Thoroughly Modern Milwaukee (MKE)

We at OTR had never visited Milwaukee until this trip but a bit of advance reseach convinced us that it would be a good city to spend several days exploring. So after spending a week or so biking and camping in southwestern Wisconsin, we made our way east to the state’s largest city (pop. 595,000).

As some of you may recall, our city visit criteria are well established and straight-forward: third wave coffee and tea cafes, high quality street art, an art museum (or two), an excellent Italian restaurant (and professional baseball is always a plus).

milwaukee Art museum

Crying Girl, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and it’s predecessor organizations have been in existence since 1888. The Quadracci Pavilion pictured below was constructed in 2001. The impressive Pavilion with its moveable sail sits on the waterfront of Lake Michigan as the signature work of architecture in the city. http://collection.mam.org/

The MAM has several galleries devoted to modern, pop and abstract art which seems fitting with the architectural style of the Pavilion. The museum collections includes a number of works by major Pop and Abstract icons including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Mist, 2012, David Schnell

fika

Colectivo Coffee served as our cafe host for our stay in MKE. Colectivo is MKE based with cafes on the waterfront and in the Historic Third Ward. Colectivo is also a force in the roasting business and operates the Troubador Bakery as well.

Colectivo has been in a business for quite a while but clearly has not lost its edge and sits firmly in the realm of third wave coffedom. Our experience was excellent because of the professional baristas, friendly staff, great coffee, tasty sandwiches and treats along with an interesting and comfortable cafe space.

There are other solid third wave coffee cafes in MKE which are worth visiting but for a short stay in town you cannot miss with any of Colectivo’s locations.

Street art

MKE provided us with several excellent street murals nicely placed in the Historic Third Ward while the epic mural by @AEROSOLKINGDOM pictured above and below required a short drive down to an industrial area along the waterfront.

As you can see from the photographs there is an eclectic mix of fun and serious art to be found in MKE.

Historic third ward and Riverwalk

The Historic Third Ward District is a former warehouse area which has been revitalized into a thriving entertainment district. There are over 450 businesses in the district. The center piece of the district is the Milwaukee Public Market which houses restaurants, bars, wine shops, live entertainment and retail shops in an large open space.

The district is bounded by the Milwaukee River and the riverwalk which allows pedestrians to stroll along the river and of course provides direct access to the district. Nicely done MKE!

Our recommendations for the district – Onesto for excellent Italian fare, Thief Wine Bar for delicious and very reasonably priced wine, St. Paul Fish Company for fresh fish from the Lake and of course Colectivo Coffee.

Sports

Our timing was fortuitous in visiting MKE while the Brewers were at home. The Brewers did not play when we saw them, but have played better since we were in town (won nine of last ten games). Nonetheless, it is always fun to take in a MLB game, particularly in a stadium not previously visited.

The stadium – American Family Field – opened in 2001 and, like the MAM, is architecturally impressive. The stadium has the only fan-shaped convertible roof in the United States – which worked out well for us as rain moved into the MKE area on the afternoon of the day we were attending.

As you can see in the photos below the crowd was sparse as the city was still limiting attendance to 25% of capacity. The bewildering part of the rule was that while attendance was limited there was no social distancing with seating.

Our thoughts

We had a great time visiting MKE. The city is a good stop for three to four days, depending on your interests. There are plenty of options with professional sports teams, museums, fine and casual dining and live entertainment.

MKE is also very pedestrian- and bike-friendly with numerous paved paths in downtown and along the waterfront. Also, and very importantly from our perspective, is that the local folks we met were uniformly very friendly and open.

MKE – modern and friendly – worth a visit!

Our next planned post will be based on our travels through Minnesota.

Be seeing you!

FINE ART TOURIST: PITTSBURGH

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Carnegie museum of art

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The Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant who arrived in America at age 13 with his family in 1848. Carnegie went to work shortly after his arrival as a bobbin boy in a mill, working six days a week, 12 hours a day for the equivalent of $35.00 a week in 2020 dollars.

By his 18th year, Carnegie was working at the Pennsylvania Railroad Company where he moved up quickly to become the Superintendent of the Western Division. Utilizing his connections made at the railroad Carnegie made investments in multiple industries, ultimately founding the Carnegie Steel Company. When he sold the company to JP Morgan, Carnegie became the wealthiest person in America for a period of time.

From that point forward, Carnegie devoted his life to philanthropy. He ultimately spent 90% of his fortune to start and fund a number of philanthropic and learning institutions including the Carnegie Museum of Art.

The CMOA is focused on contemporary art and has a significant collection of works by impressionist, post-impressionist, expressionist and realism painters. The museum also has galleries devoted to abstract artists such as Pollack and Rothko but frankly, abstract art is not art we enjoy.

We have included a sample of some of our favorite paintings from our visit to the CMOA during our recent stay in Pittsburgh. All of the photographs were taken at the museum by @FineArtTourist. We hope you enjoy the selection. Please let us know.

Be seeing you!

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Expressionism

Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye…it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”
Girl Under Apple Tree (1904) Oil on Canvas. Edvard Munch
A painter paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness. In fact, he creates new appearances of things.”
The Lighthouse of Fehmarn (1912) Oil on canvas. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Realism

“When you paint, try to put down exactly what you see. Whatever else you have to offer will come out anyway.” The Wreck (1896) Oil on canvas. Winslow Homer

Post-Impressionism

I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say ‘he feels deeply, he feels tenderly’.”
Wheat Fields after the Rain (1890) Oil on canvas. Vincent van Gogh
What color is in a picture, enthusiasm is in life.” Le Moulin de la Galette (1886-1887)
Oil on canvas. Vincent van Gogh

Impressionism

“I do not always find the streets interesting, so I wait until I see picturesque groups and those that compose well in relation to the whole.”
Fith Avenue in Winter (1892) Oil on canvas. Childe Hassam
“Colors pursue me like a constant worry. They even worry me in my sleep. ”
The Sea at Le Havre (1868) Oil on canvas. Claude Monet
“The art of the colorist has in some ways elements of mathematics and music.”
Place des Lices, St. Tropez (1893) Oil on canvas. Paul Signac
Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.” Landscape with Three Figures (1901) Oil on canvas. Paul Gaugin

“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.”
Water Lilies (1915-1926) Oil on canvas. Claude Monet

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
The Great Bridge (1896) Oil on canvas. Camille Pissarro

Georgia O’Keffee

We are off the road for several days to explore Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our first stop (well second actually – fika at Iconik Roasters – we spent the afternoon basking in the brillance of the 300 or so works on display at the eponymous museum dedicated to her life and work.

Maria has long been an avid fan of her painting. Stephen on the other hand had not given her work serious attention – thinking her a painter of pastel colored flowers.

O’Keffee produced about 3000 works in her 60 year career. The museum owns 1100 of her works – phenomenally all but two were donated to the museum. The 300 paintings on display are grouped across eight galleries that relate to various phases of her life and creative focus.

O’Keffee split her time between New York and New Mexico for about thirty years. After her husband passed away she moved to New Mexico permanently although she traveled to South America and Japan several times.

O’Keffee was initally critized by the male dominated artistic community for her use of bright colors. She loved color and refused to adopt the darker tones that the prominent artists of the time considered appropriate. Her strength as a woman and commitment to what and how she wanted to paint what she saw is evident through out the exhibits and the narrative of her life.

We have included a small sample of photographs of we took at the museum. The paintings featured below cover the period 1917-1958 and represent work from New Mexico and New York.

The Georgia O’Keffee is a must when you visit Santa Fe.

Mesa and Road East, 1952

Ritz Tower, 1928

Green and White, 1957-1958

Church Steeple, 1930

Autumn Trees – The Maple, 1924

Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur, 1930

Church Bell, Ward, Colorado, 1917

New England Rail Trips

We made our final day trip of this home stay to Springfield, MA to check out the 3rd wave coffee scene, find the murals and visit the local art museums. We have been taking full advantage of the 17 daily trains that run from New Haven to Springfield frequently, utilizing the train for our trips into New Haven and Hartford. We extended our use of the CT Railroad by riding from the Meriden Station through to Union Station in downtown Springfield.

We have to admit that our only experience of Springfield derives mainly from passing through on I-91 on our way to Vermont and back. So this trip presented us with the opportunity to get to know more about the city and its history.

First to the coffee – no joy! Sorry to report that the downtown area is bereft of 3rd wave coffee establishments. There are a number of specialty coffee cafes and roasters just outside of Springfield – particularly west of the river.

The street art mural scene however provides great joy. Springfield, with the support of the Common Wealth Mural Collaborative, launched Fresh Paint Springfield in June of 2019. FPS is week long mural festival which also features many other cultural and food events throughout the week. A total of 22 murals were completed by 17 professional muralists with the help of local mural assistants. Fortunately, the mural festival was a big hit and will return for its second run in June 2020. We have included a sampling of photos of some of the moving, imaginative and colorful murals we saw on this trip.

http://www.freshpaintspringfield.com

Springfield boasts two fine art museums located in a quadrangle of distinctive buildings which also house a science museum, a museum of Springfield history and the Dr. Seuss Museum. Both of the art museums came about as the result of wealthy Springfield art collectors donating their personal collections to form the museums.

We spent most of our time at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts owing to our affinity for French Impressionism. The D’Amour has a small but impressive gallery of French Impressionist works along with galleries featuring 17th, 18th and 19th century Dutch, Flemish, French and Italian paintings.

The other art museum is the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. The GWVS collection consists mainly of Japanese and Chinese porcelains, bronzes, jade and arms and armor. There is also a smaller gallery dedicated to art of the Islamic world. The Japanese armor and arms were the high point along with the painted tiles in the Islamic gallery.

Springfield like many former manufacturing hubs in the northeast has seen better days. We noted a lot of work going on to renovate and utilize the many still standing factory buildings for retail, office and habitational space. The area proximate to the museum quadrangle is home to several beautiful cathedrals and several historic residential areas where 19th century row houses have been renovated.

Springfield by train was an excellent day trip albeit no specialty coffee!

Crossing Connecticut River on CT Railroad

No Coffee Zone!

Quay at Camaret, 1894, Maximilien Luce

Portrait of Gabrielle in Red, 1899, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

La Seine, Undated, Maximilien Luce

Seascape in Brittany, 1899, Paul Gauguin

Factory Near Pontoise, 1873, Camille Pissarro

Promenade on the Beach, 1880, Winslow Homer

July, 1955, John Rogers Cox

Hiking Socks by Kathryn Lewis

Mattoon and Elliot Street Historic District

CT Road Trips: William Benton Museum of Art

Our third CT Road Trip of this home stay found Maria and me traveling to eastern Connecticut to visit the William Benton Museum of Art. The Benton is located on the Storrs campus of UCONN. We followed Route 66 from Middletown to Willimantic which took us through a part of Connecticut that still retains a very rural feel with small towns and many historic homes, buildings and farms.

We made Willimantic our first stop to check out Grounded Coffee Co. http://groundedcoffeecompany.org/ and search out street murals in the otherwise depressed downtown area. Grounded Coffee sits right on Main Street in a historic structure built in 1831. The cafe occupies the ground floor. The owners did a nice job working around the central four-sided fireplace in creating a comfortable and pleasing space. In addition to a full menu of coffee and tea drinks GC offers a light food menu. GC is definitely the best choice for coffee in the Willimantic area in our opinion.

Willimantic has been very active over the last several years in sponsoring and promoting street murals. We found many interesting murals, a number of which are historical murals depicting the history of “Thread City” as a textile hub during the first half of the 20th century.

The Benton Museum https://benton.uconn.edu/# is a very small museum located in the heart of the Storrs UCONN campus. There is no admission charge and unfortunately very limited parking (four spaces) adjacent to the museum. We were fortunate to arrive to find one of the spaces available (get a pass at the front desk for your car window to avoid being ticketed or towed).

The museum has a permanent collection in the main gallery – From Old Masters to Revolutionaries: Five Centuries of the Benton’s Best and an additional two galleries featuring current exhibits. We were able to tour the entire museum in under two hours. We found two of the three current exhibitions to be worthwhile – Halt the Hun: Atrocity Propaganda in World War 1 and DEMOKRACJA GRAFIKA.

“Halt the Hun” featured posters created by artists to rally Americans to support the war effort by buying Liberty Bonds while “DEMOKRACJA” provides insight into life in Poland during the Cold War. UCONN has had an exchange program with the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow since the 1980s which is where the majority of the prints on display were produced.

We recommend the museum with the caveat that you check out the current exhibitions before visiting as the permanent collection is small (but good).

For our next trip in January we are planning to cross state lines and venture north for more fika, street murals and fine art.

Be seeing you!

Thread City

Walt Kuhn, Study for Bareback Rider, 1926

Caleb Arnold Slade, Atelier at the Academie Julian, 1905

Reginald Marsh, Locomotive and Catwalk Structure, 1927

Gabriele Munter, Fabrik, 1908

Rembrandt Peale, Captain Paul Ambrose and His Daughter, 1825

Charles Courtney Curran, Girl with Fluttering Scarf, 1924

Frank Lloyd Wright, Peacock Chair from the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, 1921

Henry Patrick Raleigh, Halt the Hun, 1918

CT Road Trips: Yale University Art Gallery

Our second road trip of this home stay found us in New Haven at the Yale University Art Gallery (http://www.artgallery.yale.edu ). We were particularly interested in seeing the three exhibitions currently on display.

Of course all road trips require sustenance in the form of coffee pre-activity and a meal with wine post activity. We enjoyed fika at Fussy Coffee ( http://www.drinkfussycoffee.com ) on Winchester Avenue. In addition to great coffee and light food, Fussy is strategically located next to the Farmington Canal Greenway which made for an easy and pleasant walk to Chapel Street for our museum visit. An added bonus of this location was the opportunity to view Kwadwo Adae’s mural “locomotion” which is on the FCG about three blocks north of Fussy Coffee (#streetartfromthe road).

After viewing the exhibitions, we made the short walk down Chapel Street for our repast at Atelier Florian (www.atelierflorian.net ). The focus here is on seafood. We tried the mussels, calamari and seafood tacos accompanied by white wine and found all to be delicious. A terrific spot for a mid-afternoon break.

P.S. As an added bonus we have included several paintings from prominent artists that we viewed on our way between the exhibitions.

William Bailey: Looking Through Time

This exhibition consists of a number of oil paintings by long time Yale art professor William Bailey. Bailey focused on still-life paintings at a time when abstract painting was very much in vogue. The majority of the paintings on display are large still-life oil paintings. The colors are muted yet vibrant while stylistically relecting many different artists and periods. Photographs of eight of his paintings on display are included below. Many of these paintings were done during his visits to Italy.

Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art

This exhibit includes paintings, wood carvings, textiles, pottery, photographs and drawings from the Yale collection as well as several other institutions. The exhibition includes pieces from a variety of first nations and tribes across the United States. The curators have been quite clear in the narrative to acknowledge that much if not all of this work was essentially stolen from the rightful owners as tribes were forced onto reservations. Yale has returned hundreds of artifacts to tribal nations over the last several years.

Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China: The Ann B. Goodman Collection

This exhibit provides 15 splendid examples of ceremonial clothing worn for special occasions such as birth, marriage, death and harvest. The clothing is incredibly intricate and detailed. All of this clothing was made by women who typically do everything from gathering the cotton, dyeing the material, sewing and embroidering the outfits. The groom’s wedding outfit in the exhibition was made by his bride to be! There is also a display of hats and jewelry that were worn at these ceremonies. This collection was recently gifted to Yale but is only on display through January 5, 2020.

Below Zero, Winslow Homer, 1894

“Hands Up” (Holdup in the Canyon), N.C. Wyeth, 1906

Le cafe’ de nuit, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Femme assise (Seated Woman), Pablo Picasso, 1936

APB’s (Afro-Parisian Brothers), Barkley L. Hendricks, 1978

Locomotion, Kwadwo Adae, 2015

Atelier Florian and Fussy Coffee

CT Road Trips: J.M.W. Turner Exhibition

We are glad to be back in Connecticut for the next several months but our desire to explore remains undiminshed so we are planning a series of day trips in Connecticut. Our first venture since returning took us to the Mystic Seaport Museum to view the J.M.W. Turner exhibition. The exhibit features 97 works by Turner (1775-1851) on loan from Tate London. This exhibit will not appear anywhere else in the United States and will be at Mystic until 23 February. All of the works are watercolors with the exception of two oil paintings. The exhibit is organized chronologically and includes early paintings from England, Wales and later works from his travels to Switzerland, France and Italy. The watercolors are almost exclusively done on paper. We have included photographs of 13 of the paintings below to provide a sense of his artistry.

We think the Turner exhibit alone is worth the trip but since the entrance fee is a general admission to the entire seaport we would also recommend the Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers exhibit which chronicles the whaling industry through artifacts and interactive displays.

Post exhibit lunch brought delight with our discovery of Grass & Bone. G&B describes themselves as butcher shop to table. We split a delicious roastisserie chicken and of course purchased some house smoked bacon and house made sausage. https://grassandbonect.com/

Be seeing you!

P.S. There is an excellent biographical movie released in 2014 which portrays the last 25 years of Turner’s life entitled Mr. Turner.

Charles W. Morgan, Mystic Seaport

Washington Street Coffee House, New London

Grass & Bone, Mystic

PDX: The Rose City and Much More

After leaving the spectacular scenery of Mt. Hood NF we rolled into Portland for a four day stay. We set up base camp at the Hampton – Pearl District which allowed us to explore a number of the interesting and eclectic neighborhoods on foot. We followed our general city visit modus operandii for a city visit – lots of coffee and tea, museums, live music, books and local restaurants.

We had not been in Portland for many years, and yet we were still surprised at the amount of growth that has taken place. PDX is incredibly vibrant! There is something here for every interest, taste and lifestyle.

The coffee scene is outstanding and our baristas generously supplied us with additional recommendations for shops and restaurants that were not on our radar. Our dining highlight was Casa Zoraya – a recently opened restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine. We have no previous experience with Peruvian food so all we can say is – it was delicious!

The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is a medium sized art museum located in the Pearl District. PAM has a small collection of Impressionist works and a good sized collection of Northwest Native American artifacts. PAM is definitely worth a visit in our opinion.

Regardless of the weather get out to the Portland Japanese Garden at Washington Park. This garden is reputed to be the finest example of a Japanese Garden outside of Japan – it is a place of beauty and harmony – you will feel better after visiting.

We always enjoy visiting independent book stores and in Portland Powell’s City of Books is not to be missed! It is the largest bookstore in the world and they stock books on every coinceivable topic one can imagine.

Lots to see and do in PDX and the surrounding area. Also, remember only tourists use umbrellas!

Off to Astoria and the Oregon coast. Be seeing you!

Nossa Familia, Proud Mary and Coffeehouse NW

Tuileries Gardens, Paris – Oskar Kokoschka

Le Pont Routier – Claude Monet

Street Corner – Gregorio Prestopino

Kubuki – Japanese Actor Prints

Portland Japanese Garden

Greg Laswell – Doug Fir Lounge

Powell’s City of Books

Alberta Street Neighborhood, Portland

The Beast in Residence at Hampton Inn, PDX

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun

”I want to be notorious rather than famous. Fame has too much responsibility. People forget you are human.”

The mud wall is masculine – physically strong and durable. The straw is feminine – delicate as a thread. Its color is sun and gold.”

Even the team of mules, which came to drag away the dead bull, moved with drama and color I had never seen before.”

– Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia

During our most recent visit to Tucson we visited the studio of  Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. DeGrazia gained fame and credibility as a painter when his painting of young Native American children (Los Ninos) was selected by UNICEF for their Christmas card in 1960. Until that time he had struggled to make a living as a painter and his work was not well regarded in some circles.

DeGrazia was a fascinating and brillant man. He designed and built by hand the beautiful building that houses his collection of paintings. He was a composer, sculptor, writer and actor. He was a completely self made man. He was born in a mining camp in Arizona and then moved to Italy when his father lost his job in Arizona. Upon returning to the United States he attended high school – graduating at 23 years of age. He eventually attended the University of Arizona where he earned two bachelor degrees and a masters in fine art.

The focus of much of Degrazia’s paintings was religous in nature. His largest collections centered around Padre Kino, Cabeza de Vaca and Yaqui Easter. He also has a gallery paintings devoted to the bull fight that he painted after attending a bull fight in Mexico.

Father Kino was the first Spanish missionary to enter what is now Arizona and begin the process of converting indigenous peoples to Catholicism. DeGrazia believed deeply that this was a noble calling and painted many works of Father Kino. One of his paintings of Father Kino is titled “Heathen Indians Receive Kino with Arches and Crosses”.

DeGrazia was fascinated with the life and adventures of Cabeza de Vaca. Cabeza was the leader of a Spanish expedition of 600 conquistadors that landed in Florida in 1527.

The purpose of this expedition was to “conquer the Indians, convert them to Christianity, and find the seven cities of gold.” The expedition failed miserably as Cabeza was only one of only four members of the expedition to survive and it took nine years to reach Arizona. The seven cities of gold were never found. But none the less DeGrazia admired the bravery and tenacity of Cabeza and painted an entire collection depicting his adventures.

The photo directly below (obtained from internet) shows DeGrazia burning some of his paintings. As DeGrazia paintings became more valuable and he came to understand that his estate would be taxed on the market value of his works he tried  to donate many of the works to various organizations. When that tactic did not work he gathered 100 of his paintings, loaded the paintings onto pack horses and rode into the Superstition Mountains and burned them rather than burden his family with an inheritance tax.

The Gallery in the Sun is definitely worth a visit. The studios and grounds are beautiful, his paintings are as colorful and interesting as the man himself.

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Gardens at Gallery in the Sun

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Kino at Casa Grande Misa, Padre Kino Collection – 1960

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Ectoi Climbs Mountain to Eagle Cave, Papago Indian Legends, 1975

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Trincherazo – Brown Bull – Bullfight Collection – 1946

Tucson Museum of Art

We spent an afternoon at the small but interesting TMA. The museum is heavily focused on western art and southwestern art as might be expected of a small regional museum. The collections are also very inclusive of Native American art forms as well as Mexican and South American folk art. An interesting point that comes through at this museum is the differentiation that does not but should exist in defining all Native American art as a single entity. In fact there are significant artistic differences between the multitude of tribes and Native Americans prefer to be identified as a member of their particular tribe or nation.

TMA also participates with the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation to bring notable works to the museum as ‘loaned” pieces. The last painting pictured below is one of the current loaned pieces. A beautiful Manet.

Definitely worth a visit when you are in Tucson.

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Arizona Landscape, c. 1949 Norma Basset Hall

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Eucalyptus Tree, 1965 Clark Hulings

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Mudhead Katsina Motif, 1910 Dine’ (Navajo)

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Untitled, Henry Belink

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White Clothes, 1980 Denham Clements

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Bloc de Rochers, Belle-Ile, Monet