Tag Archives: art

The Shape of Speed

So as most typical natives I don’t really play tourist in my own town. I love visiting art museums but the majority of those that I have been to have been while traveling. Seattle Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery, and Le Louvre.

Kristina proposed seeing the exhibit The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles at the Portland Art Museum. A special exhibition featuring 19 rare streamlined automobiles and motorcycles from the 1930 to 1942. Sunday was the last day of the show and she knows I like cars. I was so excited when she said the museum. I have wanted to go here since I moved but just never found the time to make it. I was excited to see the cars but also the art on the wall.

We meet early for brunch at a cafe she found in downtown called Bijou Cafe. We got there rather early on her advice because by 10am brunch places get pretty packed. This early we were able to walk right in and get a table.

After a quick bite to eat we walked down to the museum to check things out. Being the last day it was rather busy but that’s ok. The first floor is where all the cars were. Lots of classically designed cars with sweeping curves and big personalities. All the cars were “production” cars near as I could tell. Such a great variety of manufacturers and designs. Also some innovated design elements like early electronic systems and umbrella’s in the door. Another thing I noticed with most of the cars is they where built with travel in mind. Mostly to store all the luggage one was to have when traveling back in the 30’s and early 40’s.

Next we went to the second level to check out some of the art on the wall. Honestly we didn’t get to deep into it. We saw a couple of rooms but that was it. We sat and enjoyed a couple of paintings, discussing the finer details of the works like civilized art critics. I do think most discussions of art are opinions wrapped as knowledge. Some good stuff here but some weird stuff as well. Couldn’t find an over all theme to the collection but still a worthy group.

A great exhibit and I was happy to hear Kristina recommend it. It was thoughtful, cultural and something we both could enjoy. The food was good which doesn’t hurt either. Honestly the highlight of the day for me was seeing her face when I gave her some flowers at the end of the day.

Denver for the Fourth

July 4th was on a Tuesday this year and for whatever reason my company gave us Monday off as well.  Makes sense honestly.  Lots of people would have taken Monday off anyway so why not just give it to everyone.  This resulted in a super long four day holiday weekend.  This presented a great opportunity to travel and get a descent vacation in.  After a lot of thinking I decided to head back to Denver for the weekend.  No specific reason this time, I just love Denver.

I found an early morning flight that would get me to Denver before noon.  So that meant almost a full day on Saturday and two full days before heading home.  I was so busy working and trying to put my life together that I honestly didn’t plan much for this trip.  Another reason I went to Denver is my familiarity with it.  I knew if I went I would have a good time. There is just so much to do I knew I couldn’t get bored.

This time around I didn’t feel much like jamming my day with a ton of activities. For the most part I was really lazy. There was no need to get up early and stayed up late every night. The only real plan I had was visiting the Denver Art Museum. I was sad we didn’t make it here in April so this time it was the only thing I made sure I put on my to do list.

A really great museum with a varied collection of works. One thing I quickly noticed was all the western and Native American art. I shouldn’t be surprised but for some reason I was. I was also surprised to see a Claude Mont The Coastguards Cabin (Customs House) hanging on the wall. I have seen Mont’s stuff all over the country at this point. Its kind of amazing when you think about it. All these different art museum all have a Mont in their collection.

Denver Art Musem north entrance

After a great day at the museum I walked out to what sounded like muffled voices and banging of drums. Across the street in Civic Center Park I found a protest. Not sure who organized it but it was definitely an anti-Trump rally. Maybe a few hundred people that marched from the park to the state capitol building. Surprisingly there were about a dozen Trump supporters who I thought were antagonistic but thankfully nothing happened. The police had a good present but were respectful with their distance. This is my third time to Denver this year and if memory serves me correctly I have seen a protest each trip. The locals are passionate and very vocal.

The rest of my time was spent just walking around the cities, drinking beer and eating. Brewery visits where limited this time around, only three new ones this trip. I have been staying at the Renaissance in Downtown and have already visited the closest breweries so much more walking is required now to see some new places.  Stopped by Beryl’s Beer Co., Ratio Beerworks, and Bierstadt Lager.  All around a good selection of breweries with Ratio being the best of the three in my opinion.

I love fireworks and was surprised to hear that Denver puts on a show in Civic Center Park on July 3rd.  Not sure how many years this has been going on but it’s a local tradition to head down to the park July 3rd.  After a long day of drinking and walking I eventually made my way to the park for the show.  I wasn’t interested in the pre-fireworks festivities so arrived about 30 minutes before the display.  Really cool display that was loud with lots of color.

God I love fireworks and while I might be biased I believe DC puts on one of the best Forth of July festivals in the nation.  With that in mind my return flight on July 4th would get me back at a reasonable hour in the afternoon.  My original thought was to arrive at IAD and head downtown before the fireworks start around 9pm.  It was a great idea but in the end I just went home when I got back into town.  It was a really long weekend filled with a ton of activities so by the time I landed all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.  What sealed my decision was I was flying to Birmingham the following day.  I was staying the rest of the week to train a new hire so felt no need to push myself to make it to DC.  The fireworks in Denver fulfilled my itch for fireworks this season.

Another great time in Denver thanks to the four day Jul 4th weekend.  As is usually my motive I drank some great beer and ate till I was full each day.  This is a city that always has something going on and never leaves me bored.  Already planning on going back over Veterans Day weekend to see LCD Soundsystem which will be awesome!  Still working on getting a new job here in Portland so that could screw up my plans Veterans Day weekend but oh well.  I would rather plan all this out then find airline tickets are to expensive or the show is sold out.  Most of their north American tour is already sold out so I wanted to get my ticket before it was to late.

Old Town Alexandria, here comes the fun

sun dial from the Carlyle House
sun dial from the Carlyle House

Photo Gallery

So after years of trying to get Nancy to travel the short distance to Old Town Alexandria for a day of fun it finally happened.  But not because of my doing, a couple she knows was going to the Torpedo Factory, one of the reasons I have been trying to get her to go, and invited us along.  I couldn’t believe it when she agreed to travel to the “city”.  Finally!  We were headed to the Torpedo Factory for a day of culture and fun.

Saturday when we went couldn’t have been better to be outside in this historic district.  The sun was shining and them temperatures were very comfortable.  I decided to take Metro and just meet everyone there at 4 o’clock.  Since i wanted to walk around a take a bunch of pictures this afforded me ample time to get there early and enjoy the city.  While walking down from the Metro stop they had an Armenian festival at City Hall.  They had all sorts of craft vendors and when I was passing through a group of dancers were on stage doing traditional dance, you wont see this stuff on MTV.

I was able to spend a good hour walking around the city, mostly along the waterfront, and got some good shots.  Nancy and the troops were running a little late which allowed me the extra shooting time at the Carlyle House (picture).  A historic site with a fantastic garden in the back yard that is being restored.  Unfortunately their delay would limit our time at the Torpedo Factory.  It normally closes at 6 on Saturdays, but tonight they had a special engagement and were closing at 5.  So we only had about 30 minutes of time to walk around.  Every type of art medium you could think of is represented here, most of which was for sale.  I was really impressed with the place and would love to come back when I can spend a few hours walking around.  With three levels and all these little cubbyholes hiding different artists, many of who are happy to talk about their work, there is a lot to see.

Eventually when we got kicked out we walked around downtown and did a little shopping.  The first place we went to was Conrad’s Furniture Gallery because of their pitch.  When we walked by they offered us free drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  Who can refuse free alcohol and food?  The place was very trendy and offered a wide variety of things for sale.  Nancy walked away with a hand blown green glass blow from Turkey, or maybe Morocco.  I wanted to use it as a cereal bowl but that idea got shot down quickly.  Nancy doesn’t know yet what she will do with it, but she knows it will be the bases for furnishing her house.  I fail to see how you can base the whole decoration of a house, or even a room, on one single bowl, but if anyone can do it it would be Nancy.

row houses
row houses

We still needed to kill time as our dinner reservations at The Wharf, was not till 6:30.  The hors d’oeuvres wet our appetite so we tried to get seated early for our reservations.  When we arrived at the restaurant it was completely empty on Saturday night.  Once we got seated we checked out the menu and it was limited and expensive.  Plus Nancy doesn’t eat seafood and the selection of chicken/beef was only two items.  So we decided to dine and dash, well more just the dash.  We didn’t order anything, not even drinks.

Fortunately for us just down the block we found another restaurant that looked more appealing, the Fish Market.  It was still a seafood place, but the menu had more options of non-seafood items.  When we walked in the atmosphere was much more relaxed compared to the other place.  Even the drink selection was better, the crazy sizes and names made it a done deal.  I must saw that I was impressed with the food as well.  I had the Admiral’s platter, basically a little of everything.  With the exception of the crab imperial that tasted awful, everything was good.  And the hushpuppies, it had been so long since I tasted such good hushpuppies.

After dinner we decided on some bar hoping and this is how we ended our night in Old Town.  Our first stop was at the Tap Room which was right next to the car.  Definitely a locals bar, very quaint with cool architecture.  Next it was off to O’Connell’s, you might have quested it, an Irish pub.  Here we lucked out and got a table outside on the sidewalk.  On such a beautiful night we could not have asked for a better location.  Plus I love to people watch and it was great to see the diverse crowd of people walking around that evening.  It was so good we had two rounds of drinks before we did a little shopping at Le Tache.  I won’t go into what this place is, but I saved the night when I found it only one block up from O’Connell’s bar.  A very interesting place, very upscale with a helpful staff, I can’t wait to go back.

For a night cap it was Bugsy’s and their sports bar located atop their pizza parlor.  I was amazed by the amount of crap, I mean memorabilia, on the walls.  In the middle of looking around we noticed it was almost midnight and that the garage would be closing soon.  We were not ready to finish our evening, but we were forced to leave.  After getting back to the car I hitched a ride to Metro and that ended a great day in Old Town Alexandria.  We are all hoping to get back soon and do an official bar crawl.