Friday, August 22, 2014

The Songs of the Fifty States: Texas

(What is "The Songs of the Fifty States"?)

Texas artist Harris Shelton, Franklin Mountains at Dusk.  1940.

Size: 268,581 km2 (2nd)

2013 Population: 26,448,193 (2nd)

Statehood: 1845 (28th).  Seceded 1861; fully readmitted 1870ish.

American Human Development Index: 4.65 (33rd)

Art Mecca: Texas, being a notoriously big state, has plenty of museums.  For that matter, Fort Worth alone has plenty of museums, but in my recent barnstorming tour of the state I had to choose just one and I went with The Kimbell Art Museum.

So once upon a time there were a couple of insanely wealthy and busy Texans named the Kimballs, and they liked art and had the means to pursue their interests.  When they passed into the Undiscovered Country in the 1960s, they left their art and a sizable portion of their lucre to get a world-class museum off the ground.  The mission statement could be summed up as "have a small but stunning collection in an awesome building."

The building, designed by Louis Kahn, is weirdly effective at letting in diffuse, indirect natural light.  A garrulous guard told me that they get crowds when thunderstorms are coming, because people like to see what happens with the changing light effects.  In the parking lot, I met a workman who was treating the roof with a polyurethane preservative.  "We took a spot temperature on the roof surface yesterday, and it was 185 F," he told me.  "And we're up there in between those domes."  I advised him to stay hydrated, but he had already thought of that.

In addition to the Michaelangelo painting I showed you a while back, the Kimball has, per the Wiki, "works by Duccio, Fra Angelico, Mantegna, El Greco, Carracci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Guercino, La Tour, Poussin, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Boucher, Gainsborough, Vigée-Lebrun, Friedrich, Cézanne, Monet, Caillebotte, Matisse, Mondrian, and Picasso."  And pretty much everybody else, too.  It's a dazzling density of art history amazingness.  And it's free.

Michael 5000's Texas

First Visited: June 19, 1996 (32nd)
Most Recently Visited: July 25, 2014 (4th)

First Run In: July 25, 2014
Best Run: 4.27 miles, Plainview, July 25, 2014

Have Admired the Visual Arts In: Yes, last month.
Have Geohashed In: Yes, last month.
Have Slept Overnight In: Yes, last month.

Counties Visited: 31/254 (13th)
% Complete: 12.2% (46th)

Mrs. 5000's Counties Visited: 57/254 (2nd)
% Complete: 22.4% (34th)
Mrs.5000 First Visited: Unknown
Mrs.5000 Most Recently Visited: May 26, 2013 

Atlas of All Roads Travelled

Until last month, I had only taken the northern two of these three crossings of the Texas Panhandle.  I had undeniably been in Texas, along with the other 49 states, but it felt a bit superficial.  

Having now plunged into the heart of North Texas -- and having geohashed, run, slept overnight, and ogled art in the Lone Star State, I feel better about the situation.  Don't mess with my experience of Texas.

Plans and Aspirations

One of these years I'm gonna get to Baton Rouge, and when I do, I'll probably fly into Houston.

1 comment:

mrs.5000 said...

I've wanted to go to the Kimbell since we studied it in History of Architecture, so I'm still experiencing the pang of missing out on this expedition (having also driven an impressively large circle around it in '91). My first visit to Texas (and OK) was the Great Crossing to Tucson in, hmm, August of '89. Yes, let's hit the arts district in Houston sometime! I have fond memories of the Menil.