March 31, 2011

Victor Horta Hall - Bozar

In my March 15 posting "Uptown to Downtown" I mentioned Bozar, housed in the Palais des Beaux Arts, home to music, art exhibitions, theater and much more. It is an important center in the cultural life of the capital.  Built in the 1920's in the art deco period, it was designed by the famous architect 
Victor Horta, who was commissioned to design a building that would make art accessible to the public.  One of the challenges he faced was that the building could not block the view from the Royal Palace to the lower city, so much of it is underground. In the first photo is the main hall with its wonderful sky light.  At the back of the hall, shown in the second photo, is the magnificent staircase that leads visitors to the exhibitions.  Bozar is hosting a major Luc Tuymans retrospective until May 8.

March 30, 2011

Passa Porta Literary Festival part 2 of 2

"Belgium-debate" held in La Tentation, meeting place of the Gallician community in Brussels. Two writers and two journalists, two Flemish and two Walloons talked about the actual difficulties of a small country. Moderator and host Didier Delafontaine kept the line right in the middle.

Representing the Francophone or Walloon side were journalist Olivier Mouton of Le Soir and author Caroline Lamarche. Representing the Dutch-speaking or Flemish side were journalist Bart Sturtewagen of De Standaard and author Geert van Istendael.

March 29, 2011

Passa Porta Literary Festival part 1 of 2

Every two years, Brussels's heart beats to the rhythm of the Passa Porta Literary Festival. Four whole days devoted to literature, meetings, discussions and festivities, shared by thousands of literature lovers. Last Sunday, throughout the day, literature fans were treated to encounters and talks with a wide range of authors in theatres, bookshops and libraries, as well as in cafés, churches and train stations.
Connie Palmen, grand lady of Dutch literature read from her books and talked about how powerful reading experiences change lives and create happiness.

Author, David Van Reybrouck talks with former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt about his book "Congo",  a phenomenal work of literature on the history of the Congo.  
"Van Reybrouck relies not only on rare archival footage and cutting-edge research, but also on hundreds of interviews he conducted with Congolese. His eyewitness of centenarians are child soldiers, rebel leaders to smugglers, from ministers to cassava sellers. All their stories form the core of this phenomenal book coupled with data, facts and a most personal view on the past. ‘Congo. A History’ is above all  a sort of “À la recherche du temps perdu” since Van Reybrouck’s father lived and worked for years in the former Belgian colony."

In the audience, Babah Tarawally, an author himself. He is originally from Sierra Leone and now lives in the Netherlands.

March 28, 2011

Tri-color activity

A lot of activity in black-yellow-red, the colors of Belgium's flag,  yesterday, Sunday afternoon in the center of Brussels. Is it possible the dogs are making a political statement? The biker, on the other  hand, was just celebrating his 50th birthday, or at least that is what he claimed.

March 26, 2011

Reservoir shop

This 2 year old store on rue Lesbroussart sells anything from shoes and clothes to vinyls and magazines. Splendidly decorated.

March 25, 2011

Comfortable busride

While the first lady, totally comfortable and preoccupied with the contents of her bag, did not even notice the photographer, the two other ones were delighted to be put on the spot.

March 24, 2011

Rambla in Brussels?

Early night fall, Brussels' Central Station neighborhood after the 2010 renovation. Some locals call it "Rambla" or would like to see it turn into one.
Frederico Garcia Lorca described the real Rambla as "the only street in the world which I wish would never end".
This one is not quite there yet.  One day I hope to see it filled with people, music and 
continuous live entertainment.

March 23, 2011

Activity in the park

Le Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos, wonderful park at the South end of the city, caters to every taste. Working out with a personal trainer seemingly does not necessarily have to be a grueling experience, although the ladies do take it a bit easier on their afternoon walking excursion.

March 22, 2011

Biker and Belliard

The biker is taking a break to consult his i-phone in an important historic spot, on square baron Horta, at the feet of the imposing statue of General Belliard (1769-1832), the French ambassador at the time of Belgium's independence. He holds in his hand the deed by which the Allied powers guaranteed that independence. 
The general died from a stroke in the Royal Park in 1932 as he was leaving the King's Palace.
The statute is by the artist Guillaume Geefs. It is also the first monument established after independence. The story goes that the soldiers in the army gave up their pay for one day so the young state could pay for this monument. 

March 21, 2011

Spring time!

Words can not add much to this picture. It speaks for itself and is my choice of beginning-of-spring-shot. Great man, great clothes, great attitude! 

March 20, 2011

March 19

March 19,  the name day of Joseph, regarded by Catholics as a Patron Saint, still today is celebrated in several cities all over the place in a traditional way.  Also in this village Testelt, in northeastern Flemish Brabant.  It is a tiny town surrounded by others, several of which, such as Scherpenheuvel, Averbode and Zichem, are better known, mainly for their history and catholic traditions.  It is a longstanding tradition for the town people in Testelt to go to mass on this day, and after the ceremony a candle procession lead by the priest takes them from the church to the chapel, which was built in 1830, renovated in 1974 and again in 1999.  Its inscription reads "H Jozef bescherm ons" meaning "St Joseph protect us". 

March 19, 2011

Cinema Nova

Nova is a movie theatre that opened at the end of January 1997 in the center of Brussels. The theatre’s programming is dedicated to independently produced films and videos. The Nova Cinema is a non-profit organization managed by a group of individuals who work on a volunteer basis. For more than a decade now,  Nova has been an important reference point for alternative, unconventional or simply different approaches to the audiovisual arts.

Sidewalk art

March 18, 2011

Magnum photographers at the VUB

The Free University Brussels (VUB) has an agreement with the organization for Permanent Education (UPV). Those of us who no longer fit the description of a "student" are made to feel like one for a few hours.  We stepped through the University doors again to hear a lecture by professor J. Swinnen on Magnum and 4 Belgian Magnum photographers. The lecture was fascinating and it certainly gave the audience the incentive to learn more about photography and to admire and enjoy the work of  Martine Franck, Carl De Keyzer, Harry Gruyaert and John Vink

March 17, 2011

Master Shoe Repair

Whether you are a pedestrian walking in the shopping street rue Vanderkindere, or driving by in a car, you can't help but notice this well kept, inviting shoe repair shop which exudes the charm of times gone by.  

Mous, which must be short for Moustafa, is a proud man and delighted to get the opportunity to show his shop to the photographer. His shop thrives. He has been in this spot for more than 30 years. He is second generation, his parents moved to Belgium from Morocco in 1960 and he  calls himself not without pride a "real Belgian at heart". 

March 16, 2011

American Color Laboratory

The American Color Laboratory, located in the back of what looks from the outside like a beautiful private home on 31 rue de la Concorde is soon to disappear. Photographers in town are disappointed to see this happen. It is not exaggerated  to describe the lab as a Brussels "institution". George Coppers has been here for more than 40 years and decided it was time for something else. His color lab is highly regarded for the development of ektachrome, a brand of Kodak for transparent films, still and motion picture films. The lab is known outside of Belgium. When I was there on Monday, a woman from New Zealand, now residing in Berlin, travelled up from Paris to get dia's developed. That says something about its reputation! Wishing George a happy colorful retirement!

March 15, 2011

Uptown to downtown

Galerie Ravenstein is a covered arcade with an impressive staircase and skylight, with shops on both sides of the wide middle walkway. It connects uptown to Central Station and downtown.  The Galerie was designed in the 1950s by Alexis and Philippe Dumont.
At the left, the façade of Bozar (from "Beaux Arts" or literally "beautiful arts", more on that later) and at the right the spire of the town hall.

March 14, 2011

No internet bis

Strangely enough these two elegant ladies, which I posted about a week ago,  just simply disappeared from this blog. It was brought to my attention this morning. After breaking my head over how this could possibly have happened, I decided to just put the pictures on again. I did enjoy meeting them and talking about internet, blogs, the help of a grandchild to find out how they would look like on a blog. Also, they look very nice and should be seen. The difference in their expression between a posed picture and a picture taken unexpectedly is striking. 

Women at work in Brussels

Succeeding in looking totally uninterested while negotiating the price of an old framed picture at Brussels' daily flea market. She walked away a few minutes later with the picture in her hand and a big smile on her face!

Laure, a young lady from Flanders, works at a bank in Brussels.

It is great to see people smile while at work. This physiotherapist enjoys her job immensely, she must be very good at it too. It just shows.

March 13, 2011

Flowers in mini-truck

Delightful sight on way home

March 12, 2011

Creativity and diversity

Sometimes I ask not only if it is ok to take a picture but also what the accompanying text should say.   The young lady is from Ireland and  said she was not very sure if it was a good idea for her picture to be on a blog. She smiled while the man suggested  "La créativité et la diversité", creativity and diversity... a perfect title for this shot!

March 11, 2011

Bois de la Cambre - Ter Kamerenbos

Reading the paper during lunch break today at the Park in the Southern part of Brussels

Walking to work

The photos were taken in the vicinity of the European Quarter in Brussels, so my guess is that these four are civil servants on the way to their offices. One of them at least has a happy smile and is looking forward to his day's work.

March 09, 2011

Back and Front

And suddenly, there it was, the feeling that spring came two weeks early..... and no-one was going to miss it.   Everyone was out and about and had a big smile and a sparkle in the eye,  ready to hit the town on this first real sunshiny day and to enjoy it to the fullest.