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Life is Sweet: Fourth of July
June 30, 2020

Life is Sweet: Fourth of July

 Looks like someone’s got a birthday coming up! And not to gossip or anything, but she’s getting pretty up there in years. Break out the party hats and start singing because it’s America’s bday! She’ll be 244 this year. Doesn’t look a day over her bicentennial. And her slightly younger upstairs neighbor, Canada, will be hitting the big 1-5-3 on July 1st. These gals have seen a lot over the decades with all the proud moments and growing pains you’d expect. This year, the party might look a little different but you can still RSVP. And with a little creativity, tech savvy, and spirit it’s guaranteed to be a celebration that’ll go down in history.   It's a Celebration Independence Day might look a little different this year but she’s still going strong!     Los Angeles’s Grand Park is moving its annual block party online with all the comedy, live musical, cooking demos, and fun a patriot could dream of!   @grandpark_la #blockparty     You can (still) dance if you want to! Catch Chicago SummerDance’s special Independence Day SummerDance in Place broadcast to learn some new salsa moves and bust ‘em from the privacy of your living room.   @chicagodcase #chicago4th     Do sandwiches exist in cyberspace? The Wawa Welcome America Festival says yes! The longstanding Philadelphia festival and founding father of Hoagie Day is doing it all virtually!   @july4thphilly #celebratephilly    Oh, Canada Quiz   What do you know about the US Neighbor to the North?   YYZ is not just the name of a famous classic rock jam but an airport in which Canadian city? Poutine is a delish dish that comes from Quebec and is made up of french fries, gravy, and what other ingredient? The red and white Canadian flag features what symbol front and center? What nickname was given to Canada’s one dollar coin? Hint: Think bird with a real case of the giggles. You oughta know the name of this famous Canadian singer-songwriter whose music recently inspired a Broadway musical. Answers:  Toronto/cheese curds/maple leaf/Loonie/Alanis Morissette   Stay Cool in these American Art Museums The Metropolitan Museum of Art  New York, NY   The Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL   High Museum of Art Atlanta, GA   San Francisco Museum of Modern Art San Francisco, CA   National Gallery of Art Washington, DC   The Museum of Fine Arts  Boston, MA   Los Angeles County Museum of Art Los Angeles, CA   Philadelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia, PA   Rhode Island School of Design Museum Providence, RI     Guggenheim Museum New York, NY  
Street Art to Stumble Upon Across the Globe
June 29, 2020

Street Art to Stumble Upon Across the Globe

More often than not, the most amazing cities in the world boast the most amazing art museums. And while you can learn a great deal about the history of important movements and iconic artists within those hallowed halls, there's something so raw, real, and "right now" about the art you find when you're just walking down the street! Take a look at this shortlist of cities around the world that are home to some of the best street art to simply stumble upon.       São Paulo, Brazil Beco do Batman is a hidden treasure in  São Paulo and the place to go for vibrant street art. Located in the neighborhood of Vila Madalena, Beco do Batman does, in fact, translate to Batman Alley and yes, you will find some walls dedicated to the comic book character. It all started with a single Batman drawing back in the 80s and the street art never stopped!                  Source: Nana Marques    Berlin, Germany   Nearly a mile long, the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany is not only the longest open air gallery in the world but features the longest intact section of the Berlin wall in existence today. Artists from all over the world flocked to the scene when the wall came down and the gallery officially opened in 1990. Must-see murals include  Birgit Kinder’s "Trabant" (which features this common East German car "bursting through" the wall) and Dmitri Vrubel’s notorious " My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love," more widely known as "Fraternal Kiss."                     Source: GetYourGuide   Toronto, Canada   Perhaps the most Instagram-able part of the Canadian city, Graffiti Alley is a 3 block stretch of street art running parallel to Queen Street West. And it's all city-sanctioned. After some spats over the difference between murals and vandalism, the  Queen Street West Business Improvement Association succeeded in their fight to keep art alive. Since 2011 StreetARToronto, or StART work to secure funding and approval for public works like these.    Source: PlanetWare   Melbourne, Australia   At the edge of the Melbourne's East End, an area brimming with galleries and creative types, lies Hosier Lane. The cobblestone laneway is a little dead end street with a lot of personality. Massive masterpieces occupy every square inch of the block and give insight into the culture and politics of its daring artists.    Source: Wikipedia Buenos Aires, Argentina   Breathtaking street art runs rampant throughout Buenos Aires, in areas like Plaza Matienzo, near the Mercado de las Pulgas fleamarket, and in the off-the-beaten-path neighborhood of Villa Urquiza just to name a few! What is definitely worth a look is the world's biggest mural completed by a single artist! The massive masterpiece was completed in phases by artist Alfredo Segatori over the course of about a year and a half. It covers three buildings and is entitled "The Return of Quinquela" in reference to the famous Argentinian landscape artist,  Benito Quinquela Martin, who is featured at the center of the mural.    Source: BA Street Art   Rishikesh, India    The so-called "Yoga Capital of the World" is chock-a-block with ashrams and temples for spiritual studies including the Beatles Ashram. And therein lies some pretty special street art throughout its abandoned grounds. Built in 1968, the  Ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi hosted the Beatles during their stays where they wrote hit songs and maybe even honed their yogi practice. After its abandonment just a few years later, artists gave the empty space a creative makeover where art and nature live in harmony.     Source: Jessica Beavon   Brooklyn, NY   Located in the outer-borough of Brooklyn, New York, the Bushwick Collective is an outdoor street gallery featuring artists from all over the world. Founded by Bushwick native Jospeh Ficalora in 2012, the gallery began as an effort to celebrate and beautify the neighborhood and has since become a major destination for street art admirers and tourists.    Source: Mad Hatters NYC   Bristol, England   What better place to see anonymous England street artist, Banksy's work in its natural environment than Bristol, England? Here you can get a glimpse of Banksy's cheeky " Well Hung Lover" painted on the side of a health clinic as well as the modern-day parody of Vermeer's masterwork, known here as " Girl with a Pierced Ear Drum." The streets of Bristol are all adorned with other well-known artists in addition to hosting "Upfest," the largest annual street art festival in Europe.    Source: Independent  
LIFE IS SWEET: Summer is NOT Cancelled
June 16, 2020

LIFE IS SWEET: Summer is NOT Cancelled

Summertime is in the air! The days are getting longer, the shorts are getting shorter, and that itch, that urge, that desire to explore is getting stronger! We’re missing travel big time right now but we’re powering through by reminiscing about all of those meals, museums, summits, shopping, flights and festivals we’ve been lucky enough to experience. All those adventures and, admittedly, misadventures we’ve had along the way. But those just make for funny stories later, right? And while travel may be on pause for the moment, summer is not cancelled. Neither is our imagination. We’re walking down memory lane and getting a little creative to serve up some virtual vacay recommendations that remind us that life is sweet. TRAVEL MEMORIES: A Weekend Getaway to Santo Domingo   The sun! The surf! The not being in my living room! Get in on this armchair travel to the cultural capital (and actual capital) of the Dominican Republic. It may be the off-season, but that just means more "me time" on the beach! Get the full scoop on what to eat, drink, see, and experience during your trip to Santo Domingo HERE. Cheers to Vacay!   Can't get enough of those Caribbean vibes? Try this! The Dominican favorite translates to "to die while dreaming" and is certainly to die for...or dream about for that matter. A surprisingly delicious combination of milk and orange juice, this drink pairs perfectly with dinner or some mid-day relaxation.  Ingredients 4 cups of evaporated milk 2 ½ cups of orange juice (ideally fresh) ¾ cup of sugar 1 tbsp vanilla extract 2 cups of ice (may be cubed or crushed) Directions Chill the evaporated milk Add sugar to your taste Stir in vanilla Add ice while stirring Pour in the OJ and stir to perfection. Sit back, sip, and enjoy!   Recipe and image courtesy of dominicancooking.com Summer Staycation Snapshots     New Yorkers get their Vinyasa on with virtual yoga classes hosted by Bryant Park. You can join in on the downwards dogs Tuesday mornings at 10:00 AM or Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM EST right on their IG. Stay tuned for park reopening in the future!   @bryantpark #ParksAtHome     Pandemic, but make it fashion!  This Parisian gallery is opening its doors but not without mandatory distancing hats for visitors. Brainchild of French artist, Dominique Pouzol, the hats are not only meant to protect museum-goers from COVID-19 but also act as a big, bold way to prompt questions about protection from intolerance, violence, and other societal ills will persist post lockdown.    @59rivoli #parisart     You can still enjoy a walk in the park in San Francisco, just stay in your safety circle, that's all. Parks across the land of the Golden Gate including Dolores Park, Washington Square Park, Little Marina Green, and the green near Jackson Playground are adding a little geometry for the sake of social distancing and to avoid full on park closure.    @sfgate #socialdistancingEXPLORE
Life is Still Sweet: Because of YOU!
May 25, 2020

Life is Still Sweet: Because of YOU!

They say not all heroes wear capes or, these days, even pants. We're talking about the at-home heroes who have stepped up and managed to make the most of life despite the unprecedented circumstances. Our innovation knows no bounds and in exploring its limits, we've brought joy, healing, and helping to ourselves and the people in our home, our communities, and beyond. It's the mother who hosts an at-home prom for her teenage daughter, the yoga instructor posting free classes so you can get your daily vinyasa on, the BFF who texts you a corny joke every morning, the DJ hosting a virtual dance party, the partner who plans movie nights complete with the best chips and guac on the planet. We've endured more than we ever imagined and came out still (relatively) sane and smiling. Pat yourself on the back. You are the reason why life is still sweet! 1. Flower Power   New York City is known as many things but the city that never smells isn’t one of them. Until now. Designer Lewis Miller has been freshening up trash cans around the city with grand, vivid floral arrangements that he calls “floral flash" as a way to exercise his creative muscle and brighten the day of essential workers passing by.   Read more here: ABC: Coronavirus News: Designer's 'flower flash' brighten up Manhattan streets 2. Gone to the Birds Museums have been a bit lonely these days and penguins need their enrichment, too. There’s only one solution. Three Humboldt penguins from the Kansas City Zoo were let loose to explore the collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. An afternoon contemplating Baroque paintings just might make up for decreased  interaction with keepers and zoo goers. Watch here: Time: While Most Museums Remain Closed, 3 Kansas City Penguins Enjoyed a Day of Experiencing Great Works of Art 3. Fairy Tale    It should come as no surprise that the Tooth Fairy is an essential worker. At least in the eyes of 7-year-old Evolette who lost a tooth this month. She was deeply concerned for the Tooth Fairy’s safety and insisted her Mom sew a mask to leave out during the late night visit. With that, Mom, Kayla, sewed her 178th mask (the teeny, tiniest by far) and did her part to keep the citizens of Fairy Land safe from harm.     Read more here: ET Online: 7-Year-Old Girl Loses Tooth in Quarantine, Asks Mom to Make a Mask for Tooth Fairy   4. Movie Night Put on your poodle skirt and hop in your Buick--the 1950s are back! At least the drive-in theater part. Yankee Stadium is reinventing itself for the summer as a venue for live music and movies from the comfort of your car just like the good ol’ days. And you can expect raffles, games, local eats, and we can only imagine “let’s all go to the lobby" on repeat. Watch here: Travel and Leisure: Yankee Stadium Is Being Turned Into a Drive-in Concert and Movie Venue This Summer 5. A Tip of the Hat   A cafe in Schwerin, Germany is enforcing a very strict dress code. Pool noodles. After re-opening its doors, Cafe Rothe is providing its patrons with hats topped with two colorful pool noodles to enforce social distancing rules. It’s fashionable and functional. Oh, and foam. Read more here:  CNN: German cafe tells customers to wear pool noodles to enforce social distancing EXPLORE
Life is Still Sweet: Getting Creative Under Quarantine
May 19, 2020

Life is Still Sweet: Getting Creative Under Quarantine

Quarantine may have us going stir-crazy but it’s also getting our creative juices flowing. With newfound time and space, maybe you’re finally making good on your vow to learn to play the guitar or dusting off your paint brushes after all these years. There is no shortage of creative prompts out there: endless dance challenges and recipe email chains floating through cyberspace plus, works of art to recreate, masks to sew, and virtual performances to put on for the (very) supportive friends and family in our lives. Not to mention all the creative ways we’re learning to support each other on special occasions with drive-by birthday parades or virtual baby shower games. Or even inventing special occasions to add some excitement to our days. Sure, many of us never thought we’d turn the house into an obstacle course, day spa, movie theater, or cocktail bar but here we are! Each day we are inspired to get creative under quarantine in a brand new way and in doing so, we are reminded that life is still sweet.    1. Wear a Mask and a Smile   Masks are doing a lot to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But hiding a smile? Not so much. Photographer Laura Fuchs grabbed her camera (and mask, of course) and hit the streets of New York City to ask, “Can I take your picture?” From six feet away, Fuchs’s photographs reveal that, despite the circumstances, people all over the city agree there’s still something to smile about.    See more here: BBC: Coronavirus: The face smiling behind the masks 2. Support Network Reddit user Gaddafo posted an image of his mother earnestly clutching a painting she made. The amazing act of internet support that followed is resurfacing a year later and it’s the kind of positivity we need right now! The original post stated: “My mom painted this and said no one would like it. It's her 2nd painting.” The impressive painting of a crane proves that we are our own worst critic. Internet to the rescue! Not only did innumerable strangers compliment the amateur artist but to show their true appreciation, something strange started happening. A Swedish artist painted a painting of Gaddafo’s mom holding her painting to which another artist responded by painting a painting of the Swedish artist holding a painting of Gaddafo’s mom holding her painting. And then another artist---we think you see where this is going. Read more here: Bored Panda: People Start a Drawing Chain After This Woman Thought No One Would Like Her Painting 3. Long Distance Duet     Queen of high notes and even higher ponytails, Ariana Grande teamed up with Justin Bieber from far, far away to record the song, "Stuck With U." But, you know, the good kind of stuck. With camera-shy pup, Toulouse, by Ariana’s side and Bieber hand-in-hand with wife, Hailey, the two croon about the family, friends, partners, and yes, pets we’re so lucky to be hunkering down with. The catchy tune will have you swaying in your PJs not unlike a lot of the celebs and everyday people we see busting a move with their quarantine-companions in the DIY-style music video. And it gets better. The song also doubles as a fundraiser for the First Responders Children’s Foundation which not only has been funding college tuition for the children of first responders like medical workers and firefighters for nearly 20 years but is also donating funds to cover meals, masks, accommodations, and other financial needs.    Listen here: NPR: Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber Team Up for Fundraising with Single 'Stuck With U'         4. The Boy Who Read Who better to read us Harry Potter than Harry Potter himself? Also known as Daniel Radcliffe in real life, the Harry Potter film star lent his voice to an online read-aloud the first chapter of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Ready for chapter two? More of your favorite actors are lining up to read the rest in the weeks to come including Dakota Fanning and David Beckham (what?!). Read more here: CBS: Daniel Radcliffe and other stars are reading "Harry Potter" to fans online 5. Art Appreciation        Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a nurse? You got it. There’s a new superhero in town thanks to subversive street artist, Banksy.  The anonymous graffiti maker showed his (her?) softer side with an art donation to the University Hospital Southampton. The piece depicts a young boy playing with action figures--not Batman or Spiderman or another one of those animal/man combos, but a National Health Service nurse, faster than a speeding bullet in her cape and mask. Read more here: Reuters: A British nurse is the chosen superhero in new Banksy artwork   EXPLORE
Life is Still Sweet: ConGRADuations!
May 12, 2020

Life is Still Sweet: ConGRADuations!

    1. Yes, They Will!    The class of 2020 may not know what it feels like to walk across a stage in an ill-fitting polyester sack and be handed a piece of paper by a stranger but they will know what wise words Barack and Michelle Obama have to impart about the future. That’s right, after soon-to-b-graduates from around the world implored the Obamas to give a commencement speech at their virtual ceremonies, it’s actually happening! The commencement ceremony featuring the dream team as well as guests like Lady Gaga, Malala Yousafzai, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Piachi will be broadcast via livestream on June 6th to honor graduates from high school, university, and everything in between.   Read more here: Forbes: Barack And Michelle Obama Will Give Virtual Commencement Speeches For Class Of 2020 2. Pet Peeve  In the WFH age, “dog crashed my weather forecast" somehow seems a lot more plausible than “dog ate my homework.” Tampa-based meteorologist Paul Dellegatto was minding his own business informing the good people of Florida about, oh probably, a day of perfect sunny weather, when his Golden Retriever, Brody, decided to reclaim the spotlight. A little hungry and a bit curious about the cameraman filming from outside the window, Brody stole the show and captured the hearts of viewers with his endearing disruption. Read more here: HuffPost: Weatherman's Dog Crashes Forecast, Becomes Internet's New Quarantine Hero 3. Drive-In Diplomas   The only thing showing at the drive-in theater in North Salem, New York these days is a graduation ceremony. After forgoing classes, end-of-year celebrations, and prom, Principal Vince DiGrandi thought his high school seniors deserved a little something special to commemorate their big accomplishment. Instead of the typical pomp and circumstance, all 103 grads plan to pull up in decorated cars, watch the valedictorian speech in high def on a massive movie screen, and receive their diploma from the comfort of their vehicles with the help of of 6-foot retractable arm that their Principal had specially made for the occasion by the industrial arts teacher. And the after party? A screening of “Groundhog Day,” of course. This just might be the start of a new tradition!    Listen here: NPR: Students To Get Graduation Pomp At Drive-In Theater Despite Circumstances 4. The Great Indoors They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes that word is “pancakes.” Stuck inside, travel photographer, Erin Sullivan got creative about capturing the beauty of the great outdoors from the great indoors. With the help of salt, cotton balls, paper bags, piles of laundry, and yes, pancakes, Sullivan is recreating her favorite natural wonders like mountain ranges, lakes, canyons, and ice caves with what she can find around the house. See more here: Buzzfeed: This Travel Photographer Takes Stunning "Nature" Photos Using Household Objects And They Actually Look Very Realistic 5. Proud Parents Just because in-person ceremonies are out doesn’t mean your parents can’t gush about your accomplishments in public. That's what billboards are for! Brandon Truett had just earned his PhD in English after defending his dissertation via Zoom when he got a larger than life reminder of just how proud his parents are. A 14-foot reminder, to be exact. Father Jimmy, who hadn’t graduated high school himself, honored his son’s 6-year journey with a billboard in his hometown of Conway, South Carolina for friends, family, and people on the internet to behold. Read more here: Chicago Tribune: COVID-19 canceled graduation, so proud parents rent billboard to celebrate son's doctorate from University of Chicago EXPLORE
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