A Watery World

People are always surprised when I say that the Netherlands and Florida are similar in many ways. Both are flat, lots of water, lots of humidity, and as the past few days have proven, the weather can change in a flash and you can have sunshine and rain all at once.

Today I was out running a few errands and trying to enjoy a bit of a wander around the city, as I rarely seem to do these days. Unfortunately, I should have checked the buienradar app before heading out, as I managed to get hailed on twice. But like Florida, these little bursts of precipitation were over quickly. Sure, I looked a bit scraggly by the time I got home, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad. In between outbursts, I even managed to get a few photos of items reflected in the puddles. The brick streets may be a pain sometimes, but they do add a certain charm to puddle pictures.

The first that caught my eye was simply the reflection of a lamp in a puddle on a little side street I ducked down to check out some wall art.
Next up was the Stadhuis (city hall) with its grand neoclassical style and central pediment.
Having felt a bit unlucky with all the rain and hail, suddenly Lady Luck decided to give me a break. I had been hoping to get a shot of the Domtoren reflected in a puddle, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a conveniently placed puddle. Score! And as you can tell from the raindrop, just in time!

Design Across Time in Utrecht’s Stadhuis

Stadhuis InteriorWhile I was in the Stadhuis last week to see the Donker Utrecht exhibit, I ended up exploring a bit more of the building than I’d seen in the past. Along one of the back hallways I saw some interior windows open and looked down to see a great view of this central meeting room. Although the current Stadhuis is different from the one that stood on the site during the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, it’s still the same location. In fact, the painting on the right may well be a depiction of the Treaty of Utrecht parties, similar to The Agreement photo I posted about last time. (I forgot to take a look when I went back downstairs, so I can’t say for sure.)Stadhuis InteriorAnyway, the room, including it’s ceiling, had some nice architectural elements that caught my eye. Equally eye-catching were a series of Art Deco stained glass windows (glas in lood) donated in the 1930s by various groups and individuals, including a former mayor. I particularly liked the look of his, with it’s Metropolis-style design, including the Domtoren and the red-and-white city shield. (The pictures of each window are in two pieces as the hallway was too narrow to get the whole window in one shot.)
Stadhuis InteriorStadhuis Interior
The student-donated window seems to favor some of the Mondriaan/De Stijl elements of design.
Stadhuis InteriorStadhuis Interior

Time Travel Through Art

Wall of Utrecht
A few months ago, while looking through Pinterest, I saw a fantastic graphic-style print of Utrecht that I fell in love with instantly. Besides the style of it, I loved the different aspects of the city that were represented. Sadly, when I clicked through, trying to find any information about the artist or where I could buy a copy of it, I came up blank.

Imagine my thrill when I was walking down Domstraat recently, admiring the artwork on display in the windows of Catch, a local art store, and suddenly there it was, the print I had been searching for! The store was closed at the time, but I went in last week to enquire about the print. Pondering a bit more, I ended up going back yesterday and bought it. It’s the large print on the right, in case you hadn’t figured that out. It’s signed and numbered, even! The artist is Utrecht-based Jochem Coenen, and I absolutely love his style that seems to combine traditional and modern illustration so beautifully.

As well as buying the print, I also picked up some frames for some modern and antique prints I’ve been collecting. One is a print from 1857 of one of the early incarnations of the Paushuize. I’ve been writing a lot about the Paushuize recently for various websites and publications, so when I came across the print, I couldn’t resist. The pen and ink drawing of the Domtoren and Oudegracht is one that I picked up recently from another local artist, Ellessi, and the final print is another antique print of Utrecht depicting the bend in the Oudegracht in front of the Stadhuis.
Antique UtrechtIt’s a spot that is still recognizable, although much of it has changed in the past two hundred years or so, well, except for the Domtoren, of course. The Stadhuis (white buildings, center left) was rebuilt in a neo-Classic style around 1830. The crane on the left was originally built in 1402, although it underwent various updates and rebuilds until it finally gave up the ghost in 1837, while trying to unload the large caryatids that form the columns of the Winkel van Sinkel.
I recently came across a painting of roughly the same spot as my print by an Utrecht artist, Georg-Gillis van Haanen (1807-1879).
Nowadays, although many of the buildings have changed, that curve of the old canal, with the Domtoren rising up above the city, remains instantly recognizable. I’m sure even the artists of these images would soon feel at home.
The Agreement

Happy Second Christmas

It’s still technically Christmas — the Dutch celebrate Tweede Kerstdag (Second Christmas Day) today — so I thought I’d share a few photos taken from last weekend’s kerstmarkt (Christmas market) that was held this year behind the stadhuis (city hall, the big building in the background, also the location of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht if you remember my postings from earlier this year).

We went to the market twice: once during the day and again in the evening to take in the lights. Of course, we were also enticed back by the witte gluhwein (a spiced, warm, white wine) and more poffertjes. This time, the poffertjes were made in the back of a converted car that was absolutely brilliant! The poffertjes were excellent, too.
There were lots of places to get food, stalls set up with gifts, a little shed with books free for the taking, and a charming swing merry-go-round, along with a bouncy castle for the kids that was shaped like a snow globe.

The market was nice during the day, but really came alive during the evening, even at the end of the weekend and a weekend with less than stellar weather. It definitely helped get us a bit more in the Christmas spirit.

I hope you’ve all had a good first and second Christmas and wish you all happy holidays.