Wednesday, 31 July 2019


In this we call life...
Some have been kind to us
Some have captured us
Some have cared for us
Others have kicked us...
But to those of us
Who have made it this far
Do we not
Have an obligation
To find what's left of us
To show others
What we have learned
To try and find
What's left of this life
A way to share and give
The goodness and love of life
In this,
We call life?
I would like to think so...


The alphabet's been high-jacked, by denizens, of Faery!
Some little scamps are mischief-minded, (some, a wee bit, scary)!
They're anxious, for attention; in fear, they've been forgotten,
by members, of the modern world, and some are acting rotten!
In primers, and our dictionaries, some might be appearing,
with looks, of sweet entreaty, (some, sadly, maybe, leering)!
Some little Faery lasses might beseech, with air-blown kisses,
though, some, of Dragon-kind just might be greeting you, with hisses!
The humble and the haughty can be found, in equal measure.
'Mongst denizens, of Faery's Land, there's trouble, and there's treasure!
But, true belief, in Faery, is at a premium, so please, be mindful, of their feelings, and believe, in them!
Donna L. Ferguson Dudley, copyright 2019 6/20/19
Wonderful illustration, by Pascal Moguérou

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Found in a Junk Shop: Secrets of an Undiscovered Visionary Artist

His story is one shrouded in mystery, almost lost forever, intertwined with secret societies, hidden codes, otherworldly theories and seemingly impossible inventions before his time. Unseen for decades and salvaged by a junk dealer in the 1960s from a trash heap outside a house in Texas, his entire body of work would later go on to marvel the intellectual world. But during his lifetime, Charles Dellschau had only been known as the grouchy local butcher.
In 1969, used furniture dealer Fred Washington bought 12 large discarded notebooks  from a garbage collector, where they found a new home in his warehouse under a pile of dusty carpets. In 1969, art history student, Mary Jane Victor, was scouring through his bazaar of castaways when she came upon the mysterious works of a certain Charles Dellschau. Inside the scrapbooks she discovered a remarkable collection of strange watercolours and collage pieces. More than 2,500 intricate drawings of flying machines alongside cryptic newspaper clippings filled the pages, crudely sewn together with shoelaces and thread.
Victor immediately notified the Art Director of Rice University, Dominique de Menil, Houston’s leading fine art patron, who snapped up four of the books for $1,500 and promptly put on an exhibition at the university entitled, “Flight”. Charles Dellschau, a Prussian immigrant had finally been discovered, nearly 50 years after his death in 1923.
He had arrived in the United States at 25 years old from Hamburg in 1853 and documents show he lived in both California and Texas with his family, working as a butcher. After his retirement in 1899, he took to filling his days by filling notebooks with a visual journal of his youth. He called the first three books, Recollections and recounts a secret society of flight enthusiasts which met in California in the mid-19th century called the ‘Sonora Aero Club’.
Charles Dellschau, pictured right. 

The Wright Brothers wouldn’t even make their famous first flight until 1903, but Dellschau draws dapperly-dressed men piloting brightly-coloured airships and helicopters with revolving generators and retractable landing gear. No records have ever been found of the Sonora Aero Club but Dellschau’s artworks hide a secret coded story. Whatever it was that he had to say was apparently too private even for his own notebooks and even today, much of the mystery has yet to be revealed.
A Mr. Pete Navarro, graphic artist and UFO researcher, heard about the “Flight” exhibition in 1969 and became enthralled. He believed there was a connection between Dellschau’s drawings and mysterious mass of “airship” sightings at the turn of the century across 18 states from California to Indiana. In 1972, he discovered that 8 remaining books of Dellschau were still sitting at the junk shop, unwanted and unclaimed. He bought the lot for $565 and spent the next 15 years obsessively decoding Dellschau’s work.
Dellschau never draws himself aboard the fantastical aero inventions and represent himself as the club’s scribe/ record-keeper, rather than as one of its inventors or pilots. There are as many as 100 designs for airships with names like the Aero Mary, the Aero Trump and even an “Aero Jourdan”. The club’s secret mission? To design and build the first navigable aircrafts using a secret formula he coded as “NB Gas” which could negate gravity and drive the ships wheels, side panels and compressor motors … all in a day’s work during an era when air travel was still viewed as a mystical impossibility.
Some of his drawings tell of fatal crashes of the society’s airships, sabotage of other club members and the banning of members who talked about the secret organisation to outsiders. According to Dellschau, the club’s aero prototypes would travel the open roads disguised as gypsy wagons to avoid detection.
In the notebooks’ strange code of germanic lettering, Pete Navarro found a phrase that translated as “NYMZA”. Dellschau reveals this to be an even larger secret society that allegedly controlled the Sonora Aero Club branch. Based on Navarro’s findings, UFO theorists have come up with some far-fetched speculation that the NYMZA was in fact an extra terrestrial entity. (When talking about secret societies, I think it comes with the territory).
While Navarro rubbished those claims, he did manage to find press clippings in Texas archives linking one of the names of Dellschau’s secret society members to an article published in 1897 about a local airship sighting. The San Antonio Daily Express article identified one of the airship’s mysterious occupants as Hiram Wilson, who according to witnesses, revealed that his airship design came from his uncle named Tosh Wilson, the very name Navarro had found mentioned in Dellschau’s watercolours as a Sonora club inventor.
But even Navarro, despite his exhaustive research, had his doubts about Charles Dellschau’s story and how much of it was fiction. Were they tall tales to keep an old man entertained? Or were they true accounts of his youth, perhaps innocently exaggerated here and there?
Fiction or not, a single page from Dellschau’s notebooks could fetch as much as $15,000 in the late 1990s. Today, Navarro is no longer in possession of his books; he sold them off in need of some cash to museums, galleries and private collectors in Texas, New York and Paris.
As for how they ended up in a trash heap in the 1960s? The books had been hiding in Charles Dellschau’s attic where he worked for many years before his death. In the 1960s, the husband of Dellschau’s step-daughter, Anton Stelzig was living in the home during the 1960s with his two ageing sisters and a nurse hired to care for them, when the fire department assessed that the house was a hazard and ordered that it be cleared of debris. The nurse was given the task of “cleaning-up”. Her way of doing things resulted in many of the family’s treasures being thrown out onto the street, including Dellschau’s books. Anton’s grandson Leo, painfully recalls the nurse saying, “I took care of that mess and cleaned it all up.” Some of Dellschau’s work is still believed to be missing, possibly lost forever.
In 2009, Pete Navarro finally published his co-written The Secrets of Dellschau, revealing a lot of the script he had decoded from the books. Four books still remain in the Menil Collection, locked in a humidity-controlled room. Researchers continue to unearth new pieces of information through  surviving relatives.
A Dellschau enthusiast, William Steen, obtained the aviation enthusiast’s journals in the late 1990s which included details of a secret club boarding house, with a bar and dining room where the society would have meets, dream up their newest flying machines (and probably just have a bit of guy time)!
“The more details I see about Dellschau, the more convinced I am that a great deal of it is highly possible,” he told the Houston Press. “Even though it’s fantastic, it’s more than just fairy tales.”

Monday, 29 July 2019

23 Ceilings Worth Craning Your Neck For

here’s wonder all around, but it’s easy to forget to look up. There’s the ever-mutable sky up there, and for centuries, architects, artists, and designers have tried to outdo it, often in churches, libraries, mosques, and museums. Many of those buildings save their greatest, most jaw-dropping sights for their own versions of the heavens: ceilings. We recently asked the readers in our Community Forum to tell us about the most startling ceilings they’ve ever encountered. What we found was heavenly (unsurprising, since many of them reside in houses of worship) and worth all the neck strain.
Take a look at some of our favorite submissions below, and if there’s an incredible ceiling you’d like to tell us about, head over to our forums and keep the conversation going! Here are some ceilings just bursting with the vision and artistry of a dozen Sistine Chapels.


Santa Maria de la Victoria

Málaga, Spain

“I went to the Basilica of Santa Maria de la Victoria in Málaga and, looking straight on at the altar, you can’t immediately tell that there’s a room behind it that you’re actually looking into. Then there are signs that direct you to continue upstairs to check it out.” — alexaharrison

Austrian Academy of Sciences

Vienna, Austria

“I was quite literally walking around Vienna looking for a place to pee. I went into the Austrian Academy of Sciences and found this awesome ceiling in their main meeting hall.” — tralfamadore


Hampton Court Palace

East Molesey, England

“I recently visited Hampton Court specifically to see the wonderful carpentry work of the hammerbeam roof of King Henry VIII’s Great Hall. It was designed to impress, and it still does.” — Jaguarfeather


Dalí Theatre-Museum

Figueres, Spain

“In the spirit of the grand, sacred, painted cathedral ceilings offered here, I submit one from the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain (Catalonia), in which Dalí has shown himself, and his beloved wife and muse Gala, from the soles up, holding up a portal to heaven … as Dalí imagined it. My favorite aspect is the way he, in an uncharacteristic gesture of modesty, tucked Gala’s dress close to her legs to as not to give a view that was TOO inspiring, and the drawers emanating from his own midsection.” — johnpendleton

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen, Germany

“The beautiful ceiling of Aachen Cathedral.” — jane_13527450


Hohenzollern Castle

Baden-Württemberg, Germany

“Castles can be a brilliant source of a beautiful ceiling as well.” — jane_13527450


Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola

Rome, Italy

“Definitely seconding Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. The ceiling, by Jesuit Brother Andrea Pozzo, opens up and invites the viewer to gaze into the heavens. Figures representing the four corners of the world beckon to the global missionary reach of the Jesuit order. Above the transept, Pozzo created a false dome, tricking the viewers as they approach.” — malawijay


King’s College Chapel

Cambridge, England

“The complex vaults of the lofty King’s College Chapel, which I got to see at Cambridge University in England.” — Philip_Shane


San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

Rome, Italy

“The fan vaulting at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge and the elliptical dome of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome are two of my favorites, among many. There are so many good gothic and Renaissance examples, I’m challenging myself (and anyone else curious) for good modern examples also.” — MisterCustomer


Strahov Library

Prague, Czechia

“Stumbling upon the Strahov Library in Prague was a beautiful surprise. Such a hidden gem. And the sweet docents are an added bonus <3.” — alisalynn


Los Angeles Central Library

Los Angeles, California

“Oh, yeah. Los Angeles Central Library is pretty gorgeous.” — tralfamadore


Christian Science Church

Boston, Massachusetts


Galeries Lafayette

Paris, France

“Galeries Lafayette department store.” — terrazu


Thomas Jefferson Building

Washington, D.C.

“The recently restored Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., has beautiful ceilings.” — kld123


Shah Mosque

Isfahan, Iran

— Asta



Granada, Spain

“I can’t pick the most incredible, there’s just too many. But the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain, has SO many amazing and intricately carved ceilings.” — jfrzr


Palau de la Música Catalana

Barcelona, Spain

— MMateu



Samarkand, Uzbekistan

“The Gur-e-Amir mausoleum, Tamerlane’s resting place.” — chrisboswell25300


Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

“The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in Missouri is an amazing, beautiful example of the art of mosaic.” — feathrd1


Ohio Theatre

Columbus, Ohio

“A former movie palace (it still has the organ, which is used to accompany films during the summer movie series), which was restored and is now home to the Columbus Symphony and national tours of Broadway shows.” — QSAT


St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral

Washington, D.C.



Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Venice, Italy

“My favorite ceiling is in the Chiesa Santa Maria Dei Miracoli in Venice. Every painting in the coffered ceiling is different.” — sdmichalove


Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Muscat, Oman

“The Grand Mosque of Oman was incredible.” — mackenzieprice13