May 20, 2015

Frank Hyder Launches Exclusive Art Installation Aboard Nautica

4P1A1655Upon entering Frank Hyder’s airy Wynwood studio in Miami, you are immediately greeted by an explosion of color – the great splashes of his iconic koi fish, the gold leaf backgrounds and dense jungle foliage, the tribal stripes and glowing figures. Then you notice the giant inflatable sculptures – one, a massive human head with a painted face and steady gaze, and the other, a poised killer whale with curious transparent circle on its chest.

4P1A1674The creator behind these provoking works, Frank, stands off to the right in paint spattered black jeans modestly adjusting the massive striped inflatable head as if it were an old friend. And in fact, these inflatable works are the culmination of decades of tireless work as an artist, his experimentation and mastery of a variety of mediums, and many years of travel and immersion in other cultures. As an award-winning artist with a true passion to share his work and knowledge, Frank has been an artist-in-residence and lecturer aboard Oceania Cruises for several years. Many guests may know him for his enchanting koi fish artwork featured on board. Now it is with great excitement that Oceania Cruises welcomes Frank aboard Nautica today to launch a very special inflatable sculpture installation – which has never before been outside of the U.S.     

4P1A1628Just before Frank caught his flight to Istanbul to launch this exciting installation during Nautica’s Exotic Mediterranean sailing, we had the chance to catch up with him in his studio in Miami where he shared some fascinating insight behind his inflatable sculptures and what makes them so compelling to create.

Behind the Scenes: Frank’s Inflatable Sculptures
Frank has been experimenting with the inflatable form since 2008, and was later invited to join a group of artists that were doing a group exhibit of inflatable sculptures in Bayfront Park during Art Basel in Miami. The group exhibit was entitled “City of Giants” and featured towering inflatables of up to 30 feet.

4P1A1619“From the very first moment I started working with them, I felt that there was something there,” he said. “And I’ve been around awhile, and when I know something’s there – it’s there,” he added, laughing.

Distinct from other inflatable pieces being created in the art world, Frank’s inflatable sculptures can be placed indoors; “Janis” (the giant head) is about 10 feet tall. Plus, he paints them – something no one else is doing right now.

“What I’m doing is something between the painting and the sculpture,” he explained. “It’s meant to be a livable size; someone could literally have this in their home if they wanted,” he continued, gestured towards “Janis.”

One of the elements of the form that immediately appealed to Frank was that he could make monumental works that he could compress into a bag, and then he could hop onto a plane and go anywhere in the world with them.

“The idea that these things can actually travel and do something in different places is really, for me, kind of fun,” Frank said. “Not just fun, it puts art in a different context – you might encounter this in the street and suddenly you’re thinking about something very differently.”

Frank also sees the inflatables that he creates as connected to monumental works throughout the world – the mysterious Easter Island moai statues, the colossal heads of Olmec, Mexico and even Egyptian monuments.

“They’re a tribute to our ability to make something extraordinary, and at the same time, they create something that has a personal meaning,” Frank said.

4P1A1651The Janis:  Embodying the Past & Future
Based on the Roman god Janus, Frank’s piece, "Janis," aptly bears two distinct faces – each with different colors and types of tribal painting, unique earrings and different eyes. Since Janus was the Roman god of the New Year (and gives us the name of the first month of the year, January), he had two faces so that he could look forward and backwards.

“He could see the old year passing and see the future coming,” Frank explained, rotating the giant figure to reveal the different face on the reverse.

Frank chose to use a tribal paint style to finish the piece for a few reasons. He has spent a significant amount of time in South America, and has done a number of paintings utilizing the tribal striping for which he has become quite well-known. When he encountered the tribal face and body painting in South America, he remembers inquiring about the meaning behind it. He was struck by how much the response was rooted in the universal human instinct to “dress up” the face before facing the world.

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“The idea of self-painting comes from the fact that the people don’t see themselves as being beautiful. They wouldn’t go out without painting their faces.” Frank said. “And who among you would leave your house without doing a face painting job?” he continued, laughing. “Whether you are modern or ancient, it’s such a pervasive activity – it’s human impulse.”

Frank’s Journey Continues
After Nautica’s voyage from Istanbul to Lisbon, Frank is excited to continue his journey with Oceania Cruises. He will not only be sharing his unique art installation aboard several Marina and Riviera voyages this summer, but also his  knowledge and passion that shape his work and everything he creates.

4P1A1666“I am very fortunate – I am doing exactly what I wanted to do when I was 19 years old,” Frank said. “I have traveled all over the world, seen so many things, done so many things, met so many people -- all because of this thing that I like to do with my hands, and that’s very special to me.”

During all of the voyages below, Frank will also be hosting engaging lectures on wide ranging topics such as “Caves to Cathedrals: Europe’s Architecture of Faith” and “Hellenism: The Phalanx of Ideas.” Plus, Frank invites you to drop by the Artist Loft to say hello or attend one of his special workshops. Don’t miss the chance to meet Frank and experience his one-of-a-kind art installation on board with us this summer!

Riviera’s Ancient Empires voyage | June 1, 2015
Riviera’s Pearls of the Mediterranean voyage | June 16, 2015
Riviera’s Masterpiece Montage voyage | June 28, 2015
Riviera’s Iberian Inspiration voyage | July 7, 2015
Marina’s British Isles Medley voyage | July 21, 2015
Marina’s Nordic Pathways voyage | August 2, 2015
Marina’s Baltic Marvels voyage | August 14, 2015

Visit Frank Hyder’s website at: http://www.frankhyder.com/

May 18, 2015

An Art Walk in Riga

An Art Walk in RigaArt enthusiasts Vanessa and Robert C., spent a summer vacation cruising through majestic Northern Europe aboard Marina. Impressed with the architecture throughout the Baltic, the capital of Latvia quickly became one of their favorite ports of call.

An Art Walk in RigaRiga was such a wonderful surprise for my husband and I—it was one of the most strikingly beautiful destinations on our Baltic cruise. We admired the unique history and style introduced by each port as we sailed from Copenhagen to Stockholm aboard Marina in the summer — but the capital of Latvia left a big impression. 

An Art Walk in RigaAs a fan of art and architecture, I was impressed with the diversity of style in Riga. I had never seen Art Nouveau architecture in such abundance. I’ve always admired this style of painting and drawing (Mucha, Klimt, Toulouse-Lautrec) as well as the jewelry and glass works (Tiffany, Lalique). Yes, there are well-known structures in Paris, like the Metro entrances. Perhaps Antoni Gaudí’s work in Barcelona is the most well-known, but the rich style in Riga allows it to be considered one of the best hubs of the romantic style of Art Nouveau.

An Art Walk in RigaWe decided to explore Riga on our own. We strolled through the historic center and saw the famous House of the Blackheads. Then we walked through a lovely park along the Daugava river, which runs through the middle of Riga, but didn't see many buildings with the Art Nouveau style, so we headed toward an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood. We started walking north along the boulevards of Riga, where the architecture started to transform from Gothic into the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries' Art Nouveau.

An Art Walk in RigaIt was a quiet neighborhood with mostly locals, so it was nice to get a feel for the sights and sounds of daily life in Riga. The buildings were so striking we walked around the entire area to see each detail. Building after building had gorgeous faces decorating every window and some had statues that looked like they were holding up the building or terraces. The colors were bold and beautiful against the summer sun.

With so much beauty  and history to explore and admire, it’s no wonder Riga was once called the “Paris of the Baltics,” though for us, Riga is quite unique and impressive on its own. 

May 14, 2015

Modern Luxury Meets Old World Charm in Dubai

Modern Luxury Meets Old World Charm in DubaiIn just the past few decades, ultra-sleek architecture has sprung from the desert coastline of the Persian Gulf, giving rise to the gleaming metropolis of Dubai.

Notorious for lavish hotels, luxury shopping and futuristic high-rise steel and glass buildings, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates mixes opulence with age-old Arabic culture including gold and textile souqs, fragrant spice markets and pearl diving from its pre-oil days. 

Below are five ways to experience the contrasting aspects of this multi-faceted destination.

Modern Luxury Meets Old World Charm in DubaiDesert Dune Safari

Enjoy breathtaking climbs up the face of soft sand dunes, followed by sheer descents as you experience what’s referred to as dune bashing. As your skilled driver negotiates a course through the desert in a 4x4, you'll be treated to spectacular panoramic views of this magnificent vast landscape of golden sands.

 Modern Dubai with Tea at Burj Al Arab Hotel

Modern Luxury Meets Old World Charm in DubaiTravel to the world-renowned seven-star Burj Al Arab, the city's most notable landmark and perhaps one of the most popular hotels in the world, for delicious high tea and a selection of freshly baked treats. Built on an artificial island and designed to resemble the sail of a traditional Arabic dhow, Burj Al Arab is considered both an engineering feat and architectural marvel.

Sharjah Heritage

Visit Dubai's neighboring emirate, Sharjah, referred to as the Pearl of the Gulf. Drive from Port Rashid to the northern coast and Sharjah, the third largest of the seven emirates. Recognized as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO, it boasts some of the most remarkable architecture in the country and the largest mosque in the UAE, the King Faisal Mosque.

Modern Luxury Meets Old World Charm in DubaiWalking Tour of Old Dubai

Spend time in Old Dubai, which stands in stark contrast to the gleaming high-rise buildings that define the city. Don’t miss Bastakia – as part of Old Dubai, it’s one of the most picturesque historical sites in the city and has been designated as a heritage area. Many of its vintage homes and wind towers have undergone renovations in the last few years and its narrow alleyways have been designated as pedestrian thoroughfares.

Discover Dubai

Explore all that Dubai has to offer on this half-day excursion. Begin with photo opportunities at the dazzling Burj Al Arab and the stunning Jumeirah Mosque, an impressive example of Islamic architecture. Visit the Dubai Museum, located in the 200-year-old Fort Fahidi, followed by a photo stop at the beautifully restored former residence of Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai until 1958. End with a visit to the Gold and Spice Souqs.

What do you look forward to exploring the most on your visit to Dubai? 

May 13, 2015

Eggplant Involtini Alla Parmigiana Recipe

Recipe-eggplant-parmWho doesn’t love Italian cuisine, especially in the springtime? Eggplant is abundant in Italy, particularly in the south, and there are so many ways to utilize this purple (and sometimes white) plant.  Involtini is a favorite of our onboard restaurant, Toscana. I sometimes make it without the meat on my “meatless Mondays,” and I love the way the flavor of the smoky mozzarella comes through. I substitute sautéed or grilled portabella mushroom pieces for the meat. Mortadella is one of my favorite meats – it reminds me of the great bologna and mortadella sandwiches that my grandmother used to pack me for lunch with her homemade white bread and mayonnaise (never store bought). In the summer, we used to add tomatoes and toast the bread for the perfect sandwich!

{ makes 12 rolls, serves 4 to 6 }

EGGPLANT

2 large eggplants, each at least 7 inches long

Kosher or sea salt

Extra virgin olive oil

STUFFING

8 ounces ground veal

4 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces

3 tablespoons whole milk

4 slices mortadella, each 1/8-inch thick, cut into 1/8-inch dice (about ½ cup)

4 slices mozzarella, each 1/8-inch thick, cut into 1/8-inch dice (about ½ cup)

2½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 large egg

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Canola oil

2 cups tomato sauce

6 thin slices smoked mozzarella cheese

For the eggplant: Cut both eggplants lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Choose the 12 largest slices that are closest in size to one another. Reserve the remaining eggplant for another use.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt on each pan. Arrange the eggplant slices on the salt and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt over the eggplant on each pan. Let sit for 30 minutes.

For the stuffing: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Using your hands, mix well until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

To assemble: Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill, or preheat a two-burner grill pan over medium-high heat. Oil the grill rack or grill pan with canola oil. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Using paper towels, blot the excess moisture from the eggplant slices, then lightly brush the slices on both sides with olive oil. Place on the grill rack or grill pan. Grill, turning once, until well marked on both sides and the slices are more pliable for rolling. This should take 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer the slices to a work surface.

Spread half of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch-square flameproof baking dish or other flameproof baking dish that will snugly accommodate the 12 rolls in a single layer.

Lay 1 slice of eggplant running vertically in front of you. Place about ¼ cup of the stuffing on the slice about 2 inches from the short end nearest you, shaping the stuffing so it is about 1 inch wide. Bring the end up over the stuffing, then roll up the slice, enclosing the stuffing completely. Place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and stuffing. Top with the remaining tomato sauce.

Bake until the eggplant is tender and the filling is hot, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil.

To finish and serve: Top the rolls with the smoked mozzarella, draping 1 slice over every 2 rolls. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling and lightly toasted. Serve directly from the baking dish, or divide among individual serving plates.

May 6, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: Strolling the Gems of Castries in an Hour

Guest lecturer Sandy Cares’ animated and entertaining talks about people and events reveal colorful and unexpected aspects of the destination’s history, culture and traditions. Sandy has been lecturing aboard Oceania Cruises throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares her experience in the quaint capital of St. Lucia.

There is nothing to see in Castries, St. Lucia…or is there?

The little capital of arguably the most picturesque island in the West Indies typically merits a mere passing glance from the flotilla of tour buses that whisk by en route to more scenic destinations. A devastating fire gutted the city in 1948, leaving just a handful of landmarks so it typically doesn’t take much more than an hour to check out Castries – though there are several gems worth discovering.

1Castries today is actually a hubbub of activity as tourists and locals interact in a kabuki dance wending and weaving their respective ways along crowded sidewalks amidst lively streams of human and vehicular traffic. Hawkers lining the curbs offer up tempting displays of tropical fruits, homemade sweets and ice creams, necklaces and eye-catching souvenirs, conch shells, fresh coconut water, and of course the island’s pride, fragrant ripe bananas. They even sell little glass bottles of banana ketchup, an island novelty, and other banana-based products including banana soaps and skin creams, along with banana liqueur.

2Soon I am in front of the open doors of an imposing stone church that survived the fire and seems more suited to a French provincial town than in this tropical setting. Inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception the neat rows of polished wooden pews can accommodate over 2,000 worshippers but only a scant couple dozen worshippers are scattered here and there in quiet contemplation.  As the spiritual center for Catholics (Catholicism is the major religion of this island), the cathedral stands as a reminder of the French cultural influence when the island changed hands 14 times between the French and British during colonial times.

4St. Lucia gained its status as an independent member of the British Commonwealth in 1979.

As my eyes adjust from the glaring sunshine outside, the interior walls of the Immaculate Conception explode in a riot of unexpected tropical colors.  Convinced this is one of Castries’s secret gems, I am already rewarded for my decision to explore the town.  In 1985 in anticipation of Pope John Paul II’s visit, local St. Lucian artist Dunstan St. Omer painted these walls using a vibrant West Indian palette to showcase black saints and black martyrs in homage to the island’s African slave legacy. It was Dunstan St. Omer that also designed St. Lucia’s blue, white, black and gold national flag.

5Directly across the street, a big and preposterously old Saman tree waves me into Derek Walcott Square.  Once called Columbus Square, this green space graced with a central fountain is a favorite gathering spot for locals.  It was renamed to honor Derek Walcott, hometown hero and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Walcott’s epic poem, Omeros, is loosely patterned after Homer’s ancient Greek works, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and gives voice to the millions brought to the Caribbean region against their will who sought a distinctly Caribbean identity. 

6Throughout the poem, he celebrates the natural beauty of St. Lucia and compares her to Helen of Troy, also fought over for her beauty.  In fact, St. Lucia was at times referred to as “the Helen of the West Indies.” A statue in the park immortalizes Walcott, born in 1930. He built his career at Boston University, and nowadays, the occasional Walcott sighting assures locals that he is enjoying a well-earned retirement in his native land. 

But Walcott’s is not the only statue in Derek Walcott Square. Remarkably enough, this little island of some 170,000 produced not one, but two Nobel Laureates.  Derek Walcott won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. Sir Arthur Lewis brought home the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979. 

In a coincidence that Charles Dickens would savor, both Nobel Laureates were born on the same day, January 23rd, fifteen years apart. Today, their statues appear to stand about fifteen feet apart.

7Nearby, a gracious red brick building with emphatic white trim dignifies the street corner.  This is the Central Library, a Victorian-era building that survived the fire of 1948. Castries boasts no city or national museum, but the famous Castries Market is a lively center of commercial and social activity that might well serve as the island’s contemporary museum of living art. 

Housed under conjoined red roofs, the stalls spilling into the sidewalks offer everything from bananas and bush medicines to carved wooden masks, coconut bird feeders and clay coal pots.  Vendors eager to bargain down to a sale typically post prices in U.S. dollars instead of the local Eastern Caribbean currency as a convenience for North American visitors. 

While it might not offer the majesty of the twin-peaked Pitons or the exotic appeal of the black sand beaches or the historic impact of Fort Rodney, the little island capital of Castries does offer a few memorable gems.  And they were all in a pleasant hour’s stroll with plenty of time to return to the awaiting Riviera.