Spoonbills, White Pelicans & Seashells, o my!

I’ve wanted to return to Sanibel Island since I originally left it after a day visit in 1964. The island has been legendary as a mecca for masses of seashells on its shoreline deposited there because of its unusual placement in the Gulf of Mexico, close to Ft. Myers, FLA.

In the 60’s we took a small ferry to the island, as we noted with some sadness that a few large bridges were being built to connect the island to the mainland.  At that time, as I remember it, the island was largely undeveloped, the beaches knee deep in alluring seashells, largely untouched.  The shells were almost overwhelming in variety.

Sanibel takes some getting to, but when I learned there’s now a ferry from Key West, I became determined to check it out again after 60 years. Who knew what we would find or if, once the bridges were complete, we’d find the island we were initially drawn to now a fading image, something like our younger selves?

Ft. Myers Beach

It was easy to sense that Ft. Myers Beach, where we landed for our first night after the ferry ride, had a dark side, despite the bright citrus colors most buildings were painted as a colorful ploy to suggest upbeatness.   Seamy bars lived in each “resort” where one could disappear for a lifetime. Alfred Hitchcock could have used it brilliantly.as a movie set.  If I had been five years old, I might have thought it was beautiful.

Someone on the staff had a talent for making towel animals.  Poor bunny.

I woke up in the morning grateful for not having any bedbug bites and eager to get the hell out of there and on to Sanibel!

Sunrise, sunset. Updated.

sunset on Sanibel

No way I would have recognized Sanibel. I felt grateful that it obviously was being taken care of, despite the inevitable development after the bridges came on the scene.

There are no food chains, no billboards, all tasteful but uninspired building and lush landscaping, and groomed residents, you get the picture.  We drove through a beautiful  wildlife sanctuary where it was easy to spot oblivious roseate spoonbills and white pelicans luxuriating in the late afternoon sun. 

It’s a mid -western retiree’s heaven.  Bicycles abound on the long straight roads through the mangroves, but the real excitement takes place at the beach at the crack of dawn, as obsessed shellers greet the day by beach combing for special shells, still fairly abundant.

Nature’s Show

Nature is the show here in this natural paradise.  Humanity has  intruded in a respectful and fairly sterile mode of development. There are no inspirational flashes of creativity that are apparent to me.  They are setting aside large tracts of land and mangroves in a continuing effort to preserve.  I admire that.  But where is the artist’s input? Those in charge have played it very safe.  I understand that.  But a little EDGE would have been fun and stimulating and have really added to the mix.  It’s not too late. See Naoshima and Setouchi Triennale.

 

the White Pelican Gang
Roseate spoonbills!

Speaking of the beach, it’s gorgeous and uncrowded, walkable for miles, which I was too lazy to do. We watched sunrise and sunset from our motel room window and a full moon rise in the early evenings. Perfectly satisfying.

View from our motel room, The Shalimar.

When I casually asked my husband if he would like to return, he said, “been here, done that. ” Not the response I’d hoped to hear, but I understood.  His fishing attempts here yielded nothing, what did I expect?

I would still like to return, but realize it probably won’t happen.  It’s just that time of life.

Dipping a To(e) into Tokyo

Tokyo is huge.  It’s exciting  and exhausting! The motherland of sushi?  The boldest of buildings?  The best of art collections?  A shopper’s paradise?  A non -shopper’s idea of hell?  A business man’s playground?  Definitely a city with an underbelly, often visible, of pimps and prostitutes and the mob. A pamperedpoodle’s place to live an overly indulgent life? For sure all of the above.

I spent a few days there investigating small areas of the city and having a fine time before meeting one of my daughters and heading back to Kyoto.

Must Be Seen to be Believed

I’d read about a book store complex that when visited, astounded me. Definitely in the category of Must Be Seen to be Believed. The Japanese seem to have the amazing ability of bringing big dream projects to life. I don’t know the history of this project, but I think  Tatsuya Books, in Daikanyama (Tokyo neighborhood) must have been some powerful and influential person’s dream.

Not to be missed is the Tsutaya Books bookstore itself, a literary enclave that features elaborate interior design. The modern complex includes a lounge, café, upscale convenience store and one of the busiest Starbucks joints. Comprised of three interconnected buildings, the bookstore has a seemingly endless offering of books, periodicals, English-language titles, DVDs, stationery, and movies. I can spend hours perusing their vintage magazines from the 60’s and 70’s on their 60-yard long “Magazine Street.” savvyTokyo.com, Nanno Betts

 

Don’t expect to spend less than half a day in this book complex. There is sooo much to investigate. Here are more examples of what caught my restless eyes!

Art works intertwine with books and books and books!

IMG_1638

 

My daughter Joined me as we joined the long lines visiting the new Basquiat exhibition at the Mori Art Museum.  Short on context, but deep on his vivid, quixotic paintings.  It’s an intense show and a lot to take in.  I did my best.  So fortunate to see it here.

Finally to round to round out the day, it was time for a cocktail.

Observing Beauty in a New Museum

 

The gray clouds thickened yesterday, giving some credence to the possibility that a monster typhoon was scheduled to hit Japan in the near future. As far as we could tell, no one in Kyoto, with the exception of ourselves, seemed overly concerned.  We vacillated between thinking we should get supplies and hunker down, to feeling like we were over reacting to the situation.  After hard boiling some eggs, and getting some bottled water, we grew restless.  I suggested we take a break from the uncertain storm watch and visit a new museum that had opened in Kyoto on Oct. 1.  It was a good decision.

The museum was unknown to our first cab driver.  He said no to our request because he couldn’t easily figure out its location.  Undeterred, we got into another cab.  We found the building  on the river bank in Arashiyama, a naturally beautiful area of Kyoto where aristocrats and nobility used as a retreat.  Now it is often overrun with tourists, but still beautiful.  The museum was an uncrowded  delight.

Continue reading “Observing Beauty in a New Museum”

HAPPINESS=Dance

DANCEworks 10th reunion, final bow Lobero Theater

Do you ever wonder what part of you has remained unchanged from childhood and what you  lost on the way to adulthood?

For me it’s been quite clear what I’ve held onto.  I began dance class at age three and there is still there is little I enjoy more than watching “good”dance or dancing myself, as it was for me at age three.

Doug Varone, Nocturne

Yesterday, I watched a run through of Doug Varone’s new work, Somewhere, created here at DANCEworks during our 2019 season.  The work is a new interpretation of the musical score from West Side Story.  I was enthralled.  Not only by the dancers, but by the smiles on a few  acquaintances who were watching  it with me.  Then I spied the look of pleasure on the face of its creator, Doug Varone. I felt even happier.

Doug Elkins dancers.

One of the most satisfying parts of the DANCEworks residencies is the joy that comes along with helping to make a choreographer’s dance dreams come true.  In our case, it means providing time and space and other support  for dance artists at the Lobero Theater as they bring their dance dreams to reality.  Often, I learn that these dreams have percolating for years, waiting to be born.

Brian Brooks, I’m Going to Explode

It’s occurred to me during this recent process of introspection, there is  nothing else for the past 21 years that could have bought me more pleasure.  That’s a strong statement, but I stand by it.

Larry Keigwin, Ballad #1

The hurdles, the anxiety, the excitement, the trust we have of each other,  and ultimately the creation of the new work, is a magnificent endeavor to be a part of.  I feel so lucky to have been a participant  for so many years.  I’ve been touched by the magic.

Mark Dendy, Rumsfeld, from Elvis Everywhere

For those reading this, who have come to enjoy and support SUMMERDANCE, I hope you’ve been touched as well.  We’ve done our best to share with you the startling diversity of modern dance, the talent that lies within its walls and the good will we share with the artists.  When great art thrives, we all thrive. I expect, if you attend the DANCEworks performances on September 6 & 7, you will leave the theatre in an elevated mood with a new appreciation for our shared humanity.

A THANK YOU to everyone who has helped make this residency possible!

Adam Barruch, The Worst Pies in London from Sweeney Todd

For right now, buy your tickets to come see Doug Varone’s dance at the Lobero Theater, September 6 & 7.  Go to Lobero.com or call the box office (805) 9630761, for tickets.

photos of our DANCEworks choreographers by David Bazemore.

Ceramic Pleasures

If you’ve visited my home, you know I have a “thing” for ceramics.  Particularly Japanese ceramics. If I can add some fresh foliage or flowers to the vessel, my aesthetic needs are completely satisfied. 

This powerful attraction began on my first trip to Japan in the 1980’s.  I was in an art gallery that displayed ceramics.  It was one of those aha! moments.  I saw for the first time the power of the earth’s clay in a master’s hand.  I was hooked, astounded, excited.  This was new territory for me.

I returned home certain that I too was meant to be a ceramacist.  How else to explain my strong reaction? I took it as a sign.  Follow your bliss, if you remember that!  I quickly enrolled in a ceramics class at a neighboring community college.  I just as quickly learned that centering a blob of clay on a wheel in a class taught by a disinterested and overworked teacher was not something I had the patience for, at least under those circumstances.  End of promising but short lived ceramics career fantasy, but not the end of the love affair. Continue reading “Ceramic Pleasures”