A Museum Full of All the Cool Things about Flying

This should be a post about writing, but it’s not! Instead it’s about my visit to the Stephen F Udvar-Hazy Center, which is part of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. This is a separate facility from the one on the National Mall, located near Dulles Airport. And it’s full of amazing things, even for someone like me who doesn’t know much about aeronautics or space flight.

There are two huge hangars for display of hundreds of spacecraft and planes, as well as windows looking into the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. The Concorde is there, as well as a variety of vintage passenger and military aircraft, a U-2, and space-related items like a Sojourner Mars rover.

 

“Ascent”, by John Safer, outside the Udvar-Hazy Center.

The space shuttle Discovery is here as well:

Discovery (front)
Side view of Discovery and the Canadarm Remote Manipulator System

Here’s a link to a Washington Post video of Discovery arriving at the Udvar-Hazy Center in 2012.

There are plenty of historical exhibits relating to space flight, including early capsules, a SpaceLab module and Mars rovers.

That old logo, though. 😝
Android built in the sixties to help NASA develop spacesuits. Very early sci-fi.

 

This delicate-looking thing is a Tracking and Data Relay satellite.

 

“Sky Baby”. A piloted aircraft that is only 9 feet long.

 

Langley Aerodrome A, 1903. Not a success, but looks very steampunk.

 

Another picture of the Langley Aerodrome. Samuel Langley was a physicist, astronomer and aviator. Buildings, an Air Force base and various aircraft and ships have been named after him.

The Enola Gay is also at Udvar-Hazy. The Enola Gay is the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. It’s one of the many military aircraft that are at the museum, a reminder that the history of aviation and space flight is about exploration and science, but is also inextricably linked to war.

Enola Gay

Here are links to the museum website, and also the Wikipedia page listing many of the exhibits at the Udvar-Hazy museum.

 

 

Cool Public Art Tiles in San Antonio

San Antonio is full of little touches of art. Here are a few examples I saw as we wandered around the River Walk and the Alamo area.

The first two were New Deal-era projects. The artist, Ethel Wilson Harris, was supervisor of the Arts and Crafts division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in San Antonio in 1939. These mosaics were completed in 1941.

Tile mural at the Navarro Street Bridge on the Riverwalk, San Antonio
Tile mural at the Navarro Street Bridge on the River Walk, San Antonio

 

Tile mural, San Antonio Riverwalk, north of East Commerce Street near North St Mary's Street
Tile mural, San Antonio River Walk, north of East Commerce Street near North St Mary’s Street

 

More tiles decorated the trolley station columns at East Commerce street near Alamo Plaza. There are a total of 44 tiles by artist Ann Adams, completed in 2000.

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Ann Adams tile, San Antonio trolley station

 

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Ann Adams tile, San Antonio trolley station

 

Another mosaic was tucked away in a little alcove on the River Walk. I haven’t been able to find the name of the artist.

Mosaic on the San Antonio Riverwalk, artist unknown.
Mosaic on the San Antonio River Walk, artist unknown.

There are a lot more of these, if you’re ever in San Antonio and want to explore. Here are a couple of links to further info:

List of Public Artworks in San Antonio

New Deal-era San Antonio Tile Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool Art in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city full of music. But I found plenty of art to enjoy too, in the amazing warm days we had in mid-February. I couldn’t get a good image of all of the works I liked — I tried about ten times to get a decent picture of this fantastic and disturbing spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, but failed. (Link is to a photo by Paul Moline on Panoramio.)

Here are a few of the works I liked.

Karma, a 23-foot-tell sculpture by Do Ho Suh at the Besthoff Sculpture gardens.
Karma, a 23-foot-tall sculpture by Do Ho Suh at the Besthoff Sculpture gardens.
Profile of an Artist with Grandmother Inside, by Lonnie Holley, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Profile of an Artist with Grandmother Inside, by Lonnie Holley, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Large Seated Cardinal, by Giacomo Manzu, at the Besthoff Gardens.
Large Seated Cardinal, by Giacomo Manzu, at the Besthoff Gardens.
Large Seated Cardinal, Manzu, side view.
Large Seated Cardinal, Manzu, side view.
Stained glass window at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, New Orleans (built 1826).
Stained glass window at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, New Orleans (built 1826).

 

Here are links to some of these sites:

The wonderful Besthoff Sculpture Gardens, which I loved!

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, New Orleans

 

 

Cleveland Concoction 2016

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Cleveland Concoction will be at the Cleveland Sheraton Airport Hotel on March 11-13.

This will be my second time at Cleveland Concoction — actually the third year for the convention. This year the con has an expanded Author Track, with more panels for writers and readers of science fiction and fantasy. Looks like a great event for any aspiring genre writers in the Cleveland area!

Also many other guests and gaming, cosplay and more. Check out the info on their website, here.

My panel and reading schedule:

Friday

6 pm       Author Showcase (readings, with several other authors)

7 pm       Book Signing (Author Alley)

Saturday

noon       Panel: Why Villains Matter

2 pm       Panel: Influencing Culture through Science Fiction

 

 

 

 

My Week in Buildings (Southern Edition)

Spent a lovely week exploring the beautiful historic cities of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. (With a stop at Tybee Island in between, to enjoy the ocean.)

In Savannah, I heard the story of the seven women who decided in the 1950s to begin the Historic Savannah Foundation, beginning with $22,500 to buy a house in danger of being razed for a parking lot. I wonder if they were taken seriously back then, or if people considered this a hobby? The historic district owes its preservation — and definitely its thriving tourist industry — to the leadership of these women, and those who continued their vision.

 

Entryway to the Isaiah Davenport House
Entryway to the Isaiah Davenport House, now a museum. 

 

Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Savannah - dedicated 1853
Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Savannah – dedicated 1853

 

The Olde Pink House, built in 1771 for cotton merchant James Habersham. Now a restaurant and hotel.
The Olde Pink House, built in 1771 for cotton merchant James Habersham. Now a restaurant and hotel.

 

Childhood home of author Flannery O'Connor. The house dates from the 1850s. O'Connor was born in 1925. There's a Little Free Library in front of the house.
Childhood home of author Flannery O’Connor. The house dates from the 1850s. O’Connor was born in 1925. There’s a Little Free Library in front of the house.

 

Tybee Island Lighthouse, opened 1736, modified in the 1800s.
Tybee Island Lighthouse, opened 1736, modified in the 1800s.

In Charleston, we heard stories of the pirates hanged on the Battery in the 1700s and admired the antebellum homes that line the park. But our visit focused more on the remnants of the Civil War. These buildings stand as a reminder, so we can look back through many years and from another culture to try to understand those times.

Drayton Hall, built 1750s. The family owned slaves.
Drayton Hall, built 1750s. The family owned slaves.
"Leave 'em Rest". African-American Cemetery at Drayton.
Leave ’em Rest” — African-American Cemetery at Drayton.
Slave Mart in Charleston, now a museum about the lives and cultures of those enslaved. It felt odd walking into a building where human beings were once bought and sold.
The Slave Mart in Charleston, in use from 1859 to about 1863. It’s now a museum about the lives and cultures of those enslaved. 

 

Fort Sumter. The fort was the site of 2 battles. The final siege eventually reduced the fort to ruins.
The ruins of Fort Sumter. 

Here are a few links to more information:

Historic Savannah Foundation

Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Savannah (virtual tour)

Flannery O’Connor (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Drayton Hall

Slave Mart (National Park Service link)

Fort Sumter (National Park Service link)

 

Sculpture in the Gardens!

A friend told us about Schnormeier Gardens in central Ohio — privately-owned gardens open to the public for just one weekend a year. This year’s open-house fell on June 4-7, and the weather was great — so off we went.

There are actually nine separate gardens on the 75-acre grounds, along with water features including a lake, stream, and waterfall as well as a woodland creek. It’s a beautiful place, with a distinctive Asian influence to most of the gardens. You can read more about the grounds at this link to the Schnormeier Gardens website, but I’m going to focus on the sculpture, because that’s what I loved most.

"Affirmation of Rejection" by Michael Kenneth Smith, in the Meadow Garden
“Affirmation of Rejection” by Michael Kenneth Smith, in the Meadow Garden
"Draco Terribilis" by Lou Ferrario, in the Chinese Cup Garden
“Draco Terribilis” by Lou Ferrario, in the Chinese Cup Garden
"Evolving Sphere" by Thomas A. Yano, in the Stream Garden
“Evolving Sphere” by Thomas A. Yano, in the Stream Garden
One of many animal sculptures in the gardens. This one is near the woodland garden.
One of many animal sculptures in the gardens. This one is near the woodland garden.
"Fatman Dancing" by Michael Kenneth Smith, in the Meadow Garden
“Fatman Dancing” by Michael Kenneth Smith, in the Meadow Garden

There are many more sculptures scattered throughout the gardens, as well as a private residence inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. A beautiful place to visit — and almost hidden in the hills near Gambier and Mount Vernon. In fact we had a bit of an adventure finding our way out of the place without a GPS. But a lovely day regardless, and so glad the gardens are open once a year so the public can enjoy them!

Illuminated Manuscripts

I was fortunate enough (thanks to my daughter) to visit the Getty Center in Los Angeles this week, during the exhibition of “Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts”. There was a room full of illuminated manuscripts, many of them the gorgeous, detailed capitals I was expecting, like this one:

Four Saints, from Lombardy (about 1450) --illuminated capital
Four Saints, from Lombardy (about 1450) –illuminated capital

Then there was the unexpected! For example this guy, who was having the worst possible day:

"The Mother of Allegranzia Appealing to Saints Aimo and Vermondo to Save Her Child" -- 1400s, the Getty Center
“The Mother of Allegranzia Appealing to Saints Aimo and Vermondo to Save Her Child” — 1400s, the Getty Center

Saints Aimo and Vermondo were local saints — aristocrats who escaped a wild boar attack while hunting, and then dedicated a church in Meda, Lombardy. People prayed to them for miracles and healing.

Then a book by a fencing master and author of an early Italian martial arts manual, Flower of Battle. These pages show combat techniques for horsemen.

Detail from "Examples of Equestrian Combat", Fiore Furlan de Liberi, 1400s, Getty Center
Detail from “Examples of Equestrian Combat”, Fiore Furlan de Liberi, 1400s, Getty Center

I particularly liked the combat manual. It reminded me of a book I used for research when writing sword fighting scenes. Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use, by John Clements, was a useful source because it had detailed illustrations — much like the ones in the Renaissance manual above.

It’s a wonderful exhibit to visit if you’re in the area. Here’s a press release with details: http://news.getty.edu/press-materials/press-releases/renaissance-splendors-northern-italian-courts.htm. The exhibit continues until June 21 and includes an awesome online exhibit showing the works and brief descriptions, here.

*Note: Non-flash photography in this gallery was permitted. Also, digital images of these works are available under the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Orchids

Another post with mostly photographs! It’s still February, and winter’s dragging on forever — although we’ve been fortunate to escape all the snow that’s been dumped on the northeast in recent weeks. But it’s still a long, cold month.

So it’s time for the annual desperate pilgrimage to the conservatory! It’s lovely to walk around without coats and enjoy the green growing things — and the color of the conservatory’s orchid display.

Blue Chihuly glass among the plants

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Chihuly glass
Chihuly glass

Here’s a link to the Franklin Park Conservatory site. The orchid display goes on until April.