Red Train Engines. St. Paul, MN. Copyright Elaine Luther 2018.

Everywhere I go, whether to the grocery store or traveling out of state, I pause to take photos as a daily creative practice.

After having my art out on display for 8 months last year, I’m in a time of refilling the creative well. I’m also in a time of wonderful family milestones and events, which has been keeping me busy, like a recent trip to the twin cities in Minnesota.

Where the place we stayed had this awesome coat hook:

Doll house chair as coat hook.

Given my interest in doll house miniatures – they show up in my art often – you know I loved this coat hook, which really functions. I’m almost positive it’s from IKEA, though the current doll house set there does not include this chair!

Nice Ride,” bike sharing in St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN.

Minnesotans really are nice and friendly, and even their bike sharing system is nice!

We visited the amazing and free Minneapolis Institute of Art, where we saw this guy:

Sculpture in Fabulous Beaded Surrounding it, bathed in purple light.

I’m pretty sure he’s not usually decked out like this; they were setting up for what was sure to be a fabulous gala of some kind, whether for the museum or a rental, I don’t know.

News flash at Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The super cool curators at the MIA put up these signs that connect current events to art in their collection. In this sign, they managed to connect Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois senator, taking her newborn baby on to the floor of the senate in order to vote.

A curator friend of mine pointed out that the choice of the blue painter’s tape was a thoughtful one, intended to communicate “temporary,” and “changeability.” I noticed it also got me to read it, even more than the permanent signs.

Here’s another one:

News flash at Minneapolis Institute of Art.

It was next to a painting of a nude young woman and raises some serious and important issues.

Excellent work, curators at the MIA!

Hiawatha and Minnehaha

Hiawatha and Minnehaha, sculpture by Jacob Fjelde

We also visited Minnehaha Falls, where we saw this sculpture inspired by the poem, The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I was super amused to learn that Longfellow had never been to the falls, or anywhere in Minnesota, but based his poem on earlier versions of the story.

I wasn’t familiar with the poem, but I had heard of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, because American sculptor Edmonia Lewis had sculpted them:

By This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons by as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0, Link

Hiawatha MET DP371840

That’s right, I see all art, art history and poetry through the lens of women artists. If the name Edmonia Lewis sounds familiar, maybe you remember this post, about her large scale piece The Death of Cleopatra.

The Song of Hiawatha poem was so popular that it turned Minnehaha falls into a major tourist destination, and someone even built a 3/4 scale version of Longfellow’s house nearby! It’s hard to imagine a poem setting off a mad tourist rush to a natural site these days.

Then it was back to Chicagoland, where I took this picture at the grocery store, of what is apparently authentic Chicago Hot Dog Relish. I hadn’t realized it was quite so green!

Vienna Chicago Style Relish

If you’re super into regional foods and/or hot dogs, there’s now a Chicago Hot Dog Museum, for real. You can read about it here.

And, Curious City explained the culinary history of Chicago’s very specific style of hot dog, the origins of each element and the reason for the very firm no-ketchup rule. Read and/or listen here.

I have no dog in this fight, I just find the history part interesting.

So there you have it, a peak into my taking advantage of family travel to stay inspired, see art and nature, take photos and recharge! Plus, you know, a history of the Chicago hot dog…