Travelling home as things close down

“I imagine you are both enjoying seeing the grandchildren grow up,” said a friend by email, while we were out in Houston with the family. We were, but this was soon curtailed by the developing coronavirus panic on both sides of the pond.

We were due to fly back to Manchester 7th April, but it was becoming clear that we’d have to do so sooner. President Trump stopped people flying in from Europe from Friday 13th March. Maybe we should bring our departure forward by a couple of weeks to Tuesday 24th?Read More »

The Kimbell Art Museum

During a short stay in Fort Worth we visited the Kimbell Art Museum, which was well rated in the tourist information. It proved an excellent choice.

Wikipedia tells us that Kay Kimbell was a wealthy Fort Worth businessman who built an empire of over 70 companies in a variety of industries. He married Velma Fuller, who kindled his interest in art collecting. They set up the Kimbell Art Foundation in 1935, and by the time of his death in 1964, the couple had amassed what was considered to be the best selection of old masters in the Southwest. Their estate was bequeathed to the Foundation, with the key directive to “build a museum of the first class”.

The building was designed by architect Louis I. Kahn and is “widely recognized as one of the most significant works of architecture of recent times”. I have to say that, from the outside, the museum is most unprepossessing, even boring. However, when you get inside you come upon an ideal space for displaying art works, with superb natural lighting coming obliquely from the vaulted ceilings and skylights.

Bodhisattva Maitreya

Looking at the art works themselves, you realize that this museum is rather special. Almost every item in the collection is a quite exquisite example of a particular period of art or artist – mostly paintings and some sculptures, including early pieces such as a beautiful 8th century “Bodhisattva Maitreya’ from Thailand.

The Torment of St Anthony, Michelangelo

Many of the most famous European painters are represented, including many impressionists and a rare painting by Michelangelo “The Torment of Saint Anthony”.

I was led to reflect on how many of the world’s major art galleries have come from bequests from those who have made mountains of money. With money comes responsibility, and it seems that Kay Kimbell and his ilk have made good use of their money, in the great tradition of philanthropy.

The museum contains an excellent cafe serving lunches, run with great efficiency by a formidable yet friendly Dallas lady – one could well imagine her on the set of the long-running Dallas TV series.

A companion building, reached through a small garden, was added later, architected by  Renzo Piano. Here is the space for exhibitions and we were lucky that the current ‘blockbuster’ touring was of the works of the impressionist and art patron Gustave Caillebotte.

This was quite an eye-opener, demonstrating what an excellent painter Caillebotte was, and also telling the story of his friendships with other impressionists and his role as patron in encouraging their development. As a man of means, he did not have the problem of lack of resources common to many who choose this profession.

Altogether, the Kimbell provided a very happy way to spend a day. Definitely ‘first class’, and well worth a visit if you’re ever in the Fort Worth/Dallas area.

Photographs are my own, and can be copied so long as you attibute to this blog.



What is this Superbowl?

It happened to be the night of the Superbowl final. We were staying in a hotel in Fort Worth, so I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about  – it had even been mentioned in the Republican presidential candidate debate the day before.

I found the right TV channel and there it was. Seems it’s American football, not baseball as I’d ignorantly imagined it might be.

american-footballDenver Broncos were winning 10-7 against Colorado Panthers, but the game was only halfway through. I watched for a while,  but couldn’t make head or tale of what was going on. It looked a bit like rugby, but with forward passes and tackling of players who did not have the ball. Strange.

We went out to eat. Most of the bars and restaurants had the game on multiple TV screens.  Some even had lights out – it was just you, food and the game. We went to a more civilized place and were offered a booth away from the screens, enjoying our evening repast with but the occasional glimpse of the game. The waitress said it was so quiet because everyone stays home to watch.

After meal and postprandial stroll we arrived back at the hotel to find the game still on. Then I realized why. Every few minutes the game stops, the clock stops and the ads come on. All totally geared to TV.

Denver were now clearly winning, as forecast by The Donald (Trump), and the scoring system was still as clear as mud.

It seemed that if someone made a suicidal run through a great scrimmage of players he could not repeat same for some time.  Very sensible.

Then came a moment of magic. A Denver player sidestepped an opponent, wrongfooted another, and was suddenly running free. All the opposing defenders were running to intercept his trajectory, and all the Denver players were running to intercept and stop them. Pure poetry in motion. As the runner was battered into submission, it seems he’d at least gained some ground. And he could so easily have scored (like a rugby try?) without that heroic defence.

Yes, you could easily get into this game! But there’s so much of the more tedious grind, and really, even with all the padding and head shields, it’s a dangerous game to play, is it not? Some even think it should be banned, because of the danger to the players, e.g. Dave Bry in The Guardian.

Peyton-ManningOf course, being America there has to be a hero. Step forward Peyton Manning, Broncos quarterback, winning his second superbowl title at the age of 39 – incredible to be playing such a tough game at the top level at that age.

In the end the Broncos won 24-10. I somehow missed the last 10 seconds, as the media interviews seemed to have already started.

It soon became clear that in this rather selective viewing we’d missed a lot of the fun – like Coldplay,  Beyonce, Lady Gaga and the celebs and ads. Even President Obama joined in this national event, playing a prerecorded part in Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. Perhaps I’m just missing the point of the ‘grand spectacle’.

As we checked out, the guy at the desk confirmed my suspicions – yes, he likes it as a great national spectacle and talking point – but no, he hasn’t got a clue what the rules of the game are.

If you really want to know how the game works, try this website, where the top image came from: howstuffworks

Peyton Manning clip is from Liberty Voice