Saturday, April 23, 2016

springfest 2016

While roaming the hills of Arkansas, we stopped in on the 29th Annual Springfest in Heber Springs. It had been a few years since visiting this event, and thought might spend a couple of hours wandering the park seeing what there was to see.

It could not have been a more perfect day for the event too. Clear skies, a light wind and temperatures in the mid-20s C brought everyone out. Folks everywhere were strutting with their Corn Dog, kettle corn, or waiting in line for Buffalo Bill's Ole Fashion Soda Pop.

 Kids enjoyed the Butterfly Pavilion, Pony rides, and the skateboard park converted into an inflatable city. Meanwhile, adults enjoyed arts and crafts from the area, or a few music and performance acts at the old stone 1933 Women's Club Band Shell Pavilion.

Other associated events were going on in different parts of town too. The airport was hosting Class Car Show, Air Fly-In & Color Fun Run. Heber Springs Elementary put on a show at the Fine Arts Building in the Performing Arts Center and the Greers Ferry Lake Trails Council was hosting their 4th Ride Like a Mountain cycling tour to support of their effort towards the bike trail network currently under construction in the area. We did not make it to any of those events though. There was no signage, and we completely forgot about them, until we heard something on the radio the next day.

The only side show that we made it to was the 10th Annual Volkswagen Car Show. The Mountain Top Volkswagen Club showed up in force with a couple of Camper Vans, a few Things, and some custom works, in addition to the usual line-up of beautiful Bugs. 

Springfest has grown quite a bit since our last visit, and it has definitely become a staple celebration in the late Spring of North Central Arkansas. We definitely look forward to catching up with some of the other shows next time.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

kc record store day 2016

We went roaming about for Record Store Day to a couple of places that were hosting live music. I glanced at the calendar enough to see that mostly locals were playing early, which fit our plans perfectly. After finishing a few things at the homestead, we headed down to the Crossroads for a little food and to see what was playing around.

Revolution Records is just around the corner from Grinder's, so we dropped in there for a little food and drink first. They have an awesome Philly, or as the name implies, really good Grinders too. We were still a bit early though. Nobody started playing until 6 pm, and it was only 5 pm, so we decided to trip down to Mills Record Company first. They were working the same schedule.

The bands at Mills Record Company were playing their "alternate" location just around corner. The venue was interesting, excepting the fact that it was all concrete. I think the floor might have been wood, but the walls and ceiling were not, and the place was otherwise gutted. When the metal band started up, the sound ricocheted everywhere like a machine out of control. I am not sure who was playing, but they seemed to have act together. It was not bad at all, but we listened from the safety of the sidewalk, and headed out after the first song.

Back down at Revolution Records, we caught the last of some band from Seattle that was playing later in the day in Westport. Their site didn't list them, and I don't recall the name, but they were a good alternative indie sort of situation. Next up, local band Fiction Department slammed through a great set in spite a plague of microphone issues. They didn't skip a bit though, and played right on through. Their sound was a bit like Third Eye Blind, or something of that sort, and I look forward to catching their act again.

We left after they played, but not before purchasing a couple of records. While standing at one of the record racks, the label Picture Albums popped at me. There were only a handful, but found a couple with great artwork and good tunes; The Steve Miller Band, "Book of Dreams," and Rod Stewart "Blondes Have More Fun."

Other stores were holding special events as well. We only knew of where these two were, and that they would have bands. We noticed Josey Records as we were leaving Revolution Records, and it appeared they were doing something or another, but we had places to go. We will have to catch up to them.

The video below contains a snapshot of the set of the first band we heard at Revolution Records, and snapshot of the second, Fiction Department.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

reflecting class

“Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer” features paintings, decorative arts and other artifacts from the Golden Age of Dutch Art.  It is a rare opportunity to view these 71 specially selected works reflecting various social strata scenes and portraiture of a then new 17th century Dutch Republic; also known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

The Republic formed after the Peace of Westphalia, as part of the Peace of M√ľnster, ending the 80 Years’ War between Spain and the Dutch, and ushered in a new era of Dutch independence, and relative democracy.  Merchants within the new Dutch republic benefited immensely from the availability of cheap shipping and cessation of the hostilities.  They soon dominated markets English traders previously ruled, and quickly became the most prosperous nation in Europe leading in not only trade, but also science and art.

In spite of independence and democratic leanings, class distinctions remained a core trait of society, conveying special meaning to citizens and providing structure to daily life.  In is in this sphere of existence that these works of art evolved.  Reflecting the various social and economic castes in settings typical of the 17th century Netherlands, the “Dutch Masters” produced some of the finest pieces of the Baroque period.

While visiting the event “Passport to India,” we enjoyed the opportunity to visit this event, occurring at the same time within the Bloch Building of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  The works were very interesting, and exciting to see in person finally. 

Several of the paintings held our attention for quite a while.  The artists must have intended that.  So much was happening in some of the scenes, it was impossible to take it in all at once.  One could muse over these pieces for long periods up close, becoming a bystander in the scene; again, seemingly very much intended.  It was the 17th century after all.  These folks did not have television or mobile devices to capture their attention.

Personally, I continually drew comparison between these works and modern Street Photography, which tends to capture everyday life of folks from every social status. These paintings do the very same, capturing otherwise mundane and ordinary tasks and events of life associated with their world in that time.  Even the portraiture aspired in that direction. More often than not, the subjects are presented at a task or as if having just stepped away from their work, to provide context of their station.

Anyone with an interest in this type of work should definitely take the time to make the effort. The exhibition closes on May 29.  While I have not really monitored art exhibitions passing through Kansas City enough to know for certain, I cannot recall when anything quite as significant has passed through in recent years.  

The presentation of the art left a bit to be desired.  The gallery stark, excepting the faux velvet purplish background.  The lighting seemed poorly arranged as well.  It cast odd reflections across the top of many the works, which was disappointing, and somewhat inconvenient for photographing. 

The exhibition probably did not have photography in mind during setup though.  Apparently, prohibited on some level or another, signage was not particularly obvious.  Indeed, it was not until blatantly photographing several of the paintings that another visitor whispered the restriction.  Hearing that, along with confirmation from another nearby, reliance on clandestine methods became the imperative.  After all, I remain Paparazzi.

passport to india

While not widely acknowledged, Kansas City hosts a rapidly expanding population originating from India.  These folks represent a considerable cross-section of the highly technical work force in the City, and are among the most prized contributors to advancing technology in the area.

Standing in stark contrast, they bring with them a social grace steeped in thousands of years of culture and tradition. A new world and a new life make increasing demands on time normally devoted to long-standing customs though, and many cultures lose their personal identify along the way, with each successive generation.  The Melting Pot that is the United States tends to do more than just erase national boundaries.  It tends to dissolve culture and identity too.  This is especially true for those helping to advance the insatiable technological appetite of a nation that has lost touch with many of its own traditions and values.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art appears to recognize these aspects of Kansas City’s continually evolving and diverse landscape, and recently began hosting yet another annual festival celebrating culture from India.  A day full of exhibits focused on traditional dance, music, thought and food from this region featured at the Museum provide residents and visitors a free taste of this colorful and unique culture.

We were not aware of the previous events, and only just heard about this one a few days prior, but were excited to stop in and have a look at their offerings at “Passport to India.”  We arrived much earlier than we had for the Chinese New Year, hoping to beat the crowd and get a better viewing of the performances.

We arrived just in time to capture a few of the dance performances in Kirkwood Hall, but it was already a very full room.  After hovering at the sides of the stage and at the back of the room, we eventually wandered off to explore other parts of the building.  After tripping through the Ancients, we drifted upstairs to see what offerings appeared in the sections devoted to this particular cultural event.

Arriving at the top of the stairs, we immediately encountered the Jain Shrine.  The Nelson acquired this ornately carved and painted shrine more than 70 years ago, but it spent most of that time in storage.  Produced by artists and followers of Jainism in India, it is set into its own dimly lit room.  When asked why the poor lighting, one of the Museum attendants indicated that the nature of stains used to paint the shrine was the culprit.  It seems that when exposed to light for excessive periods, the paint fades.

The shrine itself is a fantastic work of art, and a monument to its followers who practiced non-violence and continual work towards individual perfection.  Jain practice requires daily veneration of the image of Jina at a community temple or a home shrine such as this, typically commissioned by wealthy Jains for their private use.

The next gallery down the hall displays most of the works from India in a bit of Hindu Temple setting.  Music greeted us, but it was impossible to gain access.  Also dimly lit, a few soloists performed in the small room for a crowded room of folks sitting on the floor enjoying music.  There was no means of looking at any of the artifacts there.  While providing a better view of the musicians, the adjoining room proved somewhat disappointing.  Staff indicated that construction on the levels below caused too much vibration, necessitating the move of most of the associated artifacts to a safer location.

We did not linger much longer than that.  Though we had arrived early, time was short.  We drifted through a few other exhibitions.  The lines were entirely too long for sampling any of the food, though we did manage to sneak up to a station offering Mango Lassi.  We regret missing many of the other activities, but is all the more reason to return next year!

There are no more photos than what appear in this post, and of course, the YouTube montage below.  Somewhat unfortunately, we became side-tracked by some of the offerings, while showing an acquaintance around the Museum.