Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Outlet Park at Melvern Lake, Kansas

Tonight we camped for the night at Outlet Park at Melvern Lake in Kansas.  It is another Corps Park and we like to stay in Corps Parks for a couple of reasons.  First of all, they are almost always near a beautiful body of water and they have scenic campsites and also because with our Senior Access Pass, we can camp at Corps Parks for half price.  

Melvern Lake
As Lee was setting up, I took some pictures of our campsite and then later on got some nice sunset shots.  The sky and water were just perfect for some fabulous pictures!

Flint Hills Scenic Byway

We are heading toward Iowa to see family and friends but we decided to get to Iowa traveling the Flint Hills Scenic Byway.  The Flint Hills extend about 200 miles from near the Nebraska border on the north to Oklahoma on the south.   I have to admit that I thought that the pastures would be full of tall grasses but I think we went through too early in the year.  

The Flint Hills are named because of the nodules of flint (chert) that was laid down with the shales and limestones in the shallow seas that covered this part of North America over 275 million years ago.  The chert is very hard and weather-resistant and so it slowed the erosion that took place in a lot of Kansas.  It prevented the use of the area for agriculture and because of that this region remains the largest unplowed remnant of tall grass prairie in the world.  So, of course, we are going to have to drive this segment of road again later in the season so we can watch the tall grasses blow and bend in the wind!

One of the hazards of taking pictures while we are rolling down the road is having an insect fly into you.  Well, I've been hanging out the window taking pictures for six years now and it finally happened!  I felt something hit my face but I couldn't find where it landed.  Then I went to lean back and figured out pretty fast that it went down the back of my blouse but I still didn't find it.  Then I leaned back in the seat and was stung and I knew definitely where it was.  As I leaned back, I must have finished him off.   Luckily, he must have been almost dead when he stung me because he didn't do too much damage and I just felt an initial small sting.  Close call!

Wouldn't this be an impressive picture if the grass was tall and flowing with the breezes!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wilson Stone Buildings

We had a really fantastic day today and we were heading back home.   Although on the way through Wilson, Kansas we stopped to take a couple of pictures of some of the interesting stone buildings in town.  The most interesting was the round jail house below which was built in the 1880's.  It doesn't look a very comfortable jail but then maybe that was the desired intent!
United Methodist Church in Wilson

Bowl Plaza, Lucas, Kansas

After we toured The Flying Pig Studio, Eric met us at Bowl Plaza in Lucas.  He told us that Lucas tries to take advantage of any grants that they can get.  They needed a public restroom for tourists in town and there wasn't any funding available for that.  However, they could get a grant for a restroom facility that was artistic and a piece of art by itself and that is what they did.  It wasn't finished when we were there but what was done was fantastic!  We would love to stop by in a year or so and see it done.  The picture above is Eric opening the door to the rest room facility.  The door is part of the seat of the large toilet bowl.  The walls inside and out were done in mosaic tiles by people in the town.  You can see one of them working in the picture below.

The women's restroom was done in things that interest women while the mosaics in the men's room were done in things that would interest men, like cars!

The sidewalk around the toilet bowl is a large roll of toilet paper!  The building the restrooms are in is shaped like a toilet tank and the benches in front of the building are curved like a toilet seat.  They had their grand opening or "First Flush" on June 2nd, 2012 so we were a bit to early to see it, however, it was fun to see the construction of it.  

Eric Abraham's Flying Pig Studio

Our day just got more and more interesting.  We stopped at the Flying Pig Studio and met Eric Abraham who is from Denver, Colorado.  The main medium that Eric uses in his art is Porcelain with lusters but he also does work in stained glass and paper.  He is a very talented artist as far as we are concerned.  He was also very happy to talk to us about his art and his projects and offered us a tour of his studio which is also his home during the months he spends in Kansas.

Window of Flying Pig Studio

Information About Eric

He does absolutely unique and beautiful work in porcelain.  I was thinking that he could make funeral urns and have another avenue of revenue.  I think they could be designed after the interests of the deceased.  I should have said something to him about it.

He said that he has sold several unique pedestal sink and mirror sets for homes in Colorado.  I can't imagine cleaning it but it is certainly artistic and too beautiful to wash your hands in.  I suppose whoever buys this type of thing has servants and lots of insurance!

The pieces above and below are a 
combination of porcelain and paper art.

The next post will be on the Bowl Plaza that is being constructed right now.  Eric has created the inside of the bowl.  He said it is blue water being flushed and is full of items that have been flushed down the stool - like fish, alligators, money, glasses, socks, etc. etc.  

Here is a picture of Eric and the bottom of the bowl.
More of Eric's porcelain creations.

This is Eric's kitchen.  I loved all the vintage kitchen appliances and he uses them!  The refrigerator has a chiller on top of the unit.  

I'm not sure what medium this is but it is one of his pieces.  His mother was also an artist and I think she had her studio in Santa Fe.  She painted old furniture and he had several pieces of her work in his studio.  His father was also an artist and he had a few of his paintings in his studio.  You can learn more about Eric at his website:  www.ericabraham.net.

Garden of Isis, Lucas, Kansas

Our next stop was stepping inside the Garden of Isis which houses the grassroots art of Mri-Pilar.  She has used the Florence Deeble house to display her art since 2002.  It is a kind of culture shock to walk into the house as all the walls as lined with tin foil.  There is a glare wherever there is a light source like a window!

Mri-Pilar is from Lawrence, Kansas and she makes her art from discarded doll bodies, toys, kitchen utensils or any other throw-aways that she feels she can make into art.

This recycled toilet seat makes an interesting statement!

As you can see, she uses a lot of Barbie doll parts in her art.  And, actually, as we were looking at her art, it really kind of grew on me.  It isn't something I would want in my house, but I can see it being displayed in other homes or businesses!  

Our guide told us that she was offered quite a bit of money for this piece of art which is displayed on the front porch, but she refused the offer.  We were told that Mri-Pilar just returned from an art show of her work in New York City.  I think it would go over well in New York.

Florence Deeble Rock Garden

Our Guide from the Grassroots Art Center took us over to see the Florence Deeble Rock Garden.  Florence was influenced by S. P. Dinsmore and watched him construct the Garden of Eden.  So she decided to use rocks that she brought back from her travels to build a very unusual garden.  She started building her artistic creations when she was 50 and she continued creating until she was almost 100 years old.  Her earlier efforts were a lot better and more artistic.  She was showing her age in the ones from her later years.

Her front porch, however, the artwork 
here belong to someone else.

I think you can tell that this creation was 
made after a trip to South Dakota!

This creation was after a trip to Capital 
Reef National Park in Utah.

This creation was after a trip to Oak 
Creek Canyon in Arizona.

I'm not sure where this creation was inspired but it kind of reminds us of the Rocky Mountains.  I'm sure our guide told us but without writing it down at that moment, the words are lost!

Our guide told us that the yard was always full of blooming flowers when Florence was alive and so it isn't nearly as pretty as it used to be.  Also, the colors in her art have faded some.

After looking at Grassroot artists' creations today, I've decided that my Mom would have made a great Grassroots artist.  I probably should have kept some of her sculptures and other art.  I don't know if they would consider her a grassroots artist or not because she didn't have her art work take over her whole place and she didn't have a yard to display it in! I will say that her sculpting work was better than Florence's in my opinion!

The house itself if now used by another grassroots artist, Mri-Pilar.  The next post will continue with her art.