Friday, February 27, 2015

GLEN ROSE, TEXAS: FOSSIL RIM WILDLIFE CENTER


When I think of giraffes and wildebeests and zebras and cheetahs, I think of our recent safari in East Africa, not Texas. However, there are over 50 species of animals--many from Africa--wandering around a 1,700 acre preserve a few hours outside Dallas/Fort Worth, and our self-guided driving tour on nine miles of roads through the park resulted in far better photo opportunities (although far less authentic) than we had in Africa.
The best part of the drive through Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was the extremely up-close-and-personal contact we had with the wildlife. No telephoto lens needed here, and no long drives between reserves. It was photo after photo for the three hours we spent on the drive.

I decided to present my pictures alphabetically by species, which by pure luck saves my most favorite experience for last.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DALLAS: THE MUSEUM OF BIBLICAL ART / FORT WORTH: AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

What is it about art museums that I love so much? Maybe part of it is that good art, like good literature, makes me ask questions because it challenges me to see the world through different eyes. Or maybe it is that every time I look at a painting or a sculpture, I find a different answer to those questions, the same way I see new things in a book with each reading.  

Take, for example, this crucifixion scene by American artist Gib Singleton. I've seen lots of variations on this theme, and most artists put women at the base of Christ's cross, not a watchful shepherd. The way the shepherd is posed looking upward brings to mind the angels' visit to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born and one angel's words: "Fear not: for behold, I bring to you good tidings of great joy."

Where is that joy now? And what of the way Christ hangs from the cross on strips of cloth rather than by nails through his hands? Are those pieces of fabric Jesus' burial clothes, or do they have another meaning?

That crucifix was our first exposure to the Dallas Museum of Biblical Art, a museum about which I have mixed feelings. It's purpose is to display works related to the New and Old Testaments. Unfortunately, there was a fire here in 2005 that pretty much burned the place down, and I think they are still in the process of rebuilding their collection. I thought there were a few too many copies and not enough originals.

My other gripe is that the museum doesn't allow photography of most of the art inside. I've taken pictures in almost every museum I've been in, from the Louvre to the Prado to the Hermitage to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Why not here?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

DALLAS: GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY

George W. Bush, also known as "#43" (as in the 43rd POTUS), built his Presidential Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Three Mustangs, 11-foot-tall bronze statues on SMU campus
The building, designed by the Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University, was completed and dedicated in April 2013. Only the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, is larger.
Living past-presidents and the current president typically gather for a presidential library dedication, and there were five of them (with their wives) at the Bush Library dedication: Jimmy Carter, Geroge H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Geroge W. Bush, and sitting President Barack Obama. Each of the three democrats--Carter, Clinton, and Obama--spoke. I am intrigued by the "old boy network" that past presidents form. I hate extreme partisanship, the kind that leads to name-calling on Facebook, the Glenn Beck Show, and the New York Times. Listening to these speeches given by political "enemies" at the dedication,  I see none of that. Rather, I get the feeling that these men are actually friends, that they consult with each other, and that they have respect for each other's accomplishments.

Friday, February 13, 2015

DALLAS: THE SIXTH FLOOR MUSEUM AT DEALEY PLAZA

There are many more places to visit in Dallas than we had time for, such as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, so named because of a generous $50 million donation from the adult children of Ross and Margot Perot. For some reason the building reminds me of the forts kids build, complete with a piece of artillery sticking out the front. It is worth at least a drive-by. The next time I'm in Dallas, I'm going here just to see if the inside is as intriguing as the outside:

We saw the Perot Museum on our way to the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas School Book Depository, a place that memorializes one of the darkest moments in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The tour starts with a cheerful photo mosaic of John and Jackie:

However, after that, its all about the horror and chaos of that day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DALLAS: FOOD TRUCKS, A CATHEDRAL, AND A CHRISTKINDLMARKT

After spending an hour and a half in the Dallas Museum of Art (about a third as long as I would have liked to stay here and about three times as long as Bob would have been there on his own), we crammed three more things into our evening.

1. Directly across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art is the Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre urban refuge created by Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren and named for his only child. The park has lots of seating and a nice track that was busy with walkers and runners and a quinceanera party when we were there.
However, as nice as the park is, what drew us across the street were the seven food trucks stationed along the park's perimeter. America's growing obsession with food trucks has been fully embraced in Dallas:
We walked up and down the line-up, struggling with what to choose. This menu tempted us. I was especially intrigued by "The Dead Elvis." 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

TEXAS: DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART

I recently came across an intriguing study that determined that art viewed in a museum has a much greater impact on the viewer than art looked at in a book or online. This is certainly true for me. In addition, I think the effect of visiting so many art museums during the last year is that seeing original art hung on the wall or standing on a pedestal has made me want to see more and more and more. It's addictive.

My husband has been a saint. I'm not sure he would choose to go to art museums if I weren't along, at least not six in a single trip as we did on our latest trip to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas.
Of all the museums we visited, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMOA) is the most prestigious. The facility and the collection are both terrific.

Even the driveway, lined by this 60-foot-long Venetian glass mosaic created by Mexican muralist Miguel Covarrubias, is spectacular.
Genesis, the Gift of Life is based on a Mexican world-origin myth about four gods who controlled the four elements--water, earth, fire, and air. The world was created four different times, and each time one of the gods used his element to destroy it, but then the four gods finally worked together to create the world we have now.
On the other side of the driveway is Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3 (1961) by British Sculptor Henry Moore. It looks like a relaxed museum guest with a front row seat for the Creation happening across the way.

Friday, February 6, 2015

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA: UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA

About half an hour south of Oklahoma City is the booming metropolis of Norman (pop. 110,000). I had never heard of Norman, but my husband was set on a visit because one of his travel checklists is Great Universities of the World, and the University of Oklahoma is in Norman.

The University of Oklahoma hadn't made my list of Great Universities, but I can't recite football statistics like my husband can. OU (not U of O) is a football and basketball powerhouse.


But before I get to that, I have to talk about my pre-conceptions once again being shattered. The campus is absolutely gorgeous, more like Oxford or Yale than I thought could be possible for anything in Oklahoma.
Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center, built in 1918. William Jennings Bryan, Louis Armstrong,
Martha Graham, William Butler Yeats, and Aaron Copland, among others, have graced the stage here.
The Bizzell Library
George Lynn Cross, President of OU from 1943-1968.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, Part 2 (Inside)

We entered the Oklahoma State Capitol building not through the grand doors at the front, but through a little side door in the basement. Not so glamorous, but we did feel welcomed, both by the friendly security staff who checked my purse and by the signage:

Nothing says "welcome" like a land grab:
. . . or a spouting oil well:
Our first stop was a small art museum featuring Oklahoma artists. What a great idea!

Monday, February 2, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, Part 1 (Outside)

Our first impression of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building was that its Greco-Roman architecture made it look a lot like many other capitol buildings, including the United States Capitol Building (Ignore the winter vs. summer differences):
Oklahoma
Washington, D.C.
Originally, however, the Oklahoma building did not have a dome. That was added in 2001-2002. At that time the statue was also added on top (see left photo below). Standing 17 1/2 feet and entitled The Guardian, it is a Native American holding a spear. Oklahoma is the first state to so honor the Native American population. The U.S. Capitol also has a figure atop its dome. It stands 19 1/2 feet tall and is a classical female bronze statue entitled Freedom.
In spite of the fact that Oklahoma's statue is two feet shorter than the U.S. Capitol's statue, Oklahoma's building is five feet taller than the U.S. Capitol, which I'm sure the architects took into consideration when they drew up the plans for the dome addition.
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