Saturday, March 31, 2012

Prospect Ave.

Two red brick Victorian houses on Prospect Avenue remind me of the Mark Twain House.

There is something dark and dour -- almost sinister -- about these houses, don't you think?

Friday, March 30, 2012


Backstage is a casual restaurant and bar next to the historic Warner Theater in downtown Torrington.  It looked good but there wasn't time to go inside for a meal.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Warner Theater

The Warner Theater in Torrington is a restored 1932 movie theater and performance venue.  It is down the street from yesterday's mural.  I like the art deco sign.  The Warner Theater has a pretty active schedule of events.  The theater plays a significant role in the arts of northwestern Connecticut.

The City Daily Photo website has been hacked.  The developers are working to restore it, but it might not be operable by the time of the April 1 theme day.  Julie has put up a temporary blog to host the theme day posts, for which the April theme is "cobblestones."  If the main City Daily Photo website is not ready by April 1, and you are a City Daily Photo blogger who wants to post to Julie's temporary blog, please go here on April 1.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Torrington Mural

After being inside the Trinity College Chapel so long, how about an outdoors shot in northwestern Connecticut? 

This mural is on the wall of a building in downtown Torrington.  I liked the girl sitting at the roof end of the lower building.  Torrington is the biggest city in Litchfield County.  It is a former mill town.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Finale: The Main Chapel

Here we see the whole array of carved pews, the rose window and the organ. The chancel is behind me and out of the picture.

Remember William Mather, the Cleveland businessman shown a few days ago reading a book by one of his Mather ancestors?  When he was a student, he was fined one dollar for defacing the wall of the original Trinity College chapel.  Fifty years later he told the college he wanted to build it a new chapel, which you have been visiting with me over the past week.  Maybe the lesson is that we need to be a bit more understanding about youthful indiscretions.

I said you would be in for a treat, didn't I?

Monday, March 26, 2012


Priscilla Hooper is the Chaplain's assistant.  She kindly lit the Trinity College chapel for me and showed me around.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


The pews and kneelers in the nave of the Trinity College Chapel do not have all of the carvings. These are some of the carvings in the chancel.  The animals in the circles form a "bestiary."

You thought we were done here, didn't you?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Brace of Finials? A Gaggle of Finials? A Pride of Finials?

 I will show some more carvings from the Trinity College Chapel, without trying to explain each.  Amazing, aren't they?

Cool, no?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mather Pew End

The pew end topped with this finial was given to Trinity College by the Church Club of Cleveland at the time of its 60th anniversary, to honor William Mather.  He was a Trinity graduate, a leading citizen of Cleveland and a founder of the club.  The carving shows Mather reading from one of the many volumes filled with the writings of his Mather forebearers.  (They were biggies in the Puritan times . . . you can check out Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather.)

Mather once said that his ancestors were the kind of people who, on arriving in this country, "fell upon their knees and then upon the aborigines."  I wish I came up with that line . . .

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hartford Fire Department

This is an interesting one.  The finial for the pew honoring the Hartford Fire Department shows Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in a fiery furnace.  I wonder how many people make the connection between a biblical fire and the local firefighters!

Some of you have asked if this is a U.S. tradition.  I have never seen another chapel with anything like this.  So far as I know -- and I am not an ecclesiastical expert -- it is unique.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gardeners Pew End

This is a Taylor/Dressel carving of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch from Hartford's Bushnell Park.

Good news yesterday about the derelict Capitol West office building I showed you last week.  A demolition contractor has been hired and demolition will begin in two weeks.  It is expected to take about four months to take it down.  The story is here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hunter's Pew End

The Hunter's pew end features a buffalo.

Trinity College occupies an attractive but inward-looking campus south of downtown Hartford, ringed by low income neighborhoods.  "Town and gown" issues plague many privileged educational institutions in poorer cities, and Trinity is no exception.  Two weeks ago a carful of local men beat a Trinity student badly in the early hours of morning.  That has reignited a dialog between those who urge more campus security at the cost of even greater separation of the campus from the neighborhood, and those who think that Trinity should not and cannot fence off the outside world.

But, at this troubled time for Trinity, I am just going to show you carvings . . .

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Pew End Finial

The Chapel has elaborately carved pew and kneeler ends.  I will ease you into it by just showing one pew end finial up close. 

The donor of this pew end carving was a marine insurance company.  The finial shows a policyholder and agent shaking hands over the insurance policy they just signed.  (This is Hartford, the Insurance Capital of the world, after all . . . )

J. Gregory Wiggins of Pomfret, Connecticut, designed and carved 66 out of the 78 pew and kneeler ends between 1932 and his death in 1956.  The last dozen were designed by the chairman of the Trinity art department (John C. E. Taylor) and carved by Erwin Dressel.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Inside the Trinity College Chapel

I have shown the Trinity College Chapel's beautiful exterior before.  For the next week or so, I am going to take you inside.

You are in for a treat.  Really.  I mean it.

For a warm-up, here is the entrance, from the inside.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day

My heritage is more Irish than anything else.  How can I not show a St. Patrick's Day image?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Capitol West

Do you remember my post of Classy Smart and Manly?  The posters are on an abandoned office building adjacent to the Asylum Avenue exit off U.S. Route 84.  You saw it from another perspective yesterday.
This is one of the most visible spots for travelers passing through Hartford.  The windows from the building have all disappeared.  You can see straight through the building.  What a terrible first impression Hartford makes on visitors!

The Connecticut men's basketball team was knocked out of the NCAA tournament last night in a first round game.  They fell far behind in the first half and never could climb their way out of the hole they dug.  The women's team plays on Saturday.  I need to shift my loyalties in the men's tournament over to Ohio State.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Derelict Building

The City of Hartford finally bought the empty Capitol West building in late 2011 after years of community pressure.  It should be taken down some time this year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Great Hall

The Great Hall at the Wadsworth Atheneum underwent a long restoration.  It is now gray and exhibits modern art.  Before, the walls were red and it showed huge historic and biblical paintings.  (The paintings gave Susie nightmares.)

I liked it better before.

This hall is in the Morgan Building, given by J. P. Morgan in honor of his father.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

International Women's Day

Come to think of it, I wasn't finished with the Wadworth Atheneum after all.

The International Women's Day was on March 8.  I was in the middle of my "close up" series and decided not to interrupt it.  So, belatedly I am showing paired works portraying very different women.  They reside side-by-side in the great hall of the Wadsworth Atheneum . . . which you will see tomorrow.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness

The Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, Massachusetts, just a long pass across the state line from Connecticut.  Springfield was chosen for the Hall of Fame because James Naismith, a professor at Springfield College, purportedly invented the sport in 1891.  He was searching for a sport that could be played indoors in the winter.

Dr. Naismith is here today because the tournaments that conclude the men's and women's college basketball seasons are getting ready to begin.  The University of Connecticut men's team won the national championship last year.  They had a tough season this year but have been playing better recently.  The UConn women's team is predicted to go pretty far this year, but Baylor, Stanford and Notre Dame are also very good.  It will be fun to watch.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Wadsworths

To finish this series from the Wadsworth Atheneum, please meet Daniel Wadsworth and his wife.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Close-Up VI: Copley

This is one of my favorite close-ups.  It is a detail from a large portrait by John Singleton Copley of a woman believed to be Mrs. Seymour Fort.  It was painted in the period 1776 - 1780.  Unlike many formal portraits in this period, this Copley painting is absolutely dripping with personality.  Doesn't she look like the kind old lady who lives down the street?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Close-Up V: Renoir

Or, more accurately, Mrs. Renoir.

This 1910 painting in the Wadsworth Atheneum is by Pierre-August Renoir.  Mrs. Renoir was the painter's longtime mistress, muse and model.  By the time this portrait was painted, they were both older and had married, and had eased into a familar domesticity.  (I know this because the nearby sign told me.)  The painting is so blurred, I wonder if Renoir's sight was failing . . .

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Close-Up IV: Cole Landscape

With all this detail creating a grouping of people, it is just a small part of the landscape painting by Thomas Cole.  This is St. John in the Wilderness, 1827.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Close-Up III: Thomas Cole

This is less a post about technique than about appreciation.  Just look at the beautiful carving of this marvelous bust of the artist Thomas Cole by the Boston sculptor Horatio Greenough.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Close-Up II: Frans Hals

Here is another close-up from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.  Look at how the hair and beard are painted with quick, short brushstrokes.  And the hooded, tired eyes are produced by just take a few strokes.

Frans Hals was one of the greatest portrait painters of the 17th century.  This is a portrait from 1644 of Joseph Coymans, a wealthy Dutch merchant.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Close-Up I: Vincent Van Gogh

I like to look at a painting up close, to see how the artist created the effect.  This week we will look closely at some works in Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum.

 Vincent Van Gogh painted numerous self portraits in his short but productive career.   This is -- according to the sign next to it -- an unfinished self portrait painted in Paris, in the period when Van Gogh was moving from his earlier dark, earthy and rough Dutch style to an emerging and exuberant Impressionist style.

Looked at up close, the painting looks almost careless to me.  See the whitish blob in the left eye, the pinkish stroke that protrudes too far into his mustache, and some blue blobs in the cheek and temple.

But, stepping back, it works just fine, don't you think?

To anticipate questions, the Wadsworth permits its owned works to be photographed handheld and without flash.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Out of the Jurisdiction: Red Vette

Lombard Street is that steep street in San Francisco with eight hairpin turns.  If you go to San Francisco with a camera, you have to take pictures on Lombard Street.  Most of your pictures will be of other photographers taking pictures of still more photographers.

Many men with hot cars cruise down Lombard Street, preening for the photographers.  Whatever floats your boat.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Out of the Jurisdiction: Coit Tower

This is the third and final photo in my short series about electricity.

Photo editing software lets us remove wires from our photos, but I don't do it.  They are part of the urban environment.  This October photo of Lombard Street in San Francisco, leading to Coit Tower, shows a cobweb of wires.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Out of the Jurisdiction: Fort Myers Again

This is the second in a short series about electricity.  See the differences in this scene during daylight when no electricity lights the scene and at night, when the scene is possible only through the magic of electricity.

In December I showed these lighted cylinders on the main street of Fort Myers, Florida.  I didn't identify the sculptor, and I said that the letters seem to be nonsense symbols.

My bad.

They are called The Caloosahachee Manuscripts, by the sculptor Jim Sanborn.  One cylinder tells (in the Creek language) the story of the migration of three Indian tribes that settled southwest Florida.  The other cylinder lists, in Latin, the names of Florida plants that Thomas Edison tested when trying to find a native plant from which rubber could be made.  (Edison wintered in Fort Myers.)  The complete story is here.

Thanks to my friend Tash of Palos Verdes Daily Photo for researching the sculptor and the meaning of the letters.

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