Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 27: Des Moines

Day 27: Des Moines
My favorite place is Central Park because you never know what you're going to find there. I also like that when I look out the windows of surrounding hotels, it's seems like I'm looking out over a forest.
Haley Joel Osment

Pics: Fitness Center, utility boxes (one with “separate” meter!), bikes for day rent and a couple wheeling away, the office open on Saturday (so garage door is up), sculptures in the downtown park (the large white see through made of “words” is by Plensa, the colorful figures are by Haring), a Goldsworthy at the DM Art Center, DB in the DMAC elevator, dessert on the table before lunch arrives, a Yayoi piece (minus the piece, since we can’t photograph work in the museum, only outside).

Breakfast on La Mie cinnamon pecan swirl bread and coffee. Well, first we have shredded wheat with blueberries and raspberries, a real treat (really, this is so much better than lousy pancakes or rice krispies). We order a knife (to cut the bread) with the coffee and as the waitress arrives (10 minutes later) she manages to spill a small carafe of cream all over the table and floor (and DB doesn’t use cream!). While the cleanup ensues, THB grabs the knife, cuts off slices, and heads to the toaster. This bread is in the class above first class when warm.

At the bus at 9am, we learn that there is a farmers market going on about 5-6 blocks away. Too bad, THB would’ve been there at the crack of dawn instead of in the fitness center (DB rode the bike this morning, too).

Jeff, the Director of the Des Moines Art Center, meets us and gives as a very good tour of the downtown area from the bus, and then by foot of the sculpture park just down the street from the hotel. Of course there are Butterfield horses, THB has now figured out that every museum and serious collector between Reno/Las Vegas and Chicago/St Louis has one (or more) of her horses, primarily because they are really really really good! We’ve seen four in this town in under 12 hours.

Also in the park is a large piece by Plensa (Plenn-sha), Barcelonan guy that has big work in Chicago’s Millenium Park (near the Kapoor Bean), and we take a group photo there. Also a pic of the small Serra that seems to be undergoing some repair (how does a Serra “break”???). The Haring is very good (see pic), and there must be 20 other sculptures.

On to the DMAC where Jeff gives us a tour of the galleries and explains the architecture, since the museum has had two major renovations, and talks about the art. Original building designed by Eliel Saarinen, then IM Pei did an extension, and finally Richard Meier in 1985. The IM Pei portion is probably the second best gallery THB has seen, after the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Maybe it is first…the natural light is phenomenal, the big pieces look great, the floor is special, the walls even better.

Another advertisement: THB suggests strongly if you are ever near a place with something to see, make the detour. For example, if you near Oklahoma City, the memorial is a must see. If you are near Des Moines, THB highly recommends going to the DMAC.

And, they have a great collection of art, with each piece displayed to optimize the impact of the piece (not all museums actually do that, strangely) and they do not crowd the work. In the history of the museum, the purchasing has been done keenly: they have a great Hopper, the best Kiefer many of have seen (he’s terrific: large work with lead and stuff stuck on to the work, and painted), a Goldsworthy (see pic) cairn with matching negative space holder, and a number of other great pieces, a very good John paired with small “replica” done by another artist, Rauschenberg, a terrific Maya Lin piece, on and on. A gem….

Lunch at the DMAC café, note that desserts that were placed on the table before we sat down. THB eats backwards has his rhubarb/apple pie first and then his gumbo. Nobody seems to notice because half the table does the same thing.

Then we visit another private collection, in a large ranch style (though two levels) house. Of note, they have a sliding screen system to hide their fireplace, sort of the way THB and DB hide their TV in E-ville. They have one terrific piece (according to THB): a Plensa piece on paper (nobody quite sure what he’s done to apply it). Lots of other work, such as a Warhol Mao, Thiebaud water color, Stella, all fit into the house with not much room to spare.

Dinner at Azalea’s, which four us turn into a 3 block walk even though it is ½ a block from the hotel. Guess we don’t know our way around town yet. Steak and Caesar salad for THB, sea bass and endive salad for DB, s’mores for both (coffee ice cream on a small melted marshmallow, chocolate sauce on a ginger cake). Nice going away dinner, we share our faves from the art seen over the last week.

Back to the driving to NPs trip tomorrow!

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