TRAVEL HERE: DID YOU MISS IT? Seems like I’m doing a lot of apologizing of late and here I go again! There’s been a wonderful exhibition on the young Monet at the Kimbell in Fort Worth and even though I’ve been several times, I didn’t tell you about it. By way of atonement I’ll warn you that another Impressionist and European Masters show is on its way in May. In the meantime, I’ll fill you in on what you missed, if you did, in fact, miss it.
Monet is a known entity for most of us. He’s that Impressionist guy who did all the water lily paintings. Over the years, the Kimbell has offered several very good Monet exhibitions, so those of us in the DFW Metroplex have had a better than average chance to get to know him. One of the reasons is a large beach scene in shades of gray and brown – more Van Gogh than Monet when you first look at it. This shoreline landscape was the first piece Monet showed in a Beaux Art Salon and the Kimbell owns it. That’s how it gets all the good exhibitions. Want to borrow my Monet? Include me in the exhibition schedule!
Thanks to them (and lots of study on my own) I knew Impressionism was something Monet grew into. He started out as a fine landscape painter in the traditional sense, but grew into less exacting ways of capturing a scene. Most of us know another reason for his style is related to his vision. As he grew older his eyesight got worse and he painted what he saw. That’s the reason some paintings of Venice ,from late in his life, look almost as if he abandoned representational painting altogether.
I had all this floating around in my mind, but this latest exhibit fleshed out what I had learned. The exhibition took him from a very traditional landscape painted in his teens, through his first Salon painting and on to the height of Impressionism.
You may be wondering why I don’t just quit jabbering a go ahead and show you some art. Fine!
The most delicious painting I can’t show you, because they didn’t have a postcard. It was a scrumptious snow scene, which at first glance seemed to be all white, but then the more you looked at it, the more color you could see. Then there were all the bittersweet paintings showing the rift, his art and significant other caused, between him and his family of origin. Oh, and the luscious picture of the melon with the blue and white china…. Well you get the idea!
One of the reasons I feel so bad about leaving you out of the loop is that it’s not like I went during one of the last weeks and just missed by a few days. I first went a few weeks after it opened with my bestie. I made a day of it for her birthday. That’s when I picked up all these postcards with the best of intentions and snapped this gorgeous shot at the entrance to Joe T’s wonderful Fiesta Garden. Of course, we went to Joe T’s.
My second visit was with the Buffalo Gals. In case you didn’t know, that’s the Bible Study group we have here in my neighborhood. We’re on our fifth Beth Moore Bible Study together and we always take a play date to celebrate our friendship somewhere along the way. Here’s a few shots of that expedition! Come back next week, because I have to catch you up on what’s been happening at the DMA, too.
TRAVEL HERE: NOT EXACTLY A SUMMER TREAT, TRY IT IN AUTUMN
Since Joe T. Garcia’s is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, I think any trip to Fort Worth should include a visit to their Fiesta Garden, but Bill doesn’t feel the same way. For one thing, he has an aversion to lines and for another, he thinks variety (not chili) is the spice of life. So last week when we went to the Kimbell to see The Brothers Nain, we tried out the Woodshed Smokehouse. You should too, but let me tell you why you should wait until late September, maybe October.
A Restaurant from Love, Tim Love
As much as I enjoy food, I am not a foodie. I hear friends gush over celebrity chefs, but I can barely sit through an entire episode of any cooking show – with the possible exception of Cake Boss and I don’t watch it for the cakes. I’m positively grossed out by now much the cakes are handled before they are served. However, I dig marketing concepts and business development, so I like Restaurant Startup.
Tim Love isn’t just another celebrity chef, he’s a local legend, so while I’m not the sort to go out of my way for a particular chef, his stamp on a riverside restaurant could sway me in that direction. Since Bill was the one who didn’t want to go to Joe T.’s , I tasked him with narrowing down the Cowtown choices. From his suggestions, I suggested The Woodshed.
The Woodshed has some structural similarities to the original Katy Trail Ice House, but the outdoor sections of the Woodshed are more compact like the Outpost. However, the outdoor sections are also more formally arranged, which made me think of Stampede, but outdoors. I only thought of The Truckyard because it was a casual outdoor sort of a place with the same clientele. The food is very seriously related to Stampede.
How It’s Unique
Location, location, location! Sitting adjacent to Trinity Trails, The Woodshed has an idyllic view and vibe. Walking from our parking spot we noticed the multitude of mini-woodsheds with various woods – (hence The Woodshed). Your menu will let you know which wood is used to cook your entree.
The Woodshed claims it’s green, but I’d just call it hot. They don’t have any air-conditioning and this is Texas. We sat right under one of the big fans they brag about, but we were uncomfortably hot. . There are a few trees out on the patio, but not the big shady kind. The Katy Trail Icehouse, Katy Outpost and Truckyard all have The Woodshed beat, hands down, in the comfort department. And it was loud. Not the fan; the restaurant
The most unique thing we saw were HUGE cutting boards loaded up with meat and being delivered to tables. We’re talking a vegetarian would faint at the sight of it. Last week was Father’s Day and I think one of the reasons they were so busy were these carnivorous feasts.
How’s the Food?
The bottom line for any restaurant is the meal. Bill ordered the chopped brisket sandwich and I opted for tamales. We liked both, but weren’t carried away by either. We agreed they got a little enthusiastic on the hot factor of both recipes, but I guess that’s the Tim Love Schitick.
The Woodshed has been around since 2012 and is still packing them in, so I suppose people like what they have. It just wasn’t our favorite cup of tea – or perhaps I should say, glass of iced tea. We liked the restaurant enough to give it another try, but you can bet your sarsaparilla we won’t be coming back until the weather cools down.
Speaking of beverages, you have your choice. They have a wine list, but we stuck with beer. They have a varied selection of beers, but not as expansive as other places I have mentioned in this review. I noticed margaritas, too.
Bill thought they were a little stingy with the chips on his entree, not that he wanted more to eat, but it looked like the potato chip clique was giving the sandwich the cold shoulder. There was way too much plate for what was served – especially with the meat orgies floating around over our heads.
To Sum Up
This is obviously a concept restaurant and I’m not that fond of forced concepts. It seems to me they try too hard to be one thing, but are too cool to just go ahead and be that. Like they have to maintain a certain amount of chic, so you won’t forget they are a trendy concept.
The food is OK, but if they want to be green, they really need to ship in a whole lot of big trees to combat the swelter. Then perhaps the hot taste they insist upon might be more enjoyable.
Bill says we’ll go back some time when it’s cooler. Maybe, but if it’s up to me, I’m sticking with Joe T.’s.
TRAVEL HERE: A TRIO OF ARTISTS TAKE PARIS BY STORM
So, imagine you’re a Seventeenth Century Parisian and you’re looking for a little something for the palace wall. Are you going to settle for some no-name artist? Or are you going to hire the guys who just installed the new altarpiece in Notre Dame Cathedral? You got that right! You’re going to pick the Brothers Le Nain.
How the Le Nains Spelled Success
The most frustrating thing about the current exhibition at the Kimbell is no one really knows very much about Antoine, Louis and Mathieu Le Nain. Oh, the curators can give you birth dates and show you a few paintings, but in truth, they can’t tell you much about how three guys came in from a small French burg and became the Toast of Paris. However, art voices spend a lot of words speculating about it.
The forty painting on exhibit at the Kimbell right now demonstrate the talent of this trio of brother artists, but talent alone doesn’t get you gigs like altarpieces for Notre Dame or portraits of bishops and musketeers. (Yes, those musketeers; the ones in the novel.) However, I do suggest you hurry over there and see the exhibit, because whatever their formula for success was, these guys knew how to paint.
Who Painted What?
After listening carefully to every word of the audio guide (included with the $14 price of admission) the one thing I can tell you for sure is the art world is very frustrated by their inability to identify which brother painted which painting. The Brothers didn’t sign their names to their work and while they may have kept some journal of who painted what, that log didn’t make it to modern times. Can you imagine the auction price if it ever came to light?
While talent certainly played a role, I think it may have been the brothers ability to play a variety of roles which brought their fame. Want a portrait? We’ll paint you up a humdinger. Need an altarpiece? We’ll go all mystical and ethereal for you. Need a little genre painting? Well, we do great peasant pictures. I can just hear one brother calling out to the others, “We got a few Brits on the way! Put out the Dutch look-alike paintings!”
The Le Nain Genius
Beyond the fact their oeuvre contains a variety of styles (which may or may not be related to which brother painted any given picture), I found several things of interest in the exhibit. My favorite observation was the presence of various models in more than one painting. There’s a mop-headed boy who plays both angel and peasant. A chubby cheeked girl made a merry appearance in a number of scenes. Even a donkey in an altarpiece is copied exactly in another painting. I’d like to spend more time with a catalog in hand making comparisons, but since it costs $75 I probably won’t be availing myself of one. I may spend time on sites like WikiArt, though, scoping out the faces and looking for repeats.
For another thing, I was struck by how religious 17th century Parisians were. It’s given altar pieces will be religious, but whether the Le Nains were painting soldiers cheating at cards or peasant children dancing by the fire, they included something religious. Whether the Le Nains themselves were religious or they were merely pandering to the tastes of their patrons, there is no way to know, but either way, that little something for your castle wall needed to have a Sister of Charity, symbols of communion or a little morality tale – or you’d look elsewhere.
Perhaps most interesting was their most frequent subject was peasants. Apparently, that was the going thing at the time. The Brothers captured them doing all kinds of things and there was always group of them. I painted a mental picture of the Seventeenth Century French Court singing a chorus of “What Do the Simple Folk Do” from Camelot, the musical. Meanwhile, out in the streets, the actual peasants were desperately trying to keep food on the table and shoes were out of the question. Perhaps if helping the peasants had been as popular as hanging pictures of them on the wall, there might be a few less to paint.
Regardless of the matters of taste or which brother painted which piece, I think you’ll enjoy The Brothers Nain. It will be at the Kimbell until September. Come back next week and I’ll tell you where we went to eat after the exhibit.
TRAVEL HERE: SCOTLAND NATIONAL GALLERIES VISIT THE KIMBALL ART MUSEUM IN FORT WORTH TX
It’s been very nose-to-the-grindstone around here lately, so when Bill said, “Let’s do something different this Sunday,” he didn’t get any argument from me. In fact, I’d already been formulating a play date in my head.
Day Tripping to the Kimball
On Sundays, the Kimball doesn’t open until noon, so we took a leisurely attitude about our drive. It’s been a good six months since our last visit and probably longer since we were on I-30 west of Dallas. We were amazed by the construction.
A companion for our beautiful Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is being built to replace the old I-30 bridge. I’m looking forward to that. The current bridge has been in bad shape and sadly insufficient for a long time. I’m sure the daily commuters who are dealing with the construction issues are even more eager than I am for the new bridge.
In fact, much of I-30 is being renovated. I remember when the thoroughfare was a toll road, but that was a long time ago. As a child, I was fascinated by the punch card the toll equipment spat out. It indicated the entrance you had used and being a child, I wondered how it knew.
Somewhere along the way, they made the road free and named it to honor a beloved coach of our Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry. A few years ago, they started using his trademark fedora as an icon for that stretch of highway. As a long time Dallasite and a big fan of Landry, I was glad to notice they are incorporating an image of the fedora in the overpasses.
We scored curbside parking under a tree and entered the museum. To get to the Piano Pavilion, where they house the special exhibitions, you have to go back outside and walk across the museum’s campus. Usually this is a pleasant prospect, but in the melting heat we did not linger.
The masterworks of Botticelli to Braque, Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland were drawn from three different museums in Scotland: the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. I’d been to the Scottish National Gallery a long time ago and had been amazed by their collection, so I was thankful for the opportunity to revisit a few of them. All fifty-five of the paintings are gorgeous. You need to see this exhibition.
The first thing you will notice when you enter are the bright red walls of central section of the exhibition. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started to pay attention to the color of walls in a museum. Usually they are some shade of white, but somewhere along the way they started using color on the walls of exhibitions and I like it. It helps set the mood for the show. These red walls mimic the red walls of the National Gallery of Scotland, as illustrated in a lovely photo near the entrance. I don’t remember if the walls were red when I was there or not.
Mr. Bill immediately walked into the glowing center section, but like a good museum girl, I read all the information posted on the entry walls and then headed to the left, just like I was supposed to. That placed me right in front of the Botticelli – The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, which immediately became one of my favorites of the exhibit. I love that the Kimbell includes an audio tour in the price of admission. From it I learned the lovely pink roses of the painting had no thorns, which symbolized the virgin birth and that the sleeping Christ child sleeps to remind us of the three days of His death before His Resurrection. I was also reminded to look in the lower corner of the painting to see the symbolic strawberries, but I had to turn to wiki to discover what they were symbolic of, but the list was too long to include here.
Another favorite of mine was a small portrait of a young girl mourning the death of a bird, painted in lovely pastels. The complexion of the girl is absolutely radiant and the whole painting seems to bloom with warmth I’d love to show it to you, but couldn’t find it online. I found the title and the artist, but they have it attached to a different picture on several sites and the Scottish National Gallery site says there are copyright restrictions. So, here’s another reason to go to the show.
A John Singer Sargent portrait of Lady Agnes of Lochnaw stares steadily from one of the exhibition’s walls. According to the audio tour, her calm confidence is deceiving, because while she appears stoic in the painting, she famously suffered a nervous breakdown while enjoying the fame the painting brought. Nearby is the familiar Three Tahitians from Gaugin. I also enjoyed Matisse’s charming little painting that comments on imagery. I couldn’t find it online either, but for a final taste of the show I offer Watteau.
The Second Look
One of the benefits of twenty-one years of marriage is that you finally figure out how to do things. We do exhibitions differently. He rarely starts at the beginning, doesn’t like audio tours, infrequently reads exhibition labels and hence is usually through long before I am. At the Kimball, he found a comfy, out-of-the-way chair and cat-napped while I lingered lovingly over each and every item.
When we were first married, we tried visiting museums in lockstep, but that only resulted in frustration for both of us. Enjoying the art and exhibits separately, lowered the frustration, but I missed sharing part. Our compromise is to look at exhibits separately, then go back through for an overview, showing each other our favorites and comparing our opinions.
The painting of the skater on the brochure above was one of Bill’s choices. He hadn’t been as fond of the Botticelli and had missed the strawberries completely. Most the other items on his list were very different from mine. This is the Carot he wanted to take home.
Do make time in your schedule to see this exhibition. It will only be in Fort Worth until September 20th, so make it soon! And come back next week, because I’ll tell you where we had a marvelous brunch before we headed over to the Kimbell.
TRAVEL HERE: THE BASSES AT FORT WORTH’S KIMBELL ART MUSEUM
If you had so much money that you could buy anything you wanted, what would you buy? The first thing I would probably do is run out and buy a Jaguar. Thankfully, folks like the Kimbells and the Basses are a little more philanthropic than that.
Time for a Day Trip
Building a house is an all-consuming project, but on a recent Sunday, hubby and I took a little trip over to Fort Worth. We needed a break.
I’d been over to the Kimbell for the “Faces of Impressionism” Exhibition, back in November, but it was a quick trip and I hadn’t lingered see the Kimbell’s own collection spread out into what had always been the special exhibition space. Hubby hadn’t even seen the Piano Pavilion, yet, so he was overdue.
Hello Old Friends
I’ve been hanging at the Kimbell since 1972, when it opened. Most of the time I was there for special exhibitions and their own collection was stuffed into one corner of the museum – but oh what a corner! It was sort fun to see what items from their expansive collection they chose to display at any given time. Seeing the collection spread out over twice as much space was such a joy. Old friends I hadn’t seen in decades were there to admire.
As I appreciated the wonderful collection I was reminded why the Kimbell gets so many wonderful special exhibitions. They get the exhibitions because they have so many amazing pieces of their own. You can get the Bernini exhibition when you have spectacular Berninis to lend to the exhibit. You can get Carravagio, when you have the compelling “Cardsharps” to lend to the show. And the list goes on.
Hello New Friends
After lingering for awhile in the South Gallery, I decided it was time to take Bill over to the Piano Pavilion. His attention span is somewhat shorter than mine at a museum and I didn’t want to go home until I’d seen the Bass collection, currently being exhibited. I almost lost him anyway, because as he wandered through the open spaces between the two buildings he started speculating on where he could put a rock garden like they have.
As I drug him up to the door of the Piano Pavilion, he asked if we’d have to pay money. I hadn’t actually researched that part of it, so I told him yes – but I was wrong. The Bass Collection exhibit is FREE. Thank you very much. Free and fabulous.
We walked in the exhibition space and almost bumped into a Rodin. Yep, this was going to be good. Rounding a corner we were gobsmacked by a bouquet of Impressionism so sweet that my heart throbbed. “I’ve never seen this one before,” Bill exulted as he stood in front of Vincent Van Gogh‘s “Streets in Santes-Maries-de-la-Mer.” Well, obviously, it had been in the Bass’s home, which we’d never been into, but his amazement was that in all the Impressionist exhibitions and TV shows and books and such that his wife has forced on him, there was more to see.
Rounding the next corner, we found another Rodin along with a marvelous collection of other sculpture, including a Remington and a Russell. The balance of the exhibit was more contemporary than our tastes run, but we appreciated the opportunity to see it. The Basses were purported to love their Rothko above and beyond all their other pieces. Me, I’d take one of the Van Goghs or maybe the Bonnard.
Shopping and Culinary Opportunities
Not only has the Kimball effectively doubled their exhibition space, they also doubled their opportunities for monetary collections. The old gift shop is now mostly devoted to books, while a gift shop in the Piano Pavilion is given over to delicious trinkets like jewelry, evening bags and desktop toys. Outside the new gift shop they were exhibiting a lot of primitive sculpture from places like South America and Africa.
When it comes to food, you can have snacks in the new pavilion or enjoy a meal at The Buffet Restaurant. I haven’t eaten at The Buffet since we lost Mom. Somehow it feels like it would be cheating.
More Old Friends
I knew I didn’t have much more time until Bill’s fatigue alarm went off, so I scurried back to the main museum and into the North Galleries. Along with many old favorites we enjoyed seeing Lawrence Alma-Tadema‘s “Between Hope and Fear,” a work which was visiting from elsewhere.
No time like the present to get over to Fort Worth for a visit. The opportunity to see the Bass Collection is well worth the trip. And then you can visit Joe T. Garcia’s. That’s how we topped off our perfect day trip to Fort Worth!
TRAVEL HERE: “BERNINI SCULPTING IN CLAY” AT FT WORTH’S KIMBELL ART MUSEUM
The Kimball Art Museum, over in Fort Worth, is hosting an exhibition called “Bernini, Sculpting in Clay,” but I think, perhaps it should be called, Body by Bernini. Do you remember when our American cars used to be built by Fisher Body Corporation? Each car bore the seal, “Body by Fisher” and that assured the owner of a quality chassis.
Who is Bernini?
Bernini may not be a familiar name to you, but you’ve most likely seen what he did. As the go-to sculptor for the popes, about a century after Michelangelo, his magnificent works are all over Italy. The central focus for all his sculptures are spectacular human specimens and let me tell you, he created some pretty amazing chassis.
Bernini’s finished works are massive works of marble, integrated into fountains, bridges and tombs. There would be no way to transport them to Fort Worth, but this exhibition is not focused on his finished work. In order to plan these triumphs in marble, Bernini thought out loud in clay. It’s these clay models you’ll see at the Kimball and I found them fascinating.
Modeling in Clay
Modeling in clay is a beginning point for most sculpture,whether the finished product will be marble, bronze, gold or granite. There are two types of clay models. One type is the model presented to a client for approval. “See, this is what it will look like when I get through!” There are examples of this type of clay model in the exhibit. But artist usually indulge in a few other practice models before they tackle a block of granite or marble. What was unique about Bernini was the sheer number of models he would create. This is the focus of the Kimball exhibition.
The exhibition follows the creation of works through a series of models, so you can see Bernini’s creative genius in stages. Through the wonders of technology, we can now peek behind the surface of paintings and see what changes an artist made throughout the creation of the work, but that’s impossible to do with marble. Clay tells the whole story. Through the clay of Bernini’s models we have his actual fingerprints, pressed into clay to create feathers on angels and scales on fish. We can see where he picked up clay to add bulk and where he used tool to create a texture.
Bernini a Rock Star
Another reason the Bernini exhibition reminded me of the Fisher Body Corporation was the separation between design and execution. Every car chassis bearing Mr. Fisher’s name was not crafted by Mr. Fisher himself. He was just the designer. And that’s just how Bernini worked. Bernini was the rock star of his age. Everyone wanted a piece of him. It would have been impossible for him to produce all the masterworks attributed to him all by himself. Many artist had people who worked with them, but Bernini was sort of the McDonald’s of art.
Bernini created the ideas behind the works, but he’d ship off his employees with an armload of models to sculpt the actual statues. Art historians have been able to figure out that he’d even turn the creation of the patron’s model over to members of his staff. Bernini would whip out sort of a rough clay sketch of his idea and his best modelers would turn that sketch into a finished piece for the patron’s approval.
Sculpture by Subtraction
One thing which has always baffled me about sculpture by subtraction (i.e. marble and granite) is how they know where to start. In sculpture by addition, they work out from a base, and even I can figure out how to add material to make fingers, toes and hair. But when you’re working with a block of marble, how do they know where to start forming that extended finger or a curl of hair or an elbow?
Bernini’s clay models give us an idea of how that happens, too. Small holes in the models show where pins were placed. Then the craftsmen would use string tied between the pins to guide them as they started chipping away at the marble. I still can’t imagine doing it, but I understand it better.
The Kimball is one of my favorite museums and this may just be the most interesting and informative exhibit they’ve had in a long time. Yes, I think you should go. The models are certainly works of art in their own right, but seeing them adds to the appreciation of the final works, of which there are life-sized photos throughout the exhibit. Besides that. once you see the exhibit, you can pop over to Joe T. Garcia’s for your Tex-Mex fix!
I want to start out by saying that the content of this exhibit is amazing and the staff on site is courteous to the point of graciousness. The reason I want to start there is because visiting the exhibit is time consuming and often frustrating – especially if you see it with someone who is mobility impaired. That should not keep you from going, but perhaps if you know a few of these things ahead of time, your experience will be a little more pleasant than mine.
Wednesday I blogged about the blessing I received by taking my mom to see the scrolls. Today it’s more about the frustrations. The adult general admission tickets are $25 during the week and $28 for weekends. There’s a group discount, a senior discount, a student discount and a child’s discount. Members of the military get in for free. I didn’t qualify for any of that. For me, the price seemed a little steep, especially if they want to reach out to non-Christians and interest them in the history of the Bible. With memberships to both the Arboretum and the DMA, I get to see most of what I want to for free – or at least reduced rates. After going to the exhibit I began to understand that most of this probably goes to staffing, because the seminary is not a museum – everybody there had to be brought in for the exhibit. Still I don’t want anyone to suffer sticker shock.
Southwestern Baptist Seminary is the host of the exhibition. Even though I grew up Baptist, I’d never been, so I had no idea where it was. I found out it was way out in the boonies. Don’t think the Stockyards, the cultural district or even downtown. Think Hulen Mall, which is only an exit or two west of the seminary on I-20. From my mom’s house, that’s over an hour of driving.
The tickets are timed. You’re given a thirty minute window for entry. You may need it. When I finally got to the campus, I had to find a place to park, but the parking lot is quite removed from the entrance, so then I had to figure out how to get my Mom to the front door. There is a covered drive where you can let people off, but there’s still the length of the building, a corner and then another stretch of building before you get to the door. Mom would have been worn out. I got as close to the front door as I could, parked illegally and helped my mom to the corner of the building. That was the best I could do. Then I had to park and make my way to the entrance and even though it was before 10:30 AM, it was hot. Made me wish I’d waited until later in the year to visit the exhibition.
I thought 10:30 on a Thursday morning would be a slow time for the exhibit. The campus did look fairly empty. A church delivered a couple of van loads about the time I was trying to get Mom unloaded, but they were small vans. When we entered the vast lobby of the J.W. MacGorman Performing Arts Center and Chapel, the number of people milling about seemed insignificant. However, getting to the exhibit’s entrance was not the end of our logistical nightmare.
After our long drive, our first destination was a restroom. There was no information desk or greeter, so I collared a security guard and asked for directions. We had to trek half the width of the lobby, down a ramp to the facilities, and then back up to the entry. I found the guard again and asked about a wheelchair, because Mother was wilting. They were able to provide one, but it seemed like they had to go over the river and through the woods to fetch it. Meanwhile, I discovered that even though I’d already purchased my tickets online, I had to stand in line with everyone else to actually gain admittance. Before you join a group to enter the exhibit, a security guard checks your handbag. I’m hoping that as the exhibit continues they figure out a way to streamline this whole process. I think the first step would be to allow access through the door closest to the parking lot which has the handicap ramp, but they didn’t ask for my advise.
The J.W. MacGorman Performing Arts Center and Chapel was not designed as an exhibition space. The Dead Sea Scrolls tour begins upstairs. Groups cluster around a guide in the lobby who introduces the exhibit and takes the group up. With the wheelchair, I had to wander back down by the bathrooms, take an elevator and miss whatever the introductory schpiel is.
The exhibition space upstairs is tight. Even with timed tickets too many people are trying to see the same thing in the same space. It felt very close and I knew if my claustrophobic husband had come with us he’d have been downstairs and out the building in about five minutes. Trying to maneuver the wheelchair also complicated things. There’s really not even enough space for people to be courteous. We had to hang at the edge of the group and see the display cases after the group had moved to the next case. However, that being said, it was well worth the effort.
At the beginning you stand among giant photos of the area where the scrolls were discovered. Then you enter rooms full of artifacts demonstrating slices of life in the time before the scrolls. The stage is set with Alexander the Great and then the Romans are introduced. The guides are well informed and really try to help you understand what you are viewing and what it has to do with the scrolls. They’ll show you some facsimile copies of the Isaiah scroll – the most intact found at Qumran, but don’t dismay the real articles are downstairs. Not the Isaiah scroll mind you, but plenty of scroll material from the caves.
Before long you go back downstairs – another tricky feat with the wheelchair. We had to have a guard escort us to the elevator and back out to the exhibit. We’d probably still be in the building if he hadn’t been with us, because you have to wander around in an area which was not designed for the public. The auditorium where they present the next phase of the experience was huge. Our group, which had been much too large upstairs, was dwarfed in the giant auditorium with it’s three large screens. The movie shown there really helps you understand how the scrolls were found and why they are significant.
However, you don’t exit the auditorium the way you came in. Everybody else had to climb up the stairs to the stage and exit through a side door. The stairs don’t have a railing. I saw a couple of folks crawl up or sit down and scoot up. Mom used a wheelchair lift. Then you wait in a faux Qumran cave. I thought it was a little touristy, but my mom liked it. Finally, we made it through to the holy of holies – the scrolls.
I shared a little bit with you Wednesday about being in the presence of the scrolls. It’s very easy to get distracted by all the inconveniences and forget why you came, but think about what you’re looking at in the scroll rooms and you’ll get over the distractions. After the scrolls, the exhibit features examples of the Bible from scrolls to the format you have on your bookshelf – even a modern day hand-copied and illustrated folio.
There’s more to the exhibit, a faux archaeology dig, but it was almost two by the time we left the exhibit. Between the exterior heat and our starvation, we were ready to go. We’d left Dallas at nine, making this a five hour endeavor – and we weren’t back home yet. As I mentioned, Hulen Mall is not far away and they have an Abuelo’s. I tossed out my diet and dove into some of their avocado enchiladas, but I stopped short of a margarita.
So see the scrolls, but wear comfortable shoes, schedule lots of time and bring plenty of patience. You’ll be glad you did.
For a little change of pace, Bill and I drove over to Ft. Worth yesterday. We’re no strangers to the other half of the Metroplex. We make regular pilgrimages to Joe T. Garcia’s and the museums. Ft. Worth is no slouch when it comes to culture. However, yesterday was not about museums or Mexican food. We were on our way to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
My Western Heritage
Fresh out of high school, I went down to Stephen F. Austin State University. Before long, I was scooting my own pair of Tony Lamas across the dance hall floor to the sounds of Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jerry Jeff Walker. I dated a bull rider and lost his heart to a barrel racer. I hung up the tooled leather belt with my name on the back a long time ago, but after that taste of rodeos and round ups, I thought I knew country.
So, was I ever in for a surprise!
Rodeo Seats Sold Out
My first surprise was a sold-out rodeo. It’s not like I showed up on opening day and expected a ring side seat. This thing had been going on for weeks. I assumed most everyone would have already been there. Whether the cowpunchers were just getting around to it or were coming again, they were there in force. Bill and I settled for general admission tickets to the stock show grounds.
When I visit The Great State Fair of Texas over here in Dallas, my many years of Fletcher’s Corny Dogs have etched a map of Fair Park into my brain. I know exactly where to park and short cuts to all my favorite attractions. That wasn’t the case yesterday. We took the shuttle from Billy Bob’s, faced disappointment in the rodeo ticket line and then wandered around lost. We ended up in the exhibits halls, but before I get to that let me tell you about the animals.
Shock at the Sheep Barn
By serendipity we stumbled out of the exhibits into the sheep barn. There Bill got his first up-close-and- personal look at a shorn ewe. He was a little thunderstruck. “Do you know what that looks like,” he asked. Let’s just say he finally understood the joke he’d heard about men who are men and scared sheep.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable and somewhat embarrassed, he herded me on to the rabbit barn. The cute little bunnies offered some education of their own. Many cages sported signs saying, “I bite.” Not what we expected from Peter Rabbit and Thumper. Then someone took one of their rabbits out of the cage and the animal had more fight in it than some of the bulls I’ve seen in rodeos.
Moving on, we discovered the cow barns and some more cow barns and then even more cow barns. We’d obviously wandered into the mother lode. Practical iron railings in concrete set the scene for cattle lolling in stacks of hay, but in spite of the utilitarianism of the surroundings, it was almost as if you could smell the money. This was serious business. Each heifer and bull was immaculately clean and recently blown dry. I saw one cow crook her neck to lick some spot of discomfort and the owner flew to the cow’s side to scratch away the cow’s concern in order to avoid saliva besmirching the perfect coiffure.
I don’t know all that much about raising cattle, but I know expensive equipment when I see it, even if I don’t know what it’s for. There were all manner of things I didn’t recognize in the stalls with the cattle and the faces of the cattle folk were stern. Squinted eyes pored over the well-groomed livestock for flaws. They were all getting ready for either the auction area or a panel of judges – and both demanded perfection. These cows and bulls weren’t pets or hobbies, they were livelihood. If we’d doubted that, we were corrected when we happened upon an auction where bulls were going for the price of luxury cars.
Still, we were aliens in a strange land. In stalls, next to the cows, were sleeping bags and coolers for the human cattle. Mom and Dad might be running the ranch, but in the ring, teens were showing the huge products of their pastures. City slicker sanitary concerns were thrown out the window as kids ate funnel cake sitting atop the family cow and a cowgirl drank her beer while blow-drying her heifer.
We were eventually all cowed out and welcomed the sounds of horses hooves, but these weren’t just any horses. We’d found the Gypsy Horses. These beautiful, muscular mounts sported long manes, luxurious tails and furry fetlocks. In the bovine arenas we’d been satisfied to stand at the top, watch the activity for a few minutes and then move on. These lovely animals demanded that we find a seat and pay homage to them.
We learned from the announcer that Gypsy Horses were the newest recognized breed in America. We also found out that they used to be solid colored, until the English were conscripting horses in World War I (think Spielberg’s Warhorse) and the wily gypsies found out that the military only wanted solid colored horses. So, they started breeding the horses for painted coats. The result is stunning.
Now, back to those exhibits. Like our familiar State Fair in Dallas, there were salad slicers, fudge flavors, massagers and glasses cleaners. Unlike the sports cars we salivate over in Dallas, the Ft. Worth Stock Show vehicles are real muscle machines. The tires were as tall as my six foot husband and the tread’s fist deep. Though we have no use for or understanding of the multiple kinds of equipment we saw, we wandered among them as if they were masterpieces carved out by Michelangelo.
But what really amazed me was the bah-da-bing-bah-dah-BLING. Thirty years ago, western wear was plaid shirts and Wranglers. Let me tell you that those days are over. Heavily embroidered jewel-encrusted jeans filled the clothing emporiums. Forget hand-tooled leather with flowing floral patterns framing your name. These belts had enough bling to make Rhinestone Cowboy Glen Campbell seem understated.
I remember when boots were all about the pointed lizard-skin wing-tip toe, but in a croc-meets-cowboy kind of amalgamation. Now its wide-toed boots, under-girded all the way to the heel with double stitched soles. What’s more, instead of colors like peanut brittle, black and brown in smooth stitched leather, the ladies were trying on suede boots in taupe and pink.
And those mother-of-pearl topped snaps that used to adorn western shirts? Fuhgeddaboutit! It was all embellished t-shirts with patterns borrowed from the tattoo parlor.
Well, I’m more informed about my country cousins now and if you hurry over to Ft. Worth, the Stock Show goes through Saturday, you can be, too. One things for sure, if I go next year, I’m wearing rhinestones.