Monday, January 20, 2014

Safari #86: Third Thursdays at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

I finally had a chance to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner for Third Thursdays this past week.  I had such a great time that I can't wait to again soon.

The museum itself (if you haven't been) is the personal collection of the museum's namesake.  Isabella Stewart Gardner had an amazing appetite for art, and she built the museum on Louis Prang Avenue to house her collection.  Today, visitors can enjoy her works and attend special events, such as Third Thursday.

In 2012 the new wing of the museum opened offering an onsite cafe, bookstore, library, performance hall and other educational spaces.  Third Thursday embraces these new spaces with fun and creative activities.  In addition, cocktails are served on the ground floor of the museum.  During my trip themed Midwinter Tropics, we created succulent gardens using an assortment of plants, mosses and other decorative elements.

One of the evening's highlights was artist Victoria Shen's Modernist Manicures. These tiny creations embraced Victoria's vision of accessible art; viewers can sometimes find modern art difficult as it challenges our traditional understanding of art.  Victoria's masterpieces make modern art more understandable through personal interaction and ultimately by allowing the viewer to wear it.

Here's a short video of the finished work:

**Image of the interior courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum kindly borrowed from

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Safari #85: Cathedral of St. John the Divine

I just love it when my out of town adventures have connections to Boston.

The Upper West Side of Manhattan is home to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine - the 4th largest church in the world.  Whenever I  leave the city, I always pass it (mouth agape) as I make my way up Amsterdam Avenue.  For years, I've wondered about the interior. Until now.

I recently took a climbing vertical tour of the church that highlights the art and  architecture as you make your way up. The details of the construction are unbelievable, and if you've read my other art and architecture related posts for Boston and New York, some of the connections I'm about to mention are incredible too.

The Cathedral was designed by George Lewis Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, son of John LaFarge, the famous designer of the stained glass windows in Trinity Church.  Both met while studying at MIT and worked with Henry Hobson Richardson, the architect of Trinity Church.  In addition, the numerous vaulted ceilings inside the church were designed by none other than Rafael Guastavino, one of the designers commissioned to work on our own Boston Public Library as well as the tiled vaults of the NYC Subway's City Hall Station.

I'm always amazed to see how interconnected our cities are using the lens of art and architecture.  I hope this post inspires to you climb to new heights this year, travel outside of your comfort zone, and discover new connections.

My Tips:
  • Check out the Tours! The Cathedral is open to the public, but to get the best view, sign up for a tour.  Our docent was informative and friendly, and I never thought I'd see the roof from above the church itself!
  • Afraid of Heights? The Vertical Tour might not be for you.  If you decide to go, you can walk back down at any time.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I'd recommend sneakers or something with a rubber sole.