The Lion Roars

Sunday is a perfect day for a visit to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.  It is always a treat. The Funerary Lion that sits in the Gallery Sculpture Hall on the main level of the gallery is one of my favorite works of art in Kansas City.

Sculpted from marble in Athens Greece, it dates from about 325 BCE [1].  The lion epitomizes the power and grace of Greek culture.


Before the weather outside is too beautiful to ignore, check out the Nelson or a museum or gallery near you.

[1]  BCE–Before Common Era


Tapestry Or Sculpture: It is Clearly Fine Art

If I thought I had any understanding of African art, this sculpture by Ghanian artist, El Anatsui, caused me to reexamine by perceptions.  Shimmering like silk, the 350 pound work of art is currently being installed on a wall in the Bloch Lobby at the Nelson-Atkins. It is entitled Dusasa I.

Described by the museum as a tapestry-like sculpture, it is 39 ft by 26 ft and weighs 350 pounds.  Constructed from recycled aluminum bottle tops and the strips that encircle the bottle necks, the artist and his assistants flattened the thin metal before beginning their artistic work, fastening the metal strips to create this complex quilt-like pattern.

The Dusasa I donated to the Nelson by the William T. Kemper Foundation.  It is one of many works the Foundation has donated to the museum.  The donation reflects the impeccable standards of both the William T. Kemper Foundation and the Nelson.

For Kansas City residents it is another reason to visit a home-town treasure.  For anyone living outside the Mid-West, it is one more reason to visit the heartland.



Paper As Art

On a recent visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, I saw these creative paper ornaments in the Museum Store. Reminiscent of the crafts we learned in second grade (or third, or fourth, I don’t really remember) these cutouts bring cut paper to a whole new level of artistry.

With light shining through them they also appear to be distant relatives of the luminaries we passed as we drove up to the gallery.

You can try to make these with your little ones or, perhaps, you can visit the museum and bring them home to display in your windows through the holiday season.

Wandering the Grounds at the Kemper Atkins Museum of Art

Weekends are for wandering, pondering and enjoying life.  Especially gorgeous September weekends.  What could be better?  Casey is almost always with us on our weekend jaunts.  He is not a particularly well-disciplined dog.  We forgive him since his sense of adventure is similar to ours.  

Sunday evening we headed to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  It is elegant and inviting.  While most of my museum time has been spent wandering the galleries inside the buildings, Sunday we focused on the grounds.

Since my earliest childhood, Auguste Rodin’s, The Thinker, has symbolized the Nelson for me.  Originally inside the museum, he now sits outside, prominently displayed near the front entrance.  The question has always been “What is he thinking about?”  I have no answer.

Sharing the front lawn with The Thinker are the shuttlecocks.  A total of four shuttlecocks  rest on the front and back lawns.  Presumably, the museum itself is the net.

The Kansas City Sculpture Park, located on the grounds, includes formal and more casual gardens with more than 30 sculptures by 20th and 21st century world-class artists.   It includes the largest collection of Henry Moore bronze sculptures outside England, as well as works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, (one of my favorites), Isamu Noguchi and Pierre-August Renior.

The original museum building is an architectural treasure.  Designed in the neoclassic style by Wight and Wight architects, it was completed in 1933.  Even the exterior lighting displays the grace of the design.

When the decision was made to expand the museum, the project was awarded to a renowned contemporary architect, Steven Holl.  He created a building strikingly different from the original museum; focused on fusing light, shadow and water.

Not to be ignored is the artistic nature of the landscaping itself.  Pathways meander through the trees, encouraging visitors to explore the nooks and crannies of the gardens in search of the art spread throughout the park.

If you live in Kansas City, visit the gallery for an afternoon.  If you are from out-of-town, spend a weekend.  Enjoy!

Congratulations, Kansas 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.