Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chinese Cultural Center…part 2

Here is another view of the cultural center. This is called a Moon Gate which is a scenic window usually located in a traditional Chinese garden to separate elements of the garden.

The small photo is the reflection of the buildings in the beautiful pond located in front of the property. If you click on it, you will be able to see the outline of the building, lily pads, and a huge goldfish in the foreground.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chinese Cultural Center

On the east side of Phoenix is a shopping and office complex known as the Chinese Cultural Center. It is composed of several Asian restaurants, several shops and, a Ranch Market that is decidedly Asian in its food products and produce. It features Chinese architecture with traditional gardens and replicas of ancient Chinese pagodas and statues. The gardens are inspiring. The day I was there, I wished I had a book with me so I could sit and read for a while.

The small photo shows one of pagoda replicas located on the property.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Self Portrait

Yesterday I showed you two works from a wonderful exhibit I saw at the Heard Museum by the artist Rose B Simpson. Today I show you a work by her mother, Roxanne Swentzell. The title of this piece, “Self Portrait” takes on a whole new meaning when you see the figure holding a mirror with her toes while drawing on a sketch pad. She is truly creating a self-portrait.
In the small photo you can see the sketch pad and drawing. This is such a clever piece of artistry that I just had to share it with you. I apologize for the quality of the photos. I had to take them through the Plexiglas case that surrounded the subject.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mothers & Daughters

I recently saw a fantastic exhibit at the Heard Museum called Mothers & Daughters: Stories in Clay. It was an exhibit of beautiful clay works created by Native American female artists and their equally artistic daughters. Clay comes from the earth and is considered to be the “ultimate mother” in the Native American culture.
The two pieces I’ve featured here are by the same artist, Rose B Simpson born in 1983. The one on the left is entitled “Self Portrait” and the one on the right is called “To Fill That Hole”. Both pieces were featured at the entrance to the exhibit as seen in the small photo. All of the pieces in the exhibit were quite beautiful and spiritual in nature.
Tomorrow I’ll show you another of my favorite pieces from this exhibit. I wish I could show them all to you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Glass Agave

On December 9th I featured my first photo from the Chihuly: The Nature of Glass exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Today I show you what that same installation looks like in the daylight. To see the night time photo, click here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Central Park Square

Here is another of the Central Avenue high-rises in the mid-town area. This one is Central Park Square and it houses a number of different businesses. I tried to locate information about the architect but was not successful. The only thing I know is that it was built in 1984.

The staggered look of this solid glass building gives it a bit of architectural interest and saves it (just a little) from the boring ‘glass box’ look.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In case you were wondering

Lest you feel lost, this marker has been placed on the sidewalk at one of the light rail stations.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Boat in the Desert

Believe it or not, boats in Arizona are not that rare. We are surrounded by man-made lakes and desert dwellers love the water. However, a boat in the middle of the sandy desert is an unusual site made even more unique here with the craft filled with colorful Chihuly glass orbs. In the background are stunning red glass “reeds” mixed in with the variety of native cactus. It makes a beautiful scene, don’t you think? Click on the photo to get a better look. To learn more about the Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens, click here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chihuly Exhibit

I made it to the Chihuly Exhibit once more this week. This time I arrived in late afternoon and was able to stay until it got dark. This gave me the opportunity to see the glass exhibits with sunshine first and then glowing with lights later. I was also lucky enough to go on a night when the temperatures stayed beautifully mild. So here is another picture from the exhibit to go with the ones I posted in December. In this one I was able to catch some sunset enhanced sky in the background. I’ll post a few more photos in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wrigley Mansion

The Wrigley Mansion was built in 1932 as a 50th wedding anniversary gift to Ada, the wife of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. The Wrigley’s named the home La Colina Solana or Sunny Hill. This summer “cottage” was built atop a knoll located just above The Biltmore Hotel & Resort and commanding spectacular views in all directions. At 16,850 square feet, this was the smallest home the Wrigley’s owned with 24 rooms and 17 baths. William Wrigley only enjoyed the home a few times before he fell ill and died here.

The Wrigley Mansion is open to the public for meals and a fabulous brunch on Sundays. It can also be rented for weddings and other events. The service is impeccable and the views are outstanding. Check the link for more information about the services and some fantastic photos.

The Wrigley Mansion is another Phoenix Point of Pride.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This blossom is on a plant in my backyard and I have been wondering what kind of plant it is ever since I moved here. I did some extensive searching using Google images and finally found what I think it is. It’s called Albizia Saman with an informal name of Monkeypod or sometimes Rain Tree. Everything I have read says that it is a tropical plant which makes me wonder what it is doing in Arizona and probably explains why I have not been able to find one like it at any local nurseries. What I read states that it grows into a huge tree but, mine is only a small shrub. Maybe it has been stunted by all the dry air.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Today we Americans celebrate our own version of the “changing of the guard”. Our new president may be making history because of his race but, it is his intelligence, logic, and pragmatism that has made me and may others hopeful.

President Obama is taking office at a time when our soldiers are fighting wars in two countries, our standing in the world is at the lowest point ever, and our economy is in shambles and slipping further into disaster every day. That is a lot for one man to deal with, even one as capable and talented as President Obama is. It will take all of us in the United States to make this country great again.

With this new beginning, I am hoping that our leaders guide us in a new direction, a direction where greed is no longer the standard for success, where intelligence is no longer considered ‘elite’, and where quality and affordable health care is available to everyone. It would also be great if along the way we could learn that fighting terror can’t be done with guns and bombs and that all natural resources should be preserved.

So America….let’s roll!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I’m celebrating

I have something to celebrate. I now own a brand new Sony Alpha 200 DSLR with an 18 X 70 lens. It is probably not as grand as some of my fellow bloggers use but, it is a big step above my little Lumix point and shoot camera. So this is the first picture I am posting that has been taken with the new camera. Next week I will start taking some classes to learn how to use my new toy properly. I can hardly wait. Jilly, can you figure out who I was celebrating with?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


This photo was taken from the parking lot behind two restaurants on Central Ave. When I got out of the car and walked toward the restaurant, I noticed the juxtaposition of the wedge formed by the driveway between two restaurants and the wedge shape of the Engle Homes high-rise building across the street.

This high-rise began its life in 1982 as the Phelps-Dodge Tower named for the mining company that used to be prominent in the copper industry in Arizona. Phelps-Dodge was acquired in 2007 and soon after the tower became the Arizona headquarters for Engle Homes. Given the state of the economy and the impact on the housing industry, I wonder how long it will be before the tower changes names again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What's on Tap?

Last weekend I stopped in at delux, a restaurant on Camelback Road and 32nd Street to test drive their specialty the “delux burger”. The burger was delicious but, what impressed me the most was this rather large array of beers on tap. I don’t think I’ve seen this big of a selection in a restaurant/bar before. I’m not much of a beer drinker but, I must admit all those fancy pull handles are quite attractive.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I’ll just help myself

I had lunch at the local Chevy’s Mexican restaurant and when I was leaving, I noticed a flock of sparrows hovering around to see if I had left any crumbs. This one was especially industrious.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Optical Illusion

This photo was taken inside the Hanny’s restaurant/bar that I featured yesterday. I loved the illusion created by the view out the window against the mirrored wall and the reflection created. I could see approaching cars and pedestrians disappear in the mirror and reappear out the window. It was fun to watch.

This window vs. mirror illusion is not the only optical illusion to be found inside Hanny’s, the new owners have opened an old elevator shaft with mirrors one floor below the bar and on the ceiling three stories above the bar. Guests then stand on the Plexiglas floor at the bar level and enjoy the feeling of being suspended somewhere in between.

Another illusion is created upstairs where a mirrored and angled hallway leads to a brightly lit circular room lined with doors without doorknobs that lead to the restroom facilities. Needless to say, making the first trip to the restroom should be done before the second glass of wine.

The owners are known for their innovative décor and fantastic food. They own other very popular restaurants, Elsa’s on the Park in Milwaukee, Bar 89 in New York, and AZ88 in Scottsdale. AZ88 is a favorite of mine serving my all-time favorite hamburger. I wasn’t able to find a web site for Hanny’s. It’s probably in development.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Style Redefined

This location in downtown Phoenix has been vacant since the 80’s but, recently was opened as a trendy restaurant/bar. The building was originally the home of a clothing store called Hanny’s, a very popular clothing store in Phoenix with this downtown location and two other stores located in shopping centers. They sold high-quality clothing for men and women and I have pleasant memories of shopping there many years ago. In fact, I have a distinct memory of a blue and white checked polyester pant suit trimmed with red piping at the lapels and pockets. I certainly wouldn’t be caught wearing it today, but it was the height of style at the time.

The new owners have retained the name Hanny’s for this new enterprise and they have incorporated signs and other details left from the retail clothing days as décor inside and outside the restaurant. The small photo shows a vintage sign painted on the outside of the building.

So the location once known for the latest styles is now a very stylish destination spot in downtown Phoenix.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Cages

Another version of the Gabion cages that I featured yesterday is this wall that I found at the Tempe Transit Center, the main station for the new Valley Metro Light Rail in the city of Tempe. Instead of housing rocks, these cages house large chunks of broken glass (with the sharp edges buffed off) and an added feature of changing colored lights that give them a soft glow that changes gradually.

The large photo shows them glowing green and the small photo shows them changed to fiery orange.

Monday, January 12, 2009


A new phenomenon in landscaping that I have noticed recently are walls or dividers made of rock that has been wired into cages that form the wanted shape. These Gabion cages or retaining walls have long been used for flood control or protection of bridges and roads but, recently they have emerged as a landscaping device. The one pictured here in both the large and small photos is in front of an office building. I’ve also seen them in parks and along pathways.

Who knew that a bunch of rocks enclosed in a wire cages could be so attractive?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Birds

Back in November, I posted a photo of a rather large gathering of pigeons. You can check it here. This photo was taken at the very same corner only this time there has been the addition of this large billboard. I was struck by the fact that someone would put up a billboard featuring birds at an obvious gathering point for real birds. As you can see from the power lines, the real birds have not been frightened off by these new, larger-than-life birds who have moved in on their territory.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is it?

There is an unusual looking office building on third street not far from where I live. The building is currently occupied by an engineering consulting firm but, I don’t think they were the original tenants. Why the building was built with these rather strange shaped window is a question I can’t answer. Besides the windows, the other odd thing about this building is that it is built above the ground with parking underneath the building itself.

The small photograph gives you an idea of how the building looks from the street. It is a difficult one to photograph because there is a huge power transformer located on an electric pole right in front of the building. I had to get at an angle to get the picture without that ugly box.

Friday, January 9, 2009

His and Hers

Outside a local pet shop called Wag N Wash are these two fire hydrants painted especially for use by the four legged customers. Isn't that thoughtful of the owners?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Remains of the Day

The rains have passed us by. All that remains are the puddles.

Hopefully, the winter rains will make for a colorful spring, giving those wildflowers and cactus enough moisture to produce spectacular blossoms.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Spanish Styling

This home in central Phoenix has intrigued me ever since I first spotted it. It looks completely different than all the bungalows on this street in a historic neighborhood. I bet at one time it was a single family home but, now it appears to be divided into apartments.

I love to drive by this house and imagine it sitting at the top of hill overlooking a beautiful lake possibly in Spain or maybe Italy. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lois Grunow Memorial Clinic

This clinic is named for Lois Anita Grunow who died in 1929 at the age of seven. Her parents, owners of a successful manufacturing company, donated the money to build the clinic in her honor. It is a Spanish Colonial Revival building with a distinctive entrance façade of elaborate stone carvings. It is located across the street from one of the major hospitals in Phoenix, Good Samaritan Hospital which was the largest hospital in the city at the time the clinic was built.

One note of interest for this building is that Winnie Ruth Judd, the infamous “trunk murderess” worked as a medical secretary in this building at the time of those grisly murders. There is a very interesting book about Winnie Ruth Judd written by local writer Jana Boomersbach. As in most of these historic high-profile crimes, all things are not as they first seem.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rainy Sunday

Sunday was a gloomy rainy day in Phoenix. Living in the desert, we don’t get many all day rainy days but, we got one on Sunday. It was cloudy and dreary all day. I took this photo at the entrance to a gated community.
I took the small photo at a higher level with a view over the city. Click on the photo to make it bigger and you can see to the left one of the office buildings on Camelback Road. Just left of center is the high-rise condo building that I featured on September 18th. In the center you can just make out the dome over the Chase Field ballpark and to the right is the cluster of high-rise buildings in downtown Phoenix.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fall comes during winter in Phoenix

Many of the trees you see in the Phoenix area stay green all year but, there are a good number that shed their leaves when it stays cool for an extended period. We’ve finally hit that period of time. Trees are turning beautiful colors and shedding their leaves all over town. I have two on my drive that are doing the same. In the next few weeks they will all be bare but, starting in late February or early March, there will be buds popping out all over.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

More Light Rail Adventures

Since the light rail is only a few blocks away from where I live, I felt like I needed to understand exactly where it went and how close it was to places I like to visit so, I set off on an adventure to take it end to end. I walked to the closest station and took it north as far as it goes and then turned around and took it south and east as far as it goes in that direction. I headed back to Phoenix and arrived at my stop around 5:00 PM and was greeted by this view of North Central Ave. I decided it would make a great photo to share with all of you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year’s Eve Dinner

I had a lovely dinner with great friends on New Year’s Eve at a restaurant called Quiessence. Quiessence is located on a 12 acre plot of land in south Phoenix called The Farm at South Mountain. The property is shaded by hundreds of pecan trees and is home to several restaurants providing a variety of organic and seasonal food. The philosophy of the restaurants is similar to that of the great Alice Waters; that food should be natural, seasonal, fresh, and rooted in tradition. They purchase the majority of their food from local farmers and things they can’t get locally are purchased from small farms across the country and always with an eye toward seasonal, organic, and sustainable farming and fishing methods. It’s an interesting story that you can read more about here.

Our dinner included Island Creek Oysters, fresh truffle risotto, lobster stuffed jumbo shrimp, and chocolate torte with vanilla bean ice cream. It was fabulous.

For my local readers, it’s well worth a visit to enjoy the fabulous food and the quiet, rustic setting. You will forget you are in a big city.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Theme Day: Best Photo of 2008

I’m not sure if it’s the best but, it certainly is my favorite. This is the park and fountain next door to St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Phoenix. This is such a beautiful and peaceful spot located amid the hustle and bustle of the downtown. I posted this photo on July 25th of 2008.

To see other participating City Daily Photo bloggers best photos, click here.