August 11, 2012 by
Since Tokyo is so many time zones from home, I arrive a few days and go sightseeing to beat jet lag. On my fifth visit to Japan, I was the first of our meeting to arrive, with the group gradually gaining mass. I checked into the usual hotel, in an high rise tower overlooking the tracks by Tamachi station.
On a mission from DY, my first destination was Harajuku. I went looking for crafting supplies at the Daiso (100 yen) store.
The products aren’t made in Japan, but the variety is wider than in other branches internationally.
A few blocks further east, the Design Festa Gallery changes its installations rapidly, with emerging artists showing their work for nominal costs.
The variety of work includes paintings, photographs and sculpture by mostly Japanese artists.
While most rooms are barely large enough for an overnight stay — Design Festa also offers artists accommodations from late evening to early morning, when the gallery is closed — this week featured a wall where artists could claim an 80 x 80 cm display space. Read more... (1406 words, 51 images, estimated 5:37 mins reading time)
August 10, 2012 by
One of my longer trips to Finland was for 14 days in favourable fall weather. I was scheduled to teach a class in the Creativity Sustainability program. Immediately before and after that teaching, there was an opportunity to pick up some credits for my graduate studies. While this visit was busy with work, I also made some time for sightseeing, with the guidance of friends (and friends of friends).
My usual Aalto University campus (i.e. for engineering) is at Otaniemi in Espoo, on the west side of Helsinki. The class that I was teaching was at the school of arts and design (i.e. Taik), at Arabia Centre within Helsinki city limits on the east side.
The redeveloped factory facilities fit the feel for a design school. While about half of the Creative Sustainability students had undergraduate training in design, the other half were drawn from other studies from across the university.
As usual, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art was nearby my apartment, so I went over to catch a showing. With warm fall temperatures, there were skaters on the plaza.
The Kiasma is one of favourite art museums in the world. One installation that caught my eye was the 2009 work of Jacob Dahlgren, titled The Wonderful World of Abstraction.
On the Saturday afternoon, Heimo suggested we might meet up at Korjammo Culture Factory, a short walk north from the city centre.
On this weekend, the major event was an arts and craft market. Read more... (717 words, 26 images, estimated 2:52 mins reading time)
May 23, 2012 by
I was a volcanic ash refugee for eight days. In the minivan with a group leaving Pernegg en route to the Vienna airport, we received a mobile phone call telling us that flights were being cancelled. When we arrived at the Vienna airport, the UK airports were in the process of closing. Jennifer and I thought that motion towards Manchester was better than just staying in Vienna, so we boarded the first leg to Frankfurt. When we arrived at FRA, we discovered that the UK airspace had completely closed. Then we discovered the EU rule that once a passenger is taken on as a carrier, that airline is responsible for accommodations for the passenger until he or she arrives at the final destination, or negotiates an alternative routing.
This began an unexpected adventure of an extended European tour. On the first night, the airline sent us on a long taxi ride to Seeheim. The destination turned out to be the Lufthansa Training and Conference Centre, a wonderful facility that tourists are unlikely to see.
The coupons for dinner gave us the breadth of choice of continental cuisine from experienced chefs. After the meal, Jennifer and I walked around as much of the building complex as we could find. I read that there are bowling alleys at the facility, but we never found them.
We might have liked to extend our stay at this facility, but we were told the conference centre was booked full for that evening. We took a shuttle back to Frankfurt airport.
At the airport, the airline then sent us to Darmstadt. This town is the home of the Technische Universität Darmstadt, a research institution with strong ties to German industry. From just west of the city centre, we walked to Ludwigsplatz.
The city centre, such as Ernst Ludwig Strasse, has only pedestrian traffic going through it.
The Luisenplatz is centered on a fountain, and ringed by buildings with sidewalk cafes. Read more... (1926 words, 53 images, estimated 7:42 mins reading time)
March 13, 2012 by
I was invited to the 2010 IFSR Conversation at Pernegg, Austria. The closest major airport was in Vienna, where I had never been, so I flew in a few days earlier to work off some jet lag. Directions from the Vienna Airport to the city centre via the City Airport Train was relatively straightforward, to the Wien Mitte station. Appreciating the sunny spring day to adjust my body clock, I decided the walk west and north wasn’t too far to to drag luggage. This path routed me over a canal section of the Wien River.
My hotel room overlooked Julius Raab Platz (in honour of a Federal Chancellor of Austria in the 1950s) by Uraniastrasse (near the observatory).
A grocery store was conveniently nearby, where I picked up foods for breakfast.
Gary and I wended our way southwest through Vienna, by the Dominican Church on Postgasse.
At the edge of the city core, the Johannes Gutenberg Monument is at Am Lugeck.
We walked through Stephansplatz — the geographic centre of Vienna — and continued south. Read more... (805 words, 34 images, estimated 3:13 mins reading time)
January 18, 2012 by
I’ve been in Tokyo for over a week every year since 2007, so I know the city sights well. This 2010 trip saw me serving as a tour guide for Roy (who came on the same plane as me from Toronto), as well the many of the other visiting researchers. On the first night, Sunday, the group convened at the usual hotel near Tamachi station. We randomly chose a pub, where we puzzled through a Japanese menu and ended up ordering a hotpot from a waiter who spoke no English.
Early Monday morning, we took the train over to the Tsukiji market. Coming by a different route than before, we encountered a temple where businessmen were making offerings.
In mid-morning, some of the tuna were still in recognizable forms, with fishmongers rapidly creating portions with saws and knives.
On this visit, I discovered the reason that some tuna are called yellowfin. These had a yellow fin smaller than a thumbnail.
From Tsukiji, we walked through the Ginza, and up towards Yurakucho. We stopped by a pachinko parlour where the machines were as loud in the morning as they are in the evening. Read more... (1223 words, 44 images, estimated 4:54 mins reading time)
December 31, 2011 by
While at a meeting in Tempe, Arizona, I discovered that Arizona State University has a strong contemporary American art collection. An 1987 “Untitled Group” by Viola Frey was almost life size. Frey passed away in 2004. While I was seeing this in Arizona, a larger collection of Frey’s work was touring New York.
The back side of the work is as detailed as the front.
The Ceramics Research Center at ASU is an open storage area in a plaza across the street from the more famous main gallery.
The lowness of the J. Russell and Bonita Nelson Fine Arts Center foreshadows the galleries underground.
From the bright Arizona sun outside, the way downstairs takes a few minutes for eyes to adjust.
At the foot of the stairs is a bubbling fountain. Read more... (302 words, 14 images, estimated 1:12 mins reading time)