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Raleigh, Durham, & Chapel Hill - Triangle Area of North Carolina

giradman

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Raleigh, North Carolina (The Capital) & the Umstead Hotel & Spa

Susan & I just returned from a 2-night trip to Raleigh to see a number of exhibits at several of the North Carolina State Museums - we stayed in one of our two favorite hotels in the state, the Umstead Hotel & Spa, and I noticed that there are no travelogues on the major municipal areas of North Carolina - these include the Triangle, the Triad (Greensboro, High Point, & Winston-Salem, the latter our home town), and Charlotte (see the chart below for the most populous cities in the state). So, this thread will start w/ our recent trip, discuss more of Raleigh and then continue w/ the other Triangle Cities.

Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who sponsored the first English settlement on Roanoke Island (next to the Outer Banks) in the 1580s - the small town 'disappeared' and is hence known as the Lost Colony - the first capitals of what was to become the state of North Carolina were coastal cities, the last being New Bern (a visit there to Tryon Palace is a MUST if you're on the Carolina coast). The city became the state capital during the presidency of George Washington - quoted below some more facts on Raleigh, its origins, and the Triangle name; also a map showing the relationship of the three cities (others pointed out w/ blue arrows) & the skyline of Raleigh.

As mentioned and linked above, we stayed at the Umstead Hotel & Spa (yesterday Susan had a spa appointment and I spent an hour in their excellent fitness center), one of our favorite spots in the state - the area has some very nice hotels & inns (more in upcoming posts) and many excellent restaurants, including Herons in the hotel (I left a post in the 'eating thread' about our meal there the first night) - below some pics of the hotel (aerial and grounds views) - we always reserve a room on the back which faces the pool area and the wooded lake which has a short but pretty walking trail (on one of the pics below, a brown circled is about where we were located this time).

Subsequent posts will discuss our museum visits on this particular short trip and then many of the attractions of the other cities; hopefully, those who may be traveling in North Carolina will be enticed to visit the Triangle Area. Dave :)

P.S. the 'red pin' on the map is the location of the Umstead Hotel in Cary near Raleigh.

Raleigh is the capital of the state of North Carolina in the United States, and the second most populous city in North Carolina, after Charlotte. The city covers a land area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2). The city's population is estimated to be 431,746 as of July, 2013; it is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and is part of the Research Triangle area, together with Durham (home of Duke University) and Chapel Hill (home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The "Triangle" nickname originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located between the three cities and their universities.

Bath, the oldest town in North Carolina, was the first nominal capital from 1705 until 1722, when Edenton took over the role. The colony had no permanent institutions of government until the establishment at the new capital New Bern in 1743. Raleigh was chosen as the site of the new capital in 1788, as its central location protected it from attacks from the coast, and was officially established in 1792 as the state capital (incorporated on December 31, 1792 - charter granted January 21, 1795). The city was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsor of Roanoke, the "lost colony" on Roanoke Island. The city's location was chosen, in part, for being within 11 mi (18 km) of Isaac Hunter's Tavern, a popular tavern frequented by the state legislators. No known city or town existed previously on the chosen city site. Raleigh is one of the few cities in the United States that was planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital.
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scifan57

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This sounds like it will be another excellent thread. I'm sure I'll enjoy learning about the area.
 
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giradman

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This sounds like it will be another excellent thread. I'm sure I'll enjoy learning about the area.

Hi Scifan.. - thanks for joining in (yet again!) - we go to the Triangle area 2-3 times/year, usually either to the museums w/ special traveling exhibits or to shows, especially in the downtown Durham area - SO, plenty to follow, but I'll start w/ our recent activities. Dave :)
 
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North Carolina Museum of Art - Introduction

Before checking into the hotel, we first visited the North Carolina Museum of Art, about a 90 minute drive from our house and just 10 minutes or so from the Umstead Hotel (thus, a great location). The complex now consists of the older 'East Building' (where the traveling exhibits are shown on a lower floor - see pic) and a much newer 'West Building' which looks rather boxy & industrial from the outside but just glows w/ ambience when inside the many wings. The purpose of our trip was to see two exhibits in the older building (again pics below) - one on Escher and another on a Leonardo da Vinci manuscript owned by Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) - each will be separate posts - views shown of portions of both buildings, mainly the newer one including the entrance and outdoor sculpture garden - the Rodin exhibits are outstanding, but the museum includes art from multiple continents and spanning thousands of years.

We first had lunch at the museum's restaurant Iris described briefly in the quote below - a rather varied and eclectic menu sure to please - both of us ate light w/ the:

FRUITS DE MER SALAD
shrimp, scallops, calamari, roasted sunchokes, pumpkin seeds, arugula, Dijon tarragon vinaigrette

We then look at the Rodin sculptures and visited the small gift shop and headed over to the older building for our 1 PM reserved tickets for the two exhibits describe above - really a lovely day. Dave :)


Iris is a sophisticated full-service restaurant featuring contemporary American cuisine with regional and international flavors in a distinctly modern setting. Specializing in seasonal fare using many locally sourced ingredients, the Museum restaurant, led by chefs Andy and Jennifer Hicks, features culinary works of art that showcase a complex culture of flavors.
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Patrick Dougherty

We've eaten at Iris restaurant at least three times and I've always been astounded by the massive stick sculpture on the wall - well, the artist is Patrick Dougherty (short bio quoted below - Source) - some more of his work also shown below w/ the first image being that on the wall of the restaurant - really a piece that needs to be seen in person - Dave :)

About Patrick
Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Dougherty was raised in North Carolina. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in 1967 and an M.A. in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of Iowa in 1969. Later, he returned to the University of North Carolina to study art history and sculpture.

Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists’ Exhibition, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the following year, he had his first one-person show entitled, Waitin’ It Out in Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the last thirty years, he has built over 250 of these works, and become internationally acclaimed. His sculpture has been seen worldwide---from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.

He has received numerous awards, including the 2011 Factor Prize for Southern Art, North Carolina Artist Fellowship Award, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship, Japan-US Creative Arts Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Princeton Architectural Press published a major book about Patrick and his work in 2009. This monograph, Stickwork, has received excellent reviews and is available at www.stickwork.net.
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scifan57

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North Carolina Museum of Art - Introduction

Before checking into the hotel, we first visited the North Carolina Museum of Art, about a 90 minute drive from our house and just 10 minutes or so from the Umstead Hotel (thus, a great location). The complex now consists of the older 'East Building' (where the traveling exhibits are shown on a lower floor - see pic) and a much newer 'West Building' which looks rather boxy & industrial from the outside but just glows w/ ambience when inside the many wings. The purpose of our trip was to see two exhibits in the older building (again pics below) - one on Escher and another on a Leonardo da Vinci manuscript owned by Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) - each will be separate posts - views shown of portions of both buildings, mainly the newer one including the entrance and outdoor sculpture garden - the Rodin exhibits are outstanding, but the museum includes art from multiple continents and spanning thousands of years.

We first had lunch at the museum's restaurant Iris described briefly in the quote below - a rather varied and eclectic menu sure to please - both of us ate light w/ the:

FRUITS DE MER SALAD
shrimp, scallops, calamari, roasted sunchokes, pumpkin seeds, arugula, Dijon tarragon vinaigrette

We then look at the Rodin sculptures and visited the small gift shop and headed over to the older building for our 1 PM reserved tickets for the two exhibits describe above - really a lovely day. Dave :)



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Patrick Dougherty

We've eaten at Iris restaurant at least three times and I've always been astounded by the massive stick sculpture on the wall - well, the artist is Patrick Dougherty (short bio quoted below - Source) - some more of his work also shown below w/ the first image being that on the wall of the restaurant - really a piece that needs to be seen in person - Dave :)


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That art museum is amazing and those stick sculptures are like nothing I've ever seen before. The Leonardo da Vinci notebook is something I'd certainly want to see. BTW, did you know that the world's largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings and notebooks is in the Royal collection in London; including Leonardo's famous anatomy drawings.
 
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giradman

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That art museum is amazing and those stick sculptures are like nothing I've ever seen before. The Leonardo da Vinci notebook is something I'd certainly want to see. BTW, did you know that the world's largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings and notebooks is in the Royal collection in London; including Leonardo's famous anatomy drawings.

About to make a few comments on the da Vinici exhibit, but I've seen many other examples of his drawings and paintings, but don't remember exactly where, may have been in part in London? Dave :)
 
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Codex Leicester - Leonardo da Vinci

Traveling exhibits at the NC Museum of Art are shown in the older East Building on a lower level - there is a larger exhibition area (where the Escher exhibit was located) and a much smaller area which had the da Vinci writings - below a portion of an explanation of the Codex Leicester (Source). There were a dozen or more separate standing units allowing viewing of the pages (as described in the last quoted paragraph) w/ a brief description in English of what is on the page - Leonardo wrote in Italian from right to left (so the pages can be read only by using a mirror, and of course the ability to read the Italian of the time). There were also several computer-like monitors that can translate the pages w/i a scan box - below just a few web images of some of the pages. Dave :)

The Codex Leicester is a collection of largely scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The codex is named after Thomas Coke, later created Earl of Leicester, who purchased it in 1719. Of Leonardo's 30 scientific journals, the Codex may be the most famous of all. The manuscript holds the record for the sale price of any book, when it was sold to Bill Gates at Christie's auction house on 11 November 1994 in New York for US$30,802,500. The Codex provides an insight into the inquiring mind of the definitive Renaissance artist, scientist and thinker as well as an exceptional illustration of the link between art and science and the creativity of the scientific process.

The Codex consists of 18 sheets of paper, each folded in half and written on both sides, forming the complete 72-page document. At one time the sheets were bound together, but they are now displayed separately. It was handwritten in Italian by Leonardo, using his characteristic mirror writing, and supported by copious drawings and diagrams. The Codex Leicester has been unbound with each page individually mounted between glass panes. It is put on public display once a year in a different city around the world.
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M.C. Escher - An Outstanding Exhibit

The much larger exhibit that day was of the works of M.C. Escher - excellent summary of this life, travels, and periods of his artistic output starting with many landscapes, especially of Italy and progressing to the more abstract brain puzzling prints quoted below (source National Gallery of Art) - follow the link where a few dozen of his works are presented (a number shown below) with descriptions. The exhibit was quite comprehensive with numerous works of art on display, largely prints made in wood using woodcutting or engraving techniques, along with a number of other print and drawing methods; in addition, actual wood blocks and stones were displayed with excellent explanations of the many techniques he used in making his prints - pictures below from the web which were just amazing to see 'in person' - Dave :)

The Dutch artist Maurits C. Escher (1898-1972) was a draftsman, book illustrator, tapestry designer, and muralist, but his primary work was as a printmaker. Born in Leeuwarden, Holland, the son of a civil engineer, Escher spent most of his childhood in Arnhem. Aspiring to be an architect, Escher enrolled in the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem. While studying there from 1919 to 1922, his emphasis shifted from architecture to drawing and printmaking upon the encouragement of his teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita. In 1924 Escher married Jetta Umiker, and the couple settled in Rome to raise a family. They resided in Italy until 1935, when growing political turmoil forced them to move first to Switzerland, then to Belgium. In 1941, with World War II under way and German troops occupying Brussels, Escher returned to Holland and settled in Baarn, where he lived and worked until shortly before his death.

The main subjects of Escher's early art are Rome and the Italian countryside. While living in Italy from 1922 to 1935, he spent the spring and summer months traveling throughout the country to make drawings. Later, in his studio in Rome, Escher developed these into prints. Whether depicting the winding roads of the Italian countryside, the dense architecture of small hillside towns, or details of massive buildings in Rome, Escher often created enigmatic spatial effects by combining various—often conflicting—vantage points, for instance, looking up and down at the same time. He frequently made such effects more dramatic through his treatment of light, using vivid contrasts of black and white.

After Escher left Italy in 1935, his interest shifted from landscape to something he described as "mental imagery," often based on theoretical premises. This was prompted in part by a second visit in 1936 to the fourteenth-century palace of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The lavish tile work adorning the Moorish architecture suggested new directions in the use of color and the flattened patterning of interlocking forms. Replacing the abstract patterns of Moorish tiles with recognizable figures, in the late 1930s Escher developed "the regular division of the plane." The artist also used this concept in creating his Metamorphosis prints. Starting in the 1920s, the idea of "metamorphosis"—one shape or object turning into something completely different—became one of Escher's favorite themes. After 1935, Escher also increasingly explored complex architectural mazes involving perspectival games and the representation of impossible spaces.

Since 1964 the National Gallery of Art has formed the preeminent collection of Escher's art outside Holland through the generosity of many donors, including Cornelius Van S. Roosevelt and Lessing J. Rosenwald, both of whom knew Escher. The Gallery's collection includes more than 400 works by Escher: drawings, illustrated books, technical materials, and impressions of 330 of the artist's 450 prints.
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M.C. Escher - An Outstanding Exhibit

The much larger exhibit that day was of the works of M.C. Escher - excellent summary of this life, travels, and periods of his artistic output starting with many landscapes, especially of Italy and progressing to the more abstract brain puzzling prints quoted below (source National Gallery of Art) - follow the link where a few dozen of his works are presented (a number shown below) with descriptions. The exhibit was quite comprehensive with numerous works of art on display, largely prints made in wood using woodcutting or engraving techniques, along with a number of other print and drawing methods; in addition, actual wood blocks and stones were displayed with excellent explanations of the many techniques he used in making his prints - pictures below from the web which were just amazing to see 'in person' - Dave :)


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Thanks for the excellent coverage of the Escher exhibit. I really enjoyed reading your post.
 
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Thanks for the excellent coverage of the Escher exhibit. I really enjoyed reading your post.

Thanks - the Escher prints really blew us away w/ their details and optical illusions - must check the web to see if there are any good reproduction markets? Next posts will continue w/ Raleigh downtown and feature the museums and government buildings there. Dave :)
 
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Well, I've been online looking for Escher prints to buy for the home - found a site w/ originals, but the cost for the larger more famous ones in GOOD condition seem to be in the thousands of dollars range, so not that interested. However, found Art . com which offers poster type prints inexpensively but will also providing framing (which of course is much more than the prints) - SO, I picked out two (shown below w/o the watermarks) of my favorites seen @ the exhibit - they were running a 40% discount, thus framed for both w/ shipping came to about $250 - Susan agreed and we should be happy - arrival likely in early December - NOW, only to find a place in the house to hang the prints - YIKES! Dave :)

P.S. I picked the black frames w/ the inner silver highlight - just liked that appearance although being slightly more expensive - now I make picture frames in my basement workshop and could have went in that direction, but this will be easy and should look good!
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Well, I've been online looking for Escher prints to buy for the home - found a site w/ originals, but the cost for the larger more famous ones in GOOD condition seem to be in the thousands of dollars range, so not that interested. However, found Art . com which offers poster type prints inexpensively but will also providing framing (which of course is much more than the prints) - SO, I picked out two (shown below w/o the watermarks) of my favorites seen @ the exhibit - they were running a 40% discount, thus framed for both w/ shipping came to about $250 - Susan agreed and we should be happy - arrival likely in early December - NOW, only to find a place in the house to hang the prints - YIKES! Dave :)

P.S. I picked the black frames w/ the inner silver highlight - just liked that appearance although being slightly more expensive - now I make picture frames in my basement workshop and could have went in that direction, but this will be easy and should look good!
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He was the master of optical illusion, with his reality bending pictures of stairways and other scenes presented in a way that's quite convincing.

The iOS game Monument Valley borrows quite heavily from the Escher legacy.
 
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giradman

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He was the master of optical illusion, with his reality bending pictures of stairways and other scenes presented in a way that's quite convincing.

The iOS game Monument Valley borrows quite heavily from the Escher legacy.

Not familiar w/ the iOS game but can imagine a LOT of Escher influences on modern computer imagery - for those interested the two prints I purchased are:

Still Life and Street, 1937 woodcut & Relativity, 1953 lithograph - these are just amazing works of art for their technique and the depth of perception achieved by Escher - hope that my 'phony' prints approach what I saw @ the exhibit. Dave :)
 
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Raleigh Museums - Second Day

In the morning, relaxed in the Umstead Hotel - Susan had a spa appointment and I went to the small but excellent fitness center. Then a light lunch at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant - shared a dozen oysters (4 each of Connecticut Blue Point, Canadian Malpeques, Nova Scotia Beau Soleil), a cup of clam chowder for me & lobster bisque for Susan, then some simple salads.

Then off to downtown Raleigh to visit two state museums - first, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences - ".. the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. Through our exhibits, programs, and field experiences, we provide visitors with opportunities to get up close and personal with science and nature." (from the link). The museum has expanded to two interconnected buildings (first two pics below of the outside, and third of the entrance to the older one). We had 2 PM tickets to a traveling exhibit called Extreme Mammals - quoted below the first paragraph of a press release from the link. This was an outstanding presentation for me (reminded me of my undergrad 'Comparative Anatomy' course in my junior year), less so for Susan - next two pics from the exhibit showing the smallest & largest land mammals that ever existed. The museum has traveling exhibits throughout the year, movies, shows, and much more - probably the most visited museum in North Carolina.

Then right across the pedestrian walkway, the North Carolina Museum of History which we visit on each trip to Raleigh - both permanent and special exhibits are available - pics below of the outside of the building and some attractions inside; the main permanent attraction is 'The Story of North Carolina' an excellent chronological history of the state and region from its pre-historic beginnings to the present - not to be missed. The NC Sports Hall of Fame is another permanent presentation, along w/ exhibits on the Civil War and Weapons. The current main temporary exhibit is about Billy Graham, the famous NC evangelist. Finally, one of my favorite previous exhibits was on the NC black furniture maker, Thomas Day (quote below from his Wiki article); so, plenty to do! Coming up next - some of the government buildings in the state capital. Dave :)

Explore the surprising and sometimes bizarre world of “Extreme Mammals: The Biggest, Smallest, and Most Amazing Mammals of All Time,” a new exhibition opening September 26 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Inspect oversized claws, massive fangs, extraordinary snouts, amazing horns, and other traits that make these mammals truly remarkable. Uncover the characteristic that links us to more than 5,400 wonderfully weird living species, and discover how we might be the most extreme mammal of them all.

Thomas Day (c. 1801 – 1861) was a free black American furniture designer and cabinetmaker in Caswell County, North Carolina. Day's furniture-making business became one of the largest of its kind in North Carolina, employing at one point up to twelve workers, and distributing furniture to wealthier customers throughout the state. Much of Day's furniture was produced for prominent political leaders, the state government, and the University of North Carolina.

Day did not sign any of his furniture, so authorship must be made through attribution. The North Carolina Museum of History has the largest collection of Day's furniture, including the only known piece documented to him.
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