Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Days 0-1: E-ville to KC (March 13-14)

Days 0: E-ville to KC 

THB and DB are on the art trail again, heading to Kansas City for the national ceramics show, NCECA. We've done NCECA before on our own (with E&J) when it was in Seattle, and we've done the art touring of KC before (with the Oakland Museum, E and DB co-leading). So this time we're combining the two: we're on the NCECA Collectors Tour (E&J had to bow out at the last minute).

The lake behind the loft is back for the first time in a few years

What happened to THB's i-pod

It's raining in E-ville (HURRAY!) and some drivers still aren't used to the wet roads: we pass a single car accident with the car facing the wrong way on the shoulder of the highway divider. Southwest is running late due to weather. We end up eating our top shelf lunch from home in the departure area, and DB notices the young woman next to her is looking at ceramics...yep, she's going to NCECA.

It's also daylight savings today, so we're pretty sure we've got a three hour time change, not a one hour change. It's still light when we arrive, which means we have no excuse for our inability to find the taxi stand. Turns out in KC the cabs wait outside the airport and you use a phone inside the terminal to call them in, one at a time.
The Ambassador

$55 later we're in front of the Ambassador Hotel (no, not the one we got married at a longggggg time ago in a distant land...that one is gone!), a boutique hotel about 5 short blocks from where the conference is hq'd and where we will be joining up with the tour daily for the next 5 days. The room is lovely, a suite with 1.5 bathrooms, a very nice living room and work desk and a king size bed.

And, the hotel provides a free shuttle within a 5 mile radius, and we take advantage of that service to have dinner at Port Fonda. Before we've left the shuttle it is pretty obvious that at least one thing will make the experience: the music coming from the restaurant is LOUD!

After perusing the menu, we order drinks and an appetizer: local brewski for THB, a spicy cocktail for DB, and sikil pak (spicy pumpkin seed dip with raw and roasted veggies and fresh corn tortillas). The appetizer appears. We wait for the drinks....and wait....and wait....and THB gets up to find our server who replies when found: I can see them sitting there at the end of the bar. Somehow she missed the "sorry" part.

We order our next courses. "I am not sorry" returns after a few minutes to tell us that the kitchen has just let her know that one of the items ordered is no longer available. Hmmmmm....

Achiote roasted chicken tacos and diesmillo (ahogada style); braised beef chuck roll served cazuelitas style in a small skillet, with beans and rice and tortillas. Pretty good. $70 with a small tip and no apologies. The shuttle shows up shortly, two more hotel guests have asked to be dropped off at Port Fonda and they look way younger and more hip than us so we don't bother giving them any advice.

Day 1: KC

THB is up early, too early (mostly because DB remembered our conversation last night and reminded THB that he was thinking about a workout). Off to the fitness center, a small affair in the basement; 35 minutes on the treadmill and no ESPN available.

Breakfast in the hotel dining room, Reserve. HAH! THB and DB are the only two people eating this morning (it's now 7:15). DB goes for oatmeal and THB has the yogurt parfait with granola (too sweet) and, at DB's insistence, something called farm-to-market multi-grain bread, toasted.  DB's is the shining star of deciphering menu speak! The toast is fabulous (tomorrow THB may only be ordering toast). Really good. Exceptional. Worth a detour. Now to find out where Reserve gets it and arrange a visit on our last day!

At 8ish we stroll up to the Marriott to meet-up with our NCECA Collector's tour, about 25-30 of us. During the day the group  grows, seemingly (actually) adding people at every stop. The morning is taken up with a 1.5 hour drive to the State Fair Community College (and the same on the return to the Marriott) to see the Daum Museum (on campus). A great collection.

Pop Quiz: Pick either A or B:
A. The Daum work is extremely good work well displayed and well lit
B. Since his cataract surgeries, THB now thinks all art is well displayed and well lit (not all of it is extremely good)

Frankenthaler and Annabeth Rosen

The largest Ron Nagle ever

Box lunches on the bus: inedible sandwich and THB forces down half a cookie.
Where the sandwiches came from

Back to the Marriott for 15 minutes (and to add more people to the group...we're between 30 and 40 now). Here's some public art around the corner from the Marriott:

We visit two private collections in the afternoon. The first is by a long-time local artist that THB and DB are so disinterested in that we don't even tour the house (please take off your shoes and put on slippers). Apparently we missed out on a few unusual Akio pieces.

From her studio:

The second private collection is a short drive away in a terrific late 1920s house now undergoing some touch up. The collection is heavy in ceramic plates and excellent 2D work and great outdoor sculpture.

Mihara Ken (THB and DB have one prominently displayed on our dining room table)

Amazing to see these two collections back-to-back!

Another short drive and we're at the KC Art Institute Artspace (KCAI is a big deal here and in the art world, turning out many talented artists). More of a meet and greet with more new people, munchies and drinks and a show that takes only a few minutes to view, leaving THB a lot of time to chat up fellow tour members. DB listens in on the background of the exhibit and gives THB the 30 second debrief.

THB has about 4 ounces, it's plenty!

Video work

As we're busing back to the Marriott, THB and DB realize that we're dining at a place we ate at for the introductory dinner of the OMCA trip 3 years ago. It's less than a mile away, so after a short rest-up we walk in the lovely pre-sunset eve. It's rush hour: the streets are empty of traffic and people.

Introductory dinner at Rieger’s Grill and Exchange - 2013. DB has arugula salad, braised catfish with cornbread, and chocolate banana cheesecake; THB has smoked duck soup, goat au vin, and pecan pie (and a local brewski). Rieger’s is in old downtown area that is, like many another town, in the midst of a gentrification, with art galleries and hip eating places trying to lead the way. Lots of interesting art on the walls, and a terrific mural in our private dining room. Meal included in tour cost.

Introductory dinner at Rieger’s Grill and Exchange - 2016. DB has frisee salad, seared salmon and Meyer lemon pot au creme; THB has rabbit stew (a cup), roast chicken, and chocolate cake (really, raspberry cake with chocolate layers). Now there are more than 40 of us!

(sorry, forgot to turn the flash back on)

Our take: the meal three years ago was more adventurous; the quality of the food is still very high. Dining at the restaurant at collectors who are hosting us tomorrow, so we get the preview intro tonight. 

This time about 8 of us walk back, it's even nicer now than earlier. 

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