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Art Finds

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Top 5 Dream Days of 2018, Checking Out the Street Art and Botero’s in Medellin

This past June I had the good fortune to travel with a wonderful guide, Pablo Ospina, through his hometown of Medellin, Colombia. Our first stop was Communa 13 to see the magnificent and ever-growing street art in this neighborhood, which not too long ago was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of South America. While we strolled, Pablo gave me the history of Medellin, this city of 4 million nestled in the valley close to a mile high. When he was growing up, there were car bombs and constant fighting between the government and the guerilla forces of FARC, with the remnants of Escobar's drug ring thrown in for more chaos. Now the city has rose from the ashes and what a remarkable job it's doing. Not only is it safe, but it has one of the best climates in the world, 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Many people are retiring to the city to enjoy the weather and the only public transit system in Colombia, which includes cable cars and outdoor escalators.

When we descended from Communa 13 on the escalators and spotted about 5 tour groups heading up to the street art (we had the place to ourselves since Pablo wisely headed here first), we took a cable car up into the hillside for glorious vistas of the city ringed by jagged peaks. Then it was on to the city center to see the Botero sculptures and his paintings in the nearby Museo de Antioquia. Botero not only donated his impressive sculptures, paintings, and watercolors to his boyhood museum, he bequeathed his collection of contemporary art by Stella, Frankenthaler, and Andy Katz, among others. For lunch, we headed to the large botanical garden in the center of the city and its signature restaurant, In Situ. One sip of the sublime coconut lemonade and that would be my drink of choice throughout the week. After lunch, we strolled the gardens and spotted large lizards amidst the orchids and bamboo trees. Seven hours after picking me up, Pablo dropped me back off at my hotel. It was indeed a Dream Day. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/09/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 14, 2018

Paul Cyr’s Latest Coffee Table Book Now Available

I met Paul Cyr while on assignment from The Boston Globe in Presque Isle, Maine, in search of the elusive Northern Lights. Cyr's colorfully charged photos of the Northern Lights have gone viral. His shots of Maine wildlife, including moose, bear, and this snowy owl are quite spectacular as well. In typical Maine fashion, he humbly insists he's an amateur photographer. Yeah, and Jimi Hendrix is an amateur guitarist. Check out his magnificent work in his latest book, Northern Maine with Paul Cyr, perfect for a Holiday gift. 

(Photo by Paul Cyr)

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/14/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

If you love Christmas lights, then you'll be dazzled by Gardens Aglow held at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor. Not that you need any excuse to visit CMBG, one of my favorite stops on the Maine coast. More than 650,000 LED lights are woven through 14 acres, illuminating the trails and creating winter-themed exhibits. Visitors begin their journey by passing through an ethereal corridor of dancing lights evoking the aurora borealis before immersing themselves in the festive wonderland. Gardens Aglow runs through Dec. 31 on Thursday through Sunday evenings from 4-9 p.m. (closed on Christmas Eve). Tickets are timed for three separate arrivals each night at 4 pm, 6:30 pm, and 7:30 pm. 

I'm off to Nashville and Kansas City to see friends, hear live music, and catch 2 NFL games. I'll be back next Wednesday. Have a great week! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/05/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Grandfather’s Sketchbooks Still Inspire Me to Travel

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

My grandparents were inveterate world travelers -- and Grandpa, an architect, was always sketching and painting wherever they went. Framed examples of his watercolors have graced every place I've lived. In Boston, our home displayed Pisa (1955), Nara (1959), Crete (1960), and Florida (1977). Now, in Toronto, Josh and I have Venice's Rialto Bridge on the wall (1954). It was not only the sketchbooks, but gifts from afar that entertained me as a child. With Grandma and Grandpa's help, I gathered a large collection of dolls from other countries, learning early on that the world was a big, diverse place that I wanted to understand more. I suppose you could say my love of travel and exploration was instilled by them. 
Recently, in September, I was looking through a pile of Grandpa's sketchbooks which I hold for all relatives as part of the family archives. Believe it or not, I found pencil drawings and watercolors of places to which I would travel a month later: Grandpa's "Newfoundland, 1977." Indeed, in early October, I saw the Bonavista Lighthouse he depicted. Further, I found a notebook entitled "Japan, 1959," and, after pausing to wonder what led my grandparents to Japan at that particular time, I decided to ask my niece whether she had been to any of the named sites. She and her partner were on a 2-week trip to Japan last summer when they became engaged. All seven of the great-grandchildren should have Grandpa's artwork on their walls, I thought, to inspire even more generations to experience the larger world.
Grandma and Grandpa were first generation Americans (born to immigrants from Russia and Lithuania as the 1800s turned to the 1900s), and raised in New York City. Grandpa was the youngest of eight. Amazingly, both went on to college and graduate school. 100 years later, their curiosity, pluck, and sense of adventure still motivates me, and lives on through Grandpa's sketches and watercolors. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/14/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

After 5: Medellin

Home to vivid street art and a bounty of sculptures and paintings by Botero, Colombia's only public transit system (including cable cars), and a burgeoning dining scene, Medellin has transformed from Pablo Escobar's former hangout to one of the safest and most vibrant destinations in South America. It doesn't hurt that this city of 4 million people sits in a valley surrounded by mountains at an altitude close to a mile high, offering sublime temperatures in the 70s and 80s degree Fahrenheit year-round. This lends itself well to outdoor cafes and bars, the ideal place to start your night out on the town. To see the rest of my story on Medellin in the latest issue of Global Traveler, please click here

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/25/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Two Good Reasons to Visit Paris Later this Year

Joan Miró's first major one-man show in Paris was at the Gallery Pierre in 1925. The private viewing opened at midnight and quickly became legendary, both for the art on the walls and the guest list, which included the Surrealist Andre Breton. Miro's whimsical works of his vivid imagination will be back on display this fall and winter in Paris, when the Grand Palais presents a retrospective of the great Catalan artist's body of work. From October 3, 2018 to February 4, 2019, over 150 works coming from the greatest European and American museums, as well as from private collections, will pinpoint the milestones of his career. It's the first retrospective of the artist since the Tate Modern show in 2010. If that's not enough of a reason to get you on a flight to Paris, the same Grand Palais is offering a second exhibition this fall on the career of singer Michael Jackson. "Michael Jackson, Off the Wall," on view from November 23 to February 14, 2019, will mark the 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson's death and examine the contribution of the world's most famous pop singer to the creative arts over the past 30 years. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/13/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend at Vermont’s Wilburton Inn

Last time I stayed at the Wilburton Inn, I tried to belly dance, sang children's songs in a big singalong, and learned about the history of conflict resolution from ancient Greek times to the present. No, Manchester's Wilburton Inn is not your typical New England inn. Come here for a stay and you leave as part of the multi-talented Levis family. This is especially true on Labor Day Weekend, when the whole family joins in the festivities. It all starts with a Celebration of the Arts cocktail party on Friday night, September 1st, when southern Vermont's leading artists schmooze with the patrons and the public. On Saturday morning, innkeeper and psychiatrist Dr. Albert Levis discusses how creativity is the best way to resolve conflicts as he takes you on a tour of sculptures on the Inn grounds. Things start to heat up that evening when Melissa Levis turns her year of 50 blind dates into a naughty cabaret with songs of love in the age of Tinder in "The Innkeeper's Daughter." Brother Oliver Levis and his wife Bonnie, founders of Earth Sky Time Community Farm, host the 3rd annual Moonshine Music Festival on Sunday, September 2 at 6pm. Billy Wylder and Rootbrew perform, while organic pizza washed down with artisanal cocktails are served. The Boston Globe said it best when it noted: "This family is all inn."


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

See the Met Fashion Show at The Cloisters

In the world of exhibitions, there are juxtapositions of talent and space that just work brilliantly. Take Chihuly's twisting and curving glass, now a mainstay at botanical gardens across the country. Putting contemporary fashion into five medieval cloisters is another gem of an idea. The Cloisters, at the tip of northern Manhattan, is now the uptown branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Take the A-train to 190th Street, grab an elevator up, and you'll soon be walking through Fort Tryon Park high above the Hudson to the monastery-like buildings that John Rockefeller donated to the city in the 1920s. Living in the city for close to a decade, I only made it up here once to see the celebrated Unicorn Tapestries and Medieval manuscripts in the towering buildings. Now there are crowds coming to see Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Balenciaga and more than 50 other designers presenting their interpretations of a Catholic theme in the show titled Heavenly Bodies, on view through October 8th. Dresses created with the imagery of Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights," from Japanese designer Jun Takahashi, was a favorite of our group. Just as impressive as the show and the architecture, including massive wooden doors from the 15th century that lead to each room, are the outdoor terraces. My niece, Sarah, who goes to school at Teachers College at Columbia University, about 70 blocks south of the exhibition on 120th Street, showed me around a Medieval garden of intriguing curiosities straight of Shakespearean times. Definitely worth the effort to make it up here! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/14/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, August 02, 2018

Travel to the UK with Lisa Fagin Davis and the Medieval Academy of America

Excited to announce that our good friend and client (we designed an itinerary for her and her husband to visit their daughter in Australia), Lisa Fagin Davis, is leading a trip to the UK in October. Lisa is the Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America and we've seen firsthand her passion for history, including a guided tour of an exhibition she co-curated in Boston in 2016, "Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections." Participants in this October 23-28 trip will visit two rare exhibitions: "Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms" at the British Library and "Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth" at Oxford's Bodleian Library, with curatorial introductions and expert guides in addition to Lisa. These exhibitions overlap for only one week, making this trip a unique opportunity to see them together. 

According to Lisa, the real star of the British Museum show is the Codex Amiatinus, the oldest known complete Latin Bible. It was written in England around the year 716 (that's 1300 years ago, for those keeping score) and left England on a journey to Rome shortly after its completion, where it was to be laid at the shrine of St. Peter in Rome, a gift to Pope Gregory II from Abbot Ceolfrith of Wearmouth-Jarrow. The Abbot died enroute, but the monks who were with him finished the journey to Rome. Eventually, the manuscript made its way to the Abbey of San Salvatore in Amiata (in Tuscany), which is how it got its nickname of Amiatinus. By the eighteenth century, it had landed at the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence, where it has been ever since. But it is going back to England for the exhibition!
"My friends at the British Library tell me that this loan was the result of years of secret negotiations. In fact, one staffer recently told me that only a few people in the library even knew the negotiations were ongoing. It was all top secret until the deal was done," says Lisa. Read the full story of the manuscript here
The Bodleian exhibit will look at how Tolkien's work in the field of Old English and medieval Scandinavian epic literature shaped Middle Earth, showing his correspondence, drafts, sketches. "For Tolkien geeks, it's going to be pretty amazing," says Lisa, adding that "Tolkien wrote one of the first seminal studies of Beowulf, a classic article that students of Old English still read today, so it will be great to see the Beowulf manuscript one day and see its influence on Tolkien the next!" Price for the land package is $2580, including 4 nights lodging, most meals, guides, and tickets to all events. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/02/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Must-Stop at Philly’s Magic Gardens

I finally made it to Isaiah Zagar's monumental mosaic masterpiece, the Magic Gardens, on my latest visit to Philadelphia two weeks ago. Spanning half a block on South Street (between 10th and 11th Streets), Zagar started working on these vacant lots in 1994. Using folk art, found objects like bicycle tires, colorful glass bottles, and thousands of handmade tiles and glittering mirrors, Zagar created one of the most unique public artworks in America. Stroll in and out of the stairwells looking at the dramatic colors, reflections, and figurative works. You'll be thankful that the neighborhood stood up for Zagar and his work once the landlord of the property found out what he had done and wanted to dismantle the massive sculpture in 2002. The nonprofit is now used for mosaic workshops, community outreach, and talks with the 79-year-old artist. Magic Gardens is open to the public Wednesdays through Mondays 11 am to 6 pm; cost is $10 for adults, $8 for students. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/15/18 at 06:00 AM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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