Saturday, May 9, 2015

Friendships and Culture

One can definitely lead to the other – and vice versa – but for the purposes of this blog they are more two separate entities.

Friendships: I have been blessed, I am blessed and I will be blessed in the future I hope with all my many friendships. Although there are only a few from “long, long ago”, those few are precious. There are those made in High School (also long, long ago) some of whom I have re-found thanks to FaceBook (I know – I too hate having to say something positive about a media that seems to have totally taken over our lives). Friendships often follow one’s status or job, never mind one’s various moves: single one tends to have more group friends or other singles; newly wed one tends to flock to other couples; have a child and there will be those met because of the children (one such group still meets 25 years after we first met in the car park of the local elementary school; another friend dates back just as far, but due to my younger child and another school – we still meet most Tuesdays for tea); those groups and friendships tend to change as the children grow older, allowing for new additions at another level; there are those based upon a common job or volunteer work; then there is the unfortunate friendships due to loss – the loss are unfortunate, the friendships some of the best; along the way there are the happenstance friendships, i.e. the renter who became my housemate; there are the truly random friendships – last year I literally picked up a woman who has since become a very dear friend (she was waiting at the bus stop – I was going past where I suspected she was headed, I stopped – another blessing in my life!); there are also those formed through the meeting of new people through other friends or acquaintances. It was one of these whom I visited for coffee yesterday. What a happy circumstance that I met her this winter through another friend and found out that she lives in Martigny.

I have surely missed some ways of meeting people and making friends, but in my own life I have had the rare privilege of meeting so many unique and interesting people, keeping many as friends and whether I see them once a year, once a month, once a week or only by e-mail and telephone, they are part of me and without them my life would be so much poorer.

Then there’s the culture. As I had wanted to go to the Giannada Museum ( on this trip I blended the two, friendship and culture, first having coffee with S then going on to take in the current exhibition dedicated to Swiss artists Anker, Hodler and Vallotton. This collection belongs to the Foundation for Art, Culture and History, a foundation established by Bruno Stefanini, who over a half a century has collected more than 8’000 pieces of art (paintings, sketches, rare books, sculptures, furniture and other decorative arts) pertaining to the history, art and culture of the Swiss in between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th. 

Ferdinand Hodler:1904_ view of Lac Léman from Chexbres

Rudolf Koller: "lost in the snow", 1853

Albert Anker, 1887, Young girl doing her hair

Félis Vallotton, the River Risle near Berville, 1924
 Outside in the large park surrounding the museum are many sculptures, just a few of which I have chosen to show here.

Niki de Saint-Phalle "The Bathers",1984

George Segal "Woman on a Park bench with sunglasses" 1983

Jean Arp, Oriflamme wheel, 1962

Willem de Kooning, "Reclining Figure" 1969-1983

Nature's new growth - art in itself

one of the many exotic plants in the garden

along with a few unusual ducks

Reflection in the duck pond behind the "Bathers"

Same pond from a different angle

Then there was the side trip to the Protestant Chapel where all the stained glass windows were designed by Hans Erni, one of the longest-lived (he just passed away in his 106th year) and my favorite of Swiss artists. Originally, in place of the requested stained glass window, he offered a choice in between three: Léonard couldn’t decide so had all three done by the Simon Marq workshop in Reims, France. The project grew from there and soon there were another 4. Eventually ending with all 17 openings in the temple being Hans Erni stained glass windows. Hans Erni offered the designs (at age 103) to Léonard Gianadda in honor of his friendship with Léonard’s wife Annette and Léonard had them executed.

One of the 17 stained glass windows in the Protestant Chapel in Martigny

Its reflection in a piano

Hans Erni's signature

The story goes that the local city authorities then said “why only the Protestant Temple” so Léonard Giannada also hired another artist, Father Kim En Joong, to realize a stained glass window for the Catholic Chapel of La Bâtiaz (that will necessitate another trip).

I returned up my mountain with a heart and mind full of the beauties of friendship and culture.