I was in Kansas City this weekend for my daughter Lauren’s birthday. We visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, one of my favorite places in the city to view art — and also my favorite place in KC to eat lunch. Dining in Rozzelle Court, I always feel as though I’ve wandered unexpectedly into a European courtyard, complete with a charming fountain.
We didn’t have a lot of time in the museum, so after lunch we hit the highlights: The Buddha statue (right, with daughter Katie and her friend Brittany) and the American wing. We definitely can’t visit the museum without seeing the Thomas Hart Benton paintings and the Cornhusker sculpture by our own Christian Petersen (with Lauren, above). We also made it a point to stop by a special exhibit featuring some outstanding behind-the-scenes photographs of Pablo Picasso and also a disappointing collection of photographs of the remains of some of the World’s Fairs.
Today I viewed art of a different sort: The Octagon Arts Festival in Ames. This art fair, held on Main Street, offered a surprisingly good selection of art by more than 100 artists. Offerings included paintings, photographs, ceramics, sculpture, wooden furniture, hand-made purses, jewelry, glass, metal, lawn art, prints, and more. I didn’t have the I’ve-seen-this-before feeling like I often do at the larger and highly touted Des Moines Art Festival. Most of the works were approachable and affordable.
A quick scan of the list of artists shows that most were from the Midwest: mostly Iowa and Minnesota, but also Wisconsin, Illinois, and the surrounding states. A few were from out of the area, coming from as far away as Florida and even Montana. But this was definitely a Midwestern art festival, and I think that worked well.
In addition to the art, there were also a children’s crafts area, live music, and food vendors. Although I was tempted by a ceramic pumpkin, a tiny and adorable purse, a lithograph of a funny “cat lady” (with whom I related), and a wonderful necklace, my only purchase was a veggie gyro.