Thursday, December 3, 2009
Philadelphia - Day 2
- Hank Murta Adams and Wheaton Art Center
- Outsider Art
- Le Bec Fin
Claes Oldenburg: I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.
Breakfast is included in our room charge so we are eating at the hotel, and the repast is quite nice: excellent pastries (though not Arizmendi or Lagkagehuset), eggs and waffle station, and cereal. No aerochino, so DB is drinking her coffee black.
Off to the Wheaton Art Center and Glass Museum, 45 easy minutes north of Philadelphia into New Jersey. The head of the Center is a well known glass artist named Hank Adams, who makes large whimsical glass heads. Hank has been working at the Center for 7 years, and is good friends with the co-leader Evans and her husband John; John did a workshop with Hank and subsequently helped him with demos, and John helps him (along with others at the center) with a great demo of poured glass while we eat lunch (deli sandwiches, quite good when dolled up with the peppers and peppercinis, and homemade brownies).
The pictures are as follows:
- Hank drawing a "map" on the concrete floor of where to build the piles of sand
- Jug Head, aka Bathroom Art
- Hank working on interconnecting the piles of sand
- Co-workers interconnecting the piles of sand while the tour watches (THB in there somewhere)
- Hank pouring
- Hank admiring the finished work
- A fine piece by Therman Statom
The glass museum is also fascinating, much to our surprise. Wheaton was originally a very large glass bottle manufacturer, and the center grew around endowments the owner made in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They have a display of Hank’s new work, individual pieces by many current artists, and then pieces going way, way back (we do the tour of the museum backwards, newest to oldest, so Hank can talk about his work and then go prep for the demo). In the “eccentric” category: a small glass casket and sample glass casket that salesmen carried around marketing to potential clients. Didn’t go over (or under) too well, these suckers are heavy!
During the free time after the demo, Hank shows us some of his work, including pieces in the bathroom (functional, and periodically used, so we politely continue the discussion outside). We love his work, and have admired it for years. We end up really liking a piece, entitled Jug Head (well, who knew, another head for our collection?). Who knows, it may end up in our bathroom at the loft...same-same!
Back to Philadelphia, and before dinner we get a tour of a terrific collection of outsider (untrained) art on one floor of a law firm. The collection was put together by a local couple, and Sheldon was the firm’s managing partner for 10 years. He leads the tour, and clearly has a passion (obsession) for this “primitive” style of work, some of which you can easily see is done by untrained artists and some of it borders on hyper-modern museum quality as done by more famous “trained” artists, and some of these outsider artists are also collected by modern art museums.
Then on to dinner at Le Beq Fin, one of the more famous restaurants in town. The tour gets to eat here because (due to the recession) the restaurant bypasses their policy of only serving a six course meal and offers us a three course meal, which is excellent. The salad was actually made up of individual, super fresh leaves (almost crunchy), the salmon was perfectly cooked and complemented by a lentil base, and the chicken was luscious. The chocolate cake was a small (phew) square of intense chocolate frosting alternating with a strong chocolate layer cake. I had heard about this restaurant for many years and assumed it was overrated; definitely NOT the case.
During dinner, I am chatting up the woman on my right, Raine. She has been on many, many Oakland Museum tours. We have been on one. She was on the same tour we were on. We do not recognize each other. Hmmmmm...I could forget a woman named Rain? She could forget a guy that wore a baseball hat every day, one of the few men on the trip? After a few minutes, we remember that the New York/Hamptons trip had been oversubscribed and she was on Trip 1 and we were on Trip 2. Phew....or, maybe we had both had just a bit too much wine at that point and forgot what was obvious to others once we told the story.
Easy walk back to the hotel. In fact, the hotel is so well located that the more mobile of us can walk to our destinations because the town is so compact AND the bus routes are convoluted due to all the one way streets.