Archive for December, 2010

New Dali Museum is the surreal thing

December 30, 2010

Florida`s new Dali Museum opens 1/11/11

Salvador Dali would enjoy the hoopla. To great fanfare, the new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., opens to the public 1/11/11 at 11:11 a.m. It is a beauty, both real and surreal.

January is chock full of public events to herald the arrival of this masterpiece of museums. Whenever you visit, now or later, take a docent tour. Not only are they entertaining, but, trust, me, you’ll want the explanations.

We were treated to a sneak preview of the $36 million building late December. With two weeks to go before the opening, things were still very much a work in progress, and the artwork hadn’t been moved from the current site eight blocks south. Though I loved the old museum, which opened in 1982, it was time for a step up for Dali’s art and for downtown St. Petersburg, these days a lively tourist destination.

End of the Helical Staircase and geodesic glass bubble on top of building

Many folks don’t realize that the Dali Museum here has more of the surrealist’s paintings than any place outside of his museum in Spain. The core collection was donated by the late A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. The new 66,400-square-foot building more than doubles the old, and the exhibition space jumps from 7,000 to 15,000 square feet, meaning more paintings, sculptures, and melting clocks can be displayed.

The building itself, designed by architect Yann Weymouth, is the perfect vessel for Dali’s work. Visitors are first hit with a view of the “Glass Enigma,” geodesic glass bubbles that front the building. From the inside, the structure, made with 900 triangular glass panels held in a steel grid — none identical — looks over the city’s waterfront.

We hope the "melting clock" bench at the old museum will make the move

Just at the entrance is the cleverly titled “Avant Garden,” featuring a grotto and bridge, hedge labyrinth, and a patio with stone pavers forming the golden rectangle. Dali loved mathematics.

Inside, you’ll walk by (or browse in) an enhanced gift shop that will hold even more items than before, some custom-designed with Dali in mind, as they have been in the past. To the right is the first Dali café, with lacy metallic chairs. In the center is another mathematical masterpiece – “the Helical Staircase” – a spiral staircase resembling a strand of DNA that ascends to third-floor galleries and ends midair with a flourish of steel.

It's always raining inside "Rainy Rolls"

Also sure to make a splash is “Rainy Rolls 2010,” a custom-made version of Dali’s “Rainy Taxi.” His original installation of a taxi that rains on the inside was the hit of the 1938 International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris. It’s been re-created several times over, and this one was designed by Alain Cerf, founder of the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum. The car is a fully functional 1933 Rolls Royce Sedanca whose mannequin driver, dressed in vintage dive gear, carries a passenger, in this case a mermaid, who is being rained on. (The water is actually coming down between plexiglass panels.) It’s an engineering and artistic marvel, and makes you realize there really is no shelter from the storm. That, my friends, is surreality.


Warm mouse, warm hands, warm outlook

December 19, 2010

ValueRays® Warm Mouse

Finally, relief!

I’ve written before about my cold extremities, partly due to Raynaud’s Syndrome. My toes and fingers can get nearly frost nipped at home, with the heat on. It’s crazy. Of course sitting at my desk is the worst because I’m just sitting there. Last year I acquired heated booties (via USB cord), which has helped greatly. I still might some day get a heated foot pad.

ValueRays® Mouse Hand Warmer

This year I tackled the hands, and I’m now the proud owner of a heated mouse and a blanket pouch for said mouse. I did not get the heated version of the blanket pouch, but there is one of those too and I’m pondering another purchase. The company, called ValueRays, also sells heated keyboard wrist pads, mouse pads, and other computer peripherals, all emitting USB infrared heat.

I had a brief exchange with the owner, Anna Miller, who lives in California, who first introduced the mouse in October 2008. She’d run an e-commerce business for years, all the time with cold hands. When she started specializing in heated computer gadgets, folks told her she was crazy. Hmmm, must have been those warm-blooded men. Now her products are used by regular folks as well as sufferers of Raynauds, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and a host of other ailments.

Not to sound too dramatic, but my mouse and blanket have changed my life! I first discovered the mouse on eBay, and here’s Anna’s website with all the products. Happy (and warm) shopping!

A gift idea for the armchair eco-traveler

December 18, 2010

Unlike most “best of” lodging books, the writer of “Authentic Ecolodges” actually visited every place in the book, quite an undertaking considering they’re scattered around the globe.

This beautiful art/gift/coffee-table book was written by Hitesh Mehta, a Florida-based landscape architect, environmental planner, and architect. To research the book, Hitesh, who is from Kenya, visited 44 lodges in 46 countries on 6 continents. Without me repeating what Hitesh says in his introduction, trust me when I tell you that his criteria for “ecolodge” is commendable. At their most basic, they embody the three main principles of ecotourism: 1) nature must be protected and conserved 2) the local community must benefit through community outreach and education programs and 3) interpretive programs must be offered to educate tourists and employees around the surround natural and cultural environnments.

That’s a good checklist for you to use on any place that calls itself an ecolodge.

Hitesh also looked at sustainable design and building practices, solid-waste disposal, energy needs and the like.

Cree Village Ecolodge in Canada

The only thing missing from each write-up, which contains pertinent information and luscious photos, is the price range, which I think is real disservice to the reader. Of course prices become outdated, but the reader wants to know a baseline and can take it from there.

Concordia Eco-Tents at St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

I’ll let you in on the North American spots in the book and you can check out the rest yourself. Both have been on my list to visit for years: Cree Village Ecolodge in Canada and Concordia Eco-Tents, U.S. Virgin Islands, and happen to be among the less-expensive spots in the book.

Happy eco-traveling, armchair and beyond!

Fun, fuzzy, funky dolls and balls from Paige Cox

December 6, 2010

Felted LuDoo doll

I love Paige Cox’s felted artwork! I wrote this for my regular Who & Ware craft column for the News & Observer in NC (it ran Nov. 6, 2010). Her pieces are sold around the country and online.

By Diane Daniel

When Paige Cox goes into high schools to talk to students about careers in art, she makes sure they know that drawing is not her thing.

“I always tell kids that I’m really not that good of a drawer,” said Cox, who lives in Greensboro, NC. “I don’t sell myself short, but I want to let them know that you can do other things as an artist besides painting and drawing. You can be a craftsman.”

And what a craftsman she is. For the past decade, Cox, 38, has felted joyful, colorful, highly artistic dolls, balls and more. Her work is in stores across the country, including the Triangle, and she’ll have a booth at the Piedmont Craftsmen and the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild shows this month.

Paige Cox in her Greensboro, NC, studio

Cox grew up in Asheboro, as Paige Helms and was encouraged by her mother, a lover of art and crafts, to explore her creative side.

When it came time for college, her boyfriend was going to N.C. State University, so she opted for nearby Peace College in Raleigh.

Things didn’t work out at Peace or with the boyfriend.

“I knew that art school was where I wanted to go,” said Cox, who enrolled in the highly regarded Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. “I took to it immediately. I loved Savannah and the school. It wasn’t just drawing and painting. And then there were all these very interesting people.”

Cox focused on weaving, but in her senior year tried felting, where wool fibers are matted, pressed and adhered, with or without moisture, to form objects, shapes and designs.

Her colorful geodes are popular

“I made a big wet-felted piece and it was really kind of horrible. But I loved that it was such a tactile craft, and I like the blending of colors. It was just one of those things that clicked.”

After graduating in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts specializing in fiber arts, Cox worked with Annawear hand-painted clothing in Highlands. Once back in North Carolina, she reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Tim Cox, a graphic designer who by then had moved to Greensboro. She joined him there the following year, and they married in 1997. The couple now have a daughter, 10, and son, 7, who were the impetus for her return to felting.

“Weaving and kids don’t go together,” Cox said with a laugh. “You’re calculating, working with patterns, needing to concentrate. Strings are hanging down everywhere.”