The first day of spring is just two weeks from today. To celebrate, I'm offering a half-dozen spots of R&R from here, there, and everywhere on the Web.
✭ I've bookmarked the seaside resort of Routheneuf, France, and you will, too, when you take a look at these images of les rochers sculptes — carved rocks — in Brittany. The 300 sculptures, representing 25 years of work by Adolphe Julien Foure (1839 - 1910), a reclusive priest who could neither hear nor speak after suffering a paralyzing stroke, are categorized as "classic outsider art".
✭ While looking for links to information about Foure (there's next to none), I happened upon Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, in Chicago. Anyone with an interest in and appreciation for such art should spend some time here and at The Visionary Art Museum, in Baltimore, Maryland. A link-rich list of other museums and organizations devoted to outsider art and "self taught" or "nontraditional" artists is here.
✭ The Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, contains more than 100,000 manuscripts on microfilm and in digital form that preserve documents relating to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and Eastern Christian traditions. The latter collections exceed the holdings of the British Library, the Vatican Library, and other institutions around the world. Current photographic projects are under way in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
✭ Of particular note at St. John's Abbey and University is the St. John's Bible, a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible from the hands of calligrapher extraordinaire Donald Jackson. This work is the first commissioned by a Benedictine abbey in more than 500 years. Using traditional calligraphic techniques, Jackson and his staff used ground pigments, egg yolks, and gold, silver, and platinum are in the illuminations and goose quills and antique "stick ink" for the text. Go here to hear Jackson's conversation about the commission with NPR's Scott Simon. Bradford Winters wrote an article, "Eat this Scroll: The Saint John's Bible and the Word Made Flesh", for Image Journal (available for $12) and more recently penned the article "Read, Pray, Love", about his return visit to central Minnesota.
✭ Japanese art student Wataru Ito and Canadian architecture student Mui-Ling Teh create incredible and incredibly tiny origami models.
✭ The Garbage Patch gives you an up-close view of just how much of a mess we're making of earth's oceans.
I know I said a half-dozen spots but yesterday I was at Slow Muse, the blog of my wonderful friend, painter Deborah Barlow, and saw these images, which are extraordinary. I will never think of rice planting the same way again. And I bet you won't either. Thank you, Deborah and your friend Stephanie Hobart.