December 31, 2011

The Blues

Cebu, 2011

This boy looked rather blue to me, sitting here in his blue shirt and shorts on shiny blue tiles with blue water bottles.

Linking with reflection seekers at Weekend Reflections.

HaPpY hApPy NeW yEaR!!

December 21, 2011

December 19, 2011

Monday Mural III - Reposo I

Today's mural could start a sub-series under the heading Monday Mural that I will name Reposo

I have in my photo archives a good number of interesting outdoor wall paintings that were created as part of an annual art and culture festival in Manila. For the past seven years the art party has been held the last weekend of May on what was formerly called Reposo Street. I've attended the street party twice, in 2006 and 2008. (If you're in Manila, go check out the street and the art and lifestyle studios in the LRI building.)

Besides the painting of a wide range of murals on a long wall by well-known as well as not-so-known Filipino artists, the festival offers a full schedule of live performances (singers, dancers, story-tellers), an arts/crafts/food bazaar, body painting for children, portraiture, movie screenings, lectures on art and culture, and much more.

Two 2006 murals by the celebrated artist Egai Fernandez are the first I will showcase. 

In this first image you can see Egai at work on one of his murals, as well as a part of the long wall used for the event.

Manila, 2006

Egai describes himself as "A Filipino Social Realist Artist. Who's hands and art are dedicated to art and placing the word 'fine' in it."

Here is a second mural he was nearly finished painting, one I particularly like.

And finally a charming smile from the artist.

None have committed to post a weekly linky, but there are a few of us playing with Monday Murals. Find more murals here, here and here.

December 17, 2011

Shadows at a Resort

For Shadow Shot Sunday here are three shadow images I captured at a very special resort in Ilocos Norte I've posted about here and here.

I like the mix of materials, textures and colors. A metal chair on terracotta Vigan tiles, name after the Ilocos Sur town that makes them. Details on the chapel. Gecko in a paper lamp.

Ilocos Norte, 2010

Click the link to find fun shadows around the globe. Thanks to the new team for continuing to host this fun meme!

Tanjiang Bridge at Night

This is again the bridge over the Tanjiang River I posted last week. At night it tells quite a different story, don't you agree? [Click to enlarge for full view.]

 Kaiping, 2011

For Weekend Reflections and Sunday Bridges.

December 16, 2011

Tonight's Sunset

Watching a big round sun set on Manila Bay is my extra special bonus when I am called to an early evening meeting at Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

Manila, 2011

This sunset [more beautiful enlarged] is linked with SkyWatch Friday. Check out the hundreds of stunning skies seen and captured from around our globe.

December 15, 2011

F is for Fishing

Boys fishing together. Friendship. What could be more fun than that?

Ilocos Norte, 2010

With the letter F at Alphabe-Thursday, I'm offering this fun series of friends fishing in Blue Lagoon in northern Philippines.

December 13, 2011

V is for Vandalism

Vandalism can be simply defined as "willful or malicious destruction of public or private property." Few would argue that smashing windows or burning cars is criminal behavior, no less than trespassing or burglary, subject to prosecution and punishment.

Yet when it comes to graffiti - writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place - a debate has raged for centuries.

Bucharest, 2011

On one end of the spectrum are those who argue that graffiti can be an artful expression of rebellion, an acceptable form of individual, political or social commentary by the powerless and marginalized.

Hardliners on the other end firmly believe that graffiti, totally unlike commissioned or requested wall/public art (like yesterday's post), is an unwelcome sign of anarchy, a loathsome act of disrespect for property, a crime, and certainly never to be called art.

What do you think? Can we discuss artistic or social merit when looking at the graffiti in these photos I took in Bucharest earlier this year? Is there a middle-of-the-spectrum position? Or is it all merely vandalism, period?

Of course graffiti filled spaces are nothing unique to Bucharest. Still I see more of it throughout Europe than in North America, and even less in Asia.

What role does culture play in the acceptance or tolerance of graffiti? I don't know; I'm asking.

(Ne Travaillez Jamais = Never Work)

Municipalities and businesses bear significant costs to clean up graffiti (when they can afford to do so at all). So I wonder whether it would do any good to provide clean and accessible walls for people to come and express themselves (sort of like the ill-fated Democracy Wall in Beijing in 1978)? Or is the illicitness of the vandalism an intrinsic part of the message? Again, just asking.

(La Vie Est Ailleurs = Life Is Elsewhere)

I'm linking with the blogging communities at Our World Tuesday and ABC Wednesday with the letter V.

December 12, 2011

Monday Mural II - Peles Castle V

It's Monday and again I join a small group of bloggers posting interesting murals found around the world. Check them out... one in Ontario, one in Flint, MI, and the other where the mural blog-hop started, in Oakland, CA. Why not join and show us yours?

Today my mural is in Romania. This is the delightful fresco in a small courtyard near the public entrance to the fairytale Peles Castle in Sinaia. The link takes you to my earlier posts on this outstanding castle built between 1873 and 1914 (and a couple of other castles).

Sinaia, 2011

December 10, 2011

Reflections on a Bridge

Back in January of this year, we saw this bridge under construction near where we were staying in Kaiping. It was in fact a reconstruction of an old one. It is called the Tanjiang Bridge.

Kaiping, 2011

By October when we went back it was completed and in operation. I learned that this 328 meter long bridge with six lanes was opened to traffic on June 22. The reconstruction had started in July 2009.

The towers on the bridge symbolize the watch towers for which this county is famous.

On the bridge I found a "selfie" reflection for Weekend Reflections. The bridge joins Sunday Bridges.

December 9, 2011

Iron Fences

Hong Kong, 2011

Little did I know two months ago when I snapped this scene near the former Marine Police Headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui that I'd be posting it for the meme Friday Fences

The old building you see is called Star House. In the '80s we had our trade consultancy office on the sixth floor. It has a fabulous view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.

In the photo below taken from another angle you can see the distinctive Bank of China building across the water in Central District on Hong Kong Island. It was designed by the famous IM Pei. Since construction started in 1985, the same year I landed in Hong Kong, I was able to see it rise up until it was opened in 1990. For only three years it was the tallest building in the city (315 m or 1,033 ft).

On the right you can see the old Ball Tower, which was formerly used to provide time signals to the boats in the harbor. Today its view from the water is blocked by the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

December 8, 2011

E is for Embroidery (again)

Decorating textile by hand with needle and thread may be a dying handicraft. Machines can do most of that embellishing work today faster and cheaper.

But in the Chinese southwestern mountain province of Guizhou I still saw a lot of amazing hand embroidery - often on attractive traditional ethnic Miao costumes that I must one day show you.

Today I share with you this intricate silk embroidered bell tower wall hanging that was being prepared for display at a local trade show in the provincial capital Guiyang. [Better seen enlarged, of course.]

Guizhou, 2006

If you are partial to exquisite embroidery, you can see my earlier posts about embroideries I found in Mongolia here and here.

The letter is E at Alphabe-Thursday, so hop on over and see what E topics others have found to post.

December 6, 2011

U is for Uuld

Before I went to Mongolia, I held the unmindful notion that Mongolians were all one ethnic people. I couldn't have been more wrong. 

There are as many as 20 different nationalities and ethnicities, and the aimag (province) of Hovd, where we spent most of our time, is home to as many as 17. Historically, each group speaks a distinct language or dialect and has its own traditional dwelling and settlement pattern, dress and other cultural features such as literary, artistic, and musical traditions.

Today for Our World Tuesday and ABC Wednesday - where the letter of the week is U - I introduce to you a warm and hospitable family of the minority group Uuld (also spelled Ööld). 

The family compound with a traditional ger (tent) and a converted 20-foot container is in the provincial capital of Hovd. 

 Hovd, 2007

We were first invited into the ger. There we met the extended family headed by the patriarch.

Ruth was on a search for unique footwear, but she was only shown modern Mongolian boots. The youngest two generations no longer wear traditional costumes and I wondered (as I often do) whether our globalized world wasn't losing some of its richness.

I asked the mother of the younger boys, "what do you teach your children to make them feel Uuld, as distinct from Mongolian?"

She replied, "We feel both Mongolian and Uuld. We have commonalities with all the ethnic groups, except the Kazakhs, and there is much inter-marriage these days. We may have different accents, but we all now speak dialects of Mongolian."

When we left the ger, she proudly showed us her vegetable garden.

Finally she invited us into the converted metal container. 

Ruth was slightly disappointed not to find her boots, but for all of us meeting this Uuld family gave us a special and unique glimpse into another way of life... yet really, how different is it?

December 5, 2011

Monday Mural I

 New York, 2008

Many months ago sister blogger at Oakland Daily Photo started posting awesome murals she finds all over her city every Monday. I've been following them with great pleasure. More recently, others have followed suit in posting all kinds of wall art (click here and here on Mondays).

Murals appeal to me on a number of levels. Wall art comes in many forms: it can be a divine fresco in an old church, a fun depiction of a historical story, or even just an attractive way to decorate a commercial establishment. In any event, they bring color and stories into our lives. Like all public art, murals bring art to the people; they are accessible. Unlike graffiti, wall art is invited, it is not an intrusion, a defacement of public or private property. And as with all mediums and levels of art, I definitely like some more than others.

Today's animal glass mosaic mural above is worth enlarging to see the detail. I snapped it walking into the Fifth Avenue subway in New York City a few years ago. It is part of a collection of murals at that station called Urban Oasis created by artist Ann Schaumburger in collaboration with Miotto Mosaics in 1997.

I think the tiled sign for the subway was pretty cool too and will link it with Signs, Signs (on Wednesday).

I don't see enough murals to post one every week, but this is a first of what I hope will be an occasional series.

If you too like wall art, click on the keyword mural on my sidebar to see a few I have posted before and go check out some of the fabulous ones posted by the other photo bloggers. And come check this spot on Mondays.

Or better yet, post your own mural and let us know!

December 3, 2011

Multiple Bridges

Amsterdam, 2008

These rows of typical stone bridges in Amsterdam joins bridge seekers at Sunday Bridges and pleasant places at Scenic Sunday.