Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pioneering Spirit: Adam's Handprint

Wisconsin is cheese.   We all know this, we learn it in our youth.  If we miss it then, there are cheese hats for football games made famous by super bowl champs, Wisconsin’s finest, the Green Bay Packer’s.  But just as I drive across the border from Illinois, I notice a large billboard that says, Wisconsin Home of the…and then a truck blocks my vision so I have to hold tight the wheel, stop laughing for a moment from silly thoughts and mind wanderings and turn quickly while maintaining my speed of 80 mph or so to find out what else resides in Wisconsin, besides cheese.  Butter Burgers?  Does that really say Butter Burgers?  What is a Butter Burger?  Maybe it’s related to the cheese, the dairy…the butter…Butter Burger? I don’t know, and I will not find out today.  What ever floats your boat, or curds your whey.

Wisconsin is so much more than cheese.  It’s rolling landscape, and flat landscape and sod landscape.  It’s home of great spiritual mounds of earth created or mounded, if you will, by Native Americans, a great long time ago.   These “Mound People” took mounds of earth and carried them, by the handful, step over step, and deposited the mounds of earth to form symbols and animals and messages to the heavens.  I drive through one section, and get absolutely joyous.  After a long drive through tall, abundant fields of corn bursting with pride, I am surprised to see the land suddenly change.  Little rolling hills, but unlike any I’ve ever seen before, it honestly looks like mother earth was tickled by father sun in these great wide fields that suddenly turn to dimpled, little hills and dales, yes, dales.  I know, I am taking great liberties here telling my tale of going cross country on this solo expedition of delight and freedom and a great wide opening of a heart closed for too long. 

I stop and visit that little Switzerland town, you know, New Glarius (see previous post for more information). I see the artwork and lifelong dedication of an immigrant farmer thankful for what he has in this country of ours.  I make it to the Mississippi River, to Pikes Peak.  I drive across another border into Iowa and the river town McGregor.  Population  869 give or take.  It is dark by now and I am tired from my journey.  I am welcomed into the home of Ramaona and Dorrance, innkeepers of The Lamp Post Inn.  I made reservations to stay in their beautiful bed and breakfast, just days before leaving.  As soon as I enter, Ramona greets me and shows me my room, upgraded, because she is certain I will feel more comfortable in a larger room with a private bathroom.  Of course she is right, and I don’t balk or refuse.  She brings me upstairs and walks me through the process of breakfast and keys and coming and going.  It is early enough but I let her know I am in for the night, exhausted from driving and happy for the comfort of a bed. 

Ramona asks about my journey,  She wants to know what lead me to this great adventure.  For a moment I can’t answer, and then offer something clumsily.  “Oh, because I finally can, and I never have.”  What exactly did lead me to her home so far away from my own?  It is not as simple as turning 50, or raising my children and now having some freedom.  It is no longer  the after affects of “the divorce” but maybe a little.  It is all of that and more, and how can I tell this woman with heart and soul and genuine care alighting her every movement what I am not completely certain of?  That I have lived too small a life and I want a chance at bigger now?   We fall into conversation and in this brief time I find out one of her daughters is an artist, the house adorned with paintings and apparent love of a place so far away from my own.  I learn one of her son’s, who had special needs, died recently of cancer.  I learned how she was told when he was so very young what very little potential he had already, from a professional at the school he attended.  She learned also, that I am a special ed teacher, recovering from cancer and journeying because I never before had the opportunity.  In brief moments we learned a great deal about each other without prodding or feeling a sense of intrusion.  At this time in my life, at 50, I am learning so much, or maybe I am finally, accepting what I have already known; That the world is full of love and giving hearts and opportunities for nourishment and kindness and giving as well as receiving.   I learned so much in this brief moment in the home and from the heart of Ramona, a beautiful woman with a giving heart in the heartland of this country.  A pioneer spirit.  A survivor, not unlike myself.

I sleep well and dream.  I am blessed and joyous in my journey.  I awake early, thrown by the time change, momentarily confused whether I am going backwards in time or forward?  It is 7:30 in New York,  but 5:30 here in Iowa.  I get thrown for a minute when I notice the time on my laptop differs from the time on my cell phone, which differs from the time in this bedroom.  I worry that I missed the early morning breakfast that I requested and feel slightly foolish, and imposing.  I am relieved when I find out I have another hour, and maybe slightly concerned that this time travel will catch up with me later in the day as I make my way towards Effigy Mounds and eventually Mount Rushmore.   I take advantage of the extra time to get my words onto paper describing Chicago and other joyous observations.   I am beginning to feel a stronger sense of my journey and maybe the path I am taking is getting clearer.  There is a stronger theme emerging anyway.

I am realizing the great amount of work and play that is done through the handiwork of men and women across this country, the world at large, is evident everywhere.  So large how can it flow from the hands of humans, mere mortals, without a larger meaning?  The hand-made art work, the hand-made mounds, the hand-crafted baroque embellishments in the hand-built basilicas of Chicago, the hand-dug lands of the sod-covered fields.  So much, emerges from the hands of people, much like you and I. What capabilities, what gifts, what potential.  I thread the tapestry of my journey thus far, realizing the art of southern self-made artists, of Chicago’s finest architects, many that came from all corners of the earth for the opportunity to leave their hand-stamped legacies is hand-made and heart-felt.  The carefully constructed sculptures in Grandview, Wisconsin, the pastries, and meals prepared, the farmland and mounds and so much more all made by the hands of each of us.   Touched by God, or a god, or the desire and will to leave our hand-print on something larger, more than ourselves is awe inspiring.

After breakfast, I pack up, well fed and humbled by the brief but heartfelt connection shared between this hostess and myself.  I am ready to journey on, but I first wish to purchase a painting of the heartland, to remember and to support the hand that creates such art, the daughter of a woman, that has surely touched the hearts of many.  Before I go, Ramona tells me more of her story.  Of the loss of her son, Adam.  But not really.  She speaks only of gains and life and love and how her son, who had such little expected potential, touched the lives of so many.  She brings me closer to her life and her heart, she shows me the handprint her son made shortly before he passed.  He was in the hospital on Mother’s Day, dying of cancer that came hard and fast.  He needed a gift for his mother for Mother’s Day.  When Ramona arrived at the hospital, tired, but eager to see her son, her beautiful boy that touched so many, a man now in his late thirties, she couldn’t understand why the staff was behaving so happy to see her, sharing with her how happy Adam, her son, would be to see her.  She was there everyday, what was this about, she wondered but briefly.   And there she understood, when she received her gift.  She smiled widely in sharing this.  “You will appreciate this gift, Ginger, since you are a special ed teacher.”  She showed me, his handprint, in plaster, with his name signed, Love Adam and Happy Mother’s Day.

This theme emerges throughout my journey, this being touched by the hand of God or something, larger than me, holding me safely and leading me on.   I go out into the town of McGregor, in Iowa, on the Mississippi River.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Merciful Travel and Patty Pans Possessed

I left Chicago on Sunday after attending church, at the Basilica of Saint Hyacynth’s.  There was no other way to get inside.  To see for myself.  The church that  brought  Pope John II several times before he reached popedom.  That is not significant or meaningful to me, except that it must be a place of grandeur and beauty if you like that sort of baroque pomposity.  I also go because mass will help settle me and seat me, outside of my car and outside of my head that has more of a Jean-Michel Basquiat- MoseT-Andrew Wyeth-Artists in Contemporary American Art mind set.  The baroque thing generally throws me over the top, a place I don’t like to go.  So much to attend to all at once, curves and curlicues and porticoes and retablos and oculuses.  Even baroque terms have twirls and spins and extra ornamental hoo-hah.  Give me a wattle and daub and send me on my way.  But at church, baroque might be the saving grace for many.  As soon as you need to shut down the sermon, or more so, the sins of your own world you can travel around the cornices and visit the ignudis and cherubs and settle your soul for the next coming of urges and temptations and send out a prayer or two for the taking, and the giving.

I like the routine of mass, the tradition, the reliability and predictability.  I am on a journey.  I am on a pilgrimage of sorts.  I am religio-curious.  I would have to say all of the above.   But dear gentle readers, religion and spiritualism and universal pulls greet us all in one serendipitous way or another.  Take what you wish from my journey, glaze over any references if you must, sit back and enjoy the ride.  There will not be a double collection today.  Nor a single plate or basket passed.   I do however, find it a little disconcerting that many have outrageous and discomforting reactions to the mention of God or religion but words such as poverty and rape and war do not stir nary a sigh.   Artwork is the language of all things. And I am paying close attention on this journey.

On my way out of town I was planning on visiting two other churches to photograph and explore.  The structure, and the ornate, towering reminder, of God, of community of service and selflessness.  The mass I attended speaks of laboring and lamenting, of possession and obsession.  There aren’t many issues to cover in a Catholic Mass.  You know, the seven deadly.  Seven isn’t such a large number and several of those I have no fear of, or interest in.  Well maybe 3 but we don’t have to get technical or sooooo personal here.

Maybe part of my pilgrimage and journey is to stop worrying about when and what if and Oh, God please if you, then I’ll…deals, negotiations, promises, broken, forgiven, so on and so forth.  It is time to lighten my load on this wagon train headed west, and shame, and guilt, lamenting and laboring, must be dropped off somewhere before winter settles in and there is no other human around…is cannibalism a deadly sin?  I can’t recall.

Maybe the trip to Saint Hyacinth’s was unnecessary, but boy was it beautiful! And just for the record and snide commentary….it is a little peculiar for the priest to be discussing possession and obsession in a basilica painted in gold with baroque flourishes on the baroque flourishes.  I head out of Chicago and decide to stop at Niles Polish Deli.  Because when in Rome, or Warzsawa for that matter… do as the Romans, or the Poles, for this matter.  I think maybe, just maybe there will be pottery, those beautiful, dancing daisy adorned dishes.  Plates I would like to possess!  I enter and cannot believe the wall of snacks and candies and cakes.  Oh I like it here already.  I see the wall of pickled…. everything….no…look…what?....patty pan squash?  I have to have those.  I might easily become obsessed with patty pan squash.   What’s not to love here?

I will slow down my journey to stop and tell this tale.  One summer early in my new life in the Hudson Valley when my children were young and still had that sweet smell of childhood, you know before that smell of teen age rebellion moved in and then the labor intensive scent of adulthood and near grimness…anyway they were young and sweet smelling and we played and worked in the community garden at Bard College in Annandale-on-the-Hudson, and later joined a CSA and picked up our vegetables at the local health store because we had time and the goddess Ceres to guide us…There were patty pan squashes.  They made me happy in there golden yellow, robust and round little crown shapes.  They look like the little garden fairies came around and pinched the little dough crust into a perfect beaded crown.  How on earth does a vegetable grow like that?!  And the name!

Another story comes to mind, join me, it will connect…When I was six or seven, The Charlie Brown Christmas Story was playing at Radio City Music Hall, but when we got there, all excited and wiggly, we learned it was sold out.  My mother, and my aunt knew we had our hearts set on a movie, so they improvised quick on their toes and maybe afraid of the anarchy that could rise.  Four small children that may or may not have smelled sweet would have all started crying or waling or kicking and hollering, maybe just pouting and grim faced, we would have been an unpleasant mob just the same.  We ended up at some strange and bizarre Beatrix Potter film.  It was the late sixties or very early seventies, and I was little, but this movie was one drug trip away from promoting LSD for toddler consumption.  The animals were talking and acting and Peter Rabbit and Jeremy-whoja-call-it was looking rather dapper.  But I have been a fan of Beatrix Potter little cute books since the beginning of time.  These little bitty books are like finger sandwiches for literary aficionados.  And the titles?  The Story of the Fierce Bad Rabbit. I love that!! I think I might be a fierce bad rabbit, I am sure I know others!  Ginger Pickles!  C’mon who doesn’t like that?  The Pie and the …..yup……Patty Pan!!!! Bingo!  So I am in this polish shop and I can’t leave without buying pickled patty pans and yes my name is Ginger and it just all gets me in the right frame of mind as I head onto Wisconsin.  Me, Ginger Pickle with The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan guiding my way toward lightness and more Heartland.

I am thinking of just keeping this jar as a trophy on my shelf in my kitchen.  And I am a little smug at my newest possession.  But somewhere just across the border a memory comes to mind.  I start laughing, that loud crazy kind of laugh that just comes up from the toes and I am again happy to be in my car and not around anyone that would look at me with consternation and hold their own smelly children tighter in my presence because I am still that happy and presently laughing near hysteria. 

Good thing I have a firm grip on the wheel.  A while back, out with friends, somehow or other we started talking about baby teeth or children or both. We were maybe talking about cleaning our homes, and when can you start letting go of all those things you save that belong to the children? Or are connected somehow?  When I moved a few years ago and brought those big overflowing boxes of each child’s childhoods, papers and drawings and what not.   My now mostly grown children laughed right at me, when we pulled out the once fruit-loop glued masterpiece to find it was ravaged by a hungry varmint.   What did you think would happen?  One child implored.  Stunned, I responded, buh, whah, huh???….It was their artwork…how could I throw it away?  A friend has kept the baby teeth on their way to the tooth fairy via a bedroom closet.  I start laughing at this.  My patty pan squash look a bit like some organs in a jar.  The baby’s tonsils?  We keep these momentos of our children’s lives like historians preserving the past, holding that smell of innocence and perfection.   But when my friend tells of these baby teeth, I envision them all falling out of the closet getting stuck in floorboards, or rolling into corners awaiting some house guest or another.  Well I don’t take it that far…but the idea of these teeth and the patty pan make me laugh at what we preserve and what we cast away and why fruit-loop art cannot be saved in a big old box.

Wisconsin has only begun and again I am laughing and happy.  I am excited about making this trip a journey into heartfelt and handmade.  The first stop on my outsider art tour is rather silly.  I uploaded an app that takes me to those quirky little homes and gardens where some crazed, discontented spouse toils away fifty years making a mini replica of the Battle of Gettysburg  with matchsticks or hairballs or rewrites the bible on grains of rice or in the case of my first stop, takes all their broken dishes and sticks it onto a birdhouse and a garage.   Were they broken in passion filled fights of love and desire?  Were they broken because the owner needed glasses and missed the shelf each time she attempted to tidy?  Impressive, but not worth the detour.  It does get me deep into The Little Switzerland of the USA, New Glarius.  And I am transformed to, a small movie set?  It just doesn’t feel like the Swiss Alps, although it is trying.  I could have had my choice of faux lederhosen inspired t-shirts or embroidered stiff-waisted aprons.  I pass on each.  I don’t pass on the bakery stop and love the handmade, heart felt cheesecake.  I tried to ask the local, native, probably not even of Swiss-descent shop keep for a recommendation and she can’t give one.  I wanted her to say the names of the apple, lemon or ginger pastries in her Swiss tongue.  But it wasn’t even Swiss, her tongue, so I get the cheesecake because it looks fabulous, and it absolutely was, and I yodel along my way.  Belly-filled, and content.

Suddenly, I realize I am off the path I was going to be on in the internet and wireless neutral zone of Little Switzerland and I’m not sure which way to head.  I have been getting reliant on Siri, even if she isn’t the most personable passenger.  But now she’s sulking and ignoring my requests and won’t even mutter, What can I help you with in that flat, affective tone of hers.  I have to pull out and plug in Simon. The Tom-Tom travel companion that once seemed so sexy.  Now I feel I have to bang out each letter and wait lifetimes for him to string together Sioux Falls, or Praire du Chien.  At least Siri knows what I’m thinking and gets some passive pleasure in telling me before I finish.   Simon Tom Tom, that wily Australian keeps taking me into some public works parking lot and expects me to drive through the corrugated steel building.  Maybe this is the inner sanctum of heaven and my willfulness and frustration just blew the chance of a lifetime.  I decide to override Simon and do what I like.  Hmmm, could use a sermon for that issue, but I’m not sure if there’s enough baroque in Rome to help me out of willfulness and frustration, in between toothy hysterical grins.

And  then I barely catch on the side of the road the sign that says blah blah Engelbert.  Drive on, whistle, hum, hope for internet zone soon….WHAT? HOW THE HECK? Engelbert as in Nick Engelbert????  Screech, turn, gravel kicked up to the Universe in an offering of love and great, grinding gratitude.  Grandview!!!  I am in Grandview!!!  Nick Engelbert did not simply stick broken dishes on the side of his garage, although he did do that too.  Nick Engelbert built a shrine to America, and pride, and the gratitude of an immigrant at home in the Heartland.  “If a man can’t be happy on a little farm in Wisconsin, he hasn’t the makings of happiness in his soul.”  Said he.  Is that not perfect?  I want to pick Simon up and twirl him and kiss his whole…oh, yeah, I know, he’s just a little GPS mechanism.  Smiles, joy, happiness.  And I am not sure, but are those baby teeth in the concrete sculpture of the stork holding the baby?  Nah…..well, maybe.   Look and see for yourself.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hand Made and Heart Felt in the Heart Land

Last summer I dipped my feet in the cool refreshing waters of adventure.  I traveled south, with safety points and visits with friends plotted along the way.  This summer, I have jumped off the high dive!  I have embarked on a solo trip cross country and I highly recommend it for everyone!  I am a New Yorker.  Raised by New Yorkers.  We like our delis.  Our hard rolls.  Our bagels with a little schmear.  OK I like it with a little schmear, just a little, because I like to taste the bagel, and otherwise all that schmear, makes me light headed, and lead bellied from that slightly chemical, metallic wrapped, cream cheese schmeary taste.

I was admittedly afraid to go south last summer.  I have seen movies and read books, Deliverance, Sling Blade, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bastard out of Carolina, The Prince of Tides, well OK that one is a bit closer to home……You get the message.  Right? I did.  Darkness lurking in every small-minded, ethno-centric, bible-bumping, right wing, Christian zealot corner of every southern town and city.   I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved that trip, the south, the culture, the people, I did however stay out of the backwoods, and mostly hugged the coast.  From Washington DC to Savannah, Georgia, Tallahassee, Florida through Perdido Keys, Florida,  Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana,  I loved the south!

I am a New Yorker, we like the coast.  We are slightly afraid of going in-land.  There are not many subways beyond, say Brooklyn, or Queens.  And there is that train route to New Jersey and Hoboken, but feh, now you are talking state lines, and it’s almost like crossing borders and what not.  Many of us, of a certain age, have ethnic ties to immigrants, we may believe that one day, if some need occurs, we may need to go back to our homelands, and we will not want to rough the plains and prairies, of the Midwest to get there.  We will stay closely rooted to the coast in case we need to make an exodus to our mother countries, the home land, or our great-great-great grand mother countries for that matter. 

The trip last summer primed me, and I have started my journey west. Following a Fast and Furious jaunt through a few states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, I landed in Chicago.  I sweated over this stop.  My first stop a city?  I want to broaden my horizons, not keep them familiar and safe, I work and worry and discuss, but plan loosely.  I am venturing off independently, so I must carry a great load of angst and a little cooler full of despair, amidst the art supplies, the backpack and camping gear, the thumping, rousing, thrill-seeking, warrior that is me, and the multitude of cameras and gear in my solo wagon train better known as the black Corolla.

So, for the record? Chicago, it turns out, is nothing like New York except for the tall buildings, wait, I mean the fact that they each have buildings that are tall.  Remember, fellow history buffs, and everyone else, wipe off your 5th grade History of the United States acumen.  Mrs. O’Leary, the damn cow, the lantern…Chicago had the, twist of the word, shine of the light, fabulous opportunity to rebuild, Phoenix from the ashes, and it is an rchitectural delight of style and design and wonder.  Yes, it’s true I took the Chicago  Architecture Foundation River Cruise.  Magnificent. 

I was fortunate enough to contact a friend of a friend living in Chicago prior to getting into the city.   I called the friend of the friend with reluctance and obligation.  Friend insisted.  Maybe I would stay at their home? I would never impose.  I am after-all a New Yorker.  My father, would barely feel comfortable staying with his own siblings as they all grew older.  We don’t like to “put people out.”  I am starting to learn, us New Yorkers of a certain age and ilk, aren’t so concerned about putting anyone out, we are more frightened of the luncheon meats in place of the cold cuts, and why can’t anyone else make a good slice of pizza?  I know, in Chicago this is blasphemy, it is like speaking of the Yankees in Boston without a loaded weapon or an escape route.  I contacted said friend of friend, and it turns out I would have spent a week in her care and taken every spectacular gem she offered of things to do and see from her hands.   Somehow or other we started talking about my journey post Chicago and she mentioned outsider art, in passing.  Huh? What?  Cow-a-Bunga and Bongo Bongo!!  Did she just not just say outsider art tour?  I am overjoyed, and happy, and I can’t pretend to keep my no eye contact, don’t let the neighbors know your serial number, your place of origin, how you vote or what you ate for dinner poise.   Why do we hang all our dirty laundry on the lines, and scream and fight in our paper thin walk-ups if we are such secret-keepers?  Anyway, I am all beamy excited at the mention of outsider art.  She promises to send me a link or two, I am thankful and I say good bye.

Somewhere around Gary, Indiana, the orange glow of the toxic sky, darkens and the rains fall, heavily from the heavens.  I stop quickly for gas and throw my phone in the pocketbook, yes New Yorkese, it’s like a purse, only, well, yeah it’s a purse, or a handbag, and I travel on.  When I arrive, 30 minutes north of Chicago, in a Hotwire bargain mystery hotel, that seems a bit closer to the city than it is. I am looking forward to sleep and the next days adventure.  I missed the message from friend of friend of the spouse variety, who I enjoyed charming and open conversation with a couple of months earlier, in the safe hamlet on the river with a train line ready in a heartbeat for quick and timely escapes, in New York.  He leaves a message, inviting me to stay with them, and jokes about the depressive impact this faraway suburb will have should I refuse.  I appreciate the humor, the invite, but without a frame of reference for how faraway I am, the inviting hotel suite quickly comforts me into sleep.

I start my first day in Chicago on a photography quest to find a small piece of myself in the outlying ethnic neighborhoods and I am not let down.  I feel “home” here.  The buildings, and homes, and churches are familiar.  That sense of community and shared communal struggle with making ends meet, getting ahead, providing for family, is evident throughout.  The great American dream is alive and well in these urban immigrant enclaves and it fills me with calm to witness as an “outsider” with the inside scoop.   The knowledge of simple beginnings and immigrant struggles to provide a better life for your children and your children’s children is deeply engrained in my heart and soul.

Next I make it to Millennium Park and get up close to the steel and silver shine emanating from the sculpted masses that were created from the hearts and hands of Frank Gehry and Anish Kapoor.  There is whimsy and light heartedness and a calling out for interaction and connection.  You cannot get close to these two diverse sculptures without entering into a relationship with each artist.  I think back to a comment made by a friend just a few days earlier.  “Touching the hand of God…”   I have a new perspective of this quote, the idea, I think of the artwork of Michelangelo, the great  artists, through the ages.  Connections larger than life. The electricity is everywhere here in Chicago.  And of course it is where electricity was first showcased to the masses at the 1893 World’s Fair.  Surely that spark is from coming into contact with something so much larger than ourselves, even larger than Frank Gehry, or Frank Lloyd Wright, or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  Mies, known as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture,  surely was on to something when he said, “God is in the details.”  The details of Chicago cannot be captured in a small personal essay.

A visit to the Art Museum makes me tingly with joy.  This does not happen frequently.  Or ever, well maybe on some occasions....  I am walking around this city with the biggest goofiest smile.  All day.  Like some simpleton. Honestly.  If anyone from New York saw me, I would be banished from the borders.   Surely I look like I just had a big piece of clown pie and what is the joke?  I am elated.  And it doesn’t end.  By the time I am finished tripping over the joy and brightness of the city, and finally safely on the River Tour, I call friend of friend thanking her for the links and the advice.  She recommended seeing the exhibit, Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I can’t say enough about this show.  The size and scope, stellar!  There is an unfinished piece with two panels, one  that reaches close to the heavens or so it seems, by Monet, and costumes throughout.  Suddenly I am transformed to Paris in the late 1800s, pure magic!  And even as I stumble through the crowds, giddy with joy, I can barely get close to some of the art.  I buy the book, to have this collection, and can't wait to look deeply at the works, and the history.   It is truly amazing and even more so because I have been immersed in research regarding a Russian mystic and her salon on the Rue Saint Dominique at this precise time.  I am enthralled with the serendipitous nature of this exhibit and I half expect to see the name of Madame Swetchine,  appear in the descriptions. 

As I am thanking friend of friend, I ask for a dinner recommendation, she offers two.  One is for a Blues restaurant in Marina City, known as the the corn cob buildings, or that's how they were described to me, and well, absolutely! The corn cob buildings!.    She explains the lobby is filled with outsider art and it might be a great place to start.   As I approach, I  notice it is The House of Blues, and I am slightly discouraged, as I think of this as a chain, like going to The Hard Rock Café, or maybe even Applebees…silly, foolish me.  I walk in and want to start screaming like a love sick Paul McCartney fan circa 1967 or so…but that’s ahem, well before my time…The lobby doesn’t just have outsider art.  It is some crazy, wild, earlier unknown at least to me, mecca.  A shrine!  Hanging on these hallowed walls is the art, a massive collection of originals from MoseT, Annie Tolliver, Dr. Imagination and so on and so forth.  I am not a screamer, squealer, look at me in public type a gal.  I am able to maintain my NYC stance somewhere, thank you very much.  But it will take several states and a whole lot of trouble to wipe this grin off my face soon.  And oh, by the way…troubles?….I got the Blues CD collection to carry me right on through to the other side of any troubles….

Southern outsider, self-taught artists… cannot but see the hand of some god or another at work here.  It is truly spiritual, and electrically charged.   And I have that dumb-founded smile to prove it.

Next stop….Wisconsin….