Andres Institute of Art

You’d think that after living in New Hampshire for fifteen years we would have seen all of the local sites, but no, we’re always finding something new.

Combining two of our favorite things, hiking and art, The Andres Institute of Art made for a perfect late Fall outing.  Andres is the largest outdoor sculpture park in New England. Located in Brookline, New Hampshire, it is  on the site of a former ski run. Each year, the institute invites sculptors from around the world to stay at the site and provide a sculpture which is then placed on one of the hiking trails that lead up the mountain.

Mr. C loved running around the trail, looking for the next sculpture, as if it were a scavenger hunt.  There are about 80 sculptures at the park, here are some of our favorites.

Each sculpture has a small plaque placed on a nearby tree with information on the piece, and where the sculptor is from.  The sculptors come from all over the world, not just the United States, including; Germany, Switzerland, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Armenia, Georgia, Spain, Columbia, England, and lots of others.  I wonder what the sculptors from countries like Bangladesh or Armenia thought of rural New Hampshire ?

Since the location was a former ski run, the trails were sometimes a bit steep, but not too bad.  The forest looks like it’s still recovering from being used for skiing, as most of the trees are still small and scrubby.  The ski run closed more than twenty years ago, it’ll be awhile until the trees reach their full maturity.

There is a small quarry nearby, I think some of the stone used is from there. Most of the sculptures are stone, but not all, there are some metal works as well. Andres offers demonstrations on the various techniques throughout the year.

This one below is of a hickory nut.

I think these are supposed to be the planets of the solar system, so the solar flare in the photo is appropriate!

Another solar flare.

This one below is not a sculpture, it’s the rusty remains of part of chair from one of the ski lifts.

I remember that the sculptor of this one is from Nigeria, it might be evident from the carvings on the rocks.

Here’s a giant donut.  This sculptor is from Germany.  “Ich bin ein berliner!”

This one is my favorite.  The sculptor is from the Republic of Georgia, it’s the only one that I remember the title of “Conscious”.

We only saw about twenty five of the eighty or so sculptures since we only hiked on one trail, we’ll have to go back again.

Mr. C’s Mosaic Project

Here’s a art project Mr. C worked on this past Fall.

For years I’ve had an interest in mosaics.  This must date back to  High School where I learned about Roman art during my struggles learning Latin.  A few years ago I went to Italy and during a tour of a museum, a guide asked my why I was taking pictures of the floor while everyone else was taking pictures of other people or of the sculptures.  How could I not take pictures, have you seen this mosaic on the floor?, I said.  He thought there was something wrong with my camera and was going to offer to try to fix it.

So I was showing Mr. C some pictures of mosaics, in books and also some of the awesome mosaics that fellow blogger Terri has done and featured on her  blog;  Time to be Inspired .      Mr. C asked if we could do something like that.    The one place in our backyard that I thought we could try to do something is at the base of an exterior light.  It has a large concrete base surrounded by grass and flowers, it’s simply utilitarian, somewhat ugly.  I let it get surrounded by plants during the Summer so we don’t have to see so much of it.



We didn’t have any tile, so we used some flat stones we collected from the beach.



We also used some pieces of blue and green glass that Ms. J had run through the rock tumbler, so that they look somewhat like sea glass.  C spread out the grout and carefully put in each stone.  Some he moved around quite a bit until he found a good spot. It’s not supposed to be anything specific, just a jumble of stones to make the base of the light look better.

We didn’t have enough stones, so we’ll have to go back to the beach!  Here it is so far.  This picture was taken in the Fall, hopefully it has survived the 100+ inches of snow!




For the Thanksgiving holiday, Mr. C’s kindergarten teacher created a little booklet for her student’s parents. Each page is a color copy of a student’s answer to the “I am thankful for _____ ” question.

Most of the kid’s responses run along the lines of “my cat”, “my toys”, “candy”. So I was paging through it, reading each one, looking forward to what Mr. C would come up with.

I am thankful for my Dad.


Yes, that’s a pretty good likeness of me.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art – Part 2

At the risk of losing my vast audience (ha, ha!) by revealing how much of a book nerd I am, I’ll submit a second entry in this week’s photo challenge, with this week’s theme being: “Work of Art”. Though the post here is more of a story rather than just a photo.

There was an essay in The Wall Street Journal a week or so ago by Bob Greene where he laments the lack of illustrations on magazine and book covers. Not too long ago, you didn’t have to go to a museum to see artwork, you could just go to the newsstand to see the covers of the latest issues of such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, Colliers, and even Time magazine, to see some great art on their covers. Now just about all magazines and book covers use photographs, much faster and cheaper apparently. The focus of the article is on Norman Rockwell and how in the 40’s and 50’s you could get a piece of Rockwell art for fifteen cents, while now you could pay millions for the original. (Here’s a link to the article )


For a long time, I’ve admired those old illustrations, and while I do like the work of Rockwell, I especially like the illustrations from older Science Fiction magazines and paperbacks. Any book collector types out there from Boston may remember the Avenue Victor Hugo bookstore on Newberry Street. I was fortunate enough to attend College not too far from that bookstore. Or maybe unfortunately, as I spent quite a lot of money there in between classes. I recall the first time I bought a vintage paperback there. The owner of the store wanted me to make sure I also bought a ‘reading copy’ since the one I was buying was very hard to find. I told him not to worry, I was buying it since I liked the cover artist; Richard Powers. He looked at me as if I had two heads as I explained who Richard Powers was. Powers was the Art Director for Ballantine Books in the 50’s and 60’s, providing the covers for hundreds of books, mostly Science Fiction, but some Mysteries and Classics as well.

Powers’ style is similar to Yves Tanguy, with lots of nebulous bobs floating around on brightly colored fields of color. Any identifiable human figures are at least somewhat abstract, with long drawn out limbs, sometimes they are just shadows. His covers have a mysterious, dreamy look.

My work in Advertising may influence my taste here as I like everything from the type fonts used and overall layouts as well. For example, the ones from the 50’s are very much typical for time, with lots of use of Times New Roman. (No wait, don’t go away, type fonts are not boring!)I will read them, but my main interest is really in the cover designs!

And the titles! “Those Idiots From Earth”, what could be better for a Sci-Fi book from the mid 50’s ?




I think this is one of the first ones I bought. I may have spent just $5 or $6, though they are getting much harder to find now. I’m not sure how much they go for these days, I don’t really check values on places like ‘Ebay’.



Another great title here “Get Out of My Sky!”





Here’s one from the late 60’s. The font used on the title looks similar to what was used on Sci-Fi movie titles of the time, such as ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.


Here’s a couple more:






Ok, so that’s just a few of the maybe 50 or 60 I have. Yes, I am a nerd. And what’s worse, it’s not as though I’m a typical Sci-Fi nerd too. When I find one of these, I don’t say ‘Wow, a book by Wilson Tucker!”, I say “Look at the use of red in the background, and in the “X” of the title, and the large point size used in the title too!”

So don’t throw away those old paperbacks, bring them to the used bookstore, there’s art fans for everything and someone out there might be a fan of the cover designer!

Rock Tumbling

I was very late in getting Ms. J a Christmas gift this year, so we had Christmas in March!   Yes, I was three months late in getting a Christmas gift!


It’s a rock tumbler! And yes, she did ask for this. In case anyone doesn’t know what it does, the rubber cylinder is filled with rough rocks and grit or sand, the cylinder then spins around and the grit smooths out the rocks.  My Mom can tell stories of how my older brother had a rock tumbler when he was about 10 years old and how much noise it made.  Apparently it was loud enough to knock fillings out of teeth.  I’m sure the technology has advanced in the past 40 years since this one is not that loud, but we do keep it in the basement.

It can take a few weeks to smooth out the rough edges on a small stone, but we’re using it on pieces of glass instead, which takes only about 3 or 4 days. Here’s our first attempt at getting mosaic glass pieces.

We’re using a Plymouth Gin bottle for our first experiment.  (Hmmm…..this might give a bad impression when a stay at home Dad blog includes a post about the first thing used in a craft project is a gin bottle!)


There’s an etching of a friar on the back of each bottle, when his feet get dry that’s when you know it’s time to get more gin!




It is surprising hard to smash a Plymouth Gin bottle, the glass is very thick, which is one of the reasons we wanted to use it.  Mr. C enjoyed smashing the bottle with a hammer, which must have taken about a dozen hits to break.  How many day care providers would allow a 4 year old to smash a gin bottle with a hammer ?    There are benefits to having a stay at home parent after all, so many new experiences that all the other kids who are in day care are missing out on.  The bottle was wrapped in a thick towel, and he had on safety goggles, so I’m not completely crazy.  I’m sure my Mom thinks we’re crazy though for getting a rock tumbler, she must have had flash backs to the jack hammer sounds of my brother’s tumbler of years ago when I told her about it.

Here’s the result!   Not every piece can be used, though we’re already working on more.

We’re working a blue glass bottle now, which seems to be a hard color to find.  We’re looking for red glass bottles too, if anyone can think of anything that comes in a red glass bottle let me know!


Museum Visit

During the February pre-school vacation week, the Currier Museum in Manchester had some fun events for kids. It’s always a great idea to offer free admission during vacation week, by then parents are sick of winter and the kids want to have some place new to go. The planned activity they offered when we went was that they gave out drawing pads, pencils, and stools for the kids to wander around and look for something to draw.

It was fairly crowded and it was interesting seeing how all the kids ran around choosing which picture inspired them to make their own drawing.

Mr C. quickly grabbed his pad and pencils and around looking for inspiration. How about Miro ? Hmmm, not so sure about this one Dada.


Here’s one that might work, it’s a canoe on a river bank by Andrew Wyeth.


A museum employee walked around, answering questions from the parent and kids. He told me a bit more about this painting and an adjacent work by Charles Sheeler. He had a look of surprise when it became apparent that I knew a few things about both artists already. I thought this was odd, but then Ms. J pointed out later that he probably wasn’t surprised that I knew some Art History, he was surprised that someone wearing a 10 year old sweatshirt covered in little food stains like peanut butter and jelly and tomato sauce, who had not been able to shave in three days, and whose hair was probably sticking up at odd angles from playing on the living room floor with Mr. C in the morning, would know anything about Art History. At least the sweatshirt was not on inside out, which has happened sometimes. As we were discussing the artworks, Mr. C was intently drawing . He would look up every few minutes. Taking a look at Wyeth’s canoe, and then drawing some more on his pad. Taking a look at the canoe, and then drawing some more.

After a few more minutes he was done. This is his drawing. It’s a tiger, under a tree, with his friend a little bird. Don’t know why I thought he was going to draw a canoe.


Recycling Art

Amy had a post on her  Share and Connect blog about artists using recycled material to create new artworks.  I made a comment about how we will sometimes  use old metal containers for some art projects for our 4 year old and Amy asked to see what we’ve been up to, so here are some examples.

Believe me, these are not nearly as artistic as what she included in her post,  but at least it keeps a busy 4 year old occupied on rainy days! For some much more impressive works, check out her post as well!

Here’s a McCann’s Oatmeal container that Mr. C painted.  My recycling urge just can’t resist doing something with a container like this, just can’t throw one of these metal canisters away!    We use the painted one to store raisins now.


Here’s an Illy coffe container that we painted in a variety of blue and green colors.  Mr. C uses this one to store the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that we lost the box for.


Here’s a small metal box that Mr.C painted, inside and out.


Here’s what the inside looks like.  He calls it “The Nature Box”,  he puts anything interesting that he finds from the forest in the box,  the current occupants are a small pile of leaves.


One more,  here’s a tomato can which Mr. C wanted to turn into a candle holder.  We filled up the empty can with water, put it in the freezer, then punched holes in the sides with a hammer and nail, and then painted the outside of the can in various reds, yellows and orange paint colors.  The frozen block of water is supposed to make it easier to punch holes in the can, I’m not so sure that’s really necessary, but it does make it more fun for a four year old to see what happens to a frozen block of ice when it’s struck several times with a nail.


And here it is with the candle lit: