site.

 

Semi-Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery, 2005 by Karen LaMonte
Semi-Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery, 2005 by Karen LaMonte. Here’s her site.

 

A 2012 version of sculptor/dancer/performance artist Nick Cave's Soundsuits -- they disguise and protect wearers from bigotry, violence, hate...
A 2012 version of sculptor/dancer/performance artist Nick Cave’s Soundsuits — they disguise and protect wearers from bigotry, violence, hate… Here’s his site.

What’s your favorite art museum?…

Georgia O’Keeffe in North Carolina by da-AL

What a great time my husband and I had visiting our dear friend David Hunt in North Carolina. He’s posted on Happiness Between Tails here and here. We hadn’t seen him in way too long — all the more reason that my recent discovery of the touching PBS series, “We’ll Meet Again,” gets me blubbering.

What did we expect of North Carolina? Who knows, but it wasn’t an abundance of terrific art museums!

Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose, 1931 by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose, 1931 by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)

Let’s start with the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh. We loved it so much that we visited it three times! No, was it four? If it wasn’t, it should’ve been! ( ! ! These ! ! aren’t ! ! understatements ! ! )

Lucky for us (and how lovely it was to be among crowds of NC fine art lovers!) we caught a tribute to U.S. art goddess Georgia O’Keefe, a.k.a. Mother of American Modernism before it ended.

Georgia O'keeffe sketchbook
Georgia O’Keeffe sketchbook

 

White Birch -- Lake George, 1925-26, by Georgia O'Keeffe
White Birch — Lake George, 1925-26, by Georgia O’Keeffe

 

Feather and Brown Leaf, 1935, by Georgia O'Keeffe
Feather and Brown Leaf, 1935, by Georgia O’Keeffe

Alongside her art, there were O’Keeffe-inspired works by contemporary artists. Here’s a sampling.

And here’s another wing of the museum…

Where’s your favorite place to see great art?

Women Powered Art in North Carolina by da-AL

Great art, impressive art, and terrific art! That — though foremost the wonderfulness of spending time with our dear friend in North Carolina — defines the marvelous visit that my husband and I had. In this post, I explained how we had the good fortune to catch an exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art that featured work by the enormously influential American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. (And here I tell about another wing of the museum.) In addition to her art, the show featured works inspired by O’Keeffe…

Table Setter, 2016-17, by Monica Kim Garza
Table Setter, 2016-17, by Monica Kim Garza

 

The Land's Part (yellow, blue, green) 2017, by Loie Hollowell
The Land’s Part (yellow, blue, green) 2017, by Loie Hollowell

 

Confession, 2018, by Tschabalala Self
Confession, 2018, by Tschabalala Self

 

The Bridge, 2007, by Negar Ahkami
The Bridge, 2007, by Negar Ahkami

 

LA Curbed, 2017, by Carline Larsen
LA Curbed, 2017, by Carline Larsen

Is there an artist who inspires you?

Ancient and Modern: Lovely León, Spain by da-AL

Photo of da-AL at León book fair.
Rain can’t dampen the beauty of León’s historic district — especially when it’s got a late night book fair!

I love Spain! It’s no accident that one of my soon-to-be self-published novels is called, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat.”

A dream to sightsee on foot, León, Spain, was the next to last stop of a fun-filled vacation that my husband and I began with a weekend in beautiful Barcelona and then a stop in wonderful Huesca. We crossed the French border into pretty saint-jean-pied-de-port, enchanting Espelette, and phenomenal French Basque Country cities Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne, and Biarritz. Upon our return to Spain, we enjoyed delicious food and seaside dogs in San Sebastián, and then the breathtaking city of Bilbao.

León, founded in 29 B.C., has so much fascinating architecture that the two days we visited weren’t enough to see everything. León’s gothic Santa María de León Cathedral was constructed mostly during 1205 to 1301, its north tower and cloister during the 14-century, and its south tower in 1472. Ever see Mother Mary pregnant? (Tap on photos to see them bigger and their captions.)

It’s an important cathedral on The Way of Saint James (El Camino de Santiago) religious pilgrimage route.

Architect Antoni Gaudí welcomes company. He’s best known for Barcelona’s Sagrada Família Cathedral. In León, he designed Casa Botines from 1891 to 1892. In 1929, it became a bank but has since reverted to its original appearance. Downstairs featured a display of Francisco Goya’s political cartoons.

Photo of da-AL with employee and Susana, owner of 'a comer' restaurant.
Susana and her employee cook with love — ‘a comer’ restaurant is a must-eat-at!

Spain’s homestyle food (unlike typical restaurant fare most anywhere) is loaded with delicious veggies. I swooned when we happened into a tiny eatery that cooked like I was visiting someone’s gourmet granny — we ate there twice! Every single morning, ‘a comer’ take out restaurant owner Susana shops for the best of what’s in season, then cooks a new menu from scratch — thank you from the bottom of my stomach, querida Susana!

Photo of hosts Marco Tsitselis and Mariu Alvarez Garcia.
We’re so glad Marco and Mariu rented us a lovely room!

Our hosts, Marco and Mariu, made our stay at their home extra cozy and our visit to León extra memorable — many thanks to both of them!

It was time to hit the highway to Madrid!…

Breathtaking Bilbao, Spain by da-AL

The Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
The Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, features many American artists, from Frank Geary’s architecture to Jeff Koon’s “Puppy” flower sculpture.

Sure Frank Gehry’s amazing architecture at the Guggenheim Museum helped put a failing Bilbao, Spain back on the map. Front, back, in, and out the Guggenheim Museum, Spain, turns perceptions upside down and inside out (tap or click each photo for more info)…

However, art and art-worthy architecture abound everywhere in Bilbao.

There's much notable architecture in Bilbao, Spain.
There’s much notable architecture in Bilbao, Spain.

Along the way to the museum, we stopped to see Azkuna Zentroa. Built in 1909, it now houses a building within a building balanced on unusual columns.

It’s part of the Spain half of Basque Country. That means that both Spanish and Euskara are spoken. Good food abounds, including pintxos, Northern Spain’s version of small delicious plates of tapas.

Bilbao, Spain is a beautiful city.
Bilbao, Spain is a beautiful city.

Our airbnb hostesses Iciar Ruiz (who owns her own design business) and her daughter, Alba, helped us decide what to see.

Iciar and her daughter made our visit extra nice.
Iciar and her daughter made our visit extra nice.

My love and I had just left the beaches of San Sebastián, toured the phenomenal French side of Basque Countrywonderful Huesca, pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and enchanting Espelette. Our adventure started with beautiful Barcelona. There was more for us to see…

 

Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens by da-AL

da-AL at The Huntington, sitting on a bench in rose garden

What better way is there to celebrate a special occasion than with an all-day excursion of gorgeous weather, strolling an array of gardens that span rainforest to desert and Japanese to Australian to more, seeing the worlds’s stinkiest (and amusingly phallic) plant, eating international fare, admiring fine art museums, and ending it all with a high tea?

My honey and I spent our special day at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (a collections-based educational and research institution) located in San Marino, California. Tap photos for captions…

da-AL and her honey having high tea at The Huntington

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a special day?

Food and Seaside Dogs of San Sebastián, Spain by da-AL

Ever been around so much scrumptiousness that only way to enjoy it all without exploding was to have little tastes and do a lot of sightseeing? San Sebastián, Spain, is known for pintxos (Northern Spain’s version of tapas), which small delicious plates, and plenty to see. Our incredible vacation kicked off with beautiful Barcelona, then we visited wonderful Huesca, pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, enchanting Espelette, phenomenal French Basque Country. Dedicated readers of this Happiness Between Tails know that my upcoming novel is called “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” due in part to my love of Spain!

Now we were in San Sebastián, which turns out to be a great place for dogs too! We fortified our energy with pintxos for breakfast…

Pintxos for breakfast!
Pintxos for breakfast!

A big day was ahead — San Sebastián is known for the best churros and pudding-think hot chocolate, so why not?…

empty mug and plate of churros and hot chocolates
Sorry, all gone! Yum! San Sebastián is known for the best hot chocolate and churros in Spain.

We hiked to Mota Castle at the top of Monte Urgull…

Castillo de La Mota atop Monte Urgull
Castillo de La Mota atop Monte Urgull.

Where there were great views of the city and Bahía de la Concha…

View of Bahía de la Concha Castillo de La Mota atop Monte Urgull
View of Bahía de la Concha Castillo de La Mota atop Monte Urgull.

Back down in Parte Vieja, Old Town, we decided to walk to the steeple at the very end…

Old Town route to Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
Old Town route to Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.

Along the way, we tasted the best cheesecake ever, made with ricotta cheese…

Ricotta cheese cake pinxto pairs well with white wine!
Ricotta cheese cake pinxto pairs well with white wine!

We met many dogs…

Dog at the bakery
Along the way we saw dogs at the bakery.
steeple in the distance
We’re getting closer!
A dog under a chair.
And dogs under chairs.

Even at the beach!…

La Concha Beach
Dogs at La Concha Beach.

 

black dog
My dogs would love it here.
black and white dog
Does everyone in San Sebastián own a dog?
A fluffy dog
Yet another dog.
It's getting dark but the steeple is getting closer.
It’s getting dark but the steeple is getting closer.
dogs and street performers at the park
Dogs and street performers at the park.

The long walk was worth it!…

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.
It was worth the long walk to see this!

Even Itzi Orbegozo, the kind hostess of our Airbnb, had a lovely dog, Kanika!

Airbnb hostess Itzi and her dog
Airbnb hostess Itzi and her dog.

We were off to breathtaking Bilbao