February Plant Update

February was a great month for plant observations!! We saw a lot of things, we traveled, we revisited our sacred spaces.

A snowy morning in Cape May, NJ.

A snowy morning in Cape May, NJ.

A foggy morning in Asbury Park, NJ.

A foggy morning in Asbury Park, NJ.

Two of my favorite pine trees.

Two of my favorite pine trees.

A pink morning.

A pink morning.

This plant scares my husband, but look at it’s beautiful blooms!!

This plant scares my husband, but look at it’s beautiful blooms!!

Lovely colors, oxalis never disappoints.

Lovely colors, oxalis never disappoints.

One of the only snowy days so far…

One of the only snowy days so far…

…it looked like it might be a crazy snow day, but it melted quickly.

…it looked like it might be a crazy snow day, but it melted quickly.

And then there was New Orleans.

And then there was New Orleans.

I will never get over Spanish moss.

I will never get over Spanish moss.

I also learned about resurrection moss which grows in NOLA all year, sometimes dying back and they spontaneously growing right back.

I also learned about resurrection moss which grows in NOLA all year, sometimes dying back and they spontaneously growing right back.

It was really great and very odd to visit somewhere were flowers were blooming in Feb.

It was really great and very odd to visit somewhere were flowers were blooming in Feb.

Seeing bees already hard at work was a wonderful sight.

Seeing bees already hard at work was a wonderful sight.

Going somewhere warm with flowers blooming was a great pick me up. Winter is the hardest time for me and seeing some green plants and bright flowers was an awesome inspiration for me. Spring really is right around the corner!

I’m excited to see March’s plants! What was February like where you live or travel?

Back to Cape May for 6th Anniversary

We are not big occasion people. We don’t buy xmas gifts, we don’t go on dates, we don’t dress up. But one thing that we have celebrated for the last six years is our wedding anniversary. We always try to take a little trip around this time and this year, we headed back to an old favorite: Cape May, New Jersey.

We took a leisurely time to drive down to Cape May and stopped at a few thrift shops we enjoy along the way. We arrived just in time for the sunset. They are usually quite spectacular in this town.

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The night was easy and we took advantage of a warm room and a strong shower. In the morning we ate at the hotel restaurant before heading out into the snowy landscape.

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The Victorian homes and square are particularly striking in the snow.

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We always like to take a look at the sunken concrete ship at the end of the state.

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Our trip was very brief but relaxing and lovely. Here’s to another year to decide where to go next.

Past trips:
Philly
Princeton
Cape May
Washington DC

Art and Nature at New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden

While we were in New Orleans we went to the New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden.  The museum itself was closed as it was a Monday. But the Garden is open 7 days a week. 

There were quite a few nice pieces, including a Magritte right was we walked in!

There were several other notable sculptures, as well, all nestled among winding pathways. Water features prominently in the sculpture garden, along with the large Spanish moss covered trees, this makes the garden cool and breezy to walk thru. 

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We encountered many lizards darting on the paths but try as we might, we couldn't catch any. 

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We also crossed paths with a surprisingly aggressive duck. We had a puzzle of trying to get him to let us get around him as we wound our way through the garden. We soon realized that his aggressive nature was merely a food seeking ploy and we followed him on his begging route until he landed us at a perfect spot for a cool break. 

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2 Days in Alabama

Over the weekend, we attended my Brother-in-Law's wedding in Andalusia, Alabama

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Having never been to Alabama, I wasn't sure what to expect. And honestly, spending only 2 days there did not give me the full picture, I don't think. 

We flew into New Orleans and drove the 4 hours to Andalusia with just enough time to check into the hotel, get dressed and head back out to the wedding. 
We stayed in the Best Western Andalusia where my in-laws also stayed. We chose this hotel bc it was the only one in the area with a pool. Very important, of course!!
The hotel is also very centrally located in the small city. It's in a busy, commercial area, but only minutes from the town center and square. 

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The wedding was held at the Sweet Gum Bottom Bed and Breakfast, which was about a 20 minute drive from the hotel. It was a very quaint and lovely spot! In addition to the B&B, it also housed a small, simple chapel, and a small reception hall. One stop shopping for your wedding local in Andalusia. 
The wedding ceremony was lovely and brief with the bridal party wearing white and cream, and the groomsmen in light grey. A dear friend of the couple officiated and the groom's brother and father stood by his side. White flowers and babies breath decorated the hall. 

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The reception was held next door and catered with traditional Southern cooking; black eyed peas, bitter greens, and rutabagas (all drowned deliciously in butter and bacon!) as well as fall off the fork, melt in your mouth, stuffed pork chops and beef brisket both with their own gravy. Mashed potatoes, a veggie mix and fresh rolls were used to sop up every bite. There was enough sweet tea to satisfy any trip to the South. 
The wedding cake was simple and super tasty and apparently procured from a cake baker who works out of a gas station. Alabama seems to love combining businesses where ever possible. We passed a shop proclaiming "New Fashions" on one side and "Used Autos" on the other. 

After the reception, the party moved to the couple's home on Gantt Lake, in Gantt, Alabama. Although some partied into the night, we headed home early. 

In the morning, after a quick dip at the hotel pool, we checked out and went to the town square. A tiny old town, Andalusia boasts one of the oldest existing Dairy Queens. The town must once have been a really lovely place to live, the remnants of business, commerce and industry can still be seen. But everything there now is only the leftover hollow shell. Very few small, unique businesses now exist in town centers but chains, discount shops, and big corporations abound by the highways. Alabama was very sad in this respect, depressing. We drove through many such towns, which once must have been thriving communities but we had long since missed them and were left only with their ghosts. Andalusia was at least still trying, painting murals and advertising attractions such as the gas station where Hank Williams got married (falsely married, however). 

After our brief tour, we headed back to the lake. More swimming!

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Like most places I have visited in America, I was interested to see how Alabamian's live, and I would love to see more. Driving thru only gave me a small glimpse of what life there must be like. I was very happy to be in a place I've never been (albeit a downtrodden, depressing one), and see things Ive never seen before (an armadillo! Albeit a dead one).

What struck me most about AL, was the changes and diversity in landscape. From the piney stretches, to wide open fields filled with hay rolls or cotton (beautiful!!!), to the cheesy chain lined highways, and near abandoned brick towns, to the shimmering lake and waterways, I was never sure what I was going to see next. And Alabama is full of butterflies!

Bc we now have a brother and sister who live there, hopefully we will be back to do more exploring of life in Alabama. Even though it was a depressed and depressing place, one that time seems to have either forgotten or sped over, Alabama seemed to be brimming with potential. Andalusia seemed to me to be just waiting for the next thing to restart it's dying culture and community.
Potential is always intriguing.

Zoo at home, zoo abroad: Nashville Zoo

Some people think it's odd, but I'm a huge fan of zoos. Where ever I go, I try to see a zoo, aquarium, nature museum, bug exhibit, farm, petting zoo, etc...  A visit is always in any trip I plan. Or several if there's time. I know many have mixed feelings on seeing animals caged, and I do as well. I try to focus on the conservational and educational aspects of these establishments.  I can't help but be amazed and delighted by seeing strange, interesting, and exotic creatures. 

While we were in Tennessee in December 2013 we went to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. I never posted about it way back then, but I've been thinking about that trip recently and thought it was time to share. 

The Nashville Zoo is vastly different from our little zoo at home in Prospect Park. It sits on a huge piece of land with bamboo paths winding throughout. Most of the exhibits are outdoors. We went in the dead of Winter, so many of the animals were not on view. We even managed to go quite late in the day and miss some of the ones that were out. Even with our poor timing we got to see some great animals.

Tigers!! Wow!

Tigers!! Wow!

The Nashville Zoo has both a white tiger and an orange one! These were incredible to see, but it was very clear that these great beasts are not supposed to be caged. 

This zoo had so many large and wild cats! Perfect for cat lovers like ourselves! 

This zoo had so many large and wild cats! Perfect for cat lovers like ourselves! 

Despite the cold, the animals were very active! We got to see many close up, only a few feet away. Like a cougar drinking from the "stream".

This leopard seemed to be observing us as much as we were him. 

This leopard seemed to be observing us as much as we were him. 

As everything we visited in Nashville on that trip, the Zoo was deserted. It was great!! We had the whole place to ourselves. With no one else checking out each habitat, the animals really seemed to take notice of us. But I also suspect they knew it was closing/feeding time. 

These goats were all lined up, waiting to go inside for the night. 

These goats were all lined up, waiting to go inside for the night. 

Overall, it was a wonderful trip, and I can't wait to go back in the Spring or Summer!  It will be wonderful to see more animals, even if that means more people, too. 

We try to get to zoos pretty often so I hope to make my animal observations a semi regular post. I could write 10 posts about our local zoo alone! Do you have a favorite zoo or aquarium? Have you been to the Nashville Zoo? Care to comment?

Sea, Sand, and Snow, for Second Anniversary

For our second wedding anniversary we headed down to one of our favorite beaches. A year earlier, the weather was warm, and mild and we spent our time in Washington DC. This year we ran into quite a bit of snow Down The Shore. 

Flat, calm, ocean before the storm. 

Flat, calm, ocean before the storm. 

We stopped by Ocean Grove on our way down, partly for business, but mostly to see the beach on a freezing, still, day. We found a bit of glass and jet but had to head on when our toes went numb. 

Sun sets over the boardwalk. 

Sun sets over the boardwalk. 

Sunrise at one of our favorite hotels. 

Sunrise at one of our favorite hotels. 

We woke up the next morning in Cape May to easier temperatures, and set out to the beach again. 

Met a shy friend. 

Met a shy friend. 

Deserted places.

Deserted places.

Ice capped jetties. 

Ice capped jetties. 

This tall fellow. 

This tall fellow. 

Cold and colorful. 

Cold and colorful. 

Ship wrecks at sunset.

Ship wrecks at sunset.

We beach combed, thrift shopped, walked, and ate as many fish sandwiches as we could find.
We are always surprised and amazed at how different the beach can be. Last time we were in Cape May, the beach was rich with finds. This trip, we barely found any treasures. Whether we find things or not, the beach is a rejuvenating place for us, and we rejoiced in relaxation. 

Blue Pig breakfast. 

Blue Pig breakfast. 

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed out into a dreary rainy NJ drive. Soon, the rain turned to snow, and the snow turned to blizzard conditions. Partly to avoid the road, but mostly out of excitement and curiosity we headed back to OG.  

Brave souls. 

Brave souls. 

No glass here.  

No glass here.  

Asbury Park in deep white. 

Asbury Park in deep white. 

We didn't find any glass or even very many shells, but the blizzard beach was worth the trip!

Another look at the boardwalk. 

Another look at the boardwalk. 

Over all, our 2nd anniversary was relaxing, calm and a little cold, but wonderful. We got to enjoy some of our most favorite pastimes. A happy way to spend a happy date. 

Art and Nature at Storm King, NY

For Memorial Day Sunday, we trekked out to Storm King Arts Center to see some modern sculpture. 

We took some winding backroads and ended up at the overlook on Bear Mountain. 

We took some winding backroads and ended up at the overlook on Bear Mountain. 

The weather was pretty perfect, but we were in a lazy mood and only saw a fraction of what is there. We mostly stuck to our favorites. 

Several Serra slabs were imbedded in the hillsides. 

Several Serra slabs were imbedded in the hillsides. 

We are always lucky to find our favorite artists. 

We are always lucky to find our favorite artists. 

The last time I had been to Storm King was when Andy Goldsworthy was just starting his winding stone wall. I was fairly shocked to see it had be completed in 1998. 

Goldswothry's wall starts our straight and conventional, but ends up winding around trees, dipping down into a lake and snaking up and down hillsides. 

Goldswothry's wall starts our straight and conventional, but ends up winding around trees, dipping down into a lake and snaking up and down hillsides. 

Walking barefoot in the sun was an added bonus. But we visited some indoor exhibits, too. The main being a look at Zhang Huan, who has a large outside piece as well. 

Huan creates sculpture using ash from Buddhist temples. But I was more drawn to these jars containing ash and remnants of the incense fires.  Reminds me of our house; full of jars. 

Huan creates sculpture using ash from Buddhist temples. But I was more drawn to these jars containing ash and remnants of the incense fires.  Reminds me of our house; full of jars. 

I greatly enjoyed this marble piece that sat on the floor of the gallery, but didn't catch the artist's name:

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Art and Nature in Washington DC

During our recent trip to the District of Columbia we made time to see some great art. Nature was a little harder to come by. But our first stop was the National Museum of Natural History which is pretty much a combination of nature and art. 

A statue/idol from Easter Island who greets you as you enter the museum...

A statue/idol from Easter Island who greets you as you enter the museum...

But this guy in the lobby is more iconic. 

But this guy in the lobby is more iconic. 

I hadn't been to the Smithsonian Museums in many many years, and my husband had never been to visit them, so it was a great adventure. He was very keen to see the Hope Diamond, which I had forgotten is blue. I didn't get a good picture, unfortunately, so you will have to visit it for your selves!

We loved visiting the big gems and meteorites! I hope, one day, to own one! Can you imagine owning a piece of outer space?

We loved visiting the big gems and meteorites! I hope, one day, to own one! Can you imagine owning a piece of outer space?

There was a great live bug exhibit that culminated with a butterfly garden. We skipped the butterflies bc it cost extra and we were short of time. I love a good bug zoo, so we fully explored the other bugs. They were fascinating, interesting, and not a little creepy. We left feeling a bit itchy. 

Gorgeous colors. 

Gorgeous colors. 

Armor plated. 

Armor plated. 

We popped into the National Gallery of Art and saw a few favorites. 

I think Seurat and I would've gotten along. He seems to love the Shore. 

I think Seurat and I would've gotten along. He seems to love the Shore. 

This is a detail from The Wind by Felix Vallotton. I had never heard of him before but really enjoyed this painting. It seems like he is someone I will have to research. 

This is a detail from The Wind by Felix Vallotton. I had never heard of him before but really enjoyed this painting. It seems like he is someone I will have to research. 

I always love Wyeth's muted tones, bleak but beautiful. 

I always love Wyeth's muted tones, bleak but beautiful. 

There's an underground passage way connecting the two wings of the art museum. The highlight of which is an amazing light walkway. I'm not sure who the artist is, but it was clearly a fan favorite judging by all the people snapping pics.

One of the things that I find really thrilling about all these museums is that they are free. The ease  of entering is a shocking contrast to doing just about anything in NYC. Bc one doesn't pay to get in, there is only a small security table, only for checking larger bags, etc... It makes it quick to enter but it also makes it feel so much more accessable. I could certainly picture people popping in on their lunch break, or walk home. And it must be spectacular for people with kids. All of the education, fun and excitement of the museum in an easy and affordable way. I sometimes marvel that families can pay what it takes to go somewhere like the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, where one trip for a family of four might cost upwards of $100. 

One of my IG friends recognized this spot in a photo from all the way in Cleveland, OH. It leaves an impression. 

One of my IG friends recognized this spot in a photo from all the way in Cleveland, OH. It leaves an impression. 

Something that I was not thrilled with was that a lot of museums, exhibits and exhibitions seemed to be closed, some permanently. Upon entering the Modern wing of the Gallery of Art, we realized that there were only a very few pieces on view and these only in the lobby. All the galleries were closed.  

The few things that were on view were pretty great, though. On display was work by some of our favorites, including Serra (not pictured), Ernst, Calder, and Goldsworthy.   

The largest Calder mobile was sadly tied and not allowed to turn. 

The largest Calder mobile was sadly tied and not allowed to turn. 

We are fans of Max Ernst's paintings and print work and were happy to discover this sculpture. 

We are fans of Max Ernst's paintings and print work and were happy to discover this sculpture. 

It's pretty rare to find Goldsworthy's work in galleries or museums. I always feel lucky if I stumble onto it. Unfortunately you could get no closer to it than this as the doors out to the patio were locked and the windows to look down on it were very dirty. 

It's pretty rare to find Goldsworthy's work in galleries or museums. I always feel lucky if I stumble onto it. Unfortunately you could get no closer to it than this as the doors out to the patio were locked and the windows to look down on it were very dirty. 

Walking out on the National Mall is very similar to being in a sculpture garden or museum bc of all the monuments and memorials. I covered some of what we saw in a previous post about this trip, so I won't go into it again. But it was also nice to see some "wildlife" on our walk as well. 

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One of the things that I really really wanted to do was go to the National Zoo. We ran out of time for it on this trip... So I guess we will have to go back!

A Monumental Anniversary

This past weekend we headed down to Washington DC to celebrate our One Year Anniversary. Hey, it's my blog and I can name the posts any corny thing I feel like. 

Our hotel was only a few blocks from all the monuments, so right after checking in we set right back out to see some sights. 

Our hotel was only a few blocks from all the monuments, so right after checking in we set right back out to see some sights. 

I haven't been to DC in many years. It was a warm clear night when we arrived and it was great to get right out and walk down to the Mall. It took me a while to become oriented but luckily our hotel was right in the heart of town. 

It seemed like 2 in the morning, partly because the night was so black, and partly bc there were very few other people out. We were lucky to have the Mall to ourselves. 

It seemed like 2 in the morning, partly because the night was so black, and partly bc there were very few other people out. We were lucky to have the Mall to ourselves. 

Everything there is so BIG! When I was young, walking between sights seemed to take forever. I remember the Mall being enormous! Upon returning, it didn't take that long to walk from one place to another... but the whole city still felt gigantic.  The streets are so wide, the buildings so large! It didn't help that there never seemed to be anyone around. It felt like the opposite of Manhattan, which always feels like it's wall to wall with people and buildings.  

Some things were exactly the same as I remembered them. 

Some things were exactly the same as I remembered them. 

For only being there a very short amount of time, we saw so much! We were able to see three (really four but one of them had only a few permanent pieces on view but no exhibits and therefore doesn't count) of the museums, many memorials and monuments, and walk around to several different areas of the city. We decided to stay close to the hotel this trip and not go where we couldn't walk to, which worked out perfectly. 

The second day was rainy and chilly so we mostly stayed indoors visiting the museums. The last morning was warm again, although overcast. We took the opportunity to see a few of the monuments and memorials in the day light. 

The second day was rainy and chilly so we mostly stayed indoors visiting the museums. The last morning was warm again, although overcast. We took the opportunity to see a few of the monuments and memorials in the day light. 

I was very surprised that several of the museums had no exhibits, or were currently closed. The biggest shock and disappointment was that the National Aquarium is closed for good. It was the oldest public aquarium in the nation and closed last Fall. I don't remember ever going there, and was sad not to able to on this trip or in the future. It seems very sad to me that they closed such a historical site forever. 

This pic makes it seem that the White house is in some rural location, but it's right in the heart of downtown Washington DC!

This pic makes it seem that the White house is in some rural location, but it's right in the heart of downtown Washington DC!

It was a shockingly easy and fast trip down (we took the bus!), and hopefully we will make it back before too long. Some things that I would really enjoy seeing next time include the Jefferson Memorial, the Potomic River, the National Zoo, the Textile Museum (which was open, but currently had no exhibits??), and the Post Office Museum.  

We collected many squished pennies!! If you are a fan of these souvenirs, DC is the place for you!

We collected many squished pennies!! If you are a fan of these souvenirs, DC is the place for you!

Art and nature in Tennessee.

While we were in Tennessee we visited the Cheekwood Gardens and estates. I was told Winter was not the best time to visit, but I wasn't the least bit disappointed. There was a fresh sprinkling of snow and ice on the ground and no one was out except us and the animals.  

Im not sure what kind of grasses these were, but they were pretty neat. Quilt inspiration?

Im not sure what kind of grasses these were, but they were pretty neat. Quilt inspiration?

As well as many themed gardens, Cheekwood has a sculpture path that winds it's way around the outside of the grounds. I didn't catch most of the artist names, but it was fun to "discover" sculpture in the cold Winter woods. 

It was startling to come upon this great creature/structure in the middle of the woods. 

It was startling to come upon this great creature/structure in the middle of the woods. 

We saw four deer making their way along the same path we were. 

We saw four deer making their way along the same path we were. 

James Turrell was a highlight of the sculpture walk.

James Turrell was a highlight of the sculpture walk.

It will be very exciting to go back in a different season and see how much the landscape changes. There were tons of squirrels and birds out but I bet there are even more in spring and summer. I most want to visit the Water Garden and Japanese Garden when we return. 

We saw quite a few interesting birds but practically no feathers! Shame, I was looking forward to bringing some home. 

We saw quite a few interesting birds but practically no feathers! Shame, I was looking forward to bringing some home. 

There's a ridiculous amount of lichen in TN. I wish I could have taken some. I don't think it would survive the plane ride. 

There's a ridiculous amount of lichen in TN. I wish I could have taken some. I don't think it would survive the plane ride. 

Inside the estate, they had a xmas tree display that was fairly uninspired (although, I hear it's been far better past years) and a small museum space. The exhibit was something to do with the early 90s and had a few interesting pieces, including one where a woman answered personal ads (pre-internet) and then requested the men eat birthday cake with her while being filmed. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but I have found the images strangely haunting me this week. We also got to see a Yoko Ono piece that incorporated some of her earlier work to make a new one. I think I need a book of her art.... but I think I missed the xmas deadline!

I have been lucky to stumble upon some of Yoko Ono's work recently. It often appears in unexpected places. 

I have been lucky to stumble upon some of Yoko Ono's work recently. It often appears in unexpected places. 

Last week

Last week we went to visit family in Tennessee. We spent most of the time catching up with family and friends but we were able to squeeze in some thrifting and eating. 

The place I most wanted to visit to eat was The Nashville Biscuit House.  We went there directly after landing and it did not disappoint. I tried to get back almost every day after that, but it was not in the cards. We also hit the Barista Parlor in East Nashville. It was almost unbearably pretentious. But I did have a killer cappuccino. For a big family dinner we ate at Cock Of The Walk, where they throw your cornbread in the air! To round out the southern eating we had awesome ribs at Bar B Cutie.   

All that food and the only pic I snapped was Waffle House. It was my first time there!

All that food and the only pic I snapped was Waffle House. It was my first time there!

We managed to hit 4 Goodwills, 2 Southern Thrift, Music City Thrift and Thriftsmart.

This cute homemade Easter basket with bunny and eggs could not come home, but was good for inspiration. I was tempted by this old singer, but it was in bad shape and crammed into an ugly modern sewing table.

This cute homemade Easter basket with bunny and eggs could not come home, but was good for inspiration. I was tempted by this old singer, but it was in bad shape and crammed into an ugly modern sewing table.

We bought so much stuff that we had to send a package home. But we were able to bring most of it back in our carry-on, thankfully!

We bought mostly fabric and toys. Of course.  

We bought mostly fabric and toys. Of course.  

I found a bunch of vintage fabric for my stash, and we got some animal baskets. 

I found a bunch of vintage fabric for my stash, and we got some animal baskets. 

I am already thinking of our next trip... We didn't even get to any of the quilt shops on our list!

Richard Serra and light art in Chelsea.

A few weeks ago I took the long trek into Manhattan (The City). Besides visiting the quilt gallery at The City Quilter, I also got to see some great Richard Serras that are up in Manhattan right now. 

This piece was one that you can walk inside of. Sometimes the strange perspectives and energies can be quite intense. 

This piece was one that you can walk inside of. Sometimes the strange perspectives and energies can be quite intense. 

I had only seen one other exhibit of Serra's, earlier this year, at DIA: Beacon. A trip to that museum is well worth the beautiful train ride upstate and highly recommended for lovers of modern art. Richard Serra's work is really amazing and I'm so happy that there is so much of it on view at the moment. 

Another gallery had more simple slab work, although the materials are very minimalist, there is still an amazing amount of texture. 

Another gallery had more simple slab work, although the materials are very minimalist, there is still an amazing amount of texture. 

These works were all exhibited by the Gogasian Galleries in Chelsea, Manhattan, NY (http://www.gagosian.com/artists/richard-serra/artist-exhibitions). 

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We ended up walking around and popping into a few more galleries that day. We got to see a lovely light art exhibit where, sadly, I didn't catch the name of the artist or gallery. The exhibit was small and simple, using mirrors and light to make beautiful reoccurring patterns. Very quilterly. 

I didn't get any good pictures of the mirror works, unfortunately. 

I didn't get any good pictures of the mirror works, unfortunately. 

Although going into The City can be a chore, trips like these make it easy to see why I should be doing it more often.