Monday, November 8, 2010

Two Museums and a Churrasco

Well, today was our second day on the road to Omaha.  Yesterday had a few glitches - our plan to eat a picnic lunch at a park in Flagstaff, for instance, was derailed by a nasty cold wind, and just inside New Mexico we were stopped by a highway patrolman who politely told us that the right lane of the Interstate is for driving and the left lane should only be used for passing.  Fortunately he just gave us a warning, but it's no wonder that by the time we reached Albuquerque Barry had a minor melt-down, insisting that I had misunderstood the directions and driven to the wrong hotel.  (It was the right hotel.)  Everything looked better after dinner, though, and today was wonderful.

This morning we visited the Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque.  It's an unassuming building in a strip mall in Old Town, but inside are gorgeous displays of turquoise ore, carvings, and jewelry, along with samples of polished stones from many different mines and explanations of how the stones are mined and finished.  The hands-on exhibits let us handle both the ore and the polished stones.  High quality turquoise and coral jewelry is also for sale.  I wish I could show you some of the fabulous creations in the museum displays, like the giant turquoise in the shape of George Washington's head, but photography is not allowed.  If I could afford it, I would drape myself in necklaces and bracelets from their stock.

We ate lunch at Tucanos Brazilian Grill.  I used to occasionally eat at Brazilian restaurants in New York, but they were nothing like this.  The restaurant is bright, modern, sophisticated and cheerful, with Brazilian background music and waitpersons in shirts discreetly embroidered with three small toucans.  I especially loved the central column pretending to be a palm tree, with light fixtures disguised as fronds; it sounds a little cheesy, but the execution - in light wood arching over the salad bar - was witty and attractive.  Customers load up on sides from the salad bar and then seat themselves and wait for the roaming staff to serve grilled meats, vegetables, and fruits from steaming metal skewers.  Our favorite dishes were the lobster bisque, grilled sirloin, barbequed wild boar ribs, and grilled pineapple with brown sugar.  I also loved the chicken hearts, but Barry, who was scarred by organ meat disasters as a child, passed on them.

After stuffing ourselves at lunch we probably could have used a nap, but instead we drove to Santa Fe and toured the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.  The museum rotates the collection and Barry was a little disappointed that only a few of her large flower paintings were on view, but he fell in love with "Beyond" and spent several minutes sitting raptly in front of it.  A less sensitive soul, I thought the painting looked a little like a concrete breakwater in a blue bayou, but I did enjoy the "pelvis" series - paintings of scenery seen through the holes in pelvic bones.  Alas, here also photography was forbidden, so I can't show you the wide range of styles O'Keeffe mastered during the many decades of her productive working life, but the colors were luscious and the assertive shapes balanced on the line between realism and abstraction.

Tonight we're staying in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and we're not sure where we'll be tomorrow.  Originally we had planned to visit Oklahoma City, but since the weather has been so good Barry suggested Denver instead.  Unfortunately, someone he met at the motel pool tonight had just come from Denver and said it was a construction-clogged nightmare, so now he's thinking about Colorado Springs instead.  My only stipulation is that anywhere we stay must have Internet available so that I can stay in touch with my online students - and continue to blog.

"To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage. " ~Georgia O'Keeffe

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