Monday, March 27, 2017


Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, Georgia
When I was in Atlanta, Georgia, in February, I spent a day in Centennial Olympic Park visiting both the Center for Civil and Human rights and the World of Coca-Cola. (see my previous posts) The park is at the edge of downtown and was created for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. It is close to a number of  major museums and attractions including College Football Hall of Fame, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center and Imagine It! The Children’s Museum.
Center for Civil and Human Rights, Pemberton Place
On my way to the museums I passed a variety of sculptures and  a series of pools, linked by a waterfalls and a rushing stream.
Rock and Water Garden
The day of my visit was chilly and windy, so not many people were in the park, but I could tell that on a warm spring or summer day, it would be the perfect place to relax, or, if you were so warm you wanted to cool off, to play in the fountains. 
Fountain of Rings with Georgia Stadium in the background
Here is a description of the fountains from the park website: Not only is it one of the most sophisticated fountains in the world, the Fountain of Rings is also the world’s largest interactive fountain to incorporate the Olympic Rings symbol. Children of all ages play in the Fountain and enjoy the synchronized water and music program where water dances to familiar tunes complete with sound and lighting effects. It’s free to view the Fountain of Rings show, which plays four times a day, 365 days a year, at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. (Make a Splash in the Fountain of Rings)
One of the many Olympic themed sculptures in the park
Centennial Olympic Park is about a ten minute walk from the Ellis hotel where I was staying. I simply followed the trolley tracks to get to the park, passing the giant ferris wheel on my way. One can also ride the trolley, which does a circle route from downtown past the park. In between my museum visits I ate lunch in one of the many restaurants that surround the park. Then, at the end of the afternoon, I took a stroll through the park back to my hotel. Despite the brisk weather, I enjoyed my day in Centennial Olympic Park.
Skyview Atlanta Ferris wheel, across from the park entrance

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE WORLD OF COCA-COLA, Atlanta, Georgia

John Pemberton statue, Centennial Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia is the birthplace of Coca-Cola, the drink invented by druggist John Pemberton, whose statue can be seen outside the World of Coca-Cola museum in Centennial Park. Coca-Cola was first introduced to the public in 1886. Now it can be found in every corner of the globe.
The World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Georgia
The World of Coca-Cola museum in Centennial Park at Pemberton Place is a tour through Coca-Cola's history and world impact. I visited several weeks ago when I was in Atlanta.
Caroline and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear
After buying my ticket I went into the entry lobby and received my free bottle of Coca-Cola (actually a can shaped like a bottle) to drink while I waited with a group of other visitors to be ushered into a theater for the introductory video, a “celebration of life’s Moments of Happiness”, all of which, not surprisingly included Coca-Cola. While we waited we were welcomed and entertained by a very cheerful guide.
My digital art creation in the Pop Culture Gallery
From there, we were free to explore the museum on our own. I toured the wall of historic photos, took a look at a demonstration of the bottling process in action, visited the vault of the secret formula, created my own piece of digital art in the Pop Culture Gallery, and had my photo taken with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear. In the tasting room I had the opportunity to try 100 flavors of Coca-Cola drinks from around the world, but declined. And from there I exited through the gift shop, where one could buy everything from Coca-Cola pajamas to reproductions of the original bottles.
Eight choices of the 100 flavors available to try in the Taste It Room
One of the exhibits in the museum provided pencil and paper and invited visitors to write the story of an important moment in their lives in which Coca-Cola played a part. I didn’t do it at the time, but it started me thinking. When I was growing up in the 1950's, soft drinks, which we called pop, were only for special occasions. I have memories of going to the local drugstore and sitting on a stool at the counter and ordering a five cent coke. The “soda jerk” then squirted coke syrup into the bottom of glass and filled the rest of the glass with carbonated water. We could also get a cherry coke or lemon coke with the addition of some fruit syrup. We sipped our drinks through straws while twirling on our stools. I loved the sugary taste. Now, I rarely drink soft drinks of any kind. They are too sweet. But apparently, the rest of the world still loves Coca-Cola.

Monday, March 13, 2017

SRF MEDITATION GARDEN, Encinitas, CA: A Quiet Haven at the Edge of the Sea

View of the Pacific Ocean from the SRF Meditation Garden, Encinitas, CA
Perched on the edge of a steep cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a beautifully landscaped garden retreat. Its paths wander through shaded passageways, past a running stream and series of koi ponds, a variety of flower beds and open patios, to spectacular vistas of the ocean and beach below. Throughout there are benches where one can sit and just enjoy the quiet beauty.
Internationally renowned gardens offer a diversity of colorful plants, meditation nooks, koi ponds, and spectacular ocean vistas
The garden is part of the Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple, in Encinitas, California, a coastal community just north of San Diego. In 1938 the Golden Lotus Temple was built by Paramahansa Yogananda on a point of land at the top of the cliffs that is now part of the garden. During the next four years, thousands attended the Thursday and Sunday services conducted by the Guru at this site. However, in 1942 the instability of the cliff required that the Temple be removed. A plaque now documents its location.
Site of the first Golden Lotus Temple
Since 1977 Temple services have been held in the Temple building a short distance from the entrance to the garden. The garden remains as a place where people can enjoy a “a unique inspirational setting where one can pray, study, meditate, or just sit quietly enjoying the expression of God’s beauty in nature.”
Protea flower
I visited the garden last week for the first time with my brother who was visiting San Diego from his home in New York. It was a warm, sunny day and quite a few other people were there as well, but it didn’t seem crowded. We entered through the gate at the bottom of the hill and made our way up the path to the koi ponds.
One of several koi ponds in the garden
We then followed the path parallel to the cliff top, stopping to explore side paths to enclosed patios, an empty swimming pool fronted by a beautiful tiled wall, and the site of the original Golden Lotus Temple, ending in a patio planted with a variety of cacti and plants appropriate to the Southern California climate. Birds were singing and as we gazed at the ocean below we could see dozens of surfers waiting for the next big wave. It was a perfect way to spend the day together.
Garden Entrance
Entry to the garden is free and near the entrance are restrooms and information about the Self Realization Fellowship.
For more about the Self-Realization Fellowship and Paraamahansa Yogananda, often referred to as the “Father of Yoga in the West”, go to the SRF website.
The Meditation Gardens are located at 215 W. K Street (between 2nd and 3rd Streets)
Open Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Monday

Monday, March 6, 2017

HIGH MUSEUM OF ART, Atlanta, Georgia

Angel by Howard Finster, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
I began my visit to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in the Folk Art gallery on the top floor of the Stent Family Wing and then made my way downward via the semi-circular ramps that hug the walls of the large center atrium.
Interior of Stent Family Wing, High Museum of Art, Richard Meier, Architect
The featured exhibit in the Folk Art gallery is a display of colorful and lavishly decorated pieces created by Howard Finster, a Baptist minister who claimed to have had a vision telling him to create works of art to spread the Word of God.
Detail of panel: "Five kinds of art on this board--glass cutting, wood burning, enamel painting, beadcraft and hand printing"
In his lifetime (1916-2001) Finster made more than 40,000 works of art, using whatever materials he had at hand. The centerpiece of his work was Paradise Garden, an outdoor museum he built to celebrate all the inventions of mankind. Today the High Museum owns the largest public collection of objects from Paradise Garden. The richness of surfaces and creative use of materials in Finster's works brought to mind Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles and the works of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain.
Howard Finster's Paradise Garden
There are multiple galleries at the High Museum and it was hard to know where to go next. What I like best about the permanent exhibit of American art was the combination of paintings and decorative arts (furniture) in the same gallery.
Chair and Window by Frank Lloyd Wright
There were two photographic exhibits on view–one showing works from the collection of Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and Garry Winogrand, many of them familiar, and another celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at home with his family, 1962, photo by James Karalas

On the lower level of the Stent Family Wing I visited the exhibit I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle, (see my post at my Art and Books blog) and then walked through the adjacent gallery of African art, which had a fascinating display of masks.
Untitled, Stainless Steel Sculpture by Anish Kapoor
I finished my tour of the museum in the spacious Modern and Contemporary Art galleries. Throughout the museum visitors are invited to take photographs. I couldn’t resist trying to catch my reflections in a sculpture that was, essentially, a large, faceted mirror.
My reflection
I had lunch (a tasty freshly made sandwich) at the museum in one of the two cafes. There is also a larger more formal restaurant on the plaza. My visit to the High Museum was part of a recent trip to Georgia with my husband, Art, who was there on business. My photos here a just a sampling of the many highlights of the museum. Altogether, I had a very satisfying day that made me want to go back on future trips to Atlanta.