Ink Art Gallery

O how I miss art studios, art galleries, art museums, and monthly art walks. COVID-19 drove everyone indoors and our social society had to find other ways to enjoy the arts. With America slowly opening back up again, we can finally (and safely) return to the places we love, like, art galleries.

My insanity jumped out of the window after days of being indoors. My iPhone recorded me spending more time on Pinterest than any other social media app. I couldn’t help myself. All I wanted to do every single day was make something from scratch. I developed an interest in building Fairy Gardens, creating vintage postcards from scratch, ¬†pastel coloring, and even making soap. Now I’m trying to take on mixed media art journaling. I’m BORED, sue me!

I snuck out of the house to Fernandina for a taste of outdoors and window shopping. It felt good to be a couple miles in one direction from Fernandina Beach and a couple of miles in the other direction from the Fernandina Marina. A lot of the stores (and restaurants) were closed, but the art studios were open. Thank God! I usually go to Art on Centre, they display some of the best local art. Expensive, but well worth the price. I make sure to bring my Nikon on days when I visit.

This time though ,I fell upon Ink Art Gallery. It is a small studio with a few local artists who create and sell their works right on the main street. Along with selling watercolor and oil paintings, the gallery also takes part in selling items created by other locals. For example, they sell soaps, clay jewelry, bracelets, stones, sage, photography prints, candles, and other things all made by other creatives in the area.

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My favorite part is the boho-themed atmosphere. The colorful carpets, wooden chairs, the hanging greenhouse plants, bean-bag chairs, and the magnificent floral-garland wall. Of course, it’s something you would definitely see on Pinterest. I don’t know how I missed that.

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I didn’t spend much time in the studio because I was running out of time to get a jump on beating traffic to get home. I can’t wait to revisit the gallery to take more photos of their beautiful workspace. Hopefully, COVID-19 will move on to another planet so that I can get back to immerse myself in the world of art once again.

Great Makeovers for U.S. Road Rest Areas

I remember traveling at a young age, and we would pull into a rest area for restroom breaks. They were the absolute worst places to go but, when you got to go, you got to go. Often times you go into a rest area, and the bathrooms look like something from the pilgrim era. The entire restroom smelled like a port-o-potty exploded. Sanitation was beneath passing. Honestly, I couldn’t see how the state would allow this.

In the coming years, though, I’ve seen a significant change to rest areas. I would think the improvements would only extend to making the restrooms more pleasant, but rest areas makeovers are doing so much more. It was my thought that rest areas represent the state. Think about it, travelers and tourists go to a rest area in Texas. If the rest area is filthy, they may assume the worst about the state in general. It sounds unlikely, but humans often judge a book by its cover or generalize because of one little thing happening. It happens.

Now, these rest areas are being built with so much more to offer now. They aren’t just a place to get an overpriced soda and a quick place to potty. They come equipped with hiking trails for dogs, jungle gyms for kids, museums, libraries, game rooms, and other stuff to entertain people while they break. The rest stop I visited in Arkansas had a library and a museum displaying Arkansas as the world’s leading source for quartz minerals. A rest stop and visitor center at the Texas state line had an entire boardwalk you could walk on and catch alligators and other wildlife in the preserve.

Where in the hell was all this when I was little? The most we could get out of rest areas back then playing with rocks outside the building sat at picnic tables that were covered in bird poop, and boring brochures desperately displaying the vacation hotspots of the state. Now rest areas are a bed short of a hotel.

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I am glad that the rest areas have made big changes since I was young. Tourism is everything to any state or locality. It would be wise to improve first impressions.

Original Beauty of the Twin Bridges

I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida, my entire life, and I’ve always known the bridges there to be pretty because of the different colors they’re painted. Every couple of years, the bridge undergoes a makeover for a new fresh coat. I didn’t mind it until I started truck driving. I drove through other cities besides my own, and I see bridges in their original form, and they seem fascinating than the painted dolls back in my city.

Recently I drove across the Twin Bridges (aka The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges) in Kentucky. From a distance, I could see how vintage-like they appeared, and it blew me away. In my imagination, they looked like time portals that would take me back to a different time when I drove across them. The closer I got to the bridges, the more excited I became. It felt like the same feeling I got every year when my mother would drive me across the Dames Pointe Bridge for my birthday.

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

I couldn’t pull my phone out of my pocket long enough to snap photos of the rustic sister bridges. I love bodies of water too, and I’m sure the scenery of the river running beneath it was just as exciting, but I could care less about that river as long as I got the bridges. I took as many photos as I could as I drove through the bridge. The beauty of original metal and the rust taking over the exterior brought to life a greater love for bridges.

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

The average lifespan of a bridge is about seventy years, with proper upkeep, most bridges can live well past 100 years. I know that rust is the enemy of metal and that eventually, the city will have to treat the rust if they plan on using this bridge for many years to come. I can’t help but feel sad to know that sometime in the future, these beloved beauties will be coated in bright colors or twinkling lights stripping away their originality. Oh, what a world that will be.

The Morris Ansbacher Map Room

The downtown Jacksonville Public Library is one of the gems of the River City. Every floor of the library has its little world. Anything you wish to research, discover, read, or find, you can find it at this library. Through the main entrance of the building, you will find a themed art display that changes every month. There is an entire room dedicated to teens. Teens can sit on cool bean bags and read teen fiction. If they wish to get on the computer, they can do that too. If you have little ones, there is an entire floor for them to find every child book you can think of plus games and other hands-on entertainment. If you’re a college student, you can rent out private rooms for studying. It is truly the bees knees.

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My favorite room is on the fourth and final floor. The Morris Ansbacher Map Room. Yes, it is precisely that a room of maps. Maps taken from different books and other sources, framed and displayed for all to see. Some of the maps are so large they take nearly a quarter of the wall. Some of the maps presented are basic and may have come from some sort of magazine, while others you could tell may have come from some private collection.

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I once had a small collection of maps I hung on every wall of my bedroom, but this takes it to another level. As of now, I’ve been collecting maps I find in books stores, magazines (National Geographic specifically), shift stores, and craft stores. Since stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joann are always running 50% off deals on their frames, it won’t be long before I have my own collection.

 

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Florae: Weeds are Flowers Too

Weeds are indeed the Devils of the Earth. They are resilient, durable, and, most times, annoying. I often wonder if that was the reason I created my hobby to hunt flowering weeds. I’m not sure what began the hobby, and I definitely wouldn’t talk about it amongst gardening addicts. They’d probably gouge out my eyes with their pruning shears.

Anyway, I took an interest in trying to see if weeds were as awful as we tend to make them out to be. I could compare weeds to sharks. Society (and Hollywood) created this fear in sharks making people believe that they purposely hunt human flesh when that is not the truth at all. Weeds appear as a serious problem. Yes, they are annoying. Yes, they can overtake an entire yard and are resistant tend to build resistance to weed killers. Yes, they have been around for hundreds of years, with no end in sight. I get it, but isn’t that the best part about them?

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Apart of the Liliaceae plant family

I do a lot of hiking when I can. I never really noticed weeding flowers before until I picked up this strange little hobby. Now, on my hikes, I see them everywhere. I can barely get through a decent walk without stopping to snap a photo of a flowering weed I notice. And now I have an entire collection of weeding flowers on my MacBook. ( I am not ashamed. I won’t share it with anyone.)

These weeding flowers are just like mushrooms; rain brings out the best in them. I’ve tried replanting a gorgeous weeding flower I saw growing in my neighbor’s yard. The plant didn’t last one day. I tried several times after that, and the same thing happens even though I had preserved the rootball. Strange and wondrous, isn’t it?

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Commelina erecta (Dayflower)

I’ve realized that flowering weeds are a great metaphor. They are strong and wild. Most of them have survived millions of years through evolution and continues to evolve. They are wild and beautiful, just like any Daisy, Rose, or Black-Eyed Susan. Perhaps that is why I began the hobby to hunt for them, to see them not as weeds but as this small power of life that thrives in places we don’t care to look. They contribute just as much to our ecosystems as any other living organism. Perhaps now, instead of seeing them as annoying and destructive, we could see them as little surviving heroes. At this point in our fight against climate change and Global Warming, we need all hands on deck to rescue our atmosphere.

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Gaillardia pulchella (Indian Blanket)