Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gorgeous Spring-like Amsterdam:

These days I notice that my mind is, quite often, quite busy; not nervous; not restless; and not anxious. It is instead curious; forever searching; in constant need of stimulation–and not in the way in which I am most often used to: visually. My mind is instead searching for words, words that will help me express myself more deeply, more passionately, and more poignantly. I'm purposely training my vocabulary, so that it expands. Words are so wonderful; they allow one to say, so many things. I've been fruitfully reading about Dutch art since this past weekend (from the pages of a book I had purchased earlier, and have only now opened). And seeing as how I'll, this year, become Dutch, I've convinced myself that my knowledge of this country's history should, also, (continue to) expand. And so, as March moves forward into April, I'm at ease; relaxed within a world of my own making as the world turns toward a new season, in gorgeous springlike Amsterdam.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Parading, Like a Peacock:

Over these past few weeks, and since the end of January, something within me has changed. My thought patterns seem to be reshaping; my perception refining; and my knowledge about the world–and specifically my knowledge concerning its 'art'–is increasing at a furious rate. This is a conscious act that I have sent into motion. My mind is thirsty; it's comparable to a sponge these days–soaking up anything and everything within the cultural fields. Having studied architecture and its history–my focus has always been on the built environment, and not necessarily about what hangs within, or is situated within, those environments. I know about the shells of spaces; now I'm filling in the gaps of my knowledge so that my vocabulary and familiarity with visual culture within these spaces, is just as strong. I'm arming myself, in some way, for my future. My mind doesn't hurt; it's hungry. I'm not sure how much longer this will continue, though I hope it never ends. Since moving to Amsterdam I've filled my life with everything that I've always ever wanted within it; color, renaissance residue, contemporary culture and fashion. As I grow I'm learning more about myself in ways that I never thought I would. Always one to push my personal development one step further, in many many ways I feel that my true self is slowly but surely emerging. Yet I thought that I was already there; which means that my life can only become more exciting as it continues. I wouldn't allow it be anything but. The skills that I posses–they are my own; and I become more confident with them each and everyday. I finally feel as if I know what it is that I'm doing, how it is that I do it, and the ways in which I am able to do so. I'm learning that I don't need or have to define myself, at any point in my life. I am ever transforming. And I must listen to my head and my heart, always. As I grow I realize that my life is just only beginning. I am young. And yet I have already progressed so much. As I continue to go forward, I look back less often that I used to. I'm becoming more comfortable in the moment; more resourceful and self assured–I have presence. And that's important. A few years back I wrote that I wanted to become a waking talking design encyclopedia, complete with huge glasses. And, indeed, both of my wishes have come true. So, what to wish for next?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

John does Groningen:

This past weekend I spent time in the fine city of Groningen, at the very northern tip of the Netherlands, just a quick two hour and ten minute train ride north. This was my first time to that city, and what a tiny place it is. Yet it is larger than both Leiden and Maastricht. And this is mainly because of its student population, which numbers somewhere around 50,000. I have been all over the Netherlands–really all over. Most corners of this country I have visited. And as I recently applied to become Dutch–passport and all–I find it essential that I visit the major cities of this fabulous country. All that’s left is Nijmegen, in the east. Leeuwarden is one of my favorites; I’ve even managed to travel all throughout Friesland. It’s flat as a pancake, and distinct from the rest of the Netherlands in its architecture. Groningen and its immediate surrounding are quite flat, too. Though its architecture lacks the whimsicality of the gables that adorn the façades of houses in North Holland. Historically, the reason for this is that Amsterdam was the center of power and money in the Dutch Republic in the seventeen century. And so the gables are just a bit less fabulous outside of North Holland, in my opinion. Yet the city is anything but unfabulous. Because of all those students, it’s teeming with life. Even on a lazy weekend in March, when the trees are not yet in bloom and the clouds are ever present. Groningen’s surrounded by water; its center, when viewed from above, resembles the layout of other once fortified European cities. North Hollandish at heart, I’m happy to be back home, in romantically delightful Amsterdam.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dutch Art, at the Rijksmuseum:

Yesterday I meandered over, once again, to the the Rijksmuseum. While there, I read the most recent issue of Elephant magazine–a periodical devoted to 'arts and visual culture'; specifically its articles about the relevancy of painting today and how its imagery–in person, and not on a screen–are just as powerful now as they were, for instance, during the Renaissance. After my arrival, I climbed the stairs to the 'Gallery of Honour', which is the location of the most prize paintings in the museum's collection. Included in the gallery is Jan Asselijn's 'The Threatened Swan', which just so happens to hang alongside Willem van Aelst's 'Floral Still Life with a Pocket Watch' (below), and both of which I sat in front of while hopelessly lost deep within the words on the pages of the periodical in front of me. Transcending was the experience, as it's not everyday I go to the Rijskmuseum to read, rather than observe. What a wonderful reading room the 'Gallery of Honour' is proving to be.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Construction Continues in the Indische Buurt:

The Indische Buurt–my neighborhood in this city–is slowly but surely metamorphasizing; streets continue to be repaved, new maroon wrought iron LED lampposts continue to replace those from the 1980s, and more buildings are being renovated, as Amsterdammers further learn about the renaissance currently occurring in this tiny corner of the city. What a gem the Indische Buurt truly is truly; Felvopark included.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alexander the Great:

Lately I have been absorbing as much art history and theory as I can through various new volumes that were recently added to my bookshelves. While in Istanbul I stopped by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums–a cluster of three museums whose collections are mainly comprised of artifacts from antiquity, and beyond. To my delight I happened to walk past, and stop in front of, a series from the many brick panels that flanked the avenue leading to the Ishtar Gate, from Babylon. A large bulk of the items composing the collection of the archaeology museum were not on display due to renovations. Yet countless other items were available for viewing, and just stunning were the artifacts from ancient Egypt. They even had the full front façade of an ancient Greek temple. Yet the most emotion stirring piece that I saw, a fragment of a sculpture of Alexander the Great, made my knees weak. Here, before me, was a piece of stone that had been lovingly carved, chiseled, and sculpted nearly 2,000 years ago, which I had only seen from images reproduced in books and on the internet. This only mades me think that experience is so important; the senses are then stirred.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Streets of Istanbul:

Walking through the streets of Istanbul: a city whose streets were not necessarily enticing, nor inviting, nor overtly dangerous, either. Seeping in ample amounts of history, its buildings look as if their once grand days are nothing beyond a distant memory; painted façades seemed to be faded, with those same buildings' wooden trim also in need of repainting. That is, those buildings with wooden trim; skyscrapers of glass and steel directly abut houses with tin roofs; transparent meets the opaque in Istanbul. Mosques dot the city's skyline, in place of more familiar types of towers–such as the church steeples of Amsterdam–to my eyes. Old meets new and young meets old in Istanbul; the secular confronts the religious and the religious defends the secular. Advertising shouts to those on the streets below, offering up an ideal image of beauty that, in some instances, seems to escape its conservative context. How to define beauty, within this sprawling metropolis, at the crossroads of the world's cultures? Does Istanbul look West, or East–and with which is the city most comfortable? I'm not sure that the city even knows itself; which is, of course, half the fun of visiting Turkey.