Vigeland Museum revitalized
Tucked away on the south side of Oslo’s famed Frogner Park is a large historic building that in many ways made the park itself possible. The Vigeland Museum, named for the artist behind the park’s enormous collection of sculptures, is where Gustav Vigeland lived and worked for nearly two decades. It reopened earlier this year and a visit can make a tour of the park much more meaningful.
There actually are two historic homes and museums on the park’s south side, both of which led to creation of the park, and this guide already has visited the Oslo City Museum (Bymuseet) and Frogner Hovedgård. Now visitors are welcome once again at the Vigeland Museum across the street, after a major if somewhat unnoticeable renovation. It included installation of a new roof and restoration of plumbing and electrical systems that mostly dated back to the building’s construction in the early 1920s. The need for basic refurbishment was acute.
“Sometimes we had to have buckets standing on the floors of the exhibition rooms, because the roof was leaking,” museum conservator Guri Skuggen told newspaper Aftenposten earlier this year. Now the roof’s new copper gleams in the late autumn sunshine, and the exhibition areas are shined up as well, without any jarring, major changes.
“We actually tried to make the changes as unnoticeable as possible,” Skuggen said. That’s in part because the building itself is in the process of becoming fredet (preserved and protected), so major change was decidedly not on the agenda. The priority was instead to keep the building and its inventory, considered a prime example of Norwegian neo-classicism from the 1920s, as intact as possible.
It was built to be a new studio and home for Gustav Vigeland, who already had a contract to create the fountain that’s a highlight of the Vigeland Park within the Frogner Park. Vigeland, whose production was enormous, had outgrown another city-owned property where he’d been living and working. The city offered him new accommodation and reimbursement for all his materials, and Vigeland moved into his large new quarters in 1924, next to the site of the sculpture park that kept growing in size and scope.
On Sunday, museum officials hosted they called a “great activity day,” opening up Vigeland’s living quarters as well as exhibition rooms and even a place where children could make Christmas cards and ornaments. The residential portion is otherwise only open by special appointment. More about it in a later story, with photos.
The museum itself, with its permanent collections and changing exhibitions, documents Vigeland’s life and work processes and offers insight into the enormity of his project. Plaster models of his famous statues also place them in a whole new light, allowing closer inspection especially of Vigeland’s famous Monolith, arguably the highlight of the Frogner Park. It was carved from one single piece of granite (hence its name) and contains 120 figures, created over a 14-year period from 1929 to 1944. Vigeland, who died in 1943, didn’t live to see its completion.
His models for it, divided into three separate plaster entities inside the museum, offer a different perspective on the Monolith and allow closer inspection at eye-level without having to battle the elements of bad weather or glaring sunshine. While it’s great to see the Monolith outdoors in the park, a look at its models inside the museum is highly recommended. Printed brochures in both Norwegian and English also explain how the massive sculpture was made.
Models of many of the granite groups placed around the Monolith are also on exhibit, along with the model of the fountain and many other works in the park, including his bronze, marble and wrought iron statues, fences, gates and light fixtures.
The museum also contains many works not connected to the park, including sculptures of famous and not-so-famous Norwegians of his time, from his housemaid to Frithjof Nansen. Vigeland also made woodcuts and drawings.
A special exhibit featuring the works of 29 scuptors is also running at the museum through February 5. It’s a cooperation between Norway’s national scultors’ association (Norsk Billedhoggerforening) and the museum, and aims to portray various industrial and artistic processes.
In the summer the museum hosts classical concerts in its large atrium. At this time of year, it provides an excellent way to explore the life and work of one of Norway’s most famous artists, while staying warm and dry.
Thousands dress up, celebrate the start of the holiday season in downtown Fayetteville
By Chick Jacobs
Ebenezer Scrooge handled his role as Victorian celebrity with the proper curmudgeonly disdain. But even that snarling sourpuss could find little to complain about Friday as more than 10,000 people gathered to officially welcome the Christmas season downtown.
“It’s been a gorgeous day, and people have responded wonderfully,” said Deborah Martin-Mintz, the executive director of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. “People want to get out and enjoy the weather, and get into the spirit of the season.”
The 12th annual Dickens Holiday drew people looking for a brief break from leftover turkey sandwiches and the mind-numbing mobs of Black Friday. For one evening in downtown Fayetteville, they could share the street with characters straight out of a Victorian setting.
That included Queen Victoria herself, who officially opened the holiday season from the balcony of the Market House.
OK, so it wasn’t really the queen, any more than the real Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley grudgingly posed with passersby. And that wasn’t really Elvis Presley performing for fans in The Shops at 214 Hay Street. But for one evening, it was fun to pretend.
“It’s been a busy day, a lot busier than usual,” said Aneta Brewer, who owns The Burlap and Poppy Shoppe on Hay Street. “We’ve had a lot of people who’ve come in browsing.
“It may not be as hectic as Black Friday, but I think it’s a lot more enjoyable,” Brewer said.
The sounds and sights of a long-ago Christmas echoed down the side streets, from the clip-clop of horse hooves carrying passengers to the Coventry Carolers and the rhythmic rumbling of a Tuba Christmas inside Hay Street United Methodist Church.
On every corner, street vendors offered spiced cider and gingerbread cookies along with handmade arts and crafts.
Wrought iron artist Jason Thomas of Gray’s Creek hammered on a century-old anvil, delighting spectators as he created art from iron.
“I couldn’t do some of the more intricate stuff here,” he said, nodding to ornate ironwork he was offering for sale. “But a lot of the kids, they’ve never seen someone work on an anvil before.”
The stars of the event were characters plucked from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim blessed everyone within earshot, but like a bad-guy wrestler, everyone wanted to be seen with Scrooge.
“Bah! Humbug!” was the usual response from Scrooge, known in the real world as George Quigley. But inevitably he’d stop long enough for a photo, his shock of white hair and red-and-white nightshirt making a daring fashion statement.
Shortly after sunset, a lone bagpiper played “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” and thousands of people lit their candles and strolled down Hay Street. The crowd stood three streets deep as local dignitaries, then Queen Victoria herself, welcomed the holiday season.
Following a crowd countdown, the street was flooded with Christmas lights and a cascade of fireworks.
The one-day event was originally intended to draw people downtown in 2000 to see how redevelopment had changed the city’s center. About 1,000 people attended that first year.
Now, the number has swelled more than 10-fold.
“It’s built every year, Martin-Mintz said. “Now it’s an event people look forward to. They want to bring their children and share the experience.”
Taylor Morrison’s new model at Mediterra piques interest
Taylor Morrison has unveiled the Corciano model home at Mediterra. With 3,017 square feet under air, the Corciano features a library, two guest bedrooms, and three-and-a-half baths.
The Corciano villa model home draws inspiration from the Mediterranean regions of Europe. With a side-entry, two-car garage and tropical landscaping, the curb appeal of this exceptional home is enhanced with stonework accents, a tile roof, architectural detailing and a dramatic arched entry just beyond the wrought iron gates of the front courtyard.
The interior reveals an open floor plan centered around a private courtyard featuring double-door entries to the formal dining room and built-in bar for entertaining. A chef’s kitchen with oversized pantry overlooks the great room, where two walls of sliding glass doors lend a sense of spaciousness and give easy access to a screened loggia.
The master suite is tucked away in a quiet corner to take advantage of the views and includes his-and-her walk-in closets and a master bath with dual sinks and separate tub and shower.
The Corciano model is located in Cabreo, a cul-de-sac neighborhood of 39 single-family villas built exclusively by Taylor Morrison. Three available floor plans provide options starting at 2,868 square feet, and all feature private courtyards and regional-inspired architecture.
The Corciano model is priced starting at $587,900, depending on homesite.
Mediterra offers two golf courses designed by Tom Fazio and a Golf Learning Center. The 25,000-square-foot clubhouse offers fine and casual dining, while a private sports club gives residents the opportunity to play tennis, work out at the fitness center, or relax by the pool and spa.
With only 950 homes, Mediterra covers 1,700 acres, with 1,000 of those acres reserved for preserves, lakes, parks and open space. Eight miles of trails and pathways link three themed parks.
Mediterra’s Beach Club provides a private setting along the Gulf of Mexico complete with catered refreshments, an elevated swimming pool with sun deck, and personalized beach services.
Ancient crafts, modern world
This is Zhang Qingjie. In the city of Wuhu in Anhui Province, He makes a special kind of artwork, known in Chinese as tiehua, or Iron Paintings. From afar, you can understand the name. But up close, you can see they are not paintings at all.
According to local legend, a traveling blacksmith named Tang Tianchi invented the wrought iron picture technique when a painter that he admired teased him by saying, “You will never make paintings by beating iron!”
But with the rapidly changing economy in modern China, this art form could soon become a lost treasure of the past.
Iron Painting isn’t the only ancient craft in Anhui Province.
A few hours by bus will take you to a small workshop in a town called Xuancheng that makes paper the old-fashioned way. The Chinese people invented paper. This kind of paper is called xuanzhi.
First, tree bark and stems are dried on the hills that surround the workshop at the hills’ foot. This will later be separated by quality and grade – only the best bark will be chosen.
Second, pulp is made by pulverizing tree bark with large, wooden hammers. Tree bark is beaten repeatedly until it is broken down into a moldable base with which to make the paper.
Afterwards, the pulp is washed in water in order to further break it down into useable fibers. This is still done by hand and is very tiring. The water creates a drag force which pulls apart the fibers, but it also is very straining on the muscles.
Next, the pulp is mixed into water to make a soupy, porridge-like mixture. A sheet of bamboo allows water to sluice through while keeping the pulp on top. A worker will slide the bamboo sheet through the water and then tilt it in such a way that the mixture will run down the sheet and back into the mixture, leaving an even coating of pulp on the sheet as the water drains through.
Finally, the sheets will be peeled off the bamboo after drying, and placed onto heated slabs of metal to cook out any remaining water and harden the pulp sheets into paper. Even though this process sounds rough and course, the quality of the paper is really extraordinary. It looks like the finest paper used for calligraphy – thick, solid white, durable and strong.
In fact, this workshop is famous throughout all of China. So famous, that this worker, Wang Shiba, even participated in the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, performing his paper-making skills.
China obviously places great importance on its folk art national history. However, the reality of the job market could force workers out of these crafts if protections or economic securities are not put into place.
Gateways of Bologna make la bella casa
By Brea Johnson
The depth of Europe’s history in relation to the United States’ is undeniable. With countries established thousands of years before the idea of North America was even conceived, Europeans had a head start in establishing neighborhoods and architecture.
The facades of ancient buildings feature brick or stone arches, warm colored coats of paint and an undeniably European aura. The age of these buildings paired with cultural differences makes for a unique living situation while abroad.
Security in Italy is unparalleled; between the thick wooden doors that open buildings and the wrought iron gates that lead to stairs, Italians have perfected the way to avoid unwanted solicitation.
After being buzzed into a building, one must climb flights of stairs in order to reach his or her apartment of choice. It took me all of three days here to realize how Italians thrive on carbs but remain in top shape.
Like freshmen at IU, it was necessary to research different parts of Bologna when I was deciding where to live. The center of Bologna is equivalent to the stereotypes that surround campus’ Northwest neighborhood. Inside the city walls, you’re closer to people, places and, as a result, parties. The cost of having these within a 10-minute walk is reflected in the elevated rent that you pay each month.
The other part of town, an area where residents are known to live “outside the walls,” is much more reserved and industrial.
A noticeable difference is present in residents’ ability to see nature on a daily basis. Beyond the dying basil plant in my urban kitchen windowsill, I sadly can’t tell you the last time I’ve come into contact with Mother Nature.
While the differences between the city and suburbs remain the same regardless of the continent, the features of each home are much different. Here, I’ll point out a few of the more notable differences of Italian university living compared to North American.
Unlike many universities in the U.S., the University of Bologna does not provide student housing for any pupil, regardless of year. This lack of housing security forces students to be proactive and find their own flyers posted throughout the city.
From these flyers, visits are scheduled, and if all goes according to plan, you’ll soon have a new home. If not, you return to the daunting city walls plastered with roommate requests to search for more potential home options that restart the often disappointing Italian housing cycle.
Since most Italians return home during weekends to spend time with family, eat their mother’s cooking and wash clothing, they often opt to share a bedroom with another person to cut down on their city apartment rent. While it’s more common than not to see this arrangement throughout Italy, the mandatory year of forced cohabitation as a freshman seems to be enough for many students in the States.
While I’ve pined for my dryer after putting on a pair of still-wet jeans or lamented the inability of friends to come directly to my door, I’ve embraced the advantages Italian life offers.