Showing posts with label Wichita. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wichita. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's there to do in Wichita, Kansas? Why not see breathtaking art?

No matter where I go in the world, I swear I could find the most interesting things to do in any given town. Wichita, Kansas was no exception. In fact, there were so many interesting things to do around Wichita, I couldn't fit them all in.

Walt and Mary, my couchsurfing hosts in Columbia, Missouri, had recommended two attractions nearby in Mary's hometown, of Hutchinson, Kansas.

I didn't get around to seeing: the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center or the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. Why, you'd have to go all the way to Poland or Austria to see something similar to this salt mine! I didn't get it done. Next time.

I ask you, however, what is something really wonderful in your neighborhood you haven't yet experienced? The problem isn't finding interesting things to do - it's actually doing them! What are you waiting for? Go see it! There may never be a next time.
I am mesmerized with this Modernist view
from the main lobby in the Wichita Art Museum.
These pictures make me giddy!
One of the fun things my friend from Prague, Gulnara, and I did while I was visiting her in Wichita was go see the Wichita Art Museum. I love the surprise of finding this modernist museum in the middle of the prairie.

I was enthralled to find two fantastic exhibits there: the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art and another exhibit called "Visions of Mexican Art."
Surprise matters.
a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture
in the main lobby or entrance foyer
has become an American art museum cliché.

I say that respectfully, because I recognize
the energy, power, and majesty of his pieces.

Please surprise me, curators.
Is there a new way his works could be exhibited?
From the visions of Mexico exhibit:
a new representation of Chac Mool,
the ancient Mayan God.
Another artist's homage to Frida Kahlo.
Love her!
These paintings were from Mexico's innovative art-for-taxes program that allowed Mexican artists to pay their taxes with their creative output.

The African-American collection represented works from three centuries. I love African-American art and music, especially jazz. Two of my favorite American artists are Romare Bearden and Jean Michel-Basquiat. Romare Bearden is represented in the collection, yet there were many drop-dead gorgeous works new to me. How proud these collectors must be to have assembled this collection of extraordinary works on paper. Thank you for sharing it, Dr. and Mrs. Kelley.
Sharecropper, 1952
by Elizabeth Catlett
"Jitterbugs III," ca. 1941-42
by William Henry Johnson
"Dance Composition, #35," 1981
by Eldzier Cortor
"Anyone's Date," 1940
by Ernest T. Crichlow
"Thistle," 1966
by Walter Williams
an expatriate artist who lived in Denmark
during the 1960's.

You can see the Scandinavian influence
in the background, yes?
"Boogie Woogie"
by Charles Louis Sallee, Jr.

I loved the energy communicated
in just these few simple lines.
"Street Car Scene," 1945
by John Woodrow Wilson

What do you suppose he's thinking?
"The Carpenters," 1977
by Jacob Lawrence

Do you know any carpenters?
Lawrence completely captured
their stance, their energy, &
the dignity of their work.
I love this piece.

What I deeply appreciated about the Wichita Art Museum's mounting of these two shows is their highlighting of the best of the America's minority populations (here assuming that Mexican culture carries over into America).

All over the world, institutions are in crisis for breaking their social contracts with their publics, but I've noticed museums have really stepped up to help their citizens cope with change, prepare for change, and accept change.

In Wichita, it was these very visible celebrations of two ethnic groups that will make up a larger segment of American life in the future.

In Prague, I saw the City Museum of Prague put on a terrific exhibit explaining Vietnamese culture to the Czech population, because Czechs have a hard time relating to their new Asian immigrants.

In Istanbul, the Istanbul Modern Art Museum mounted a show celebrating all of the Armenian-designed buildings in Istanbul, generating recognition for Armenian contributions to the beautiful city people experience today.

I admire the work of these museums. Our globe thirsts for this level of strategic engagement. Acceptance of "the other" can't happen fast enough. These institutions, probably operating with very small budgets, are engaging their publics beyond the museum's artistic mission, to an even larger mission of cross-cultural understanding. Bravo!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hanging out with old friends in Wichita, Kansas

After my daughters and I spent a few days in Arkansas, my children and I parted. It was incredibly satisfying for me to know they were both now college educated. My oldest was on her way about to take the next step in life, getting engaged. My youngest daughter had a few days at home with her father before she started her new job as an Oscar Mayer Brand Ambassador and Weinermobile Driver.
Nhan and Gulnara
with her baby bump
My next step while I was home in America was to rent a car to drive to Wichita, Kansas. That may seem like an odd destination for someone to go to all the way from Istanbul, but I had wonderful friends from Prague living there (Gulnara and I had done TEFL training together) and I wanted to be present with them at an exciting moment in their lives. Gulnara and Nhan were expecting their first child! Oh, how my friend Gulnara had longed for this! It was wonderful to see her slow down and "listen" to this growing child inside of her.

I loved, loved, loved being pregnant and was so sad when my own second pregnancy was done because I knew it was the last time. It's such a wonderful time in a woman's life feeling a child inside growing, stretching, and kicking.
Gulnara and me
As always, one of the great joys of spending time with Gulnara and Nhan is their amazing hospitality. The first thing Nhan did when I walked in the door was chop open a fresh coconut with a big machete and hand me fresh, cold delicious coconut juice. How fun is that?

Every morning I enjoyed robust coffee from the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans that Nhan made me with their wonderful coffee maker. I remember when I was a little kid thinking that coffee was so dark no one could actually drink it and like it. How our tastes change over a lifetime! Now, thanks in no small part to Turkish coffee, I love deep, rich coffee. Wow, was that good.
Nhan cooking up
some crayfish
Doesn't that look amazing?
Vietnamese noodles
with carmalized onions on top
Peking Duck
Warren Theatre
in Wichita, Kansas
One night when Gulnara wasn't feeling 100% and needed to rest, Nhan and I went to watch "The Avengers" in 3-D on Wichita's IMAX screen, which is six stories high and 100 feet high. The Wichita IMAX theatre cost $7.2 million and features the largest digital screen in the country. I'm not much of a comic book girl but the movie was so fun and so engaging in 3-D, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I saw it with "overseas" eyes. Our entertainment industry gets so much admiration from folks in other lands, I walked out the theatre feeling very patriotic.

I look forward to hearing all about Gulnara and Nhan's child's development. Even though pregnancy reminds me of the wonders of life, it didn't make me want to be a grandmother any sooner though. I sure am loving this expat life!

You might also enjoy these other blog posts about my trip home to America:

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