Sunday, October 25, 2015

International Museum of Art and Science - McAllen Texas

Just about every summer we head down to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  This summer was no exception.  While we were there we decided to go to the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen.

International Museum of Art and Science McAllen TX

There was a gorgeous mosaic sun and plants right before going in the front door.  I would love to have that at my house!  (IF I thought I could get away with it, I would have snatched it right then and there and then freaked out and brought it back with great shame because that's how I roll.)

Oustide Decor at IMAS McAllen TX

For Frankie and I the science part of the museum wasn't very impressive.  It was geared towards children, which is great for the city of McAllen, but didn't do much for use.  So we crossed over to the art section of the museum.  

It was nice, and had potential but there wasn't much to it.  There was one exhibit that I chose to take no picture of because of the subject.  It was photos taken of the aftermath of September 11 and I didn't feel right taking photos of them.  

I am not sure how I am going to feel about it when we go to Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum this December either.  I think that it might be different and I will want to take pictures because we will be there where it happened and no so far removed as I felt in the southern tip of Texas.

Here are a few pictures from some of the other exhibits in the museum.

There was an entire room filled with stained glass.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  The pictures do not do them justice, but it is a start.

Stained Glass Exhibit IMAS McAllen TX

Many of the pieces came from different churches in the northeast part of the United States.  The one below is depicting Jesus blessing children and was originally in Christ Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, New York.  I tried searching for this particular church online but didn't have much luck.  Either the name has been changed or it no longer exists, which makes more sense since the stained glass is now sitting in a museum in south Texas as opposed to in the church in New York.

Jesus Blessing the Children Stained Glass from Christ Episcopal Church Brooklyn NY  IMAS McAllen TX

Stained glass really is pretty.  Look at this close-up and all the details that go into it.  It is just marvelous!

Stained Glass up close  IMAS McAllen TX

Another exhibit was called Inherent Trajectories by Richard Slechta.  There wasn't a bunch of information about the works or artist, but the link to the IMAS info page and his website link above gives some information.  They were interesting but with no help, I was lost, because remember I am an art idiot, especially abstract art.

Inherent Trajectories by Richard Slechta  IMAS McAllen TX

One last exhibit that I would like to share was one on printmaking.  This actually was some of the entries from the Fourth Mexican "Shinzaburo Takeda" Biennial of Printmaking.  According to the website, 
"Now in its fourth installment, the Biennial was created in 2008 through the efforts of a group of artists from Oaxaca lead by Japanese printmaker and Maestro Shinzaburo Takeda in order to create a forum that would foster the creation of new artistic works that showcase the traditional techniques of printmaking."
Below were my three favorites.

Printmaking Exhibit  IMAS McAllen TX

The Flock by Dario Castillejos Lazcares Printmaking  IMAS McAllen TX

Lupita by Ismael Vargas Printmaking  IMAS McAllen TX

This one deserves a close-up!  It looked like a quilt to me.  I love all the small details.

Close up of Lupita by Ismael Vargas Printmaking  IMAS McAllen TX

After seeing all we could see in the museum, we headed back to the car and I took one last picture of a replica colossal Olmec head.  There is not much known about them but there have been seventeen discovered.  They are from the Olmec civilization which was located along the Gulf Coast of Mexico (1200 BC - 400 BC).

Replica of Colossal Olmec Head IMAS McAllen TX

It reminded me of when we were in Rome and I had a picture of this large foot that I wanted to find.  We finally found it in the Capitoline Museum.  That is a story that you will have to read for yourself.  Frankie still acts mad about us traipsing all around Rome looking for the "giant toe" as he calls it.

That is all for my summer posts.  There were a few other places we went, but I am just not up to blogging about them.  What can I say?

I hope that you will stay tuned.  We have plans to travel to New York City for this year's Christmas trip.  It should be amazing and I can't wait to share it with you!

Until then!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden - Nacogdoches, Texas

Before we left on our trip to Singapore, we got to visit some friends that live a forever long distance away in Nacogdoches, Texas. (Six hours by car and we never left Texas!!) Nacogdoches (pronounced nack-a-doe-chis)  is a pretty town in east Texas that claims to be the oldest town in Texas.  If you ever find yourself there looking for some quiet in the middle of the city may I suggest a stroll through the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden.

My friend, her two precious boys, and I decided to visit this garden.

Friends in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden

I was blow away by its beauty.  It almost (almost) made me forget about the oppressive humidity ladened heat that east Texas is famous for in the summertime (and mid to late spring and early to mid autumn). The azaleas are in bloom in the spring so we didn't see them since this was in June, but there is plenty of nature to see.

I grew up in west Texas.  These were my trees.


So when I see trees, and I mean real trees, not little shrubs, I am in awe.  The azalea garden has real trees! (Of course, so does all of east Texas but let's not get nit picky, ok?)

Large Pine Tree in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden

Pine trees where I grew up were fake and only seen at Christmas time.  I actually classify this one as a monster tree.  I mean really, I think east Texas steals some tree height from those poor scraggly trees in west Texas.  How else can you explain this?  (Ok, yes rain.  Rain will explain it.  Fine.)

The azalea garden has over 200 Japanese maple tree varieties.  Before this trip,  I didn't even know there was one type of Japanese maple tree, so imagine my surprise!

Japanese Maples in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden


Sun between trees in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden

Even though the azaleas were not in bloom there was still other flowers to be found in the maze of well managed trails.

There were plenty of hydrangeas.  I captured a close up of some pink ones.

Pink Hydrangea in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden

There were even some sunflowers!

Yellow Sunflowers in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden


Orange Sunflowers in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden

So you may be thinking, "This place is so beautiful, there isn't anything that would make it better."

But there was!!

There was even art sculptures in the garden!  (I keep saying garden because that is what it is called, but it seemed more like a forest to me and my west/south Texas eyes!)

Check out the huge red metal poppy.

Red Metal Poppy in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden


They just popped up on our walk.  (Get it, the poppies popped up!  I kill me sometimes!  Ha!)

Red Metal Poppies in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden


One last sculpture and last picture from the azalea garden.  It is a huge crow made out of old tires.  How cool is that?

Tire Crow in the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden


I hope this inspires you to get out and visit a new place or even revisit an old favorite.

I have a few more post to share from places we went over the summer.  I hope you will come back to read those.

Until then!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Haw Par Villa - Singapore

My final post on Singapore will be about an attraction we went to called Haw Par Villa.  It was like NOTHING I have every seen before in my life!  It was weird, strange, unusual, crazy, and amazing.  I don't have a lot of descriptions because I really had no idea what was I looking at.

I do know it was created in 1937 by the inventors of Tiger Balm.  They wanted to give something back to community.  The other thing I know came from a sign posted outside the gates.  It said the following:
[Haw Par Villa is] a unique garden that is rich in educational value and grand in architecture.  It is an undisputed wonderland of beautiful landscape and over a thousand sculptures which artistically portray stories and events based on famous Chines historical personalities, mythology and legends.
There was another sign at the gate.

Last Entry to Ten Courts of Hell Sign Haw Par Villa Singapore

With all that, welcome to:

Sign Haw Par Villa Singapore

Let's enter and see the bizarre.

Entrance Haw Par Villa Singapore

Now, before we go too far, let's stop for some refreshments.  There is a snack bar there, which wasn't open, but there were vending machines and restrooms.  We both got something to drink and even those were worth mentioning.

Frankie went with an orange soda which was a lot like a Fanta or Sunkist while I decide to try something new.

Water Chestnut Drink  Singapore

It tasted good.  I would probably drink it again.  It was non-carbonated and sweet but, did you notice what that one part said?

Water Chestnut Drink with Crunchy Bits Singapore

Crunchy bits??

There were indeed crunchy bits!  There were actual water chestnuts in the water chestnut drink!  Go figure.

Now for some picture to feast your eyes on.  These I have no descriptions for except for the ones I made up. There were some signs for some of these but not all.  I either thought they were pretty or pretty weird.  I leave you to decide which is which.

Back of Phoenix Haw Par Villa Singapore


Pagodas Haw Par Villa Singapore


Tiger Haw Par Villa Singapore

Sumo Wrestlers Haw Par Villa Singapore


Pig with Robe and Beanie Haw Par Villa Singapore

Hey, look, the Chinese Buddha again!

The Laughing Buddha Haw Par Villa Singapore

There was a sign for this one.  It told about the monkey god's flower fruit kingdom where all his monkey followers would bring him fruit.  The monkey god let his powers go to his head and he disrupted a feast of the heavens where he ate up all the divine peaches.  This angered Buddha who then punished him by trapping him under the mountains.

Monkeys and Fruit on Monkey Gods Flower Fruit Kingdom Haw Par Villa Singapore

Now back to no signs.  So you guess is as good as mine as to why there is a turtle and a frog riding ostriches.

Turtle and Frog Riding Ostriches Haw Par Villa Singapore


Women in Lotus Blossom Fountain Haw Par Villa Singapore

I wish I knew what was going on here!  I really do, but no such luck.

Fish Man Virtues and Vices Haw Par Villa Singapore

This one had a sign.  It tells the tale of friendship and loyalty.  Friends were having a picnic when one of them spotted a bear (that is the white animal, they must have been in the Arctic having this picnic).  Instead of telling his friend what he saw, he just ran away leaving the other one to be eaten by the bear.  The one left pretended to play dead.  This fooled the bear who gave chase to the one running.  The bear killed the one who ran.  Moral of the story, think of your friends first and not yourself.

Graphic Scene of Friendship and Loyalty Virtues and Vices Haw Par Villa Singapore

These next ones had no sign, so I have no clue.  They were interesting though.

Turtle serving Deer Tea and Fox on Phone Haw Par Villa Singapore


Mouse Harrassing Rabbit Haw Par Villa Singapore


Pig Harrassing Mouse Haw Par Villa Singapore

Crazy enough, this next one was my favorite.  I mean seriously, when was the last time you saw a chicken-headed woman trying to stop a duck-headed man from leaving while another chicken-headed woman protest his leaving as well??

Exactly.

Chickens Trying to Stop a Chicken from Leaving Haw Par Villa Singapore

And now for the Ten Courts of Hell!

Ten Courts of Hell Waring Sign Haw Par Villa Singapore

I know it says it is graphic, and maybe back in the 1930's it was, but nowadays we are so desensitized by television, movies, and the news that it really doesn't seem that bad.  I found it more interesting than anything.

It is a little bit strange though.  It is in a darkened building with little ventilation which made it super hot in there, but we came this far, there is no backing out now.

Let's go in.

Ten Courts of Hell Entrance Haw Par Villa Singapore

I apologize for the quality of some of the pictures.  It was really dark in there and I didn't want to use flash.  I am going to show you the description of each court of hell (because really, you NEED to see the levels, some of them make no sense) and a picture depicted one part of the description.  I, of course, will choose the goriest picture because that's what I do.

First Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Golden Bridge and Silver Bridge of First Court of Hell in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Second Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Second Court Thrown in Volcanic Pit in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Third Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Third Court of Hell in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Fourth Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Fourth Court Being Grinded in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Fifth Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Fifth Court Hill of Knives in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Sixth Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Sixth Court Sawed in Half in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Seventh Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Seventh Court Tongue Pulled Out in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Eight Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Eight Court Dismemberment in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Ninth Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Ninth Court Head and Arms Chopped Off in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Tenth Court of Hell Sign in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

Tenth Court Judgment in the Ten Courts of Hell Haw Par Villa Singapore

The Eleventh Court of Hell is walking out of that hot building back into the equally hot Singaporean weather, which you can only escape by getting on a plane and heading home to Texas. There you will have to wait many many months for summer to pass and then finally finally finally cooler weather will come and will stay for a little while.  

This concludes my posts on Singapore.  I hope you enjoyed reading them all!

Stay tuned for our next adventure!

Until then!