Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kansas City - Great Art, Architecture, Antiques...What's not to Love?

It just feels like vacation when you arrive somewhere and the first thing you do is have a drink and a meal sitting along the sidewalk watching the people pass by. Our friends, Kelly and Steve, who began their marriage some twenty plus years ago in Kansas City,  told us to have lunch at the Classic Cup, "or at least go there for dessert while you are there!" Not listed on the latest or trendiest must go to places, still, it felt like an old KC institution that afternoon and did not disappoint.

Our hotel was across the street from the lovely Country Club Plaza and good restaurants and shopping were all within walking distance. Kansas City is proud of their shopping and entertainment center, and rightly so. Touted as the oldest shopping center in the United States, built in the twenties, the area has certainly stood the test of time. The Spanish architecture is charming and incredible European sculpture and fountains abound.

We stayed at the Raphael Hotel , across from Country Club Plaza, and I cannot say enough about how lovely this hotel is. From the crisp, new and beautifully decorated rooms to the friendly, accommodating staff, this is a perfect getaway spot!

So, while we did wander the streets of the plaza a bit, that was not the reason for the trip. We went to see a particular exhibit at one of several great museums in Kansas City.

The sky was just about to open up with a huge rainstorm when I snapped this photo from the side of the Gunnar Birkerts Building,  of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Jacques Lipchitz
Bellerophon Taming Pegasus: Large Version
I managed to snap a photo of the beautiful sculpture above before dashing inside to see the exhibit. The rain came pouring down and it was a most perfect afternoon to stroll leisurely through a wonderful exhibit of paintings by Dallas artist David Bates.

I have followed the work of David Bates for many years. Initially, I was attracted to the Southern folk art feel of his work, and I have always loved the texture of his paintings, thick with paint and brush strokes.

92nd Street Pier

This painting is in the museum's permanent collection and was painted in 1992. David's paintings are owned by museums and private collectors across the country. His work is recognized for it's realist style and it's emotional strength.

David Bates is known particularly for his love for and paintings of the people and landscapes of the Gulf Coast. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, he was reminded of stories he had heard as a child of the Galveston hurricane of September 8, 1900, that destroyed the city.

As David watched the newscasts of the destruction in New Orleans, he was deeply moved and  began sketching the images he was seeing on television.  From these sketches, as well as following visits to New Orleans with dealer and friend, Arthur Roger, came The Katrina Paintings.
Some of these first sketches are available to see at the Kemper exhibition as well as some of the photographs taken of the destruction he witnessed.

I wish I could have taken photographs to share my favorite paintings. They show faces of fear, frustration, anger, sorrow and bewilderment. The landscapes show destruction and devastation.  One can't help but be moved by the emotion in the work. 
I can find some images on line and bought the wonderful exhibit catalog, David Bates, the Katrina Paintings, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, at the museum gift shop. 

Storm Triptych - 1

I would urge anyone to see this exhibit if at all possible. It will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee in the fall. The paintings are emotionally charged works of art, as well as social and political commentary. I can't possibly do the full story justice and wouldn't attempt to.

The book is chock full of information and a window into David's art, his heart, and his mind.

The Deluge V, 2007

This painting is quite large, (60 x 84 inches), as are many of the pieces. The Kemper is a perfect gallery space for the display, with lots of space between the paintings and room to stand back, or sit, and reflect.

I was disappointed that the other museums were closed due to the July 4th holiday, and sorry we did not get to visit the Nelson Adkins Museum of Art.  Next time!

With a little time left on our hands, I pulled out my guide to Kansas City from elle decor,  written by Patricia Shackelford, aka  Mrs. Blandings,  and headed to a few antique shops.

Time was short and I got to poke my head in just a few shops. I did manage to take a few photos of the lovely shop, Parrin and Co.

I had the nicest visit with owner Barbara Farmer and learned she had braved the Texas heat to travel and set up at the  Marburger  Farm Antique Show several times in the recent past.We agreed it is a fabulous show, huge with lots of really good antiques and a lot of hard work for dealers. I have tremendous respect for the dealers who set up at this show.

Barbara's shop is loaded with beautiful antiques, many French, all to covet.

Love the table, love the mirrors and ya gotta love the funny chalk dog,  happy as can be, sitting among all that elegance!

Crazy for this tiered, tole tray, but alas, it was sold! The tole flowers were tempting , too!

Love her - she was not tipping to the left  - I think I was!

So, as we were chatting and as I was about to walk out the door, my eye caught this little shell what not - a hand made treasure of sorts, maybe meant to be an inkwell. I have an affinity for shell things - my most favorite being the dress forms below that are my all time favorite find and sit front and center in my entry hall............

and so, Barbara wrote a sales ticket for my newest shell find, I bid her farewell and thanked her so much for the visit and off I went............. but not before...........

.....I spotted this treasure in the window. I had missed it when I first arrived. It is an old tin urn, weighted at the bottom, with a full bouquet of tin flowers. My guess, as well as Barbara's, is that it is Mexican and quite old. Oohhhh................just what I love

(I know, I know - I love a lot of things... it's a problem....)

So, back in the store for another sales ticket and discussion of how to get this baby back to Texas. Turns out it comes apart - the bouquet comes off the, the urn fit in my checked bag and the flowers got to fly in the cabin with me. 

It will come as no surprise to you that it fits in perfectly in my house, full of  an assortment of treasures collected here and there over the years. 

And about David Bates, I will be following him closely in the future. What a huge talent.


  1. thanks for this post..I would love to get up to KC, one of my favorite towns, to see this exhibit... Love,love,love the shell mannequin.too cute.

  2. Looks like you had a great trip! Love what you found!

  3. Love, love, love your post. Thanks for sharing your visit to KC.
    Love, Nella

  4. Hi Ann!
    I so loved this post! Glad you had such a great visit. I, too, love KC! We would actually drive there often from Dallas to antique! So many great shops. I adore your Mexican tin piece! So perfect and so you! I laughed when you said you saw it upon leaving... in shops I love I will do a walk thru twice, as I always seem to miss somthing the first time through. I still think of you and how you describe walking into a shop and just standing there to absorb it all!!
    hope you are staying cool!

  5. Hi Ann - Thanks for taking us along on the trip. KC looks like a great place to visit (and live). It's so nice that you got to take a few treasures home with you too! I had never heard of David Bates, so thanks too for the introduction to his work.

  6. Looks like a great trip- love the photos of the paintings- especially The Deluge- amazing

  7. How wonderful to visit a place and feel like you had some sort of blog gps in your back pocket along with treasures to find your way home!

  8. well, gosh, looks like i've got another destination to add to the list! in the meantime, i'll savor your post! love your prize!

  9. Fabulous finds. Particularly the shell find :D
    I love that you gave those of us who don't know a tour of KC. Great place!!

  10. I sure wish I was in the Antique Business again. I'd be on my way with a big truck.
    KC looks very interesting. Thanks for this wonderful post.

  11. Looks like you had a fun trip!That shop is great!!!!!!Maryanne xo



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