Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

… Kind of…

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The Community Bookshelf. Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch. Kansas City, Missouri. 1 July 2017.

Welcome back, my lovely book nerds and tack another quick stop (if only to enjoy some time with pictures) into your Global book nerd to-do list. For those following along as more than book nerds – ie. the current Kansas saga or my life and travels in general – this is a continuation of my odd-date involving Ryan driving me around Kansas City and following me around odd places, like this book wall.

The first thing you ought to know is that you need to research which branch you are visiting within Kansas City. This book wall is located at the central branch, but we accidentally hit another before we made it there, but the branches are relatively close by car so if you get a little turned around, it’s not too bad.

Also, while this wall is lovely (and I loved playing around with it), there have been changes since the pictures that pop up on Google were posted and, truthfully, the book-wall is not actually part of the library, but the parking lot located next to the library. The trees have grown a lot which means there is a lot of shade, but the view of this amazing wall is really obstructed, especially in whole. Still, I loved looking at these large spines and the staircases into the parking garage – usually overlooked – which are a pile of stone books (yes, I definitely took pictures on them – I am a nerd), even if it had nothing to do with physical books or reading.

This being said, I will never say no to popping into the actual library when you are here – every place like this deserves all the love they can get.

Again, this is a quick stop and a quick post, but if you are in the area, stop by and enjoy yourself!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. 1 July 2017.

So here we go through part one of day 2 (or the first full day) in the whirlwind trip through Kansas (even if we were really in Missouri). While Ryan was in charge of the big ticket item dates, I put my time and research into smaller places that I would want to visit on one of my normal travel expeditions. And this, of course, leads us to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

If you know my background – an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries (which is a fancy way of saying I studied things like museums, publishing, social heritage, media, and international business movement and technology across entertainment fields – basically a wide range of topics) – you know that I love museums. I have a brief insight into how individual galleries are curated and then how things move through the whole of the museums from this degree and, alongside my collected knowledge from my college art history class, this makes exploring so much more fun, especially when I have an audience who doesn’t mind hearing all about it.

With this background and my love of photography, this pick was absolutely fantastic.

First off, the museum itself is lovely – built with classical architecture and rooms upon rooms of art and a sculpture garden that is sparse enough to feel like a park while still calling itself part of an exhibit.

This is the part of the museum that we actually came out to see. I absolutely loved all the Shuttlecocks sculptures and understand how these became the statement piece and symbol of the whole museum. The sculptures are scattered throughout the garden in patches and across levels which is great for both pictures and picnics while surrounded by all kinds of art. Outside, the sculptures fall into the modern art classifications, but has a range that makes it interesting enough to keep running around – I loved the maze (but walk slow because I have seen many slam into the clear walls), the metallic tree, and (I must mention again) all of the different Shuttlecocks. Even if you aren’t looking for a museum day, this is a lovely areas just to come and have some lunch if you are in the area.

We didn’t spend much time inside, except for lunch, but we did run through the impressionist gallery, and, if this is any indication of the rest of the museum, every gallery would be worth stepping into if only for the unorthodox set up. Again, we were in the impressionist gallery, but throughout there were other types of art – furniture pieces and small scale sculptures which used an interesting juxtaposition. For me, if a gallery had a Degas ballerina sculpture (which this did), I am more than happy.

But onto lunch: as with all museums, food here isn’t cheap, however, unlike other places, the portions were rather generous. The staff was friendly and efficient and the room was lovely – hanging lights and natural daylight, with black iron tables surrounding a fountain. We had sandwiches and soup (I had half portions of both) and a blondie for dessert, plus infused water and every bit of it was fantastic. It is all freshly made in front of you so if you don’t want a specific spread or veg on your sandwich, they can make it without, without any extra work. Again, the portions were really generous and I was happily full on the half portions! Also, if you can agree on the type of sandwich, you can split the whole for cheaper than buying two halves.

I’ll end it here without going over and over my strange, nerdy discussions over curation and storytelling through the placement choices, but I will say, if you visit Kansas City, go see this museum. It’s beautiful, full of so much to see, has a full itinerary of events going on all the time, and, as someone who loves the arts, visit and make a small donation for the upkeep because your trip (minus parking, food, and special exhibits) doesn’t cost you anything!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

Notes on The Broad, Los Angeles.

The first trip…

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From the Broad windows. The Broad, Los Angeles. April 2016.

This past weekend, I managed to make it to The Broad museum in Los Angeles. This is a small privately owned collection of modern art collected by the members of the Broad family.

We had tickets for 5pm on Sunday – the last ticketed entrance time – with a 6 pm closing. Therefore, this was definitely the first trip because we didn’t manage to make it all the way through.

I feel like I need to admit here: I’m not a huge fan of modern art – most of it just doesn’t resonate with me. Mostly, I just find individual pieces interesting – I love the over-sized furniture room but mostly because it like being Alice in Wonderland (my love of this story has been documented here well enough).

Otherwise, I loved the word pictures – basically just words/phrases on canvas (probably because of my bookish background and ability to make it myself!).

Our favorite room (that we managed to get into) has to be the lower level music room. Officially, this is a piece by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson called The Visitors, completed in 2012. The lyrics of the song are based on a poem by Ásids Sif Gunnarsdóttir as arranged by Kjartansson and Davíõ Pór Jónsson.

You can read up on the piece yourself, but basically you walk into this room which holds eight videos and speakers which show individuals playing said song, each set up in a different room. Wherever you set yourself up in the room, you’ll be able to hear and watch specific screens louder/more clearly.

We agreed we could have sat in this room moving from place to place for hours on end!

My biggest piece of advice is to go early.

The museum isn’t that large and, if you want, you can get through everything relatively quickly, however, the room that you’ll really want to visit – and the real reason I need to go back – is the widely acclaimed Infinity Room.

This is a room of mirrors which seems to go one forever, and every picture I’ve seen is amazing. The issue is that the line for this is long and the sign up fills quickly. Later arrivals can always check for available standby positions for no shows – which was recommended by one worker – but the chances are unlikely.

I love the look of the building as a whole. Once again, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’m a huge architecture fangirl. What I love about this building is how you can look out through the cutouts which not only give you an interesting perspective but brings in nice life.

There are also windows within the building which allow you to look into the archived areas. This was another huge fangirl moment for me as someone who has studied the cultural and creative industries.

But for now – with this first visit – that’s all I have, so until next time:

This is Leave in the Wind, helping you soar.

Notes on The Broad, Los Angeles.

The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles….

Not really (or not yet and hopefully it won’t be) but isn’t that a catchy name?

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Whole gallery. Los Angeles, California. January 2016.

This past weekend my dad (FINALLY!) drove us down into the city to visit one of the most amazing bookstores I have ever seen (and I’ve gone to quite a few): The Last Bookstore.

This bookstore, located at 5th and Spring in downtown LA, is a large two story building which, beyond just selling books, houses small art boutiques and other varied nooks.

What I loved about this building’s construction is it’s not built like a regular two story shop. Rather, you have a first story which for the most part looks like your average bookstore – there are books lined up on rows of bookcases, but the second floor has a balcony view down to the shopping floor. This second floor houses the boutiques as well as a book section called “The Labyrinth”.

The Labyrinth is made up of sci-fi and fantasy books (as well as other related genres), then the “decorative books” which are colorful books which you wouldn’t read but look fun on the shelves. This floor made me feel like Alice lost in a wonderful Wonderland of books. They were configured in an enclosed hallway as well as a looking glass (aka a nice book frame perfect for getting your picture taken through). The stacks on this level a staggered rather than organized rows which leads the search for your next read to fell like an adventure all your own, wandering through this labyrinth.

Within the labyrinth is also one of the stores many themed nooks—the horror nook. The door to this section is a vault door!

There are a range of book nooks organized by genre with fun labels done up in creative ways, making these sections so much fun. A few of these include the graphic novel and rare book sections. The main stacks also have fun shelf labels (though I can’t name any for the life of me) as well as great section signs which are hung from pipe rails. I loved the industrial designs contrast with the Grecian/Roman pillars.

The stairs up to the second floor, as well as a few other places throughout, have book and paper themed art littering the walls and almost everything is free for you to photograph (some of the galleries ask you not to for obvious reasons). I love the large Mammoth head mounted on one wall off set by twinkle lights hanging above on the second store railing. Let’s not forget the checkout desk which is designed to look like a huge stack of books!

This whole store is so eclectic! I just wanted to live here!

There are also couches and armchairs on both levels which you can stop and take a break at, however, they ask that you don’t take a nap or use the space as a library, again for obvious reasons (it’s still a store!).

This is another cool bookstore which offers to purchase your good condition, used books so you can come prepared! You will also have to check bags and show your receipt when leaving but it’s all worth the hours you can spend here.

This is an amazing store which brings in a lot of people both interested in shopping and in exploring and taking pictures, and both are accepted. My final plea if you do get the chance to visit is to purchase at least on book and help keep The Last Bookstore running—it really is a treasure worth keeping around!

All in all, I’m a happy book nerd!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Ps. here’s a gallery of pictures from our adventure!

The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles….

2 Days in Amsterdam….

Is anyone else worried that the buildings are leaning?

Canals, canals, canals! Amsterdam,  Netherlands. June 2015.
Canals, canals, canals! Amsterdam, Netherlands. June 2015.

That was one of the first thing we noticed when walking through this stop on our whirlwind tour.

Yes, even the building in this ‘live and let live’ city feel so laid back that, as you wander, you’ll begin to notice buildings that seem to be holding up their neighbors while others have begun to tilt forward or backwards, some to quite an interesting degree. Yet none felt too close to falling over quiet yet, so we just laughed and kept walking on our way.

Still, something fun to keep an eye open for!

But back on track.

After a long morning of travel, we arrived in Amsterdam around mid-afternoon and settled in.

Depending on where you stay here and the surrounding areas, now is the time to warn you: due to the local architecture, the staircases in most of the buildings are narrow and extremely steep.

If you plan on coming with large bags, this will be a truly tying experience. If you have a fear of heights, these stairs may also cause you some serious anxiety—double this if you are going to have to lug luggage up them.

Canal shot down the street from Hotel Adolesce. Amsterdam,  Netherlands. June 2015.
Canal shot down the street from Hotel Adolesce. Amsterdam, Netherlands. June 2015.

We stayed at Hotel Adolesce which was lovely—minus the stairs (again slightly terrifying)—and I really recommend it. The building sits along one of the canals which are beautiful and inside there are balcony/porch areas where you can sit in the evenings and enjoy the late setting sun, great wifi connection, and a tea and snack area full of cookies and simple sandwich fixings in the lobby which are available 24 hours a day.

Little did we know when we booked, however, was the first site we would see across the canal from our accommodation:

This is Schaduwkade, sometimes translated/ called Shadow Kade, Shadow Quay, or Shadow Walk. This is a unassuming WWII memorial that commemorates the events of—and the lives lost during and due to—May 26, 1943. This street (along with others) was raided by the Nazis and all the Jewish residence taken to various camps. Standing at these memorial plaques, you are able to look out across the canal and see each of the residence buildings—like our hotel—and learn the names, ages, and destinations of these victims which brings a truly unshakable human face to these events.

What was amazing about this site, erected in 2013, is that you could be completely oblivious to it. The street is one of many little canal streets with beautiful views worth strolling down. But once you notice the small plaques, read them, and understand what events you are witnessing all these years later, you can’t escape the fact that you are staying in the shadow of this history—right in the middle of the real world, a world where anyone could – and do –  live.

It was truly mind altering, because finding this kind of insight wasn’t something we expected at all.

The next morning, we set out—as most travelers stopping in Amsterdam do—to the Anne Frank House, and if this is your plan, there are a few things to know:

We arrived at around 8 to 8:15 and stood in the 3 hour or so line (which we were fine with), and depending on your plans, this may not work out for everyone. Therefore, if you want to make the most of your time, I’ll lay out some of the advice we learned as the day dragged on:

If you get to this location between 7:30 to 7:45, the wait is generally an hour and a half to an hour-forty-five—although I’m not quite sure if that’s after the doors open or not.

One girl we met recommended coming after 3 pm for about the same wait, but a local vendor swore that if you come at 6pm, you’ll wait about 30 minutes because that’s when people are out doing other activities, such as coming home from work, getting ready for their evening out, eating dinner, ect. If you do go around 6, you’ll still have plenty of time to look around the house and exhibit since they stay open until 9pm regularly—10 during certain points in the summer.

Leaning Buildings we saw during our wait. Amsterdam,  Netherlands. June 2015.
Leaning Buildings we saw during our wait. Amsterdam, Netherlands. June 2015.

While this is definitely a sight for tourists, I still really recommend spending some time here. Despite the wait, the crowds of (sometimes) really obnoxious tourists, and (again) steep and somewhat challenging stairs, walking through these spaces and listening to the testimonies of people who knew those who lived within the attic, once again humanizes an event which for most of us is a story we either learned in school or through long lost family members who were effected by similar events.

After going through the house, you are led to a room full of excerpts from the diary and more information on Anne. Going through this room more than anything else made me realize how funny, sharp, and clever this girl was—how real. It was also where you can really see her dedication to writing.

One of the reasons for this is you never hear all of the story. I’d never heard that over the radio—which the residence did listen to—there was a call for people to write diaries for publication pertaining to the events of the day—and Anne wanted to do just that; she wanted to be published.

At the end of the tour, there is a room where you can hear more testimonials from visitors, actors, politicians—basically people from all walks of life—talking about Anne, her fellow residence, and the events of the occupation and World War II generally, which I do recommend sitting through.

One quote that really stuck with me was that we have to remember that, while Anne and her story happened, she was not a singular case. We cannot forget all the others who died voiceless; whose stories we don’t know.

***

Next we wandered over to the Van Gogh Museum and whether you are a fan of art museums or this artist or not, this is a museum that I absolutely loved.

Each level of the building builds on the life of Van Gogh, covering his process, his connections to other artists—including the self-portraits he and his friends sent back and forth in an almost snapchat manner!— an in depth look at his relationship with his brother and brother’s family, and artists inspired by him. I was even able to find new favorites from his work which I had never seen before.

But as someone with a love of language, it was the spattered quotes taken from the artist’s personal letters that really drew me in—I mean, my goodness, this man could write!

My favorite (and new life philosophy)?

“For one must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds with when one mounts the breach each morning…” –Van Gogh, Letter 823 from 26 November 1889

I won’t lie, Doctor Who’s representation already made me have some serious feels for this artist, but reading his words, seeing his life work and all the ripples that have happened because of it: this is easily my favorite art museum—and I’ve been to many.

I did not use an audio tour, but I will definitely be back, and all reports have said that the guide is well worth it.

***

Heineken Experience.  Amsterdam,  Netherlands. June 2015.
Heineken Experience. Amsterdam, Netherlands. June 2015.

We ended the day taking a tour of the Heineken Factory—we were lucky to get into the last grouping—which includes a small glass to taste test during the tour and two free drinks in the bar after the tour. If you like these kind of events, look them up because they do shut down earlier than you may expect!

The tour was pretty standard for a beer factory and everyone working there has a great sense of humor so they make it enjoyable as well. overall, I was most impressed with how much I learned! Like why the foam is so important and how to actually taste beer—CLUE: full drink, no wine sips at the foam!—and the best way to help make the foam and flavor last (I still am not a fan, but I love learning!).

We spent a little while in the bar with our free drinks and talking to other friendly tourists and playing with many of the interactive games and screens—seriously this place is a little like an arcade as you head from the main tour to the bar.

So only slightly bubbly from the drinks—some more than others—we ended out final day in Amsterdam wandering, and only a little lost, around the city and its various canals. The city is lovely, so well worth the wander.

So yes, more like a day and a half, but I think two days would have been perfect (at least!) for a city like this with a whole lot of diverse experiences to be had!

But alas, this was a whirlwind adventure! So next time we’ll be all cheese and windmills—any guesses where?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

2 Days in Amsterdam….

The Hard Days You Can’t Skip…

… on a World War II tour in Europe.

Dachau memorial. Munich, Germany. June 2015.
Dachau memorial. Munich, Germany. June 2015.

There are a lot of things that can start off a post like thi,s but I think I like the way my mother put it best:

“Today has been a tough but important stop on our WWII sites. At Normandy, we were in awe of the sacrifices made by so many to liberate others. Today has been about the other end of the spectrum, how so few could inflict such suffering and death on the many.”

Whenever I’ve told anyone about this trip, mainly the World War II theme, I mostly get a single reaction: why in the world would you want to go around Europe looking at all the sights where people were killed in mass?   Then there is a quick segue into how nice it must have been to spend time with my family or how crazy it is that we fit so much into this trip.

But, as with most things, most people don’t really want to linger on the harder subjects that we deliberately put on our agenda—yes, this trip covered topics rarely seen as part of polite conversation.

And then again, I’d argue, these are some of the most important parts of travel: going to places and seeing things that force you out of your comfort zone.

So while those first few days were tough, our day in Dachau was something else.

The problem with visiting sites like this is that you can never really express the feelings you get wandering around a place where so many died for no reason. So instead, here’s a few simple facts:

Dachau was the first major concentration camp built during World War II (March 1933) and it was one of the last to be liberated (April 1945). It housed men from 34 different countries over the 12 year span, beginning with political prisoners and then branching out to all other groups deemed undesirable. This was also the testing camp—the place where methods of containment and execution were tested before being implemented elsewhere.

We spent the whole day here between wandering the camp by ourselves and on the guided walking tour, and, if you really want to see everything, it’s a good idea to plan for a long day.

The tour was a really helpful way to see the camp. You move quickly through each location getting a lot of extra information. But when I say quickly, I mean, very. You won’t be able to see or read much while being led, which is why you’ll probably end up spending the whole day there retracing your way through the museums.

My favorite part of this was seeing one particular memorial art instillation. While this piece is great for looking at those who suffered here, what is interesting—and again, you’ll get a lot of this information in the tour—is those who were not represented; who also suffered and died but who, years later, were not deemed worth remembering. While some are debatable, I just find it interesting that we still go around passing judgement on who is owed what and why, while we know nothing about the individuals we judge.

See? This is why we travel.

We ended the day back wandering the Marienplatz and having a well-deserved shandy—a beer and lemonade mixed drink which tasted like neither part—at the Hofbräuhaus, which on a happier note, is well worth a stop.

I’m keeping things short, but this was an experience I had never had in my other adventures, but that I do recommend even when the experience is a hard one to take in.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The Hard Days You Can’t Skip…

A Love Letter to Lyon….

A city worth having an affair with.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière from Place Bellecour. Place Bellecour, Lyon, France. February, 2015.
La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière from Place Bellecour. Place Bellecour, Lyon, France. February, 2015.

I know it’s been about three months since being there (and, my God, has time flown this year) and that I mentioned momentarily in one of my earlier posts about my week long trip to France – a little about what I liked about the city – but I cut myself off knowing that I’d eventually sit down to write this piece (though, honestly, I thought I’d get to it long before now!). Anyway, without further ramblings, here is my write up on the beautiful city: Lyon, France.

If you have ever had the impulse to try your hand at art, Lyon is a city you should definitely spend a few days wandering. Besides the amazing street and urban art scattered across the city—a feature of many growing and established metropolises which will definitely be highlighted in later weeks—the architecture and ambiance itself is enough to make you want to break out a canvas.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière and the city beyond. La Basilique, Lyon, France. February, 2015.
La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière and the city beyond. La Basilique, Lyon, France. February, 2015.

Besides housing historic roman ruins which surround La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, a point which stands out as a beacon on the horizon from most areas in the city below, and makes you want to become a professional photographer, capturing the remnants of the lost world, standing at the wall of La Basilique and looking out across old town, will make you want to have the skills of the greatest water colorists.

Then once you actually make your way down into the streets, alleyways, and various alcoves hidden throughout old town, you’ll need the skill of a mixed media artist. I found myself longing for pastels, oil paint, watercolors, charcoal and an unlimited numbers of canvases to be able to capture all the colors and textures of the buildings I was more than happy to get lost in.

With a lack of those instruments (and quite frankly, the skills with which to wield them), I settled for taking hundreds of photos (which still fall short of what this city is due), capturing as many of those angles, textures, and colors as my camera battery would allow.

Beyond the colors, stepping into the inner-courtyards of the buildings (easily accessed if you push on the doors of most buildings—this never seems to be frowned upon as long as you’re not rude about it!), you discover architectural designs that rival the buildings in a Dr. Seuss book—ranging from organic curves to fairy tale spites, turrets and wishing wells.

Just one of the many fairytale courtyards. Old Town, Lyon, France. February, 2015
Just one of the many fairy tale courtyards. Old Town, Lyon, France. February, 2015

Outside of old town, this mixing of color and artistic feel does not change. Pretty much everywhere (the 1st and 4th districts) between the two rivers running through the city will leave you wanting more to see.

Everyday (despite my tired feet), I found myself running aimlessly through the city, at once trying to get to some interesting point out in the distance, only to be taken suddenly off my path by a much closer part of the city that I must explore and capture before it becomes lost in my quest for my fist point.

It was magical.

When people talk about France, it usually ends with a comment about the French people and not taking anything they say or the attitude they present personally. In Lyon, there was no such worry. While it helps I am a young woman with a smile that tends to charm even the crabbiest person on the street into a chat, walking through the various parts of Lyon, I only encountered the best sort of people; people smiled back at me, others stopped to take in the same view—even the locals stopped beside me to talk about the views which are unlike any you’ll see elsewhere. I was charmed by all of it.

Still, this is a city I felt like I could have an affair with—a very passionate one, but not something more. There is a feel to cities: some places you visit and never want to return to, others you never want to leave, and then other are like falling in love with a stranger that will always be a stranger—they take you by surprise, take your breath away, and make time both freeze and fly away from you all at once, but they aren’t something you can keep—and you are happy you can’t, because that makes it so much better.

Yes, I definitely had an affair with this city and recommend it to anyone passing through.

But, now, since this piece got longer than I expected without touching on all my travel details, I’ll follow up this love letter with more on the sites and dos and don’ts of visiting next week.

From now, travel well, fall in love with new places and the people you find there, and, as always,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Love Letter to Lyon….