No city supports its local art scene like Philadelphia, so when the current blockbuster show, "Leger, Modern Art and the Metropolis," rolled into the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the town geared up for a red-carpet welcome.
The cornerstone of the exhibit is Fernand Leger's monumental painting, "The City," not only a landmark of modern art but a megastar in the museum's own collection. The show spotlights the decade after 1918 when Leger, returning to his beloved Paris from fighting in World War I, found an energized city and artists experimenting with all kinds of innovative forms and concepts, even machinery. It was uniquely in sync with his own recent interest in battlefield equipment and mechanical forms.
When I go to the deYoung Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, it's usually to see traveling art exhibits. My latest sojourn there, however, was to check out a collection of dazzling jewels from Italy.
Called "The Art of Bulgari, La Dolce Vita and Beyond 1950-1990," this exquisite collection of 150 luxury jewelry items is having an exclusive showing in the Bay Area until Feb. 17, 2014. Founded in Rome in 1884, Bulgari claims its name (pronounced "Bull-gar-ee") has "become synonymous with innovation and luxury jewelry design."
The beginning of my tour led to the earliest classic designs, which reminded me of the crown jewels in the Tower of London.
This trip to Southern California's Catalina Island doesn't even compare with the last one I did 25 years ago. That time I made the mistake that many do of just walking around Avalon, shopping and eating, spending the night and then leaving. But while Avalon is a delightful place and time spent here is worthwhile, it's not sufficient to fully savor all that Catalina Island offers.
Avalon is a tourist town, but it retains a great deal of charm and authenticity with its colorful homes and shops, a Spanish-style bell tower on the hillside that chimes on the quarter-hour, and the artificial but delightful sand "beach" that provides sunbathers a choice between the calm bay water on one side and the restaurants, bars
"Aren't all cruise ships the same?" I asked my girlfriend, Lori, as we were about to board Holland America's MS Veendam for a journey around the tip of South America and into Antarctica.
"No, they aren't," said the woman in front of us. "See that suitcase?" She pointed to the one in her husband's hand. "It's filled with wine. Holland America permits you to bring all the wine on board you like, and that's different," she said.
That being the case, we raced to a nearby wine outlet and bought some bottles for the 20-day journey.
Another question I had was whether we'd have any privacy on a big cruise ship. This trip was going to be a test to see how well Lori
Barely off the train in Villars, I felt instantly at ease as I stood in front of a quiet neighborhood post office wondering if I was at the right bus stop (I was). "Bon jour, Madame," the locals said to me when they came in to pick up their mail.
Such was the essence of an eye-opening journey through the Swiss Alps that zigzagged from German-speaking Valais in the south to canton Vaud on the southwestern edge of this mystical mountain range where French is the language du jour.
Traveling by rail from Zurich to Zermatt deep in the Swiss Alps was worth every mountainous twist and turn as the tracks traversed up through snow-covered vineyards and forests, delivering me to within eyeshot of the Matterhorn, one of the world's most legendary peaks.
Like the young boy in his ski suit sitting across from me, I was in awe of this mountain that in 1865 put Zermatt on the tourist map following the first and tragic ascent of the 14,692-foot mass.