A Guest House of Artistic Inspiration

I am woefully overdue in publishing this post … perhaps it is because, subconsciously, I don’t want to share this delightful retreat in Galena, Illinois, for fear its two rooms will both be occupied the next time we return to the area! Abe’s Spring Street Guest House is special lodging located just a few blocks from the historic district.  While we found Abe’s to be the perfect spot for an overnight visit, we left wishing we could stay the entire weekend.

Abe's Spring Street Guest House historic plaque
Historic plaque at Abe’s Spring Street Guest House, marking its spot as the icehouse for the city’s old brewery.

Abe's Spring Street Guest House ~ Galena, ILWe stayed in “Albert’s Glen” — the room named after the owners’ St. Bernard, whose likeness graces the spacious bathroom.

A bust of Albert, in the bathroom of one of rooms at Abe's Spring Street  Guest HouseThe unique, artistic touches throughout the large apartment-like suite create an ambience unlike any bed and breakfast we have stayed in.

Statuesque Four-Poster Bed at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

Each post of the king-sized bed in the bedroom area of Albert’s Glen provides a base for elegant sculptures made by the owner, whose studio is located next door.

Cozy gas fireplace at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

While you may think of exploring a historic city like Galena only in the warmer months of the year, the gas fireplace in Albert’s Glen would make for a cozy retreat.

Unique fireplace surround at Abe's Spring Street Guest HouseNot only are the tiles surrounding the fireplace a feast for the eyes, but as you sit next to the warmth, looking up you appreciate the hand-made metal light shades hanging from the ceiling.

Metal foliage makes light dance, at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

No detail is overlooked — from the local candies at the bedside, to the exquisite door handles and bathroom fixtures.

Doorway to the bath in Albert's Glen, Abe's Spring Street Guest House

A clawfoot soaking tub, tiled walk-in shower, and more of the owner’s imaginative accents greet you as you enter the brightly-lit bathroom.

Artistic touches throughout Abe's Spring Street Guest House The other room offered at the Guest House is just as inspired and full of creative energy.  Since we were traveling through Galena with our college-aged son, he enjoyed the other private suite — “Rudolph’s Retreat” — and then joined us for breakfast the following morning.

Breakfast at Abe's Spring Street Guest HouseWalking up the hill behind Abe’s, guests are welcomed into the owners’ kitchen where hot coffee, juice, and a gourmet breakfast is served — along with friendly conversation as the aromas of the day’s morning menu fills the room.

French toast breakfast at Abe's Spring Street Guest House

Abe’s Spring Street Guest House has all the desirable features of a bed and breakfast, with the added bonus of spacious, private accommodations (even a spa hot tub and sauna for use by guests in the building next door).  Hoping to return again soon!

For more on Galena, Illinois, revisit my post from a few year’s back, Charming Old Galena.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Heelllooo, Spring? Are You There?

Day 2 of “Spring” in Duluth, Minnesota.

Snowman by Lake Superior

A fresh, wet, heavy blanket of snow coated the city.

Canal Park scene in Duluth

Lake Superior will not release her grip on the ice-covered shore.

Lake Superior Lighthouse in Canal Park, Duluth

As the lights come on in Canal Park, one could be convinced it was Christmas time, as opposed to approaching April.

Snowy March scene in Duluth, Minnesota

“At least it’s pretty” is wearing thin …

Snowed-in William A. Irvin in March ~ Duluth, Minnesota

… but, at least it’s pretty, right?!

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

If I could post a photo of Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne” sculpture, I would . . . alas, the Borghese Gallery prohibited photography so all I have is my memory of standing with my husband and two boys, just the four of us in the presence of that incredible statue, awed into hushed silence, absorbing the breathtaking beauty and detail of his artistry before other visitors entered the room.

In honor of Bernini’s remarkable talent, I offer a photo of St. Jerome instead.  This masterful sculpture is housed in the Duomo of Siena, in the Chigi Chapel.  

Bernini's St. Jerome ~ Chigi Chapel, Duomo of Siena, Italy

Bernini’s attention to detail left me standing in front of this piece for longer than I had intended — taking in the subtle ripples of muscles under the marble skin, which created a sense of suppleness, and the slightly-opened mouth, from which a pained sigh was certain to exit.  As St. Jerome cradled the crucifix, the sculpture emoted in a remarkably lifelike manner.

While I give you St. Jerome in response to this week’s challenge, I will close the post with reference to an interesting article titled “Bernini’s Genius” that the Smithsonian magazine published in October 2008.  The article reminds us of the many works that insure Bernini’s eternal artistic fame, such as the canopy over St. Peter’s tomb and the grand piazza outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (both of which I featured in an earlier post). The words I leave you with hearken back to a different work of art, though, as mentioned in the opening of this post — the magic of Bernini’s masterpiece, “Apollo and Daphne”:

In his sculpture of the mythological Daphne, who was transformed into a laurel tree by her father to elude the unwanted attentions of Apollo, Bernini showed Daphne’s skin changing to bark, her toes elongating into root tendrils and her fingers sprouting leaves, just as the lustful Apollo, his prize in his grasp, begins to realize what is happening. The Apollo and Daphne is a jaw-dropping feat of virtuosity. “In my opinion, not even the ancients did anything to equal it,” Bacchi says. The roughness of the bark, the translucence of the leaves, the nymph’s flying tresses—all are carved with such exquisite specificity that, once again, it is easy to overlook the audacity of the concetto. The process of metamorphosis was a subject for painters, not something to show by chiseling and drilling hard stone. And yet, wasn’t metamorphosis a sculptor’s task? Carving a block of stone into a lifelike form could be seen as a supernatural—even divine—feat.

(Read the full article on Bernini: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/bernini-genius.html#ixzz2aCoWgAcV .)

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Masterpiece” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.