Sunday, May 17, 2020

Georgia's Little Grand Canyon

Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin, Georgia, just south of Columbus, is the result of poor farming practices dating to the 1800s. In fact, 200 years ago you'd have seen erosion already affecting the landscape by about 4-5 feet. Today, the canyons, which take up approximately 300 acres of the park's 1,003 acres, are up to 300 feet wide and 150 feet deep. And they're stunning!


Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Whether a geology enthusiast, a hiker, photographer, or nature-lover, you'll love this outing. Having visited the Grand Canyon out West, although Providence Canyon is nicknamed "Georgia's Little Grand Canyon", the two are totally different experiences and should be enjoyed for what they are, not as a comparison. I think you'll enjoy it much more that way.


Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The nickname is not undeserved, though. Providence Canyon is stunningly beautiful! If on your first visit you're not sure how to explore the canyon, I recommend starting at the bottom, explore as many of the canyons as you're comfortable doing, and then go around the rim trail for a bird's eye view of what you just experienced! 


Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Yes, yes, I know. The catalyst for the canyons was man-made, but the resulting canyons are a natural process, thus Providence Canyon being included in Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders. Speaking of wonderful, the base of the canyons is the only place in Stewart County you'll find the blossoming gem bigleaf magnolia tree, which has leaves up to three-feet long! In the fall, you can see the stunning plumleaf aza! The amazing colors aren't just on the canyon walls.


Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Within the canyon walls you'll see 43 different colors and shades! The soil here is mineral rich. The red color comes from iron, the purple from manganese, and the white from kaolin, which is mined widely in Georgia. It's beautiful year-round, but come in the autumn and get the extra burst of color from the fall foliage


Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Travis at Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

When you read or hear that the canyon is still eroding, that's your red flag to listen to and observe the park's safety rules! In fact, that little church you see when you drive into the park used to stand where Canyon #2 is now! The canyons are currently eroding approximately 3.5 feet every year, so do be careful and stay on the paths and behind the fences, for your own safety.


Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There are various campsites, a museum, a visitors center (seasonal hours), hiking, picnicking, stellar photo ops, and there are geology and astronomy programs. If you're a serious or adventurous hiker, check out their Canyon Climbers Club, which entails excursions to four parks throughout Georgia, a completion t-shirt, and phenomenal bragging rights! And of course, experiences you'll carry with you for a lifetime. 

Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

If you do want to picnic here, but sure to get your supplies well before you arrive. Stores that would have what you want are not nearby, so a little planning ahead will go a long way to ensure you have the best visit possible.

Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Beautiful canyons and interesting plant-life isn't all you'll find here. There's lots of fun to be had, but there are also other remnants from days gone by. When the area became a state park, the old cars that were on-property would have caused too much damage to the park to remove them, not to mention the creatures that had made the antique modes of transportation their homes. Unexpected in the natural setting, they make for great conversation pieces and fodder for photographers.

Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

If you're visiting Providence Canyon from Atlanta, while it's only a 2-hour drive from downtown, it makes for a great long weekend or longer! On this particular trip, we stayed in Columbus, where I'd not been since at least the 90s. Had a magnificent time exploring and dining in the city! There are plenty of other small to medium size towns, as well as parks, nearby with lots of things to see and do.

Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Be sure to get a map at the Visitor Center before descending into the Canyon. The first three are relatively easy while 4 and 5 are for the more adventurous. For all of them, you'll want to wear shoes that you don't mind getting wet and muddy. Because of the canyon floor's proximity to the water table, there will be water on the canyon floor, even during droughts! 

Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Providence Canyon | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Of note, Lumpkin, Georgia, is named for the two-term governor of Georgia, Wilson Lumpkin, as is Lumpkin County in the northern end of the state. Before Atlanta became the capital of Georgia, it had the names Terminus - for its role in the thriving railroad industry, and Marthasville - changed by Samuel Mitchell in mid 1842 to honor Wilson's youngest daughter, Martha. Martha Lumpkin Compton (1827-1917), namesake of Marthasville and daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin, is buried in Atlanta's Historic Oakland Cemetery.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Atlanta Blooms! 2020

Well, this year is a little different from other Atlanta Blooms! exhibitions, but I hope that everyone is safe, being careful, and of course washing your hands...we'll get through this! 

I managed to get just a few snapshots in the Atlanta Botanical Garden before the city started closing down and I'm happy to share these with you...may they brighten your day.

Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta Blooms! 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Keep an eye on the Atlanta Botanical Garden's website and social media channels (links below) for updates on when they'll re-open. 

Facebook  Twitter  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Orchid Daze 2020

It's that time of year again! If you've never been to Orchid Daze at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, know that it's the most beautiful thing you can do in the dead of winter in Atlanta! It's stunning! This year's exhibition, on display through Sunday, April 12, is inspired by award-winning architect Luis Barragán from Mexico.


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Luis Barragán (1902-1988) was an engineer and architect from Mexico whose serene and evocative houses, gardens, plazas, and fountains won him the Pritzker Prize in 1980, an international award given annually to recognize the contributions of a living architect. It's often been called the Nobel Prize of architecture.


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

As soon as you turn the corner to enter the Fuqua Orchid Center from the Conservatory, you'll immediately see the bright colors, smooth surfaces, and water features inspired by Barragán, who became one of the most influential modernist architects of the 20th century. You'll find yourself enveloped in the vibrant presence of orchids in a contemporary Latin America-inspired garden.


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

You can enter the Orchid Center via the Skyline Garden, but Orchid Daze begins in the lobby of the Conservatory, its entrance at the Great Lawn. The lobby has some stunning orchids that you might not see elsewhere in the Center, including the ones immediately above and below here.


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Want the most concentrated orchid experience? Plan your visit around one of the Orchid Market Weekends, but I recommend attending an early one, because you'll likely want to see this exhibition more than once! The Market is in the Hardin Visitor Center (the main entrance) on select weekends, 10am-4pm, during Orchid Daze: 
  • March 7-8
  • April 4-5


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

If you've never been to the Garden's Fuqua Orchid Center, you're in for a real treat! It has one of the largest orchid collections of any public garden in the world! This collection features more than 200 genera and 2,000 species of orchids as well as a variety of other tropical plants.


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The Orchid Center, connected to the Conservatory, is comprised of four main parts:
  • The Orchid Center "Lobby" - where you'll find most of Orchid Daze displayed;
  • Conservation greenhouses and laboratories - not open to the public, but there are windows so you can see what's happening;
  • Tropical High-Elevation House - representing three distinct areas where orchids grow at 6,000 to 10,000 feet elevation; and
  • The Orchid Display Room - where you'll find even more fascinating orchid species, including a few surprises!

Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This brightly colored entrance to the Luis Barragán-inspired Orchid Daze 2020 beautifully represents some of the beautiful contemporary gardens of Mexico. Influenced by European architects, Barragán primarily worked in Guadalajara and Mexico City.


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

On select Saturdays during Orchid Daze you can attend one of the Garden's "Orchid Care Clinics" where you can get expert orchid advice from Orchid Center staff. Drop in 10am-12noon with questions and a maximum of two orchid plants!

  • March 7
  • April 4

Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

If you like this exhibition, mark your calendars for the Atlanta Orchid Society's annual Orchid Show & Sale, the last weekend of September at the Atlanta Botanical Garden!


Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Orchid Daze 2020 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

If you're an orchid enthusiast and you're not already subscribed to The Orchid Column, written and photographed by the Orchid Center's manager Becky Brinkman, bookmark and subscribe now...you'll be so glad you did!

Orchid Daze is free with Garden admission—and admission is free with membership—and on display through Sunday, April 12. As the weather gets warmer, if you'd like to enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner at Longleaf, I recommend reservations, but walk-ins are welcome, too.

Friday, February 7, 2020

"Slow Food" is Fast on the Humor

Set in a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs, you can reserve an on-stage table at Theatrical Outfit's "Slow Food", but like Irene (Marcie Millard) and Peter (Matthew Edwin Lewis) who are here to enjoy an anniversary dinner while on vacation—totally famished—your table is likely to remain food-less, too, but you'll definitely be served lots of laughs all evening long!


Matthew Edwin Lewis, Marcie Millard | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography
Matthew Edwin Lewis, Marcie Millard | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography

Here's what's happening... "A neurotic waiter won’t bring their food, and everything goes deliriously wrong. This fussy server (Stephen played bDan Triandiflou) has the couple second-guessing their menu choices, parenting skills, and their very future together. Will their shared desperation get them their spanakopita or end a marriage? Everything (and nothing) is on the table in this zesty comedy about life, love, and painfully slow service."


Matthew Edwin Lewis, Dan Triandiflou, Marcie Millard  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography
Matthew Edwin Lewis, Dan Triandiflou, Marcie Millard  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography


Every scenario you've ever encountered relative to painfully slow service will be acted out on stage, from a server bound and determined to impart their "expertise" on you to sneaking a bread basket off another table, fueled by hypoglycemia, of course. Of the 15.3 million restaurant industry employees in the United States (National Restaurant Association), we hope there are few like Stephen and when we encounter such Stephens, let's hope we can impart as much humor on the situation as this brilliant trio of actors does.


Dan Triandiflou, Marcie Millard  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography
Dan Triandiflou, Marcie Millard  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography

Directed by Ryan Olivetti, a super-fun, theatre-loving, crazy-talented human being, "Slow Food" is light-hearted, but heavy with laughs! I've known Ryan for years through a number of theatre experiences. He's always kind, courteous, and professional. As excited as he is about this play, he's super modest, too. So when you go, seek him out and please tell him how much you enjoyed the show. Looking forward to your next project, Ryan! Oh, and Ryan is also Theatrical Outfit's Marketing Director!


Matthew Edwin Lewis, Dan Triandiflou, Marcie Millard  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography
Matthew Edwin Lewis, Dan Triandiflou, Marcie Millard  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Peter, in a last-ditch attempt resorts to flirting with Stephen, the waiter. Matt Lewis (Peter) deserves double spanakopita for that performance!


Marcie Millard, Matthew Edwin Lewis  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography
Marcie Millard, Matthew Edwin Lewis  | Photo by Casey Gardner Photography

Do our anniversary lovebirds finally get their spanakopita—or whatever it was that they ordered? Get your tickets and find out! But expect hilarity one way or the other. Make your way to Theatrical Outfit to see "Slow Food" by Sunday, February 16 and enjoy a huge helping of laughter with a side of just plain fun!

Opa!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Atlanta's Liberty Plaza

Five years ago today, on January 16, 2015, Liberty Plaza was dedicated. More than 100 years in the making, a civic area near the Capitol Building was propose in 1910 as part of a comprehensive city beautification and development plan that was finally realized a century later thanks in great part to the Georgia Building Authority

Today, Liberty Plaza serves as a major focal point for large groups that hold public rallies and assemblies both during and between legislative sessions. The plaza is large enough to accommodate over 3,000 visitors and is located southeast across from the Georgia State Capitol.

Liberty Bell reproduction | Liberty Plaza | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Liberty Bell reproduction | Liberty Plaza | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Did you know that the actual Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania used to travel? And that it traveled to Atlanta? It was on display during the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Piedmont Park. That exposition was a message to the world that Atlanta was poised to be a significant contributor to domestic and international commerce and the country's economic fabric—that we were (and continue to be) worth consideration and investment.


Liberty Bell reproduction | Liberty Plaza | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Liberty Bell reproduction | Liberty Plaza | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Surrounding the Liberty Bell replica fly the flags of the 13 states whose representatives signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, declaring these states independent from Great Britain. The 56 signatories were representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Georgia had three representatives sign the Declaration of Independence: Button GwinnettGeorge Walton, and Lyman Hall—the first three signature on the left—whose names are engraved on section of wall around the Liberty Bell.

Statue of Liberty reproduction | Liberty Plaza | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Statue of Liberty reproduction | Liberty Plaza | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor


Some may think that this is a replica of Miss Freedom, the statue atop the Gold Dome of the Georgia Capitol Building. It's not, but Miss Freedom has two relative previous names—“Goddess of Liberty” and “Liberty”—which she had before assuming her current title of “Miss Freedom”.

This statue is a replica of the Statue of Liberty, standing a few feet tall at the northwest corner of the Plaza, and was gifted to the City of Atlanta in 1951 by The Boy Scouts of America. The dedication plaque reads, "With the faith and courage of their forefathers who made possible the freedom of these United States...as a pledge of everlasting fidelity and loyalty".

Liberty Plaza is open 6am-6pm Monday-Friday. The Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty replicas, previously located on the Capitol grounds, were relocated to prominent locations in the new Plaza and are visible to visitors at all times.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Fashioning Art from Paper

Exploring 500 years of fashion, SCAD FASH's current exhibition features Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave's spectacular visual illusions in Fashioning Art from Paper, a collection of nothing short of masterpieces of life-size attire made of paper and paint. The exhibition is in its final week. You can see it through Sunday, January 12, 2020.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This exhibition is absolutely stunning! Isabelle de Borchgrave's works of art are sculptural replicas of historic garments found in early European paintings or collections from around the world, including gowns worn by Queen Elizabeth I.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor


SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film had been on my must-visit list since its opening was first announced but sadly this was the first time I'd been. Sad because I've missed some magnificent exhibitions already, but I will not miss any others! The space is AMAZING, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and the museum is a wholly unique experience.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Being my first time at the museum, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd seen photos of previous exhibitions and I was familiar with the building—I worked in a satellite office of Equifax many years ago and would go to meetings and training classes at the company's headquarters, now SCAD Atlanta. 

Signage leading to the museum is well done, and clever, too! You follow the purple line to the level where the museum is located and there are signs noting "a little farther" and "almost there"...pure brilliance!


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Programming

This Thursday, January 9, at 12noon, join SCAD FASH Italian Renaissance scholar and art history professor Sarah Mellott Cadagin for her talk Moda Alla Medici: Fashioning the Self in Renaissance Florence


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This exhibition includes a number of fashion accessories including shoes, purses, and jewelry so exquisitely fashioned that they too would trick the eye from a distance if you did not know that they were made of paper.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Within the exhibition are pieces from Isabelle de Borchgrave's Kaftans series, inspired by the Silk Road textiles of Central Asia.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I visited on a rainy day, but took my umbrella and ventured onto their outdoor space, located on the parking level. It's elegantly appointed and offers some wonderful vistas of Atlanta's skyline. Up on the museum level, there's a terrace overlooking the outdoor space with some seating and a staircase leading down to the larger outdoor space which spans the width of the building.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There's a digital exhibition guide which you can follow along on your cell phone or the museum will loan you a tablet (they'll need to hold your ID while the tablet is in use). The garments in the exhibition are numbered, so it's easy to follow.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

SCAD FASH is a teaching museum—and an absolute gem for locals and tourists alike—featuring nearly 10,000 square feet of adaptable exhibition space.


Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Fashioning Art from Paper | SCAD FASH | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The exhibition includes a trio of de Borchgrave’s series Les Ballet Russes.

Fashioning Art from Paper is co-organized by SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Society of the Four Arts, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Frick Art and Historical Center, Baker Museum and Flint Institute of Arts. This fabulous exhibition is on view at SCAD FASH through Sunday, January 12, 2020.