Sunday, October 18, 2009

Certain Cities “Get It”

We visited Kansas City last month for two of the best reasons to go there during September – the Art Festival in the Country Club Plaza and the American Royal Parade.

One of the things we love about K.C. is that this city “gets it” as far as preserving their heritage. I’m talking about revering and preserving their old buildings. Downtown developers in general loath tearing down anything old and replacing it with new structures. The result is many restored structures recycled to house new businesses and purposes in downtown Kansas City. A prime example of this is K.C.’s Union Station…

This Beaux-Arts station opened in 1914 as the 2nd largest train station in the country.

This grand depot (used in a scene in the movie “Kansas City”, made in 1996), like many others fell into disrepair and required massive restoration if it was to be saved. K.C. stepped up to the plate with stunning results:

The “Lobby”.

95-foot tall restored ceilings...

Harvey House Diner...

This retro-style restaurant serves diner style breakfasts and blue-plate lunch specials.

I wince whenever I think of what Hannibal could have had were civic leaders more mindful of preserving their Union Depot. Here is a photo of that structure. It was demolished in 1953…

The Royal Parade was in its setup stage as we toured K.C.’s Union Station. Here is a shot of it with K.C.’s wonderful old downtown looming in the background.

The American Royal in Kansas City began as a cattle show in 1899. Today, it is an annual 8-week season of barbecue competition, rodeos, livestock shows, equestrian events and agricultural activities benefiting youth and education.

On to the Plaza Art Festival…

A crowd is forming late in the morning. Later, this would become wall-to-wall people.

Within a few minutes of arriving, who did we happen upon? None other than four Hannibalians displaying their unique creations. You’ve likely seen these artists’ works at Fresh Ayers and other venues around Hannibal.

Joachim Knill. Website:

Joachim’s huge photos take you into a fantastic play land where you will ogle, agape in an attempt to glean some meaning from his surrealistic world – a netherworld of towering dolls, creatures and plant life. Joachim uses a huge camera (I believe the largest in the world) that he himself designed.

Janice Ho. Website:

Janice designs jewelry – morsels of organic shapes created in gold and silver, depicting miniature compositions of nature and scenic elements. Elegant and contemporary, a piece of Janice’s jewelry is a simple, fun treasure one would give to a close friend or relative.

Michael Cole. Website:

Michael is originally from our neck of the woods – Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. He got his start blowing glass art in the studio of Dale Chihuly, the area’s best-known, living super-artist. Michael’s photos immortalize insects, roads, old cars, tools and standing structure on aged photo stock – images that are icon-like and cause you to recollect similar images from deep within your own memory. To frame his works, Michael borrows from salvaged architectural panels.

Melissa Dominiak.
Melissa paints realistic oils of room interiors. I asked her if she was inspired by the interiors of Hannibal abodes; she said that interiors in general inspire her. In viewing her paintings, I kept telling myself “yes, that brings me back to this place from my past… déjà vu?”.

Melissa and Michael bought the old Douglass Community Center building in Hannibal a few years ago. It is their studio and showplace.

The Studio of Michael Cole & Melissa Dominiak located at 1100 Broadway.

Don’t you just love Kansas City so far? It’s a wonderful place to escape to when we desire a change of scenery from our idyllic Hannibal. Kansas City has it all – a wonderful arts community, many jazz clubs, its own brand of BBQ, a Farmer’s Market, the Country Club Plaza, Westport… the list goes on.

Once back home, we continued rebuilding the Laura Hawkins attic. Here are more goodies that will populate this area of Laura’s house, like this restored trunk from the Civil War era. One of several attic trunks, these will display magazines, textbooks, report cards, and other remnants from Laura’s earlier days…

A hooked rug fashioned during the late 1800’s.

This unique “folk art” hooked rug is actually a product of “poverty. This would have been something handed down from a poorer relative of Laura’s. Hooked rugs were fashioned from remnants of factories that produced machine-made carpets for the rich in the 1800’s. Often the creators of these rugs were women employed by these factories.
Though girls like Laura were taught to embroider and quilt, fashioning these rugs and mats were never part of their curriculum. It was considered a country craft. So off to the attic or other “out of sight, out of mind” area of the house it goes.

This adorable Victorian doll carriage from the late 1800’s would not have been used by Laura during her childhood in the late 1840’s – early 1850’s. It would have been used by a child from the Judge’s household in the late 1800’s. And that’s what an attic is about – a time capsule containing nearly forgotten remnants of a multi-generational past.

The hand-woven rug underneath the buggy will go into the “escape room” in the attic. What’s an escape room? Why, it is a room in the back part of the attic where one might have escaped the rest of the household. It has a great view of the Mississippi and its own door to shut out intrusions.

More treasures abound in our upcoming posts.