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A French Bakery and The Barnes

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  • December 17, 2018
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The Barnes Foundation

CLASSIC PHILADELPHIA ART AND CULTURE

PHILADELPHIA MEDIA TRIP NOVEMBER 2018

Philadelphia Art Culture The Barnes Foundation
Begin your Philadelphia art and culture tour at Le Pain Quotidien, (translated from French to English, “the daily bread”), a Belgium bakery and restaurant close by to The Barnes Foundation. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted. 

My most recent Philadelphia media trip began at Le Pain Quotidien, (translated from French to English, “the daily bread”), a Belgium bakery and restaurant at The Granary, 1937 Callowhill St., Philadelphia, PA. Le Pain Quotidien is a franchised eatery founded by Alain Coumont. I chose Le Pain because I was in Philadelphia to cover The Barnes Foundation and the online menu reflected my hankerings that day. 

An eatery that features gluten-free, vegetarian-style fare is consistently my first choice for lunch and Le Pain Quotidien Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai was outstanding. The menu and decor are ideal for the diner who is looking for French-inspired pastries, soups, and savory lunch options and an assortment of healthy, plant-based selections. 

Le Pain emanates European culture with the comforting aroma of bread baking in the kitchen and a casual French-country charm. It’s a perfect prelude to an afternoon at The Barnes. 

Call ahead to be sure seating is available during peak times.1 215 789 9870

Philadelphia Art and Culture The Barnes Foundation and Le Pain Quotidien
Are you feeling “cultural” and hungry for artisan food? If you’re looking for a French-inspired meal that will set the stage for your visit to The Barnes Foundation, Le Pain Quotidien is close by and the aroma of bread baking is only the beginning of your romance with European culture in Philadelphia. 

AFTERNOON WITH THE MASTERS

Why are we so fascinated with museums? 

I’ll tell you why I can’t stay away from them or better yet, I’ll show you why you should set aside time to visit The Barnes Foundation. (See my gallery below). Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted. 

Museums are my go-to place for inspiration for my own art (https://chigirie.com) and an opportunity to tune into my creative side and tune out the noise and chatter around me. Too much time had passed since my last visit to a metropolitan museum and upon reading more about The Barnes (as it’s often called), I knew I had to set aside an afternoon to experience this Philadelphia treasure. The Barnes Foundation houses a must-see collection of art by the world’s greatest master painters, sculptors, and designers. 

As I made my way around the first-floor galleries, I came across paintings by my all-time favorite Impressionist painters: Renoir and Monet. And then, gallery upon gallery, the genre expanded to Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Seurat, and Modigliani. 

I was so enthralled by the selection of paintings that I didn’t allow enough time to visit the second-floor exhibits but that’s all the reason I’ll need to plan a follow-up trip to Philadelphia. 

The Barnes, (as it’s known to many) is a non-profit Philadelphia cultural and educational institution recognized for its exceptional art collections, programming, and special exhibitions.    

Thanks to Dr. Albert C. Barnes for his vision and the foundation that honors his name for maintaining this collection of priceless treasures by impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist artists. 


Dr. Albert C. Barnes assembled a collection of African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork that are interspersed with the paintings throughout the galleries. Image courtesy of The Barnes Foundation

TIP: Allow ample time (three to four hours) to explore the galleries. 
African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork are arranged throughout the galleries in a manner that encourages time to view, study, and reflect on each object in the ensembles. 

Watch this video clip and visit https://chigirie.com for additional insights. 

Learn how to plan a solo media trip here

FROM THE BARNES FOUNDATION: 

The ensembles, each one meticulously crafted by Dr. Barnes himself, are meant to draw out visual similarities between objects we don’t normally think of together. Created as teaching tools, they were essential to the educational program Dr. Barnes developed back in the 1920s.

Directions: The Barnes Foundation is conveniently located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. No need to worry about parking. Visitors are invited to park in the lot adjacent to the foundation. 

For additional information, call 215.278.7000. 

Disclaimer: 

My visit to The Barnes Foundation was comped but my opinions are my own. 

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Artistic Treasure: PA State Capitol Complex

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  • December 3, 2018
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Rotunda Exterior Image PA State Capitol Complex
The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building complex, Harrisburg, PA Photo courtesy of Visit Hershey-Harrisburg

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building

An Architectural Masterpiece

Plan a visit to Harrisburg and add this National Historic Landmark to your itinerary.

Imagine you’re standing in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building around the time of its dedication on Oct. 4, 1906. Close your eyes and envision you’re looking skyward at what was considered to be the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The capitol building held that record for 80 years. That must have been quite a sight to behold.

As a life-long Pennsylvania resident, I’m sorry to note I had only seen my state’s capitol building from a distance until earlier this year on a sunny late September day. As the traffic whizzed by me, I took a moment to admire the dome from the sidewalk in front of the complex. I realized I had no idea what entrance to use. As I walked up and down two flights of exterior steps twice, I checked my watch and realized I was five minutes late for my scheduled tour. I stopped briefly to ask a bystander to point to the main entrance that would lead me to the main lobby and the man directed me to two sets of double doors. A security guard mapped out my trek to the lobby where I found the information desk surrounded by several large groups of visitors who were ready to embark on their tours. There, I met my tour guide.

Visit Hershey-Harrisburg arranged my tour as part of a three-day media trip to Hershey and Harrisburg. I left Central Pennsylvania with a significantly greater understanding of why Harrisburg has remained Pennsylvania’s capital since October 1812 thanks to my tour guide, Jill Fetter. She’s the Capitol Visitor Services director and The Pennsylvania Capitol Shop manager in the Main Rotunda and an expert in both the building’s history and design.

The 272-foot, 52 million-pound capitol dome glistens with Vermont granite and is topped with a green-glazed terra cotta tile roof and inspired by Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo Courtesy of UncoveringPA.com

Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), designed the massive capital structure based on his vision of a “Palace of Art” and that’s exactly what you’ll find. The building and furnishings cost $13 billion.

Aside from its obvious grandeur and size, the exterior of the building is a gateway to the splendor you’ll find inside – classic American Renaissance style architecture that’s combined with artistic details that are unspeakably magnificent and illuminated by approximately 4,000 lights and 48 portholes in the dome.

Suffice to say, the building lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful capitol building in our nation. In fact, history has it that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the capital as “the handsomest building” he ever saw when he attended the dedication of the building.

PA State Capitol Building Architecture Art
A visitor stops for a moment to gaze at the statues and ornamentation as he descended the grand staircase in the main building. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The interior focal point is the grand staircase – an ideal vantage point for visitors to view eight large murals by Philadelphia artists, Edwin Austin Abbey, and the famous Barnard  Statues by George Grey Barnard, and 17-foot bronze doors that each weighs a ton. Keeping your eyes fixed on one element at a time might be difficult for even the most disciplined spectator as your tour guide describes each of the massive installations of stained glass, murals, and paintings crafted by the most talented artisans of that era.

Pennsylvania historical exhibits
Love art? The capitol building is as much a series of exhibits as it is a hub for lawmakers and lobbyists. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Some of the largest rooms feature a European influence with distinctive Renaissance elements – Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor’s Reception Room. Add to that mix Greek, Roman and Victorian installations of exquisite art and ornamentation displayed throughout the building.

PA Senate and House Chambers Tours
When the legislature is not in session, you’ll have a chance to gaze at the murals, gold embellishments, custom-crafted lighting fixtures, and exquisite woodwork in the chambers. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Tours
What will you learn during a tour of the PA State Capitol Complex? This massive structure is an ideal opportunity for students of all ages to learn local, state, and national histories, law and politics, and art and architecture. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Historians, politicians, teachers, students, architects, travelers, and anyone with an appreciation for history and art and a fascination with politics and lawmaking, should visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol complex. Architectural students will want to study how Huston, the architect-of-record, incorporated motifs that embody Pennsylvania’s achievements in history, animals, industries, occupations, and modes of transportation into his design. Whether your glance is towards the dome, straight ahead, or under your feet, you’ll find examples of Huston’s affinity for art. One example is the Moravian tiles you’ll see intermingled on the lobby floor. They were designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown, PA as a way to illustrate and incorporate the talents and wares of local craftsman.

Henry Chapman Mercer Moravian Tiles
As many as 400 tile mosaics by Henry Chapman Mercer, a Doylestown, PA craftsman, are interspersed throughout the first floor of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building Rotunda and nearby corridors. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

William B. Van Ingen 24 Stained Glass windows
The “Militia” is one of 24 stained glass windows in the Senate and House Chambers crafted by Philadelphia native William B. Van Ingen. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

There’s so much to see and take in at the State Capitol Building.  Take the time to download the PA Capitol Self-Guided Tour Mobile app to learn about the self-guided tour stops, how a bill becomes law in PA, and research additional information in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Tours are free and offered every half hour Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on weekends and most holidays at 9 and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You won’t be able to tour the capitol building on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas day but you’ll have plenty of other options before or after those holidays. I encourage you to register for a tour so won’t miss a detail along the way. A Capitol Tour Guide will fill your head with architectural, artistic, and political highlights that will make this building’s incomparable beauty come alive for you. If you decide to wait to schedule your tour until you arrive in Harrisburg, be sure to check the schedule before arriving at the capitol complex.

PA State Capitol Complex Tour Guides
Allow Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex tour guides, Jill Fetter and her staff, to show you around one of Pennsylvania’s most extraordinary buildings.

For help planning your trip to Pennsylvania, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

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99 Epic Guidebook Series America travel destinations Lifestyle Places to visit in St. Augustine St. Augustine Guidebook What is America's oldest continually occupied town?

St. Augustine: Epic Adventures

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  • July 16, 2018
ST. AUGUSTINE TRAVEL BOOKS

ST. AUGUSTINE TRAVEL BOOKS
99 EPIC THINGS TO DO: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL is a complete guide to this historic city. Photos courtesy of Christina and Philip Benjamin

TRAVEL WITH PASSION

ST. AUGUSTINE: IMPRESSIVELY AWESOME

Christina Benjamin is a bestselling and award-winning author of the Young Adult fantasy series, “The Geneva Project.”

“99 EPIC THINGS TO DO: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL” was published in 2016 and is the first in a series of “99 EPIC” travel guides Benjamin and her husband, Philip Benjamin, a graphic designer, plan to co-publish.

So why did Christina decide to jump into travel writing? Because the couple wants to help you enjoy your travels and make each adventure EPIC.  They’re Florida residents and helping you, the traveler, see the best of the best in St. Augustine is part of their life’s mission. Most of the couple’s spare time is spent traveling to destinations where they can spend time on the water.

Their motto is “So wherever you are, go out and be EPIC,” and they’ve selected their extreme favorites from among St. Augustine’s incredible array of eateries, shops, arts, entertainment options, and places to worship. St. Augustine is America’s oldest continually occupied town (in the nation) and it’s also where they began their journeys as college students.

Throughout the guide, you’ll find a brief history, a noteworthy quote to inspire you, and a local tip. Fort Castillo de San Marcos, for example, is one of the best places to view the sunrise and the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.  They refer to Creekside Dinery as a hidden gem nestled among beautiful magnolia trees on Gonzales Creek. Take the time to read this well-thought-out and innovative guide and you won’t be at a loss for information when you plan your St. Augustine adventure.

St. Augustine Florida Travel Guide
Christina and Philip Benjamin want to make your trip to St. Augustine EPIC. Photos courtesy of Christina and Philip Benjamin

“Give Back” is a section of the book where Christina and Philip offer readers an opportunity to give back. “If you’re looking for a way to give back in St. Augustine, donate to the St. Francis House, a shelter for the homeless, on Washington Street,” they point out.  In fact, they cite a quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” to drive home the point.

99 Epic Things to Do: St. Augustine, FL is indeed a top-notch guide and customizable with space for you to jot down notes about each location you visit.

What’s on the horizon for Christina and Philip?

99 EPIC NEW ORLEANS is in the works as Chrissy makes her way through “The Big Easy.” Visit 99EPIC.COM to keep up with  Christina and Philip’s travels.

Shopping for this book is easy. Click on the link below to buy your copy.

DISCLOSURE:

One or more of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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