Chicago: Busts salvaged from Garrick Theatre demolition

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I was walking around Chicago and came across these interesting head sculptures called, “busts.” I took these photos and did some Google searches to find out more about them.

Apparently, back in 1891, the Schiller Theater Building opened, designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan of the firm Adler & Sullivan. The theatre was funded by publisher, Anton C. Hesing and German investors to be used for German language operas and cultural events. However, it seems that the German investors pulled out, not clear why, and over the years the theatre changed names/investors several times. Final name was Garrick Theatre.

Sadly, the theatre had been in decline for many years. By 1960 the Garrick Theatre was torn down and turned into a parking lot. This was the tallest building in Chicago at this time, a beautiful building. One man, Richard Nickel, took on the mission of photographing and salvaging as much as he could of the building during the demolition.

The busts in the photos I took were saved, who these men are is unknown. Four busts on The Second City theater building have been identified as famous German men.

Wow — a simple walk turned into a walk rich in Chicago history!

Designing Dragon stamps & pop-up book… What could be more fun?

854649F9-213F-4961-B2E3-0D8142F26F93I went to buy some stamps at the Post Office. When I got to the counter, the clerk asked me what type of stamp I would like. I asked what she had. She opened her binder display and said, “Flowers, American flag, DRAGONS…”

Dragon stamps, at the post office?

Apparently, at the APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show last year, USPS unveiled these special mythological stamps. There were four designs for the FOREVER stamp.

Greg Breeding, Art Director for the U.S. Post Office designed the stamps. He worked with artist, Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio, who created the digital illustrations.

At first glance, some of the dragons appear hidden; however, as you look more closely, you can see the dragons. Here is a description for each stamp:

  • A purple dragon, orange wings, black armor on its back snaking around a white castle.
  • A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle.
  • A wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.
  • A black dragon, green wings/armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea.

In addition to the stamps, Breeding and Clark also created a pop-up book to be sold at the U.S. Post Office. It’s interesting to read “how” they created the pop-up book.

Thanks to the Dragon stamps, I learned something about our U.S. Post Office. I didn’t realize we had an Art Director on staff. Most people are paying bills online now, so we don’t need many stamps or think about stamp designs anymore.

Glad I had to mail a package,

Dragon Stamps – what a surprise!

Brought me back to “Dungeons & Dragons” days…

Wedgewood looking for apprentices, keep “Made in England” alive

Wedgewood China

For years now, most companies, in all industries, have been going to Asia to produce their products. While I understand the need to cut costs, it’s also been sad to see Italian clothing/purses/table linens being made in China. Same with other products that used to be made in their original countries, everything is being outsourced to save money. In doing this, we’ve seen quality go down. There are pros/cons on each side.

It was with great interest that I read an article in Tableware International, “Wedgewood Investing New Apprentices.” Apparently, there is a demand for products with the “Made in England” label. They are recruiting apprentices and I wanted to pass this news on. The issue right now is an aging workforce and a lack of skilled laborers.

In America, the cost of College leaves students in great debt. We are taught that unless a person has a College degree, they cannot find a job. This means that trade jobs, apprenticeships, etc. are frowned upon. We need to change this mindset, so that young people can pursue jobs that they really enjoy without a stigma attached to it. Not everyone is cut out to be a student. Most students upon graduation end up working in jobs outside of their degree, unless they studied to be a lawyer, doctor, pilot, which is very degree specific.

Would love to see a revival of companies taking pride in their product, going back to the days where “quality” was critical to the brand. I am going to keep my eye on Wedgewood to see how this new apprenticeship program is working. In this tough economy and with College degrees becoming so expensive, young people need options on pursuing careers.

Fashion – Where are your zebra shoes?

B9A0C629-9C7F-4589-A125-CDAEC8B9B67FYesterday, I felt like Steve Jobs. Remember, the Apple CEO whose signature style was to wear a high black crew neck style shirt. He had a daily uniform which was classy and suited him. We grew to recognize him in a crowd, just look for the tall slender guy with glasses wearing a black turtle neck.

Fast forward to my life. A few years ago, I needed gym shoes. I went to the athletic shop. Tried on a variety of shoes, nothing fit properly. I was disappointed, but needed shoes. There wasn’t much left to choose from.

The sales clerk pointed to these zebra looking shoes. I looked at him with a “You’ve gotta be kidding” type of look. For me?

Weren’t those kid shoes, I asked? Nope, the latest style, he said.

I had to admit, they were comfortable. I bought them reluctantly.  I wore them a few times, but felt funny at the gym, so tucked them away in my closet.

Years have gone by, they have sat nicely in my closet. Recently though, it was pouring rain, I didn’t want to ruin my normal shoes, so took the zebra ones out.

In retail, we are on our feet 8 hours, we need cushy shoes. These fit the bill. My feet needed a break from “nice looking shoes,” so I started wearing my zebra shoes. Of course, there were funny comments. That was fine, I laughed.

Spring is here, I thought it was time to retire my zebra shoes for cute looking ones. So, I put my zebra shoes back in the closet.

To my surprise, two of my co-workers said, “Hey, where are your zebra shoes?”

I smiled and said, “Time for a change. You mean, you actually liked those shoes?”

“YES, they are a bit crazy and fun,” they said.

Smiling, I thought, “My Italian mother would be horrified to learn my signature style was a pair of zebra looking gym shoes.”

While I would prefer being known for wearing glitzy shoes like “Dorothy’s red ruby slippers,” my zebra shoes have modern funky style! Who would have known…

Japan – Emperor Akihito, 85 yrs old abdicates, first time in over 200 years

Emperor_Akihito_and_empress_Michiko_of_japan (1)

This past week, I have been reading about the abdication of Japanese Emperor Akihito. An emperor has not abdicated in over 200 years. It’s sad, but he has had illnesses, so he needs to rest.

He met his wife, a commoner, while playing tennis. They married in 1959. He and Empress Michiko have three children.

His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59,and Princess Masako will now take the thrown. Life has not been easy for Princess Masako. She did not want to marry into royalty and when she did all of her freedoms for traveling, etc. were taken away from her. This caused her to fall into great depression. Also, the fact that she gave birth to a daughter and not a son was stressful. Hopefully, her new role changes her outlook on life.

In America, we are lacking when it comes to International news. Luckily, with the Internet, we can read Asian newspapers to understand what is going on in Japan right now. It’s all very interesting. I wish them well.

Exercise – The Boxing Grannies of South Africa, age 60+

Are you lazy, not wanting to exercise? Well, take a look at this YouTube video “Meet the boxing grannies of South Africa.” The women are aged 60+ and meet twice a week. What I loved about this story/video is the excitement and energy these grannies have for boxing. They are up for a fight!

This is a such an inspiration!

I’ve never boxed, but watching this video brought back memories of “Muhammed Ali.” Like these grannies, I’ve gotta give it a try. They are proof that it’s never to late to try anything.

Art, drawing class – tapping into our inner artist

FEAF1040-3ADC-4C9C-AA23-31734AD893B6When I was young, drawing and painting were not encouraged. My parents didn’t go to College, they wanted “better” for their children. Anything to do with art was frivolous, would get us “no where.” Focus on studying to get a “real job,” they said. We had to support ourselves. It’s a tough world out there. Sound familiar?

Fast forward, zillions of years later…

I decided — it’s time to have fun! Treat myself to an illustration class, see what it is all about. Is it true that I have no artistic abilities? I needed to find out.

I was AFRAID, none of us want to embarrass ourselves with the worst drawing ever.

What have I learned? First, drawing can be done anywhere and it is fun! Artists practice, a lot. The more you practice, the better you become. I had no idea. This sounds silly, I know, but I thought being an artist was EASY. It’s actually hard work! Second, being an artist takes determination and dedication. To be good at anything, we need to be passionate and put the time in to practice.

I’m sharing some of my sketches with you.

Last year, I was on the train in Italy. I noticed a woman writing in her journal the entire hour. I thought how dedicated she was. When I got up to leave, I walked by her. Guess what, she wasn’t writing, she was sketching a portrait of a man on the train — unknown to him. It looked beautiful.

Yes, practice makes perfect. My instructor said, “Everyday, you must sketch. As you sketch, you become faster at sketching anything (draw the perfect circle, the perfectly straight line, arms, hands, cars, houses, etc.). Through practice and mistakes, a head that seems too large, might turn out to be your nutty professor.

That is the beauty of art, what seems like a mistake, might be your next masterpiece!

Next, painting with watercolors.

Art, any form of it, does make us HAPPY!

This is the just the beginning…