Category Archives: Minnesota

Beautiful autumn colors

In the nick of time before autumn is done, I wanted to share some photos I took throughout the season. All of these were taken in the twin cities between mid September and early November. I don’t recall beautiful colors here in the frozen tundra into November, ever! So we enjoyed this year’s display much longer than in previous years. Please enjoy the gallery of my favorite photos this year. Click on any photo in the gallery to see larger images.

And two images of sunrises this autumn.

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Minneapolis Institute of Art – an out of the ordinary visit

We love MIA and go at least once year, sometimes more if there’s an interesting exhibit. For our most recent visit in October I decided I wanted to check out a couple of galleries that I’d never ventured into before. I studied the map and chose gallery 316 as one to visit this time. I took a Friday off so we were able to get there when they opened. We even found a spot on the street in front of the museum.

Gallery 316 happened to have a captivating display of psychedelic posters from the 60s. I chose a great gallery, score!! The rest of what we saw at the museum were bonuses. Click on any photo to open the photo galleries in this post to view larger images.

I chose the Parska/Shada exhibit as another gallery to explore. The exhibit opened in August 2021 and will run through April 2022. It was a room full of pueblo art from New Mexico and what sounded like a pow wow being played on overhead speakers. There were drawings, pottery, mantas and one bronze statue. It was so interesting and it made me want to explore New Mexico.

Here’s some information that I copied from MIA’s website that tells you a little about this exhibit:

Explore Mia’s collection of Pueblo art highlighting Keresan, Tewa, Towa, and Hopi voices and culture. Curated by Juan Lucero (Isleta Pueblo), Mia’s Mdewakanton Native Art Fellow, this exhibition transports visitors to the oldest villages in the United States for a parska (in Keresan) or shada (in Tewa) community dance. Over 40 works of art—watercolor paintings, bow guards, manta weavings, ceramics, and Hopi katsinam dolls—come together to create one ceremonial spirit. Through the breath of memory and longing, you can experience the emotions of distant drums and songs as you travel from Grandma’s house to the ceremonial plaza. There, sights and sounds create kinship, family, and tradition to be handed from generation to generation.

Some photos of the pueblo art:

We popped our heads into a couple of period rooms. I enjoy being transported to a different time when viewing these rooms. As we walked past the impressionists, which we always visit except this time, I caught sight of a Degas ballerina statue and just had to go look. I love these statues. There are more of them at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and I always see them when I’m there. I was curious if there were more of them and learned that after the death of Degas in 1917 his heirs found more than 150 figurative sculptures in his studio. His heirs authorized that copies be made in bronze to sell to museums. But I couldn’t find where all of these sculptures reside. I found this information on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website so click on the link for more information if you like. I knew of one other of these Little Dancer sculptures that resides at the Saint Louis Art Museum from my officemate at the University of Minnesota. She saw one of my photos on my computer’s desktop wallpaper one day at work and said she knew that the sculpture was at the Saint Louis Art Museum, except the one in my photo was from one of my trips to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It seems one could write an entire post on this one statue! Instead I will link you to the Wikipedia page should you desire more information.

Across from the ballerina is another Degas, Woman in a Bathtub. While admiring this piece a security guard approached us and told a story of how he watched Bruce Dayton lift this piece out of his trunk many years ago and how amazed he was that he could do that! The piece was donated by Ruth and Bruce Dayton but the security guard wasn’t sure if that was the day it was donated. Such fascinating people you meet along the way and he shared his unique story with us. Cool!

We also stopped by the gallery called Judaica, a small section containing Jewish artifacts such as dreidels, menorahs and noise makers used for Purim. To view all of the items in MIA’s collection, click here.

I decided to take photos of the museum itself: the entrance, the long staircase between the first and second floors and other areas of the museum. Not only is there great art displayed throughout, the museum itself is a piece of art. Also included in this gallery are other pieces along the way that I found intriguing.

Lastly, a photo of Chihuly’s Sunburst. Always a joy to see at the entry. You get to see it both as you arrive and when you leave, as well as from the staircase. It is definitely prominently placed. I always recommend this museum so if you’re in the twin cities area, do pay it a visit.

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Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Every autumn we talk about taking a drive to see some fall foliage and we have in the past but in the last several years we have stayed in the cities, which with the right timing is very beautiful. And there will be a post with those photos coming soon! Because I also made a couple of trips to the Mississippi River again this year.

We timed this adventure perfectly and were treated to scenery filled with fields of dried up corn stalks and some empty fields where we think corn had grown and farms galore along with colorful trees as we headed south with our destination about an hour away. It was a nice day for a drive and then a hike at this state park to find waterfalls. Temp was mid 60s, perfect for a hike.

We had never been to this state park and I had read that it is known for its fall colors. It’s about an hour from the cities so perfect for an afternoon’s outing. It was a fairly easy half mile hike to Hidden Falls with a section roped off to protect the Dwarf Trout Lilies. I’ve never heard of this plant and now I want to go back next spring to see this endangered flower in bloom. If you’re interested, more information about this plant can be found here, then click on “Learn more about this special plant” about two thirds down the page.

Hidden Falls itself is lovely but I had to wonder what it looks like in the spring. Another reason to go back next spring! All the waterfalls that we saw on hikes at the North Shore in August were not as voluminous as in years when we’re not in drought. And I’d love to go back to the North Shore in springtime as well.

On with the photo galleries! First, some scenes from the road:

Next the park and the falls including some helpful information along the way. I notice that at all the state parks we’ve visited this year have great placards with interesting stuff to learn along the trails.

It was a beautiful and perfect day for hiking and leaf peeping. I can’t wait to go back!

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Minnesota State Fair in pandemic times

This was such a different year for the fair. We did not have the fair last year due to the pandemic so we were glad to be able to go this year! I’m still working through how I want to create posts about our North Shore vacation in August so in the mean time I thought I would add my state fair post.

We always take a free bus to the fair and this year masks were mandated on the bus, except that they weren’t enforcing it, at least not on our bus. I counted 8, mostly young people, not wearing masks.

I decided to wear a mask while in the buildings and my daughter wore hers most of the time. It wasn’t my favorite visit to the fair due to the continuing pandemic but I’m glad we went. Normally we go more than once since it’s held for 10 days ending on Labor Day. I was just too uncomfortable to go another time.

I thought I would share some photos of our day and I’ll start with the photos from the art building. We always check out the art and this year was no different, except for the masks. This gallery displays some of my favorites. Click on any photo to open the gallery and view larger photos:

Next, a few Peanuts statues that live at the fair:

We always visit the agriculture building and especially the crop art. But the line was long for the crop art, my daughter had to get to work and I felt uneasy being in that room with so many people, so we stepped out of the line. So we didn’t see much crop art this year but I did capture a couple of them on our way out. Here are the scenes from inside and outside of the agriculture building:

Next, a few more fair scenes. Hubby and daughter decided to go on the big slide and I wish I had captured hubby’s face when he got to the bottom. If I had to describe it, I think it would be something like “whew, I made it!” Later he said that was probably the last time he’ll go on the slide. He said he got a little scared when he was air-born at one point. The first photo is a band we always stop to see on opening day, Darlene and the boys. I am pretty sure I have seen the older couple dancing in years past. In this photo the older couple is teaching the younger couple some dance moves.

I’m hoping next year I’ll feel more comfortable to do more of the things I enjoy at the fair. We didn’t make it to any animal buildings, for example. And no shopping at the grandstand. I just wanted to minimize my time inside buildings so ended up limiting that to the art and ag buildings. Again, I’m glad we went but I’m sure hoping for a more “back to normal” fair next year.

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An up north vacation

It was more of a long weekend than a vacation but still enjoyable. A post coming soon on our summer vacation in August but for now I’m trying to catch up on posts I intended to create but didn’t. Here we go!

We spent a long weekend at the family cabin in Akeley at the end of June. Once again we timed it so that we could see Minnesota’s state flower in bloom, the Showy Lady’s Slipper, at Itasca State Park. We did a similar long weekend in 2020, the exact same weekend, but this year we missed the peak of that lovely flower due to the drought. We did about the same trip to Itasca and drove the Wilderness Drive again. It was just as lovely but this time I didn’t spot any flowers along the road like I did last year, likely because it was past peak. We stopped along the way so that I could capture the water lilies in a pond. We also stopped on our way into the park because all the views of the lakes along the way were so still that I had to get some photos of that loveliness! We hiked down to a good vantage point and here are a few of those photos, so peaceful with lovely reflections:

While at Itasca it is obligatory to check out the headwaters of the Mississippi River even though we’ve been there dozens of times. It’s still fun to see. After the morning drive we had a little lunch at Douglas Lodge, which wasn’t open last year due to the pandemic. It was so nice to eat there again!

The lady’s slippers are just down the hill from Douglas Lodge. There was something different on this year’s journey down the stairs to view the flowers: a contraption to pull water from the lake if needed. I’m including a photo of that since that’s something we’ve never seen before. I don’t know if they ever did pull water from the lake but maybe so as the drought lasted all summer and continues today as I write this.

We happened to be in Akeley for their annual festival, Paul Bunyan Days, so we walked to town to check it out. There was no festival last year due to the pandemic so this was a welcome sight this year! Akeley is the town where my mother-in-law grew up and there is a museum that contains many items that she donated. We stopped by the museum as we hadn’t been in several years. It’s always interesting and we always check out both hubby’s mother’s as well as her sister’s class graduation photos. There are a couple of walls dedicated to these graduating classes. I noticed a plaque on the wall that we also have in the cabin, the first snowmobile in Akeley. Rather, it is entitled “Akeley claims first snowmobile”. The volunteer sitting at the entrance heard us speaking about the plaque and asked how we came to have one. Turns out this woman grew up across the street from my mother-in-law and her sister and she said she inherited some of their toys as she was younger than the two sisters. So interesting!

There was another car show at Paul Bunyan days, about a half a block long across the highway from the other festival goings on. It wasn’t quite as big as Back to the 50s but still interesting and we got to choose our favorite car. I chose the oldest car, from 1930, the one with the rumble seat. I took a couple of photos of the giant Paul Bunyan statue but apparently forgot to capture the front of it. There is a photo of it at the link above for the museum and some interesting Akeley history too!

Here’s a gallery of other stuff we saw at festival including the car show.

Lastly I will close with some sunset photos from the cabin.

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Back to the 50s

I’ve lived in the twin cities for nearly 30 years and I’ve never gone to Back to the 50s! An old bandmate of hubby’s was performing with her current band, Super Modified, at the Pin-up Contest so we decided to finally attend Back to the 50s and see her band too. Since this event is always packed, we decided to take public transit to avoid the parking mess. We parked at Rosedale and got on the A-line for $2.00 each. And we managed to see everything we wanted to see before our bus tickets expired for our return trip. Whew! And we were right about the parking mess. The bus dropped us about a block from the entrance and the bus driver scooted by all those cars in line to park.

This event occurs every year on the last weekend in June and is sponsored by the Minnesota Street Rod Association. I live close to the fairgrounds so have always seen the cars driving around. And in years past when I worked on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota I’d see many cars on the streets and I felt like I didn’t have to pay admission to see the cars. But it was fun to be on the fairgrounds viewing all those cool cars. Of course there were food and beverage vendors, but curiously no benches to sit on. I did notice, however, that many fair goers brought their own portable chairs.

Check out some of the cool cars we saw!

A couple more photos, one of the Pin-up Contest winner and the band we saw, Super Modified:

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An afternoon of art at MIA

We love the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I follow the museum on Facebook and saw that they were open but that you needed a timed entry ticket to get in. The museum is free and during pre-pandemic days one could just go on in. I’m glad they’re taking precautions and of course masks must be worn. 

We headed up the stairs to the third floor to check out the Prairie School architecture room. The style began in 1880s Chicago by Louis Sullivan and this room contains some of his pieces as well as those of his followers, Frank Lloyd Wright among them. Note the pair of elevator grills in the gallery below. They were in the Chicago Stock Exchange Building which was torn down in 1972. The building’s entrance archway and interior trading floor were salvaged and moved to the Art Institute of Chicago. And MIA has a pair of elevator grills.

There are several of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses here in the upper midwest. In the middle of this room at MIA there is a model of a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1914 for Frances Little. The house was  in Deephaven, a suburb on the west side of the twin cities, and overlooked Lake Minnetonka. The house had many issues and was eventually taken down with many parts of it being sold. MIA purchased a hallway from this house and installed it in the museum. I always visit this room as it’s one of my favorites. 

On our way to view the Impressionism we peeked into a couple of period rooms. One is an empty room from Europe in the 1700s where there is audio and lighting effects displaying one day from sunrise to sunset. You hear the fire crackling and horses with carriages. I only caught a little of that this time so I didn’t listen to all of the audio. The first two photos are after the sun has set and then as the sun starts to rise the next day.

Whenever we see any painting by James Ensor one of us breaks into song(see video below):  “Meet James Ensor. Belgium’s famous painter” (by They Might Be Giants). We found two of Ensor’s paintings this time. I noticed that the second one, the one of the group of people, appears in the video:

I also always visit the Impressionism rooms and this trip was no different. However, I took a few photos of sculptures this go round so first I’ll share those:

And onto the other paintings that caught my eye. Some favorites as well as others I had not seen before:

Some general museum scenes:

I don’t recall ever seeing this room before and this car fascinated me. It’s a Tatra T87 four-door sedan from 1948 designed by Hans Ledwinka and manufactured by Ringhoffer-Tatra-Werke AG. From the museum’s gallery:

From the three-piece windshield to the fin at the back, the streamlined Tatra’s every feature is an example of well-crafted form reinforcing function. Ledwinka added the distinctive rear dorsal fin to stabilize the car at high speeds. One of the fastest cars of its day, the Tatra could go 100 miles per hour thanks to its rear-mounted 75-horsepower V8 engine, air-cooled with streamlined louvers. The windshield, skirted rear wheels, and recessed door handles contributed to the car’s speed. The innovative sliding sunroof brought in light, and the front center headlight improved visibility in fog. Only two thousand cars of the 1936 T87 design were produced, and none were commercially exported to North America.

In the hallway before you see the Tatra car there is another period room and the placard describes an interesting albeit a bit sad story. It’s the story of the museum’s first curator of modern art Barton Kestle. He began his job at MIA in 1950 and in 1954 there were several discreet inquiries about him by unidentified agents. Within days of the museum’s administrators being questioned behind closed doors, Kestle was summoned by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in Washington, D.C. On March 27,1954 Kestle boarded a train for Washington, D.C. and was never heard from again. The door to his office at MIA was sealed and painted over while the museum was organizing an exhibition. It remained just as he left it until it was rediscovered in 2011 and the curator suggested that it become another period room. Similar to other period rooms, it’s like stepping back in time. Note the old furniture as well as a telephone, which I assume is an antique. I’m attaching the photo of the placard that gives a few more details than what I’ve written here.

Another delight at MIA is Chihuly’s Sunburst that greets you when you walk in and it’s the last thing you see as you leave, as long as you look up. In previous visits we had lunch at the Agra Culture restaurant on the mezzanine level. The view of Sunburst is especially wonderful while you’re eating lunch. But Agra Culture is closed until further notice due to the pandemic.

Sunburst – Chihuly

Finally, I leave you with some autumn colors that I saw as we left the museum that day in October. There are still some colors even if we’ve already had snow(at publication we’re having a heat wave so all the first snow has melted).

I always leave MIA feeling like I just barely scratched the surface. I like to visit my favorites but this time I made it a point to check out some new things. I’m going to make it a point to see something new during each subsequent visit. Because of course there will be subsequent visits. I highly recommend a couple of hours at MIA. There is something for everyone.

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