Checking off the must-sees
Everyone who knew we were heading for Minneapolis told us we should visit the Art Institute. So, this morning, we did.
It’s a huge place, chock full of every kind of art from all over the world. Name an artist and there’s surely at least one of their works here. What’s more, it’s free!
The hard part was finding our way around. For some reason, the map was particularly tricky to interpret. So, we just jumped in and followed our instinct.
We saw classical sculpture – this is The Lost Pleiad by the American sculptor Randolph Rogers.
When we arrived, I asked one of the volunteers at the desk which particular exhibit was a “must see”. She replied that there was a piece in the modern art collection that was so horrible, we’d recognise it immediately. That was the one we really should see.
Here it is. Yes it’s horrible – the more so because it’s a posthumous portrait of the artist’s mother! (by the American artist Morris Kantor) Maybe it’s as well she never got to see it?
I enjoyed the modern installations, particularly this one by American street artist Swoon, called Alixa and Naima. I liked the way the textures interact with one another and the composition of the collage as a whole.
And we all loved the Magritte “Promenades of Euclid” which played with our brains so!
I must have been particularly receptive to collage today, because this piece made of driftwood from Lake Superior, by George Morrison, hit all the buttons for me.
There’s just something really satisfying about the neat patterns, the blend of colours and those lovely textures too. Love it!
But actually, there were two truly memorable exhibits which left us all thinking. The first began with these small figures on the landing and continued into an extended exhibition of work in the next few rooms.
I’d not come across Mark Mothersbaugh before. The title, Myopia refers to his own shortsightedness and refers to this mixed media exhibition of his work.
The first room was filled with a musical instrument made of a strange collection of tubes and frames which soon sprang into action, playing the weirdest, most kooky music imaginable. Difficult to describe but suffice to say, everyone was walking around with a smile!
The adjacent room contained a collection of 30 000 postcards created by the artist who draws at least one postcard a day. Hmm. Dodger friends, are you listening? I mean, if we all kept up this habit, what would we do with such a collection?
Another room was concerned with symmetry and yes, of course we loved the car . So, Mark Mothersbaugh, we need to know more about you and your work!
The other exhibit which touched us all was the recently discovered office of the first curator of the MIA, Barton Kestle. Full of a curious collection of bits and pieces, the office had been locked closed following the mysterious disappearance of the man during the McCarthy era.
The story was outlined on a nearby panel and explained how the office and its contents had been rediscovered recently, bringing the tale of the curator and the mystery of his disappearance to the fore once again. Sitting in the cafe later, we decided we wanted to know more about this brilliant young man – we googled and came across this
So, time to go, by means of the 1950s Otis Lift, another exhibit really but this time, a working one. What a great place to spend a morning – well, of course, we could have spent the week here, but we thought we’d quit whilst we were hungry!
We’d intended to pay a visit to the Minnesota State Capitol whilst we were here, but our plans were thwarted – renovations until 2017, we understand, so the place is closed. Never mind, we still hit the road to St Paul and made alternative plans.
Just around the corner from St Paul’s Cathedral was Summit Avenue, which was – is – the place to live in this city.
On Summit Drive, there is the largest of houses. Not only the largest in the city but the largest house in the state of Minnesota – The Hill House, built by the railway baron James J Hill.
James Hill and his family lived here in considerable style and we looked forward to taking a look around the mansion. We booked our places on a tour and waited the half hour in Mr Hill’s art gallery – formerly the home of many old masters but now, used for temporary exhibitions.
Right now it’s a show of H’mong quilts – right up my alley!
Beautiful contemporary examples of the traditional H’mong embroidery techniques were to be found here, including this one, which brought back memories of a small elderly H’mong lady working on her indigo resist patterns high above the Mekong River in Laos…
No worries about waiting for our tour with such lovely things to see.
When the time came for our tour, we were delighted to find the chatty lady in the reception was our tour guide – first class!
So, if my favourite room in the house is the lavish entrance hall, perhaps my least favourite was the laundry. Actually, the house was a beautiful design on a human scale and most of us could imagine living here rather well!
OK, we’d like to have the help of staff, just as Mr Hill had
OK, enough culture then, let’s hit the shops!
A good job Good Earth was right next door, then.