Sunday, November 22, 2015


I used to be a big deal;
Never had to pay for a meal;
Business prevailed almost on a whim;
Around the clock, fit and trim;
Looking good --- like it will last;
The future is bright with no regard for the past.

History repeats, but what do we learn?
Times change --- you continue to earn.
Myopia hits a blind spot and ka-boom.
Now who’s the smartest in the room?
Family, friends, and friends of friends everywhere;
You know who you are and you know that I care.

No frills, cheap thrills and all in retrospect;
The sun sets on a day and your own self respect;
The best of times were those with nothing at stake;
Philosophers dream but dreams do not make.
A wise man looks and is one who sees;
Blue skies and splashes of color in the trees.

Clarity of vision, simple, clean and crisp;
Proceed with caution but never without risk.
When there is a will of a way with some time to chill;
On this day I thank you, love you and admire you still.
The best is yet to come --- The best and then some; 
For now, cherish the moment for your day will come.
Fast forward if you must.
In G-d we trust.
Remember quality is in the journey --- In how we proceed.
Be calm and confident and you will always lead.
Generation gaps quickly merge as time slips away.
But please smell the flowers along the way.

It's not how you arrive;
It is great to be alive.
It is not what you have, but what you do;
Make a difference --- it doesn’t matter who.
Let it be --- Roll the dice.
Together now --- isn’t that so nice?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Exploring Art in Iowa

A weekend road trip of 800+ miles on October 10-11, 2015 from St. Louis to Des Moines and Davenport (IA) and back with six passionate art fans looking to put their association with the Laumeier Sculpture Park into a kind of perspective is sure to be an eclectic collection of people. So we were: Shown above (l. to r).at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park flanking Paul Kasal – our expert and awesome docent wearing a t-shirt with the apt advertising claim“Entirely Unexpected” are Maureen Jennings, Melissa Loraine Stone, Ann Baur and Wes Morgan, Liz Murphy and Hank Baur .

The weekend included three wonderful art experiences hosted by expert docents in Des Moines and a first rate academic from the University of Iowa at the Figge in Davenport. We filled gaps in our itinerary with meal occasions,lost car keys,smart phone misdirections and periodic absent-mindedness but overall we feel like we enjoyed a huge dose of unexpected excellence, representative art and a few smiles.     
JOHN & MARY PAPPAJOHN SCULPTURE PARK - Located within a major crossroads of the urban grid in downtown Des Moines the park is in an accessible setting with a skilled landscape design. It is unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. Paul, our docent introduced us to more than two dozen stunning examples of world class public art.
DES MOINES ART CENTER - Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum has a noteworthy art collection and boasts an outstanding collection of architecture too. Three architects collaborated in the design of the museum, Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier. We were treated to a wonderful stroll from gallery space to gallery space and delighted by the unexpected excellence of significant works that felt as leisurely as leafing through a folio that might accompany a brilliantly planned overview of the history of modern and contemporary art.  

FIGGE ART MUSEUM University of Iowa Museum of Art curator Kimberly Datchuck assured us of a tight presentation of a special exhibition entitled Exploring the Demimonde: Sin and Temptation at the fin-de-si├Ęcle. She smoothly walked us through the special exhibition leaving time for our crew to also take in the permanent collection. A bonus: The Figge landmark glass building in Davenport, IA on the banks of the Mississippi was designed by British architect David Chipperfield.


Keith Harring at Sculpture Park, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) at Des Moines Art Center, Nomade by Jaume Plensa at the Sculpture Park, Liz Murphy in front of a Mark Rothko at the Des Moines Art Center and Sol LeWitt at the Figge Art Museum

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Meditation of Presence

Carts & Cocktails 2015

Tree Dancers, Tree Bands, Music and the Fine Art Center at Laumeier Sculpture Park

Executive Director, Marilu Knode knew, in the mix of so much activity around the capital campaign, the renovation of the estate house and the building of the brand new Fine Art Center --- that to pull off another ambitious blockbuster fundraiser evening event would be a gamble. And yet September 26, 2015 was a glorious evening at the Sunset Hills living laboratory where artists and audiences explore the relationship between contemporary art and the natural environment.

Special Events Committee Co-Chairs Susan Werrenmeyer and Sam Foxman planned a progressive evening in three stations that would unfold during the course of the night. A natural place to start is just off the back porch of the place Henry and Matilda Laumeier once called home. Under paper lanterns, the guests gathered, enjoying the first round of appetizers, wine and signature beverages. Only a hint of a soft breeze of Fall was in the air when museum curator Dana Turkovic announced a dance performance by Holly and David Marchant. The cocktail conversation died down as the attention drifted skyward as the Zen-like movements in a treetop. David moved lightly through the branches and returned to earth as a natural creature helped direct the focus to his partner closer to the base of another nearby tree. It was mesmerizing.

30 captivating minutes closed with a calmness that yielded to applause as the shuttle carts arrived on cue for transport through the park and into the woods where music by the Bottoms Up Blues Gang performed inside the Beverly Pepper earthwork, Cromlech Glen, under a still black sky. Another ephemeral experience diffused as the progressive evening moved to a finale at the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Labadie Gems

Wolf Hollow is far away but close in a way too. Their website claims they are a St. Louis hidden gem – a golf course designed by Mother Nature. Well sure, it follows that mom would want her kids to have fun but with the requisite challenges. Our foursome on this, the best weather day of the entire summer, is an all-star cast (if I’m the one doing the casting). So it begins - we find our way to Labadie, MO.

Dave Cox – Cast as my bestest friend. Why? Well all my bestest friends since I was in high school have been called Dave. So I can tell a story of nearly any important period in my life that begins with: So my friend Dave and I...  Also because Dave is an incredibly good sport when he is inexplicably the target of my convoluted jokes.

Tom Shaughnessy – The Journeyman software specialist is perhaps the most fun guy in the world to traverse a challenging golf course. Tom’s wife says he likes the game because it is like a five-hour math problem. I love riding in a cart with him because he shows me how to use that part of my brain. Not because I ever will, but because I like knowing there might be potential there.

Mike Malloy – Filling in for our regular band-mate Rowdy Jones, Mike demonstrates how the game can be played almost effortlessly. And who knew? He’d come up with cigars and salami sandwiches. Mike thinks of everything. And by the way, thanks for the lesson Mike.

Wes Morgan – Starring role? Well sure. It’s all about me. I chose the venue (by virtue of my winning ticket from a PTO fundraiser last winter). As team captain, I get to make unilateral decisions for the group, even though I am easily the worst player. God forbid the conversation drifts in favor of anyone else. I simply introduce a subject more squarely about me. It’s good to be King.

It all adds up to a few laughs and a spectacular day – this last day in July 2015. I’d give the reader a hole-by-hole account but in the interest of brevity, I think I’ll just share a few highlights. So, my friend Dave is telling himself not to decelerate when chipping some delicate shots around the green only to sky it from where he dropped (out of the woods) into the sand bunker on the other side. On the very next hole, as if never troubled by adversity, he executes a sand bunker shot like a PGA pro to within inches of jarring it. Malloy was textbook and followed the strategy I proposed at the beginning of the round. “Hit Fairways. Hit Greens. Make Putts. Beat Dave.” Shaughnessy was Shaughnessy – Parabola graphing quadratic equations and calculating triangulations of possible putts and yet missing a few. It’s way funnier to see a guy fail after intense scrutiny than to watch a guy step up and knock one in as if by pure luck.

I was excellent as usual. 

Group shot selfie by Tom Shaughnessy - "Friends of Bobby Jones" (c) 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Scouts on Tour

Another tour is scheduled. Seven Girl Scouts and their chaperones (four moms no doubt) are ready for an activity but being together as friends is really what they are up to. From the start the laid back scouts are at home. They are on the patio of the Laumeier estate house and are ready for whatever. I heard one of the girls say that she knew one of her friends was born in 2002. (It startles me to realize 6-7th graders may have no memory of where they were when 9-11 happened). They got a tour that leads them to the Tree Tent, The Way field, Recess and more.

We ended up at Ferrara's site specific piece when one of the moms asked about the pool complex. The group gets a second wind and enjoys the triangular bridge, redwood one, reading room and Beverly Pepper's earthwork. Another group recognizes the jewel we have in our region – Laumeier Sculpture Park. The adults are reacquainted and the kids are introduced to something they may remember for years to come. (I hope so.)

“Now your homework is to write a 1,000 word paper of at least 4 pages.” I concluded with the scouts. Not missing a beat one of the girls envisions the headline of her assignment beginning with “Art is Cool.” I think they get it.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Clara Collins Coleman

The docent does what she does
The art is what it always was
The park is for us all -- and for each
It’s here and within easy reach
The docent does what he does
Now and forever -- as it was
Follow me and take a look
Each tour is unique -- not by a script or in a book
Listen to your heart and mind
There is no telling what you will find
“Art is not what you see
It is what you make others see”
Abstract Minimal Conceptual
Surreal Difficult or Accessible
It’s the gems you collect but never count
The sum of which is a substantial amount
Thank you Clara for helping us see
The joy in the little things that makes us free

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pulitzer and CAM

The continuing quest for enrichment and camaraderie of our corps of docents from Laumeier Sculpture Park continues. On July 22, 2015, 15 of us are treated to a one-two punch in the Grand Center Arts District with guided tours at both Pulitzer and CAM.

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation  is a  intimate space for exploring the arts in the remarkable Tadao Ando designed building. Jennifer Baker, a curator intimately involved with the current exhibitions of Alexander Calder, Richard Tuttle and Fred Sandback serves us well as our guide. Calder’s mobiles, standing mobiles and constellations are on view and speak to the Ellswoth Kelly color field Blue Black on view as we are introduced to the Calder pieces. Already we are well rewarded for our efforts to meet here . Wire Pieces by Richard Tuttle is a multi-layered sculptural experience is stunning in its simplicity. 64 Three Part Pieces by Fred Sandbank challenges the viewer to understand mathematical possibilities of three lines of stretched yarn across adjacent gallery spaces.  

Seth is our guide at The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) which opened its new building in the Grand Center Arts in St. Louis in 2003. We are impressed. Beginning with ACCUMULUS a site-specific installation by graduate architecture students in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Also at CAM Pre-Verbal Painting by Israeli-born, Los Angeles-based artist Liat Yossifor:  Mexican artist Pedro Reyes explores art and psychology, photography by Laurie Simmons (CPR dummies and female love dolls). Green Varnish, by New York-based Nomad Studio tells us “We live in denial within vanishing landscapes.” in the interior courtyard, a lush, growing sculpture.

Special thanks to Molly Pearson and  Victoria Donaldson at the Pulitzer and CAM respectively for making arrangements for our visit. I think it is safe to say, we’ll be back.

ACCUMULUS  (PHOTO by Barb Flunker) - designed and fabricated by students Jay Bassett, Qian Huang, Boxun Hu, Jeffrey Lee, Chun Liu, Alex Melvin, John Patangan, Joseph Vizurraga, Lingfeng Zhang, and Yue Zhang with guidance from Washington University instructors Jason Butz and Lavender Tessmer.  

This magnificent bouquet from Barb Flunker made its way to Clara Coleman and the remainder of this awesome cake from Pamela Dern's culinary artist baker friend made its way to Laumeier Sculpture Park (delivered by Maureen Jennings). Thanks to Pamela Dern, Mary Drury, Nancy L, Maureen, Barb, Ann Bauer, Mary Devine, Janette, Sheila, Mary B., Tim R., Loren, Karen Mullen and Tara, (and me --- makes fifteen). Summer Salads sponsored by Wes Morgan.