March 2010


Cowboys, Chihuly and Curiosity

Music & Memorial

Four Days in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hearing we were headed to Oklahoma people often inquired why. They would be surprised by how positive, educational and entertaining we’ve found our experiences. We came to Oklahoma City primarily to visit a couple of museum and become acquainted with the community. Mission accomplished.End of the Trail Sculpture

Highlights:

  • Edgar Cruz Concertseeing this talented guitarist live in a casual setting was a real bonus; and, he’s as personable as he is talented. A  great evening.
  • National Cowboy & Western Heritage MuseumThe reputation of this major facility was a major priority on the trip. We expected to spend at least a half day; instead, we arrived 1/2-hour after opening at 10am and where there until closing at 5pm. Many of exhibits deserved even more time.
  • Ceiling Oklahoma City Museum of Art The large and comprehensive Dale Chihuly glass collection is a must see.
  • Oklahoma City National Memorial A sobbering tribute of the 168 innocent victims killed in the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah building. Our visit was too late in the day to also visit the museum but I’m sure it is also very moving.
  • Science Museum Oklahoma – Hundreds of interactive exhibits and activities plus IMAX theater,Science Museum - Falling Featherplanetarium, Science Live! presentations and two halls of fame. It seemed like every family in Oklahoma choose  the Science Museum for  the first day of spring break.
  • Mama Roja’s Mexican Kitchen When the wait Saturday night was 2 hours we went elsewhere; but returned Sunday to good food and margaritas and exceptional service.
  • Staybridge Suites at Quail Springs So comfortable we extended our stay – and, a great value on weekends.

Additional Activities:

  • Dining on Persimmon Hill Within the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the restaurant offers either a lunch buffet or menu items.
  • Swadley’s BBQ Recommended by the hotel desk clerk; nothing fancy but tasty and reasonably priced.
  • OK Capitol and Oil Well State Capitol Photos Stopped by the Oklahoma capitol building Sunday morning for photos of the classical structure, on-site oil well and Allan Houser sculpture.
  • Steak ‘n Shake in Edmond – A Steak ‘n Shake visit is always a step back to my youth.

If we hadn’t both been fighting colds and I was gimping around with a bad knee reminiscent of Chester on Gunsmoke we would have done even more. Perhaps next time!

Wright & Western Wonders

We made a day trip from Tulsa to Bartlesville combining a hardy dose of Frank Lloyd Wright and an afternoon of Western heritage at Woolaroc, the former ranch retreat of oilman Frank Phillips circa 1925.

Price Tower 66 Price Tower in downtown Bartlesville holds the distinction of being the only realized skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Commissioned by Harold C. Price, the 19-story structure opened in 1956. Today the building hosts offices, The Inn at Price Tower, Copper Bar and the Price Tower Art Center.

From Bartlesville we drove westward to the Osage Hills. Although the multitude of trees stand bare the last week of official winter we easily imagine the beauty of the area in leafy green or the colors of autumn. Woolaroc – the name derived from the words: woods, lakes, rocks – encompasses 3,600 acres. Visitors discover a diverse hidden gem featuring wildlife preserve, museum celebrating the American West, Phillip’s historic lodge home, petting barn, mountain man camp, picnic sites and walking trails.

*Additional Bartlesville HighlightsWoolaroc Bison

*Recommended Eateries

 Another Day, Another Museum

Gilcrease Museum – Tulsa, Oklahoma


No Irish jig, Celtic music or corned beef for us this St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, we spent the day submerged in Western art at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Another day when we thought we would take in two museums but by 1pm we knew we needed the rest of the afternoon to finish at the Gilcrease.Gilcrease Museum

Permanent Exhibits include:

  • Enduring Spirit: Native American Artistic Traditions
  • The American West
  • Ancient Americans: Treasures from the Hispanic Heritage Collection
  • The Southwest
  • Kravis Discovery Center
  • Olaf Wieghorst
  • KS Ranch – Hands-on Kids Stuff

Featured Limited Time Exhibits include:

  • The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture – through May 2, 2010
  • The West of Olaf Seltzer – through August 29, 2010
  • Unconquered: Allan Houser and the Legacy of One Apache Family  – through March 21, 2010

Gilcrease Sculpture We took a break from the exhibits for a pleasant lunch at The Restaurant at Gilcrease overlooking sculptures in the garden and wooded rolling hills. White table linens, sparkling stemware, initialed charger plates and a professional, well-trained staff create an elegant yet comfortable ambiance. The menu offered interesting options from a bison burger, vegetarian quiche or Santa Fe chicken salad to lobster yellow corn soup.

As the volunteer at the information desk said, “It’s good for people to find out we’re not a cultural desert in Oklahoma.”

 Welcome to Oklahoma

March 12, 2010

DSCN8810 After being buffeted by March Kansas winds and a short stop in Dodge City we turned south towards Oklahoma. The constant wind force stands flags straight out in a horizontal sheet, tall grasses arc to touch heads to the ground in prayer and each passing cattle truck seems to draw the car with magnetic force. We’re reminded of the drought years of the 1930s when the region earned the moniker, “Dust Bowl”.

I’m currently reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, the story of those who survived the Dust Bowl years. I truly can’t relate to experiencing the same winds carrying tons of top soil, blocking sunlight and thickening the air until one literally couldn’t see their hand in front of their face.

Today the land supports cattle ranches and acres of wheat fields in green springtime glory.

By late afternoon we’ve reached Oklahoma City and checked into the Staybridge Suites at Quail Springs. In the past year I’ve become a real fan of Staybridge. the separate bedroom is an asset when one person stays up later or is an early riser. the kitchen facilities prove an asset for late night snacks or early morning tea even though I’m not wanting to cook complete meals. I can imagine how much I would have enjoyed Staybridge Suites when we were traveling with young children.

We head to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for a special evening concert in conjunction with the temporary exhibition, Guitars – Art, Artists and Artisans. Oklahoma City’s own Edgar Cruz is playing this evening. The event is free with food and drink available for purchase. We’re exhilarated by the music and well fed with empanadas, pulled pork sliders and roasted potatoes. The evening is a great start for our Oklahoma City visit.

On The Road Again – An Oklahoma Art Tour

March 11, 2010

Lamar SunsetColorado Sunset South of Lamar

We’re headed down the road to visit numerous art museums, and other sites, in Oklahoma. Neither of us have been in Oklahoma since we were in our teens traveling with our families on great American road trips following the Mother Road – Route 66.

A combination of human error and good luck got us to Trail West Cafe a block off Main Street in Lamar for a quick dinner. When we heard repeat customers rave about the bread pudding we put in our own order. Caramel Pecan Bread Pudding, $2.49, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for $1 – marvelous!

Images across the eastern Colorado plains included green fields of winter wheat springing from black soil, cottonwoods along stream beds glowing golden in their promise of the coming spring, migrating snow geese circling a lake before settling in for the night, a red-tail hawk drifting on the thermals. Plus a glorious Colorado sunset.

The 3 O’clock Lunch

I love a restaurant where I can have a full lunch or dinner in mid-afternoon. I’ve frequently threatened to write a book focused on The Colorado 3 O’clock Lunch. I’m a late breakfast eater and often skip lunch. About 3pm the hunger pangs hit, I can’t wait till dinner but don’t want to fill up on snacks or junk food. If I eat at three I can skip dinner and finish the day with a piece of fruit. But, where to go that’s serving a full menu, not just a bar menu or fast food.

Merle's For today’s late lunch/early dinner we headed to downtown Littleton and Merle’s, serving the same menu from opening at 11am until 9pm and then a late night menu till closing. We started with a basket of yam chips served with a generous bowl of guacamole. The chips were crisp with not a hint of grease. I asked if they were made in house; our waitress said everything they serve is start from scratch.

We both opted for soup (New England Clam Chowder) and 1/2 sandwich. We chose the BLAT – bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato  – served on sour dough. A couple at a nearby table were enjoying entrees of Ginger Salmon and Smoked BBQ Ribs.

Our “No worry” waitress was cheerful and efficient, not something guaranteed at that time of day. Too frequently the wait staff is tired from the lunch shift and seem disgusted you’re interrupting what they consider their break.

Merle’s completely satisfied our Friday 3 O’clock Lunch need and would definitely be in my book.

Previous Post – Merle’s – Littleton, Colorado

    52nd Indian Fair & Market
    Heard Museum – Phoenix
             March 6 & 7, 2010

One of the country’s premier Indian fairs and markets attracts collectors to the Heard Museum grounds in downtown Phoenix the first weekend of March.

More than 700 Native American artists display a vast array of original arts and crafts.

Umbrella for Shade

 

* Beadwork

* Carvings

* Jewelry

* Paintings

* Pottery

* Rugs

* Sculpture

* Textiles

 

Basket Hat Lady

 The artisans come from all over America, not just Arizona. To participate each artist must be jurored into the show, a prestigious acknowledgement of the quality of their work.

A basket weaver from the Pacific Northwest Coast creations represent traditional woven items of the region.

While Southwest Indian art is well represented. Tribal members from around the country exhibit contemporary and traditional art forms.

 

Booths Rows and rows of booths and large exhibit tents gives each artist individual space to display their work. Whether one is a serious collector or just looking for an inexpensive keepsake shoppers get to met the person who created their chosen purchase.

 

Hopi Baskets

The green yucca plant is an important material for Hopi basket makers. This Hopi artist was happy to explain the process from gathering the natural materials to finished product.

The more we learn the more we appreciate the time, talent and skill involved in creating each piece. Many of the traditional designs have been passed down through several generations. Artists often say they first learned from their grandmothers.

 

 

Silversmith Throughout the weekend artist demonstrations let us view the creative process. Whether it’s working a flat piece of silver into a lovely necklace or transforming a lump of clay into a pottery figurine shoppers enjoy watching the artists at Pot Polisherwork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sash Weaver Questions are willingly answered. As we talk with the artists we witness an unique balance of modesty and pride in their art form.

Music, including R. Carlos Nakai, and dance performances give attendees a  break from shopping. There is so much to take in we find it helpful to switch focus from time to time.

Each year a different tribal group is featured, the Hopi in 2009 and bands of the Apache people in 2010. “Apache Peoples and Arts” will highlight elder artists, food, a wikieup (traditional Apache lodging), and storytelling by Apache entertainer Ken Duncan.

 

Hope Piki

What would an event be without food? Not to worry, there are plenty of opportunities to nosh our way through the day. Of course, there is traditional Indian fry bread. We fascinated to watch the Hopi piki maker. Piki is a thin rolled bread made with fine blue corn flour and culinary ash. The maker spreads a thin layer of the batter on a hot griddle with her hand. Almost immediately the practically transparent layer of piki is ready to be rolled. Watching the labor intensive steps we understand why this is a rare treat.

 

Stirring the Pot

Apache acorn soup will be available in 2010 as well as selections ranging from Cajun and Mexican specialties to gelato. Tables in the tree shaded courtyard are the perfect place for people watching as we have lunch.

Lunch Break

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Fair tickets include admission to the ten galleries of the Heard Museum. However, we found so much to do and see at the Fair & Market that the museum had to wait for another day.

Gates swing open for general admission both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am – 5pm.

 

Museum Entrance

 

Sculpture

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