The Barnes Foundation – Philadelphia

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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Luncheon. Pierre-August Renoir, 1875

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Sailor Boy. Pierre-August Rodin, 1883

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

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Woman with White Stockings. Gustave Courbet, 1864

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

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Two Women Surrounded by Birds. Joan Miro, 1937

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Winter at the Barnes

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Studio with Gold Fish. Henri Matisse, 1912

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In the Galleries

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

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Girl with a Goat. Pablo Picasso

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The Music Lesson. Henri Matisse, 1917

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The Dance. Henri Matisse, 1932

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Mussel-Fishers at Bernal. Pierre-August Renoir

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Jean Hebuterne.  Amedeo Modigiani, 1919

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Two Standing Nudes. Jules Pascin, 1914

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Outside the Barnes

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Reflecting Pool Outside the Barnes

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Art on the Avenue

 

The Killer of Hope

The continuing saga…

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So, I was on a photo shoot with Candide in the old neighborhood. Here’s what happened.

Candide: Where should I stand?

Benn: How about over here with that building behind you in the background? Or, over there with the fountain behind you? Or, over there in front of that tree?

Candide keeps walking….

Benn: Or, hey! I have an idea! Why don’t you pick a spot?

Candide: Is that another smart-ass remark? More of your sarcasm?

Benn: What me? Sarcastic? You obviously have me confused with someone else!

Candide: No I don’t! It’s you all right! You with your sarcasm, your cynicism, and your skepticism. You a hope killer!

Benn: Hope kills…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muhammad Ali Center

Photo Essay

The Muhammad Ali center is a multicultural center with an award wining museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. It is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville at 144 N. 6th Street. Ali was a boxing champ, a humanitarian, and a Louisville legend. He is widely regarded as one of the most important sports figures of the 20th century.

I recently visited the Muhammad Ali Center with a friend of mine who was visiting from Philly. While there I snapped a few pictures. Here is what I saw.

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Front Entrance

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Ali – Our Champion Forever

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Olympic Torch

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Islam vs. Christianity

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I am the Greatest!

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Winter in the window  overlooking the Ohio River

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Picture Ali

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A young Cassius Clay

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“Cassius immediately springs to his feet” -Leroy Neiman

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In the Lobby

White Lotus

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The lotus symbolizes the simultaneous nature of cause and effect or the laws of karma because it blossoms and produces seeds at the same time. We can create our own happiness under any circumstances. This is also symbolized by the lotus. The lotus grows and blossoms in a muddy swamp, yet remains utterly free of any defilement.

FUNERAL PROCESSION

Cemetery Blues

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Military funeral of Samuel V. Bell Sr. – 1981

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Bell Family – Samuel V. Bell Jr., Lewis Bell, his two sons Danny and David, and Sister Bert.

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Samuel Bell Jr, (my Father) Lewis Bell and Sister Bert, all gone

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My beautiful family, both gone

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He’ll be a grave man by morning

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A man of infinite jest

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They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.

All moments in time are lost like tears in the rain…..

 

 

 

The Biltmore Estate

Road Trip to Asheville, North Carolina

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My trip to Asheville, North Carolina would not be complete without a visit to the Biltmore estate. I was a little hesitant at first to fork over $75.00 for the price of admission but once on the grounds and into the house I soon discovered the tour was worth every penny. Buy the ticket, take the ride as Hunter would say.

The first ride was on a bus from the remote parking area to the mansion proper.

George Vanderbilt opened the Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895, after six years of construction. He created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life for his family and friends. The 8,000 estate was home to George, his wife Edith, and their daughter Cornelia. In 1924 Cornelia married John Francis Amherst Cecil. They lived and entertained at Biltmore. The Cecils opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 to promote tourism in the area during the depression and to generate income to maintain the property.

Vanderbilt decided to construct Biltmore in 1888. He acquired 125,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina. He hired architect Morris Hunt to design a limestone house to be modeled on the Chateau de Blois of the Loire Valley in France. It is said to be the largest domestic home ever built in the United States encompassing four acres of floor space.

Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, George’s father, made the family fortune in the shipping and railroad business. At one time he had a monopoly on all rail service in and out of New York City. As legend has it, he started his ferry business as a young man with a $100 loan from his mother, worked hard, and became one of the wealthiest men in America during the so-called Gilded Age.

Today, Biltmore remains a family business employing over 2000 employees who continue Biltmore’s mission to preserve what has been described a national treasure.

The house is beautiful and handsomely furnished, as the pictures will attest, but one is slightly turned off by the ostentaciousness of the luxurious surroundings.

One wonders about all the concentration of wealth in the hands of so few while America continues to be run by oligarchs and income disparity strangles the middle class and starves the poor.

George Orwell said it best I think: A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.”

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Comments are welcome.

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Front Lawn of the Biltmore Estate

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Exterior Shot

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Winter Garden Room

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Breakfast Room

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Portico

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View From a Broad

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Back Porch

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View From the Terrace

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Library

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Library

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George Vanderbilt’s Bed

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George Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

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Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bed

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Underground Tunnel Below the Manse

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Bowling Alley

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Swimming Pool

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Main Kitchen

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Banquet Hall

 

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Pool Room

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Gun Room

Jimmy Can’t Dance

Jimmy Can’t Dance is a Jazz and Blues club located in beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky on 7th street.

My young friend Victoria and I Ubered our way down there to drink with the grown-ups  and listened to the jazz. Nate Lopez and his Eight String were playing for our listening enjoyment and I must say they exceeded our expectations.

Jimmy Cant dance

So when I ordered our drinks I asked the girl back of the bar would it be OK to teach Jimmy to Dance? She said no, I didn’t say Jimmy didn’t know how to dance, I said Jimmy can’t dance. There’s a difference. That got me to thinking, why can’t Jimmy dance? Maybe Jimmy got no legs. Maybe Jimmy dead. Maybe Jimmy just don’t exist. That’s what I said. But one thing’s for sure. Jimmy can’t dance. But he sure plays a mean eight sting guitar!

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Nate Lopez and Nioshi Jackson

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Nate Lopez

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Honey Grace

 

 

Austin City Saloon

Review

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The Austin City Saloon, located in the heart of beautiful downtown Corbin, Kentucky, is a pretty cool place to eat. Just opened. Hostess one of those beautiful Kentucky girls you hear so much about with long blonde tresses that fell to the small of her back. A million dollar smile and tight blue jeans. Step this way she purred as she strutted her way among the tables in her high heeled cowboy boots. Food was good but the service was slow and the country music was so loud you couldn’t think. But I did call my hostess over a time or two for a little tete-e-tete which took away all the pain. Bottom line. Yep, I’d go back.

Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art

Museum Exhibition

On a recent trip to Houston, Texas my step daughter Kim and I had occasion to visit the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. This is something I always do when in Houston as the museum here is world class and they always have great exhibitions. This time was no exception. On exhibit, much to our delight, were the paintings of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).

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Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait

This exhibit highlights the artist’s early years in the Netherlands; his luminous period in Paris; his search for light and color in the South of France; and his exploration of nature as a source of enduring inspiration in Saint-Rémy and Auvers.

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Street Scene in Montmartre Le Mpulin a Poivre, Feb.-March 1887

The exhibition showcases portraits, landscapes, and still lifes drawn primarily from the collections of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands.

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In the Cafe: Agostina Segatori in Le Tambourin, January-March 1887

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Basket of Lemons and Bottle, May 1888

The color yellow held a particular fascination for Vincent van Gogh. Experiencing the intense sunlight of the South he once wrote his brother Theo, in Paris, “Sunshine, a light which, for want of a better word I can only call yellow – pale sulfur yellow, pale lemon, gold.”

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Portrait of a Prostitute, December 1885

Van Gogh, who lived with a former prostitute for years in the Hague, was particularly sympathetic to these women cast out by society.

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The Langlois Bridge at Arles, 1888

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Still Life with a Plate of Onions, January 1889

This picture was painted the day after Van Gogh was released from the hospital where he was being treated  for the self inflicted injury to his ear. The book in the painting is a handbook of homeopathic medicine and the envelope belongs to a letter he had received from  from his bother Theo.

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Tarascon Stagecoach (La Diligence de Tarascon), October 1888

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The Sheaf Binder (after Millet), September 1889

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Peasant Woman Binding Sheaves (after Millet), September 1889

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The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), May 1890

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Portrait of a Peasant Woman in a Straw Hat, June 1890

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Women Crossing the Fields, 1890

Van Gogh had seen these women walking and described them in a letter to his brother Theo just a month before he died. It was in one of these Auvers wheat fields that he shot himself with a revolver on July 27, 1890.

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Farmhouse with Two Figures, 1890

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Irises, May 1980

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A Pair of Leather Clogs, autumn 1889

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Tree Trunks with Ivy, July 1889

Feeling to weak to live Van Gogh checked himself into The Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental hospital at St. Remy. in May 1889. He was allowed to paint out of doors, but was confined to the garden of the hospital where he painted several versions of this sous-bois of tree trunks and undergrowth.

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The Garden of the Asylum at Saint-Remy, May 1889

There is little doubt that Vincent was a talented genius and a tortured soul. These  magnificent master works are on display for all to see at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts through June 27.

 

First Car

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I am a great believer of synchronicity and love to connect the dots. My first car was a 1954 Buick Century with a Dyna-Flo transmission, which I purchased for $300 from a salesman by the name of Grundy Hayes in 1965 at Broadway Chevrolet, in Louisville, Kentucky when I was seventeen years old. I will never forget that day or that purchase. Grundy wore a pale green suit and a brown straw fedora hat. He had a smiling face and a gravelly voice.

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Fast forward 50 years. I’m reading a book of short stories called Sad Stories of the Death  the Death of Kings. It is a book of vignettes written by Barry Gifford about a boy growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s. I’m pretty sure the boy Roy is a stand in for the author himself.

In the story, “Roy’s First Car,” Barry details a 1955 Buick Century with a Dyna-Flo transmission which the boy Roy purchases for $300. Boom!

How’s that for a coincidence?  When I read that passage it about blew my mind! But wait, it gets weirder.

In 2015, I’m standing in a car dealership shooting the shit with a “lot boy” named Joe. Joe was actually was about 70 years old. He was an old colored gentleman with white cottony hair. I was a car salesman at the time. We were both standing there gazing out the show room windows surrounded by new cars. I was reminiscing about the past.

“Yep, my first car was a 1954 Buick. I bought it off a guy name of Grundy Hayes back in the 60s at Broadway Chevrolet.”

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“Yeah, I know Grundy.” Says old Joe.

“What? Really? You do? Is Grundy still alive?”

“Yeah, I believe he is….”

As usual, fate took a hand.