This trip will take us through New Mexico and deep into (the heart of) Texas before turning east along the Gulf Coast and eventually driving back to Connecticut. As usual we began our trip in Salt Lake City where we have been storing the Beast between trips.
After a day of travel to SLC and a day of preparing the Beast for this journey we departed for Moab, UT. We spent an overnight in Moab, UT (Moab Coffee Roasters) before traveling to southwestern Colorado to view some of the finest examples of Peubloan cliff and mesa communities in existence today.
Mesa Verde National Park was created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 for the explicit purpose of preserving the remarkable Ancesteral Peublo architecture. Mesa Verde was occupied by the Pueblo people for about 750 years beginning in 550 A.D.
MVNP is definitely a bit off the beaten path but we think more than worth the drive. The park is laid out with a loop drive that allows you to see many of the cliff villages from excellent view points. There are a number of kivas that have been excavated which are easily accessible by foot.
In the summer months you can also tour several of the cliff dwellings on ranger guided tours. The Far View Lodge offers acommodations with outstanding views of the mesa and canyons below. There is also a small musueum located in the park about twenty miles from the entrance.
There are a number of indigenous sites in the Four Corners area which could easily be combined with a visit to MVNP for an extended tour; Canyons of the Ancients and Chaco Culture National Historic Park are two major sites.
We made our final day trip of this home stay to Springfield, MA to check out the 3rd wave coffee scene, find the murals and visit the local art museums. We have been taking full advantage of the 17 daily trains that run from New Haven to Springfield frequently, utilizing the train for our trips into New Haven and Hartford. We extended our use of the CT Railroad by riding from the Meriden Station through to Union Station in downtown Springfield.
We have to admit that our only experience of Springfield derives mainly from passing through on I-91 on our way to Vermont and back. So this trip presented us with the opportunity to get to know more about the city and its history.
First to the coffee – no joy! Sorry to report that the downtown area is bereft of 3rd wave coffee establishments. There are a number of specialty coffee cafes and roasters just outside of Springfield – particularly west of the river.
The street art mural scene however provides great joy. Springfield, with the support of the Common Wealth Mural Collaborative, launched Fresh Paint Springfield in June of 2019. FPS is week long mural festival which also features many other cultural and food events throughout the week. A total of 22 murals were completed by 17 professional muralists with the help of local mural assistants. Fortunately, the mural festival was a big hit and will return for its second run in June 2020. We have included a sampling of photos of some of the moving, imaginative and colorful murals we saw on this trip.
Springfield boasts two fine art museums located in a quadrangle of distinctive buildings which also house a science museum, a museum of Springfield history and the Dr. Seuss Museum. Both of the art museums came about as the result of wealthy Springfield art collectors donating their personal collections to form the museums.
We spent most of our time at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts owing to our affinity for French Impressionism. The D’Amour has a small but impressive gallery of French Impressionist works along with galleries featuring 17th, 18th and 19th century Dutch, Flemish, French and Italian paintings.
The other art museum is the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. The GWVS collection consists mainly of Japanese and Chinese porcelains, bronzes, jade and arms and armor. There is also a smaller gallery dedicated to art of the Islamic world. The Japanese armor and arms were the high point along with the painted tiles in the Islamic gallery.
Springfield like many former manufacturing hubs in the northeast has seen better days. We noted a lot of work going on to renovate and utilize the many still standing factory buildings for retail, office and habitational space. The area proximate to the museum quadrangle is home to several beautiful cathedrals and several historic residential areas where 19th century row houses have been renovated.
Springfield by train was an excellent day trip albeit no specialty coffee!
Our third CT Road Trip of this home stay found Maria and me traveling to eastern Connecticut to visit the William Benton Museum of Art. The Benton is located on the Storrs campus of UCONN. We followed Route 66 from Middletown to Willimantic which took us through a part of Connecticut that still retains a very rural feel with small towns and many historic homes, buildings and farms.
We made Willimantic our first stop to check out Grounded Coffee Co. http://groundedcoffeecompany.org/ and search out street murals in the otherwise depressed downtown area. Grounded Coffee sits right on Main Street in a historic structure built in 1831. The cafe occupies the ground floor. The owners did a nice job working around the central four-sided fireplace in creating a comfortable and pleasing space. In addition to a full menu of coffee and tea drinks GC offers a light food menu. GC is definitely the best choice for coffee in the Willimantic area in our opinion.
Willimantic has been very active over the last several years in sponsoring and promoting street murals. We found many interesting murals, a number of which are historical murals depicting the history of “Thread City” as a textile hub during the first half of the 20th century.
The Benton Museum https://benton.uconn.edu/# is a very small museum located in the heart of the Storrs UCONN campus. There is no admission charge and unfortunately very limited parking (four spaces) adjacent to the museum. We were fortunate to arrive to find one of the spaces available (get a pass at the front desk for your car window to avoid being ticketed or towed).
The museum has a permanent collection in the main gallery – From Old Masters to Revolutionaries: Five Centuries of the Benton’s Best and an additional two galleries featuring current exhibits. We were able to tour the entire museum in under two hours. We found two of the three current exhibitions to be worthwhile – Halt the Hun: Atrocity Propaganda in World War 1 and DEMOKRACJA GRAFIKA.
“Halt the Hun” featured posters created by artists to rally Americans to support the war effort by buying Liberty Bonds while “DEMOKRACJA” provides insight into life in Poland during the Cold War. UCONN has had an exchange program with the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow since the 1980s which is where the majority of the prints on display were produced.
We recommend the museum with the caveat that you check out the current exhibitions before visiting as the permanent collection is small (but good).
For our next trip in January we are planning to cross state lines and venture north for more fika, street murals and fine art.
Our second road trip of this home stay found us in New Haven at the Yale University Art Gallery (http://www.artgallery.yale.edu). We were particularly interested in seeing the three exhibitions currently on display.
Of course all road trips require sustenance in the form of coffee pre-activity and a meal with wine post activity. We enjoyed fika at Fussy Coffee ( http://www.drinkfussycoffee.com) on Winchester Avenue. In addition to great coffee and light food, Fussy is strategically located next to the Farmington Canal Greenway which made for an easy and pleasant walk to Chapel Street for our museum visit. An added bonus of this location was the opportunity to view Kwadwo Adae’s mural “locomotion” which is on the FCG about three blocks north of Fussy Coffee (#streetartfromthe road).
After viewing the exhibitions, we made the short walk down Chapel Street for our repast at Atelier Florian (www.atelierflorian.net ). The focus here is on seafood. We tried the mussels, calamari and seafood tacos accompanied by white wine and found all to be delicious. A terrific spot for a mid-afternoon break.
P.S. As an added bonus we have included several paintings from prominent artists that we viewed on our way between the exhibitions.
William Bailey: Looking Through Time
This exhibition consists of a number of oil paintings by long time Yale art professor William Bailey. Bailey focused on still-life paintings at a time when abstract painting was very much in vogue. The majority of the paintings on display are large still-life oil paintings. The colors are muted yet vibrant while stylistically relecting many different artists and periods. Photographs of eight of his paintings on display are included below. Many of these paintings were done during his visits to Italy.
Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art
This exhibit includes paintings, wood carvings, textiles, pottery, photographs and drawings from the Yale collection as well as several other institutions. The exhibition includes pieces from a variety of first nations and tribes across the United States. The curators have been quite clear in the narrative to acknowledge that much if not all of this work was essentially stolen from the rightful owners as tribes were forced onto reservations. Yale has returned hundreds of artifacts to tribal nations over the last several years.
Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China: The Ann B. Goodman Collection
This exhibit provides 15 splendid examples of ceremonial clothing worn for special occasions such as birth, marriage, death and harvest. The clothing is incredibly intricate and detailed. All of this clothing was made by women who typically do everything from gathering the cotton, dyeing the material, sewing and embroidering the outfits. The groom’s wedding outfit in the exhibition was made by his bride to be! There is also a display of hats and jewelry that were worn at these ceremonies. This collection was recently gifted to Yale but is only on display through January 5, 2020.
After leaving the spectacular scenery of Mt. Hood NF we rolled into Portland for a four day stay. We set up base camp at the Hampton – Pearl District which allowed us to explore a number of the interesting and eclectic neighborhoods on foot. We followed our general city visit modus operandii for a city visit – lots of coffee and tea, museums, live music, books and local restaurants.
We had not been in Portland for many years, and yet we were still surprised at the amount of growth that has taken place. PDX is incredibly vibrant! There is something here for every interest, taste and lifestyle.
The coffee scene is outstanding and our baristas generously supplied us with additional recommendations for shops and restaurants that were not on our radar. Our dining highlight was Casa Zoraya – a recently opened restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine. We have no previous experience with Peruvian food so all we can say is – it was delicious!
The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is a medium sized art museum located in the Pearl District. PAM has a small collection of Impressionist works and a good sized collection of Northwest Native American artifacts. PAM is definitely worth a visit in our opinion.
Regardless of the weather get out to the Portland Japanese Garden at Washington Park. This garden is reputed to be the finest example of a Japanese Garden outside of Japan – it is a place of beauty and harmony – you will feel better after visiting.
We always enjoy visiting independent book stores and in Portland Powell’s City of Books is not to be missed! It is the largest bookstore in the world and they stock books on every coinceivable topic one can imagine.
Lots to see and do in PDX and the surrounding area. Also, remember only tourists use umbrellas!
Off to Astoria and the Oregon coast. Be seeing you!
This post is well out of sequence as we were in Bisbee several weeks ago – oh well – we are confident you will forgive us or more likley that you don’t care.
But, under the better late than never category, we wanted to post about Bisbee. Any place where the town motto is “Keep Bisbee Bizarre” is worthy of comment from our perspective.
We knew we had to visit Bisbee after reading about it’s storied past. Bisbee is located in the Mule Mountains of Southern Arizona, a stones throw from the Mexico border. It’s origin lies with the discovery of minerals in the area – predominately copper. The Copper Queen Mine (which we toured) was one of the richest mineral locations in the world. More than three million ounces of gold and eight billion pounds of copper were extracted from this mine alone. Copper mines also yield turqoise – Copper Queen turqoise is considered some of the best in the world. You may have heard of Bisbee Blue which is the name given to turqoise from Bisbee mines.
The storied past – Phelps Dodge Mining consolidated most of the mining claims in Bisbee and owned and operated the massive mining operation that once supported 20,000 residents. But in 1917 everything changed when the International Workers of the World local (IWW) went on strike. Phelps hired thousands of strike breakers to round up all the union employees. The employees were marched out to a local ballpark and given an ultimatum – go back to work or else! About 800 workers agreed to go back to work. The remaining workers received the “or else” now known as the “Great Deportation”. They were put on railroad cattle cars full of manure. They were taken to Hermosa, New Mexico where they were taken off the train and told to never return to Bisbee – none ever did.
Today Bisbee is an eclectic town of approximately 6,000 residents. It is a mix of transplants fleeing cold weather, artists, individualists, hippies and off-gridders mixed in with a steady flow of tourists. Think a combination of Key West and Provincetown with a mountain backdrop in lieu of the ocean!
”I want to be notorious rather than famous. Fame has too much responsibility. People forget you are human.”
”The mud wall is masculine – physically strong and durable. The straw is feminine – delicate as a thread. Its color is sun and gold.”
”Even the team of mules, which came to drag away the dead bull, moved with drama and color I had never seen before.”
– Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia
During our most recent visit to Tucson we visited the studio of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. DeGrazia gained fame and credibility as a painter when his painting of young Native American children (Los Ninos) was selected by UNICEF for their Christmas card in 1960. Until that time he had struggled to make a living as a painter and his work was not well regarded in some circles.
DeGrazia was a fascinating and brillant man. He designed and built by hand the beautiful building that houses his collection of paintings. He was a composer, sculptor, writer and actor. He was a completely self made man. He was born in a mining camp in Arizona and then moved to Italy when his father lost his job in Arizona. Upon returning to the United States he attended high school – graduating at 23 years of age. He eventually attended the University of Arizona where he earned two bachelor degrees and a masters in fine art.
The focus of much of Degrazia’s paintings was religous in nature. His largest collections centered around Padre Kino, Cabeza de Vaca and Yaqui Easter. He also has a gallery paintings devoted to the bull fight that he painted after attending a bull fight in Mexico.
Father Kino was the first Spanish missionary to enter what is now Arizona and begin the process of converting indigenous peoples to Catholicism. DeGrazia believed deeply that this was a noble calling and painted many works of Father Kino. One of his paintings of Father Kino is titled “Heathen Indians Receive Kino with Arches and Crosses”.
DeGrazia was fascinated with the life and adventures of Cabeza de Vaca. Cabeza was the leader of a Spanish expedition of 600 conquistadors that landed in Florida in 1527.
The purpose of this expedition was to “conquer the Indians, convert them to Christianity, and find the seven cities of gold.” The expedition failed miserably as Cabeza was only one of only four members of the expedition to survive and it took nine years to reach Arizona. The seven cities of gold were never found. But none the less DeGrazia admired the bravery and tenacity of Cabeza and painted an entire collection depicting his adventures.
The photo directly below (obtained from internet) shows DeGrazia burning some of his paintings. As DeGrazia paintings became more valuable and he came to understand that his estate would be taxed on the market value of his works he tried to donate many of the works to various organizations. When that tactic did not work he gathered 100 of his paintings, loaded the paintings onto pack horses and rode into the Superstition Mountains and burned them rather than burden his family with an inheritance tax.
The Gallery in the Sun is definitely worth a visit. The studios and grounds are beautiful, his paintings are as colorful and interesting as the man himself.
A big thanks to our friends John and Debbie Sahm for the recommendation to visit Mission San Xavier. This mission is a beautiful example of Mexican Baroque architecture. The construction of this building began in 1783 and continued for 14 years until the parish ran out of money. As you can see in the photograph below the second tower was never completed. The Mission was established in 1692 by Father Francisco Kino almost 100 years prior to the beginning of construction of this building. Father Kino’s primary mission was ( of course ) to convert indigenous people to Catholicism.
At the time this territory was part of New Spain. Subsequently, the Mission was on Mexican soil after the Mexican Revolution and then within the borders of the United States after the United States purchased this portion of Arizona in 1854. Today, the Mission sits within the Tohono O’odham Nation as a result of the creation of the Tohono O’odham reservation.
San Xavier remains a fully operational parish including a K-8 school that has been providing education to local children continuously since 1873.
The photographs below cannot due justice to the beauty of the interior but hopefully will provide some sense of the craftmanship and artistry that went into the making of this Mission.
We spent an afternoon at the small but interesting TMA. The museum is heavily focused on western art and southwestern art as might be expected of a small regional museum. The collections are also very inclusive of Native American art forms as well as Mexican and South American folk art. An interesting point that comes through at this museum is the differentiation that does not but should exist in defining all Native American art as a single entity. In fact there are significant artistic differences between the multitude of tribes and Native Americans prefer to be identified as a member of their particular tribe or nation.
TMA also participates with the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation to bring notable works to the museum as ‘loaned” pieces. The last painting pictured below is one of the current loaned pieces. A beautiful Manet.