Fargo, day 2: Snowy!
It snowed overnight and through the morning, so I stayed inside. At lunchtime I ventured back over to the Plains Art Museum, site of the Monday concert/lunch, to see a quilt exhibit that caught my eye, and the rest of the museum while I was at it. The walk over involved a lot of clambering over snowdrifts that hadn't been cleared yet. The snow in the road here does funny things. It doesn't melt much, so it turns into a slippery layer of packed snow instead, which is oddly more treacherous than just regular snow. Right now it's not snowing but the snow is blowing around and creating a glittery layer on top of the dry, powdery snow.
I had lunch at the museum again. I didn't like the salad as much (it was pesto on roasted vegetables, which were undercooked) but the tomato soup was just as good as before. The quilt exhibit was just great, absolutely wonderful and amazing. I wish I had taken my camera -- instead I made do with my cell phone cam for a few of the best. I've seen quite a number of exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, so I'm familiar with art quilts as a genre, and these were possibly some of the finest art quilts I've ever seen. They were all done by quilters in the region, and included all sorts of complex techniques like beading, circular seams, 3-D fabric constructions, non-paneled quilts, weaving, hand-dyed fabrics, and more. Lots of fancy fabric overlays, and one quilt done entirely in silk, which is very difficult to work with. That quilt looked like a sunset and was made of tiny triangles. (It's the first picture in the exhibition description
. The other picture was also one of my favorites.) One had a Tyvek top layer which had been selectively destroyed, leaving an interesting nubbly texture. I liked so many, but my absolute favorite was a 'quilt arrangement' done of 32 small squares, each in one dominant color. There was so much creativity in those little squares: mosaic-style piecing, a crocheted basket, a 3-D hydrangea, leaves, fruits and vegetables (I liked the 'citrus' square), faces, and just really neat designs. They had a little handmade book about the collaborators and their work which I wish they had been selling. Overall, all the quilts were interesting and a good half of them were just stunning. I kept walking around going "WOW! Oh my gosh, WOW!" and I think I spent 45 min in the gallery (which wasn't huge; it's a small museum).
Their stuff upstairs was also neat. What I liked is that except for one piece I had never seen the art or artists before, but they explained it really thoughtfully, and it was varied and of local interest, with mostly Plains area artists and some Native pieces (Canadian and American). I liked several of the pieces quite well, including one by a New Mexican artist that was a very simple picture of varying shades of green, blue, and gray with lines drawn on it suggesting water or clouds. It was so spare, and so peaceful, very carrying of the feeling of deserts and plains.
The whole top floor was devoted to an exhibition of photographs by Wayne Gudmundson, who takes pictures of North Dakota and the Plains. A lot of his photographs focus on the marks that humans leave, even after they are gone. My favorite, though, was an early work of his of a rock illuminated with light. Also neat was an island in Iceland with some blurred flying seagulls making the foreground complex and interesting. It was interesting to see how the plain isn't really totally flat like we all think it is because there are no big hills.
My favorite moment this afternoon was begin told a Norwegian joke by one of the kids I recorded:
Q. What kind of cars do Norwegians drive?
I got a good chuckle on that.
Dinner was disappointing. Before I came, I looked to see what places might have vegetarian options, and one of the places listen was Cafe Aladdin, which is near enough to walk to. I read and heard good things about the food, though people said the ambience was a bit dull. But I didn't have a good experience of the food at all, and it was empty when I went because it was fairly late so it was not just dull but dead, though the man serving (probably the owner) was kind. The hummus had too much tahini and a flavor of olive, and the spanakopita was greasy and not at all delicate -- the outer layer of dough was not phyllo dough, though the inner layers were -- and there was hardly any feta. The salad was actually disgusting. Sprinkled on top was some kind of weird flakes that tasted of fast food, and it was just iceberg lettuce and tomatoes and olives, soggy with too much dressing. Not that I'm expecting miracles in ND in December, but making the raw materials worse is unfortunate. Maybe I just chose the wrong dish but the poor hummus didn't leave me wanting to go back. I ate most of the pita plain because it was pretty good.
After eating I walked back rather slowly, checking out the historic movie theater to see if they were showing anything I wanted to see (no). It was actually a pretty nice walk with the wind a bit calmer. While I was stopped at a light, a school-age kid in a car also stopped waved at me and smiled. I saw a bookstore that I might check out if I have time. Tomorrow I'm going to try to take some pictures before I leave. I'm beginning to get a little fond of this city, I think.