Postcard: Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara

Mariachis in the Fiesta Santa Barbara, parade, @PennySadler 2013

Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara, also known simply as Fiesta, is a week long celebration of the Spanish and Mexican cultural heritage of Santa Barbara, California.

Everyone loves a good parade and I am no exception. I return to Santa Barbara year after year for the Fiesta Historical Parade, one of the largest equestrian parades in the country.

There are rodeos, mercados, folklorico dance,traditional music, and of course, food, wine, and fun for the whole family.

If you happen to be in Santa Barbara before the official week begins, check out the website for pre Fiesta events.

For some more ideas on what to do in the area, read Explore Santa Barbara.

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012-2013. All rights reserved.


The Best Way To See Art Deco Architecture in South Beach

The Starlite Hotel, Collins Ave., SB, Miami @PennySadler 2013

South Beach. Miami, Florida:
Quick, tell me – what do you think of? If you know nothing about the area at all, you probably think of the obvious: beaches, the ocean, palm trees, sunshine, and fruity drinks decorated with tiny paper umbrellas.

What you may not know is South Beach has the largest collection of art deco architecture in the world! And it’s the perfect place for it – it’s as if South Beach exists so that all of those wonderful art deco structures can have a home. South Beach is art deco, and art deco is South Beach.

What is art deco? The term art deco came from the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, held in Paris in 1925. It is a style that blends many design elements from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Geometry, vertical lines, curved lines, round porthole windows, and strong colors define the more modern art deco designs of South Beach.

@PennySadler 2013 art deco architecture miami

Ocean Drive, Miami

This neighborhood was built in the 1930’s and after World War II, was in decline. By the 1970’s many of the art deco hotels and buildings were seriously rundown and where scheduled for the wrecking ball. Luckily in 1976, Barbara Capitman founded the Design Preservation League to establish this area as an historic district. Today there are still buildings that are being renovated.

The design elements that define art deco are a perfect fit in this easy, breezy beach environment. Come to think of it, even the colors of the buildings remind you of those umbrella drinks.

art deco hotel with Mermaid sculpture South Beach Florida @PennySadler 2013

Mermaid sculpture

Each building is a work of art on its own, and the best way to see the Art Deco district is on foot. Begin at the south end of Ocean Drive at 5th Street and walk north. The beach will be on your right.

Walk up to Lincoln Rd., then head west over to Collins. From there, you can continue south to about 10th St. You’ll want to head back to Lincoln Rd. for one of the best outdoor shopping malls anywhere – and lots of options to gawk at all the beautiful people that seem to be everywhere.

Miami, South Beach, Florida

The Miami Design Preservation League has a guided tour which you can do solo or in a group. If you want to do the tour on your own, you can rent an iPod at the Art Deco Headquarters on Ocean Drive. The MDPL also offers guided tours that include other areas of Miami. All tours depart from the Art Deco Headquarters, 1001 Ocean Drive at 10th Street.

Waldorf Towers,South Beach Miami Florida @PennySadler 2013

Waldorf Towers

I did not take the tour, however, based on the research I did for this story, it seems that not every building is on the tour. Be sure to allow yourself time to really explore this neighborhood. After, or maybe even during your walk, you’ll want to take a break and sample some of the local cuisine, have a refreshing beverage, do some retail damage in the boutiques, and enjoy the luscious architecture.

If you love traveling to see great architecture and public spaces, you will love South Beach.

Park Central Hotel, Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami @PennySadler 2013

Park Central Hotel

The Breakwater Hotel @PennySadler 2013

The Breakwater Hotel, Ocean Drive

Art Deco shopping strip 9th st. and Collins Ave. @PennySadler 2013

9th and Collins Ave.

For a map of the area stop by
Art Deco Headquarters at 1001 Ocean Drive. There’s also a fun gift store there.

10 Things to See in Vegas for Culture and Entertainment Nerds

English: The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you, like me, travel around the world to discover art, culture, and good food? Are you excited to find hidden pockets of culture? I have found many, in my travels – and many more that are inspiration for future travels. One of the biggest arts surprises to me was that there are so many things to do in Vegas that are not in a casino . There is art – and culture – galore. Here’s my top ten in art and cultures finds to explore in Las Vegas.

The Neon Museum

I love the idea of this place as it’s a bit offbeat. If you really want to delve into the history of Vegas, this museum should be on your itinerary.

Each of the nearly 150 signs in the Neon Museum’s collection offers a unique story about the personalities who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and the role it played in Las Vegas’ distinctive history. In addition, the Neon Museum collection chronicles changes and trends in sign design and technology through pieces ranging from the 1930s to the present day.

It’s a three part project – The Neon Boneyard which is an outdoor museum, the Las Vegas Sings Project, a collaboration between the Neon Museum and the City of Las Vegas, and the Downtown Gallery.

“In 2009, the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Washington Avenue became one of only three urban streets in the United States to be named a Federal Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Las Vegas Signs Project, a partnership between the Neon Museum and the City of Las Vegas, aims to install restored signs from the museum’s collection along this area in the heart of downtown Las Vegas.”

The Downtown Gallery (Fremont Street at Las Vegas Blvd) and the Las Vegas Signs Project (located on Las Vegas Blvd. between Sahara and Washington Street), feature 15 electrified, restored signs installed as public art throughout the downtown area.  These restored signs include the Aladdin’s Lamp, The Flame Restaurant, the Chief Court Motel, Andy Anderson, the Nevada Motel and the Dots Flowers.  These signs are available for viewing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And if that’s not enough the Neon Museum’s visitor’s center is housed in the historic La Concha Hotel, an important mid – centure design my Paul Revere Williams.

The Bellagio Fine Art Gallery

Currently at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art – Way Out West, by Andy Warhol, featuring more than 60 pop culture paintings and spanning twenty years.
Andy Warhol was a social media guru long before the digital revolution. His art was heavily influenced by his background in graphic design. He remains an inspiration to social media butterflies, artists, designers and creatives of all genres. Even if you’re not familiar with Warhol’s art, you’re probably familiar with this quote: “Everyone’s famous for 15 minutes.” If you didn’t know before who said it, now you do.

Fiori di Como at The Bellagio

Who doesn’t like Dale Chihuly’s colorful and graceful glass sculptures? Fiori di Como is a huge glass sculpture in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel comprised of over 2000 hand blown glass flowers! There is also a small gallery selling other works by Dale Chihuly.

The Mob Museum

Want to learn more about Vegas’ dark history? This is the place. Featuring history and artifacts associated with names like Al Capone, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Sam Giancana , J. Edgar Hoover, and housed in the building where the biggest mob trial in history was held, this place might be number one my list. I like anything a little quirky and the lure of the bad boys beckons.

The Volcano at The Mirage

The Mirage opened on the Strip in 1989. Since the opening, the Volcano has had a couple of updates. The latest, from 2008, features percussion sounds overlaid with actual volcanic eruptions. I’ve included it because it really is spectacular (spewing 54 foot high flames and smoke), and the closest most of us will ever be to seeing a volcanic eruption. The website for the Mirage says the show begins at 7:00 pm nightly and repeats every hour. Get there early, as it’s free and on The Strip.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit at The Luxor

For those of you who can’t get enough of the Titanic, the exhibit at the Luxor has original artifacts plus a recreation of the grand staircase and many of the rooms with custom furnishings to copy the exact fabrics.

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil has 8 permanent shows in Vegas. I’ve seen five of their shows and I have loved them all. For sheer entertainment and production value, Cirque cannot be beat. Comedy, music, drama, wardrobe – you name it, Cirque du Soleil has it. Check the website for locations and show information.

World Class Circus Acts at Circus Circus

It’s Free! Need I say more? Circus Circus is one of the original hotel/casinos on the Strip.

The Smith Center

I don’t even know where to begin here. The Smith Center is a cultural haven in Vegas offering art exhibitions, theater performances, live music from jazz to classical, and everything in between. Currently the musical Billy Elliot is showing there. Upcoming shows include Ira Glass, Olympia Dukakis, Celtic Woman and Frank Abagnale, to name but a few. Do check the website for information on upcoming events.

The Springs Preserve

If you want to get a completely off the strip and out in nature, check out the Springs Preserve. Here you will find permanent and traveling exhibitions featuring wildlife, art, fashion, and even photography workshops. There’s something for the entire family here and you can stash your gear in a locker, rent strollers, bicycles, or enroll the kids in a week long summer camp.

Ft. Lauderdale’s Unique Transportation

Intracoastal Ft. Lauderdale, Florida ©pennysadler 2013

It was my first time in Ft. Lauderdale and I quickly realized there was only one way to truly get to know the city touted as “The Venice of America,” and that was by boat. If you’re not lucky enough to have one (or know someone who does) don’t despair. One way you can experience it on a boat is by taking a Water Taxi.

The Water Taxi is really quite a deal – for only $20.00 you can ride all day. It’s the perfect way to see Ft. Lauderdale’s intracoastal waterways, and get you can get off and on as often as you like. At each stop you’ll find bars, restaurants, shopping and cultural attractions in the area. And you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.

If you are staying at one of the hotels on the regular route, you can call ahead and arrange for the water taxi to pick you up. There are several to chose from and my pick would be the historic Riverside Hotel. I did not stay there but I liked the location and the old world ambiance. It’s right on Las Olas Blvd. so you can easily walk to restaurants and shops. If you want to be closer to the water there’s the Hilton Marina Hotel where you can also connect with the Water Taxi bound for the Hollywood Beaches.

Riverside Hotel Las Olas Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale, ©pennysadler 2013

Riverside Hotel

Water Taxi on the intracoastal ©pennysadler2013

The Water Taxi

If you have only 24 hours in Ft. Lauderdale, here’s a suggested itinerary and I’ve included beach time. (even though I’m not really a beach girl)

Head over to Las Olas, a charming neighborhood of galleries, shops, and restaurants. I liked the small and somewhat European feel of Las Olas, and could have easily spent the better part of a day there strolling the boulevard, stopping for a coffee or cold drink, and browsing the art galleries.

Have a continental style breakfast at Gran Forno Pronto, or get your coffee and pastry to go. You can catch the Water Taxi at the Riverside Hotel next door.

The Water Taxi takes you on about a two to three hour tour. You can drool over the million dollar yachts and multi-million dollar homes. It really is mind boggling how many celebrities and gazillionaires keep a home (and the prerequisite yacht) in Ft.Lauderdale. The tour guide on the water taxi will give you the inside scoop.

Ft. Lauderdale intracoastal ©pennysadler 2013


Ft. Lauderdale Intracoastal, ©pennysadler 2013

More Yachts!

©intracoastal waterway ft. lauderdale, Fl. ©pennysadler 2013

“Miami Vice” house

If you’re a beach person you can get off at either stop 7 or 8 for the Ft. Lauderdale beaches. There you can also pick up a bottle of water or something to rehydrate while you’re soaking up the Florida sunshine. You can spend the day at the beach then return to Las Olas in plenty of time for an alfresco dinner and drinks.

Las Olas Blvd. ©pennysadler 2013

Las Olas Blvd.

Gondola Ft. Lauderdale ©pennysadler 2013

If you’re a romantic type, you can end the evening with a gondola tour of the canals. Or hop back on the Water Taxi for the night ride. A great way to end a beautiful day in sunny southeast Florida.

Water Taxi

Gondola Tour

Las Olas Blvd.

Riverside Hotel

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2013.

Postcard – Ocean Drive, Miami

vintage chevy Bel Air, Ocean Drive, Miami. ©pennysadler2013

Vintage Chevy – Ocean Dr.

Ocean Drive is the heart of South Beach, a hip neighborhood known for the largest concentration of art deco architecture in the world. It’s about ten blocks of beachfront on one side, and fantastic art deco structures on the other. It’s a must see and do if you’re in Miami, Florida.

I couldn’t believe my luck to see this mint condition 1950’s Chevrolet Bel Aire, parked in front of a restaurant with matching umbrellas. Photo op!

Why I Love the Getty Museum

A visit to the Getty Center (not to be confused with the Getty Villa) is usually the first thing I do when I visit Los Angeles. I guess you could say, I’m a regular. As as self confessed beauty addict and an aspiring photographer, the Getty fills my need for creative and spiritual inspiration on so many levels.

For most of us, when we think of an art museum, what comes to mind is (naturally) art. The Getty Museum is home to a world-class, permanent, art collection. However, the Getty isn’t just a home for priceless works of art. The Getty IS a work of art.

There’s a feeling of space and light there that reminds me of Rome – visually worlds apart, but the feeling is the same.

Built on the top of a mountain, you have unobstructed views of Los Angeles in all directions. Everywhere you look there are white stone and glass and water, and angles, and curves, and gardens, and light. It’s the kind of place that invites contemplation and communion with nature, but in a completely joyful way.

My favorite thing to do at the Getty is take in the current photo exhibition, then to go outside with my camera and try out the ideas and concepts I just saw in the galleries. My second favorite thing to do is to hang out with a cappuccino and people watch.

I was lucky to have the chance to be there just last week. This time of year the sun is very low, very close to the earth – and the late afternoon light is amazing. I saw a great photo exhibition of images by Ray K. Metzger and his contemporaries, then went outside to play in the light. I decided not to worry too much about who or what was in my field of vision, but just to try to capture the warm, late autumn, California sun. There was also plenty of fall color. Against the various textures of white stone, the colors appeared even more vibrant.

I want to share what architect Richard Meier, says about the color white, and why he chose it as the color for the Getty (and uses it in every building he designs.)

“White is the most wonderful of colors because you can see within it, all the colors of the rainbow. The whiteness of white is never just white. it is almost always transformed by light.

“In architectural terms, white is color that most easily allows the fundamentals of building, space,volume and material to be expressed in the most direct and clear way. With the use of white the differentiation between solids and voids are most clearly articulated. The whiteness allows one to see the difference between transparent, translucent and opaque surfaces more easily. White enhances ones perception of the basic architectural elements.”

I spent my teenage years in the San Fernando Valley, and earlier this year I wrote about it in
Why I Love California. The Getty has now been consciously added to my list of reasons to love California and, Richard Meier, to my list of heros. If I could, I’d live at the Getty – when I wasn’t in Rome, of course.

This photo essay is a selection from over one hundred photographs I took in about one and half hours at the Getty Museum.

Please feel free to comment. Have you been to the Getty? What do you like about it?

Who’s your favorite photographer? Who’s your favorite architect? What inspires you?

Read more about past, present and future exhibitions on the Getty website:

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012

Postcard from The J.Paul Getty Museum

This photograph was taken at The Getty Center, on one of my many pilgrimages. I use the word pilgrimage, because I am always spiritually inspired by a visit to The Getty.

Architect Richard Meier says,
I believe architecture has the power to inspire, to elevate, the spirit, to feed both the mind and the body. It is for me the most public of the arts.

A visit to the Getty Center is all of this, and more for me. I don’t even need to see an exhibition to come away rejuvenated. A day at the Getty Museum is time well spent. Have you been there?