Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Alberta and Massachusetts

 I decided to draw parts of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where our younger daughter’s family lives. There are eight blocks built after the railroad came to town in 1891 up to the 1913 financial crash. A law in 1902 required the buildings to be of brick rather than wood. This part of Edmonton was originally a separate town called Strathcona.

Strathcona is an invented word, a variation on the river valley Glen Coe in Scotland. A Canadian Railway highroller, Donald Smith, thought it sounded nice. (This information is from online sources. If anyone in Scotland knows otherwise, please tell me.)

As you can see by reading the drawing above, the old post office has become a bar, restaurant, and club.

This end of Whyte Avenue is close to the University of Alberta, a fine institution.

The Princess Theater, 1915, is a landmark on Whyte Avenue. When I told our ten year old granddaughter that I had been drawing on the avenue, she immediately asked if I had drawn the Princess Theater. She had recently completed a research project on it at school.

As a mark of elegance by the architects Wilson and Herrald, the façade is gleaming white marble. It was built as a theater and it still is.

The High Level Bridge crosses the North Saskatchewan River. The winding, wide green river and its ravine bisect the city.

Small street level signs continue to interest me in their diverse offerings, all of them within sight of one another on Whyte Avenue.

 And one more drawing on Whyte Avenue. The building on the left is extremely unusual I think. But architectural uncertainties appeal to me.

Elephant and Castle is a North American restaurant chain. It is also the name of a tube stop (underground transit) and a neighborhood in London. And some amount of Google sleuthing led me to understand that the elephant part came from blacksmith trade in the south London area that used ivory in the knife handles.

A red British phone booth (‘phone box’) sits out front, doorless. I wanted the truck transporting a ladder to drive away, but I gave up and included it.

And now Boston, Massachusetts. The Jacob Wirth restaurant is a fixture on Stuart Street in the theater district, standing since 1868. And serving up German/American food ever since.

I loved the effect of the strings of paper beer mugs and paper German clothing that hung from the ceiling as an odd kind of bar laundry line.

 The iron coat hooks came first. The people were drawn last and they overlap and mingle with the coat hooks, unintentionally, but I like it.

The restaurant is currently using an earlier drawing of mine as their Facebook profile picture.

 Since I am well known for not being able to draw a straight line, I felt I had to capture my impression of the Stata Building on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The architect is Frank Gehry.

We were in Cambridge and Boston last week for my husband’s MIT class reunion, class of 1965.

Graduation day was warm and sunny. The tents, or marquees if you are British, were used for many receptions over several days. I liked the reflection they cast in the windows of the nearby building.

The bench warmers are patient family members waiting for a young graduate to do something somewhere.

The shell shaped building is Kresge Auditorium. My husband and I had our first date here, a Thornton Wilder play called The Matchmaker. Prophetic.

 The president’s house at MIT is called the Gray House (named for a former president, not for the color). A garden reception gave me this glimpse of the back façade of the building.

The Charles River flows between Boston and Cambridge Massachusetts. The low bridge for cars and pedestrians (and originally streetcars) is officially called the Harvard Bridge, since it carries Massachusetts Avenue across the river and ultimately to Harvard Square, a mile or so farther on. If you are a student or alumni of MIT, it is the MIT Bridge or perhaps the ‘Mass Ave’ Bridge.

The triangles are sailboats and the stick like shapes are sculling boats. The small blue cloud is a blimp, probably in the area to get TV coverage of the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Buildings that I recognized and drew are the Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, Trinity Church, the brownstones of Back Bay, and the two John Hancock buildings (Little John and Big John).

I was not in a blimp. I drew this from the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel after our brunch.