Traveling with Art: Mount Shuksan, Washington State

 

On the west side of Washington State, Mount Shuksan has become a beloved mountain of the Pacific Northwest. It’s one of the most visited and photographed in the world; the artist Banksy even used it in a piece in Palestine.

 

This particular piece that you see above is by the artist Laurie Wells, titled “Autumn at Mt. Shuksan.” Its name “Shuksan” comes from a Lummi word meaning “high peak”. It’s a non-volcanic peak and makes for a stunning, almost intimidating view. The huge mountain has made many best-of lists, including “Washington’s Highest Peaks” and “Great Peaks of North America”.

 

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A view of the mountain from Baker Lake. By Lhb1239 on Wikimedia, CC 3.0

“Mt. Shuksan epitomizes the jagged alpine peak like no other massif in the North Cascades…Shuksan is one of the finest mountaineering objectives in the North Cascades and its reputation is certainly deserved” – Fred Becky, Cascade Alpine Guide : Rainy Pass to Fraser River

 

It’s common to see photographs with the mountain’s reflection in Highwood Lake near the Mount Baker Ski Area.

 

The mountain also has its own waterfalls: Sulphide Creek Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, along with four other tall waterfalls.

 

It’s a paradise for hikers, to be sure — not to mention clearly popular among the artistic crowd! This Pacific Northwest monument is sure to impress.

 

Have you ever visited Mt. Shuksan? What did you think?

 

 

Traveling with Art: The Island of Capri, Italy

 

Capri is a stunning island in Italy on the south side of the Gulf of Naples. The island was especially made known in the 19th century through its favorable depiction from artists and writers.

 

The painting you see above shows the brilliant teal waters surrounding the island. It was painted by Giuseppe Salvati, an artist born in Naples in 1900. Capri has a rich history, including settlement in the Roman era and possibly before then in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. In the Middle Ages the island experienced various pirate raids.

 

Capri especially gained popularity from a mid-1800’s book called “Discovery of the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri” by August Kopisch, in which Kopisch favorably describes his stay on the island. Various artists and writers soon came to stay on the island, creating an artist culture that also helped promote the place through works of art and stories.

 

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Portrayal of the Blue Grotto by Jakob Alt.

Today, Capri is a popular destination visited by both Italian and foreign tourists.Capri’s Blue Grotto is its most visited attraction. The Grotto is a sea cave that sunlight shines into from an underwater cavity and through the water, making the cave glow with blue light. Roman sculptures of Neptune and Triton have been found inside the cave, likely from the time of Emperor Tiberius. The discovery of the sculptures made the cave an especially significant emblem of Capri.

 

Tourists swarm Capri during the summer over its peak times of May through September, and locals have the island mostly to themselves for the rest of the rainy year.

Traveling with Art: Shrewsbury, Ireland

 

A town with mostly medieval architecture, Shrewsbury, Ireland’s rich history includes being founded around 800 AD and being the center of wool commerce. Evidence also suggests that Shrewsbury had its own mint in its early days, making it an especially important area. The site also saw a number of battles and conflicts in the Medieval era.

 

The postcard image you see above is a color photo lithograph of some of Shrewsbury’s mansions, a view from around the 1900’s showing a building that was built in 1596.

 

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Shrewsbury Castle Keep in Ireland. (Via Rev Dan Catt CC 2.0)

If you want to see a piece of royalty first hand, the town’s Shropshire Regimental Museum at Shrewsbury Castle has a locket with a lock of Napoleon’s hair. (Yes, THAT Napoleon.) To add to the list of famous names, Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury and grew up there.

 

 

A grave for the character Ebenezer Scrooge even exists in a Shrewsbury graveyard, made for a movie version of “A Christmas Carol” and never taken out.

 

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A watercolor scene of Shrewsbury, signed ‘Louise Rayner’.

The town also contains “the grandfather of skyscrapers”, the Ditherington Flax Mill, the oldest iron framed building in the world.

 

 

Shrewsbury has many more claims to fame than you can really keep track of! Today the town has a refined culture and plenty of architecture from various time periods, especially the Medieval era, that make the town a sight to behold.

Traveling with Art: North Wales

North Wales is a hidden gem full of beautiful landscapes and quiet escapes. It may be small, but that doesn’t mean it’s not full of places to explore. The oil painting above shows a mountain in North Wales, probably in the Snowdonia region. The peace of Wales translates itself to the calm, golden colors of the painting.

 

Plenty of art has been inspired by North Wales, an unofficial region in the country of Wales. The London and North Western Railway once made some postcards to advertise landmarks of the area:

 

w1Conwy Castle (spelled “Conway” on the postcard) is a Medieval castle built in the 13th century. It withstood several wars and saw several holdups. In 1665 it was stripped of its remaining iron and lead to be sold — leaving it functioning mainly just for tourism as it does today.

 

 

w2The quaint seaside town of Llandudno has been titled “Queen of the Welsh Resorts.” The land it settles on formed over many hundreds of years through the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age on the limestone headland.

 

The town of Beddgelert has a fascinating tale surrounding it. A legend says that a dog named Gelert belonged to Llywelyn the Great. Llywelyn returns one day to find that his baby is missing and Gelert is nearby with blood on his mouth. Thinking the worst, Llywelyn kills Gelert. But then he hears a baby wail from the corner of the room — his child is alive, and next to him lies a dead wolf. Llywelyn buries the dog and is said to never have smiled again. Beddgelert is named after the faithful hound in this story; there’s a mound named Gelert’s Grave in the town, although there’s no evidence that the story is actually true.

 

These are just a few gems among the area of North Wales. Which one would you want to visit?

Traveling with Art: The Erechtheion Temple in Athens, Greece

It’s no longer in one piece, but just by looking at it you can tell the Erechtheion was once a grand, majestic Greek temple. Ancient Greeks went there to worship Athena and Poseidon.

Built somewhere between 421 and 406 BC, this temple’s ruins still stand for visitors to admire.

The whole of the structure has had an elaborate attention to detail paid to it, especially on the doorways, windows and columns. The marble that makes it up comes entirely from Mount Pentelikon, a mountain famous for its marble. Decor details once included highlights of gilt bronze and multicolored glass beads.

Another view of the Erechtheion Temple in Athens, Greece.

Another view of the Erechtheion Temple.

The temple had different areas of dedication for different Greek gods and goddesses; Athena in the eastern part and Poseidon in the western part, along with altars to Hephaestus and Voutos (brother of a hero and the temple’s namesake, Erichthonius).

A postcard of the Erechtheion Temple in Athens, GreeceA Caryatid is a sculpted female figure standing in place of a column as architectural support.

One of the most prominent features on this ancient architecture is the Porch of the Caryatids, or “Porch of the Maidens”. This porch hides the 15 foot beam supporting the southwest corner standing over the metropolis.

In 1801 Lord Elgin, perhaps a little overeager about Greek statues, moved one of the Caryatids to his Scottish Mansion. According to Athenian legend, if you listen closely at night you can hear the remaining five Caryatids crying for their lost sister.

Lord Elgin later attempted to remove another of the statues; when it wouldn’t budge, he put a saw to it, trying to break it into pieces, but this smashed the statue and it was left in pieces at the site.

Today, the Caryatids stand in the New Acropolis Museum, replicas replacing the originals at the site of the temple. The originals had been damaged over time and are currently being cleaned and restored with lasers at the museum, a process that’s visible to visitors through a camera.

Check out some of our other travel posts:

Mount Vesuvius and Naples in Italy

New York City Architecture

Bray, Berkshire, England

Traveling with Art: The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

If you know Venice, Italy, you know the plight it faces today: rising water levels threaten to overtake the city.

So it’s all the more reason to enjoy the views of Venice while we can.

This postcard shows a view of the Grand Canal of Venice, one of the main means of traffic in the city. It snakes through the city for over two miles. Some believe that the canal goes the same route as an ancient river.

A painting of the Grand Canal by the artist Canaletto, an 18th century Italian artist.

A painting of the Grand Canal by the artist Canaletto, an 18th century Italian artist.

The Canal is lined with over 170 buildings that are over 200 years old. Many of these structures come from show-off noble Venetian families with huge amounts of money during the Republic of Venice, and they are certainly structures to admire. Check out the various styles – you can spot Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance style buildings.

One can do so by riding through the canal on the tourist favorite gondola, or on a more practical public water bus (cars are highly restricted and mostly banned from the city)

Il Molo, as pictured on this postcard, acts as a quay that is an entrance to the Grand Canal.

Il Molo, as pictured on this postcard, acts as a quay that is an entrance to the Grand Canal.

Only four bridges cross the canal. Until the 19th century, there was only the Rialto Bridge, a beautiful classic stone bridge that had to be rebuilt twice after collapsing under the weight of crowds (the most recent rebuild has not given any foot traffic a surprise canal bath).

Clearly, the canal is a place of deep and complex history, just like the rest of Venice. Although much of the city has been taken over by the tourism industry, plenty of its history is still maintained and ready to be discovered.

Make sure to check out our other Italy articles on Rome and Mount Vesuvius!

Traveling with Art: St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy

One of the most stunning architecture masterpieces in the world resides in Rome.

Worked on by such famous figures as Michelangelo, Bernini, Raphael, and Donato Bramante, St. Peter’s Basilica is the pride of the Renaissance.

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Photo credit to Wikipedia user Jraytram under CC 3.0.

The structure can be seen in the above and below pieces by an artist named Bolteau. These watercolors work together in a set with very similar colors of gold, orange, and blue, and they both feature the basilica.

The bridge in the painting above resembles the Pons Aemilius, or by its modern name the Ponte Rotto, which was damaged and repaired multiple times in history before a flood carried away one half of the bridge in 1598. “Ponte Rotto” means “broken bridge.”

This other painting has a more prominent view of St. Peter’s Basilica. The basilica was built in the Late Renaissance and is considered to be one of the holiest Catholic churches.

The many parts to St. Peter’s have all been designed with great detail and care. Its dome was designed by Michelangelo, and his famous statue “Pieta” is housed inside the basilica.

This watercolor features St. Peter’s Square, or piazza, which stands directly in front of the basilica. The square contains a 4,000-year-old Egyptian obelisk as well as a granite fountain constructed by Bernini.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described St. Peter’s as “an ornament of the earth…the sublime of the beautiful.”

Another visitor wrote, “St Peter’s Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious, historical, and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, and its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at their best…”

High praise for this architectural marvel!

What do you think of St. Peter’s Basilica? Have you ever been there yourself? Let us know in the comments!

 

Other articles in the “Traveling with Art” series:

The Arc de Triumph in Paris, France

Bamberg, Germany’s witch trials and pubs

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Mount Vesuvius and Naples, Italy

Traveling with Art: The Flatiron Building, New York City

There’s so much to say about New York City and its history that we wouldn’t know where to start. Thankfully, this vibrant painting by an artist named Lin guides the way to a more directed discussion: it shows the Flatiron Building on the corner of 175 Fifth Avenue. This skyscraper, completed in 1902, gets its name from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothing iron.

If you had to pick a U.S. city for its architecture, New York City would win hands down. The city’s architecture gives a romantic view of city life with its skyscrapers and impressive skyline. And so many of its skyscrapers are known by name – the Chrysler building, the Empire State Building, etc.Flatiron Building001

And the Flatiron Building deserves a mention of its own. It was declared a New York City landmark in 1966, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and named a National Historic Landmark in 1989.NYSkyscrapers001

The building was constructed despite the decline of the nearby neighborhood at the time. Citizens insisted on calling it the Flatiron despite its given name, the Fuller Building, so-called after the “father of the skyscraper” George A. Fuller.

Originally after its construction, NYC citizens placed bets on how far the building’s debris would go after it collapsed from the wind. They thought that Daniel Burnham’s design would make the building susceptible to easily blowing over. However, its steel bracing was designed to withstand up to four times the amount of wind force than could be expected to ever pass through the area. The bets were off, and the Flatiron stayed.

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The full painting by the artist Lin, available here.

Today, the building functions as an office building, although its unique shape creates odd, cramped offices, with walls cutting through rooms at angles. Also, a second elevator has to be taken from the 20th floor to reach the 21st, thanks to the floor’s addition three years after the rest of the building was completed.

It has its oddities, but the Flatiron Building has firmly rooted itself in NYC soil as an integral part of the city. Keep an eye out for its use or appearance in multiple TV shows and movies, like Godzilla (1998) and Spider-Man movies.

Traveling with Art: Bray, Berkshire in England

Have you ever wanted to escape to the English countryside? This watercolor painting by Albert Rosser offers a small escape into a village in England. Here, Rosser has painted St. Michael’s Church in Bray, Berkshire, a small but accomplished town in the UK.

Bray is just one of many subjects that Albert Rosser has painted in England, which also include lakes and mountains in British National Parks. He’s a go-to artist for natural English beauty. (Here‘s the link to the above painting.)

“And this is law I will maintain
Until my dying day, sir,
That whatsoever King shall reign,
I’ll be Vicar of Bray, sir.”
A ballad commissioned by the Singing Vicar of Bray in the 17th century

St. Michael's Church and its graveyard (via Rob Neild under creative commons)

St. Michael’s Church and its graveyard (via Rob Neild under creative commons)

This particular Bray church was built in 1293 to replace a Saxon church, taking some of the former church’s statues along with it. According to folklore, the builders of the church ran into a little trouble that they attributed to a demonic presence. Work progressed quickly on building the church, but on the night after the first building day, something horrible happened: the start of the structure had been torn down and reduced to rubble. Well, the builders had no choice but to start over again, but the situation occurred again, and again, and again. Citizens attributed the issue to the work of demons who did not want the church built. Finally, they moved the structure’s location and, after prayers to St. Michael from the villagers, no more demons wreaked havoc on the building.

A local cottage reportedly has a tunnel which leads to the church as an escape route for clergymen.

The Fat Duck, a critically acclaimed restaurant. (via geograph.org under creative commons)

The Fat Duck, a critically acclaimed restaurant. (via geograph.org.uk under creative commons)

Bray has two internationally recognized restaurants, one of which, The Fat Duck, was voted as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. The restaurant plays with molecular gastronomy to create exotic tastes that will surprise your taste buds. Scrambled egg and bacon ice cream, anyone?

A view of Monkey Island (via geograph.org.uk under creative commons)

A view of Monkey Island (via geograph.org.uk under creative commons)

A hotel called the Monkey Island Hotel sits on the nearby Monkey Island. The island got its name from the Old English term Monks Eyot, or Monk’s Island, based on the monks who used to reside on the island. Rubble from the Great Fire of London was dumped on the island, giving it a foundation solid enough and high enough to risk flooding. One can find grotesquely painted monkeys in the pavilion inspired by the island’s name.

Bray, Berkshire has many undiscovered treasures and hidden history within its borders, and at its finest it is a quaint English town with pleasant scenery and historical architecture. Who knows what you might discover if you visit?

Traveling with Art: Mount Rainier, Washington

Mount Rainier is a familiar Pacific Northwest landmark not too far from Seattle, Washington that is potentially one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, just waiting to erupt.

We’ve written about a volcano before – the legendary Mount Vesuvius – but for the Washington state readers, here’s one that hits a little closer to home.

The painting you see above is by E. R. Barchus, a true-to-life landscape with beautiful muted, natural colors.

The painting may display a serene facade of the mountain, but underneath the tranquil beauty is a volcano just waiting to erupt.

The main summit, Columbia Crest, is at the center. (via Walter Siegmund, Wikimedia Commons)

The main summit, Columbia Crest, is at the center. (via Walter Siegmund, Wikimedia Commons)

Mount Rainier is the fifth highest mountain in the United States, and the highest mountain in Washington state.

Mount Rainier’s most recent recorded eruption was in 1854. It has been listed as a “Decade Volcano” (as has Mount Vesuvius), meaning that it’s one of the 16 volcanoes most likely to cause great loss of life.

Experts say that if Mount Rainier erupted as powerfully as Mount St. Helens did in 1980, it would have a worse effect because of its large amounts of glacial ice and the more heavily populated areas surrounding it.

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington.

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington.

But Mount Rainier is not just a potential death threat waiting in the background. It’s also a mountain enjoyed by hikers and nature-lovers, as well as a well-known landmark in the Western region of Washington. Thousands of people attempt the climb every year, with about half being successful.

President William McKinley created Mount Rainier National Park in 1899, the fifth established national park at the time. Congress wanted to preserve the area for its natural beauty and “…for the preservation from injury or spoliation of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders within said park.”

Despite being considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, Rainier has shown no recent signs of awakening.

And it’s a beautiful mountain, to be sure.