Sunday, December 18, 2011

Art Smart.

I know nothing about art. If you tell me a painting is famous, I'm likely to believe you because I have no knowledge whatsoever about art. But in the past two months, I've been lucky enough to see some of the most famous works of art still in existence. I thought I'd document it here...and perhaps do a little research about these paintings as I write.

In Florence, our art adventure began at the Accademia. As far as I can tell, the only real reason you go to the Accademia is to see David. It was a relatively small collection of other works, but David alone makes it worth the visit. David was moved to the Accademia in 1873 to protect it, as it was originally intended to be outdoors. A replica stands in its place now in the outdoor location. Along with the Pieta at the Vatican, it is this sculpture that gave Michelangelo the reputation as the "foremost sculptor" of his day. Along the corridor leading to David, are five other Michelangelo sculptures, including the four unfinished "Prisoners".

Information taken from http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/accademia-gallery.html

Botticelli's Primavera
Botticelli's Birth of Venus





While in Florence we also visited the Uffizi Gallery. I was so thankful for Rick Steves' audio guide while in the Uffizi. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known what I was looking at or why it was important and it also took a large art museum and helped you focus on some of the "famous" paintings. I remember the Botticelli room best. These two paintings are of his most famous. Understanding a painting is like reading a complicated book- you have to look for the meaning of things below the surface, or in my case, read about it on Wikipedia. There are, of course, varying interpretations of these paintings, but, in general, it seems that "Primavera" is related to the fertility of the world, featuring the goddess of Spring, known as none other than Primavera.

As for the "Birth of Venus" most state that it was painted to inspire both physical and intellectual love. It was painted in 1486 and shows Venus emerging from the sea as a full-grown woman. Or, so says Wikipedia! Just looking at the pictures online does nothing for these works of art, but I remember sitting in the Botticelli room at Uffizi and thinking that, in person, there was something quite spectacular about them.

It took until my recent trip to Munich before I went to another art museum. Kate and I went to both the Neue Pinakothek and the Pinakothek Moderne. The modern art museum left a lot to be desired in my mind. As Kate said, "Don't just hang a light and expect me to believe it's art!" Seems like a theme in the modern art museum. There were many rooms that left me a little perplexed as to why it was deserving of so much space in a well regarded museum. But, to each his own, I suppose.

The good news was that the Neue Pinakothek was rather amazing. After three trips or so to the lockers to successfully put away all the materials not allowed in the gallery, we wandered through the rooms. I had zero idea of what art was in this collection, but found myself among some paintings that everyone has heard about before.


File:Nympheas 71293 3.jpg

One of Claude Monet's 25 "Waterlilies" paintings-- this one was painted in 1915.










File:Vincent Willem van Gogh 128.jpg

Van Gogh's Sunflower series...this one, painted in 1888, has the blue background, and was the 3rd in the series.

The first in the series has a turquoise background with less flowers and is part of a private collection. The second painting had a royal blue background, but was destroyed in a fire in Japan during World War II. The fourth painting has a yellow background and can be seen at the National Gallery in London.

Both the third and fourth versions were repeated by Van Gogh in different forms in later years and can be seen in other galleries.



Edgar Degas, "After the Bath", 1890












There were also works by Renoir, Cezanne, Signac, Manet, and so many others...

Most recently, the Melrose Place crew (Kate, Simon, Tegan and I) went to a church in Milan (Santa Maria delle Grazie) and spent 15 minutes in front of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper". Only 20 or 25 people are allowed in every 15 minutes, so getting tickets must be done in advance. In fact, we bought our tickets for December 15th in the middle of September. Craziness! But, the experience was really nice. It is not too crowded, no one is pushing in front of you to take pictures and the painting is well lit.

This painting was commissioned by a man who hoped to convince the monks living there in the 1400's to allow him to be buried at this church. No luck for him, he apparently left Italy some years later. Over the years, though, the painting has been restored many times. Instead of using a traditional fresco style da Vinci painted on a dry wall, and unfortunately, it started deteriorating almost immediately. The most recent restoration removed layers of paint that had been added during the restorations. I'm not exactly sure how all of this is done in order to preserve the original work, but...

The biggest disappointment about the painting is the huge door that the monks cut in the painting back in the day when the building served as a stable. So, Jesus' feet are no more...while there is not a door, they've painted one in its place. Hmph.
Found this picture on a blog...looks like they found a way to take a picture!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's Been Awhile...


I seem to have fallen out of the routine of updating this blog lately and I'm determined to make my New Year's resolution include blogging more regularly! It has been a busy few weeks and perhaps that is the reason for my lack of posting, but I suspect that more to blame is the six season box set of NCIS that the Upper School principal has loaned me. I watch it all the time! Speaking of which...if you have seasons of TV shows that you'd be willing to loan me for a few months, let me know. I can get them while in the states and return them on my next trip home, or whatever. I'm especially looking for The Sopranos or Desperate Housewives...


  Anyways, moving on...Work is rolling along. As of now, we have six more work days before I can head back to the States for the holidays. I am so looking forward to setting foot on soil where I know the cultural expectations and can ask questions when I have them. I have a new found appreciation for those who don't speak the language of the country they live in. It is SO hard. My job at school changed a bit in recent weeks. I was hired as the Technology Integration Specialist and the idea is that over the next three years I work with the teachers to learn how they can integrate technology in their classrooms and help them learn some needed skills. At the beginning of the year, I would take the cart of laptops into the rooms and most of the time the teachers would leave, as this was a planning period for them. After discussing the timeline for this position with the principal, he decided to fast track my thoughts for next year; that the teachers have to stay in the room during technology and be involved in what's happening. Makes sense, right? Well, as many of you read this are teachers, you know the reaction to losing a planning period. So, while not everyone was thrilled about the loss of a planning period, most teachers are interested in learning the how-to's of some things and are eager to get involved. Now that this change has taken place, I think that long term it will make for a much better result for our teachers and students. I hope you'll check out my school website and go to the Showing Off Our Work page underneath Elementary Technology. I'm excited by many of the things we've done and I'd love for you to see it!

Grady
As for the non-work things, we've had a few breaks here and there that have allowed for lots of travel. After Florence at the beginning of November, I used the Thanksgiving break to travel to the UK and visit the Lynes family in Stone. It was great spending time with people who have known you more than three months and Christy and Keith have always been so good to me over the years. Grady has become such a little cutie and repeatedly said my name for the 24 hours I was at their house. Keith was probably ready to go crazy after a weekend alone with Grady doing that! Christy and I left Keith at home and headed to London. I loved London. I thought the city was amazing. Perhaps I was swayed by the idea that I could once again talk to everyone without worry of a language barrier. We did all the touristy things, plus a few extras. As a tennis fan, I was thrilled to get the chance to go to the Barclays ATP World Tennis Finals. Though we didn't luck out with a Nadal, Federer or Djokovic match, we had great seats and an exciting time. Saturday night we went to see Wizard of Oz, the musical. I have a certain passion for all things WofOz, so it was perfect. The acting was okay, but the set design was pretty spectacular. I'm always impressed with the mechanics of putting together large pieces of stage that move in and out of a small space in such strategic ways. And, of course, Christy and I made sure to see where the Royal Wedding took place and headed out to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels.

This past weekend was a five-day weekend for us due to some Italian holidays on Wednesday and Thursday. Kate, her mom, and I headed to Munich to check out the Christmas markets we'd heard so much about. While the train ride is a bit long, about 7 hours, it took us east to Verona, Italy and then headed north to Innsbruck, Austria. Along the way, I wrote down the stations we passed to map out the route we had taken. Shortly after leaving Verona, I was convinced we had to be in Austria because the architecture of all the houses became stereotypically German. But, alas, I was wrong, and for most of the trip we were in Northern Italy, which has a section that functions relatively like it is Germany, speaking German and not Italian.

This train ride took us through the Italian Alps and with a little help from above, snowed during our time on the train. It made the scenery something spectacular. If you close your eyes and imagine what you'd think the countryside of the Alps should look like in winter, this is exactly what we got. Evergreen trees and mountain tops covered in snow, with more of the white stuff floating through the air. Beautiful. This link is reminds me of what we saw as we traveled towards Innsbruck. I shot this video with my iPod, so the quality is probably terrible, but it'll give you an idea of a little bit of what we saw.

video

 Of course, once we got to Munich the pretty snow ended and we were stuck in the rain. Thankfully, Kate's mom's friend gave us a driving tour of Munich and I was lucky enough to have met Elizabeth in Boston at the job fair, who provided me with a place to stay. Elizabeth and I headed out that night to a German restaurant and I had the special of the evening...sauerbraten with kartoffenodel...or at least I think that is what it was called. But, here's a picture of it nonetheless.
Otherwise known as roasted pork and potato dumpling...as far as I can tell!
German palace
There were Christmas markets on every other corner it seemed, and plenty of shopping to be done as well. I decided that I was more interested in the shopping this time than the sightseeing! I have bought so many Christmas presents for my family from all these different countries! I am excited to share the gifts and stories with them! And, nicely enough, it snowed while we were in Munich. Just enough to dust the houses, grass, and cars and to make it really pretty. Elizabeth and I went out to the Schloss Nymphenburg during the snowy weather. But, I was tired of sightseeing in the wet snow and decided to take the opportunity to see Breaking Dawn, since I found a theater showing it in English. So exciting! I did, of course, miss getting to see it with my friend Tammy, since she and I saw the first two together.

Well, enough for now. Back to NCIS!

I'll be home late December 22nd. I hope to see as many people as possible while home-- the only rule is NO Italian food!

Lastly, if I'm on your Christmas card list and you're not sure where to mail the card this year you have two options. 1) Send it to me at my parents: 8 Moss Court, Savannah, GA 31410 or
2) Mail it here to Italy:
Carrie Zimmer
c/o American School of Milan
Via K. Marx, 14
Noverasco di Opera, 20090
Milano, Italia

The mail system here is slow, but I would love to get a few pieces of mail every so often! So mail me something, even if it's not a Christmas card. If you send it now, I'll get it by Valentine's! Just kidding...or not.

Wishing each and everyone of my faithful readers "Buon Natale!"













NCIS image: http://www.deadline.com/tag/cbs-ncis/
Christmas graphic: http://www.wishmerrychristmas.com/graphics/christmas_graphics_06.shtml
Wills & Kate image: http://www.people.com/people/package/0,,20395222,00.html


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Art Smart.

I know nothing about art. If you tell me a painting is famous, I'm likely to believe you because I have no knowledge whatsoever about art. But in the past two months, I've been lucky enough to see some of the most famous works of art still in existence. I thought I'd document it here...and perhaps do a little research about these paintings as I write.

In Florence, our art adventure began at the Accademia. As far as I can tell, the only real reason you go to the Accademia is to see David. It was a relatively small collection of other works, but David alone makes it worth the visit. David was moved to the Accademia in 1873 to protect it, as it was originally intended to be outdoors. A replica stands in its place now in the outdoor location. Along with the Pieta at the Vatican, it is this sculpture that gave Michelangelo the reputation as the "foremost sculptor" of his day. Along the corridor leading to David, are five other Michelangelo sculptures, including the four unfinished "Prisoners".

Information taken from http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/accademia-gallery.html

Botticelli's Primavera
Botticelli's Birth of Venus





While in Florence we also visited the Uffizi Gallery. I was so thankful for Rick Steves' audio guide while in the Uffizi. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known what I was looking at or why it was important and it also took a large art museum and helped you focus on some of the "famous" paintings. I remember the Botticelli room best. These two paintings are of his most famous. Understanding a painting is like reading a complicated book- you have to look for the meaning of things below the surface, or in my case, read about it on Wikipedia. There are, of course, varying interpretations of these paintings, but, in general, it seems that "Primavera" is related to the fertility of the world, featuring the goddess of Spring, known as none other than Primavera.

As for the "Birth of Venus" most state that it was painted to inspire both physical and intellectual love. It was painted in 1486 and shows Venus emerging from the sea as a full-grown woman. Or, so says Wikipedia! Just looking at the pictures online does nothing for these works of art, but I remember sitting in the Botticelli room at Uffizi and thinking that, in person, there was something quite spectacular about them.

It took until my recent trip to Munich before I went to another art museum. Kate and I went to both the Neue Pinakothek and the Pinakothek Moderne. The modern art museum left a lot to be desired in my mind. As Kate said, "Don't just hang a light and expect me to believe it's art!" Seems like a theme in the modern art museum. There were many rooms that left me a little perplexed as to why it was deserving of so much space in a well regarded museum. But, to each his own, I suppose.

The good news was that the Neue Pinakothek was rather amazing. After three trips or so to the lockers to successfully put away all the materials not allowed in the gallery, we wandered through the rooms. I had zero idea of what art was in this collection, but found myself among some paintings that everyone has heard about before.


File:Nympheas 71293 3.jpg

One of Claude Monet's 25 "Waterlilies" paintings-- this one was painted in 1915.










File:Vincent Willem van Gogh 128.jpg

Van Gogh's Sunflower series...this one, painted in 1888, has the blue background, and was the 3rd in the series.

The first in the series has a turquoise background with less flowers and is part of a private collection. The second painting had a royal blue background, but was destroyed in a fire in Japan during World War II. The fourth painting has a yellow background and can be seen at the National Gallery in London.

Both the third and fourth versions were repeated by Van Gogh in different forms in later years and can be seen in other galleries.



Edgar Degas, "After the Bath", 1890












There were also works by Renoir, Cezanne, Signac, Manet, and so many others...

Most recently, the Melrose Place crew (Kate, Simon, Tegan and I) went to a church in Milan (Santa Maria delle Grazie) and spent 15 minutes in front of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper". Only 20 or 25 people are allowed in every 15 minutes, so getting tickets must be done in advance. In fact, we bought our tickets for December 15th in the middle of September. Craziness! But, the experience was really nice. It is not too crowded, no one is pushing in front of you to take pictures and the painting is well lit.

This painting was commissioned by a man who hoped to convince the monks living there in the 1400's to allow him to be buried at this church. No luck for him, he apparently left Italy some years later. Over the years, though, the painting has been restored many times. Instead of using a traditional fresco style da Vinci painted on a dry wall, and unfortunately, it started deteriorating almost immediately. The most recent restoration removed layers of paint that had been added during the restorations. I'm not exactly sure how all of this is done in order to preserve the original work, but...

The biggest disappointment about the painting is the huge door that the monks cut in the painting back in the day when the building served as a stable. So, Jesus' feet are no more...while there is not a door, they've painted one in its place. Hmph.
Found this picture on a blog...looks like they found a way to take a picture!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's Been Awhile...


I seem to have fallen out of the routine of updating this blog lately and I'm determined to make my New Year's resolution include blogging more regularly! It has been a busy few weeks and perhaps that is the reason for my lack of posting, but I suspect that more to blame is the six season box set of NCIS that the Upper School principal has loaned me. I watch it all the time! Speaking of which...if you have seasons of TV shows that you'd be willing to loan me for a few months, let me know. I can get them while in the states and return them on my next trip home, or whatever. I'm especially looking for The Sopranos or Desperate Housewives...


  Anyways, moving on...Work is rolling along. As of now, we have six more work days before I can head back to the States for the holidays. I am so looking forward to setting foot on soil where I know the cultural expectations and can ask questions when I have them. I have a new found appreciation for those who don't speak the language of the country they live in. It is SO hard. My job at school changed a bit in recent weeks. I was hired as the Technology Integration Specialist and the idea is that over the next three years I work with the teachers to learn how they can integrate technology in their classrooms and help them learn some needed skills. At the beginning of the year, I would take the cart of laptops into the rooms and most of the time the teachers would leave, as this was a planning period for them. After discussing the timeline for this position with the principal, he decided to fast track my thoughts for next year; that the teachers have to stay in the room during technology and be involved in what's happening. Makes sense, right? Well, as many of you read this are teachers, you know the reaction to losing a planning period. So, while not everyone was thrilled about the loss of a planning period, most teachers are interested in learning the how-to's of some things and are eager to get involved. Now that this change has taken place, I think that long term it will make for a much better result for our teachers and students. I hope you'll check out my school website and go to the Showing Off Our Work page underneath Elementary Technology. I'm excited by many of the things we've done and I'd love for you to see it!

Grady
As for the non-work things, we've had a few breaks here and there that have allowed for lots of travel. After Florence at the beginning of November, I used the Thanksgiving break to travel to the UK and visit the Lynes family in Stone. It was great spending time with people who have known you more than three months and Christy and Keith have always been so good to me over the years. Grady has become such a little cutie and repeatedly said my name for the 24 hours I was at their house. Keith was probably ready to go crazy after a weekend alone with Grady doing that! Christy and I left Keith at home and headed to London. I loved London. I thought the city was amazing. Perhaps I was swayed by the idea that I could once again talk to everyone without worry of a language barrier. We did all the touristy things, plus a few extras. As a tennis fan, I was thrilled to get the chance to go to the Barclays ATP World Tennis Finals. Though we didn't luck out with a Nadal, Federer or Djokovic match, we had great seats and an exciting time. Saturday night we went to see Wizard of Oz, the musical. I have a certain passion for all things WofOz, so it was perfect. The acting was okay, but the set design was pretty spectacular. I'm always impressed with the mechanics of putting together large pieces of stage that move in and out of a small space in such strategic ways. And, of course, Christy and I made sure to see where the Royal Wedding took place and headed out to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels.

This past weekend was a five-day weekend for us due to some Italian holidays on Wednesday and Thursday. Kate, her mom, and I headed to Munich to check out the Christmas markets we'd heard so much about. While the train ride is a bit long, about 7 hours, it took us east to Verona, Italy and then headed north to Innsbruck, Austria. Along the way, I wrote down the stations we passed to map out the route we had taken. Shortly after leaving Verona, I was convinced we had to be in Austria because the architecture of all the houses became stereotypically German. But, alas, I was wrong, and for most of the trip we were in Northern Italy, which has a section that functions relatively like it is Germany, speaking German and not Italian.

This train ride took us through the Italian Alps and with a little help from above, snowed during our time on the train. It made the scenery something spectacular. If you close your eyes and imagine what you'd think the countryside of the Alps should look like in winter, this is exactly what we got. Evergreen trees and mountain tops covered in snow, with more of the white stuff floating through the air. Beautiful. This link is reminds me of what we saw as we traveled towards Innsbruck. I shot this video with my iPod, so the quality is probably terrible, but it'll give you an idea of a little bit of what we saw.

video

 Of course, once we got to Munich the pretty snow ended and we were stuck in the rain. Thankfully, Kate's mom's friend gave us a driving tour of Munich and I was lucky enough to have met Elizabeth in Boston at the job fair, who provided me with a place to stay. Elizabeth and I headed out that night to a German restaurant and I had the special of the evening...sauerbraten with kartoffenodel...or at least I think that is what it was called. But, here's a picture of it nonetheless.
Otherwise known as roasted pork and potato dumpling...as far as I can tell!
German palace
There were Christmas markets on every other corner it seemed, and plenty of shopping to be done as well. I decided that I was more interested in the shopping this time than the sightseeing! I have bought so many Christmas presents for my family from all these different countries! I am excited to share the gifts and stories with them! And, nicely enough, it snowed while we were in Munich. Just enough to dust the houses, grass, and cars and to make it really pretty. Elizabeth and I went out to the Schloss Nymphenburg during the snowy weather. But, I was tired of sightseeing in the wet snow and decided to take the opportunity to see Breaking Dawn, since I found a theater showing it in English. So exciting! I did, of course, miss getting to see it with my friend Tammy, since she and I saw the first two together.

Well, enough for now. Back to NCIS!

I'll be home late December 22nd. I hope to see as many people as possible while home-- the only rule is NO Italian food!

Lastly, if I'm on your Christmas card list and you're not sure where to mail the card this year you have two options. 1) Send it to me at my parents: 8 Moss Court, Savannah, GA 31410 or
2) Mail it here to Italy:
Carrie Zimmer
c/o American School of Milan
Via K. Marx, 14
Noverasco di Opera, 20090
Milano, Italia

The mail system here is slow, but I would love to get a few pieces of mail every so often! So mail me something, even if it's not a Christmas card. If you send it now, I'll get it by Valentine's! Just kidding...or not.

Wishing each and everyone of my faithful readers "Buon Natale!"













NCIS image: http://www.deadline.com/tag/cbs-ncis/
Christmas graphic: http://www.wishmerrychristmas.com/graphics/christmas_graphics_06.shtml
Wills & Kate image: http://www.people.com/people/package/0,,20395222,00.html