• Tag Archives tours
  • Novel Endings and Art

    Spring                                                   Beltane Moon

    Still reading Missing, catching up to the end, so I can write it.  That’s an amazing aspect of writing a novel.  I can read what I’ve written so far and I can decide how it resolves.  Of course, the entire corpus before the end represents limits on that ending, it’s not entirely open, yet there is a plasticity to it, a fungibility that is mine to shape.

    Then into the Minneapolis Convention center for two hours of volunteer training for my four shift on Sunday.  Some big museum association is in town and all us museum volunteer types were solicited to help out.  I said yes.  I’m still trying to recall just why.

    After that training, I drove the short distance to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts since I had a 7 pm Sports Show public tour.  As I approached the museum, the streets had cars parked everywhere.  There was a stream of people going in and out of the museum.  On a Thursday night?  Not a third Thursday.

    Then it hit me.  I’d taken a substitute tour on the opening Thursday night of Art in Bloom.  OMG!  There were no takers for the Sports Show tour, not a big surprise.  The people watching was great though.  Lots of women in very, very short skirts.  I mean practically non-buttock covering.  Men rolling their eyes as their wives exclaimed.  It was a sub-cultural moment.

    Glad to be home.

  • A Better Tour

    Spring                                                      Bee Hiving Moon

    Downer tour last week with Augsburg students and a professor.  My fault, still a downer.  But.  Leave it to elementary kids to brighten a day.  Today I had two tours with third graders.  Fun.  Honest.  Talkative.

    (Ashurnarsipal II, King of Assyria and builder of the palace at Nimrud. Image courtesy of the British Museum)

    Including a brief span of time when 8 members of the group and I got separated from the chaperons.  That left me with 8 9-year olds suddenly free of known adult supervision and in a brand new space!  Oh, boy.  Good thing I’m a dad.  We had fun though it was a little chaotic.  Then we were found and things were easier again.

    This is an age where kids raise their hands, open their mouths, hesitate and say, “Oh, I forgot.”

    One 9-year old girl took out her hair band and practiced throwing her hair around in front of the Nocturne Radio, basically a large circular blue mirror in Art Moderne.  Her name was Emma.  I would say watch out for Emma.  Probably starting right now.

    Had two hours between tours which makes for a long day.  Had lunch and worked for 45 minutes on the Great Scanning Project.  Slow and steady.

  • Sports Show Tours: Day 2

    Imbolc                                                  Woodpecker Moon

    Two sports show tours today.  The first, a public 11:30, had nobody show.  Not surprising at 11:30 on a beautiful spring day.  72 degrees today.  Sunny.

    1:00 pm tour had 5 people, but they were all into the show.  Had great discussions. Folks said, well, after seeing this we’ll have conversations about constitutes art.  I’m not as interactive so far as I might be, will have to think about that.

    Once again entered the Pfieffer from the video first.  Makes much more sense.  This crowd loved the piece, the immersion in the sound and its evocation of childhood sports events.

    I made a simple changed in spectacle gallery that made reception of the upstate NY olympics much more favorable.  I showed folks the Gursk large format photograph of the boxing match and Diane Arbus’ shot of a downs syndrome girl first.  Then, we went to the upstate NY olympics and its ironic twist on the nature of sports spectacle was apparent.

    I apologize to those of you who don’t know the show but the pieces I’m talking about are installations:  a sound piece in the Pfieffer instance and a video piece in upstate NY olympics case.  Hard to describe in words which is, of course, part of their reason for existence.

  • Woollies On the Move

    Imbolc                                                    Woodpecker Moon

    My first Sports Show tour tomorrow.  1 pm.  This show, as one docent friend said, is “a different animal.”  It attracts a sporting audience for sure, whether it attracts the arts audience is not so clear.  At least those are the reports I’ve been getting from docents who’ve toured it already.

    I’m prepared, but in some ways I expect to wing it, since a sports focused group would be very different from an arts focused group.  I look forward to either one.  I like this show, as I’ve said before, so I’m interested to see how it works with museum goers.

    Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine.  Only they’re not wedding bells, they’re post-retirement living arrangements.  Woolly Jim Johnson headed west to the plains of South Dakota several years ago.  He comes to the retreats and at least one meeting each year.

    Woolly Paul Strickland and his wife Sarah, friends of mine for over 30 years, have decided to shift their home to their property in Maine, close to the Bay of Fundy.  Woolly Charlie Haislet will begin to split his time between St. Paul (a new condo) and his cabin in Wisconsin.  Paul says he’ll be back for retreats, and I imagine he will, but all these moves will change the character of our group.

    Probably the more amazing story is that we’ve stayed essentially stable for 25 years.  None of these moves were unexpected, and for those making them, they signal an accomplishment.  More third phase stuff at work.

  • Tours

    Imbolc                                          Garden Planning Moon

    Students from St. Matthew’s School in St. Paul.  The first group was willing to go with my plan for contemporary art.  There were several very interested, engaged students.  We looked at the Mushroom photo exhibit, the Highpoint Print Co-op show and the Shackleton photograph paintings in the MAEP gallery.  We also went into the contemporary world gallery where the students loved the works.

    The second group had more particular ideas so we saw the Buddha, the mummy, a Grecian amphora and kalyx, the Tatra, the wind vanes and the flintlock rifles.  It was a strange tour but the kids loved it.  They had studied Buddhism, Egypt and Greece in social studies.  The rest were individual interests.

    Both groups loved the museum.  Felt very good.  Reinforced my decision to keep doing this work.

    (this print I bought today.  Florence Brahmer.  The Temperaments:  Flammable)

    Over to Highpoint again.  One of the prints had been calling to me since I passed it up on Monday.  I went back over and bought it after the tours.

  • Here’s Looking At Ye’

    Imbolc                                    Garden Planning Moon

    Got my self inserted into the Sports Show conversation among MIA docents.  I’ve not had time to check out the catalog or e-mails until today.

    My commitment to work at the MIA has kept hold of me, even over the last few weeks where I’ve considered jettisoning it altogether in favor of a more personal, private approach.  Research for this new show and excitement about the Rembrandt and Terra Cotta Warrior show coming up reminded me why I love this work.

    It feeds a different part of me than the more masculine, tough-guy, bare-knuckle world of politics.  I’ve had plenty of time with that guy and there are others out there still willing to get in the ring.  I’m stepping back from the political world, at least for now.

    But the MIA?  Nope, I’ve decided I love it there, that the work still calls me and so do my friends among the docents.  I’m there to stay.  At least for now.

  • Time Marches On

    Winter                                  Garden Planning Moon

    Kate sent the check off for the bees.  Two two pound packages of Minnesota Hygienics.  They should come around tax filing deadline.  A happier thing to hive bees.

    We also decided on the plantings for our garden this season.  I’ll wait a bit on sending out the order.

    In other news:  yes, I left the honey I intended to take Roy Wolf on the counter top.  Here. Yes.  I left the rug I intended to take to American Rug Laundry in the garage.  Here.  Yes, I apparently sent a test back to my doctor without my name on it.  And that’s just this week.

    Who’s turning 65 soon?

    On a different note.  Two fun groups of kids today.  Asian art tours.  One kid said, “I have a wonder.  I wonder whether the Chinese see our living rooms as weird?  Like we see theirs?”  Don’t know about you but I imagine either one would see our living room as weird.

    The museum has artificial turf and tropical plants, brightly colored metal outdoor chairs and outdoor umbrellas up in the lobby.  Called a popup park.  One kid asked, “Is this art?”  Geez, how would I know?


  • Kevan the Tool

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    We qualify for a special mortgage deal proposed by my favorite institution in America, Wells Fargo Bank.  We went in today to see Kevan, a home mortgage specialist.  Kevan had a computer screen we could see and he happily punched in numbers explaining the joys of this wonderful deal.

    Until.  “Can I see the type of contract you’re proposing we sign?  You know, the terms?”  “It’s all right here,” Kevan said, pointing to the computer screen.  Oh, well.  Since it’s on a computer screen, that’s good enough, right?  Wrong.

    “I’d like to see the language we’d be expected to agree to, Kevan.”  “The terms are right here.” Kevan pointed to the swing out computer screen.  Again.

    They weren’t.  What the screen showed was the advantage to us of taking the deal.  That’s all.  No other contractual information.

    Kevan and I did not get along.  We did, because I had my much smarter partner with me, go ahead and sign up because the deal could lower our monthly payments by a significant amount.  In the process of signing up however they collected information about our income and several pieces of what I consider proprietary information.  And we get nothing in return.

    We can still say no, but this was the only way (ONLY WAY) I could get to see the terms of the contract.  Kevan said it was a national program.  I pointed to the phone.  He could call the national program surely and get us the information.  He got exasperated then because signing up was the only way.  ONLY WAY.  Kevan is a corporate tool.

    Afterward, I toured a group of tall, elegant Somali teenagers through the MIA’s ancient art collection.  They were attentive and interactive.

    At 1:00 PM I went over to the Eye Institute where I had my semi-annual glaucoma check up.  This was the first time in over 20 years that I have not seen Jane West.  I now see Dr. Brown.  My eye-drops have dropped my pressures into the safe levels and my optic nerve is stable.  Between the holes punched through my iris in 2004 by laser and the eyedrops, we’re keeping that nerve as healthy as possible.

    I started out with a central hole in my optic nerve bigger than normal, so I have less room to accommodate change.


  • A Changeable Month

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    A warm fall night, a clear sky, a half moon high above it all.  The moon roof open on the Celica.  October in Minnesota.  A changeable month.

    The Sierra Club set its legislative priorities tonight, though with this particular legislature a good deal, most, of our work will be defensive in nature.

    Today saw final touches on my tour of ancient art for a group of Somali teens.  I did not know that Somalia was, most likely, the ancient land of Punt.  It covers the Horn of Africa like a cap, hugging the coastline north and south while extending in toward the interior.  Piracy is not a new activity here in this country positioned close to major shipping lanes for centuries.

    Did some editing on Spiritual Resources for Humanists, or With No God, and found it could use some rewriting. I’ll get to that Friday or Saturday.


  • A Change Is Coming

    Lughnasa                                             Waning Harvest Moon

    An edible Docent luncheon.  Whoa.  Sat with Emily, Grace, Allison, Linda, Cheryl, Amanda, Katherine, then Sheila.   The actual program contained as many boring bits as usual but the table companions more than made up for the dullness of the rest.

    Afterward we all trundled over to the Pillsbury auditorium for Katherine’s speech outlining her vision for a new and improved volunteer experience at the MIA.  Many of her ideas and initiatives sound useful and needed.  The already changed rule that now allows volunteers in free to any museum lecture jumps the level of continuing education up a notch right away.  A needed notch.

    As a self-professed techno-geek, many of Katherine’s plans have some link or another to various technological ideas.  The Docent lounge has been gutted and will undergo extensive remodeling to serve as a lounge and research area as well as, if I understood correctly, a center for Docents who want to moderate web discussions, write weblogs or blogs (I don’t understand the difference) and participate in digitalizing the collection in many different forms.

    The intention is, too, to digitize all the object files and to first create streaming video of older continuing ed, then stream them live while creating video for later review.

    Much of this comes under the guise of an NEH grant called the Extended Collection Project.

    She had various other announcements, some related to the new structure of her department, Learning and Innovation, others to staff changes.  Staff got shuffled around, some, like Sheila and Amanda, to totally new positions, others, like Debbie and Ann, to newly named positions within the same programs.

    I did notice a while back that one thing Katherine has done is to flatten the entire organization.  She took out the position that Sheila previously held, a middle level manager over all the guide programs and did not replace it, so all guide programs report directly to her.

    A group of docents with which I spend time sent a list of suggestions to her and I’m not clear how many of them were addressed in this lecture.  I thought there would be some obvious sign.

    Perhaps I’m a bit starry eyed here, but I believe Katherine’s work heads in the same direction many of us have wanted, i.e. better access to better resources.  I also believe she will work with us as we see the need.

    There are elements still untouched and we’ll have to work on those some more.