A Sad Day for Nijntje

Nijntje
I just saw the sad news about Dick Bruna, the creator of Nijntje/Miffy passing away yesterday. Discovering his work was one of the many joys I got out of living in Utrecht. As well as the Nijntje books and related pieces, he also did some great graphic design for other book covers. I picked up some of my favorites when I visited the Dick Bruna Huis (now Nijntje Museum).

I think I have one last Nijntje statue that I never shared. This one seems appropriate today, as it is half Nijntje and half Dick Bruna. It stands in front of the conservatory at Mariaplaats.
img_4743
It depends on the side, which one you see:
Dick Bruna Nijntje
Dick Bruna Nijntje
Dick Bruna Nijntje
At the base is a short poem dedicated to them both:
Dick Bruna Nijntje

RIP, Dick Bruna. You and your art will be missed.
world peace is possible

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Smoke ’em if you got ’em

headshop mural
Everyone knows about the “coffee shops” in the Netherlands (and yes, it’s not just Amsterdam), where you can purchase various forms of hash, weed, pot, marijuana, etc. Voorstraat/Wittevrouwenstraat have a couple of places where you can purchase, but there are also places in town where you can buy your own paraphernalia, AKA headshops.

Conveniently, perhaps, Magic Mind is a long-standing one at the corner of Voorstraat and Hardebollenstraat. Hardebollenstraat used to be the inner-city red-light district here in Utrecht, but no longer. It’s now a trendy shopping street with lots of great indie shops. More about that tomorrow.

With the new shop fronts on Hardebollenstraat comes a new wall mural. (OK, it’s been there for a few months at this point.) Philip Lindeman, a young graphic artist/illustrator is the artist of this latest wall art to enhance Utrecht. I really like his style and a copy of his book The Cover Art Catalog is on my wishlist. Give the mural a look-see the next time you’re in the neighborhood.
headshop mural

A Rabbit Surprise

daianehemerichthinkerwashington

I love getting emails from people who read my blog. Especially when they’ve seen something that makes them think of Utrecht/me/my blog. The other day I got just such an email from Daiane. She’s a Brazilian/Italian student working on her PhD in Utrecht, but currently in the US for an internship.

She wrote:

I was visiting Washington two days ago, and I was surprised when I found another Thinker on the Rock, and immediately reminded of the beautiful pictures on your blog and missed Utrecht instantaneously… so I’m sending you a picture of me with the thinker here on the other side of the ocean 🙂

She remembered that there were a couple of other copies of the statue in various locations, but wasn’t expecting to see one, which made it a nice surprise. I love getting to see one of them in situ in the photo! Thanks again for sharing this, Daiane!

1 2 3D Go!

Just like last year, there was a special 3D chalk art piece done behind the Stadhuis recently. I really wanted to see it before the rains came, so on a crisp and sunny morning, Charlie and I headed out to see it. (To be honest, it was supposed to be a short walk, but the day was nice and I decided to keep going and see if it was still there. Charlie didn’t mind.)
3D Chalk Art
We assumed the position necessary to see the 3D depiction properly and were suitably impressed by this year’s work of art.
3D Chalk Art
I’m not sure if this year’s piece was directly related to the Nederlands Film Festival, as last year’s was, but probably so, as it was done during the festival. Last year’s Utrecht theme was more fun than the generic sports/movement theme this year, but it’s still impressive to see!

The curves, numbering, lettering, and details are truly amazing, especially when you view it from any other angle and realize how different it looks when not viewed from the one specific angle. I remain in awe of how they are able to work out the appropriate perspective and stretching and foreshortening to create the final piece.
3D Chalk Art

Reach for the Stars on the Red Carpet

Gouden Kalf
Utrecht is covered in red carpets once again with the start of the Nederlands Film Festival. Everywhere you look, there are red carpets and golden calves (the prize awarded; think Oscar statuette). Charlie and I regularly see the setup in front of the Stadsschouwburg (City Theater) where many films have their premier. I haven’t been to watch any of the red carpet walks this year, but Charlie is ready for his big debut.
Ready for the Red Carpet
In the past, the large Gouden Kalf (golden calf) statue stood in front of the Stadsschouwburg, but with its recent renovation, along with the opening of the renovated Tivoli Music Palace on the other side of town, the Golden Calf has taken up a spot at Neude, the central square in between the two locations.

We stopped by to see the statue, but Charlie wasn’t that impressed. He was more interested in the three dogs also hanging out in the square. I was more interested in the acrobatics also going on in the square.
Gouden Kalf
(WordPress won’t let me add a video any more, so here’s the YouTube link to the acrobatics.)

After checking out the action at Neude, we wandered down the L’Or Filmboulevard. (Sorry, not the best shot, but with the sun reflecting off the sign and a dog fascinated by everything going on along the Oudegracht, it was a quick snap!)
L'or Filmboulevard
The Filmboulevard is sort of like Utrecht’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There is a row of plaques in the ground with hand prints (and a pair of foot prints of Carice van Houten, who has won twice) of stars who have won best actor/actress. I think they may have been preparing for a new plaque when we were walking past that morning.
L'or Filmboulevard
Live your dream, Charlie!
L'or Filmboulevard
Carice has nothing on Charlie’s tiny paws!
L'or Filmboulevard

Foto Friday: Anne Frank

Anne Frank
As is so often the case on Sunday mornings, the day after the large flower market in Janskerkhof, the statue of Anne Frank is awash with flowers placed in remembrance. This particular Sunday saw an extra large display.
Anne Frank
Anne Frank

Rainbows and Nijntje

Rainbows and Nijntje
Sunday morning, while walking with Charlie, I thought I’d get another shot of the rainbow street crossing over by Vredenburg. It’s always good to see and the colors seem to pop a bit more after the rain.

Unfortunately, I only had my phone’s camera and I had a dog who could smell all the residual smells from the nearby market the day before, not to mention the aromas coming from the open door at the Starbucks within view, so I didn’t manage to get a good shot of the light that signals when to cross the street. Seriously, I had to drag Charlie out of the Starbucks doorway. And that was after having to drag him out of the Bruna doorway the day before. He’s never met a doorway he didn’t like and wasn’t determined to enter.

Anyway, back to the crossing light. It’s one of the famous ones using Nijntje (Miffy) to signal. You can get an idea of it, though. Cutest crossing lights. Ever.
Rainbows and Nijntje

Modern Stripes in an Old Neighborhood

Old and New
The first time I wandered into Pieterskerkhof, a cul-de-sac-like area next to one of the churches in town, my eye was drawn immediately to this unusually modern, striped building set amid a wealth of traditional Dutch brick homes and buildings. I was dying to know more about it and see what it looked like behind those atypical stripes and smooth forms.

Eventually, I came across a mention of this building, known as the Van Schijndel House. Over the years, the home has occasionally been opened to the public as part of a few special tours, particularly on the annual Architecture Day organized by AORTA. Yet year after year, I’ve managed to miss this day and particularly this tour. This year is no different; it was just shy of two weeks ago.

Since it seems I am never going to see inside with my own eye, I can be grateful that local writer and architecture enthusiast Arjan Den Boer recently wrote an informative article on the house. It is in Dutch, but you can get the gist of a lot of it using Google Translate, if you’re interested. I highly recommend clicking through to the article so that you can see some of the interior photos. It’s a stunning mix of light, space, and unusual angles, not to mention a few of my favorite Utrecht chairs by Rietveld.

To sum up briefly, architect Mart van Schijndel bought the property in 1988. At the time the buildings were being used as a garage and a graphics studio, though much of the entire closed-off neighborhood was in a questionable state of repair, with junkies hanging out in back corners and cars still being parked in the various garages. In the past, many of the buildings had served as coach houses for the more wealthy homes along the Kromme Nieuwegracht canal nearby. (The linked article has a photo of the buildings from 1974.)

Van Schijndel was a post-modern architect, but he appreciated classical architecture and included some light-hearted references to more traditional architecture, including the pediment. In fact, the building is really more modern than postmodern.

The focus seems to be on light and air with glass walls and open spaces, though you almost never look out at the city, only up to the sky. There are two patios to ensure there is always one to be enjoyed, no matter the time of day. There are also no purely white walls, though they may appear white at first glance. All have different tints to make the most of the light they receive throughout the day. Even the ceiling has a tint of red to capture the summer evening atmosphere.

The interior cabinets, doors and other features were just as carefully designed as the overall structure of the building. It’s no surprise that it won the Rietveld Award in 1995. Sadly, Van Schijndel died in 1999, but his wife, Natascha Drabbe, an architecture historian, remained. She has worked to preserve her late husband’s architectural heritage and does organize lectures, tours, publications, and has set up an international network of Iconic Houses, of which the Rietveld-Schroëder House is naturally a member.

The house and the architect’s stunning vision will live on. In 1999, the home was named a municipal monument, the youngest such monument in the country. It does seem that there are now tours by appointment on the first Sunday of every month. If you’re interested, you can contact info@vanschijndelhuis.nl. Maybe I’ll manage to see the inside of the house yet!
Mix and Match

 

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This is Rietveld

Gerrit Thomas Reitveld was born on this day, 24 June 1888, here in Utrecht. The son of a joiner, he would go on to become a world-famous architect, designer, and principal player in the development of De Stijl artistic movement.

In celebration of his birthday, I thought I’d share a few (okay, probably a lot of) photos of his work. Although you can find numerous works of his on display at the Centraal Museum here in Utrecht, you can see a wide array of his architectural works here in Utrecht and throughout the country, and you’ll often be surprised when you learn it’s a Rietveld.
This is a Rietveld
Side View
… but this white building is also a Rietveld.
Oudkerkhof
This is a Rietveld
Chauffeur's House 65.365
… and this is a Rietveld. He even lived on the upper floor for a while.
Colourful Rietveld
These are all Rietveld.
Gerrit Rietveld Meubelen
Take a Seat
Gerrit Rietveld Meubelen
Rietveld Steltman Chair
Lego My Chair
These are also Rietveld:
Warm Glow
Gerrit Rietveld Meubelen
Gerrit Rietveld Meubelen
Even this is Rietveld:
Van Gogh Museum

As always, it’s a joy to celebrate the birthday of this tremendously talented artist and native of Utrecht.