pondělí 27. října 2014

Gallery Streets


  SPZ galerie-look through 
On my way to work very   early in the morning I would often stop and peek through the garage like doors of the SPZ galerie .This tiny garage size gallery often provided an interesting start to my day. Officially the gallery is open only one afternoon a week and generally has only a few but interesting pieces of contemporary art by Czech and foreign artists. Currently they also have a very amusing banner on the façade of the building, a great piece of Czech humor by Martin Hašek  I thought. I remember passing the gallery in its earlier location between the hospitals above Karlovo náměstí years ago but I never go inside because of its very limited opening hours. Still this pocket size venue is at least worth a quick look.

 This is what  you see
After work another day I discovered FOX Gallery in the parallel Křemencova street. I had also walked past very often admiring a wonderful Biedermaier armchair in one of the windows but never seemed to have the nerve to go in. To my surprise I was very welcome by the helpful manager/proprietor who gave me a tour of the space and showed the wide spectrum of works they have to offer. Following an emerging and sensible current within Czech society they focus primarily on Czech artists, many of them young or artists who work in the Czech Republic. What is slightly   unusual is that apart from contemporary art they also offer contemporary jewelry and women’s clothes (these are on the lower floor) by local designers. There are also pieces of decorative art, which sometime really look just like art objects while being very practical at the same time.  I thought this might be inspired by the fact that many of those who buy art at present are women who like to be catered to in the same way as men.

Image courtesy of : https://www.facebook.com/pages/FOX-Gallery/460414277363178?sk=photos_stream

The art itself includes painting and sculpture in different media and is always arranged with a playful way. One further advantage is that the gallery also has regular fashion shows, musical perfomances and special workshops for kids.

Image courtesy of : https://www.facebook.com/pages/FOX-Gallery/460414277363178?sk=photos_stream
A few streets further down towards the river in Vojtěšská is  Galerie CzechDesign  which I first visited last week to look at an exhibit of Czech and Slovak printing fonts-I thought it was very interesting the on further inquiry found out that t was a project done in cooperation  with art  students. The fonts were displayed on posters that could be bought but one can also buy the fonts themselves. I thought it is relatively unique to see a small gallery try to promote students be it in a more commercial way.

Contemporary fonts

As the name suggests the gallery focuses on Czech design, perhaps more on industrial design and has a broad program of events and activities promoting not only design but also issues such as ecology or urban transportation.

And selection screens

After visiting this gallery I realized that within a few streets there are a number of engaging galleries which are aimed mostly at a local audience. The people behind these spaces all strive to present not only art but design as part of everyday day life an alternative to big box convenience lifestyles so many other locals have become fond of.

pátek 24. října 2014

In praise of the common blossom

Like most patriotic natives, I have to work on the garden. Once you start gardening there is always something to do. I help take care of a regular size allotment where we grow mostly fruit and some vegetables. Our annual harvest includes plums, raspberries, some pears a few peaches, arugula, beans, potatoes zucchinis and pumpkins. This year there has also been a TON of apples. Summer and early fall often mean many trips to the garden and endless hours of home cooking pumpkin soup and other produce from the garden. Although I am not a diehard fan of gardening there is one great pleasure I derive from it and that is flowers.

 From spring to the first November frosts we have an almost steady supply of flowers from the garden. These are not heirloom flowers with high highfalutin names but very ordinary blossoms that grow well in all conditions but make a welcome decoration in any room.

I am not sure what these are called but maybe they were brought from France

 We start in spring with tulips ,then marigolds, peonies are a major part of our summer as are gladiolas, garden carnations  and different varieties of dahlias which along with roses stay up till late fall.

One of the last roses this year

These flowers do not generally last very long , a few days maybe , a week at most ,but that is the ephemeral beauty of fresh  blooms. Even though these flowers will never last as long a mass cultivated one there are still a few things you can do to prolong their lives. I tend to avoid different kinds of chemical stimulants as in my experience they only work for store bought blossoms.


A bouquet after a few days

To start you should always cut the stems at an angle with a very sharp knife to prevent any splintering of the fibres. This way the flowers can get more nutrients and also they don’t directly stand on the “cut” when put in a vase. The only exceptions are carnations where the stem should be broken off at the   node and not cut. It also a good idea to take off any leaves on the stem which might be submerged in water, otherwise the leaves will rot and pollute the water.  Remember to keep a few leaves on the flower for photosynthesis.


 An essential part of displaying the flowers has become the gathering of vases and other vessels to put them in. In my case I stick quite strictly to clear glass containers if which I have in different sizes and shapes. Bottles and long necked vases are great for single flowers, cleaned out champagne bottles are  particularly good  as they  have a heavy base  and do  not fall over easily , small flowers or broken off blooms are put into tiny  vases  as I almost never want throw away a flower ,everything else goes into regular  vases  with necks tall to support a whole bunch of flora .The only “vase mistake  ‘’I have made to date was buying a ball shaped crystal vessel  where everything just falls over the brim.

A red pon pon

 No matter what you put your flowers into, what they really need is clean water, ideally changed every 2 or 3 days, also avoid putting them in direct sunlight in summer.

Recently I have also begun to appreciate dried flowers for winter decoration, although that is a different story.