Monday, November 5, 2007

Compliments of Columbus

We left Pittsburgh and rolled in to Columbus, Ohio on Monday, October 29th to see Heather’s mother, Helena. We really had nothing else planned for this city, we came here specifically to see her. Ever the gracious hostess, however, Helena surprised us with at least a week’s worth of things we could see and do in this incredibly pleasant and wonderfully diverse community that had really not been on our radar previously. What can we say -- Columbus is a surprisingly cool town!

Knowing that we had recently been to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” (special gallery coming soon), our first activity was to tour some neighbourhoods that had homes designed by some of his proteges (which, though interesting, were definitely the work of lesser lights than FLW). As something of an architecture nut, I really enjoyed this, but didn't get a huge number of "publishable" shots because of the incredible amount of foliage still in their autumnal grace. A nice problem to have.

We then went on to the Columbus Museum of Art for a Monet exhibit specifically focusing on his gardens at Giverny and their influence on him and his acolytes. Although the exhibit featured only a baker's dozen or so of genuine Monets, the contrast and comparison of other artists’ impressions of the grounds and Giverny made for a great exhibit, and of course we were thrilled to be so close to the great works of Monet and some of the other artists on display at the CMA like Picasso.

We finished up the day by going to the Topiary Garden of the Old Deaf School to see their interpretation of Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon in the Park” (the pointillist masterpiece), and had dinner in the German Village at a touristy but yummy restaurant called Schmidt Haus which has been operating there since 1886.

The next day (whew!) we visited the campus and surrounding area of Ohio State University, specifically the Wexner Center for the Arts in order to visit an exhibit by fun-yet-artsy photographer William Wegman. This particular setup was a good one because it was not just his famous “dog” photos, but a diverse display from across his career, including videos, drawings and informal and formal paintings. I have to say that the Orlando gang’s videos (particularly “This Picture’s Always Crooked!”) could easily be in a museum judging from Wegman’s early work.

We then had lunch at the North Market, a kind of enclosed farmer’s market in an area called Short North with a ton of every kind of food you can imagine, not dissimilar to the Granville Public Market in Vancouver, but on a smaller scale. We had a great lunch (probably the last time this trip the weather will be mild enough to eat outdoors!) and then went off to see one of the local shopping villages (Heather's mother works for a developer of such properties). Happily, it had an Apple store (wheeee!).

A jam-packed but delightful stop. If Helena ever retires from her present job, she would be a great ambassador for Columbus -- her knowledge of the various villages and areas (each with their own distinct style) and the history of the area made her a wonderful tour guide. For example, did you know that Money Magazine ranked Columbus the 8th best large US city to live in?

We thank her for all the wonderful hospitality and look forward to visiting again. Here are some of our pictures.