Category Archives: Museums and Galleries

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum, 0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn     Whether you go in the front or back entrance,  you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite  photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy “Tanglewood Cottage” here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.”   artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

The World’s Largest (and Most Luscious?) Museum: Musée du Louvre

standing-in-front-of-the-louvre-museum-parisWhether you experience April in Paris—or Paris in any other season—courtyard-of-loure save a day for the world’s largest (and some say grandest) museum, the Louvre. passageway-to-louvre-museum-courtyardOne could easily get lost in thought within for a week, courtyard-of-the-louvrebut the Louvre deserves at least its own day. ancient-man-at-british-museum-in-londonDon’t do what we did in London years ago! We took a London Bus tour of the city, stopping at various attractions throughout the day, and we were left with only 50 minutes at the end of the day to see the entirety of the British Museum, rosetta-stone-british-museumwhich meant a race to the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Oxus Treasure, and Mummy of Katebet, leaving most of their other 8 million works unseen. elgin-marbles-the-british-museumNOT GOOD! (We did rectify such unconscionable inattention on later visits.) la-venus-de-milo-louvreInstead, take time to appreciate the beauty of the Louvre’s timeless treasures. foyer-of-the-louvre-museum-paris If you go, it will be an unforgettable experience! crowds-in-the-louvreAlthough there’s no avoiding the approximate 15,000 tourists who visit daily,
go first thing in the morning,groupe-imperial-en-mars-et-venus-louvre and when your mind starts to fog and your legs ache, lunch-at-the-louvre-cafestop for a leisurely lunchstatuary-on-balcony-cafe-at-the-louvre at their cafe overlooking the museum’s courtyard. view-from-the-cafeteria-of-the-louvre-courtyardThe Louvre contains 380,000+ objects and 35,000+ works of art,spiral-staircase-in-atrium-of-louvre which are showcased in eight major areas within
the 652,000 square-foot former palace of the French kings.aphrodite-louvreBecause one day isn’t sufficient to see everything, you have to pick and choose. lorenzo-lotto-venice-1480-the-woman-caught-in-adultery-louvreI love oil paintings, especially those depicting biblical stories,saint-jean-baptiste-leonardo-de-vinci and there are hundreds of those! le-tibre-louvreJoel loves sculpture, so we all stood mesmerized before many a statue! napoleon-iii-apartments-at-louvreAnother favorite for all of us were the Napoleon III Apartments…ceiling-painting-in-napoleon-iii-apartments-at-the-louvregilded glory retained from the days of Napoleon.staircase-leading-to-nike-of-samothrace-louvreThere are some “must sees,” like the Hellenistic Era masterpiece,  nike-of-samothrace-winged-victory-louvreNike of Samothrace.crowds-photographing-mona-lisa-at-the-louvreOf course, you’ll want to be sure to see the Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci…
not because it’s the world’s most beautiful painting (at least in my mind),
but because it’s the world’s most valuable (insured for about 780 million). mona-lisa-leonardo-da-vinci-louvreConjecturing about enigmatic smiles aside, I’m not sure why this painted lady is the most famous and sought after, but that’s where I want to leave us for today…
pondering what makes something most famous and sought after. carved-casket-louvreHave you ever thought about what makes something precious to you? crowd-in-front-of-mona-lisa-louvreAlthough I’m not one of those who particularly treasures
the world’s most famous lady, “Mona Lisa,” I am totally at one
with the billions who treasure the world’s most famous man.diademe-de-limperatrice-eugenie-louvre-212-pearls-1998-diamonds-paris-1853-louvreThis pearl of greatest price is Jesus, and I revere him above everything else on earth, but not simply because he’s the most famous man in the world. titien-les-pelerins-demmaus-louvre(However, is actually is! Over 2.2 billion people claim his name,
and even the 1.6 billion Muslims at least believe in him as a great prophet!)la-crucifixion-andrea-di-bartolo-solario-lourvreJesus Christ is precious because He loves us. He loved us enough to die for us. bonicacio-depitati-bonifacio-veroneses-the-sacred-family-with-the-saints-louvreJesus is more than man. He is “Emmanuel”… “God with us,”…”God in flesh.” les-mysteres-de-la-passion-du-christ-antonio-campi-louvreJesus  lived a sinless life and died on the cross to save all who come to him in faith, asking him for forgiveness.lorenzo-costa-saint-veronica-with-jesus-graveclothesThis God-man, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead, diadem-j-c-canosa-louvrelives today, and is coming again to reign over all the earth! saint-michel-terranssant-le-demon-raphaelIt’s all there at the Louvre! Isn’t that wonderful?  the-wedding-at-cana-veronese-les-noces-de-cana-louvreThe kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).  crowds-viewing-the-mona-lisa-at-the-louvreAre you ready to “sell all” to obtain Jesus, the Pearl of Great Price?

(I took all the photos of and at the Louvre last May except the 3 from the British Museum, which I took about 12 years ago.)

A Wedding Dress that Came Down from Above

National Museum of American HistoryOne of the museums Alan and I toured in Washington D.C. was the National Museum of American History, which has a costume collection containing over 30,000 garments and accessories modeling the changing fashion trends in America from the 17oo’s to the present. Wedding dress, 1947 -- handmade by the bride -- using the material from the parachute that saved the groom's life during WWIITucked away in this massive collection is a gorgeous wedding dress with a story so romantic I want to share it with you. In August of 1944 during World War 2, a young B-29 pilot, Maj. Claude Hensinger, was returning from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan one night when his plane caught fire and he was forced to bail out. After surviving with only minor injuries, Hensinger saved his parachute, using it as a blanket and pillow, and later he gave it to his girlfriend, Ruth, when he proposed marriage, suggesting that she use the parachute that had saved his life to make a wedding dress. Wedding Dress made from a parachuteRuth wasn’t sure how to make the billowing parachute into a dress, but she saw a beautiful gown in a shop window that had been patterned after a dress in Gone With the Wind, and with the help of a local seamstress, they fashioned this dress. Maj.-Claude-and-Ruth-Hensinger-on-their-wedding-day-in-1947.-Photo-via-South-Whitehall-Patch.Ruth and Claude were married on July 19, 1947 at a Lutheran church in Pennsylvania, Wife Who Had Parachute Dressand a generation later both their daughter and their son’s bride wore the dress in their weddings. Isn’t that precious?

This story reminds me of another wedding dress that has come down from above: Jesus came down from heaven (John 6:33), offers to be our spiritual bridegroom (John 3:28-30), and clothes us with his righteousness. It is He about whom Isaiah wrote:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

(Credit: The dress and story are gifts of Claude E. and Ruth L. Hensinger to the National Museum of American History. I also found pictures and information on line but not contact information. If for any reason you read this and disapprove of my sharing your story, please let me know and I will remove it. Thank you.)

Walt Before Mickey…and After Mickey: A Lasting Legacy

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young.
I learned a lot out of that” (Walt Disney). 

Walt Before MickeyWalt Before Mickey is an indy film about the early years (and mostly failures) of Walt Disney before he became famous for his effervescent Mickey Mouse. Walt Before Mickey 5I am surprised that the movie hasn’t been more popular, and I’m not sure why, although after researching I discovered that despite the claim that Walt Before Mickey is  based on Timothy Susanin’s meticulously researched classic work by the same title, the movie is far from an accurate biography. Walt Before Mickey 6If you think of the movie as trying to convey the spirit of Disney’s struggles without serious regard to factual accuracy, then you can sit back, relax, and feel inspired. Why? Walt Disney with Kansas City Newsboys Wiki Well, just look at Walt’s record:  He grew up in a humble home. His family moved several times trying to make a living. Walt even sold newspapers to supplement the family income and finally dropped out of high school at age 16, Walt Disney after WW 1 as ambulance driver Wikihoping to join the army. However, he was rejected for being underage, although he was eventually hired as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. Walt Before Mickey 1As you’ll see if you watch the movie, Walt had an extremely difficult go of it as a starving artist for a decade after World War 1 (although I’ve read that he was never really quite as destitute as the movie depicts), and Mickey Mouse was a last, last-ditch attempt to keep from bankruptcy. Walt Before Mickey 4Even though his cheerful mouse did keep him from going under, Walt was far from finished with living life on the edge. Walt Before Mickey 7During the great depression, Walt determined to produce the world’s first technicolor full-length feature film, Snow White. His wife Lilian and brother Roy tried to talk him out of it, skeptical movie insiders dubbed it “Disney’s Folly,” and he ran 400% over budget, but Walt pushed on and eventually succeeded in his dream. Walt Disney introducing 7 Dwarfs WikiSnow White was instant hit and the best-selling movie of his time, earning more than 4 times as much as it cost to create within the year! His creation of Disney Land put him to the edge again. In fact, Walt lived his entire life on the edge…dreaming, creating, and pushing his own (and everyone else’s) limits, but I also believe he’s the world’s most successful entertainer. Disney Display Case by Cullen328 by Jim Heaphy WikiHe’s earned more Oscars (22, plus 4 honorary Academy Awards) and Oscar nominations (59) than any other person in history, and there are 248 awards displayed at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Disney WorldDisney’s resorts top the lists of paid tourist attractions around the globe, and our family must be some of Disney World’s greatest fans. Our kids playing at Disney WorldThe family joke is that our kids grew up at Disney, and it is undoubtedly true that we’ve camped at Disney’s Fort Wilderness more often than place else on earth!Camping at DisneyIn fact, one day when we arrived, the hostess greeted Alan cheerily: “Congratulations! This is your 50th visit!” Walt Disney 1946 WikiOur kids also grew up with Walt’s visionary “If you can dream it, you can do it” firmly imprinted on their brains, and as I watch them dream and work to create today, I know that Walt Disney’s legacy continues. How about you and me? Are we living life on the edge, dreaming big and giving it all we’ve got? In God’s will and by his grace, I sure hope so!

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”

(Philippians 4:12-13).

(All photos from Wiki Commons and the 2015 movie, Walt Before Mickey, except the 3 I took at Disney World over the years.)




From NYC to San Francisco and Facebook to Square

Aaron and CarleenMy firstborn, Aaron, with his wife Carlie and their family Leaving friends in CTpulled up their comfy New England roots Utah and migrated cross country Squareso that Aaron could take a new job with Square, Near Salt Lake City, UTand I wanted to share some pictures (and thoughts) Relaxing at nightfrom their whirlwind journey.Ready to Go! Packed in car It’s mind boggling to consider all they saw and did in just a little over a week, Taking a break for a hikeand one of the most touching things to me New York State Capitolwas that they made sure they visited family as well as saw the sites as they went. Aaron and StephenTheir first stop was to check out younger brother Stephen’s Visiting Stephennew flat in Rochester, With Grandma Joycebut they also saw Carlie’s grandma, our family in GR, Colorado Cousins Kathy and Jodiand other relatives and friends along the way. Maid of the Mist RideBut beyond loving up their family, they took time to ride the Maid of the Mist Niagara Fallsas they crossed from Niagara Falls into Canada.Chicago They stopped in Chicago Art Institute of Chicagoand toured Chicago’s fabulous Art Institute. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and AquariumThey took time to explore Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquariumwhich is often rated as America’s best zoo now. NevadaThey saw some pretty special sights too:Steamboat on Mississippi a steam boat as they crossed the Mississsippi River at sunset, Elk near Fuita, COelk feeding in the Colorado Rockies, Bonneville Salt Flatsand the amazing desert area called the Bonneville Salt Flats…Rain in the desert??where it started raining! Who would believe??! West Coast, CABy the time they reached the west coast, Sequoiasthey’d had an unforgettable adventure, Ice Cream Breakincluding lots of fun On the road!…and lots of moments that might have been less than perfectly comfortable!  Mountains of Western AmericaAre any of you facing the possibility of big change and/or a big move? Reid's softball team I know it’s super hard to give up the relationships you’ve worked so hard to buildFront Door& close the door on the present chapter of your life, but if God’s calling you: Go! FacebookI’m sure that signing out of Facebook Driving Cross Countryand driving with his family clear across the country A strawberry comes to Squareto begin all over again at a new company has been very challenging for Aaron, Child in a carseat...ready to roll!but by God’s grace and lots of Carlie’s enthusiastic support, they’ve all survivedColorado National Monumentand Aaron is really loving his new job!Gingerbread HouseThey’re still trying to fix up their house Golden Gate Bridgeand find their way around town, All You Need is Lovebut they’re getting their basic needs met Eating Birthday cakeand are already having wonderful fun Cousin funwith their California cousins. Four boys on a wallChange is traumatic, but if we’re willing to face the challenges and respond with faith and courage, the changes promote growth and help us become stronger. Golden Gate ParkSo, if you find yourself at a cross road, I hope you’re willing to prayerfully consider your options, ask God for guidance, and take the risks associated with making whatever changes are for “the best.”CarlieTrust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:3-5).

Hackley and Hume Historic Sites: The Power of Friendship

Hackley-Hume Historic Sites. Carriage HouseAlthough Muskegon is just 45 minutes north of Grand Rapids,  it’s an area I’ve never really explored, so my curiosity was definitely piqued whenEntry to Hackley House Cindi and Susan announced that “Birthday Club, Part B” entailed a heritage tour of several sites related to Muskegon’s lumber baron, Charles H. Hackley. Sign for Hackley House Charles Hackley arrived in Muskegon in 1857 with only $7 in his pocket, Hackley's Living Room  but at the time of his death about 50 years later, he was worth 12 million, Reading. The value! not to mention the 6 million  that he gave to the community to build a library,11201898_10155627840540296_7360865271911041471_n a hospital, churches, parks, and schools.Fireplace in Hackley House Hackley believed: “A rich man to a great extent owes his fortune to the public.” Lumbering in 1880's “He makes money largely through the labor of his employees….. Moreover, I believe that it should be expended during the lifetime of the donor, so that he can see that his benefactions do not miscarry and are according to his intent.”Hackley Library “To a certain extent, I agree with Mr. Carnegie ….that it is a crime to die rich.” Lumbering in West MichiganThomas Hume joined Hackley as his accountant, but he eventually bought into the partnership, and the Hackley-Hume Company was founded. Lumbering in Muskegon Their lumbering firm became one of the largest in America, and in the 1880’s was described as “the leading lumber center of the world,” History of Lumbering in Michigan cutting some 30 million feet of lumber every year. Friendship of Hackley-Hume Hackley and Hume remained not only lifelong partners but friends, Hackley House 2 eventually building homes next door to each other. Hume House 1 When Hume died, the Muskegon Chronicle reported that his funeral rights at their church were “notable for extreme unostentation. Marked only by their extreme simplicity.” Old Books at Hackley Library Our heritage tour began with a quick survey of the historic Hackley Library, Glass floors at Hackley Library which had innovative architecture, including glass floors and ceiling panels
to allow in more light Stained Glass Windows at Hackley Library and beautiful stained glass windows. Hackley Library Book of Kells 2 Hackley is the only library in North America to have a copy of the Book of Kells Hackley Library Book of Kells 3on permanent display, and it’s really worth a look!  Kell's Priory I’ve written about Kells Priory ( Book of Kells and seeing the original Book of Kells in Dublin, Ireland (, Hackley Library Book of Kells 4 but I want you to know that we stood in a long line
and paid good money for our pass by the original Book of Kells,Hackley Library Book of Kells  whereas at the Hackley Library you can gaze for as long as you want without paying a penny. Carriage House of Hackley-Hume Historic Sites. We also took a guided tour of the Hackley and Hume mansions
with their carriage house behind, which both families shared. Staircase at Hackley House The Hackleys had only 2 children,
and their home is an elaborately ornamented showplace. Sign for Hume House The Humes had 7 children, so their home is simpler
but nevertheless gracious and very appealing. Parlour Hackley House Both homes have been meticulously restored to their original grandeur and are on the National Register of Historic Sites. Hackley House 1 If you have an eye for beauty and a heart for history, you’ll enjoy visiting! The Lake House Restaurant As a part of our special day, Cindi and Susan took me to a lovely buffet lunch at The Lake House restaurant along the shores of Lake Michigan. What a great day! Birthday Club PartyAs I reflect back on our outing, I find myself wondering why those two families Funeral Biscuitswere so altruistic and what made their friendship so strong. One Minute With GodFrom the clues around their home, I’d like to believe it was their mutual faith.Clasp Hands We three girls certainly don’t have massive fortunes to bestow, but I hope our friendship strengthens our character and empowers us to serve God and man better as we consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrew 10:24)

(All the photos were taken in Muskegon last week, except for the two from Ireland as noted and the two cartoons, which were posted on facebook.)


Just Squeaking By…Or, Blessed by Stress?

Japanese Garden at Meijer Gardens 2How are you during these autumn days? Is your soul serene? Japanese Garden at Meijer Gardens Are you able to relax, or are you racing around like mad to keep up with life?  Too Blessed to be StressedOne of my birthday gifts is a new mug that says “Too Blessed to be Stressed,” and as I was pouring out a cup of steaming coffee to perk me up, I thought to myself, “Don’t I wish!” October is one of my favorite months, but I never seem able to say “No, thanks!” to just about anybody for anything,
so I’m always feeling a little over my head. H.I.S. poster Yesterday I enjoyed volunteering for my son Dan as a representative of H.I.S. H.I.S. Poster 2(medical clinic which ministers to the uninsured and underserved in GR), Harris Building Postergreeting ArtPrize guests to the Harris Building (one of many ArtPrize venues). ArtPrize at Harris BuildingWednesday and this morning I sat in on a class, not only for my own enrichment, but so I’ll know the students better before guest lecturing next week. Collage by Kathryn W. Armstrong at Acton InstituteLast week I had the happy privilege of hanging one of my 20 collages Acton Institute at the Acton Institute, and in conjunction with that, Marissa Voytenko and Joel Zwart I attended an art discussion there where my friend Marissa Voytenko Marissa Voytenko. Abstract Encaustic —who’s an abstract encaustic painter and has a beautiful exhibitionArtwork by Marissa Voytenko  called “Quiet Spaces” on display if anybody’s interested— Mark Murray Auditorium was interviewed by GR art critic and curator, Joel Zwart.  Acton Institute ArtPrize 7 My guess it that you are similarly busy—or even more so—
no matter who you are or where you live in this great world of ours. ArtPrize at Harris Building 7 For those of us who can, why don’t we just kick back and relax?

ArtPrize at Harris Building 4 Maybe some of you do, but I’ve found that industry and enterprise are deep in my DNA, and that I’m geared to go. Psychological testing indicates that this is generally true for us as human beings. People don’t function as well under conditions of no stress, low stress, or even medium stress as they do under conditions of relatively high stress (as long as it’s not so stressful that the person can’t cope). Did you know that? ArtPrize at Harris Building 6 The miracle to me is that when I’m saying “Yes” because I think it’s something God wants me to do, “somehow” things usually come together so that I can slide into home plate without getting tagged out.  Like yesterday. It was so quiet downtown that the curator at the Harris Building told me I didn’t need to stay until the end, springing me just in time to work on this post! Voilá!

ArtPrize at Harris Building 2 I think God delights in getting us over our heads
so that He can amaze us with his resourcefulness. ArtPrize at Harris Building 3 What do you think? Next time we’re feeling too stressed to be blessed,
let’s turn it around and say, “I’m too stressed in order to be blessed!” ArtPrize at Harris Building 5“So, Lord, I’m here again…in need of rescue! Help!
Will you please take this situation, which seems impossible,
and make it all work out right, in your eyes, for your glory?”

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
(2 Chronicles 16:9)
I find that the Lord is very gracious even to those of us who don’t perfectly succeed in our desire to have a perfect heart…)

(All the pictures were taken in the past two weeks during ArtPrize at:
Meijer Garden, my messy desk, Acton Institute, and the Harris Building.)