contact Me

Need to ask me something or get in contact with me? Just fill out this form.


Kansas City MO 64131

BLOG

 

 

Filtering by Category: museums

DAVE HEATH AND THE POWER OF SOUND

Cindy Maddera

Saturday Michael and I became members at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I've been wanting a membership to the museum ever since I discovered that members get shuttlecock car stickers. Also, the individual membership pretty much pays for itself after buying two tickets to a special exhibit and paying for parking. There have been traveling exhibits that I have missed because I'm too cheap or frugal to spend the money to go. Now I don't have that excuse. Which is good, because I really didn't want to miss Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath. 

Dave Heath was an American photographer. Abandoned at the age of four, he grew up in the foster care system and an orphanage. His work reflects his sense of homelessness and loss and his images capture human loneliness and melancholy. The exhibit centers around Heath's work from from the early 60s and some of his more recent color images. The black and white images of the collection are breathtaking. I could have spent hours just studying each photo and imagining the stories of the people in the photos. There was one of an old woman, dressed in black. Her slim, delicate fingers twisted a solid band on her finger. One can assume the ring is her wedding ring and that maybe she's a widow. Perhaps she's in church, gazing up at the alter. I wonder how long she's been a widow, how long she's been wearing that ring.

There was another one of two young black boys giving side eye to the camera. The looks in the eyes are hard, skeptical, suspicious, even somewhat angry. I don't blame them. I can imagine that they have plenty to be angry about. I can imagine what makes them suspicious of the white man taking their picture. It is evident that they have lost their childhood, their eyes reflecting experience and loss beyond their years. I want to lie to them and tell them that things will get better. I want to give them some sort of hope, something better than they have now. I want something better for them. I want to be wrong about the look that I see in their eyes, that I am just assuming that their lives are not easy, but I know that this picture was taken in Chicago in the 60s, in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement. 

There was another image of an older man, walking with a cane. The man looked so much like my Pepaw, I stood and studied his face carefully. He was fuller than my Pepaw. While Pepaw had been tall and skinny, wiry even, this man was filled out and I could only assume his height. They had the same shocking white hair and the same facial structures. He looked like how maybe my Aunt Martha looks now or even my mom. I wanted know who this man was and what he was doing in New York City. Why was he so far away from his Mississippi home? Because there was no doubt to me that he was a great uncle or something. I knew that if I showed this image to my mother she would say "Oh! That's your great Uncle So-and-So" He'd have just as an odd of a name as my other great Uncles, like Carmel (pronounced Car-mel) or Carnet. There was a melancholy quality to this exhibit and I as looked for an image of the artist, I expected to find a reflection of that sadness. I was surprised to find the image of Dave Heath with a joyful smile on his face. He looked genuinely happy. His smile was not a 'smile for the camera' smile, but one that was true. He is quoted in a memoriam written by the exhibit's curator as saying "Art saved my life." If you look into his eyes you can see that art really did save him. 

We followed the Dave Heath exhibit with Jane Cardiff's Forty-Part Motet, which consists of a room of speakers. Each speaker is one voice in the Salisbury Choir singing a cappella choral music from the mid-1500s. As you walk in front of one speaker, all you hear is that one voice. If you stand in the center of the room or just outside the circle of speakers, you hear all the voices in unison. We were just walking outside of the circle to leave the exhibit when the full force of all the voices crescendoed in a way that made my bones vibrate with the sound. I stopped and looked at Michael, my eyes wide with the shock of it and then I burst into tears. This exhibit mixed with the images from the Dave Heath exhibit had created a giant emotional bubble within me that grew so large that when it popped, the only option was for it to leak out of my eyes. 

I could not speak about these exhibits for hours afterward without my throat closing with emotion. And now, all I can think about is going back and just sitting in those rooms and absorbing all of those images and sound. Which is something I can totally do now for free! So, if I go missing, you'll know where to find me. 

I'M STALKING THE GHOST OF LAURA INGALLS WILDER

Cindy Maddera

Remember way back in June when we took that family vacation to the beach and how when we passed through Mansfield MO I had to choose between Bakers Creek Seeds or Laura Ingalls Wilder's home? Michael and I talked about how we'd go back eventually and attend one of the Bakers Creek's festivals and go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home. I figured "eventually" really meant "years from now" or "never", but in actuality "eventually" meant "it is happening." Sunday morning, Randy, Katrina, the Cabbage, Michael and I all wedged ourselves into my car and drove from their cabin near Branson all the way over to Mansfield on a twisty hilly road. I may have goaded Michael into going faster over some of those hills for thrill factor. 

I have to admit that the best good thing about the Bakers Creek festival was the vegan cinnamon roll. There were only a handful of booths there and half of them were produce. Plus it was hot. Really hot. We did not spend a lot of time at the festival, but I did buy more Brussels sprout seeds because I can't find the ones I purchased earlier. The Cabbage got to listen to blue grass music and see some sheep. The next stop was the stop I was most excited about though. Our next stop was the Rocky Ridge Farmhouse, the house where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote all of the Little House books. Did you just hear me squee? I know right. I knew this was going to be good because as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we ended up parking next to the cutest orange Volkswagen bus. The couple sitting in the front were from Ontario. I told them that I loved their little bus and I that I hoped they were enjoying their trip. They said they were except for the heat because they did not have air conditioning. Eeesh. They did have a Shaun the Sheep doll in the back and spoke in lovely accents. I almost climbed onto the back and became their stowaway. 

Once we crossed the street and made it to the museum, we were greeted by a very eager and controlling older woman who told us right off the bat that our tour group wouldn't be happening for another hour and I was confused because I just wanted to go inside the house and I didn't need a tour guide for this. When she saw the look on my face she said "forget it. we'll just open the house up for self guided tours today. We're too busy." So with that, we purchased our tickets, watched a short film and then walked on into Laura's house. Laura and Almanzo moved with their daughter Rose to Mansfield in 1894 and purchased the farm. They lived in town until they finished work on a one bedroom log cabin on the farm. They moved here in 1913 while they finished building the farmhouse. The farmhouse would be added too over time making it a bigger space with a formal living room and tiny library nook. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in this house for most of the rest of her life. She and Almanzo lived for a short amount of time in the Rock House, a house that Rose had built for them on the farm that had all the modern conveniences.  The Rock House was where the first Little House on the Prairie books were written. They have plans to open that house up for tours next year.

I don't know what happened to me once I got inside that house. I didn't take any pictures. I was too busy trying not to touch all the things that had please do not touch signs on them. The first thing Michael did was open the oven in the kitchen and when he leaned down to look in he was right at eye level to one of those signs. Did you know that Laura (we're on a first name basis now) was only 4'11?!? I could have carried her around in my pocket. Almanzo had the kitchen custom built for her height, so all the counter tops are really short. This is only sad if I think about how I could never bake pies with Laura Ingalls Wilder with out having back pains. I did manage to have Michael take my picture on the front porch of the house. So that's something. I realized at some point while standing in Laura's bedroom that I might be slightly obsessed. I started planning trips to her childhood homes in Kansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota (we saw the one in South Dakota last year). Michael did not seem as excited about this idea as I did, but he'll change his tune once I make it a life list thing. I'm sure of it. 

THE TRUMAN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY

Cindy Maddera

I've got to tell you that history is not my forte. What's a little embarrassing is my lack of knowledge regarding US History. My HS history teacher played movies like Red Dawn during class. I know things happened like the Revolution and the Civil War. The Great Depression. A couple of World Wars. I know some things, but I don't know a whole lot about US Presidents. We performed a musical in third grade where we sang a song about all the US Presidents. We named them in order. That's the only time I knew all of the Presidents in order. I traded that information for the Krebs Cycle. If you were to ask me if I knew who Harry S. Truman was, I would be able to say that he was a US President, but that's about it. I knew very little about the man or his time in office. So to fix that, Michael and I visited the Truman Presidential Library on Sunday. Nothing like a little hands on learning. Also, it gave us an opportunity to put a stamp in our National Parks passport

I learned that Harry Truman was one of those presidents that I probably would have voted for, even though I'm not sure about that decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Of course, I'm sure that wasn't any easy decision to make and can be easily turned into a chicken or egg first debate. The man had a lot on his plate with the end of a war, returning soldiers, housing crisis, civil rights, the beginnings of the Cold War with Russia and fighting against communism in South Korea. 

It was also interesting to see just how much things haven't changed. Take for instance Truman's Fair Deal that he presented to congress.

Increase minimum wage. Social Security benefits. Education. Higher income taxes on the wealthy. All of those are things that we are still working on. As well as civil rights issues. We have cell phones that recognize our finger prints, mastered open heart surgery, and soon will have cars that drive themselves, but we are still arguing over fair wages and civil rights. We've traded our fears of nuclear attacks from Russia for plane hijackings by terrorists. Different stuff, same deal. 

I learned a lot about Harry and that time frame of our US history. After his years in office, Mr. Truman returned to his home in Independence MO. There are all kinds of stories of him strolling around downtown. In fact most of the statues of him in the area depict him in stride with a walking cane. I like the idea of Mr. Truman strolling around his hometown. It's easy to see our presidents as celebrity figures. We forget that they are regular citizens that just stood up to serve their country and when that service is over, they return to their lives as regular citizens. OK...maybe not regular, but they do return to their communities. 

As we left the library, Michael mentioned something about how it would be nice to visit all of the presidential libraries. It really would make a great Life List item and a fantastic way to learn about our US Presidents.