Wine Travel Adventure

Bay Area & California travel blog

Category: Art

Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’

What is he thinking about? This is the question to be forever pondered by art lovers as they stand and contemplate Auguste Rodin’s monumental tribute to the contemplative act, “The Thinker.”

Originally designed to depict Dante in a small-scale sculptural display about “The Divine Comedy,” “The Thinker” under the artist’s touch evolved into a kind of Everyman, albeit a very tall one—six foot six inches tall.

Cast in bronze, he is naked and seated on a pedestal. He leans forward, elbow on knee, his chin resting on his hand in a position mimicked by Dobie Gillis and countless others over the years in TV, the arts, and life.

The first large format version of “The Thinker” debuted in Paris in 1904, when its creator was an old man. His genius work of art will never grow old.

Now there are multiple casts of “The Thinker” in museums around the world including this one at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, which visitors see in the courtyard as they approach the front entrance. There are dozens of other gorgeous Rodins in the museum’s collection as well. Plus, the hilltop setting offers spectacular views of another San Francisco landmark: the Golden Gate Bridge.—Kevin Nelson

Meet you at the Grape Crusher, gateway to Napa Valley

One of the unexpected pleasures of a visit to wine country is how much art there is to see, and these pleasures include the Grape Crusher Statue, a landmark monument at Vista Point in Napa Valley.

Since its erection in the 1980s millions of cars have driven by it and hundreds of thousands of people have stopped to see it. In this sense it is like the “Welcome to Napa Valley” signs on Highway 29—a place to meet up and shoot selfies and have pictures to show the folks back home that you were there, you really were in the land of wine.

At least one couple has gotten married at the Grape Crusher. And its creator, sculptor Gino Miles, jokes that one or two babies may have been made up there too. There is a small parking lot there, a perfect spot for having lunch, enjoying the views, and apparently doing other things as well.

“I’m not from around here,” a woman visitor told this writer as she was trying to find the right angle to take a picture of the Grape Crusher. “But I saw it driving by the other night when I was going to a concert, and I had to come back and see it.”

Those who do what she did—stop and get a closer look at the Grape Crusher—are rewarded by picturesque views of the surrounding hills, Napa River and the wetlands of San Francisco Bay. It is not called Vista Point for nothing. Continue reading