Brussels Virtual Destination

Hôtel Hannon, In 1902 the engineer Edouard Hannon (1853 – 1931) called upon his friend, the architect Jules Brunfaut (1852 – 1942) to build this mansion, a masterpiece in the Art Nouveau style.

The Swiss painter Hans Ruedi Giger (1940 – 2014), once said that… I like elegance. I like art nouveau; a stretched line or curve… During our COVID 19 Days, we need the elegance of Art Nouveau Art… and stretched, curved lines to feel comfortable and cosy! The Belgian capital city Brussels is so much Art Nouveau in spirit! It’s an ideal travel destination for our 1st May Weekend! Stay in the comfort of your HOME! Snack on something deliciously BELGIAN! …and ACTION! in a Brussels Virtual Destination Tour!

The city of Brussels, capital of Belgium, is located in the heart of Europe, and serves as the de facto capital of the European Union, as it hosts a number of principal EU institutions. Do you know that the most common theory of the origin of the name Brussels is that it derives from the Old Dutch Bruocsella, Broekzele or Broeksel, meaning “home in the marsh”?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art short but a wonderful article that follows is an introduction to the Art Nouveau style in the arts…  https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/artn/hd_artn.htm

The spectacular glass cupola of Victor Horta’s Van Eetvelde House, 1895

…while the following article and the YouTube Videos introduce us to the Art Nouveau capital city of Europe… Brussels! https://theculturetrip.com/europe/belgium/articles/the-most-remarkable-art-nouveau-houses-in-brussels/

Movie Time in BRUSSELS …and ACTION!

King of the Belgians is a 2016 mockumentary comedy film produced, written and directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth. While Nicolas III, King of the Belgians, is making an official visit to Istanbul, Wallonia declares its independence and so Belgium doesn’t exist any more… The hard trip back home becomes not only a desperate (and comical) travel across the Balkans but also an inner trip where Nicolas III tries to understand who he really is. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4818804/

Tintin and the Lake of Sharks is a 1972 French-Belgian animated adventure film based on The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Raymond Leblanc. It was not written by Hergé, but by the Belgian comics creator Greg (Michel Regnier), a friend of Hergé. It was later adapted into a comic book with still images from the film used as illustrations. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069383/

FOOD Brussels style

Belgian chocolate is supposedly the best in the world! For almost 400 years, Belgium has been producing delicious chocolate. The unique combination of the finest ingredients, exclusive production methods and stringent quality controls make Belgian chocolates a favourite worldwide. Today, Belgium counts approximately 2000 chocolate shops. Among them is the popular Brussels shop of a Chocolatier from Thessaloniki, Mina Apostolidis. http://www.minachocolate.com/moms-are-special/?fbclid=IwAR1wq0puPyd6l8TtINEsXOLJysgtvdnbfm8iGW6ynuB6OwovTMH5FW-mR6M

For the original Spring Break Virtual Destination document, please… click HERE!

New York Virtual Destination

Childe Hassam, 1859-1935
Manhattan’s Misty Sunset, 1911, Oil on canvas, 45.72 x 81.28 cm, Butler Institute of Art

Socrates once said that… The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the ability to enjoy less… During our COVID 19 Days, seeking happiness needs nurturing… and Art can be of great assistance… for a New York Virtual Destination!

Our travel destination this upcoming weekend is in New York… and we can do it Virtually! Stay in the comfort of your HOME! Snack on something deliciously AMERICAN! …and ACTION!

Let’s start our TOUR with no other than Frank Sinatra and his famous New York, New York!!!

As an introduction to the great city of New York, the following Documentaries are of great help! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEHSPA0MI50 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWhSpFXhcos

As we experience this most challenging and uncertain time, The Metropolitan Museum of New York contributes to the effort to make this pandemic as pleasurable as possible… https://www.metmuseum.org/

The MET connects people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas… bringing people together… with GREAT ART… and The Met 360° Project https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/met-360-project …for our KIDS and TEENS! https://www.metmuseum.org/learn/kids-and-families https://www.metmuseum.org/learn/teens

Movie Time in NEW YORK …and more ACTION!

West Side Story, is the 1961 musical tribute to New York, the historic city of immigrants.  Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ Romeo and Juliet reboot West Side Story – based on the 1957 musical – shows the depth of the cultural divides between the Sharks and Jets, NY street gangs. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055614/

The Age of Innocence, Martin Scorsese’s 1993 sumptuous adaptation of Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer-winning 1920 novel, is a period-perfect evocation of the late 19th-century Gilded Age in New York City. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106226/

Ghostbusters is the 1984 hip comedy in which Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis play parapsychologists who save New York City from a ghost infestation with a 100-foot marshmallow man. Among the New York institutions captured by Ghostbusters were Columbia University, the New York Public Library, Columbus Circle, and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/

FOOD New York style

Egg Benedict – This epic dish has defined brunch for many decades, an agglomeration of poached ova and Canadian bacon on an English muffin splooged with a very French hollandaise sauce. It was the creation of the legendary Chef Oscar at the Waldorf Hotel in the 1890s… https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/eggs_benedict/

New York… style Cheesecake – This New York cheesecake recipe has it all. It’s rich, dense, slightly tangy, and so creamy. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/original-new-york-cheesecake-51200640

For the original Spring Break Virtual Destination document, please… click HERE!

Virtual Italian Weekend

San Gimignano, Italy

Picasso once said that… Art washes away the dust of everyday life. During our COVID 19 Days, the dust of everyday life rests heavily upon us… Let’s shed it away with Art… We may not be able to travel to Italy right now… but we can do a Virtual Italian Weekend!

Stay in the comfort of your HOME! Snack on something deliciously ITALIAN! …and ACTION!

Let’s travel to San Gimignano: Towering Hill Town and visit all its Attractions

San Gimignano is rich in cultural Monuments and Museums! http://www.sangimignanomusei.it/eng/index.htm and https://www.sangimignano.com/en/useful-information/free-travel-guide-app/

Movie Time in Italy …and more ACTION!

The Taming of the Shrew is a 1967 American-Italian romantic comedy film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare about a courtship between two strong-willed people. The film was directed by Franco Zeffirelli and stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as Shakespeare’s Kate and Petruchio. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061407/

Tea with Mussolini is another good one. It takes place in Florence between 1935 – 1945. It follows a group of very proper and or eccentric English ladies (including Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Judi Dench) and one crass American (Cher) in this turbulent time. Again, sweet, funny, touching, and a painless way to absorb a little recent history. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120857/

For our younger students, you might find the PBS show “Travel With Kids” https://www.travelwithkids.tv/ quite interesting!

SNACKS Italiano styleCrostini ideas everybody will love! https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/summer-crostini-bruschetta-toasts-gallery

Let’s never forget Dean Martin… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnFlx2Lnr9Q

For the original Virtual Italian Weekend document, please… Click HERE!

Van Eyck – An Optical Revolution

Ghent Museum of Fine Arts Exhibition: February 1 – April 30, 2020
https://www.mskgent.be/en/exhibitions/van-eyck

Who can really resist an Exhibition, titled Van Eyck – An Optical Revolution? Particularly when over half of Jan van Eyck’s artistic oeuvre will be on display? Paintings from all over the world will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent “to contextualize the optical revolution he inspired.” Painting by Van Eyck, his workshop and from “his most talented peers from Germany, France, Italy and Spain” are placed side by side. This is an opportunity to study, compare and draw conclusions!

“Hubrecht van Eyck, the most famous painter ever known, started this work of art; his brother Jan, who was second in the art, finished the task at the request of Joos Vijd. With this verse the donor consigns the work to your charge on May 6th 1432. Admire what they have done for you”.

The main focus of the Ghent Exhibition is to present the recently restored outer panels of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb or as it is widely known as the Ghent Altarpiece. According to the experts of Saint Bavo’s Cathedral “This painting by Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck is the principal work of the Flemish school in the 15th century. The main theme is the glorification or the heavenly apotheosis of man’s salvation and sanctification by the sacrifice of Christ. This subject is treated in a more visionary than narrative or dramatic manner. It is painted on oak panels; the paint consists of mineral pigments in a cement of drying oil.” https://sintbaafskathedraal.be/en/art/the-mystic-lamb.html

The outer panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, beautifully restored and exhibited at MSK, are divided into three registers. The upper register “lunettes” show prophets and Sibyls looking down on the middle register, the Annunciation scene. The four lower-register panels are divided into two pairs, the central sculptural paintings are in grisaille, presenting St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist, while the two outer panels, in astonishing naturalism, stage the donor portraits of Joost Vijdt and his wife Lysbette Borluut.

Jan van Eyck was a revolutionary, ground-breaking artist and the Ghent Exhibition is a learning experience!

He perfected the Oil Technique by adding siccatives. With oil paints, he created rich, deep, lustrous colours, flawless golden tones, and amazing life-like textures.

Observation of reality is key to Jan’s Art. His portraits are lifelike in the minutest detail. His depiction of nature and natural phenomena are credible and authentic. He is so good at creating reality, his art seems like it is competing with reality itself!

Observing and Painting Optical Light Phenomena shows an artist deeply interested “in the painting of light, so crucial to his optical revolution.” Scholars believe that Jan van Eyck “not only gathers practical but also theoretical knowledge in order to reproduce the effects of light.” https://vaneyck2020.be/en/the-optical-revolution/

Artworks presented in the PowerPoint were put together, thanks to an MSK Catalogue… HERE! and HERE!

Troy: Myth and Reality

Filippo Albacini, 1777–1858
Wounded Achilles, 1825, marble, commissioned for the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth House, Achilles © The Devonshire Collections, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees
https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/troy-myth-and-reality

This is an Exhibition I wish I could take my students to visit, explore and marvel! Troy: Myth and Reality is as intriguing or rather “tantalizing,” to use an adjective the British Museum does, as its title insinuates.

Created thousands of years ago, Trojan Myths tell us epic stories, adventures of heroes and Gods, tales of love, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, bravery… they show that the gods, very much like ordinary humans, men and women alike, can be right or wrong, fail or succeed, love or hate… they also present the extraordinary deeds of the Trojan War protagonists, displayed on every form of art, from pottery to statues, paintings, music, and poetry! Trojan Archaeology, on the other hand, touches upon reality in its quest to discover the truth behind the story and reality behind the fiction.

My Grade 3 students love the stories of the Trojan War and the adventures of its heroes. Every week for 1 class period we read about, and discuss, the fascinating events presented in the Iliad and the Odyssey. We explore how artists from antiquity to modern times depicted the many events of the story. At the same time, we explore Trojan archaeology and learn about its protagonists and the historical evidence it unearths. My students’ favorite hero is Achilles, and their preferred Activity is to imagine and… reconstruct his Shield… commissioned by his mother Thetis and made by God Hephaestus himself! (For student work, please… Click HERE!)

Grade 4 Student Works on the Shield of Achilles

The British Museum Troy: Myth and Reality is a blockbuster exhibition, that directs visitors’ attention on the myths’ ‘human truth’, rather than their historical fact. The Exhibition is divided into 4 sections, Introduction. Troy: the myth, Troy: the archaeology, Troy: enduring stories, and presents well known as well as rare artifacts. The British Museum’s Exhibition site is a “treasure” to explore as well. The BLOG articles are worth your time to read. The Teachers’ Resources are fantastic, rich with information, Lesson Plans, and Activities. The Museum’s Trailer for the Exhibition is simply… fantastic!

The British Museum asks us to “tread the line between myth and reality in this phenomenal new exhibition” and watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BntZ-34PCWY

Who can really resist such well-presented… drama!

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company

https://www.wallacecollection.org/forgotten-masters-indian-painting-east-india-company/

A very unique Exhibition takes place in London these days. The Wallace Collection presents Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company honours historically overlooked Indian artists like Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das, Shaikh Mohammad Amir of Karriah, Sita Ram and Ghulam Ali Khan and brings to life a forgotten moment in Anglo-Indian history. Another unique Exhibition highlight is the guest curator of the Exhibition, William Dalrymple, Scottish renowned historian and writer, art historian and curator, as well as an award-winning broadcaster and critic.

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company introduced me to the work of Shaikh Zain ud-Din, a Bengali Muslim artist whose work blends Mughal and Western painting techniques, creating “…incredibly precise and beautifully observant” works of art, as Xavier Bray, director of London’s Wallace Collection comments on the Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/awe-inspiring-wildlife-drawings-shaikh-zain-uddin-180973502/

Shaikh Zain ud-Din worked for Sir Elijah first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Fort William, Calcutta, and his wife, the natural historian Mary Impey. The Impeys moved to India in 1773 and soon fell under the spell of the subcontinent, establishing a menagerie of Indian and South-East Asian birds and animals in the extensive grounds of their estate. It was only natural for Mary to commission in 1777, a small group of artists, eminent among them Shaikh Zain ud-din, to paint her exotic flora and fauna. The result of this “brilliant” decision was a collection of paintings, 362 in number, known as the Impey Album. “These paintings,” Xavier Bray, director of London’s Wallace Collection says, “were made into albums to be leafed through back home, on a rainy day, drinking Earl Grey tea.” https://coromandelart.wordpress.com/

Shaikh Zain ud-Din’s paintings, although rendered in European materials, capture India’s natural history in a way that only a local could. They are an unprecedented hybrid of East and West. They “emulate, on a greatly enlarged scale, the refinement of 17th century Mughal natural history paintings,” and, believed to have been painted from life, they also exhibit the artist’s ability to assimilate European conventions. The 2012 Ashmolean Lady Impey’s Indian Bird Paintings Exhibition was the first major presentation of Shaikh Zain ud-Din’s oeuvre to the public, the current London Exhibition will further establish his work as a fine moment in the history of Indian Art. http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/collection/6980/10198

An unlikely ‘collaboration’ is a very interesting, worth reading Interview with the Exhibition’s curator, award-winning historian, writer and curator William Dalrymple, by Mark Rappolt, for the ArtReviewAsia. https://artreview.com/features/ara_winter_2019_feature_interview_william_dalrymple/

For a PowerPoint on the Wallace Collection Exhibition, please… check HERE!

Leonardo da Vinci

La Belle Ferronnière (detail), 1495 – 1499, oil on wood, 62 cm × 44 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris Photo Copyright: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50127095
…and her mesmerizing eyes

Five hundred years ago, one of the greatest Renaissance Homo Universalis passed away at the Château du Clos Lucé, in the Loire Valley. The Louvre Museum, wishing to commemorate the fifth centenary of the artist’s death, organizes an International Retrospective Exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci and his oeuvre. https://www.louvre.fr/en/expositions/leonardo-da-vinci

The Louvre Museum in Paris holds the largest collection in the world of the artist’s paintings, five of the fourteen to seventeen paintings now attributed to Leonardo, as well as 22 drawings. This collection is the core of the Retrospective that will also present “the latest research findings, critical editions of key documents and the results of the latest analysis carried out in laboratories or during recent conservation treatment by the Louvre.” https://www.louvre.fr/en/leonardo-da-vinci

A unique feature that the Exhibition presents to its visitors is the Virtual Reality experience for the Mona Lisa painting, the first of its kind at the Louvre. Virtual Reality enables visitors to go through the glass-case that protects the Mona Lisa and see minute details within the painting invisible otherwise to the naked eye. https://arts.vive.com/us/articles/projects/art-photography/mona_lisa_beyond_the_glass/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au_UpzhzHwk

The PowerPoint I use for my Art History class on the artist… is HERE!

I am… How I see myself

I am… How I see myself is the new 2020, Athens Museum of Cycladic Art student contest. It’s a wonderful tradition that humbly started back in 2013, and today, 7 years later, counts more than 23,000 students participants. This year the Museum “invites children aged 4-15 years (preschool, grade school, and junior high school) to take inspiration from a Cypriot bronze mirror dating to 1200-1050 BC and displayed on the Museum’s third floor Cyprus – Ancient Art and Culture section.” The Museum of Cycladic Art asks students “to present themselves to the world as they see themselves, starting with a mirror.” https://cycladic.gr/en/paidikos-diagonismos

Back in 2017, the Museum’s young friends, aged 4-12 were invited to take part in a drawing competition titled “See the Stattuete Differently.” Students were to be inspired by a Cypriot Board-like Stattuete of the 2nd Millenium BC.

My Grade 4 Social Studies students, along with their wonderful teacher Ms. Alexia M., responded wholeheartedly. We joined forces to take part in this competition. Students used the Museum’s “Figurine” Template, crayons, markers, coloured papers, newspapers, cloth or beads, feathers… their vivid imagination and we sent 20 figurines transformed into “American Heroes”!

Over 15.000 students from all over Greece participated, but the works of only 398 students were awarded with distinction. Pinewood’s Grade 4 student, Sofia P. was one of them and we are still sincerely proud!

This year’s Contest I am… How I see myself is a new challenge we will jointly face with Pinewood’s talented Art Teacher Mrs. Fiona G. Needless to say… I am excited!!!

Stay tuned…

Thank you Brother Peter

Thank you Brother Peter Tabichi for shaking me up, reminding me of my goals, aspirations and visions as a teacher. I owe another thank you to my dear colleague Christina P. for bringing this BBC News article to my attention: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-47658803?fbclid=IwAR2rtKb_p6KKyhHV_9IijHcu6PM6Qtpr-LRaBw00iYh1tjResM1S6i0newE.

Brother Peter is a Franciscan monk and science teacher at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, Nakuru, Kenya, with a vision. “He wants pupils to see ‘science is the way to go’ for their futures.” Brother Peter is a doer. He gives away 80% of his salary to support his pupils, but “it’s not all about money,” he says. It’s about raising aspirations, comprehending the essence and importance of science for development, not just in Kenya but across Africa.

While facing “challenges with a lack of facilities,” not enough books or teachers, overcrowded classrooms of 70 or 80 students, the lack of a reliable internet connection, pupils who walk more than 6km to reach the school, he believes that “Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. Africa will produce scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs whose names will one day be famous in every corner of the world. And girls will be a huge part of this story.”

How does Brother Peter achieve the many challenges he faces? He works hard persuading the local community and his students’ families to recognize the value of education. The majority of his students face serious problems, but he visits families at home and persuades them not to let their boys drop out of school, and in cases of girls, not to get them married at an early age. In my humble opinion, Father Peter truly CARES!

Brother Peter is the recipient of the 2019 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Award https://www.varkeyfoundation.org/. He happily said “It’s morning in Africa. The skies are clear. The day is young and there is a blank page waiting to be written. This is Africa’s time” https://www.globalteacherprize.org/winners/peter-tabichi/

For a wonderful video that further enhances this post on Thank you Brother Peter, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4kl6b2D0MY

Brother Peter, you make me wonder… how can we get back a little bit of your passion and drive in our privileged world of “high-end,” fortunate, expensive, highly technological educational system? Much can be improved, I believe, “in the rotten state of Denmark”…

Hercules at the Crossroads

Hercules at the Crossroads Bulletin Board Display

Hercules at the Crossroads is an ancient Greek parable. It came down to us through Xenophone but is attributed to Prodicus of Ceos, a 5th-century philosopher. According to Prodicus, young Hercules, at the threshold of adulthood, meets two women, personifications of Virtue and Vice, and faces a choice. One of the women is beautiful but dignified, dressed modestly, looking genuine and pure. The other is equally beautiful but voluptuous in form, richly dressed, looking superficial. They represent the two paths of life, that of Virtue and that of Vice, and Hercules chooses Virtue, the road of honour, hard work but noble deeds.

Created thousands of years ago, the  Greek Myths of Hercules tell us epic stories, adventures of demigods, heroes and monsters, tales of love, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, bravery…  They show that gods and heroes, very much like ordinary humans, men and women alike, can be right or wrong, fail or succeed, love or hate. Hercules and his extraordinary deeds offer our students a glimpse into the lives of the Ancient Greek people, their culture and art.

The parable of Hercules at the Crossroads became a popular motif in Western art, just like the lovely hand-fan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/hercules-crossroads-30805

For my Grade 1 Host Country Studies class, I decided to do a HAND-FAN Activity. We created simple, paper HAND-FANS and we decorated them with WORDS representing the concepts of VIRTUE and VICE. We added a beautiful coloured ribbon and… Voila!!!

Words of Virtue or Vice HAND-FAN Activity

For the Worksheet on the Activity, please… Check HERE!

For the PowerPoint, please… Check HERE!