Shanghai: M50 & Jing’na Sculpture Park

Today was to be the day for travel to the nearby ancient town Suzhou… but alas, we were thwarted! Though there are a reported 60 train trips available between the two cities, we couldn’t get a train for several hours when we showed up at 10am to purchase tickets. Whether that was due to actual busyness or poor communication we’ll never fully know. On a side note, the main Shanghai Railway station was quite confusing, as you have to cross the street to get to the ticket counter and you can’t enter the main station without a ticket. At least we learned that English speaking agents are identified by a small sign in the upper right corner of their ticket window.

Instead, we wandered over to the M50 Art Center area. This space is a colorful mix of galleries, workspaces, and cafes. Very chill on a Saturday morning save for the horde of teenagers on what seemed like a scavenger hunt. While there was some street art, it was nothing too special. We did, however, find a nice pottery gallery where we found a vase for ourselves and a few other pieces for gifts. Our favorite spot was the Island 6 gallery, with lots of LED ‘paintings’ and other interesting art.

M50 art district

M50 art district

M50 art district

We stopped by the hotel briefly to drop off our pottery, then traveled to the Jing’an Sculpture park near the Natural History Museum. Lots of families were enjoying the nice weather in this park. While we were here the fountain turned on, surprising everyone with several cool patterns. Amongst our other favorites were the deer with butterfly antlers and the metal hands sculpture, “Sisters.”

Jing'an Sculpture Park

Jing'an Sculpture Park

Jing'an Sculpture Park

Jing'an Sculpture Park

On a friend’s recommendation, we tried Vegetarian Lifestyle for lunch. The ‘short ribs’ were great but the Kung Pao ‘chicken’ was just OK (the texture was spot on but the flavor was very one-dimensional). Leandra’s dumplings with mushroom and other veg were also just OK, a bit bland, and the dipping sauce that came with didn’t add much to the party. Service was incredibly slow with our waitress disappearing for long stretches. Pricey for what you get, I don’t think we would return.

meatless kung pao chicken @ Vegetarian Lifestyle

We had some daylight left, so we hopped on the subway to the Pudong side for views of the Pearl TV tower and other downtown buildings up close via the circular pedestrian walkway.

selfie w/ the Oriental Pearl TV Tower  Shanghai buildings

sculpture in Ming Zhu Park

Thinking a glass (or two) of wine would be nice, we jumped back on the metro (thank goodness for three-day unlimited metro cards) to the Jing’an Temple area, which was all messed up with construction. We arrived at Dr. Wine after Google said they would be open, but there was no one inside and the place was very dim. Disappointed, we started searching for other options when a man walked past us into the restaurant… they were open, just really quiet! With the choice of any seat, we grabbed a cozy couch I ordered a Nelson, NZ Chardonnay, then a Sav Blanc from the same region. Leandra had a rosé and then a South African pinotage, and we split a dried fruit and mixed nuts snack. Several groups came in for dinner and were seated upstairs so the downstairs lounge remained relaxed and uncrowded for a Saturday night.

wine bar still life

Italy 2017: Florence museums, Bargello & Uffizi Gallery

Florence was a major center of the Renaissance, and quite a few important art and architecture pieces remain in the city. On this trip we visited two of the highlights, the Bargello and the Uffizi Gallery.


We started our day at the Bargello. Their main door is much smaller than many other museums, and a bit hidden –  we actually walked around the entire building before figuring it out! Once inside you start in the large courtyard with quite a few pieces of sculpture.

Bargello National Museum  'David' by Donatello

There are several Donatello and Michelangelo pieces, along with detailed ceilings and a cool armor room.

Madonna of Mercy @ Bargello National Museum  this seems reasonable

Bargello National Museum  Woman with a Bouquet of Flowers @ Bargello National Museum 

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi is the most famous of the Florentine museums and has correspondingly large crowds. The entrance here was also a little confusing, with multiple lines that were not well signed, but after a quick security check and two large flights of stairs we were in the amazing top hallway with art seemingly stretched to the horizon.

Birth of Venus @ Uffizi Gallery

The Tribune @ Uffizi Gallery  Sleeping Ariadne @ Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery

Even the floors and ceilings are decorated!

Aphrodite of Doidalsas @ Uffizi Gallery  Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi has an amazing and overwhelming art collection, with hundreds of sculptures and interesting paintings. Due to the popularity there are a lot of tour groups and they can get quite annoying, but with some patience you can find gaps between the groups. Plan on a good three hours to explore.

London Nov 2014: National Gallery

I was in college the last time I visited the National Gallery in London but Eric went while I was at Fashion Week in February and wanted to show me around, so we took a rainy morning on our last day to explore this museum.

I love Monet, Van Gogh and Degas but there were also a few surprises – definitely worth your time and it’s free!

Memory Monday: Canyon Road art galleries

On our last morning in New Mexico we filled up on a great buffet breakfast and walked a few yards to the start of Canyon Road to admire some of the galleries. I think Eric had assumed there would be lot to see but he underestimated the sheer number of quality gallery spaces on this street!

Many had outdoor sculpture gardens and the walk was abundant with art to admire and pretty adobe buildings and hanging chile displays.

Montreal: sights

Though our time in Montreal was rather brief we still managed to walk around an interesting cross-section of the city. Below are some of our favorite sights.


Notre Dame cathedral
Notre Dame cathedral


curving staircase   LOOK OUT!
we saw curving stairs like these all over the city; winter warnings

Art installations

Montreal seems to teem with art, combining a mix of sponsored art in the form of sculptures and installations in addition to street art (see next post). Some of our favorites:

video display
musicians on a building

video installation
video installation under the Place des Arts

Les Chuchoteuses
Les Chuchoteuses

 video installation
one of the video projections in Quartier des Spectacles

night swings
21 Balançoires (21 Swings)
installation – swinging causes them to make music!

swinging!    DANGER Be Good
how could we resist?

subway art
art in the metro

Helsinki 2012: miscellaneous art in Tallinn and Helsinki

In addition to the Arabia art walk we also came across several interesting examples of art in Helsinki and in Tallinn.


Construction fencing mural on Aleksanterinkatu

hello world!

hello world

probably best in town
not really art, but it made us laugh each time we passed by

chatting giraffes  little brother


invincible star!
power up star on building above Pikk Jalg

appropriate for our day in Tallinn

nihilist dog
nihilist dog

Helsinki 2012: Arabia art walk, Hakaniemi, and city center

A few days before our trip I heard about a self-guided walking tour of the Arabia neighborhood. Arabia has long been an industrial section of the city and more recently become residential. As part of the redevelopment ~2% of construction costs are set aside for public art. The #6 tram turns around in this district making it easy to to get to from the city center so, with good weather in the forecast, we made it our first Sunday destination.

Arabia factory chimney
Looking toward the chimney of the Arabia ceramics factory

The Arabia building hosts a library, offices, and several stores including an Arabia factory outlet with firsts and seconds of Moomin tableware and other ceramics and linens. They have a good selection of items but the prices are still quite expensive, and not cheaper than other places in the city or even the airport.

‘Desert Wind’

Heltech building
Heltech Building


steel flowers   Viikki bird
L-R: steel flowers, ‘Viiki birds’

Kotipuu (home tree)  communal wall stencils where the shoreline used to be
L-R: ‘home tree’, stencils on the communal art wall, ‘shoreline now and then’

It was fun to seek out the different art pieces and we had a great time wandering around this part of town. Check out additional photos on Flickr.

On our way back to the city center we took advantage of our 2-hour tram pass to make a quick detour through the Hakaniemi Market, still bustling even as some vendors were packing up.

Hakaniemi Market
Leandra sampling ginger cookies (those came home with us)

There were quite a few food stalls/trucks at the market, all of them out of the warm pretzels that I was looking for. From here we took the next tram down to the train station and explored a few of the stores around the area, then made our way to Bruuveri and St. Urho’s Pub as described previously.

an open gate
turns out I took a very similar photo 10 years ago… what can I say, I like gates and doors!

Later that evening we took a final walk around the park and central square enjoying the lights come on as the evening fell.


Kappeli Cafe

Senate Square statue
Senate Square