Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting to know Galesburg

(Above: Corn! You know you're in the Midwest when there are fields and fields of corn in every direction only two miles outside the city limits!)

Mathias and I arrived in Galesburg on Friday. We had time to move into the provided residency apartment, shop for groceries, and visit the Carl Sandburg birthplace before attending an art reception for the Genevieve Waller, July's artist-in-resident.

(Above: Dick Blick's Galesburg outlet.)

Having been inspired by the quotation walkway around Remembrance Rock at the Carl Sandburg birthplace to create a unique rubbing, I needed a crayon ... one brown crayon would do. I didn't think I'd be making any rubbings in Galesburg and didn't bring one. No problem! Galesburg is the home of Dick Blick Art Supplies. In fact, Dick Blick is the major sponsor of Studios Midwest Artist Residency Program. The place is enormous. I've never seen so many jam packed aisles of supplies and materials in one place in my entire life.

(Above: Check out counter at Dick Blick's outlet in Galesburg.)

Frankly, I'm not much of a shopper. Such places totally overwhelm me. Thankfully, they had a box of crayons. It was all I bought ... this time around. I'll collect myself and return for more bargains later!

(Above: Friendly staff people at Dick Blick's)

Everyone was nice and friendly, something one can expect from Midwesterners!

(Above: Remembrance Rock, the final resting place of Carl Sandburg and his wife. Photo is from the back of the rock looking toward the birthplace museum. Around the rock are stepping stones with quotations chiseled into them ... perfect for crayon-on-fabric rubbings!)

Armed with my brown crayon and a vintage, crocheted edged, small tablecloth, we returned for the rubbings.

(Above: Making the first crayon-on-fabric rubbing from the quotation at the foot of the Remembrance Rock.)

My first rubbing was from the bronze plate at the foot of the rock. Then I added quotations and Carl Sandburg's name ... which came from the historical marker in front of the birthplace.

(Above: Capturing one of the quotations from the stepping stones.)

I'm excited to have the first project, a totally unexpected one, underway!

(Above: The art department building at Knox College.)

Mathias and I decided to devote most of Saturday to discovering Galesburg. We walked around the Knox College campus and were impressed with the sculptures underway outside the art department.

(Above: Mark Holmes in his Galesburg Studio. Please note the speaker system! What a great way to recycle an old stereo!)

It really isn't surprising to see sculpture like this when one considers that Mark Holmes is the Chair of the Knox College Art Department! Talented and inspiring, Mark Holmes is also a benefactor to Studios Midwest. He purchased a large, downtown warehouse several years ago. Half of it has been converted into his personal sculpture studio. Most of the rest of the building is exhibition space and two additional studios. During the academic year, Mr. Holmes encourages his students to create installations in this space. During the summer he generously provides studio and exhibition space to the Galesburg Civic Art Center ... for Studios Midwest. This is where I'm now working and will soon be displaying my creations!

(Above: Another view of art in progress outside the Knox College Art Department.)

Mathias and I browsed through a three story antique mall, two very nice art galleries along the revitalized, historic shopping street (Seminary Street), and then decided to go into a store the likes of which we've only seen on television or in the movies!

(Above: Mathias in Simpson's Collectors Firearms.)

I've never seen so many guns in all my life. It was amazing.

(Above: One of the aisles in the gun shop.)

There was a row of World War I guns. I learned that the movies aren't very accurate. There's no way soldiers carried these things as easily as it looks on film. These weapons are HEAVY ... and I mean, really HEAVY! It was also interesting to read the price tags. Like other collectibles, there's a unique descriptive language. Terms have very precise meanings and an order to what is written. In a sense, it reminded me of the rare book industry where "Fine" is better than "Excellent" which is better than "Very Good" which is better than "Good" ... and each term has a distinct relationship to condition. The guns all included accurate information, the type of terminology another collector would know even across the world.

(Above: Engine 3006 at the Galesburg Railroad Museum.)

Galesburg was once a major hub for the railroads leading west. Unfortunately, that was in a bygone era. Yet, there are still approximately 120 trains passing through every day. Two of the tracks are literally within one hundred yard of the Studios Midwest residency housing! (I like the sounds of trains ... and have already learned to sleep through whistle late at night!) It is one thing to look at these fast moving, iron machines while inside a car waiting from them to pass over the road in front of you. It is another to be up close to an engine. They are BIG ... really big. Standing in front of Engine 3006, I couldn't get the entire thing into a single photo. Above is the "top"; below is the "grill".

This engine was built in 1930. It weighs 225 tons and traveled 2,348,267 miles before coming to the museum.

The coal car is enormous.

The view into where the coal was shoveled even looks hot without anything inside!

Mathias even got to ring the bell!

On Saturday night Mathias and I headed to nearby Lake Storey to see the balloons that were suppose to ascend in mass. We stayed over an hour and a half. Balloons were raised but never ascended during this time. We were too hungry to wait for the wind to die down but enjoyed watching the effort early on.

Over twenty balloons had come. They actually fit into the back of a pick-up truck or in a cargo van with a back lift for the basket. It takes an entire crew to unroll the fabric and start blowing ordinary air into the interior with what looked like an ordinary fan powered by a small generator.

At this point, ordinary air is still being pumped inside.

Finally, the gas is lit and the balloon starts to raise into position.

As the balloon raises, the basket (which heretofore was lying horizontally on the ground) becomes upright.

Neither Mathias nor I had ever been so close to a hot air balloon. They are indeed very pretty and pretty much a lot of work!

Veterans were asked to help raise a giant flag.

This was the only balloon we actually saw get off the ground ... and it was also how we could tell that the winds aloft were problematic.

This balloon was tethered to two pick-up trucks. The flag looked great.

We could have eaten while looking at the balloons. We were "on the prairie" so to speak ... with a carry out service offering buffalo burgers!


Lynn said...

Look at you bent over in a white DRESS making your crayon rubbing of words on cloth! I would have worn jeans and knee pads! LOL You are too much!!!!

What fun the two of you had discovering the town and all it's uniqueness!

Wanda said...

Wow...Mathias got to ring the bell. I think that may be many children's dream! And he got to do it!! I am very envious of the balloon experience. I love balloons. I always get excited like a little kid when I see them. It sounds like a great place! And already the old wheels are a turning!! I know you won't get to read this until later...sorry about your computer problems. But hopefully it will all turn out good soon. Oh, by the way....corn? OK...are you going to go there and walk through the rows in the middle of the night naked? Sonya and I would.....and we wouldn't be scared at all.

Kelly said...

I found your blog a couple weeks ago, and also live in Columbia. The local news did a story last night about the "forgotten" cemetery right next to 126 as you leave out on Elmwood.They were reporting on the attempts to start maintaining it, etc. All I could think about was how cool would it be to grab some fabric and head out there. I grew up seeing my mom's brass rubbings from England that she did with her mom (always framed in our house), but thought of your tablecloth and those headstones, and then add in my own stitching. Haven't done anything like it before, but it very much appealed to me. Thanks for inspiring.