The Barnes Foundation – Philadelphia

barnes exterior777699571323306762..jpg

On a recent trip to Philadelphia I had occasion to visit the Barnes Foundation with my friend Winter. This is a wonderful collection of art from around the world and from different time periods. It is housed in a magnificent building  that is an architectural wonder. The photographs in this post are my impression of my visit and in no way exhaustive of what I saw.

the barnes foundation - philadelphia-22420906107510127001..jpg

The following information from the brochure will give you some more facts about the collection and the philosophy behind it. I must say I was not prepared for what I saw and my jaw was agape from the time I walked into first gallery until the last.

the barnes foundation - philadelphia2666325957289447281..jpg

Top Picture: Models. George Seurat, 1886-1888

The Barnes is home to a world-class collection of impressionist, and early modernist paintings, with especially deep holdings in Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso.  Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912-1951, the collection also includes important examples of African Art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, and wrought iron metalwork.

the barnes foundation- philadelphia2411227656583706660..jpg

The Card Players. Paul Cezanne, 1890-1892

The minute you walk into the galleries you’re in an experience like no other. Here you will find paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, And Pablo Picasso, hanging next to ordinary household objects: a door hinge, a spatula, a yarn spinner. On one wall you might see a French medieval sculpture displayed with a Navajo textile. Dr. Barnes chose to combine objects from different cultures, genres, and times to create diverse displays he called “ensembles.”

barnes foundation - philadelphia7825160111817095507..jpg

Bather Drying Herself. Pierre-August Renoir

These ensembles, each one carefully put together by Dr. Barnes himself, are meant to show the surprising similarities between objects we don’t normally thing of as belonging together. He arranged the works according to light, color, and space-principles that he called the “universal language of art.”

barnes foundation - philadelphia-12826055538814215094..jpg

Bathers in the Forest. Pierre-August Renoir, 1897

Dr. Barnes believed that art had the power to improve minds and transform lives. In 1922 he established the Barnes foundation as a school for learning how to see and appreciate art. He had a gallery built on Merion, a Philadelphia suburb, to house his growing collection. He held classes in the gallery so that students could learn directly from the art.

In 2012, after much controversy, his collection was moved to Philadelphia.

barnes foundation - philadelphia-27610167417757170700..jpg

Luncheon. Pierre-August Renoir, 1875

barnes foundation - philadelphia-31558795082257059633..jpg

barnes foundation- philadelphia2527457318533039773..jpg

Sailor Boy. Pierre-August Rodin, 1883

barnes foundation2604220748028663040..jpg

Bather and Maid. Pierre-August Renoir, 1900-1901

barnes foundation-13362424955563247501..jpg

barnes foundation-22579963320041925319..jpg

Woman with White Stockings. Gustave Courbet, 1864

barnes foundation-31319736215022296839..jpg

Before the Bath. Pierre-August Renoir, C. 1875

the barnes foundation6824376727090501074..jpg

Two Women Surrounded by Birds. Joan Miro, 1937

winter at the barnes3189267140204750479..jpg

Winter at the Barnes

the barnes foundation-11253177224562759892..jpg

Studio with Gold Fish. Henri Matisse, 1912

the barnes foundation-29014623088092620328..jpg

In the Galleries

the barnes foundation-3166963595167197620..jpg

Leaving the Conservatory. Pierre-August Renoir, 1876-1877

the barnes foundation-41949096114854401398..jpg

Girl with a Goat. Pablo Picasso

the barnes foundation-52154868662901176160..jpg

The Music Lesson. Henri Matisse, 1917

the barnes foundation-66265032640298822889..jpg

The Dance. Henri Matisse, 1932

the barnes foundation-79052827410198444555..jpg

Mussel-Fishers at Bernal. Pierre-August Renoir

the barnes foundation-83849717621109241443..jpg

Jean Hebuterne.  Amedeo Modigiani, 1919

the barnes foundation-97700044552937603344..jpg

Two Standing Nudes. Jules Pascin, 1914

rock of ages2069893949000435371..jpg

Outside the Barnes

reflecting pool at the barnes foundation in philadelphia572350224803338040..jpg

Reflecting Pool Outside the Barnes

benjamin franklin parkway in philadelphia1216487030733844866..jpg

Art on the Avenue

 

LOVE

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my fabulous Word Press friends!

love-11162564857284081375.jpg

Love from Louisville

love-11156341100333940152.jpg

Goddess of Love

amor6220816876956754193.jpg

Amour From Philadelphia

love4233262250846321546.jpg

City of Brotherly Love

love-26630487698784011388.jpg

Love from Big Lou

love2469440767491368887.jpg

Love from the Big Apple

Rude Kings

He looked on fabulous monsters, the twin beards and huge beast-bodies of Assyrian Kings, the walls of Babylon.

 -Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel

 

20190210_0855365953444113482142231.jpg

Storefront, Philadelphia

dscn03964359097956170590068.jpg

Storefront, Philadelphia

chicago nikon 2016 (21 of 109)1980903685865128348..jpg

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago

chicago nikon 2016 (19 of 109)3396486877660146139..jpg

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago

chicago nikon 2016 (15 of 109)2554053235003874217..jpg

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago

All photos by Benn Bell

Appointment in Louisville

of lions and pineapples6197070352444260169..jpg

Of Lions and Pineapples

A few months ago, I had the good fortune to move to Old Louisville. As fate would have it, I moved into an apartment on Third Street just four houses down from a house I used to live as a young man during the turbulent 70’s. As a matter of fact, my family actually owned that house and sold it in 1993. Fast forward to 2018.

My friend Victoria was looking for an apartment and I have long been encouraging her look in Old Louisville as it was a very interesting place to live with a lot of old Victorian Mansions which have been subdivided into apartments. And there was Central Park nearby.

20181204_1932086980550087671505488.jpg

Victoria

One day she was over at my place and we went out apartment hunting together. She had several picked out over on Fourth Street to look at. It was raining that day so we took our umbrellas.

We walked down Hill Street to Fourth and as we were about to round the corner, I noticed a For Rent sign in the yard of a house that I had long admired. I called it the House of Lions and Pineapples. It was a beautiful three-story red brick Victorian home with two lions and pineapples outside in front and a black wrought iron gated entrance. I said, “Why don’t you give them call?”

She did and we were able to see it right then. They had just put it on the market and were in the process of cleaning and painting it when we went in. Victoria fell in love with it immediately and I did too.

After looking at a couple of other places in the area Victoria decided that the house of pineapples and lions was the one for her, so we called the owner and asked for a meeting. Sure, come on over they said. They told us their address and we headed over.

They lived on Third Street, just a few doors down from where I am currently living. What was that address again, I asked Victoria? 1461? Why I used to live in that house back in the 70’s.  As a matter of fact, my family owned that very building back then!

20181230_1630052736855827012039547.jpg

The house on Third where I used to live

When we got there and knocked on the door a little old lady round and short answered the door. She had a big smile on her face. I introduced myself and told her I used to live this building back in the 70’s and wasn’t it ironic that we were here? Oh, did you know Dr. Bell? Why yes! I am his son!

We sat down and had a nice talk. Joe and his wife Arden bought the house in 1993 from my parents. At that time, I was part owner of the house myself and received some of the proceeds from the sale. Arden gave us a tour of the house. I bet it looks a lot different now than it did then, she said. Yep It sure did!

So, there we were. My friend Victoria was about to rent an apartment from the couple who own the house I used to live in but was sold to them in 1993 the same year Victoria was born. What kind of alignment of the planets was necessary to bring us to this point? By what chance occurrences was Victoria destined to cross my path and rent the apartment in the building of the lions and pineapples?

It put me in mind of a story I once heard when I was living in Philadelphia.

It seems there was this college professor living in my building who sent his servant to the Italian Market one day for supplies.  In a very little while the servant came back, shaking and trembling. It was clear he had been greatly disturbed by something that had happened at the market.

dsc_06138019334893644054575.jpg

Italian Market in Philly

He said, “Mister Coffer, sir, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. I turned to look to see who it was and I saw it was Death staring me in the face.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture. I ran from the market and came back here. Mister Coffer, will you please lend me your car so that I can ride away from this city and avoid my fate?  I will go to Salem and there Death will not find me.”

The college professor gave him the keys to his Mustang, and the servant got in and rode away as fast as the car could drive not first without leaving a stretch of burning black rubber behind him as he pulled out of the parking garage. Later that day the professor went down to the Italian Market and he saw Death standing in the crowd and he went over, not afraid, and asked her, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant this morning when you saw him?”

“That was not a threatening gesture,” Death said, “I was just surprised to see him here in Philly, as I had an appointment with him tonight in Salem.”

Thomas Wolfe wrote in his book, Look Homeward Angel, “The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern because a London cut-purse went unhung. Through chance, we are each a ghost to all the others, and our only reality; through, chance, the huge hinge of the world, and a grain of dust; the stone that starts an avalanche, the pebble whose concentric circle widen across the seas.”

And although chance may have something to do with our lives and though we make a move this way or that we are still bound like an ant on a leaf rushing down a river to the sea.  And there is precious little we can do about it but enjoy the ride.

Victoria rented the apartment and she is living there now just one block away in the building of the lions and pineapples. And if you squint your eyes and hold your mouth in a certain way you can almost see the flapping wings of the butterfly in the rain forest that made it all possible.

 

Never Come Morning

BOOK REVIEW

While visiting the city of brotherly love I finished reading a novel about the city with the big shoulders. Of course I’m referring to Philadelphia and Chicago.

The novel was Never Come Morning and the writer was Nelson Algren.

Algren specialized in writing gritty tales of the denizens of Chigago’s underclass. For Algren, these individuals struggling to survive are all too human.

He wrote about the dregs of society, the convicts and the prostitutes as referred to in the Walt Whitman poem, Leaves of Grass: “I feel that I am all of them – I belong to those convicts and prostitutes myself, and henceforth, I will not deny them, for how can I deny myself.”

Never Come Morning is the story about a street gang of Polish American immigrant kids always scheming always getting into trouble with the law, fighting, robbing, raping, killing, whoring, pimping, and dealing with crooked cops.

There is a whole section where one of the characters is picked up on suspicion of shooting a drunk in an alley off Chicago Avenue. He ends up doing time in the workhouse or “workie” as it is referred to in the novel.

This would be “Lefty” Bruno Bicek, who has ambitions of becoming heavy weight champion not of Illinois but from Illinois. When he gets out of the workhouse he takes up pimping at a whorehouse accross the street from the Broken Knuckle Bar run by a Polish barber, another small time crook always looking for a fast buck. Leftie did nothing to help his girl friend, Steffi, when she was gangraped by the boys and this weighed heavily on his conscience throughout the rest of the novel. She ended up working for the barber as one of the girls in the whorehouse while he was in the workie.

Lefty’s big ambition is to win a title fight and get enough money to take Steffi away from all this misery. He gets his big chance in the last chapter of the book, “Toward Evening Lands.” Here, Algren describes a fight scene between Lefty and a black fighter called Honeyboy Tucker, the sons of a Polish baker and a mulatto pig sticker. Lefty is referred to as a white hope. This chapter contains one of the best descriptions of a boxing match I have ever read. The fight goes on for eight rounds. Two minutes and 48 seconds into the eighth, Lefty is declared the winner by a knockout.

“The bleachers howled like wind through an empty shack.”

But, the victory was short-lived however, as police captain Tenczara enters the dressing room and whispers into Lefty’s ear, “Got you for the Greek, Left Hander, two witnesses.”

Lefty was led out through the middle aisles in manacles.

“Knew I’d never get to be twenty-one anyhow,” he said.

He had won the fight but lost the battle.

Bell.

10 Things to do in Philly When Your Dead

Because when you’re in Philly it’s almost like being in heaven…

 

  1. Go to South Street
  2. The Continental Martini Bar
  3. Sabrina’s
  4. Germantown
  5. Mt. Airy
  6. Valley Green
  7. Chestnut Hill
  8. Silk City Diner
  9. The Italian Market
  10. Glenside
flickr2006686560109736505.jpg

St. Martin’s in the Field – Chestnut Hill

flickr-27725920854555973480.jpg

In the midst of Summer I found a glorious Winter

philadelphia cricket club6958358696653353881..jpg

Philadelphia Cricket Club

flickr-14902629753297503579.jpg

Philadelphia Cricket Club- Founded 1854

the continental7842746872564368141..jpg

Continental Martini Lounge

20180806_2124205797402423490443389.jpg

Inside the Continental

20180806_2215308466172704240803710.jpg

The Continental Interior

sabrina’s3350918537899816322..jpg

Sabrina’s

huevos rancheros8042168989743721021..jpg

Huevos Rancheros – Sabrina’s

dscn00804166300603633460672.jpg

Sabrin’a’s

italian market5007416825660602935..jpg

Italian Market

rizzo8526424132035107195.jpg

Mural of Mayor Rizzo – Italian Market

never come morning2338092643750082339..jpg

Molly’s Books and Records in the Italian Market

dscn00952464588438661223645.jpg

The Italian Market

dscn01166850917118160966406.jpg

Anthony’s in the Italian Market

dscn01334775095856299771629.jpg

South Street

south street-17145615151014378313..jpg

South Street

south street3797531574457886095..jpg

Dance Macabre on South Street

dscn01239203476717359325185.jpg

South Street

dscn01252573574200431719797.jpg

Lorenzo and Sons Pizza On South Street

dscn01278730257377408164028.jpg

South Street Where You Can Always Get a Piece

flickr-67188595520943762876.jpg

Manny Browns on South Street

silk city5346404242557275899..jpg

Silk City Diner

flickr-42691827084306547830.jpg

Silk City Diner

silk city-1196135126984897410..jpg

Silk City Diner

blue comet5785336933832515941..jpg

The Comet in Glenside

20180803_2339288116236433475107379.jpg

The Comet in Glenside

 

flickr-52702630612217071745.jpg

Telling Stories at Keswick Coffee Shop in Glenside

2018-08-09_09-54-578862143173376038954.jpg

Chestnut Hill

2018-08-27_04-41-162311046867713308961.jpg

Hanging Out in Mt. Airy

hanging out in mt3725568953489631872..jpg

Having a Beer at a local brewery in Mt. Airy

valley green6264381293848429400..jpg

VALLEY GREEN

 

20180809_1234327137125244527381123.jpg

Having Lunch with Winter at Valley Green

20180808_0007343696809851929414869.jpg

Valley Green

my baby's crib in germantown9114817523072582721..jpg

My Baby’s Crib in Germantown

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery

 

What mystery lies beneath the mist enshrouded tombs?

Palmer Cemetery 4 (3)

 

The dead die hard,  they are born astride a grave

Palmer Cemetery 1

A stranger’s shadow finds its way across the yard by dead reckoning

He meets a deadend

He is deadbeat meat for worms

That’s a sensible cadaver

Palmer Cemetery 4 (1)

There never was such a season for mandrakes.

Shall we linger here until perdition caches up to us?

The Cemetery is a cockpit for comic panic

Sob heavy world, sob heavy.

 

 

TONY’S WAY

Philadelphia Story

Tonys way

There are a million stories in the semi-clad metropolis and this is one.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and in each neighborhood there is a distinctive culture or ethnicity.  Each neighborhood has gradually become more mixed and diversified. In South Philly you have the Italians, in Fishtown the Irish. West Philly and North Philly are predominantly black. In Center City you see the greatest diversity, but it too has its own characteristics. In Kensington, where Tony’s Way is located, it is mainly Spanish, as in Puerto Rican. Tony’s Way is a little Puerto Rican bar nestled below the elevated Blue Line in Kensington.

I lived in several different neighborhoods in Philadelphia. For a while I lived in Fishtown in a little house across from the Palmer Cemetery.  Fishtown is a neighborhood that adjoins Kensington.  I  would sometimes walk over to the Blue Line to take it into town. On the way back home when I arrived at my stop and descended the steps from the “El” I would find Tony’s Way beckoning to me in the darkness. So one night I hustled there inside.

29093394982_af75a02d52_o

I stepped inside of the brightly lit cantina and immediately was blasted with the sound of Latin music blaring on the jukebox and uproarious laughter.  The joint was juking and very colorfully decorated with tinsel and streamers and signs of various descriptions. Very festive. The bar was in the center with seating all around. Behind the bar were a pair of barmaids in cut off jeans and tank tops.

I stepped up the the bar and ordered a shot of tequila and a Corona. That was what everybody else was drinking. I had a couple of rounds then stepped back into the night and walked home.

Since Tony’s Way was right on my way as I walked back and fourth from the El, I started to become a regular. I would go over in the afternoons sometimes and on the weekends. One day I was in there having a beer and a shot when Tony walks over to me and introduces himself.

He gave me a broad smile and stretched out his hand which I took. He had a strong grip.

“I’m Tony,” he said. “This is my place. Welcome. If you ever find you have a problem here, you see that large fellow sitting over there in the corner? That’s Ricardo. He’s my cousin. And do you see that other fellow standing over there? That’s Edwardo. He’s my other cousin. You just call one of them over and he will help you.”

He smiled again and patted me on the back and strolled off to greet the other customers. That was how it was at Tony’s Way.

One Friday night I walked over for a little entertainment and to see if there might be some Puerto Rican girls just dying to meet me.

There was line to get in.  So I queued up and waited my turn to be let in. As I was waiting I noticed there were a couple of bouncers at the front door. They were frisking people, as in patting them down for weapons, before they were allowed in. Now this wasn’t too unusual for Philadelphia so I didn’t think too much of it at first. When It came my turn they just waved me in.

So I entered the establishment and walked around the bar to the other side so I could keep an eve on the door.  I ordered my usual: A shot of Jose Cuervo and a bottle of Corona with a lime wedge.

I got to noticing the way the bouncers were frisking the patrons. A guy would step up to the door and they would  frisk him and then they would wave him on in. A couple of girls would step up up and they would get waved through. A guy come in gets frisked. The girls get waved through.

As I’m watching this it slowly begins to dawn on me, hey! Wait a minute, I didn’t get frisked. What’s up with that? They must not have thought I was dangerous enough to frisk.  Now in Philly, it’s not enough to look tough. You got to look dangerous too. So this was beginning to bother me a bit and I was feeling a little slighted if not insulted.

I turned to my fellow barfly sitting next to me and relayed my tale of woe to him. He said, relax, they probably just know you.

Ohhhhh! Yeah! I never thought of that! Well, I felt a whole lot better then and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

I moved away from Philly a short while after that incident. First to Trenton then back home to Kentucky. It’s been about 10 years since I had been to Tony’s Way, but I always had fond memories.

Recently I had the opportunity to travel back to Philadelphia on business, and while there I wanted to visit some of my old neighborhoods and stomping grounds

29507073192_bd5999f7e1_o

The first thing I noticed was the sign was down So I was’t sure if it was still Tony’s Way or not. I stepped into the bar from the bright sunlight and waited a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the light. I sat down on a bar stool and ordered a shot and a beer. I looked around and things looked pretty much the same. It was early afternoon so not too many people were in there. My eyes came to rest on a familiar character who was sitting across the bar from me reading a newspaper.

I  finished my drink and walked around the bar and approached the man reading the paper.

“You’re Tony aren’t you? I don’t know if you remember me or not but a few years ago when I lived in Philly I used to come in here. You were always very nice to me. I’m in town for a short visit and I just wanted to come by and say hello.”

“Yeah, I remember you,” he said. “Your hair was a little longer then. What happened to you?”

“I moved away.”

“Where did you move to?”

“To Kentucky.”

“To Kentucky?” He started laughing, Why’d you move to Kentucky?”

I explained I had family there and that was my home state, but he couldn’t get over the fact that I moved to Kentucky.

“Hey Angelina!. Come over here.” He waved the barmaid over. “This guy used to come here all the time, but he moved to Kentucky.”

“Kentucky?!!!”  Then she started to laugh.

She moved away from us and took another customer’s order who had just sat at the bar. And she told them what Tony had said and they laughed.  Then the people sitting next to them started laughing and shouted,  “Kentucky!” when they laughed. And pretty soon the whole establishment was laughing and shouting Kentucky! And no one was laughing more than Tony and me. But after a few minutes the laughter eventually died down, but it did not die down entirely for a long time for always at this table or that  a new area of laughter would begin.

I drank free that day.  Of course I suffered the next day from a hangover.  But it was definitely the best day of my trip.