Monday, May 5, 2014

Keep the circus going

The weekend gave us just about perfect weather. Sunny and warm, it was irresistible, and I went for a hike both Friday and Saturday, Friday to check out the corrections to the Red Basin GPS coordinates that I whined about because I nearly died, and Saturday to a new wilderness area called the Devil's Playground. Neither, however, is what I'm showing today.

My HH told me about an accident at a Ringling Brothers show, where half a dozen performers fell about thirty feet with no net. Not to diminish the terrible accident, it nonetheless reminded me that I never finished processing the photos I took at the Ringling Mansion, called Cà d'Zan, in Sarasota in January.

The estate includes the mansion, an art museum, and a circus museum. Admission was $25 and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't ask if they're a member museum with the Detroit Institute of Arts because it would have gotten us in free. I've had a membership at the DIA for many years, my little way of supporting that wonderful place that I have fond memories of visiting over the years. Anyway, I did not ask, and that's another thing I will never make the same mistake about again.

The art and circus museums' photos aren't processed yet but I just finished the ones from the mansion, so on with the show. Isn't that slick, how I slid that right in?

The house sits at the back of the property, on Sarasota Bay. The day we went was very cold and windy. We had layered up on the clothes but it was not nearly enough with the temp in the 30s. (Well, I'm sorry, but it was Florida and not supposed to be below 70.) The gray sky persisted all day and I could only imagine how gorgeous this place would be under blazing blue.

This is the West Ballroom which common sense tells you that there then has to/should be an East Ballroom, but we didn't see it. I struggle along with none, so two seems over the top.

The gilded ceiling features twenty-two dancing couples from different countries. The canvases were painted by illustrator Willy Pogany in his studio and applied to the ceiling in 1926. He also painted the ceiling in the third floor Playroom but it wasn't included on the tour. Small world - in my prior life I collected children's books and had at least one that was illustrated by this artist.

They're really lovely and bright, still.

The Ringlings and the architect referred to the central living space as "the Court." It was the focal point for entertaining. The crystal chandelier was purchased from the old Waldorf Astoria, which was to be destroyed to make way for the Empire State Building.

It is said the enormous room was made intimate by the choice of upholstery and arrangement of the furniture, but this does not feel intimate to me.

This exquisite beaded dress and handbag were on exhibit in the Court. I have done lots of beading in my time which gives me an appreciation for how much work this was, in the sense that it took a lot of time, not that it was tiresome. At least, I hope the seamstress enjoyed working on it. I would have loved doing it. My guess is the dress weighed thirty pounds, but it sure was beautiful.

I'll skip the photos of the kitchen. Cool old appliances and all that, but the architecture is what's really impressive.

The western exposure, which faces the bay. It was modeled after the Doge's Palace in Venice.

The colorful details were everywhere, from the tiles to the graceful stonework. The style is called Venetian Gothic. I thought it looked Moorish.

There was not a plain façade to be seen.

To the left in this photo is a sliver of what I would call the patio but it must have a fancier name. It seemed to be acres in size and had steps down to water level for those guests yachting in.

Here is the detail from the top of the window bars, what I call the coat of arms.

All of this is on the western side of the house, what a visitor arriving by water would see.

This is a close up of the marble (?) circular steps on the north side of the house.What a gorgeous pattern.

Here I'm circling around to the front again. The detail everywhere is just amazing.

 A closer view of the top of the tower, a very classy widow's walk.

Under-window ornamentation, times two.

Tucked away where most people would never see it was this fairy door. Full size, but still a fairy door. From where it was placed I think it was a service entrance.

All the way around the house to the south side entrance to the "patio," a miniature version of a guard station, topped with Nefertiti.

As pretty as it is, it still isn't a place I'd want to live. To me it's a showplace, not a home, not where you could schlepp around with bedhead, in stretchy pants and ratty slippers. It's fun to see how the top 1% of the 1% live, but made me appreciate my comfortable home, my little 30-foot trailer, and the good guy I share it with.


Thought of the day:

Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going, don't take anything too seriously, it'll all work out in the end. - David Niven