Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gone With the Wind Trail

Today, June 30, is the anniversary of the publication of Gone With the Wind, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Atlanta-born Margaret Mitchell

To mark the occasion, I'm going to write about each of the five main attractions on the Gone With the Wind Trail—a brilliant collection of all things Gone With the Wind in or near Atlanta.

So, all you Windies, get ready for full week of some Gone With the Wind fun! Blog posts you can look forward this week, include: 

Road to Tara Museum
Jonesboro, Georgia

An amazing Gone With the Wind collection in a museum set in the area where Tara would have been located, Clayton County.

Historic Oakland Cemetery
Atlanta, Georgia (Southeast of Downtown)

Beautiful Oakland Cemetery, the final resting place of thousands of Confederate soldiers and many famous Atlantan's, including Gone With the Wind author, Margaret Mitchell.

Atlanta Fulton County Public Library 
Atlanta, Georgia (Downtown)

Central Library has on the 5th Floor a modest, but impressive exhibit featuring rare photographs and artifacts, many of which cannot be seen anywhere else.

Margaret Mitchell House
Atlanta, Georgia (Midtown)

This Midtown home was where Margaret Mitchell wrote approximately 90% of Gone With the Wind. She and her husband 'fondly' referred to their apartment as "The Dump."

Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square
Marietta, Georgia

Home of Scarlett's Bengaline honeymoon gown—the real dress, the one that Vivien Leigh wore in the film, the Marietta Gone With the Wind Musuem is phenomenal. I also had the great honor of interviewing the executive director of the Museum.

There are a few other recommendations, beyond the five main ones, noted by the Gone Wit the Wind Trail about which I'll also write, sometime soon. Those include: the Atlanta History Center, the Atlanta Cyclorama & Museum, Stately Oaks Plantation, and the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.

Update: Here are the links to my posts of the top five "Gone With the Wind Trail" destinations:


Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Confederate Lion of Atlanta

The Confederate Lion of Atlanta—often referred to as simply The Lion of Atlanta—stands at the resting place of approximately 3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers at Historic Oakland Cemetery, of which most were lost during the Atlanta Campaign.

Underneath the Lion itself are boxes containing amputated limbs of Confederate soldiers. I know it sounds morbid, but we are talking about war and we're talking about a cemetery, albeit a beautiful cemetery. 

The Confederate Lion of Atlanta, Historic Oakland Cemetery
The Confederate Lion of Atlanta, Historic Oakland Cemetery
This memorial to the "Unknown Confederate Dead" was sculpted in 1894 by T. M. Brady of nearby Canton, Georgia, and it was sculpted from the largest piece of quarried Georgia marble as of that time...not a small feat!

Brady was lauded for his beautiful work, save for a few who claimed it to seem too similar to the Lion of Lucerne, which also depicts a dying lion in a very similar position. Their lion monument was for the Swiss Guard who died protecting the French Monarchy—King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette—during the French Revolution.

The Confederate Lion of Atlanta, Historic Oakland Cemetery
The Confederate Lion of Atlanta, Historic Oakland Cemetery
The sculpture was unveiled on Confederate Memorial Day in 1894—April 26 to be exact. There has been much speculation on the symbolism of the sculpture...the bottom line, as fascinating as all the speculation is though, is that it signifies the end of an era. It was given by The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association.

The Confederate Lion of Atlanta, Historic Oakland Cemetery
The Confederate Lion of Atlanta,
Historic Oakland Cemetery
The Confederate Lion of Atlanta at Historic Oakland Cemetery is a must-see for any and all tourists. While you can see it for free, I highly recommend taking one of the guided tours...they don't cost very much and are highly've have to read at least a dozen book to get all the information imparted during one of their docent-led tours!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hydrangea, A Southern Landscaper's Staple

The hydrangea is synonymous with Southern landscapes, as are the magnolia, dogwood trees, azaleas, crepe myrtles, camellias,  and a very wide range of flowering bulbs. Truly, it seems that everyone I know has hydrangeas in their yards...they're in the backyard at my home.

Hydrangea at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Hydrangea at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Some of the most spectacular specimens are at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, with a breathtaking spring showing in the Southern Seasons Garden. You'll see them elsewhere in the Garden and you'll see a number of varieties.

Hydrangea at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Hydrangea at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Their color range is quite spectacular as well, ranging from white to more pinks than you've seen at every wedding ever put together, blues that often reflect the bright Georgia sky, and purples that delight the playful imaginations of kids of all ages.

Hydrangea at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Hydrangea at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Hydrangeas at the Garden can be seen in their full blooming glory as late as August—one of the perks of having enough space to display numerous species. 

Recommendation: Always bring your camera to the Atlanta Botanical Garden (to any attraction, as far as that goes, but especially to the Garden). With our incredibly long growing season, things at the Garden can change a lot in merely a week...sometimes even within a single day! Having your camera ready will help ensure you get to keep the memories you know you'll cherish.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Naylor Hall

My travels and explorations take me to some really cool places where I make some great discoveries. Naylor Hall is one of those.

This 1840s antebellum home has ties to the founding of Roswell, Georgia. While Roswell has some wonderful tourist attractions, Naylor Hall isn't open to the public for tours, but feel welcome to view it from the's quite a beautiful historic home, even from there.

Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
Barrington King, son of Roswell King, one of the founders of Roswell, Georgia, built the original home for H. W. Proudfoot, who became the bookkeeper of King's mill.

Roswell Mills later became famous for its production of "Roswell Gray," fabric used in making uniforms for Confederate soldiers.

Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
As the story goes, aware that Sherman was on the way to Atlanta, Confederate uniforms were taken from the Mill and secretly stored at Naylor Hall. In 1864, the home was heavily damaged by Federal troops. Later, Proudfoot rebuilt and stayed in the home until he passed away in June 1871. His family was there until the turn of the century.

Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
In the late 1920s, Col. Harrison Broadwell bought the property and added the Greek columns in the front, the "handmade crafted interiors" and the portico encompassing the original structure. He also renamed the house Naylor Hall for his mother's family name.

Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
Naylor Hall in Roswell, Georgia
A ballroom was added in the 1980s and today is owned by Sunny Bailey who runs it as a special events facility—and a stunning one at that! Sunny has been at Naylor Hall for more than 20 years and has done it all, from catering to bar tending, from setting up the ballroom to decorating...she's a very hands-on wedding planner/facility director.

So, all you history buffs, if you're of the engaged or party planning sort, check out what a gorgeous venue Naylor Hall is, and if you're the sightseeing sort, stop by and admire it from the street, or Facebook even!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Interview: Dr. Mina Marefat, Curator of Eero Saarinen

Mina Marefat, PhD, AIA
(Photo courtesy Dr. Marefat)
I had the wonderfully distinct honor of recently interviewing Mina Marefat, Ph.D., AIA, the curator of the "Eero Saarinen: A Reputation for Innovation" exhibition currently on display at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA). Dr. Marefat and I talked via telephone—she's in Washington, D.C. where she is a professor at Georgetown University. She earned her Ph.D. at MIT and a Masters at Harvard. She has one incredible resume!

And she's incredibly enthusiastic about Eero Saarinen. In fact, it was her tenacious enthusiasm to learn and discover everything she could about Saarinen that led to the saving of some of his most innovative and influential work—the winning design for the Smithsonian Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. that was approved but never built, a project lost to war.

Eero Saarinen at MODA
Eero Saarinen at MODA
The story resounded of Hollywood. Dr. Marefat, after a long and arduous search for Saarinen's drawings of the Gallery of Art—a 1939 competition that he won—received a frantic phone call. The drawings had been found...but they were slated to very soon be destroyed. 

She learned this at 4:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve! She requisitioned a car—jumping through painstaking hurdles to get it—and drove to Suitland, Maryland, to collect the drawings. The 1 by 1.5 meter board filled with Saarinen drawings was one of the most beautiful sights Marefat had ever was a dream come true—her dream..

Forgotten by history for 50 years, on the verge of imminent destruction, Dr. Mina Marefat saved priceless works of her design hero, also a favorite of many, many design enthusiasts around the world.

Still, the exhibition almost didn't come to be. Already curated by Dr. Marefat, it still takes sponsors to produce a traveling exhibition. Once it was to be included in a larger exhibition, but was disappointingly left out. Later, she had other sponsors lined up, but then the economy tanked, creating further delays. Fortunately, the exhibition is now making its way around the country to the great delight of design enthusiasts.

Eero Saarinen at MODA
Eero Saarinen at MODA
So, why are these drawings so important, you ask? (and they're on display at MODA, by the way) According to Dr. Marefat, the Smithsonian Gallery of Art competition of 1939, was one of most important design competitions in the country's history, only second to the Chicago Tribune Tower competition.

Even though Saarinen's building was not built, he did spent every penny of the $7,500 prize money to build a model. His work on this building still carries significance and influence. And fans and admirers wonder what today's architecture design landscape—not to mention city skylines—would look like had he not tragically died of a brain tumor only two weeks before his 51st birthday.

Dr. Marefat and I talk for about an hour...mostly about Saarinen, but also about Washington, D.C., where I used to live and volunteered (Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum) and was a frequent visitor to other Smithsonian museums, as well as the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, all three of which she worked in for a number of years.

Eero Saarinen at MODA
Eero Saarinen at MODA
When asked what about curating this exhibit did she enjoy the most, Dr. Marefat said that it was the "original research, discovering extraordinary things about such a masterful designer." She went on to explain that it's a growing exhibition. Something has been added with each city it visits. The MODA show picked up some models of Saarinen structures—and they're brilliant!

Dr. Marefat and I also discussed the staying power of Mid-century Modern design. We agreed immediately on the power of Hollywood, current television shows like Mad Men, museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York (and of course MODA), but she also talked about critics.

When Saarinen was creating what today we know to be masterpieces, there were critics who thought he was going way too far "outside the box" with his designs. Dr. Marefat explained that "enough time has passed that those arguments no longer have teeth" thus the opportunity for Mid-century Modern's following to continue to flourish.

Personally, I have several favorite aspects of this exhibition. Of course the models on display...that one goes without saying, but next is an entire wall dedicated to Saarinen's thoughts on architecture, his Six Pillars of Architecture. Without giving the full descriptions, let me share those pillars with you:
  • Respect for Function
  • Structural Integrity
  • Awareness of Our Time
  • Integration with Our Environment
  • Expression of Meaning
  • Unity of Design
The titles of the Pillars alone speak for themselves, but the exhibition wall and the companion boarding passes explain each in greater detail. I think that's one of the other things that I love about this exhibition. It's considerably more than a collection of tells the story of Saarinen's message and philosophy of architecture.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is holding Mad Men closing party for the exhibition this coming Saturday night, June 29. Dr. Marefat is arriving that evening and hopes to join us for the party, but if she doesn't make it then, she'll definitely be at the Museum on the exhibition's final day, Sunday, June 30. 

Eero Saarinen exhibition at MODA
Eero Saarinen exhibition at MODA
When you visit, consider picking up the companion piece for the exhibition. In lieu of a catalog, Dr. Marefat put together a "ticket holder"...the package includes what looks like boarding passes (one of Saarinen's famous structures was Dulles Airport, which I've flown in and out of many times—it's magnificent!) with tons of information. You're going on a trip alright...

So, you still have time to see the show. It's masterfully executed and demonstrates the irrefutable significance of Saarinen's contributions to design—architecture and furniture.

A special "Thank you!" to Dr. Mina Marefat for creating this exhibition, for further developing my enthusiasm for architecture, and for making time to talk with wanderlust ATLANTA. See you later this week!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Only moments ago I received a text message from my friend Tish who was sharing that she saw me on CBS News! It was footage of me at the High Museum of Art at the Media Day preview of Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl With a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
That was the first time I'd ever seen her. She lives in Mauritshuis (pronounced "mauritz-house"), a 17th Century city palace in The Hague that's currently undergoing renovation and expansion, thus the opportunity to have her in the U.S.—for the first time in 17 years.

Girl With a Pearl Earring, Mauritshuis, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Mauritshuis, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
I also went to last night's Friday Jazz (a fantastic program that I highly recommend attending), with several other friends, and got to see her again. And once again...I was blown away! The exhibition is beyond remarkable and Girl with a Pearl Earring is spectacular—a word that just doesn't do her justice. 

Girl With a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
There's so much to share about this exhibition, but I'll leave most of it to your own visit. 

The exhibition, "Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis", of course features the title painting, but also includes 35 other Dutch Masters paintings, including four works by Rembrandt. There are videos, an audio tour, a room that features the expansion of Mauritshuis, and some excellent programming coming up including discussions and three showings of the film, Girl with a Pearl Earring starring  Scarlett Johansson.

Interior of an Imaginary Catholic Church, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Interior of an Imaginary Catholic Church,
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
My personal favorite painting in the exhibition, after the title painting of course, is "Interior of an Imaginary Catholic Church" (1668, Emmanuel de Witte). The cool thing about this painting is that in the 17th Century, there were no large Catholic churches...this painting was a hoped-for large Gothic Catholic church. It probably wouldn't be too far fetched to say that paintings back then had what we know today as the "Power of Hollywood".

Girl With a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
To give you an idea of why you don't want to miss this exhibition, it was at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum last year, with a few extra paintings, and it was the most visited exhibition IN THE WORLD in 2012. If that doesn't tell you how incredible it is, I'm not sure what will. Just go see it!

Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
When you visit Girl with a Pearl Earring, please make time to read the placards...there's some fascinating information about the painting...about all the paintings in the exhibition. Ten years in the making, I've been calling this exhibition "brilliant", and indeed it is.

At the Media Day preview, Mauritshuis Director Emile Gordenker said of Girl with a Pearl Earring artist Johannes Vermeer, "He captured ideals that are still relevant today," which I find amazing...she was painted 300 years before I was born! 

Girl With a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
I've not yet done the audio tour, but that's what I'm going to recommend. I learned so much about the exhibition on Media Day that I was able to play "tour guide" for my friends last night, but I know there's so much more to know about the exhibition—much of that undoubtedly on the audio tour.

See the Girl with a Pearl Earring in this photo? On Media Day, there were three docents in the gallery and each had hand fans with her face on them...rather clever, don't you think?

This particular painting depicts several generations of the same family and is sharing the sage advice to be wary of your actions because your children will do what you do. It's a fascinating piece and you totally get it when you see it.

Girl With a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
The official opening of Girl with a Pearl Earring is tomorrow, Sunday, June 23, 2013. And it's a short run, closing on Sunday, September 29. She has only three stops in the United States—was just in San Francisco and goes to New York City from here—and it could easily be another 17 years before she comes don't miss this opportunity!

And be sure to check out the programming associated with this exhibition...they're having some great fun!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Extreme Mammals: The Biggest, Smallest, and Most Amazing Mammals of All Time

What in the world???

If you've not yet been to see Extreme Mammals at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, you only have until August 18....and we all know what happens if you wait too long—you totally miss out!

"Extreme Mammals" at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
"Extreme Mammals" at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Do I need to say anything beyond this photo? Didn't think so. 

Go check out the Fernbank Museum of Natural History...during Martinis & IMAX if you're looking for something to do on a Friday evening!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"Tribute" by Peter Calaboyias

The 1996 Olympics were very good to Atlanta for so many reasons. One reason that I'd like to touch on for just a moment is all the new art that came to the City as a result of hosting the Olympic Games. One piece of art in particular—"Tribute" by Peter Calaboyias—is completely and totally fascinating...I love this sculpture!

"Tribute" by Peter Calaboyias
"Tribute" by Peter Calaboyias
This solitary sculpture embodies the long and storied history of the Olympic Games, as well as its origins and it speaks to its future, as well. has excellent information on the Calaboyias sculpture:
The sculpture "shows three figures: a nude male runner competing in the first Games in Olympia, Greece, 776 B.C.; a male runner competing in the first modern Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896; and a female runner competing in the Centennial Games in Atlanta in 1996. The three figures are set upon the arch of Olympia, through which athletes of the Ancient Games entered the Olympic stadium."

"Tribute" by Peter Calaboyias
"Tribute" by Peter Calaboyias
If you can make it to Centennial Olympic Park on a summer Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to see "Tribute", you'll also get to enjoy "Wednesday WindDown"—a free, live music concert held every Wednesday, now in its 15th season!

There are lots more reasons to visit Centennial Olympic Park...just pick one and enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

...and the Argentinosaurus said, "Cheeeeeese!"

On a recent visit to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, just as I was leaving, one of the ticket-taking volunteers—noticing that I had been making quite a few photographs—pointed out the one spot in the Museum where a standard camera lens can fit practically the entirety of the 123-feet long Argentinosaurus in the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibition...that's a LOT of dinosaur bones!

Argentinosaurus, Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Argentinosaurus, Fernbank Museum of Natural History
And it was quite nice of the volunteer to offer his insight. That photo was the icing on the cake of a great afternoon of photo-making. 

So, since he was so nice to share with me, let me share with you.

The spot is on the entrance level of the Museum, just past where the volunteers take you ticket upon entry. Proceed to the railing, overlooking the Great Hall, and just to the right, overlooking the first set of stairs..voila! You're now poised to make a photo that will amaze all your friends and family back home!

Being a docent myself at another Atlanta attraction, I love it when people ask about the best places to make photographs. Of course the real answer is "It depends", because everyone's taste and interests are different, but at least the suggestions are a starting point. 

My point is to not be shy about asking Museum staff or volunteers about great photo spots...go and make some amazing photos of your vacation!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Snakes in the Garden

Tens of thousands of visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden have already seen Imaginary Worlds since its opening early last month...and everyone has a favorite sculpture from the exhibition. My favorite, you ask? Coming in at 18-feet tall, the Cobras are my personal favorite, without a doubt! 

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Just one would have been phenomenal, but no...the Atlanta Botanical Garden always takes it to another level, for which I'm eternally grateful. And their placement—the pair of them welcoming visitors into the main part of the Garden, on the pathway just as you enter the Parterre Garden—is brilliant.

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
And, I believe, the Cobras are the only of the 19 sculptures in the exhibition that come with a picturesque skyline view!

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
When you see them, be sure to notice the patterns on their hoods...they're each unique in that respect. You definitely want to see this, so walk behind each of them...the back of their hoods are much more elaborate than the front.

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
And the vantage points are seemingly endless...walk around, turn around, walk up, walk down...there are lots of fantastic photo opportunities with these two.

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Following the main path from the Visitor Center, the Cobra on the right is considerable longer, which makes for more space for intricate designs...

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
...intricate and beautiful designs. During many peak times at the Garden, there are docents at the Cobras or the nearby Ogre who can share with you statistical information about these two, including what plants were used to create them, so keep an eye out for someone in a green gardening apron.

Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds, Cobra, Atlanta Botanical Garden
This exhibition makes me a million times over grateful to have a Garden membership...the Cobras have grown in quite a lot since seeing them the first time a month ago, so I can only imagine how lush they'll be in another month.

A great time to see them is during Cocktails in the Garden on Thursday nights, 6-10 p.m. And they have fun with that of the specialty drinks this month is a fluorescent "Snake Juice." Cocktails is also during the evening, so it's not quite as hot, although this is Atlanta, so we do have some hot summer nights—but nothing that a cool beverage can't cure. And you'll get to see the sculptures in daylight and dramatically lit after sundown.

I think you'll be blown away, not only by the Cobra duo, but by the entire Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life exhibition. It's truly spectacular!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Biggest Screen in Atlanta

Since the late 1980s I've been a huge fan of the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival at the Fox Theatre. And this year's lineup is filled with summer blockbusters and fun classics...there's something for everyone!

My initiation was a 50th anniversary showing in 1989 of the Oscar-winning Gone With the Wind, which was the first time I'd ever seen that film. Movies, no matter the film, are a special experience at The Fox.

Fox Theatre
Fox Theatre
The movies are peppered throughout the summer, various days of the weeks and programming for kids is usually earlier in the day. And if you get there early enough, you get to experience an incredibly unique pre-show of a sing-a-long, to the Fox's "Mighty Mo" organ, and a vintage cartoon!

On to the are some previews of the movies that have been announced so far:

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Friday, June 14 - 7:30 p.m.

Saturday Morning Cartoons Saturday, June 15 - 10:00 a.m.
(I don't know what cartoons they're showing, but I always liked this one)

Oz The Great and Powerful
Saturday, June 15 - 7:30 p.m.

Friday, June 21 - 7:30 p.m.

Finding Nemo (10th Anniversary)
Saturday, June 22 - 2:00 p.m.

Les Misérables
Saturday, June 22 - 7:30PM

The Birds (50th Anniversary)
Sunday, June 23 - 4:00PM

Django Unchained
Friday, July 26 - 7:30PM

The Croods
Saturday, July 27 - 2:00 p.m.

Lawrence of Arabia (New Digital)
Sunday, July 28 - 4:00PM

Iron Man 3
Friday, August 16 - 7:30PM

Saturday Morning Cartoons
Saturday, August 17 - 10:00 a.m.

(I don't know what cartoons they're showing, but here's another one I like)

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Sunday, August 18 - 4:00 p.m.

There will be even more films announced, so keep an eye on the Fox Theatre's website. One of the remarkable things about films at The Fox is that in such a gorgeous, renowned historical theatre, movies cost even less than they do in mainstream movie houses.

Go see a movie at the Fox!