Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is an architectural marvel. Located in the heart of Kansas City, at 16th and Broadway, it is named for Muriel Kauffman, whose vision made the center possible. Mrs. Kauffman selected architect Moshe Safdie to design the building. A world renown cultural center, it is home to the Kansas City area’s premier performing arts organizations featuring theater, opera, ballet, the symphony and, our personal favorite, the Independence Messiah Choir.
Beautiful in day-light, its elegance is even more fully experienced when the building lights up the sky.
Crystal Bridges is a world class Museum of American Art. But no visit would be complete without a walk through the grounds that surround it. In fact, one of the best reasons to walk along the trails is to be able to truly admire the graceful world class architecture from various vantage points along the trails behind and adjacent to the buildings themselves.
The museum is a masterpiece by acclaimed architect and urban planner, Moshe Safdie. In addition to Crystal Bridges, his work includes projects in such diverse environments as Old City Jerusalem; Singapore; Golden Dream Bay in Qinhuangdao, China; as well as Kansas City’s own Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
There are extensive trails through the 120 acre site. These trails pass by creeks, a pond, and native plants. They wind through and around the grounds. Small walking bridges pass over the creeks on the property that are actually fed by the Crystal Spring.
But the grounds are not limited to natural beauty. Sculptures the quality of the world class art in the gallery are on the grounds outside as well. My personal favorite is Stella, by artist/sculptor, Andre Harvey. Stella weighs in at 560 pounds. She seems to me to be completely and utterly content. No dieting for this lass. Look at her smile.
Terry and I are pretty independent souls. Our work lives keep us busy during the day and our clubs, committees and boards take much of our spare time. But Fridays after work and Sunday mornings are our time. Virtually every Sunday morning you will find us in the car with our dog, Casey, with a destination in mind, preferably pet friendly. We combine breakfast with a drive through an area of the Kansas City metropolitan area that remains unexplored or, in this case, under-explored. This morning was no exception.
It is hot here. But Casey would not understand if we don’t include him in the morning explorations. That significantly limits the restaurants where we can eat to those that are dog friendly. He knows, really knows, the rhythm of our lives and which day of the week is for the three of us. Today Terry selected a restaurant on the North edge of the Crossroads District of Kansas City. I walked just a block to photograph this view of Kauffman, Webster House and the Bartle Hall pylons. Y & J’s Snack Shop is eclectic to say the least. Obviously a haunt for both young city dwellers and middle age professionals , I had never noticed it until this morning. But it was inexpensive, the food was good, and Casey was content. The staff even provided water for pets. The aesthetics of the so-called “snack bar” were minimalist at best. Tiny, with a kitchen smaller than my own, the cook served such standards as bacon and egg sandwiches, coffee and a variety of breads. The decor was not even shabby-chic, it was just shabby. The door was covered with stickers of various sorts. The tables and chairs were plastic and metal. Nothing really matched. But the environment was casual and accepting. Obviously, many patrons were regulars and felt right at home. Even for first timers it was a happy place to spend some time. We wandered the block or so surrounding Y & J’S, and were surprised by the variety of retail stores, coffee shops, businesses and an urban garden, all sharing adjoining spaces. I can’t even tell you the address, because street signs were few and far between. But one business had prominently displaced its address as 1818 something. It was a true urban experience made more satisfying because we know it is part of the rebirth of our central city.
Frommer’s, publisher of travel guides, lists Kansas City as one of the top ten travel destinations for 2012. Others selected include such exotic locations as Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Ghana and Chongqoing, China.
While neither exotic nor remote, Kansas City was selected based primarily on its ever expanding emphasis on arts and culture. Frommers focuses on the recent completion of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (described as one of the most technically advanced performance halls in the U.S.), the new
contemporary wing of the Nelson-Adkins Art Gallery; and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. It also identifies the College Basketball Experience interactive facility adjacent to the Sprint Center, the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Kansas City Jazz Museum that share space at 18th and Vine. In addition to raving about these and other attractions, the article raves about Kansas City barbecue.
Those of us who live here, love Kansas City already and easily brag about our attractions. It is nice to know that now a world-class expert on travel recognizes our city as a world-class destination.