Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 24: Omaha

Day 24: Omaha

In fact, at Olympic National Park in my district, they 3 years ago had 130 summer employees they brought in for temporary work. This summer they have 25 because they cannot afford more.
Norm Dicks

Pics: Local ballpark, famous Omahan’s house (guess who!), Joslyn Art Musuem Chihuly, Doughtery piece, our bus, no plugging the pawking meters, Kanekos’ loft from outside, Bob Brady comb cover, public art in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Hung Liu, Therm Statom and Betty Woodman pieces up for auction, just another utility box

We get an extra half hour today before leaving and THB puts that to good use by sleeping longer and posting Day 23. Breakfast buffet again, rice krispies and strawberries for THB, DB has same as yesterday, included. Oh, and DB goes out for a run, THB avoids the elliptical.

Our first stop is the Shrager Collection, a private museum, mostly very large pictures of recent vintage (a few Schnabel plate paintings, a Jim Dine and a lot of stuff by artists I don’t recognize and 100% of which I don’t like). The director is as close to a pretentious art history professor THB has seen/heard in a long time (DB likes her!). All the picture descriptions are exactly 125 words (THB has time to count them twice) and exactly the kind of descriptions that take the emotion out of looking at art.

Finally, we’re released to the Joslyn Art Museum, see the pic and figure out which side is the Norman Foster addition (his first US commission). Lots of old stuff and finally we see the current rotation exhibit: Kent Bellows. Terrific!! Lots of studies near the final piece, pencil on paper that looks like a photograph, self-portraits of a tortured soul. Local Omahan, tortured in life as well and died from too much excessive bad behavior. Worth a detour. And, outside the museum, is a piece by the guy, Patrick Doughtery, that did the twisted branches in the trees in front of SF city hall. Good!

Lunch at the Upstream Brewing Company: grilled pork cutlet sandwich for THB (and lousy french fries, came with the sandwich so couldn’t turn them down….yeah, right) and chicken club for DB, plus one of the tour has anonymously sponsored brewskies for anyone on the tour! Scottish ale (smooth and dark) for THB and DB has pale ale. Apple crumble with whipped cream for dessert, three times the size of last night and only half as good. Included in the tour (and sponsored brews, free!).

Then we visit the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, where there residencies (we visit several), lots of work up as Bemis is getting ready for the annual auction (note the big names/pics of artists that have donated work: Liu, Statom, Woodman). Pretty interesting place, lots of space for different level of artist (including the “underground” section, see the “Bob Brady comb cover….a joke!).

Then we head for Iowa! We check in with some guys whose job is to spend a percentage of the money on public art that the casinos in Iowa throw off. Tough job, since they have no money worries and the locals wanna make sure that big art is put in place to help attract more visitors to Council Bluff (oh, and maybe they’ll visit the ubiquitous casinos too).

See pics of the Albert Paley sculptures on either side of a bridge crossing I-80. Very much the mirror of the Donohue sculptures that graces either side of the pedestrian bridge crossing I-80 in Berkeley at University. Amazingly similar, lots of people hate the Paley sculptures (see pics), same for Donohue’s (I like the Berkeley sculptures, especially up close when riding by on bike). The casino guys also have put in a huge Kaneko installation (22 pieces, plus some huge tiled walls), large metal sculptures here and there, rabbit heads in downtown Council Bluffs, and a rejuvenated fountain in middle of CB park. They done well with their funds!

On return, we do a small-group visit to the Bemis, our dinner party companions are considering buying a piece from a group done by one of Kaneko’s assistants. While there, we end up switching our dinner plans from one steak place to another. Cab is called, 25 minutes later arrives a cabby from the “we will spook you out” cab company. Pasty, sweating, rotating eyes (not necessarily in synch) and a cab that won’t go over 30 mph without banging around somewhere (so we never go faster than 30). By the time we are crossing through an isolated area in the midst of a golf course, the four of us (three women in back, THB in front) are thinking the same thing: we’re gonna end up in a ditch somewhere that cell phone service doesn’t work.

Phew, we’ve arrived at the Drovers, west of downtown (everything is west of downtown because east is the river and Iowa), $18 and about 30+ harrowing minutes. Fortunately, dinner is a lot better: we decide to share steaks, DB and THB get a porterhouse. The house specialty is to soak the steaks in whiskey before grilling, and that only happens after you order, so it takes a while. It is worth the wait!!!! For those of you who read Ruth Reichl’s memoirs (volume 2?) where she talks about eating steak and getting that sense of satisfaction around your mouth area when eating a good steak, THB has that for at least 45 minutes. There was no meat left on the bone when THB got done gnawing at it. Baked potatoes, Midwest salad bar, drinks and beer and wine: $80 for two.

Cab ride home, this time the cab is from the “we move you fast” company, the guy shows up right away, takes the freeway back to the Hilton, ride lasts about 10 minutes, and is $25. Worth the extra few bucks, that’s for sure.


  1. remind me to tell you about people taking the life out of art sometime....not in print. love sassy widow

  2. THB will try and remember because that is about all THB seems to do: Now, where am I? What was I going to do? What was I doing before I was trying to remember where I was or what I was doing?