...just in case anyone had any doubts about that.
Marching right along in a tour of recommended pet shops and boutiques, I'm having a great time in chilly Minneapolis. This city is completely different than I expected. Actually, I'm not entirely sure what pre-conceived notions I had about the Twin Cities, but at least a couple things have surprised me.
First of all, y'all have an incredible skyline! Who knew? I'm staying with my sister-in-law who is a law student here. When she told me how much she loved the Minneapolis skyline, we were on our way out to dinner (more on that
in a moment) and just hopping on to the 35 freeway. We came into sight of it and... sure enough, it's spectacular! The buildings were all lighted with the Target building being particularly lovely.
Also, when I think of the midwest, ethnic food isn't exactly the first thing that springs to mind, but holy buckets have we had some fantastic
meals. The main focus of these visits is to tour the great little shops and boutiques which come most highly recommended by my customers, so the first day I spent in town was dedicated to visiting the short-list of places that seemed to fit my general philosophy of business and which feature the sorts of products and services which might be a good match for Raw Dog gear. Good food has been a completely happy and indicental accident, but a completely happy one it is, for sure.
On Wednesday my sister-in-law and I had what must be one of the most incredible meals I've ever eaten at a place called El Meson. She'd been there for lunch before where they'd had a lunch buffet and said it was good but the dinner menu was just absolutely remarkable. Everything around us looked and smelled wonderful and we couldn't decide on an entree, so we ended up ordering a pile of tapas and appetizers and a carafe of sangria.
The stage was set with the freshest calamari I've ever had prepared in a wonderful light breading, quickly followed by the ceviche of the gods which was served with thin slices of fried plantains and some little rounds of garlic-buttered toast. After that came a little cluster of asparagus wrapped in chevre and prosciutto and grilled together as one piece which... just defies description. We had a little plate of cured iberian meats with a lovely Manchego and a little handful of Spanish olives. A salad with spinach, fine curls of sweet carrot, slices of strawberries, tiny chopped fruits and pecans. It was just one amazing bite after another. The whole incredible experience was capped with a grilled pear half stuffed with French brie and served on a bed of fresh spinach. It was just amazing--and what's more, this isn't anything like the kind of place where you'd expect to find such delights. Prices are completely reasonable, even cheapish, and we went dressed in sweats and jeans expecting a casual meal. Our waitress was patient and funny, just a great, unexpected experience.
The next day I spent in a dual pleasure/business visit to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts with my husband's cousin who is a long-time volunteer docent. Two art nerds and eleven solid hours worth of art later and we only made it maybe two-thirds of the way through their incredible collection. I have a bachelor's degree with a dual study in studio art and art history; as a student we spent quite a lot of time discussing the completely definitive collection of modern and contemporary art at the Walker Art musuem but I'm not sure the MIA was ever even mentioned. I had -no idea- going in what we were going to be seeing, but their collection is absolutely encyclopedic. We spent most of the day on the second floor moving through a dozen very fine collections of textile arts. There were special exhibitions of Indian and African textiles along with an incredible collection of Native American textile crafts. There was also a really great exhibit of contemporary textile artists with a focus on the use of the natural world in pattern design which just thrilled my little heart.
After half a day spent in textiles and contemporary crafts we headed upstairs for the more contemporary section and just got lost in a world of French impressionists and post-impressionists. I could have spent hours in front of their van Gogh, Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun,
alone. I'm still thinking about everything we saw, so I think that's going to need to be a discussion for later. Art takes some processing.
We had a great dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place and then headed over to the Walker which, for an art nerd like myself, was like seeing a rock star in person. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to actually see the place, so when I bought the plane ticket to Minneapolis, the very first thing I did was call Larry the MIA docent and ask for an art date. They're showing a companion exhibition with the MIA of Eero Saarinen's work--if you are in the area and have the opportunity to see it, I recommend you do. They've also got an enormous exhibition of Tetsumi Kudo's work which doesn't do anything for me in the least, but... there you are. I was, on the other hand, totally beside myself about theirJoseph Beuys collection and was thrilled to get the chance to see Coyote: I Love America and America Loves Me
, snippets of which I'd seen but never start-to-finish. We got a small sampling of Abstract Expressionist love in one gallery, and individual pieces throughout by artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Yoko Ono, Franz Kline and Jasper Johns. I'd have loved to spend an entire day with the artists in the first three galleries, but unfortunately most of my favorites were only represented with single selected pieces and most of the gallery space was dedicated to Kudo, who I didn't appreciate one modicum more after what seemed like several floors of his work.
So, now I've got eleven hours worth of art to digest. We're heading North to spend some time with relatives in a cabin a mile away from the closest neighbor, where I hope to spend the next three days thinking, sketching, reading, and maybe even ice fishing. My internet connection will be more or less completely non existent, so any orders or questions will be addressed ASAP when back in civilization, early next week.