National Gallery of Victoria

Kaws at NGV International

Today I am visiting museums – specifically a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). There are two locations of NGV in Melbourne, The Ian Potter Centre (Australian art) and NGV International (extensive collection of international art). Note: The international location is temporarily closed as of time of this post.

I first stop at the The Ian Potter Centre since it is on the way for my walk to the NGV International. I catch the free exhibit by Lucy McRae, an Australian artist.

Nearby the The Ian Potter Centre
Nearby the The Ian Potter Centre

Lucy McRae: Body Architect

I watch a short film by the artist:

Institute of Isolation, 2016, is an observational documentary that contemplates whether isolation, or extreme experience, might be used to build human resilience in the context of space travel and off-planetary existence. McRae ponders: what happens to people when they are travelling for decades in a very, very small space? What will the body and mind need to endure and how will people prepare? – From NGV website

The artist’s main inspiration of her art is the question How will technology transform the body?

The museum exhibit contains videos and photographs that show her thoughts on body and technology.

I skip the other galleries at the Ian Potter NGV because there are special exhibits at the other museum that have timed and limited entry.

NGV International

Artwork by Kaws and Keith Haring

The theme today is NYC -> coincidently the city I recently moved away from. The artists featured in the premium exhibitions are from NYC.

The first exhibit I visit is KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS.

I love his take on pop culture personalities.

Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

The next special ticket exhibit is the Haring and Basquiat combination gallery. The museum highlights a number of works from both artists; both were prominent in the art world during the same period. I have seen pieces from both artists at museums around the world but this is the largest collection I have seen from both artists thus far.

Keith Haring

Jean-Michel Basquiat

After I finish my viewing of the NYC artists I move on to some other exhibits while time allows. Normally I am not interested in fashion but the fashion exhibit below pulls me in.

Comme des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo

I also watch another art film but this time by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat.

Dreamers

I see some rooms with other collections: Picasso and such. However I am especially drawn to the animal art in the NGV Salon. The salon holds interesting 19th century artwork. Unfortunately I have to discover these rooms quickly because the museum is closing. I hope to return someday to get a closer look at the artwork.

After the museum closes I wander around the nearby Arts Center where I order a cocktail and get a snack. Museum days wear me out so I head back to my part of town sooner than later.

I take a different tram back to Collingwood today. It drops me off near a brewery called Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall where I try a couple beers before settling in for the evening.

Melbourne Australia

View from my rental apartment

I have arrived in Melbourne Australia – a city I am really digging. The temperature is perfect and the vibe reminds me of a low-rise New York city. I think I could possibly live here some day.

I arrive at the airport and take the skybus to Southern Cross station. I take an uber from there to my airbnb.

Melbourne Airbnb

I plan to stay in Melbourne for a full week including Christmas so I wanted to get a hometown feel instead of staying in a hotel or hostel. I chose the funky neighborhood of Collingwood to stay in an Airbnb studio. The owner is an Australian artist now based out of the UK. Her specialty is imaginative collages. You can find her artwork at Collagism. Her artwork and interesting sense of style can be seen in the apartment.

I love having a “home” for the week. There are some poor neglected plants on the porch that I nurse the week I am there, giving me some sort of normalcy during my travels. Collingwood is a funky but sleepy neighborhood, I think it probably got hit by a recession in the area since it seems many places have closed nearby. There are still enough places in the neighborhood to keep me satisfied and it is nice to not stay in the middle of a tourist district. Collingwood is in walking distance to some town highlights and once I figure out the trams it isn’t hard to get to where all the important sites are.

I head out to meet with another travel buddy whom I met on my Jordan tour in September. Melbourne is her hometown and she has some spare time before the holidays to meet with me tonight. We met at a lively café on the river for a snack and and a cocktail. She has to work tomorrow so we don’t stay out late.

Once again I am very thankful once again I get to meet so many great people during my travels.

After walking my friend to the train I wander around town looking at holiday lights. The Christmas holiday is in two days so Melbourne is full of color.

When it is time to head back I couldn’t quite figure out tram in the evening so just took UBER back. Luckily by the next day I had it figured out.

I am loving the nighttime view from my apartment.

Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve. If the holiday is anything like in the USA then most things will be shutdown tomorrow. I head to the grocery store to stock up on goodies for tomorrow – including Meredith Dairy Goat Feta which I am addicted to.

Coincidently a friend from high school is in Melbourne at the same time as I. She is stopping in Melbourne to meet some of her clients before she heads off to her honeymoon in Fiji. I meet up with her and her lovely husband for a day of fun. (Interestingly enough we both lived in NYC at the same time for about 4 years and for some reason we were never able to meet up. It took traveling to Australia to see each other again!)

We meet up for brunch. So many times I dine alone and most of the time I don’t mind being on my own but it is very nice to have company, especially around the holidays.

Then we head off to our river cruise down the Yarra River.

I almost wear this to my river cruise today. My apartment has fun props.
Cruise boat

We stand up in the back. There is clearance for us to stand under most bridges but at least one makes us duck down.

Our cruise drops us off at Williamstown where we explore a little bit. Williamstown is Melbourne’s first port settlement. There are stores and cafes. We settle on a outdoor seating area and chat for a while. When it is the scheduled time for our return trip we head back to the port to catch the return journey.

The fun isn’t over when we return to Melbourne city. We decide to try it out at a roof top bar for a little while. We don’t stay too long though. Each one of us seems to want to get back to our lodging for the rest of the evening (something typical for us 40 somethings). Besides it has been a long day!

This is the kind of joint we are at
Rooftop cocktails

Finally figured out the tram system and I wander back to my apartment just in time for this glorious sunset.

Tomorrow is Christmas and I have no plans. I plan to eat and relax all day long….

Hue

I can’t pronounce the town correctly but I sure can enjoy the food. Full disclosure I have been prouncing the name of this city incorrectly before I arrived to Vietnam. I always thought it sounds like view when it really sounds like way. Lesson learned. I am in Hue Vietnam after a short morning flight from Hanoi.

They have their own particular flair on many dishes. There are many fried and unhealthy things but when in Huế…..

First stop is to try some local dishes at Hanh Restaurant. It is around the corner from my hotel and a great place to try out many different Hue style dishes.

Banh Khoai – Savory fried pancake (pork, shrimp, green onion) served with peanut sauce

Kem flaunt – creme caramel with passion fruit

After lunch I do some wandering around town. Hue is nice and quiet during the day. Like many cities it gets lively at night with the walking streets. I tend not to stay out late but I do my best to try a little bit of nightlife while I am here.

Francis Savier Church (Catholic church)

During my walk I find a great park with interesting modern sculptures (Park February 3).

After dark it is time for walking streets. The streets are blocked from cars. Pedestrians, vendors, and diners are out. For some reason there are a bunch of street fires. It is not cold so not 100% sure the purpose of these.

It is almost Halloween and some restaurants celebrate with spooky decor.

I stop in a cafe to get a beer, morning glory, and a bowl of Bun bo Hue. The soup isn’t the best version that I will try in Vietnam but it is good enough for dinner. I am happy for the huge plate of morning glory. I rarely get to eat greens like this when I am traveling.

The crowd gets thicker at all the cafes as time goes on. I shop a little bit then head back to my hotel. I have a tour of Hue booked for the next day.

Random Picasso

While wandering around Porto I came across a little exhibition of Picasso sketches.

A collection of 100 sketches can be seen at Suite Volliard at Palácio das Artes, in Porto.

Apparently this is a rare exhibit. It costs 10 euros and included a free Taylor Port. That and air conditioning? Sign me up.

It was kind of cool to see Picasso work through some ideas.

I am glad I stopped in.

Guggenheim Bilbao

The Guggenheim was amazing as expected but limited photography was allowed inside. Here is just a taste.

Jenny Holzer is one powerful artist. If you can get a chance to see her work do so. She creates very provocative exhibits that have powerful messages. Here is just a little bit of what I can share.

One of her latest is a series of redacted pages from the Mueller report that are turned into pieces of art. Very interesting work.

I finished up my visit with a tapas snack at the outdoor cafe.

The Guggenheim is a must visit. Buy your tickets ahead of time to save a line when you arrive.