Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lions Invade Atlanta...Atlanta Loves It!

The Lion King opened at The Fox Theatre last week and I was there! I won four tickets to opening night by winning a giveaway conducted by a tourist-favorite magazine, Where Atlanta



I was blown away by the performance! The puppetry—the interpretation, the technical marvel, the artistry of the acting and dancing—is brilliant! The acting and singing are superb. The stage's design and all its moving parts brought the performance alive! I just can't say enough good things about The Lion King at one of Atlanta's most beloved icons, The Fox Theatre.


My story of The Lion King, Travis and Frog at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
My story of The Lion King, Travis and Frog at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

But let me back up. My story of The Lion King, its most recent iteration at least, begins with a frog. Well...it begins with a Facebook giveaway that ultimately leads to a photograph with a frog. 

Where Atlanta conducted a giveaway on their Facebook page for tickets to see The Lion King. All you had to do was share a photo of yourself reading Where Atlanta magazine. Simple enough, right? 

Well, I procrastinated—I wish I could say that I was super busy, which wouldn't be a lie at all, but everyone's busy, right? It wasn't until the last day that I submitted my entry...and I was the last one to enter, too.

I'd picked up a copy of Where Atlanta magazine at Underground Atlanta, where I ran into my buddy Stephen, new father and tour guide at ATL-Cruzers. It was great to catch up with him and learn about their new segway and food tours!

As a docent at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, I'm familiar with their amphibian research and conservation efforts—quite remarkable and admirable, I must say. And I love it when I see visitors making photos with the larger-than-life frogs throughout the Garden. 

I thought it was rather clever of me to make a photo with the frog in the Garden that's reading a book...the frog is reading, I'm reading—fun! Thanks to a visitor from out of town who I asked to make the photo for me, I think it turned out great...now one of my favorite photos.


The Lion King at the Fox Theatre
The Lion King at the Fox Theatre

Of the submissions for the Where Atlanta giveaway—and there were some super fun photos!—I won, in a random drawing, four tickets to see The Lion King at The Fox Theatre! 

But, as it turns out, the prize was more bountiful than I thought. In addition to Lion King tickets, I also received four tickets to Zoo Atlanta—to see the lions, no doubt—and a gift card to Hard Rock Cafe! Thank you, Where Atlanta

Early next month I'll be going to—and later blogging about—Zoo Atlanta with decades-long-friend Mary Jo and her boys. That's going to be a fun outing!

If you drive down Peachtree Street right now, there is absolutely no doubt that The Lion King is in town. They're rather brilliant to park one of their trailers on North Avenue (above photo), near Peachtree Street—kudos to their Marketing staff. When I drove past the trailer, it super-amped up my excitement to see the show.


The Lion King, street banner near The Fox Theatre
The Lion King, street banner near The Fox Theatre

The street banners lining Peachtree Street served as a constant reminder of the wonderful performance I was destined to experience. I've been impressed by the street banners in Atlanta...they're consistently tasteful, unobtrusive, and serve as reminders of shows, performances, or initiatives that I want to see and support.

And I love the marquee at The Fox Theatre. Did you know that if you host a private event at The Fox Theatre, one of the package options is to rent the marquee? I've seen wedding messages, congratulatory messages...how cool to have your name in lights! At the Fox, nonetheless!


Livingston Restaurant + Bar, chandelier at the corner of North and Peachtree Street
Livingston Restaurant + Bar, chandelier at the corner of North and Peachtree Street

The evening of the performance, I met friends at Livingston Restaurant + Bar in the Georgian Terrace. Livingston is one of my favorite Atlanta restaurants and often where I'll dine or enjoy a libation prior to seeing a show, performance or film at the Fox. 

Did you know that the cast of Gone With the Wind stayed at the Georgian Terrace during the premiere activities in Atlanta? 

Open nearly two decades before The Fox Theatre, the hotel itself has a grand history. I've been a hotel guest, attended special events there, and dined in its restaurants, all of which have consistently been great experiences. 

I love the chandelier just inside the North Avenue and Peachtree Street corner entrance (photo above). And it's a fun place to meet for a drink or dinner prior to a show...or 'just because', which is my favorite reason!



Perry, John, and Barry, Livingston Restaurant + Bar
Perry, John, and Barry, Livingston Restaurant + Bar

Seeing The Lion King was something I wanted to experience with friends, and people who appreciate the performance arts, as well as people I thought would enjoy The Lion King AND each others company. 

I sometimes find it challenging to put together even a small group...the amount of travel that Atlantans engage in is mind-boggling, as well as the general busyness of your average Atlantan. But I was very happy to have great friends Perry, John and Barry (pictured above, left to right) join me for the performance. We all had a great time!


The Fabulous Fox Theatre
The Fabulous Fox Theatre

If you're on the fence about whether or not to go see The Lion King at The Fox Theatre, get off the fence and go! 

And while you're at it, head over to the Center for Puppetry Arts to see several of the masks used in the Broadway production of The Lion King. In a temporary exhibit, "THE LION KING: Up Close" features four amazing masks and a Zazu puppet...amazing! Oh, and a behind-the-scenes tour of The Fox Theatre would be cool, too.

The Lion King is playing at the Fox through Sunday, April 27, 2014, which doesn't leave many opportunities  to see it, considering how busy we all are. Make the time to see this truly spectacular show! I think this is one lion invasion you'll enjoy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Penguins, Pigs, and Personalities

There are artists I look forward to seeing every year at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Greg Stones and Elaine Rader, to name two, and I always enjoy meeting new artists, new vendors, new organizations, and especially new personalities.


Atlanta Dogwood Festival, with MODA Exec Dir Laura Flusche
Atlanta Dogwood Festival, with MODA Exec Dir Laura Flusche

I had the great pleasure of being a media guest in the VIP tent this evening...and a great evening it was. The weather was perfect, I ran into several friends in the media (Great to see you especially, Carol!), the bar-b-que was fantastic, and I got to hang out with several of my Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) friends.

That's Executive Director Laura Flusche and me in the above photo, and yes, it's tilted so I could get some dogwood blossoms in the photo...it's the Dogwood Festival! And did you notice...we have the same sunglasses!

MODA is this year's Lead Cultural Alliance Partner of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival...AND the annual "The Great Chair Hack" will take place tomorrow afternoon near the 12th Street Entrance. Last year's competition was FUN!


Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2014, Greg Stones
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2014, Greg Stones

Yes, there are penguins in Piedmont Park...at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival to be more precise. Greg Stones, 2013 blue ribbon award winner in the 'Painting-Watercolor/Pastel' category, of Watercolors by Greg Stones, is back with his most recent book, Penguins Hate Stuff, and LOTS of new paintings.

I've mentioned Greg numerous times since starting wanderlust ATLANTA several years ago...because he's one of the funniest people I know! And he's a brilliant artist. He's one of those people who even though you don't see very often, always feels like a great friend when you do.

Today he shared with me some of the sketches that he's working on for his next book and "LOL" doesn't even come close to approaching how hard they had me laughing. But before that one, he has another book that's coming back from the printer soon. Stay tuned...


Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Kathleen Taylor Studio
Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Kathleen Taylor Studio

This year I wanted to feature some Georgia artists, ones who I've not met before, so I introduced myself and chatted with a few whose art grabbed my attention.

Kathleen Taylor of Kathleen Taylor Studio is so incredibly sweet, as is her artwork. No, she's not a relative...it's a total coincidence that we share the same last name. But I have to say that I have great admiration for her approach to her paintings. Inspired by her dogs and other animals, she keeps her works positive, upbeat, and most importantly "happy"...you gotta love that!


Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Margaret Taylor
Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Margaret Taylor

Believe it or not, I wasn't purposely seeking out all the artists with the last name Taylor...it just so happened that the next one I spoke with was Margaret Taylor of Dryads Dancing. Talk about coincidence!

As an aerospace enthusiast, there was a wooden plane in her booth that caught my attention, and then a wooden goat caught my attention, and then a lawn of letters...which then triggered my memory. 

A couple of years ago I was at the Festival with my friend Michele (that's not a misspelling, he's Italian) who purchased two of Margaret's large metal-covered letters as a gift for a couple of his friends. He says they love them!

Margaret's work is truly fantastic...stop by and you'll see what I mean.


Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Creative Creations
Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Creative Creations

You already know there are penguins in Piedmont Park, but would you believe that there are also flying pigs in Piedmont Park? It's true! You can't miss them.

The Creative Creations space is filled with fun, festive, and bizarre creations designed for one's garden. Out of Woodstock, Georgia, artists Jimmy and Marlene's work is sure to entertain, whether guests of a backyard party or family helping out in the vegetable garden.


Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Sockly of the Center for Puppetry Arts
Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Sockly of the Center for Puppetry Arts

Penguins and pigs we've seen...and I promised personalities. There are plenty of personalities at every Atlanta festival, but today I had the pleasure of formally meeting Sockly, the mascot of the Center for Puppetry Arts...and man, is Sockly tall! 

This was Sockly's first Atlanta Dogwood Festival, but the second time I've met Daniel, the Marketing Director at the Center. You may recall that he recently toured me around the Center for Puppetry Arts, particularly the temporary exhibition featuring masks from the Broadway production of The Lion King

By the way, I saw The Lion King at the Fox Theatre last night and it blew me away...absolutely fantastic! And I have to say, seeing several of the masks up close enhanced my experience of the stage performance. I highly recommend seeing the exhibit.


Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2014
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2014

This year's Atlanta Dogwood Festival features not only wonderful artists, special events, live music, festival food—as well as some super fun penguins, pigs and personalities—it also feature a forecast for absolutely gorgeous weather, all weekend long! So, stop reading this and get yourself to the Festival. Have fun!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Awe-inspiring Americas Collection

Having lived in Greece for more than two years, and falling in love with the country and culture—and the food!—when I visit the Michael C. Carlos Museum I am immediately drawn to the Greek & Roman Collection. And, of course, the Egyptian Collection is a mega-magnet, for me and practically every other visitor...I mean, who isn't fascinated by mummies, right?! 

What I once thought was one of Atlanta's 'best kept secrets', the Michael C. Carlos Museum has a wonderfully impressive collection...and I'm not talking about just the Greek and Egyptian artifacts. 

In this brief post, I hope to compel you to visit and explore more closely their Americas Collection. It too impresses and fascinates.


Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum
Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum

I visited Mexico when I was in the Navy and many years later I visited Argentina with my best friend—as well-traveled as I like to think I am, those are my only Americas visits south of San Diego. 

We were in Argentina for two weeks—Buenos Aries and Iguazu Falls. And of course we did all the usual touristy things, but our final stop, on the way to the airport to go home, was a visit to their Natural Sciences Museum

It may not have been the Smithsonian caliber that I was used to—I lived in Washington, D.C. at the time—but "Wow!", did it impress! I was captivated, fascinated, and in awe of their collection...and excited to experience how another culture shares a specific collection with locals and visitors. I often wonder how Atlanta's museums are experienced by persons from other cultures.

Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum
Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum

My point is, the Americas Collection at the Carlos Museum is not to be missed. And it's one of the more spectacularly laid out exhibits I've experienced. I've noted before that the floors alone—featuring subtle maps of the area that's being displayed in the particular gallery you're in—are fascinating. Seriously.

The collection I'll let speak for itself. Just give yourself plenty of time to absorb it's mesmerizing, captive essence.



Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum
Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum

While we're talking about impressive, the Carlos Museum's ancient Americas collection consists of more than 2,300 artifacts.

"All three principal cultural centers of the Americas are represented: Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes. Most of the important art-producing cultures—from the Maya to the Aztec to the Chavin to the Inca—can be appreciated during a visit to the permanent collections gallery." - Carlos Museum Website


Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum
Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum

Be sure to check out the museum's website for events, programs, tours, and special exhibitions...and more. 

One of the current exhibitions is "Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Moon: Vixarika Arts of Modern West Mexico."


Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum
Americas Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum

While the Michael C. Carlos Museum may not be centrally located in our Tourism Corridor—Downtown and Midtown—it's not that far from either. It's on the campus of Emory University, which if you're a fan of architecture, you're in for a double treat!

When you visit Atlanta, please make time to visit this treasure of a museum, and be sure to take in the Americas Collection...I think you'll be glad you did. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Through the Eyes of Margaret Mitchell

"As I was seeing this tour in full today, for only the second time, it struck me that this is like a Broadway play on wheels. The worldwide passion for Gone With the Wind will envelop each guest as they tour with us, enchanting them with Margaret Mitchell." - Patti Davis, Head Television Fanatic, Atlanta Movie Tours

 Someone give Atlanta Movie Tours a Tony Award, please! Seriously.


Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

The new Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour presented by Atlanta Movie Tours is indeed award worthy! Words fail me as I try to describe just how exceptional. This was a tour—and I've been on a LOT of tours—that immediately mesmerized me, sustained my attention, and was without question three hours of abundant fun! 

You know that feeling when you're watching a movie and you're so invested in it that you never realize that you've been watching as long as you have? And you don't want it to end when you do? That's this tour!

Led by none other than 'Margaret Mitchell' herself, she discusses her book at length, as well as shares insights into her life in a manner that only Margaret could. The presentation, indeed the performance, is presented thought the eyes of Margaret Mitchell.  


Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

On the way to the Margaret Mitchell House, we drove by the Wimbish House. Owned by the Atlanta Woman's Club, today it's a special events venue. Margaret Mitchell was born at Grady Hospital and that's where she passed away five days after being struck by a an off-duty taxi driver near Wimbish House, today the site of many more wonderful memories.

I never once saw "Margaret" reading from a script and never felt like she was spewing out memorized script. I so cast myself so into the performance that when I had questions, I prefaced them with, "Ms. Mitchell, ..." 


Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

While Margaret reminisced on her charitable work (photo above), our Margaret Mitchell House tour guide, Ann, regaled us with stories of Margaret and husband John Marsh's time at "The Dump", what they called their apartment at Peachtree Street and 10th Street. You'll learn more about 'why' they called it that on the tour.

We were treated to practically the entirety of the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum, which included time to explore their newest exhibit, Stars Fall on Atlanta: The Premier of Gone With the Wind. More about that exhibit in another post... 



Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

I've toured The Dump before, but doing so with media professionals on an Atlanta Movie Tours event was a unique experience. One perk was that as media, we were permitted to make photographs in the apaartment—a 'no-no' on the standard tour. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it's because none of the furnishings in the apartment are original to Margaret and John's living there and they don't want Margaret's life misrepresented?

Even with that, it's fun to imagine Margaret writing at least a little of Gone With the Wind under the window where they've placed the small desk (above photo). It's beyond cool to visit Margaret Mitchell's home, where she spent a number of years writing Gone With the Wind.



Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

The Making of a Film Legend: Gone With the Wind is a definite a must-see. This exhibition is housed in an adjacent building, a mere few steps from the Margaret Mitchell House. 

A couple of my personal favorite highlights of The Making of a Film Legend include the original door from the Tara facade used in the movie, as well as the original portrait of Scarlett (above photo) used in the movie.


Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

On the way to Oakland Historic Cemetery, we passed by The Georgian Terrace, directly across the street from The Fox Theatre. Before I go on...no, Gone With the Wind did not premier at the Fox, but the film's stars stay there during the premiere. 

I remember years ago that there was a Gone With the Wind exhibit on the lower level of The Georgian Terrace. I understand that that collection is now mostly displayed at the Road to Tara Museum.

I've read that Margaret Mitchell's final resting place in Historic Oakland Cemetery, which I've written about before, is the most visited grave in the "garden cemetery" that started with a mere six acres.

When you visit Margaret's gravesite, note that she and husband John are on one side, the Marsh side, and her parents were interred on the opposite side of the same gravestone, the Mitchell side. 

I love this photo (above) of "Margaret" having a 'moment' while reflecting on the life of the real Margaret Mitchell. The photo was not staged...it's total serendipity. This was also the site where we made our Atlanta Movie Tours group photo.



Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

We stopped by the Georgia-Pacific Tower, Atlanta's sixth tallest skyscraper, which is where the Loew's Grand Theatre once stood—where Gone With the Wind premiered. I recently saw some fantastic rare color video, courtesy of the Atlanta History Center, of the Gone With the Wind premiere events.

A not-so-well-known factoid: While the Loew's Grand was lost to fire in the 70s, its bricks were used to build the Houston's Restaurant on Peachtree Street in Buckhead. You won't find much on their website, but you will find a small brass plaque just inside the entrance marking their Gone With the Wind distinction.

There's an engraving on the exterior of the Georgia-Pacific Tower that includes a brief acknowledgement of it being the site of where Gone With the Wind premiered. The majority of the engraving notes the design and construction of the skyscraper.  



Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
I have a confession. It was only in the last few years that I watched Gone With the Wind in its entirety. I know, I know...how can I call myself a true Southerner if I've not seen Gone With the Wind

To compound matters, I've not yet read Gone With the Wind. But rest assured, it's at the top of my reading list. Authoring wanderlust ATLANTA I've enjoyed the opportunity to learn quite the volume of information about Gone With the Wind and Margaret Mitchell, steadily increasing my fandom of both.

So, when I do read the novel—in the near-term—I'm guessing it'll be like listening to an old friend regale the more fascinating accounts of her life.

Perks of the Tour: You'll not only be offered bottled water—hydration is important on any tour—but they'll also hold a trivia session...with prizes! And you'll receive a complimentary digital copy of your group photo...smile! AND you get admission to the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum and the Road to Tara Museum. I told you this is a fun tour.


Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

Our next stop was the Central Library located at One Margaret Mitchell Square in Downtown Atlanta, across the street from the Georgia-Pacific Tower, former site of the Loew's Grand Theatre where Gone With the Wind premiered in 1939.

Central Library, part of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, is home of the quite special Margaret Mitchell Exhibit. Here you'll see the actual typewriter that Margaret used to write Gone With the Wind...and a lot more. 

The Margaret Mitchell Exhibit is in the Special Collections on the 5th Floor. There are other reasons to go to Central Library as a tourist. There are special exhibits, seemingly all the time and not just on the 5th Floor.

The last time I went—actually to see the Margaret Mitchell Exhibit when writing about the Gone With the Wind Trail—I happened upon two restored chariots, from the movie Ben Hur on the entry level. You just never know what you're going to see in Atlanta!



Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour, Atlanta Movie Tours

Kelly, our tour guide at Central Library, pulled out some not-on-display artifacts, including a first edition copy of Gone With the Wind that belonged to Margaret Mitchell, and the one millionth copy, presented to her by publisher Macmillan.

She let us make photos—non-flash, of course—of the books. The photo above I shot with Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize. Photos of the exhibit are permitted and Kelly told us that the exhibit will soon be redesigned to feature more of the film.

Atlanta Movie Tours' tagline reads, "Hollywood is closer than you think," and that couldn't be more true. In the case of this particular tour, they could also say, "Broadway is closer than you think." I believe you'll agree that this tour is Tony Award-worthy. And you'll quickly become an enthusiastic fan of Sally, the 'actor' who portrays Margaret Mitchell. She's also a docent at Oakland Cemetery.

One word of advice...when meeting at Atlanta Movie Tours headquarters, pay attention to where you're going. I walked right by it totally fixated on a large zombie sock monkey in the storefront window!

"Thank you" to Atlanta Movie Tours and to Patti Davis, co-founder and co-owner of Atlanta Movie Tours, for inviting wanderlust ATLANTA to experience their new tour. It's beyond brilliant...the best tour I've been on in years!

I've gone on and on, but rest assured that what I've shared is merely the tip of the iceberg...wait, wait, that's a different movie...rest assured that what I've shared about Atlanta Movie Tours' newest venture is merely a single radish of the bounty of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour. You'll never be hungry again for knowledge of Margaret Mitchell's life.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

BLIND/SIGHT: Conversations with the Visually Inspired

BLIND/SIGHT: Conversations with the Visually Inspired is...well, it's profound.

It's exhibitions like this, and the unique presentation of the more traditional art exhibitions, that are the reason I thoroughly enjoy the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA), always anxiously await the next alluring exhibit.

The title of this exhibition alone was enough to entice me. Having heard "visually impaired" for so many years, when I saw "visually inspired", I knew this was a must-see exhibit. 



BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

BLIND/SIGHT is a collection of photographs of people with vision loss coupled with a biography of the pictured person, including a description of their vision. And taking it another step further, they've included an interpretive illustration of what each person sees.

I've not seen such an exhibition before and find it completely and totally fascinating. Why? My mother's experienced eye trauma during an electrical storm when she was a young girl...she's worn glasses ever since. She's long told us that eventually she'll lose enough of her sight that she'll become legally blind. Thus my interest in vision.

Personally, I've had 20/20 all my life...until a few years ago with I started experiencing vision fatigue. It not serious nor debilitating, it doesn't even require glasses, but I finally understood, to quite a small degree, what it was like to not have perfect sight. My compassion grew.

BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

There is some excellent programming planned with this exhibition, which is already underway. I have three lectures on my calendar for April! There is a lecture every Wednesday evening, starting at 7:00 p.m. in the Museum. 

TONIGHT: The presenters range from Allan Eddy, an artist featured in Optic Chiasm, to tonight's lecture presented by the exhibition's photographer, Billy Howard, and the exhibition's illustrator, Laurie Shock

BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

My schedule lined up such that I was able to attend the opening reception for BLIND/SIGHT and Optic Chiasm--running concurrently through Sunday, May 4, 2014. The reception was well-attended and over the years I've noticed an increase in visitorship...a great thing! 

There was an interview taking place when I was there, but I'm not sure who it was for. To my personal delight, there are many people and news outlets out there reporting on Atlanta happenings. 

I've shared with you before that I have a mission to make Atlanta a city of back yard tourists...a city filled with locals who explore their own city, not waiting for company to come into town to visit an attraction or museum. A city of citizens who explore Atlanta before their visitors arrive so that they can provide said visitors with a more enriching experience. I hope many will include OUMA in their "We have to go to OUMA because..." planning with visitors.


BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

For the visually challenged, there are elements to facilitate a full experience of this exhibition. There are QR Codes on each piece that offers an audio presentation. And items in the exhibition that invite visitors to "Please Touch".

The first time I saw a QR Code was at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), when they were still in Downtown Atlanta. I was beyond excited about the technology and its many possibilities. It's great to see them being used for the visually impaired in this OUMA exhibit.


BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
BLIND/SIGHT, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

BLIND/SIGHT celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Center for the Visually Impaired, Georgia's largest provider for the blind and visually impaired.

This exhibit gets high praise and recommendation to see from wanderlust ATLANTA. OUMA has long been a favorite museum of mine. I called it one of Atlanta's 'best kept secrets' a few years ago, but I see that changing. 

Check out the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art...I think you'll be fascinated with the caliber of exhibits they present...and of course, visit in person!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Atlanta Blooms! 2014

In its fourth year, Atlanta Blooms! at the Atlanta Botanical Garden features nearly 300,000 blooms including tulips—my personal favorite!—daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and other bulbs, as well as flowering trees, shrubs and other flowers. It's beyond stunning!

The Atlanta Blooms! exhibition is "March through April". In its inaugural year, there were more specific dates, but the Garden quickly learned that Mother Nature doesn't necessarily follow a specific calendar, not a detailed one anyway. 


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

I've been to Atlanta Blooms! several times this season and yesterday was by far the best of the day's I've been. I went with a friend visiting from Washington, D.C. who had never been to the Atlanta Botanical Garden—which I didn't know until we were almost there—so, it was great fun for me to play tour guide. And they pointed out how much they enjoy my enthusiasm for the Garden. That meant a lot to me.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

For this post, I'm going to let you enjoy the photos while I tell a story...the story of why tulips are my favorite flower.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

This is a story, that I've been told over the years, of an instance that I don't even remember. I was barely old enough to walk.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

My parents had divorced and we were living with my grandmother, Evelyn, or "Granny" as we kids called her. I was two years old and we had moved from Florida to South Carolina, long before my time in Atlanta.

A little about grandmother: Her mother was born on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina, so grandmother had dark hair, dark eyes, a Cherokee complexion, and the most incredible cheek bones! She was also a mere 4' 9" tall...she loved to eat—she was an incredible Southern cook!—so, she was also a little Butterball. Adorable!


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden


One Spring, or it might have been late Winter, grandmother's tulips had blossomed and they were beautiful. Then a frost came and wiped out all of them...except for one.

A couple of days later, here comes little Travis walking into the house with said lone tulip in-hand, saying, "Flower, mommy, flower!"


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden


How the real story goes, I'll never know, but that's the way I remember it being told over the years. I loved my grandmother very much and miss her dearly.

She wasn't the kind of grandmother that spoiled me rotten or chastised me for the crazy things a younger generation does. She just loved me. She loved me unconditionally and for who I am. Can anyone ask for a more pure love than that?

Tulips are my connection to her now; they always evoke cherished memories of Granny.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

When you visit the Garden to see Atlanta Blooms!, you quickly realize that the blooms are EVERYWHERE! 

They're at the entrance, in the Woodlands, in the Rose Garden, around The Great Lawn, the Perennial Garden, in the Edible Garden...everywhere! So explore at your leisure and enjoy one of the most wonderful respites from the hustle and bustle of city life Atlanta has to offer.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

The bulbs of Atlanta Blooms! are gorgeous and are what make the exhibition. But also enjoy the other flowers in the Garden. The cherry trees in front of Mershon Hall are stunning, as are the many, many other flowering trees and shrubs throughout the Garden...and then there's always the visitor-favorite Fuqua Orchid Center.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

If you go now, you'll also get to see the wonderful Orchid Daze exhibition. It's up until Sunday, April 13. And remember, the Garden hosts a 'Gently Used Plant Sale' every year after Orchid Daze had finished. This year's Sale is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, April 16-18. 

Watch their website for additional details, or "Like" them on Facebook, which is always a great way to stay in-the-know of happenings at the Garden.


Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!, Atlanta Botanical Garden

The best advice I can give you, if you can only visit the Garden on one day (again, membership has its benefits, including being able to visit again and again and again), keep an eye on other blooms throughout Atlanta, or even the bulbs planted at the Garden entrance. They'll be a good indicator of what's coming up inside.

BUT...also keep in mind that many of the flowers in the exhibition are planted in such a manner as to give a longer period of varying blossoms. Seriously, if you go every weekend for a month, each visit will be a different experience. That's one of the things I love about the Garden!

Don't miss Atlanta Blooms! It happens but once a year and only at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I say "only"...but, one of the goals of Atlanta Blooms! is to encourage Atlantans to plant more flowers. 

Just imagine if every yard in Atlanta had spring bulbs blooming...beautiful, right? But until then, we have the stunningly beautiful Atlanta Blooms!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

OUMA's "Optic Chiasm"

Optic Chiasm: The Crossing Over of Art & Science is brilliant! A joint venture with the Atlanta Science Festival, Atlanta Science Tavern, and Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA), the exhibition is an exploration of the art of vision and the science of sight. I knew from the first time I heard about the exhibit that it was a must-see!


Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)
Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)

There are two consecutively running exhibitions, both part of this year's Atlanta Science Festival, which wrapped up yesterday. The OUMA exhibits will continue to be on display through Sunday, May 4, 2014.

I'd like to interject a huge "Thank you and congratulations!" to the Atlanta Science Festival. They had phenomenal programming and how fantastic that they included the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art!


Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)
Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)

I'm showing you only a few of the pieces in Optic Chiasm, and the photographs do not do justice for how incredible the actual pieces truly are. But as usual, I want to save something for you to experience in person.

When you're planning to see the exhibit, consider going on a Wednesday evening in April. There's a lecture series coupled with the current exhibitions. 

The one I'm particularly interested in attending is "How the Art You See Depends on the Physics Your Brain Knows", presented by Dr. Michael K. Rulison, Professor of Physics, Oglethorpe University.


Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)
Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)

The above piece is one of three in the exhibition by artist Allan Eddy. Eddy is an award-winning 1988 graduate of the Atlanta College of Art. In 2000, stricken with meningitis, he went totally blind overnight. Years later, to the great surprise of a number of doctors, he has regained a small portion of sight in one eye, as well as some color distinction. Atlanta-based Eddy continues to paint today.

Eddy will be presenting a lecture at the Museum on Wednesday, April 30, at 7:00 p.m. titled, "Painting in the Dark"...another must-attend. Pictured above, Flora and Fish represents Eddy's current style of art—abstract/surrealism in pointillism

Optic Chiasm was coordinated by Ms. Nancy Lowe, Director, Symbiosis Art+Science Alliance; Dr. Nicole Gerardo, Assistant Professor of Biology, Emory University; and the lovely Ms. Elizabeth Peterson, Director, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.


Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)
Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)

Many of the pieces in the Optic Chiasm exhibition are coupled with "Please Touch" signs. You don't see that every day and it brings a level of connection with the works that non-tactile interaction just can't.

A departure from the Museum's 17th Century paintings and Japanese porcelains, I offer high marks for such an impressive departure...these exhibits and all they represent are phenomenal!


Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)
Optic Chiasm, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA)

The above piece, one of three in Marcia R. Cohen's Out of the Blue series, was my personal favorite in the Optic Chiasm exhibit. The panel on the right is a literary description—in braille—of the painting.

I once tried to learn braille, but didn't have the required patience—for someone in the 6th grade anyway. Instead, I started learning American Sign Language. I never became proficient, but can laboriously carry on a conversation in Sign.

I think those early experiences contribute to my fascination with an exhibit of this nature, but I hope the above preview piques the interest of everyone. Optic Chiasm: The Crossing Over of Art & Science is definitely worth a visit and do consider attending one of the OUMA lectures.