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

Utrecht’s Artistic Girls

3484868135_34cdbc98c4_zOn the bridge by the Stadhuis, looking across the Oudegracht to the Winkel van Sinkel, is a relatively small statue of a girl on a carousel horse. Meisje op draaimolenpaard was created by Dutch artist Pieter d’Hont (1917-1997) in 1986. It turns out that she is just one of the many sculptures that d’Hont created that have found a home here in Utrecht.

There are more than 40 of d’Hont’s works in and around Utrecht, but the three I know best are the Girl on the Carousel Horse, Trijn van Leemput, and of course, the beautiful statue of Anne Frank, which he created in 1960, which stands outside of the Janskerk.

The next time you’re wandering around Utrecht, keep an eye out for some of his beautifully sculpted women. From sheer joy to stoic resolve, they’re impressive.
Anne Met Bloemen
Anne Frank
Trijn van Leemput


It’s a Surreal World and We Just Live in It

surreal worldSome art is beautiful, some is disturbing, some makes you think. Surrealism seems to cover all of the bases. I love it! During my studies, I focused more on Italian Renaissance (architecture), but I always found Surrealism, Dadaism,and similar styles to be incredibly fascinating. So when the Centraal Museum in Utrecht opened their Surreal Worlds exhibit recently, I knew I had to see it.

Surrealism developed initially in France around 1920 and took about 10 years to make its way to the Netherlands. Interestingly, it was here in Utrecht where it really took root in the country. Much of Surrealism dealt with getting rid of the moralism, sexual inhibition, and stifling rules of Catholicism and the average bourgeois culture. Utrecht, which had so long been a seat of power for the Catholic church, may have been rife with artists ready to open their minds to this new way of expressing themselves. Surrealism moved beyond the rational world, turning to the dream world and free association.Surreal WorldMost of the extensive exhibit focuses on the Dutch artists, from the 1930s until present times, who were drawn to Surrealism. One of the most prominent of the early Dutch Surrealism artists was J.H. Moesman, whose work is on display, capturing the essence of so much of the style.

However, the exhibit does include a few small pieces by some of the biggest international names of the movement, including Man Ray, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and Marcel Duchamp. It was fun to see some of the pieces in person and to recognize the styles of these individual ray ironduchampjoan mirómax ernst(Apologies for the less than stellar photos. Low museum lighting and an ancient camera phone aren’t the best combination.)

The exhibit is incredibly well done, covering a variety of artists through the last 80 years or so. They also chose a fascinating way of displaying many of the works, dividing them into groups based on various body parts, even the “naughty bits”. Interested in seeing a large net bag filled with glass breasts and penii? They’ve got it. From head to toe, there are some fascinating works that range from creepy to stunning.

They also have some works by Pyke Koch, a Dutch artist who lived for many years here in Utrecht. I first learned of him because of his design of the lamps throughout the city, but his paintings, done in the Magic Realism style, have really grown on me. I really enjoyed getting the chance to see more of his work. This one, in particular, really caught my eye:pyke kochThe exhibit runs through 9 June and I highly recommend it if you have even a passing interest in Surrealism. This weekend is a great time to visit the Centraal Museum, because it’s Museum Weekend. Museums across the city are opening their doors for free or for reduced entrance fees. You can visit the Centraal Museum this weekend for just €1, so there’s no excuse not to go. This piano alone makes it worthwhile!Surreal World

Salon de Paris With an L-Tuziasm Edge

L-Tuziasm AtelierThe western edge of the city has been a construction site for years. First there was the rebuilding of the music palace, and now there’s the rebuilding of the train station, the Hoog Catharijne shopping center, the ring canal, and various other new buildings. In some cases, old structures are being torn down to make way for new ones, including the row of buildings along Van Sijpesteinkade.

L-Tuziasm AtelierAt Van Sijpesteinkade 11, you will find the atelier of local artist L-Tuziasm. Sadly, with the imminent destruction of the street, L-Tuziasm is having to find a new studio. However, to have one final grand exhibit, he is inviting a variety of artists from Utrecht, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam to show their work in the final Mooie Plaatjes exhibition.

L-Tuziasm has been putting together these group exhibits since 2009, showing the work of better known artists, as well as emerging artists. The works vary in format, including painting, illustration, photography, graffiti and more. L-Tuziasm sees these group exhibits as harkening back to the salon de Paris style of the 18th and 19th centuries, but having a bit of an edge, allowing for a variety of traditional and modern art styles to come together. With so many art forms being shown side by side, in close proximity, they almost create their own new work of art in the process.

The final exhibition will be held Sunday, 30 March, from 12:00-19:00 at Van Sijpesteinkade 11. It’s a great opportunity to see some fantastic artwork from a variety of talented artists. As well as L-Tuziasm’s own work, there will be work by Annemiek Vera, Sasa Ostoja, Jan Willem Campmans, KBTR, Bram Boomgaardt, Janus van den Eijnden, Gino Hoiting, Lize Kraan, Arie Bremselaar, Tomas Sabatello, Franklin Plein, Sasja Bork, Ox Alien, and Kris van Veen. If you’re remotely close to Utrecht, it’s absolutely worth a visit.

Out of Darkness, Utrecht

Donker UtrechtIf you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably come across some of the posts and tweets I’ve shared about Merijn van der Vliet, AKA Donker Utrecht. His photographs of Utrecht taken at dusk or dark capture the beauty, history, and vibrancy of the city.

For the past month, an exhibit of his work has been on display in the upper level of the Stadhuis. The collection is mesmerizing and it’s easy to get lost in each and every photo, studying the details and the colors that are so richly visible, despite the time of day at which the photos are taken. Equally arresting are the viewpoints from which many of the photos are taken, such as the one above of the top of the Domtoren.

The exhibit at the Stadhuis has been one of the most popular they’ve ever had, with record numbers of visitors. If you’re in the area, you’ve got one more day to see the exhibit (February 28 is the last day). If you can’t make it to the Stadhuis, you can find postcards and other sizes of his work at the VVV offices at Domplein 9, and you can certainly find more pictures in multiple sizes for sale at Werk aan de Muur. I pretty much want them all. Time to start playing the lottery, I guess! Oh, and if you’ve ever admired the official photos for Trajectum Lumen, then it will probably come as no surprise that he’s the photographer behind those, as well.
Donker UtrechtDonker UtrechtDonker Utrecht