Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Like a Kick in the Head"

I really enjoyed myself quite thoroughly on my trip to Des Moines with Karen, Friday. I'll give you an overview and then Break. It. Down.

We left at 10 and arrived uneventfully right on time to join Nathan for lunch at the Art Center's "five star" restaurant. Then we had a wonderful two hours absorbing the art. After getting a bit derailed by the one way street system, we had twenty minutes to buzz through the Capitol building. We then mastered the aforementioned street system and had supper at Court Avenue Brewing. This left us with enough time for me to 'av a pint at The Royal Mile, a British type pub, and another at El Bait Shop, with 100 taps from which beer comes. We arrived also on time for the Squirrel Nut Zippers concert (the main reason for the trip). The Dex Romweber Duo opened, and the Zippers headlined. And again we arrived uneventfully back at Lincoln right at 2.

Des Moines Art Center was really more than I had hoped for. I remembered that they had an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture from a documentary I'd watched on him. But the rest of their collection was really great and Karen and I really liked it. Some pieces I particularly enjoyed: Man and Pegasus, Women, Bird, Stars; Light over Gray by Rothko, A Panic That Can Still Come Over Me: Salvages II by Jess, Ballet Girl in White, Jasper Johns' Tennyson (a favorite of mine), Phantom in a Wooden Garden, Range by Brice Marden, Giacometti's Man Pointing, another one that was one of my favorites was a Samurai Tree by Gabriel Orozco, but I can't find a picture of it.

I thought it would be interesting to ask what the Art Center's guards' favorite piece was. Three out of five said John Singer Sargent's Portraits of Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron. Other favorites of the guards were Childe Hassam's Bridge in Snow, and Gerhard Richter's Landschaft. I liked the other John Singer Sargent they had there, Study of an Old Man, more. My favorite guard was Milton Bruce Jr. who had been at the center for 8 years after working 35 years mixing rubber for tires. He had worked at the same machine in the same room for 35 years. He said coming to the Center was like a kick in the head. I suppose so. It should also be mentioned that three different architects have designed segments building which is compelling in itself.

Karen and I were repeatedly impressed by Jean Dubuffet. We first saw his Villager with Close Cropped Hair on the main floor. And there were a couple others I really liked including The Gardens of the Highway. Another piece I couldn't find images of but enjoyed was Leon Golub's Colossol. And to fully document the rest of the pieces I liked: Ernst Barlach's The Avenger and Ritman's Nude in Landscape.

The Capitol Building was impressive. My opinion was that I liked the art of the Nebraska Capitol and the structure and ornament of the Iowa building.

Court Avenue Brewing was good. Karen liked her Porto Bomb sandwich and I my Black and Tan Reuben. They even had a very good bread pudding for dessert (though Famous Dave's is still tops). I tasted three of their beers and their root beer. I didn't care for the Blackhawk Stout or the Kaplan Hat Hefeweizen, but I did like the Capital Raspberry Wheat and their root beer was quite good with just enough kick. We then hit the Royal Mile where I had Fuller's London Porter. I liked it, but it was really sweet, so much that a whole glass was almost too sweet. At El Bait Shop I had Bell's Oberon, a wheat beer, that had very nice citrus overtones. Bell's is from Michigan.

By now it was time to head over to the Hoyt Sherman Place for the concert. The Dex Romweber Duo opened and did a fine job. I was thinking of how to describe them to you, and I decided that their style and music is what would have happened if the White Stripes (Dex's sister Sara plays the drums.) were born in the early 40's and had matured musically with the rise of Rock and Roll. And sure enough, if you click on my first link to them, there is a quote from Jack White about his influence. Dex is reminiscent of a winner of an Elvis contest at the Kremlin.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers were great. The last few concerts I've been to are Sufjan Stevens, Of Montreal, Ryan Stupe and the Rubber Band, and Gym Class Heroes. Sufjan opened his Austin City Limits concert with butterfly wings on his back, The Of Montreal lead singer opened his Sokol Underground show in a wedding dress so that he could legally make love to the audience. Ryan Stupe plays the fiddle and they have a song about a Banjo Boy.

Well Katherine Whalen opened the show with cowboy boots, a wedding dress, and butterfly wings, oh and she also played the banjo. The wings were the only thing that didn't last the whole show. I must say I was quite smitten. I'm definitely glad that our seats were in the center of the second row with no one sitting in front of us. They played all their hits from their previous three or four albums; this is their first tour in seven years. And then we got to participate in that great charade where they pretend they are done with the show and the audience pretends they have the power to control musicians by merely standing and clapping. Good stuff.

Between Dex and the Zippers I walked around the lobby and noticed the name Mrs. Galusha Parsons. I don't know if that is her husband's name or hers.

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At July 22, 2007 5:04 PM, Blogger Buffy Turner said...

Does that mean the Squirrel Nut Zippers are a country band, then? Or is that faulty logic, going from cowboy-boots-clad-girl to country music?

And you like the Gym Class Heroes? I loved their Take a Look at My Girlfriend song when it came out, and even now, months later, when my ipod lands on that song, I go at least ten mph faster on my bike.

At July 22, 2007 5:08 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

It is faulty logic. The SNZ are like a southern swing type group from NC. And my sister is the one that really likes the Gym Class Heroes, but I enjoyed their show too.

At July 22, 2007 8:25 PM, Blogger Cerise said...

"Like a kick in the head": awesome.


At July 23, 2007 8:00 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Sweeping beauty, you forgot sweeping beauty!


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