A La Carte

Ambika Dies at 72

March 29, 2020

Ambika, the oldest Asian elephant at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo was euthanized Friday. She was 72 and had been in ill health with complications from osteoarthritis.


When I won a National Zoo photography contest in the 1980's for this photo, my mother said, "nice camera.” Elephant footprints are as unique as people's faces. I recall seeing a newspaper photo many years later of her herd and recognized Ambika by her toes.


For the past 59 years, Ambika had been integral to the Zoo’s campaign to save Asian elephants from extinction. Female Asian elephants in human care typically live into their mid-40s.

“Ambika truly was a giant among our conservation community,” said Steven Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “For the past five decades, Ambika served as both an ambassador and a pioneer for her species. It is not an exaggeration to say that much of what scientists know about Asian elephant biology, behavior, reproduction and ecology is thanks to Ambika’s participation in our conservation-research studies. Firsthand, she helped shape the collective knowledge of what elephants need to survive and thrive both in human care and the wild. Her extraordinary legacy and longevity are a testament to our team, whose professionalism and dedication to Ambika’s well-being and quality of life exemplifies the critical work our community does to save these animals from extinction.”

3 Comments   Click here to share your thoughts.

Keep Calm and Stream On

March 12, 2020

Put the kettle on.

Not in any particular order, here are some of my current favorite series and films, all available for streaming.


The last three are all-time favorites, which, if you haven’t yet watched, please do. 


Let me know what you think.


MI-5 (a.k.a. Spooks)  Britbox


The Best Offer Netflix

(Photo by: imdb.com) "The Best Offer"

Foyle's War Amazon Prime

(Photo by: liverpoolfilmoffice.tv) "Foyle's War"

The Street Britbox 

(Photo by: bbc.co.uk) "The Street"

The Detectorists Acorn 

(Photo by: radiotimes.com) "The Detectorists"

Watch these two back to back: 

The Great Train Robbery Acorn 

Mrs. Biggs Acorn 

(Photo by: telegraph.co.uk) "Mrs. Biggs"

Alibi 2013 Amazon Prime  

(Photo by: intheseats.ca) "Alibi"

And these two versions together: 

Maigret 2016 Amazon  

Maigret 1960 Britbox 

(Photo by: express.co.uk) "Maigret"

The Americans Amazon Prime 

(Photo by: variety.com) "The Americans"

The Crown Acorn 

(Photo by: wallpaperhook.com) "The Crown"

Mad Men Netflix

(Photo by: medium.com) "Mad Men"

1 Comment   Click here to share your thoughts.

Marie Cuttoli's Modernist Tapestries Dazzle at the Barnes Foundation

March 1, 2020

On a recent visit to Philadelphia, I stumbled into an amazing exhibition: “Marie Cuttoli: The Modern Thread from Miró to Man Ray,” at the Barnes Foundation.

Marie Cuttoli by Man Ray (Photo by: © Man Ray 2015 Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris) Marie Cuttoli by Man Ray


Algerian-born French entrepreneur, Marie Cuttoli was an important patron of modernist textiles in the 1920s and 1930s building a series of businesses that combined fine art and fashion with the ancient craft and French national industry of tapestry weaving. 


Cuttoli began by making high-fashion garments, and later moved to commissioning key modernist artists to design tapestries, produced mostly in Aubusson, a center of tapestry production since the 17th century.

(Photo by: © 2020 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris) "Personages with Star", 1933 oil on canvas

During her frequent travels to Paris and the south of France, she assembled an extraordinary collection of avant-garde art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Léger, Raoul Dufy, Le Corbusier and George Braque.


Introducing her many artist friends, primarily painters, to the art of tapestry, she encouraged them to reimagine their work from small-scale easel paintings to large scale, mural-like graphic compositions. 


This show, organized by Barnes associate curator Cindy Kang, brings together a dozen tapestries Cuttoli commissioned and sold, along with the cartoons or paintings on which they were based.

2 Comments   Click here to share your thoughts.