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Art Finds

Friday, March 02, 2018

Following in the Footsteps of Canada’s Group of Seven Artists

Guest Post by Amy Perry Basseches

While vacationing last summer in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario, a few hours north of Toronto, my husband Josh and I ventured to the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound. Many Americans are not familiar with the famous painters in the “Group of Seven,” but in Canada they are revered. Also known as the Algonquin School, these Canadian landscape artists worked from 1920 to 1933. The most famous name associated with the Group of Seven is likely Lawren Harris (1885 – 1970), who actor/comedian/art collector Steve Martin brought to the US via exhibits in Los Angeles and the MFA in Boston. One of Harris’ paintings sold for more than $3 million last November. Tom Thomson predated but seriously influenced the Group of Seven. He died before its official formation, mysteriously drowning in 1917 in Canoe Lake in Algonquin National Park, Ontario. Thomson grew up just outside of Owen Sound, an inlet on Georgian Bay, and the small museum there pays homage to his work and impact. I particularly enjoyed the early photography of the Group of Seven painters as they fished, swam, and camped, before setting up their easels “plein air.” If you are interested in seeing more paintings from the Group of Seven, visit the wonderful McMichael Canadian Art Collection, just outside of Toronto in the town of Kleinburg on your next trip to Ontario. 
Tom Thomson, sketch for The West Wind, Spring 1916, oil on wood. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/02/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 01, 2018

A Must-Stop at the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

Another of my main areas of interest when I was in Berlin in January was to experience first-hand the “East divided from West” Years. The separation of Berlin began in 1945, and, in 1961, East Germany built the Berlin Wall, circling West Berlin, to prevent its residents from migrating. My husband Josh and I landed at Schoenefeld Airport (the airport in the former Soviet quarter of East Berlin and formerly the main airport of East Germany), and thus began this aspect of the adventure. 
In my two days of touring, we criss-crossed Berlin constantly, from what was West Berlin to what was East Berlin, without distinction. There are certainly many memorials to a city divided, and to understanding that history, but none as interesting to me as the East Side Gallery. Once it was the Berlin Wall. Now it’s the longest open-air gallery in the world. Almost a mile long, one section of the Berlin Wall was not demolished and instead became a living canvas for paintings about change, happiness, hope, and freedom Beginning in 1990, 118 artists from 21 countries painted pictures on the wall. They are vibrant, interesting, and, frankly genuine (this is all outside, not hidden from the weather). I would have loved to stop and photograph each one. In fact, I bought a book of Wall paintings to bring home. Of course “progress” is always a challenge: a section of the East Side Gallery was removed a few years ago to make room for luxury condos along the River Spree. 
There are many other areas of Berlin which I visited related to the “East divided from West” Years, including: the Berlin Wall Memorial (with tunnels underneath marked); the gigantic Soviet War Memorial for the 22,000 who died taking Berlin in WWII; the TV Tower (famously built VERY tall, tallest in Germany, by the East Germans, intended as a symbol of communist power); and Checkpoint Charlie, which was silly and not even in the right place (one of the actors playing a soldier was a Syrian refugee, and the other had a second job at Chippendale’s). 
If Berlin (or Germany in general) interests you, let ActiveTravels assist with your journey.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/01/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Opening of L’atelier des Lumières in Paris

Paris' art scene will get a breath of fresh air when L’Atelier des Lumières opens in April to the public. Devoted to immersive art experiences, each year the Atelier will showcase a major exhibition offering a digital perspective on one of art's biggest names, allowing you to step inside the world’s most famous artworks. Covering a whopping 2000 square meters, L’Atelier des Lumières is set to utterly transform a 19th-century factory, with innovative, 8 meter-high projections cloaking its walls. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/24/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Necessary Stop at Manchester Hot Glass in Southern Vermont

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 
Manchester, Vermont is a year-round destination for many people from the Northeastern U.S. Having grown up in the NYC area, followed by more than three decades in Boston, I’ve been visiting since the 1970s. Recently, for an ActiveTravels member who was here for several days in late December, I had cause to compile 40 years of travel advice for the area. That was a long list! Today, I’m writing about one of my favorite local businesses and travel activities, Manchester Hot Glass
Manchester Hot Glass is a glass blowing studio open daily to the public, founded in 2000. Owner/artist/teacher Andrew Weill is from New Jersey and started working with glass as a teenager. He says, “Right from the start, I learned a great lesson in humility. Glass is an amazing material – it can be hot and malleable and cold and delicate all at the same time. There is nothing like it. The surprises it can produce are equally as unique.”
Believe me, Andrew is a work of art himself. His welcoming nature and fun-loving spirit come through to all who take his classes. In my humble opinion, no trip to Southern Vermont is complete without Andrew. Classes in glassblowing are available any time of year; from $50 - $350, you can be tutored by the best and then take home a unique hand-crafted original (or two or three). 
“I blow glass simply because I love it. If I can afford to go to work each day and do what I love, I figure I’m better off than most.” What a great line!  I’ll leave you with this from Andrew: “Glass to me is a lifetime pursuit of knowledge and skill. There is always something new to learn and skills that can be improved upon. As a glass blower, I am primarily concerned with the issues of design, and it is my goal to create unique pieces that people will enjoy.” 
If your travels take you to Southern Vermont, let us know. ActiveTravels would be more than happy to help with lodgings, restaurant, and (indoor and outdoor) activity recommendations, as well as in the Berkshires area nearby. 
(Photo: Amy’s daughter Sophie and Steve/Lisa’s daughter Melanie at Manchester Hot Glass, August 2012)

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/11/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holiday Stocking Stuffer No. 2, Beyond the Craft

Having sat next to my brother at a number of his workshops, including stops at Harvard and the Seattle Film Festival, I know firsthand how incredibly inspirational and motivational his talks can be. Jim’s already worn so many hats in the entertainment world—talent agent to stars like Alan Arkin and Helen Hayes, screenwriter, director, documentarian, award-winning producer—and known so much talent that have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and others that have failed miserably. In fact, he’s distinctly qualified to understand and analyze why some people can make a good living pursuing their creative ambitions and others stuff those dreams away in a dimly lit office far from their film, art, or journalism schools. Take it from a guy who’s worked as a full-time freelance travel writer and screenwriter for the past 25 years, Spielberg is not going to call on line one and you’ll be marketing far more than you’ll be writing. 

Fortunately Jim has organized all of his thoughts and anecdotes into one book, Beyond The Craft. Not only will you learn how to network effectively, creating a detailed marketing plan of follow-up phone calls, but you’ll understand the necessity of knowing everything about the business side, most importantly who are the players who can hire you or show your wares. Jim also delves into the psychological aspects of dealing with rejection and the importance of surrounding yourself with incredibly supportive friends. He’s literally been all over the world delivering his seminar on How to Live a Creative Life. In fact, Jim just returned from Dublin, London, and Paris teaching filmmakers and writers on how best to make their voices and visions shine. Beyond the Craft should be mandatory reading at every film and art school across the nation, a pragmatic step-by-step guide to making your dreams a reality. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, October 16, 2017

Adventures in Las Cruces Week—Enjoying the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market

The best time to enter Las Cruces is on a Friday night like I did. The next morning when the sun arose atop those jagged peaks known as the Organ Mountains, I headed to Main Street for the Saturday Farmers Market. If you’re yearning for authenticity in the Southwest, all it takes is a 7-block stroll in Las Cruces on a Saturday morning to find it. It was the end of the green chile and tomato harvest and bins were filled with fresh produce from the Dona Ana Valley. Also found were pomegranates, Arkansas Black apples, jugs of horchata and limonata, locally farmed pecans and pistachios, and ristras (long strings) of red chiles hanging in front of many of the stalls. Yet, what really impressed me were the local artisans offering gemstone-laden jewelry, pottery, wooden crafts like adobe-style salt and pepper shaker holders, sculptures, watercolors of the local desert wildflowers, and photographs of the Organ Mountains splashed in red sunlight. All offered at a fraction of the cost one would find these wares 4 hours to the north in Santa Fe. 

After purchasing my bounty of souvenirs, I headed to the large Coas used bookstore on Main Street, then checked out more local art at a juried show at the free Las Cruces Museum of Art. On the way back to my car, I spoke to a jeweler who moved to Las Cruces 11 years ago after retiring as a broker in Montreal. “330 days of sunshine, no humidity, no traffic, this place is a hidden gem,” he told me. Bathed in sunlight and sucking down my horchata on a perfect day with mid-80s temps, it was easy to understand the appeal.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/16/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Skate Girls of Kabul

One of the great benefits of living in Toronto, the 4th largest city in North America (after Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles) is its diversity. Over 180 languages and dialects are spoken here, and approximately half of Toronto's population was born outside of Canada. Everywhere I go locally, I learn something about another part of the world. A small but powerful outdoor show at the Aga Khan Museum is a perfect example. On a warm October afternoon, after visiting a pumpkin festival in Markham, Ontario, we stopped to see the amazing photos of the “Skate Girls of Kabul” installation. These young women are participants in an NGO called Skateistan whose mission is “empowering children and youth through skateboarding and education” in Afghanistan, as well as Cambodia and South Africa. In Kabul, sports are off-limits to most girls, but fortunately the skateboard was perceived as a toy, thus allowing them to participate. And, for both genders, many Skateistan programs require an equal amount of time in the classroom as on a skateboard: being taught to skateboard as a way to get students into full-time education. In 2016, Skateistan hit the 50% female milestone. Props to Skateistan founder, Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich, and to photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson. The exhibition is on display until October 29th. 
Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/11/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 09, 2017

Checking Out Chihuly’s Studio and Bainbridge Island

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

Our trip ended in Seattle, where my husband, Josh, had a conference with the Association of Art Museum Directors. Our hotel was a step up from where my daughter, Sophie, and I had spent the last many nights: the Fairmont Olympic, built in 1924 and beautifully renovated, well located within walking distance of the waterfront. Our two favorite activities in Seattle were visiting Bainbridge Island and getting an inside tour of Dale Chihuly’s private studio. We took the commuter ferry over to Bainbridge, got an island map, shopped, wine tasted, and visited the truly lush Bloedel Reserve on the north end of Bainbridge. Steve had recommended that we bike Bainbridge, but we couldn’t figure out how to fit that in. In terms of the Chihuly private studio tour, all I can say is "WOW." We’ve done glassblowing a number of times, but, trust me, we never created anything like this. Chihuly was born in 1941 in Tacoma, WA, and resides nearby. His studio is full of collections of items which inspire him—indigenous baskets to blankets to vintage bathing suits to old children’s books. My only regret is the road trip ended and I didn't get to see Mt. Rainier up close. Next time!

Thanks again for following along this week. It was a pleasure to discuss the highlights of my trip. If you need any help with your travels out West, please contact me at ActiveTravels.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/09/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Portland’s Copper Goddess

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

While we had fun in our midway stop of Sacramento, enjoying wonderful coffee at Pachamama, a great breakfast at Orphan and a tour of the memorable California State House, it was Portland we loved. Drinks at Angel Face and at 23 Hoyt, dinners at Harvest at the Bindery and at the Mediterranean Exploration Company, pie at Random Order Coffee House and Bakery, brunches at Kenny and Zuke’s and JAM, and, of course, lots and lots of books at Powell’s Books. We also spent a long time downtown at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, with its tea house, and had massages at the nearby Fei Long Spa. But the unique highlight today was the Portlandia statue (Portland's very own Greek goddess). Portlandia is the second-largest of its type in the United States, after the Statue of Liberty. Our local friends insisted we stop and stare. You can read Tom Wolfe’s humorous 1986 Newsweek Magazine piece here.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/07/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Chihuly at New York Botanical Garden

Vibrant Chihuly glass sculptures in nature go together like chocolate and roasted marshmallows come summer. The latest installment can now be seen at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. We ambled through the serene grounds yesterday afternoon on the way out of the city and found his familiar multi-colored balls juggled together on a rowboat, long red tubes jutting out of logs, and a spiky blue flower that contrasted well with the surrounding green meadows. It’s understandable to see why garden designers would go gaga over Chihuly’s objects. The tall cattails and reeds or the graceful allure of a heron-like sculpture seem to blend perfectly with the natural world. Far more exciting for me was seeing and smelling the many peonies in bloom, including one named after the acclaimed travel writer, Lowell Thomas. Chihuly’s work will be on view until October 29th. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/01/17 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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