WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN AN ARTIST AND AN ARTISAN?
During our recent visit to the San Francisco Art Show, our daughter Alona, who is an art consultant, pointed out to me that while there are many good artists, only a few reach the level of their work being collected by serious art connoisseurs. I thought about this statement during our visit to Ashville, North Carolina, which I wrote about recently.
Ashville is known as an artsy town. We were told that during the construction of the Biltmore Estate, many artisans came here, and some stayed. This laid the foundation for the River Art District, where a large number of art galleries and art studios cluster along the river, today. Some of the art we saw in Asheville was amazing; but, Alona’s comment was buzzing in my head, with the question, “What separates an artist from an artisan? And who makes that judgement?”
And then I directed this question to myself. I call myself a photo-artist, and to support my ego, Alona commissioned some of my photographs for her new home, from me. But I will let you be the judge of the three images from our trip. And I strongly encourage you to visit art galleries and museums to develop your own appreciation and judgements.
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WHERE TO FIND BEAUTY
As the saying goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. However, most people will agree that a rose is definitely a beautiful flower. There was a reason why William Shakespeare wrote in The Two Noble Kinsmen: “Of all flowers me thinks a rose is best”. I found this quote in “52 Inspiring Rose Quotes”. When my wife and I visited Portland, Oregon last year, we had an opportunity to explore a number of beautiful roses in the squares around the neighborhood. Portland happens to be called the City of Roses.
Roses are growing everywhere, including around our home, and I often capture their beauty with my camera. On our Sunday afternoon walk with Max to the Rose Garden in Golden Gate Park, we saw people relaxing laying on the grass, sitting on a bench and conversing with a friend or taking photos. It is where beautiful people blend with the beautiful nature.
Now is the best time to visit the garden when the flowers are blooming, and to take your own photos of beautiful roses and smell their fragrance. Meanwhile, I am sharing with you some beautiful moments in people’s lives blended with the natural beauty.
If you love flowers, do not miss “Bouquets to Art 2023” show in de Young museum from June 5th to June 11th, 2023. I recommend to buy tickets in advance.
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WHERE IS THE LARGEST HOME
You might have seen photos of mansions, which look like palaces, that sell for gazillions of dollars in fancy real estate magazines. But nothing comes even close to the Biltmore Estate, located in Ashville, NC. I started writing about our trip there, last week. It is 175,000 square feet and was built in 1887 for George Washington Vanderbilt, who dubbed it his “little mountain escape”.
What makes it even more spectacular — it is surrounded by 8,000 acres of magnificent gardens. For comparison, Golden Gate Park is “only” 1,017 acres. The Vanderbilt family has a fascinating history, which started with borrowing $100 to reach their greatest riches. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a 19th century American business owner, magnate, as well as a philanthropist, who had a net worth equal to what would be 185 billion today at the time of his death in 1877. It was his grandson George who used the money he inherited from his father to build the Biltmore Estate and other beautiful homes in America.
Cornelius Vanderbilt is often quoted for saying, “Any fool can make a fortune; it takes a man of brains to hold onto it after it is made”. Unfortunately, it did not take long for the heirs to squander their fortune. Nevertheless, the descendants of the family still own the company that manages the Biltmore Estate today.
Enjoy these three images from the gardens, which were a delight to visit.
WHERE IS LITTLE SWITZERLAND?
An obvious answer to the question – it is not in Europe, since they have one, which is normal size. Given the English name, it is probably in the United States. To get there, we first flew to Charlotte, North Carolina. From there we drove to Ashville, where we came to for a weeklong vacation. And the next day, for almost two hours we drove along Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping from time to time to take pictures of the sprawling vistas, until arriving to the place called Little Switzerland.
It is really little; has a hotel and a few places to get a meal. We had tea with delicious pastries inside the Café-Bookstore. It has an incredible collection of new and used books, some of them 1st edition. You can ask, who in his right mind would travel from San Francisco just to have a cup of tea in this remote place? For me, the answer is very simple.
Ashville, which is a lovely town with a lot of artistic traditions, is part of our great country, and my wife Elfa and I are using every opportunity to visit different places to get to know them better. The actual destination was chosen because we have very good friends, whom we met over thirty years ago in the Bay Area, and who currently live in that area. In the coming weeks, I will share more of our wonderful experience. Meanwhile, enjoy these three images.
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TO HAVE TOOLS IS NOT ENOUGH
About a year ago, my wife and I had to fix our refrigerator. Suddenly the plastic on the door got loose and in spite of my engineering degree, I couldn’t figure out what caused it. My solution was to call Michael, the handyman. He did not care for my suggestions and quickly found the problem. The solution required a special screw and specific screwdriver, both of which I had.
Years ago, I fixed everything at home myself and even earned income working for a contractor when we first arrived in San Francisco, forty-three years ago. I had tools but lacked experience and knowledge how to use them. Which brings me to the mortgage business. I had conversation recently with a friend, who after working in our company, joined Wells Fargo twenty-five years ago. He was planning to retire from the bank and perhaps rejoin our company. He told me that over all these years, he was practically selling one product – jumbo fixed rate loans.
After so many years in the lending business, I will have to train him again how to use so many tools available to us, mortgage brokers. This can be said about many professions and occupations: if you do not move forward, you stay behind. These three images above show hard working people at work.
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GOLDEN GATE PARK!
On Sunday afternoon, our labradoodle Max took us for a walk in Golden Gate Park. While driving to Stow Lake, we passed beautiful blooming trees not far from the Japanese Tea Garden. I noticed a number of people taking photographs. The next day, after I took Max to his dog sitter, I passed by the trees again, and decided to come back and have my turn in taking pictures. It was 9:30 in the morning, and I was surprised that there was no place to park my car.
Mind you, it was by the entrance to the Botanical Garden. 24 million visitors visit Golden Gate Park annually. But how many of them know that on April 4th, the Park celebrated its 153rd birthday? It was created by very special, hardworking people in the distant past for the people, who come to the Park today. Instead of showing you images of the beautiful flowers, which you can take yourself, I am sharing photos of people who enjoy the beauty.
When I saw a garden wheelbarrow, I realized that there is a gardener nearby. His name is George and the only reason you cannot see him is because he is working on the ground behind the bushes, and thanks to people like him, we can enjoy the beauty of our Park!
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WE CRY WHEN IT RAINS,
AND WHEN IT DOES NOT
The latest rainstorms created a lot of problems for many people. Meanwhile, the rain took care of the draught. We can blame global warming, but the lack of water is a major problem in the world. At the same time, a small country, which often has negative press, seemed to have solved the problem. Israel has built desalination plants along the Mediterranean Sea shore, as a result, it has more than enough water, which is shared with its neighbor Jordan.
I learned about this in the March 20, 2023 issue of “Jerusalem Report” magazine, which was devoted to Israel’s water supply. There, I also found out that the developments utilizing ocean waves to generate electrical energy is much cheaper than other competitors. An Israeli station, which was built in Gibraltar, cost $400,000, versus $150 million from other countries to accomplish the same results. I also learned that since our world came to its existence, the fresh water counts for only 3.5 percent, and 68 percent of it is trapped within ice and glaciers.
No one knows for sure, however perhaps melting glaciers is nature’s response to the planet’s growing population? I am fascinated by water which has so many incredible manifestations and is beautiful to photograph, as you can see from these three images of the rain. One of my forthcoming books is “42 Encounters with Water”, though you will have to wait for some time before it is published.
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WHAT IS TIME?
I decided to write this essay about time after I came across a fascinating description of the research made by scientists who tried to find ways to measure time. While listening to the course named “Examining the Big Questions of Time”, created and read by Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief of Scientific American, I realized how little I knew or understood about many things and especially about time. In her accompanying remarks, Laura Helmuth noted: “Time defines us; it frames our experiences. We can’t live or understand our lives without it… Yet the more we investigate it, the more elusive it becomes…”
We use the word “time” as in many variations, which gives it different meanings, like:
– how much time do you have?
– running out of time
– time is money;
– not enough time;
– bad time;
– good time;
– right time;
– time flies;
Browsing the internet, I found several interesting sites talking about what time is and how it works. To show the change of time, I decided to use my favorite subject – flowers, since with them we can see time change in a relatively short period of time.
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WHAT IS JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION?
After we moved to our new office last week, I decided to use our regular office meeting this week, which has been on Zoom for the last three years, as an excuse to bring everyone together to the office for a reunion. When I told my wife about this, her response was that we have at least two reasons why we cannot have this meeting. The first one is that Thursday (the day of our meetings), is the Jewish holiday of Passover. And the second reason is that on Friday is the Christian holiday, Good Friday, which relates to Passover, during which Jesus and his disciples had the Last Supper – the Passover celebration.
This gave me the thought to check the meaning of the term Judeo-Christian Tradition. Though Yeshua or Joshua in English, who became christened as Jesus was born Jewish; his message, which was based on the Torah, was adopted by over 2.2 billion Christians. And the message was very simple, “Love Your Neighbor as Thyself”(Leviticus 19:18); (Mark 12:31).
I recently read an article about Isaac Newton. He was Christian, a professor at Holy Trinity College in Cambridge University, and did not believe in the concept of Holy Trinity. He learned the Hebrew language to enable him to read original Hebrew Scriptures. After that, he came to the realization that the world follows harmony established by God, as it was manifested in the Torah. This is probably the best way to describe the Judeo-Christian tradition.
As for our office meeting, my wife was right again. We postponed it until next week. Meanwhile, as to any celebration, enjoy these three bouquets of flowers and share with a friend!
CHANGING PLACES – CHANGING LUCK
After renting a large office full of people for many years, the time came for a change. When the Corona-19 virus started, all our employees began working remotely from home. I continued coming to the office. After a while, some of my colleagues joined me as well. Interest rates stayed low, and we were very busy. And then, almost overnight, rates went up, and the refinancing business came to a standstill. We still had a year left on our lease and ten salaries to pay. We had a few choices. Being seventy-six, we easily could retire and close the company, or we could work from home and let our “extra” employees go. Instead, I decided to keep going and focus on helping real estate agents find more qualifying buyers.
To do that, I started the Money Solutions Academy. Originally it was intended as short interviews with different professionals posted on YouTube, and then we added live seminars in our office. After almost forty years in the mortgage business, I am a firm believer that as long as I move forward, “the forward” will come to me. The interest rate will eventually come down; meanwhile, we can help many real estate agents to make a good living and help clients buy homes, while prices declined. As a result, we decided to keep going.
There is a Hebrew saying, “Changing places – Changing luck”. We found a smaller office in the building next door, where we will have enough room for our employees help their clients and the space to keep doing seminars. And also, enough walls to have my photo gallery. You are invited.
Our new address is:
333 Gellert Blvd., Ste. #114, Daly City, CA 94015
Please enjoy these three images from my photo collection. You can also see more of my images at: thehealingimages.com and mannykagan.smugmug.com. Enjoy and Share with a Friend!