Sunday, November 1, 2015

Riga, Latvia  & Art Nouveau
Riga is a human-scaled jewel of a city.  I loved the inter-connecting paths and green spaces sprawling along the river bank, the well-preserved old city, the hospitality of the people and especially the architecture.  Over 30% of the buildings are from the art nouveau period (late 19th c. to early 20th c.).  Our hotel was located in the Art Nouveau District, so I had fun walking around with my camera trying to capture as much as I could.  The compact camera I brought on this trip did not suffice, but I tried.  One afternoon I visited the Art Nouveau Museum around the corner from the hotel. The museum building was the former home of the great Latvian architect, Konstantins Peksens, who lived there until 1907.  Art Nouveau, which in Riga is referred to as Jugendstil, is more than architectural vision. It's about all the arts--interior decoration, lighting, furniture, graphic and fine arts.  I did not pay for a license to take photos of the interior, but you can see images on their website.     The spiral staircase is worth the visit and is said to be one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.  I'm sure it's not the biggest but I would agree that is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.  Peksens, as well as other Latvian architects of the period, was educated at the Riga Polytechnic Institute which encouraged them to develop a more specific and modern Latvian style.  Also encouraged was a link with rural Latvian life through natural materials and motifs.  I could see the difference for myself when I compared it to art nouveau buildings in St. Petersburg, which I felt looked more French--that is, embellished with ornate iron work which I didn't see much of in Riga.

Exhibit update:  My painting "Bronze Beauty" will be on exhibit at the 45th Annual Open Juried Exhibit from November 22, 2015 through January 2, 2016.  Juror:  Robert Mintz, Chief Curator at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD.  Well, I've always loved the Walters, so I especially pleased to be part of this show.  Opening reception is Sunday, November 22 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Entry to the Art Nouveau Museum

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