Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Haus and Her Haus

We live in a very fine house.  In a fine neighborhood.

In 1938, thirteen thousand four hundred Jewish people lived in our Vienna city neighborhood.  They were wiped out of the neighborhood by the Nazis.  Their houses and possessions became other people's (stolen) houses and possessions.

1n 1938, seventeen Jewish people lived in our house.  7 Men.  7 Women.  3 Children.

In 1938, the lives of Families BLUM, LUX, NASCH, MAHELR, and POLLAK were changed forever.

There is an organization in Vienna, Steine des Gedenkens (Stones of Remembrance), that works within the local Community to place remembrance plaques at the locations where Jewish people lived, worked, worshiped and then were destroyed by Nazi genocide.

While I was in the USA, our house received a Stone of Remembrance.

Ceremonies are scheduled throughout the 3rd District (our neighborhood) and I happened to see that one was taking place this week, just a couple of blocks away.  This dedication ceremony would be unique, given the attendance of 91 year old Lea Peled (Helene Holzer).  The Holzer Family lived at Neulinggasse 7 and ran a nearby clothing shop.  The Nazis separated the Holzer family from each other and their life in Vienna.  Helene escaped Vienna, made it to Denmark and eventually settled in Israel.  

Yesterday, Lea returned to Neulinggasse 7, along with her son and grandson, where a small group of us gathered to hear a brief presentation about Jewish life in the 3rd District, along with remarks from her son.  Someone shared that she was invited in for a tour of her former home.  According to those with her, she remembered every room and commented that the parquet floor was exactly the same.  "While she might forget last week, her memory of that time was very clear."  commented a woman on the tour.

A film crew was capturing the event for a documentary about Holocaust victims whose grandchildren are returning to Vienna to make a life.  "Why would you ever want to do that?" she reportedly asked her grandson.  It should be a fascinating film.  I have the same question.

The conclusion of the dedication involved passing the stone around to each member of the group before it's placed in location.  As my spot in the group would have it, I handed over to 91 year old Holocaust survivor Lea Peled her stone of remembrance.  In front of her house.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hot Fun in the Summertime

This Summer was full of endings and beginnings.

We begin our 3rd year in Vienna after an unforgettable trip to Tucson.  We have no way to repay our family and friends for their hospitality, support and shared good times.  These are the moments that sustain us while we are away.  

We will also miss.......air conditioning.  No matter how hot it gets in the Arizona desert, there is welcome escape into AC.  There is no true escape here, especially at night, when a tower fan and wishful thinking just does not cut it.

My morning walk brought back the sights and sounds of living in Vienna.  I practiced my "resting bitch face" along with the rest of the Viennese (yes, the men too!), navigated the throngs of tourists putting their 48 hour deodorant to the test and appreciated the beauty of this place we call home for now.

New Sculpture on The Graben



Mozart in Burggarten

On My "To Do" List

Getting Around Town

Home Station

Our Patch of Green in StadPark

Over the next week, I'll be fighting jet lag, unpacking and reconnecting with friends.  We know change is coming, but don't know what it looks like.  For the moment, we will enjoy the continuation of our Vienna Waltz.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Stairway to Neon Heaven-My Favorite Things

Vintage Neon Heaven is a favorite Facebook Group.  It's a place where neon sign lovers share photos, history and mourn the loss of signs gone by.  The growth and popularity of neon signs in the United States spanned 1920-1960; after that, many ended up corroded eyesores or replaced and turned into junkyard ghosts.

In Tucson, Arizona, preservationists created a neon project to save signs that once beckoned motorists into the cool "air refrigeration" of motels and restaurants along Miracle Mile.  Since I've been here, my "hobby" is photographing and sharing the signs on Instagram (@retroranch).  While many have been restored and/or relocated as part of the local project, there are still opportunities to find Tucson neon "in the wild."

The Tucson Airport control tower has been a neon beacon welcoming visitors since the late 1950s.  I was surprised to see a new tower going up as I arrived this Summer, but progress marches forward.  The good news is that the old tower will be preserved.  Whether a journey near or far, that feeling of having made it "home" starts when I see the Tucson tower.

These are a few of my favorite things, day or night.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Vintage Voyage-My Favorite Things

Amazing how once I leave Austria, I come face to face with a few of my favorite things.  I will  reveal these things in a very un-Julie Andrews-like way over the next few blog posts.

This week I've been scouring favorite thrift-antique-treasure haunts across Southern Arizona and stopped by a new vintage store in Tucson, Russell's Retro Furnishings.  Russell has had other mid mod booths inside existing antique malls, but decided to venture out on his own with a larger space to display more of his stock.  As the name implies, the shop is focused on mid century furnishings, accessories, and lighting.  They also specialize in upholstery using vintage textiles and refurbishing mid century pieces.

Of course, my retro radar zeroed in on more than one treasure; if only the Tucson storage unit had more space.  I'll share some pictures so you can see some of the great finds.  Feel free to buy out from under me-I know Russell would appreciate the business!!  The website with contact information can be found here.

As many of you already know, one of my prized possessions is a 1961 Kroehler sofa.  We purchased the sofa in Tucson and moved it with us to Vienna.  We had all 10 feet of mid century majesty re-upholstered and found the Kroehler manufacturing tag inside the frame.  As Russell and I pieced through our history of buying and selling, we came to the same conclusion.  I purchased the sofa from him.  This vintage voyage has come full circle.



At Home in Vienna

I simply remember my favorite things.......

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Form Meets Functionalism in Prague - A Flashback

This is what happens when I have more on the "to do" list than hours in a day, I flip through photos and discover blog posts not yet born.  My own set of virtual "frozen embryos"......although Sofia Vergara is dealing with a much, much worse conundrum.  This flashback takes us to Prague (of course) Summer 2014.  

The Prague National Gallery is a series of locations and also known as Národní Galerie v Praze.  This particular gallery is off the beaten path and one of my favorite spaces, if only for the fact that it looks nothing like the standard issue neoclassic architecture, typical of Vienna and Prague galleries.  Veletržní Palác was constructed in 1925, a functionalist building of clean lines and light, originally an exhibition hall for machinery.  It burned in 1970 and was given a new lease on life when selected to house the National Gallery's collection of 19th and 20th Century art, as well as Alfons Mucha's "Slav Epic".  Eight floors of art, architecture, design, graphic and applied arts, this gallery is paradise for lovers of the avant-garde.

As you can see above, the practically empty Gallery is a place for wandering and taking photos.  I'm sharing a very small fraction of the treasures on display.  If you are going, plan for a very full day and grab the audio self-tour.  It is worth the trip to share space with these masterworks and their stories.

A selection of Breuer and Thonet

Bohumil Kubišta "Fakir Taming Snakes" 1915

Otakar Kubín "Figure" 1912-1914

Pavel Janák and Vlastislav Hofman glazed ceramics 1911-1914

My collection of reproductions waiting for more.....

Pablo Picasso "Violin Glass Pipe and Anchor, Souvenir of Le Havre" 1912 (Pavel Janák cubist frame)

Le Corbusier "Nude Woman" 1934

Cezeta 502 Scooter 1961

Gustav Klimt "Lady with a Muff" 1916-1917 (last displayed in Vienna in 1926 and presumed lost, from private collection)  Take that, Vienna!

Edvard Munch "Sea Shore Landscape" 1907

Frank Gehry "Dancing House"  1995

Frank Gehry "Dancing House"  Prague 2014

Jonáš Czesaný "Veletržní Palác" 1972

Now, where is that "to do" list?