Marquetry, is the art of making hanging art or decorations from wood veneers. I saw this at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury, MN. This map was one of several pieces in a temporary display. 

This large map has 128 species of wood veneers. Gorgeous. Richly beautiful.




“Let the little children come to me …”


“… and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”




Each Memorial Day my wife and I visit a local cemetery. Cemeteries are beautiful places. On Memorial Day we can expect to see families laying flowers upon graves or adult children sitting on the grass alongside a headstone, deep in thought. 

Newport is an old river town down the hill from where I live in Woodbury, MN. Newport Cemetery is on a steep hill facing west. Its residents have been there for decades, some since the Civil War. I imagine it was a peaceful place a hundred years ago. Now Highway 61 is at the foot of the hill, sending up rushing traffic sounds. On the other side from 61 is the Dantesque Koch refinery. But beyond that is the winding Mississippi and the western bluffs. I wonder if the Newport cemetery planners knew that the local Indians also buried their dead on the westerward-facing Mississippi bluffs. There’s something about the West and the setting sun. Even the Egyptiuans buried thier dead facing the west.

It was an overcast day, but saturated in vernal color. The cemetery has many lilacs planted about, and the grass and nearby woods offered rich springtime scent.



William points to where he rests.


The children’s graves are always the most touching. The parents of these young children made sure they have their toys.



The cemetery is on a steep hill.


Almost all the graves have mementos.



Did the mother die in childbirth? There are no dates or names. This unusual solitary stone has the child’s name above it.


Here are the rest of the photos on my Flickr account




An Afternoon At The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts


Diana confronts the pregnant Callisto (Titian)


I went to see the Titian exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute Of Arts on a cold March afternoon. Titian was one of the first Italian painters to use oil instead of fresco or tempura. The painter is known for his mastery of color (‘Titian red’) and the way he often taunted the sensibilities of the establishment. The exhibit paintings were five hundred years old, an though they looked in good condition to me, our docent said they had been restored many times. The pigments had faded over the centuries, though they still looked richly-colored to me.

We left the exhibit and explored other paintings on the second floor before it was time to get home. I love the place. As we headed out the door, I made I note to come back again in summer and spend an entire day there.



Rodin bronzes in the Impressionist galleries


Warhol, Close from the Moderns


Art students from the nearby Minneapolis College of Art And Design (MCAD); a magnificent Chihuly chandelier


Chinese horses. The MIA has many antiquities from Asia.




The Quietest Place in Minneapolis

A Visit to Lakewood Cemetery



Minneapolis nobility left many statues and elaborate tombstones. Here is the section for the Loring family.

Today we drove across town to a tranquil park in south Minneapolis to check out the Lakeview Chapel. We were suprised to find such an expansive, park-like cemetery. Lakewood Cemetery is over a century old, yet it remains an ‘active’ cemetery with room  to serve the dead for decades to come. It’s a real gem — I have lived in the Cities for nearly thirty years and had no idea such a place was hidden in a bustling neighborhod. The park is shaded and carefully tended with not a sign of vandalism or neglect. I understand people hold weddings at Lakewood. As odd as that sounds, after walking under the trees, I can understand why.

We wandered on foot on a warm July afternoon, darting between the shadows of arching oaks. We covered a mere fraction of the total area. I  hope to go back again.


The Lakewood Chapel

We found out the Chapel is closed on Sundays. How strange!

Its external architecture is inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. We’ve been to that grand place, so we were looking forward to see how Lakewood compared. I can tell you it has the same shaped domes, but there are no minarettes. No doubt the staid Minneapolitans of 1900 would have nothing too ‘sultanate.’


There are a lot of statues about the place. Several, especially of the children, were decorated with flowers. One little girl had a rosary dangling at her side.


We wandered into areas dedicated to people who died in service. Pictured above are statues from the Civil War and fallen firemen areas. The section along the outside street perimenter has dead politicians (Hubert Humphrey, Rudy Perpich and Wellstone, among others)


Lakewood is all about symbolism. The place offers ‘symbolism tours’ which I really hope to take on my return visit. I could see many masonic symbols on headstones. There were dozens of stone urns, some draped entirely or partially covered, symbolizing old age and sorrow. The Lily-of-the-Valley, pictured above, means life and happiness. And an intact rose in full bloom indicates a person in their prime is buried there, perhaps a young parent.



Erastus died in 1882. He was eleven days old.

It’s always sad to see the graves of children. Lakewood has a ‘Babyland.’ I chose not to go there.



We wrapped up our afternoon by stepping into the silent and cool mausoleum. There is some beautiful stained glass and mosaic work inside, a surprise and delight for a modern building. Angels and saints provide the only color to the somber interior.


Want to see more of my pictures? Click here.






“Every Place You Are, You Have Arrived”

A vist to a sylvan sculpture garden



On a glorious June afternoon we went to the Caponi Art Park in Eagan, Minnesota. The park is the decades-long creative effort of Anthony Caponi, retired art professor from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. With just a wheelbarrow, shovel and rake, he cleared forty acres of rough land and built his house. Over the years he worked deeper into the forest with his tools, planting new trees as he went. An art professor who favors modern sculpture in stone and metal, he moved many of his creations to the park after he made them. He’s still there, nearly nine decades old, flying along in his golf cart. We saw him rounding a curve, the sun in his snow-white hair.

After he retired in 1991, he opened his park to the people of the Twin Cities, and in partnership with the City Of Eagan, joined his land to more forest. His ‘Art Park’ now includes a learning center, an exhibition center and an open-air ‘Theater In The Woods.’ The Park is open to the public and is free. Children and leashed pets are welcome.

I’ll admit this was one of the most memorable days of my life: the perfect weather, the delightful park, and my companion of nearly thirty years, Denise, at my side.

Caponi didn’t create mere retaining walls into the hillsides. He created sculpture. Here are a few segments of his ‘Pompeii’ scenes, embeded into a hill. Brass, stone and concrete.



Caponi’s park is made of found metal and stone. The paths are paved from last century’s granite cobbles discarded by the city of Saint Paul. Here is a fence of salavaged rebar from a demolished bridge. Caponi straightened it, cut it and welded it into place.


The park is lovlier than many city parks. As a fan of anything green, I appreciated the detail to native plants. I could tell many of the ancient birches were planted by Caponi as a younger man. Basswood and every species of native oak, some of ruinous old age, arched overhead. I also noticed the place was pretty clean of alien, invasive buckthorn.

There are curved paths everywhere. Round a corner and you will find a Caponi sculpture or two. Or Caponi himself.


Above are a few photos of the many sculptures there. Some were titled, and some were not. I loaded higher resolution photos and titles of these and others to my Flickr account.





Forget Art Galleries, Take Me To A Kitchen Store

I just go nuts in gadget places and can waste hours in hardware and cooking supply stores. Especially fun are the restaurant supply places with their giant mixers and mongo aluminum cookware. IKEA, Home Goods and Bed, Bath and Beyond can transfix me, too.

But the high-end kitchen stores are above even those wonderful places. With their colorful crockery stacked on steel rollaway carts, they are the art galleries of housewares.

One of my faves is the Chef’s Gallery in Stillwater, MN. Yesterday we stopped there on our quest for the perfect kitchen compost pail. I was easily distracted by all the shiny stuff: All-Clad pans, Roseli utensils, Le Creuset pots, Wusthoff knives … sigh.

I whipped out my iPhone and snapped these photos. An employee asked me to stop — it’s against store policy. Sorry, ma’am, but your store is just too gorgeous to deny me. And so I share with you, dear readers.

Fire and Ice At Franconia



Today we went to an Iron Melt at the Franconia Sculpture Park. Students were learning how to melt iron and pour it into forms. They were melting old scrap iron, mostly discarded car radiators. The Park is a place for sculpture students to learn technique. At any time you will find students welding, hammering and even singing as they produce unusual art form. Franconia is also a wide-open public sculpture garden. I recommend visiting it sometime on a summer day.

It was 23F and an Alberta Clipper was bearing down on us. It was plenty warm near the fires, but they kept shooing me away when I got too close.


 The students used a steel drum to  to melt the iron. They had trouble getting the iron hot enough on this cold day.


They poured the hot iron into forms made of pressed sand.


 Their teacher took a few moments to explain the process to me.



Coke is the necessary fuel to hit iron’s melting point.



I walked around and took a few other snaps. This is perhaps their most renowned work.


More of the large sculptures. The place is vast. I wasn’t prepared to capture too many more shots; my fingers were freezing.


Lounge Lizard.


Why You Should Visit The Museum Of Russian Art


Milkmaids, Novella  (Baskakov, 1962)
Few artists can capture laughter with paint. ‘Milkmaids’ is TMORA’s ‘Mona Lisa.’ I have a print in my office for contemplation.

One of my favorite art museums is the Museum of Russian Art (TMORA). Unlike the many art museums in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, TMORA is small, and to its credit, very intimate. It’s a converted church with a collection dedicated to Russian and other Slavic art. TMORA has a wonderful permanent collection of fine Soviet-era painting. You won’t find Romanov portraits here! The era dedicated its art to laborers, world wars and peasants.

TMORA is a real gem. If the Minneapolis Art Institute is the Twin Cities’ Louvre, then TMORA is its d’Orsay. The museum is just off highway 35W, south of downtown Minneapolis. It’s a cinch to find and there’s free museum parking across the street. TMORA’s museum shop has beautiful amber jewelry, silver and lovely porcelains.


Friends (Sychkov, 1930)

TMORA hosts several exhibits from private collections. It may be the finest collection of Russian art outside of Russia. Do take a Sunday afternoon and pay it a visit.



Glass Plates from the Revealing The Silk Road exhibit (Through February 28, 2010). There are 26 plates from Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii’s trip through Central Asia in 1906-1907 These were created with a unique three-shoot process  that did not use film. There’s almost a 3-D aspect to these images.


Another exhibit, Matryoshka: The Russian Nesting Doll  runs through March 29, 2010.

Matryoshka Dolls


Matryoshka (‘mother,’ from the Latin ‘mater’) are the little nesting dolls from Russian culture. Also known as babushka (‘grandmother’) dolls, these were inspired by Japanese wooden figurines. ‘Matyroshka’ is a traditional mother figure wearing a shawl. In the seventies, Matryoshka tradition fused with contemporary Russian art and politics. Nowadays, they may not be motherly or even female, but they always follow the “smaller-in-smaller’ principle.

We  saw these at the Museum Of Russian Art in Minneapolis. They are part of a special exhibit running through March 29, 2010




Religious  theme

Political theme. Russians don’t hold a high opinion of Mr Bonaparte