Art Escapes at Oak – The Nordic Journal

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The art offerings of the Nordics are well established: from the capitals’ gleaming national galleries to the scrappier artist-run spaces in their less-polished neighborhoods. But travel away from the established centres and you may stumble upon some of the region’s most visually arresting art sites. In each of the following three art escapes, in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, a unique alchemy fuses the site with the place in which it sits, and together they yield something almost magical.

For volume nine of Oak – The Nordic Journal, I wrote about the Steilneset Memorial (above) in Norway, Artipelag in Sweden, and Cisternerne in Denmark.

Photo: Karen Gardiner

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Street Art at Nat Geo Travel

My story on street art has just been published at National Geographic Travel: 7 Cities to See Powerful Street Art

Given a limit of seven places and the intent of geographical diversity, many deserving cities could not make the cut. So here are a few more favourites.  Continue reading “Street Art at Nat Geo Travel”

My Favourite Street Art of 2014

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Stinkfish in Malmo. October 2014.
Toxicomano in Bogota. September 2014
Toxicomano in Bogota. September 2014
Abey Charron in San Juan. November 2014.
Abey Charron in San Juan. November 2014.
Hero de Janeiro in Amsterdam. October 2014.
Ottograph/Hero de Janeiro in Amsterdam. October 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. July 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. July 2014.
Shepard Fairey in Miami. June 2014.
Shepard Fairey in Miami. June 2014.
Tatiana Fazlalizadeh in Manhattan. March 2014.
Tatiana Fazlalizadeh in Manhattan. March 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. October 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. October 2014.
Artist ? Baltimore. April 2014
Artist ? Baltimore. April 2014
Swoon in Manhattan. September 2014.
Swoon in Manhattan. September 2014.
Bastardilla in Bogota. September 2014.
Bastardilla in Bogota. September 2014.
Collaboration. Malmo. October 2014.
Collaboration. Malmo. October 2014.

 

 

Sami Stories at Scandinavia House

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Scandinavia House, on Park Avenue near Grand Central, is one of my favorite under-the-radar places in New York City. It’s almost always quiet, never busy, has a great (but pricey) Nordic café named Smörgås Chef; and shows excellent films and free art exhibitions. Continue reading “Sami Stories at Scandinavia House”

Nordic Noir

This month’s Travel and Leisure caught on to the Nordic Noir trend with a piece that offers a guide to the sites associated with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Rather than the usual ponderings over why such as nice, clean, picturesque country like Sweden produces works of grisly crime fiction, the piece, written by Reggie Nadelson (who impressively manages to plug his own most recent book mid-way) digs into the geographical isolation of Stockholm’s new immigrants, as well as the geographical division of the classes and corresponding smouldering suspicion and resentment. One peeve, though: describing Sweden as a country of “frozen emotions” is just annoying.

I have always favored Henning Mankell over Stieg Larsson. With all his talk of “men who hate women,” Larsson tries just a little too hard to be a “good guy” for my tastes, and his hero Mikael Blomkvist’s irresistibility to women is frankly tiresome.

I never bothered with any of the Millennium related sites in Stockholm, but when I went to Ystad you bet I tracked down Mankell’s fictional inspector, Kurt Wallander.

Wallander cake. Photo: Karen Dion

— Special Wallander Cake (decorated in the colors of the Swedish police force) at Fridolfs Konditorei in Ystad. The cafe freqently appears in Mankell’s books as the place where Wallander get his usual herring sandwich.

Ystad street. Photo: Karen Dion

Ystad’s typical pleasant, colorful facade. Don’t be fooled, evil lurks below.

Ystad Bok kaffe. Photo: author

Cafes are ubiquitous in Ystad, as are various media detailing where you can retrace Wallander’s footsteps.