Friday, February 28, 2020

Art, light, space welcome to world class Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum has two outdoor sculpture gardens and is home to paintings and sculpture by Alexander Calder, Claire Falkenstein, Helen Frankenthaler, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Roberto Matta, Robert Motherwell, Agnes Pelton, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, among many others. Several Moore pieces came from the Ted Weiner family.

Passion for art, deep pockets fund treasure of a museum in downtown Palm Springs.....(location, location, location)

 The open, beautifully lit space encourages meditation, wandering,
enjoying an impressive collection including many famous artists.


HOLLYWOOD ICONS, civic leaders, artists and art aficionados have made Palm Springs Art Museum a treasure, beloved by the diverse community and visitors alike.
The building itself -- 150,000 square feet -- is an innovative,  example of the midcentury modern architecture which distinguishes this remarkable desert town.
Docents do their homework at Palm Springs. Here, a
knowledgeable volunteer takes museum visitors through

 the exhibits with thoughtful commentary at each stop.

Its striking, light-loving design is typical of that style popularized from the 1930s through the 1960s.
SKILLED DOCENTS have done their homework and offer regular tours, volunteering time and knowledge to the beloved building. It includes a delightful bistro, two outdoor sculpture garden patios, a lovely small theater -- the Annenberg, named after patrons -- and an impressive array of changing exhibits. This varied, eye-catching  contemporary collection is at the heart of the museum’s mission.
Art, space, share a lovely
 Palm Springs setting.
It contains an artful array of more than 3,000 sculptures, paintings and prints, 2,000 fine art photographs, and another 40,000 negatives, contact sheets and photo-based objects. Significant gifts came from philanthropist oilman Ted Weiner, who kept a home in Palm Springs and was both a generous patron and sharp-eyed collector. He knew and appreciated the work of renowned sculptor Henry Moore, and their friendship resulted in "Reclining Figure" and several other Moore acquisitions which helped put the museum on the international museum radar.
This Duane Hanson super-realistic piece awaits perusal.
Sculpture attracts viewers.

This Henry Moore "Woman' is one of
several pieces in the museum created
by the renowned sculptor whose work
was purchased and donated by a Texas
oilman with a sharp eye for modern art.

  Given Palm Springs' international reputation as an epicenter of mid-century modernism, art from this period forms the foundation of the museum’s collection.
The museum's use of space is both artful and enticing, drawing the eye forward,
maintaining an intriguing flow of color, lines and subject matter.  
AMONG OTHER  WELL known artists represented are Alexander Calder, Claire Falkenstein, Helen Frankenthaler, Barbara Hepworth, Marina Abramović, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Antony Gormley, Duane Hanson, Mona Hatoum, Anish Kapoor, Anselm Keifer, Sarah Sze, Dale Chilhully and Stanley Whitney. California artists play a significant part in the dynamic collection of contemporary art, but internationally known European, Asian and South American artists are represented, too.
SKILLED DOCENTS do their homework to offer interesting, volunteering as they share the delights of the beautiful building. The space includes a lovely small theater, the Annenberg, named after patrons, and an impressive array of changing exhibits including one by native American artist Gerald Clarke, whose wit, empathy and humor address injustice in often biting ways.
The Palm Springs Art Museum is open, airy and welcoming, with plenty of room to enjoy
and study the impressive collection of contemporary work on display.
The impressive modern and contemporary collection is at the heart of the museum’s mission. It contains a stunning array of more than 3,000 sculptures, paintings and prints, 2,000 fine art photographs, and another 40,000 negatives, contact sheets and  photo-based objects.
The mountains that frame the town bracket the building, too, offering patrons an eye-catching approach. It's a fitting preview for what's inside.
THE TREASURE trove of paintings, sculptures and works on paper form a who's who of the modernist movement and the development of contemporary art.
Artists experiment with form and materials, and thoughtful curation moves the viewer easily along through three floors of exhibitions.
The museum planned a move from its outgrown smaller space in 1974 when renowned architect  E. Stewart Williams agreed to design the building, emerging from partial retirement to do so.
Originally the Palm Springs Desert Museum, it has grown from its initial location 1938 at  La Plaza Arcade on Palm Canyon Drive near downtown Palm Springs.  In 1958, it moved to a larger building but soon outgrew that as well. The present location is its third and there are two other buildings under the museum umbrella.  Free admission Thursday from 4-8 p.m., and every second Sunday. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Wednesdays.

John Seibert plays a hapless politician thrust into the
spotlight with Jacque Wilke as a "temp" secretary who becomes
a "Sarah Palinesque" running mate. Natalie Storrs is the TV
journalist who covers the action. All three are skilled comics. 
As refreshing as spring rains, "The Outsider" at North Coast Repertory Theatre offers light-hearted respite from election bludgeoning and the world's woes. David Ellenstein maneuvers a crack cast in a fast-paced political satire by Paul Slade Smith. While it's farcical, it has serious undertones, cleverly accentuated by Ellenstein's always astute direction. A truly skilled veteran ensemble doesn't miss a beat -- timing and body language are everything here. Our opening night audience lept to its feat in a "Standing O." It runs through March 22, a guaranteed, timely tonic for what ails you. Laugh yourself silly.  

The Allen Elizabethan Theatre is one of three exciting venues at OSF.
NEXT UP: The world renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival introduces its 2020 season this week with a new artistic director and a slate of plays to wow the veteran theater goer or the novice. Read about this extraordinary theater celebrating its landmark 85th season in Ashland, Oregon, where three venues beckon and the wealth of plays awaits. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a novel look at the arts, nature, travel, cruising, family and more.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Palm Springs idyll: nature, dining, music, theater, art, golf and more

Lovely hotels are part of the allure of Palm Springs, here the pool area of the Hilton Palm Springs in the heart of downtown.



The signature big horn sheep welcomes people to Santa Rosa
 and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center.


A STROLL through downtown Palm Springs, California, is a nod to the dozens of famous folks who lived in the area.
Here they are remembered today -- embedded in the sidewalks of this glitzy desert town, whose official beginning is dated at 1876, when the Agua Caliente Reservation was established. The Cahuilla people lived here centuries before, and gave the town its name, "Se-Khi," or boiling water.
Elvis Presley's home is one you'll stop by on our favorite
tour, Viator's 2.5 hour Palm Springs Celebrity Tour.

Take a trip to Palm Springs,
which boomed because of Hollywood.

Downtown Palm Springs is lively and sophisticated,
not as noisy as Las Vegas and less frantic than L.A.

Tucked into a lovely corner of the Sonoran Desert, Palm Springs is known across the world for  its stylish hotels, beautiful golf courses and top
rated spas and nightlife.
It is also noted for many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture, shopping compared to Beverly Hills, golf on perfectly manicured greens, vintage boutiques, lively theater and acclaimed restaurants.
Its casinos are friendly, the eateries have a gracious "old world" feel, and if you're drawn to nature, you can soak up the beauty of the surrounding Coachella Valley. There, hiking, biking and horseback riding await.
Fantastic female impersonators offer a top-drawer
 show at Oscar's. Here, "Lady Gaga" as performed
by Judas Joe Manson, one of four fabulous actors.
WE VISIT frequently, from our San Diego base, just two-plus hours from home through a lovely desert terrain (one can avoid the freeway for most of the journey.)  We find Palm Springs more sophisticated than Las Vegas, with an enticing variety of entertainment from fine live theater to excellent live music and a stunning female impersonators' revue at Oscar's featuring fabulous impressions of Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli and Lady Gaga. Director Dan Gore has assembled 150 years of experience in his crack cast headed by genial emcee Tommi Rose, with veterans Logan Walker and Brent Allen and newcomer Judas Joe Manson giving spot-on performances as the ladies. Oscar's is a classy cabaret every bit the equal of its Vegas counterparts.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you to the top, for a
thrilling view; there might still be snow on the mountains. 
The draw of the town can't be denied. It's intoxicating. It's easy to relax beneath the mountains, sipping a coffee or wine around the pool or from your balcony at the lovely Hilton Palm Springs, a pleasant walking distance to shops, restaurants, clubs and casinos.
PALM SPRINGS is more laid back and sunnier than Los Angeles. In more than a dozen visits, we've never had bad weather. Balmy 70-degree winter temperatures are the rule and for us San Diegans, it's half the distance of Las Vegas, with its much less dependable weather.
Check out Viator for various fun tours in the area. Don't miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, up, up, up to the still snowy mountain top where you'll mingle with sun and scenery seekers from around the globe.
We noted license plates from New England, the Midwest and Canada in the Hilton and Tramway parking lot. The blend of city excitement with the beauty of the natural environment makes an intoxicating lure.
And who doesn't enjoy 70 degree weather,
Christene "Cookie" Meyers, Bruce Keller enjoy a desert hike.
when half of the country is still swathed in snow.
WE LOVE the variety of a Palm Springs day.  On one Saturday, we enjoyed a lovely nature walk in Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, took a splendid docent tour at the beautiful Palm Springs Art Museum and enjoyed a show at Oscar's. Dining options abound. Our favorites are Eight 4 Nine Restaurant and Lounge with continental flair, and Sammy G's Tuscan Grill, also excellent. Both offer fine, precise, personalized service.
Fan palms are native to Palm Springs.
Here, on a hike at Agua Caliente.
Walking around town, the tourist sees thousands of palm trees, most not native to this part of the world.  The lovely California fan palm is native, though.  To experience the region's original landscape -- before 100-plus golf courses and manicured resort lawns, drive 10 short  minutes west to the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation (means hot water). Take the delightful hike from the Trading Post to see the world's largest oasis of native fan palms.  They cluster near the oasis because of the enormous amounts of water they demand.
 Fun celebrity home tour
PALM TREES are part of the romance of Palm Springs, though, and movie stars planted hundreds around their homes when Hollywood discovered the balm of Palm Springs. The stars came because
Theater in a small welcoming venue at the Palm Canyon
 Theatre, which recently ended a run of "Camelot."
"Pajama Game" is on now with a run through March 15.
studios insisted they be no more than began "reasonable driving distance" from Hollywood -- about 140 miles in the 1940s.  Many of the stars lived in studio-built cottages, many still existing  in the "Movie Colony," whose streets are marked.
Dozens of sidewalk stars
honor the famous folks who
lived in Palm Springs, from
U.S. Presidents to actors.
 "Golden Palm Stars" are embedded in the city's main streets and it's fun to walk downtown and admire them -- a lively mix of the rich and famous -- movie stars, literary figures, TV personalities, diplomats, civic leaders, philanthropists, artists and U.S. Presidents with ties to the town and region.  Nixon, Ford and Reagan all built homes here. The 2.5 hour Celebrity Tour through Viator/Trip Advisor, will take you past the homes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Jack Benny, Marilyn Monroe and even Albert Einstein. 
We leave a piece of our hearts on Palm Springs each visit, hoping we'll return.;;;

A diverse permanent collection, including works by world-class sculptors
and painters awaits, with an impressive variety of murals, paintings and
changing exhibits. Next week, we visit Palm Springs Art Museum. 
UP NEXT:  Come with us to explore the Palm Springs Art Museum, a treasure trove of world class art and sculpture. Then 150,000 square foot museum houses a diverse permanent collection, with innovative changing exhibitions and excellent docent-led tours to enhance your visit. We'll take you along to visit this world class museum with a lovely bistro and two outdoor sculpture gardens as well. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh look at art, nature, theater, family, travel and more: 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Guatemala's ruins provide fascinating look at long ago Mayan life

Exploring the ruins of Iximche, Guatemala, provides a fascinating look into the ancient Mayan culture.
Volcan de Fuego steams, smokes and hisses as the tourist drives by. 



THE MAYAN people were expert architects, scientists, artists and farmers who developed a sophisticated culture.
Guatemala offers access to the culture's spectacular archeological sites, where one can actually walk through (and surprisingly "on") some beautiful monuments and ruins.
Volcan de Fuego forms a background as farmers and
workers tend their crops and ship their wares.
We were astonished to be able to climb an ancient stairway to an altar on a recent trip to Iximche, due north of Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific Ocean.
Surrounded by Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador, Guatemala is larger than its Central American neighbors, and touches both the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea.
BESIDES extraordinary ruins, the country of 16 million people is home to 33 volcanoes and more than 300 protected areas with stunning diversity including 300 micro-climates. Mountain biking, climbing and even  rafting are among celebrated diversions and the diversity of flora and fauna attracts nature lovers from all over the world.
The volcanoes were active the day we drove from Puerto Quetzal -- named after the country's showy national bird.  We saw two smoking, including Volcan de Fuego, which did serious damage in 2018.
Teenagers await a school bus, with some going to work.

Our cordial driver told us he'd advised the volcanoes not to blow that day.  His admonition was heeded by the volcano, which smoked and rumbled but didn't blow, as our mini-van cautiously passed by. A catastrophic eruption of de Fuego on June 3, 2018, took lives and we saw rubble still these months later. The death toll stood at 165 people, with 260  missing in Guatemala's most severe volcanic eruption in 45 years.
Colonial architecture abounds even
in Guatemala's villages where much
repair is occuring, here 15 kilometers
from Antigua (the city in Guatemala.)
WE WERE thankful to be spared, as only days before the volcanic island Whakaari on New Zealand's White Island's northeastern Bay of Plenty blew, killing tourists who, like us, were on a day tour.
Putting that out of our mind, we were off to soak up the colorful culture that is Guatemala: 23 ethnic groups, all with rituals and folk festivals.  Each of the country's 23 ethnic groups has its own language and the country's colonial past is evident in the architecture of the villages and the beautiful city of Antigua.
Antigua is a highlight for a visit to Guatemala, a
well preserved Colonial masterpiece.
We captured a close-up of this quetzal.
We found the people friendly and welcoming on this, our third visit. Antigua is a highlight for most travelers to Guatemala. The town has gorgeous streetscapes at every turn, fine restaurants and a lively nightlife. Students come from Europe, Britain and the U.S. to study Spanish and hike the looming volcanoes.
One may climb the ruins of Iximche, a pre-Columbian site.
 Iximcheʼ is a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site in the western highlands of Guatemala. Iximche, meaning "the city," was capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until its abandonment in 1524. The site included pyramid-temples, palaces and Mesoamerican ballcourts.
WE LOVED seeing families and generations strolling, admiring the ruins. Few people have cell phones. It's nice to see teen-agers taking time to visit and greet one another. This is a pattern we observe in relatively poor countries, a lesson perhaps.
We saw happy people, in a country struggling with development, trying desperately to improve infant, child and maternal health, malnutrition,
A young, pretty Guatemalan girl
awaits her school bus.
literacy, and contraceptive awareness. Catholicism is the major religion and volunteers are teaching birth control. 
 THE PEOPLE of today mirror their ancestors of long ago in many ways: strong, capable, friendly, smart.  They  cultivate fields and farm in ancient ways, and greet the modern visitor with kindness, sharing their remarkable heritage.

Color, class and character mark Palm Springs, where Hollywood stars flocked
in the day. Now, a diverse group of people live and visit this lovely desert town.
UP NEXT: Tucked neatly beneath the San Bernardino Mountain Range in the beautiful Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, California, offers world class art museums, fabulous entertainment including Oscar's, a lively female impersonator venue, a wide array of fine eateries, casinos, 100-plus golf courses and plenty of indoor and outdoor activity.  A two-part series begins next Friday. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn, live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on art, music, nature, travel, family and more:

Friday, February 7, 2020

A bus turned hotel means vintage fun for two children of the '60s

Bohemian Bus Beautiful represents a delightful retro-inspired alternative to traditional hotels and hostelries.



The grounds reflect More's artistic bent and world travels.
YOU'LL BE happily falling down the Rabbit Hole if you venture into Bohemian Bus Beautiful.
Proprietor and designer Blake More wants you to remember her unique home -- and you will.
The interior of Bohemian Bus Beautiful is welcoming to humans -- and
small-dog friendly.  Here, Nora eyes the camera in the comfy digs.
WORLD TRAVELER, artist, poet, More hadn't planned to stay long in her spread near Point Arena, Calif.  When she moved to Mendocino County 22 years ago, she figured she'd last about three years "before I got the urge to pick up and fling myself elsewhere."
The imaginative bus remodeling project took place between More's yoga teaching, school workshops (she collaborates with musicians to encourage young students' creativity), and her inspired artwork which includes collage, tile work, painting, sculpture, sewing, needle art and floral arranging.
Every corner of the property reflects her artistry -- from the gorgeously appointed Malibu Shower complete with tile, plants and a half-dozen choices of soaps and lotions.
Her nature-inspired off-grid property is a mile-plus inland from the Pacific Ocean on California's famed Highway 1, in the woodlands of beautiful southern Mendocino County,
oet, performer, artist, teacher and yoga practitioner. I love to garden, swim, hike, dance and travel (I
The artist's life of travel and residency in
every continent is reflected in her artwork.
have been on every continent)!
Each inch of the reconfigured school bus-guest house enlightens and enlarges the guest's perspective. Her wall collages, tables, trunks and lamp shades reflect her travels and life in Cuba, Japan, Amsterdam and the Bay Area.
More's immense talent in the visual arts mixes mediums seldom juxtaposed and combined.  She does both those with a unique flair.
Another imaginative enterprise
BOTH OUTSIDE the bus and around the grounds, guests are free to admire and use outdoor bath tubs (his and hers), artful mobiles and lighting, creative furniture, rock art.  Inside, the kitchen counter boasts a spectacular abalone design, mixed beautifully with a smooth finish.  Light-switch plates are collages.  Wood, plastic and metal all mix, merge and complement.
The bathroom offers
creative wall art and
abundant reading choices.
Blake's beautiful abalone
inlay work graces the
bnb's kitchen counter.
The property is secluded and sunny, surrounded by organic gardens and mature trees, native flowers and bushes.  Inside, a small, tidy kitchen has everything one needs to cook a pleasant
meal, with several of the windows screened to accommodate evening breezes. The queen bed is comfortable and pillows abound, for propping up for a late-night read. Cooler nights and crisp mornings are warmed by a cozy wood stove.
 Cookie and Keller relax at Bohemian Bus Beautiful.

Another artist's vision
 WE FOUND ourselves fascinated from the beginning of our three-day stay to the end.  There is such an abundance of creativity, detail and inspiration that one needs to spend at least a couple days to fully appreciate it.
 Even the bathroom, a short stroll from the bus, is inspired. "Comfy, creative, welcoming" describe the spirit of Bohemian Bus Beautiful.
And, important news for us, the bnb is small-dog friendly.  Just let Blake know in the initial negotiations.  Rates are reasonable and longer stays result in a price break.; › bohemian-bus

The architecture of the Mayan classical period is described
by a guide at the historic site of Iximche. 

UP NEXT: Guatemala. Come explore the ruins of the Mayan people in the remote villages of Guatemala. We visit archeological sites including Iximche, for a look at a remarkable historical lrgacy left by indigenous people.
Come with us, remembering to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, the arts, nature, family and more: