Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 15 Food: Our Global Kitchen

I have been patiently waiting this whole trip to see Food: Our Global Kitchen at the History of Colorado Center. The show was excellent and we spent over three hours viewing, it was the longest my attention span has ever allowed me to focus! The exhibition covered where our food comes from, from farmers to laboratories. It presented current food issues including waste, hunger, obesity, and how our food choices effect what is available and produced. I particularly enjoyed the series of films within the space that brought you across cultures exploring the importance and value of food in different societies specifically in terms of celebration. Food as celebration what's better then that!

There was an interactive table similar to a large touch screen tablet that allowed viewers to make different recipes. I made pouched eggs with hollandaise sauce and made tamales, I wish I could have eaten them!

There was a food kitchen as part of the exhibiton and we had a taste testing experiment. TRY IT AT HOME: Plug your nose and eat half of a jelly bean; be aware of what you are tasting then release your nose and evaluate how your perception of taste changes with the addition of your sense of smell.
I particularly enjoyed a collection of cookbooks from all over the world. As well as a wall filled with different utensils for food preparation and consumption- some I could not even imagine what they were used for! We picked up a book on the way out, Consider the Fork A History of HOW WE COOK and EAT, by Bee Wilson. The book addresses the tools we use and have used to eat and how they transformed what we consume and how we think about food. We are both looking forward to a good read!
I believe the exhibiton is traveling and if it makes it to your area; I highly recommend it!

Day 14: road trip tips and tricks

Yesterday evening we slept in the car because it was raining and we knew it wasn't going to let up. We woke up and went to Amazing Grace for breakfast in Breckenridge, where we spent most of the morning relaxing and blogging. After breakfast, we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park but unfortunately cloud cover came in and it rained most of the day. We drove right through the park up to the tundra and back down again. At one point the fog was so thick we couldn't see so we pulled off to wait it out a bit. After that scary adventure we headed down to Boulder for a trip to the apothecary since Forrest had a little congestion and my right tonsil was swollen. I have a history of tonsillitis so I wanted to make sure and prevent anything from getting worse. We had dinner at Julia's Kitchen and it was honestly some of the best food we have had on our trip: 100% organic, gluten free, corn free, and vegan (a dream come true for me!). We stopped into the Tea House where Elisa works for a last good bye and back to Umar and Ashley's for some sleep before leavin Colorado.

Through our trip we have compiled a few road trip tips and tricks: 

1. If you plan to go to a few national parks just buy the year pass up front it's not worth the entrance fee at each park and it will pay itself back rather quickly.

2. Don't be afraid to sleep in your car. It might sound a little uncomfortable but with a little rearranging you can make it work and it's free! Make sure everything can fit in the trunk so you have as much room as possible. Make sure you crack a few windows this will reduce condensation and it will be a little less obvious you are sleeping in the car. But where to park? We usually stick with hotel parking lots and pull in after dark. Find a back corner with the least amount of light. Be smart and be safe.

3. Pack your food. Get a cooler and stock up at the grocery store. Use ziplock bags for ice- it's free from the fountain pop machine at most gas stations. For breakfast we ate oatmeal, yogurt and oats, granola, anything easy. For lunch/dinner cheese sandwiches got us through the trip. If we needed to spice it up we added some chips for a nice crunch. We tried to eat out only one meal a day and we usually spent time making sure it was going to be good food, from the region, and reasonably priced. We have yet to be disappointed!

4. Don't give in to fast food it's not worth it. We accidentally... Ate some on the way from Columbus from Baton Rouge and instantly regretted it- we felt sick and sluggish imediatatly. 

5. Never buy water: bring your water bottle and refil frequently. Bring a loose leaf tea tumbler. They are multifunctional you can get hot water for tea for free from gas stations and surprisingly most restaurants were happy to provide as well. You can use it as an extra water bottle I needed and it saves you a few dollars each day!

6. Have you heard of Couchsurfing? It's a real thing and it's awesome! You set up a profile online and you can host surfers and request to surf with others. We met some really great people and stayed for free for three days outside Santa Fe. Knowing locals in the area really made a difference in the restaurants we chose and what activities we did. 

7. You probably have friends all over the country so contact them if you are heading in their direction. We had so many generous people open their homes to us.

8. Lighten the load. Depending how long you are going to be gone pack a reasonable amount of cloths. We are on the road for about three weeks and we brought one week's worth of clothes and did laundry when needed. 

9. Always arrive at your camp site before dark. For your own safety it is smart to scout out the area before night fall plus it's much easier to set up camp with day light. Read all the posted signage sometimes you're in bear country and it's always good to know.

10. The best plan is no plan. We enjoyed the days that patched themselves together much more then the days we planned. Just go with the flow and start driving.

*Don't forget what's important just because you are traveling doesn't give you an excuse. We have made a point to recycle everything we can and that means carting around glass bottles and cardboard boxes until we found a Whole Foods. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

13th day in the road: Carbondale Clay Center, SAW, And Anderson Ranch

Yesterday we woke up on the North Rim of the Black Canyon at Gunnison River (a National Park in Colorado). We quickly packed up our tent and went on a short hike to further explore one of earth's most amazing places (that I've seen at least). We then took a scenic drive through the mountains towards Carbondale Colorado.
Along the way to Cardondale we drove past what looked like a long line of beehive kilns and we quickly pulled off the road. Sure enough they were kilns called coke kilns for cleaning coal in part of the coal mining process. At the kilns we met an older gentleman who had his MFA in sculpture from Ohio University and retired from Kent state in 2003 after a long teaching career. What a small world!

We then arrived at Cardondale Clay Center for a tour and visit with two of their residents: Matthew Eames and Mike Stumbras. We first met Matthew (who holds the MFA Studio Tech and residency position) and talked with him for quite a while about the clay center and their residency program. While we were there we got to see resident artist Kendra Spark's exhibition. Next we talked with Mike Stumbras, who recently accepted at LSU for graduate school. After Carbondale Clay Center we visited SAW Carbondale (Studio for Arts and Works). At SAW we visited with artist Jessi Maddocks who gave us a nice tour of the space. SAW offers studio spaces to over 20 artists who are working in just about every medium. We mostly visited the ceramic studios and were lucky because the entire studio preparing for an open studio and reception. This meant everyone had their work out and we were able to admire a variety of ceramic art. SAW seems like an amazing opportunity for artists to continue working in a close community environment. 
After SAW we drove up the road to Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Anderson Ranch was incredible! Tucked into the Rocky Mountains in Snowmass, Colorado (near Aspen) this arts center offers summer workshops in almost every medium. Everyone was working hard to prepare for the first week if workshops that start on Monday! We met  Doug Casebeer (the artistic director), Ralph Scala (the ceramics studio coordinator), and all the summer staff. We visited the ceramic studios and kilns. Ralph takes pride in the kilns (and he should!) as he showed us his newest baby, a small anagama wood kiln. Ralph even showed us where a shower was so we were able to freshen up after a few days in the woods.Feeling like a million bucks we drove the Independence Pass and crossed over the Continental Divide. Next we're heading back to Denver for an interactive food exhibition and after that we'll head South to Dallas, Texas. Thats it for now!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Still road tripping: Days 11 and 12! Taos Clay & Mesa Verde National Park

Tuesday morning we said good bye to our wonderful couch surfing host, Tyler. Before leaving New Mexico, we finally got the chance to go on a short hike at Camp Glorieta. It was a bit muddy but that didn't hurt the beauty. On our way back north to Colorado we stopped for lunch in Taos at the Farmhouse Bakery and Cafe. Farmhouse is a farm to table restaurant with an on site-garden. Our table was facing the same mountains that we just can't get enough of. I ate an elk burger with purple potatoes. Jeni enjoyed a delicious gluten free veggie lasagne and a salad.
Photo from our morning hike and the Rio Grande Gorge.

After lunch we visited Taos Clay. We had a wonderful visit and tour with Brandi Jessup, the executive director. Brandi was young, ambitious and full of energy. I can't wait to see how Taos Clay strengthens in the next couple of years. They had a gallery that supported community members as well as a contemporary exhibition filled with some familiar and some unfamiliar atmospheric potters. If we had more money I would have purchased a Perry Haas tumbler, perhaps at NCECA. Taos Clay offers a long term artist-in-residence program and they have plans for a short term residency position in the future.
After Taos we drove into the San Juan National Forest and camped a few miles from the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. We have been very fortunate and this was the first time in our trip we paid for lodging. The camp ground was affordable and absolutely worth it! 
Early this morning we packed up camp and drove into Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde has over 4,500 archeological sites including over 600 cliff dwilings from built by the Ancestrial Pueblos. The only way to actually visit some of the main cliff dwilings was to pay for a tour. At $4.00 a tour we said yes! The trip into the cliff dwilings was unbelievable and one of my favorite exploration so far on our trip. The Ancestrial Pueblos were farmers and they grew their crops (mostly corn, beans, and squash) on top of the mesa and lived down below.
Stay posted for our next post: we will be visiting Carbondale Clay Center an Anderson Ranch. Bye for now. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 9 & 10: Albuquerque & Santa Fe, NM

Early on Sunday (Day 9 of our trip) we went to church in Santa Fe at a beautiful historic church, The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, that had a very traditional service (hard for me to follow!) and half the service was in Spanish (extra hard for me to follow). Most of the galleries we wanted to visit in Santa Fe were closed on Sundays so we decided to head to Albuquerque to relive some of my childhood memories.
Loretto Chapel & The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, downtown Santa Fe, NM

My dad lived in Albuquerque from 1990 to 2000 and I spent my summers there as well as 2nd grade. It was weird having memories in a city that I have not been too in almost 15 years. The last time I was Albuquerque I was not even a teenager and was still two years away from falling in love with clay (and later becoming a ceramic artist). 
My memories of Albuquerque are faint and the things I remember are sort of random. My dad helped me turn my faint memories in to actual places that we were able to visit and I was able to see them as an adult. First we went to Frontier Restaurant because I remember going there with my dad to buy tortillas. Sure enough when we walked in the had an entire corner dedicated to making fresh tortillas and we bought 2 dozen. We chowed down on a few fresh tortillas as soon as we walked out the door. The tortillas were so fresh they were still warm (delicious)!! 
The Frontier Restaurant was across the street from the University of New Mexico so next we walked around campus. We found the art building but it was locked. We did however see they had a very nice soda kiln from the outside of the building. After UNM we went to a local coop grocery store. My memories from the coop were walking through a really long tunnel to get to the store and getting to select a Blue Sky soda. The tunnel was more of a very short covered walk way (not the giant tunnel I remembered). We stocked up on lots of healthy road trip food and I did get a Blue Sky root beer! Following the coop we drove past the UNM hospital to view the helicopter on the roof. My dad used to drive me past the hospital just so I could see the helicopter and I would throw a fit if it wasn't there;  during our visit the helicopter was not there :( but I did not throw a fit. Afterwards we drove past my dad's old house and cruised the old neighborhood. Due to the rain and my feeling uncomfortable that people were home I was unable to photograph the backyard, which was the heart and soul of the house where my dad grew tasty vegetables and I would play often. After Albuquerque we drove back to our host's house at camp Glorieta. 
Today (Monday, day 10) we explored Santa Fe. We started the morning at Santa Fe Clay. We were very impressed with Santa Fe Clay. It was large, organized, and fully equipped. Santa Fe Clay has a lot to offer; clay and tool supply store, gallery, and community studios. The current exhibition that was in their gallery was The ABC's of Dinnerware. I especially enjoyed the show because last semester at LSU our visiting artist, Mark Cole, talked about his involved in the show and we focusd the workshop around the letter L. In Mark Cole style we made a lobster tray during the workshop and a fully finished and improved lobster tray was featured at Santa Fe Clay. 
After Santa Fe Clay we ate a delicious brunch at Tune-up Cafe. I ordered (in New Mexico fashion) huevos racheros with local organic eggs topped with green and red chili. After lunch we walked around the Plaza and explored a few galleries that featured Pueblo Pottery. It was fascinating to see pottery from different Pueblos and the differences in style (form, color, drawings, and firing techniques). 
We of course visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I was familiar with her paintings and enjoyed viewing them. To my surprise I was more interested in Georgia's lifestyle. She was very health conscious and into organic gardening. Her goal was to grow all her own vegetables and to can and preserve food for the winter months. Its no wonder that she lived to be 99 years old!
After the Museum we drove around Santa Fe and enjoyed the sights. Thats all for now, see you on the next post!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 7 & 8: The Flatirons Hike near Boulder, The Denver Rescue Mission,Garden of the Gods, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and New Mexico

Day 7 We took a little time off to visit with friends and hit the hills for a good hike. We met up with Elisa, Forrest's friend from way back all the way to elementary school. We went to the Flatirons just outside Boulder for an early afternoon hike. We finished the day with a fantastic dinner at Zeal and a trip to Rebecca's Apothocary (it had herbal everything- an amazing store- stop in if you ever have the chance) located downtown Boulder and of course some yoga. 
Day 8 brought us bright and early to the Denver Rescue Mission at 5:00 AM for our volunteer shift. We arrived so early the streets were filled with a deep darkness. People lined the streets on the blocks surrounding the mission. When we finally found parking we were a little apprehensive to leave the car as we had never been to the mission or even seen it in the day light. I am so glad we were brave enought to step outside and search for the entrance. We worked the breakfast shift so we prepped all the cold food items with a group of volunteers and a kind gentleman Benjamin who is in the missions program. I prepared the cream cheese cutting the larger blocks into smaller pieces, others prepared apple sauce, doughnuts, water and coffee. There were supposed to have bagels hence why I cut the cream cheese but I guess there were bugs on them and since everything is based on donations they had to use doughnuts instead. That means a lot of cream cheese was wasted. Around 6:00 breakfast was served and we all found a spot behind the line I served the French toast with diluted maple syrup and Forrest past the trays out. There was a continual line for the next hour men and women but mostly men. The mission organization has outreach beyond the Lawrence street building they have two other locations outside town one is actually a farm. Leaving I couldn't help but think about the trash can filled with glass and aluminum cans from all the individual applesauces that got poured into the large pan. I wanted to take it with me and find the nearest recycling but Forrest talked me out of it...
After the mission we got right on the road heading south to New Mexico. We stopped at Garden of the Gods which is FREE and has a great view of Pikes Peak that my dad climbed a few years back! After a short hike we were back in the car and we decided to stop off at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, unfortunately a storm rolled in hiding the mountain range behind them. After the park we were back on the road and soon crossed over the stateline into New Mexico. It is my first time here and so far I love it, when can I move? We had pizza for dinner in Toas and finished our drive in the dark to Santa Fe. We are couch surfing with Tyler at Camp Glorieta just outside the city and it is beautiful!! That's all for now, enjoy the photos below.
In Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak
Garden of the Gods
Sand Dunes National Park

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 6: Boulder, CO

Today was for Jeni's personal research- early in the morning we woke up and went to Cure Organic Farm. On Thursday's the farm allows volunteers to come in and work from nine to noon. We learned how to cut and plant potatoes, stake up tomato plants, and we weeded a raised bed of rhubarb. We got to see all the workings of the farm from the inside out. We had visited them at the farmers market the evening before and now we had the experience of working on the farm.
We learned how to plant potatoes from start to finish! First you cut them into pieces making sure each section has an eye growing. Then we brought them out into the field for planting. Working in teams one person drops the potato another gently pushes it in the ground. Later farm equipment will fully cover them.
After volunteering on the farm. We drove into Boulder and ate lunch at the largest Whole Foods we have ever been too. Following lunch we went to the University of Colorado to visit the CU Art Museum and to see their ceramics department. Unfortunately, every room was locked up tight and the we were only able to see the kiln room.
We did happen to see a print show in the art building and I recognized a lot the MFA printmakers from LSU and realized that this was the traveling exhibition that was conceived and curated by my fellow LSU graduate students. This was one of my favorite prints by Eric Euler. 
I'm just a little jealous this is the view from outside CU's art building. 
 Jeni having some fun with a handstand.
After campus we drove to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum did have a few pieces that claimed to be interactive. This piece allowed visitors to watch a series of statistics or to press a button at the bottom to scroll through the list of topics.
Some of our favorite pieces from the museum.
Before going home we stopped by the Boulder Potter's Guild. Luckily for this visit two members were in the studio and more than willing to give us a tour. It was a nice community studio in a big open building. The facilitities were nice and fully equipped. My favorite aspect to the Potter's Guild was their expansive ceramic library with books and magazines on all subjects and area related to ceramics.

Days 4 and 5: Hiking in the Rockies and museums in Denver CO

We are having a blast in Colorado and have fallen a little behind on the post. I'll be combining days 4 and 5 in this post. Late on our 3rd night we arrived in Colorado. One of my good friends (and former roommate) from Athens, Umar, and his girlfriend, Ashley, moved to Colorado and are letting us stay with them. There house is relatively close to both Denver and Boulder, allowing us to explore both cities. The day after we arrived (day 4) Umar and Ashley took us out to Estes State Park (in the Rocky National Park) for a hike in the mountains. Throughout the entire duration of our hike we were walking on and through 3-4 feet of snow (sometimes more). The views throughout our hike were breathtaking and at times the scenery seemed to be fake; below is one of our favorite sights at Dream Lake.
The hike in the mountains completely wore us out (and Jeni got a little sick) and we crashed early to save up our energy to explore Denver on the following day. On the 5th day of our trip we ventured into Denver. Our first stop was at the Denver Museum of Art. I spent the majority of time researching and observing the museum's displays, signs, and interactive versus non-interactive displays. For the most part the museum was not interactive and there were security guards in every room and lots of signs and lines for people to stand behind that were all restricting to the art viewing experience.

Below are some of our favorites  from the museum's collection; a miniature Yixing teapot and a Shoji Hamada incense burner, and tri-vase by Betty Woodman. 
To my surprise the museum did offer a large number of playful 'interactive stations' to help people better understand the artwork both technically and conceptually. Although the studio stations were mostly geared for kids I did enjoy them. Below was my favorite. Next to a large artwork by El Anatsui's there was a workstation that allowed people to clip and attach scrap metal to create a sculpture in a similar fashion.
Another studio workstation. I particularly loved the sign leading into the station. "The Studio is a different kind of place for adults..."
Another interactive component. One of the most controversial pieces in the museum allow gallery visitors to learn more about the piece through a series of questions and answers provided on cubes that can be pulled in and out of it's cubby. 
I found the piece below very interesting. On the outside of the room there is a sign that states the artwork is interactive. In a way the artwork was interactive because I could walk around and sit down within the room. But in reality the artwork was not what I consider to be interactive. This piece was definitely lacking in terms of participation and gallery visitors helping contribute to the final outcome of the art.

After the Denver Art Museum we finally made it to the History Colorado Center. I received a small scholarship from LSU to visit the museum after I wrote a proposal based around the interactive components of the museum. And sure enough just about every area had interactive components. I'll walk you through some of my favorite parts in terms of my research (museums and interactivity). 
As we first walked into the museum we were greeted with a large map of Colorado on the floor and a time machine. There were golden dots throughout the map and visitors were able to push or pull the Time Machine to various spots (the golden dots) and then the pilot could set the time machine to a certain date and pull a lever to start a video with interesting information on each date presented in story form. 
Our favorite part of the museum was the ski jump! It was a game that taught you the correct body movements and gave you the opportunity to jump. We both scored gold metals!
Below is another interactive station. We were inside of an old store and I could use a touch screen to select items that could actually be bought from the store. The program allowed me to search for clothing for men or female as well as various groceries, goods, and services. Included with each option was further information, including the prices.
We got to drive a Ford model T. The car moved with the video we were watching. In the video the car was driving through a prairie with a group full of kids talking. The car's engine, door opening off, and outdoor wind were all part of the experience.    

TAKE COVER! BLASTING IN PROGRESS! To help visitors further understand the importance of safety within the coal mine and blasting dynamite. There was a memory game with three different difficulty levels. On a screen, a blast pattern was presented and then I had to push the dynamite into the wall in the correct order. After all the dynamite was pushed in I pushed on the plunger to trigger the blast and the screen displayed two different videos depending on wether one wins or looses. I won on medium and lost on difficult.
I caught Jeni at one point milking a cow. The directions were, "correctly milk the cow to fill the bucket with light." And as you pull on the utters the bucket starts to light up.
 I added myself into a yearbook from th 1800's. 
They even had an interactive pottery learning station! To practice drawing on pottery visitors could dip their brush in water and brush onto a bisque ware pot. The brush strokes remained visible long enough to practice drawing and erased fast enough that multiple patterns could be tried.
Thats it for Denver! Look for our next post on Day 6: Boulder.