Prague?

I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to Prague (which I promise was business, not pleasure, but you’ll have to wait to hear exactly what that business was). Prague is a beautiful city with an incredibly rich history, but a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought I would share some of my photos from the trip.

This is a view of the city shot from atop a hill near Prague Castle, one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic.

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And this is the view from my hotel window.

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Streetcars near the Charles Bridge, a historical bridge built during the time of King Charles IV.

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And this is the Estates Theatre where Mozart conducted the premier performance of  his opera Don Giovanni in October, 1787.  You can still attend performances here, but how magical would it have been to see that first show?

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One of the things I learned on our trip, is that many of the historical sights in Prague have been used as film locations. We visited the Gardens at the Wallenstein Palace where parts of the movie Amadeus were filmed.

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We met this fellow, a rare white peacock, who was quite impressed with himself.

 

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 We visited the National Gallery in Prague (you’ll see some photos below of the stunning staircases) and I was treated to a ride in this little elevator. First, let me tell you that I am not a particular fan of elevators and this was a very small elevator, however, when I tried to decline (I would have much preferred the stairs), the staff told me that, no, no, you are the director, you must take the elevator. Once we were inside this tiny, creaky car, I was informed that the elevator was actually featured in the Mission Impossible movie.

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As we were traveling through Prague, I was constantly on the lookout for Wi-Fi spots to be able to plug in and get some work done.  So, we stopped in these wonderful coffee houses that were built in the late 19th century. As you can see, the decor is a little different than Starbucks.

 

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I was also taken by the paver streets, which were amazing and obviously very old.

 

 

 

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Beautiful as they are, even they require upkeep.

 

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Check back later to find out why we were in Prague and see photos of what was happening here at CMA while I was gone.

 

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Nannette Maciejunes
CMA Executive Director

 

More changes…

This past weekend, it rained in Derby Court for the first time in nearly 60 years. The court was originally an open-air court, but was covered in the 1950s. We’ve begun removing the roof to make way for the vaulted-glass skylight that will be added as part of the renovation.

 

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This is Gallery 10, shades of the past. You can see the darker squares of paint where the paintings hung until last October.

 

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These are pictures of floor in one of the galleries. We’re testing different finishes, light or dark, hmmm…

 

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Angela Pace of WBNS 10 TV stopped in for a tour of the ongoing renovations.

 

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Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Nannette Maciejunes
CMA Executive Director

Our Trip North

Last week, I, along with Mike Bongiorno, our architect from Design Group, Mark Corna, our construction manager, and Rod Bouc, CMA’s deputy director of operations, made a trip to visit the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art. They’ve recently completed a building project similar to the one we’ve undertaken here at CMA. They have a beautiful historic building which has been renovated and wanted to expand by adding a new wing that would have its own personality and presence but wouldn’t overshadow the original building.

We enjoyed a fabulous tour with a wonderful staff member there who played a key role in their restoration and expansion. We were able to see both the public spaces and some behind the scenes areas and gain insights into the things they did that were great successes and those areas that we need to be watchful of as we move forward.

And, even though it is “that school up north,” they have a wonderful university museum that is well worth the drive to visit.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Nannette V. Maciejunes
CMA Executive Director

Mike Bongiorno, Nannette Maciejunes, Mark Corna

 

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A Fashionable Salute

 

 

 

Big doings at Sak’s Fifth Avenue this past Sunday afternoon. CMA’s Beaux Arts held a fashion show honoring the legacy of Charles Kleibacker, a renowned fashion designer and beloved member of the CMA family, as part of their run up to Art in Bloom, which runs this weekend. The most fragrant time of the year at the Museum. The event at Sak’s featured great new clothes shown off by our models on the runway right in the middle of the second floor of the store. Vintage clothes designed by Charles were shown on mannequins. A wonderful time was had by all.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Nannette Maciejunes
CMA Executive Director

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Elijah Pierce

CMA’s adjunct curator of American Folk Art, Michael Hall, first met Elijah Pierce, a self-taught sculptor,  in 1971. Hall became a frequent visitor to Pierce’s Long Street barber shop/studio for the next ten years. Recently, Chiquita Mullens Lee interviewed Michael and many others who had known Pierce to gain a perspective onthe barber/sculptor who is the subject of her recent play “Pierce to the Soul.” Pierce, himself, was a legendary story teller and all of the individuals that Mullens Lee interviewed had their own Pierce stories to tell.

The resulting play, presented by CATCO, is, according to Hall, “a surprisingly vital and revelaing collage of stories that form a compelling portriat of the artist who has left an indelible imprint on the history of the city of Columbus and on the whole of the field of American folk art.”

“I was transported, again, to the barber shop as I knew it in the 1970s and spent time with a man I had grown to know and admire both as an artist and a human being so many years ago,” said Hall.

CMA has a large collection of Pierce works, some of which will be on view again when the renovation work on the Museum’s historic Broad Street building is completed later this year.

Great way to start the morning!

I just got back from the Lincoln Theatre where PNC launched Arts Alive , a wonderful new funding initiative for Columbus arts groups. There was a fabulous turnout and yours truly (in my capacity as a member of the Columbus Cultural Leadership Consortium) had the honor of speaking on behalf of our cultural organizations. A little side note, never follow City Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson. What an incredible speaker!

Councilwoman Tyson is also a strong supporter of our cultural community. Recently the cultural organizations in Columbus were given an opportunity to speak in two council sessions about the public value of arts in Columbus. (You can catch it on the Government Access Channel)

It was a wonderful morning and a terrific reminder of what a fantastic space the Lincoln Theatre is. I’ve posted some photos below of Mike Gonsiorowski, Central Ohio Regional President of PNC, recording a few words about the new initiative, and a shot of the crowd disbursing.


Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Nannette Maciejunes
CMA Executive Director

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Behind the scenes with Mayor Coleman

As we move forward with the renovation of our historic Broad Street building, I’ve had the pleasure of leading the occasional tour through the construction site. Yesterday, Mayor Michael Coleman joined us to see how the project is coming along. Progress for our city is important to the Mayor. The renovation is fundamental to creating the kind of museum that Columbus deserves, but it also represents an investment in our community, which is crucial to our future as a city.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Nannette Maciejunes
CMA Executive Director

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When does a 33 by 33 foot stage front-cloth become a masterpiece?

When it was painted by Pablo Picasso, arguably the greatest artist of the 20th century.

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which acquired the huge canvas in 2007, announced that it will finally be able to display the work as part of a late 2010 exhibition Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909 – 1929.

Picasso painted this gigantic canvas to hang at the front of the stage during the overture to a ballet by Serge Diaghilev entitled Le Train bleu (The Blue Train). This 1924 ballet featured music by Darius Milhaud, costumes by Coco Chanel, a libretto by Jean Cocteau, and choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, the famous dancer Vaslav Nijinsky’s sister.

For a number of years, Picasso had offered his talents as an avant-garde artist to the equally avant-garde Ballets Russes.  The Blue Train was, in fact, a luxury night express that carried the rich and famous between France’s north Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean, and appropriately, this ballet was a cheerful, almost burlesque look at the world of high fashion. For the stage-front, Picasso reproduced his 1922 painting of Two Women Running on the Beach as a way to literally set the stage for this lighthearted seaside romp; he signed it prominently in the lower left. Obviously difficult to display, the painting had belonged to the Diaghilev and De Basil Ballets Foundations and was then bought by an association called the Friends of the National Museum for the Performing Arts.

Eventually, the canvas found its way into the V & A’s collection, which has the largest collection of Ballet Russes costumes in the world, including many designed by Picasso, Matisse, and Chanel. Few museums can claim the space necessary to show such a monumental painting but visitors to London in the fall of this year will have the chance to see the largest painting by Picasso in the world.

Dominique H. Vasseur
CMA Curator of European Art

 

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Last update from Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

On to Aswan. We visited an ancient granite quarry dating from the New Kingdom. Ancient Egyptians would drive wooden stakes into the granite and then when the quarry flooded the stakes would swell and cause the granite to crack and enable them to begin to quarry the stone. Second photo shows evidence of the stakes.

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The treasure of the quarry is the unfinished obelisk. It would have been 134 feet tall if it had been completed but it cracked while they were quarrying it and so was abandoned. The scale is incredible — there is some surviving documentation indicating that the Egyptians could carve an obelisk in 7 months. Check out the second photo to see a surviving obelisk at a temple. Every Egyptian temple was suppose to have 2 obelisks. Once the Europeans discovered Ancient Egypt — beginning with Napoleon — obelisks were lusted after by all the European capitals. You still run into them today when you visit Paris, London, etc.

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An example of a chiseled out figure on an Egyptian temple. There is much we still don’t know about the ancient Egyptians and about which there is scholarly debate. There are still competing theories about exactly how the Egyptians successfully moved the huge obelisks from quarries to temple sites and how they erected them once they got them there. There also is discussion about the chiseled out figures you see in many temples. The chiseling out is very precise — not violent hacking and defacing.  They may have been removed by the ancient Egyptian priests themselves for different reasons, as opposed to later Christians who were offended by the pagan beliefs of the Egyptians as is often assumed by visitors.

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Another reminder of the long history of these places. A cross carved into an ancient Egyptian column at the Temple of Philae when it was later repurposed as a Christian church. It has really only been in the last 200+ years that the ancient Egyptian sites have been valued for themselves.Over the centuries many of the sites became buried under the sand, were used by other faiths or used as living spaces by later people. Even in tombs you will at times see soot covered ceilings the result of later people using the space. Check out next photo from the Temple at Lukor which was later used as a mosque — you can see the minaret. The arch is actually a doorway — so you can see how high the sand was in the 13th century.

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Another reminder of the long history of these places. A cross carved into an ancient Egyptian column at the Temple of Philae when it was later repurposed as a Christian church. It has really only been in the last 200+ years that the ancient Egyptian sites have been valued for themselves.Over the centuries many of the sites became buried under the sand, were used by other faiths or used as living spaces by later people. Even in tombs you will at times see soot covered ceilings the result of later people using the space. Check out next photo from the Temple at Lukor which was later used as a mosque — you can see the minaret. The arch is actually a doorway — so you can see how high the sand was in the 13th century.

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Temple Of Medinat Habu in Thebes.

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Great traces of color at the Temple of Amun at Karnak. Also another example of chiseling out a figure. This time we know why — the center figure being purified is the New Kingdom Queen Hatshepsut. She was a rare example of a female pharoah. She was depicted in certain imagery as a woman and for ritual purposes in other imagery as a man. After her death the priests had most of the images of her as a man (representing her as the incarnation of the god Horus) as here destroyed.

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Sailing on the Nile in a felucca.

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At the High Dam in Aswan. OK you can google great photos of this well known site that transformed Egypt’s relationship with the Nile. So I am sending one of my favorite signs from our travels.

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We had an extraordinary guide throughout the trip — his name was Mourad. He did his best to teach us the basics of Egyptian mythology and a bit about hieroglyphics. I’ll probably get it wrong but check out the next few shots with some explanations.

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This image of the pharoah is to the right of the last shot, which depicts a long prayer to Osiris. The star is the symbol that identifies the text to the left as a prayer.

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OK we all know the ankh as the symbol of eternal life. The triangle sign means — to give — so this reads top to bottem — to give eternal life to Ra. Let’s hope I got that right. The next photo — which unfortunately is a bit blurred — shows an earlier hieroglyph of the same symbol showing it’s origins. It originally included a human hand offering something in his hand . The hieroglyph was later abbreviated to just the triangular shape of the offering itself.

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Ancient Egyptian calendar — identifies day of the month at the right and the obligation due the temple on that day at the left.

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Detail of the calendar. The Egyptians divided the year into 4 seasons of 3 months each composed of 3 weeks of 10 days each. The 5 left over days were some times called the missing days and were accounted for and used as celebratory days to 5 specific gods. Here the sphere identifies the month, the n shape or upside down u represents the number 10 and each single stroke represents the number 1. So you see the 27th and the 28 th of the month in the first 2 registers

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OK very silly photo but nothing could be more true. I have never needed to drink this much water– you are never without your waterbottle. It’s late winter/ early spring on Egypt but they had heat wave while we were here. It was only 73 during the day and in the 50s at night. It was nearly 90 in Cairo today and when we were at the Valley of the Kings it was 91+.

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The desert but also an oasis when you’re next to the Nile. The Botanical Gardens on Kitchener’s Island

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Looking at the sky in the hypostyle hall at the Temple of Kom Ombo.

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Look closely early medical and surgical instruments depicted in a carving at the Temple of Kom Ombo.

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Same temple next to medical instruments, a depiction of a woman sitting on birthing chair.

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The temple at Edfu at night — a completely different experience than during the day.

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Favorite detail of the pharoah and one of the gods clasping hands — from Edfu.

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A sea of columns seen with a sea of people. The hypostyle hall at Karnak –the largest temple of the ancient world. This hypostyle hall with it’s 134 columns served as the coronation hall for the New Kingdom Pharoahs.

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Two CMA friends…. But will we make it into the Dispatch???

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Sunset. When we get back we’re going to have a photo sharing party among the 14 of us. This is great because I was horrible at all the people on the street shots…..so I can share some of those, not to mention shots of all riding those camels.

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A last day in Cairo at the Citadel in front of the Mohammed Ali Mosque. The same day that Columbus got 10 inches of snow.

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The CMA group –minus two who had to leave us early.

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Our excellent guide Mourad — sharing some last insights on Egypt — with members of our group listening.

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The tower at the Citadel housing the clock that King Louis-Phiippe of France gave the ruler of Egypt in  exchange for the ancient Egyptian obelisk that now stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

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The ornate ceiling dome of the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.

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It was a wonderful trip, but, despite all the snow, I’m happy to be back home.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Nannette Maciejunes, CMA Executive Director

The latest from Egypt

 

 

 

Today we left our Cairo hotel at 5AM so that we could fly to see Abu Simbel. Here I am in front of one of the two temples. These temples are among the most magnificant of the 22 ancient monuments the international community came together to save by relocating them above the water level of the new lake that was created when they flooded the valley during the creation of the High Damn of the Aswan Damn. An incredible feat of archaelogical and engineering skill that began in 1960.

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Below is a blow up of an historical photo on display at the Nubian museum in Aswan showing how they moved the temple 180 meters higher. There is a great story behind why the temple was built by Rames II. The larger temple that I am in front of is connected to what is believed to be the first peace treaty between two nation states in history. There was a treaty alright but each king retold the story of the battle to suit his own needs with his people. The carvings inside all celebrate Rames’ triumph over the Hitittes — a war that likely was a stalemate — hence the treaty.

Old graffiti is everywhere. Visitors from the early 19th century left their mark not just in the temple but on the large figures themselves. 

Disturbing and sad, yet also now part of the history of the work. 

Gratefully the temple is well protected and the current crop of graffiti artists are busy elsewhere.

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Diorama from the Nubian Museum visualizingthe transformation of Abu Simbel.

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You can have a lot of fun with ancient objects……but you have to be careful — yes this was done without touching the artifact.

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An oasis steps from the  temples of Abu  Simbel. Right near the new lake.

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Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Nannette Maciejunes, CMA Executive Director