Jun 8, 2014

iowa city: morning

I've been travelling for three weeks and I have yet to actually blog about a place - it's usually more of the things that run through my head. But this morning. This morning. I love Iowa City.

Hamid and I started the day off at the Farmers' Market, a three-minute walk from Prof. Hemley's house. It's at a covered carpark, and it's bustling with people. The stall-owners were practically selling their things right out of their vans. Potted plants, vegetables and fruits, coffee, chocolate fudge, tarts, croissants - but my favourite stalls were those selling wooden bird-houses. Didn't get any pictures of those, though.

Right beside the market there was a live performer with a guitar and an audience in chairs on the grass; kids painting at a table; other kids bubble-blowing and chalk-drawing on the sidewalk and just running around. (Sorry, this is a terrible photo. How about a badly-taken video?)

We checked out more market stalls, and it sort of blended into the arts festival - guitarist faded out, symphonic band faded in. People were just chilling; the art festival booths were all around. And excluding the farmers' market performer, there were three performance stages for the art festival, all really close to one another, and someone was always making music. And there were public pianos!

This was the stage last night, at 10.30pm. Pretty amazing, especially after I went walking around downtown Chicago at 9.30pm and there was just, like, barely anything going on at all.
We walked around for a couple of hours, and there was just so much to see - from sidewalk prose and other literature stuff to the amazing art festival booth displays.
Sidewalk prose!

And I mean amazing. These are some of 'em - there were also some beautiful paintings, man.
Photo taken from http://steelwoolstudio.com/don-esser-stainless-garden-sculpture.htm - this is made of twisted cutlery!
Photo taken from http://www.facebook.com/pages/MetalScapes-by-SW-Huffman - scrap metal masterpieces!
Photo taken from http://dreamchimes.com - these are windchimes made with cutlery!
And this is what I call "art for everyone". These were big cardboard structures (as you can see), and kids were invited to paint it however they wanted. I absolutely loved it. Public art displays don't have to be perfect. They don't even have to be pretty. In fact, that public piano that a third-grade class painted wasn't all that fantastic. And there was one pretty badass kid belting out Funkytown, and it was pretty impressive, but not perfect. But that doesn't matter. What matters is community and participation and feeling like you've done something. I loved the scene, everyone coming together and the environment of art that the kids were growing up in. (There was A LOT of painting stuff for kids.) And Prof. Hemley's wife was doing a Filipino dance performance too, and her daughter was supposed to participate in a fashion show thingy with a Filipina costume I think, but it was cancelled due to the rain. I love the spirit of involvement.

Stepped into Prairie Lights, a wonderful three-storey bookstore, and found a few tiny lovely reads, like this lovely Tiny Book of Tiny Stories (incidentally by Joseph Gordon-Levitt XD):
(photo credits for this and the above quote: Amazon)
(Photo credits: iTunes Store)
and the Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain in 1942 when they were going there to help out with the war:

We also checked out The Haunted Bookstore, a second-hand bookstore with a cat and also the Oxford Dictionary of Euphemisms, and pretty much every page has a whole bunch of euphemisms for sex and dicks and the like.

Okay, since it's 2.30am I don't have to talk about the morning alone, do I. Hamid and I then went to Chipotle for lunch, and then it started raining so we went home, and while he fought off jet lag I happily took a nap (which is why I'm only blogging this now) and the rain was still going on at dinnertime so we had a lovely home-cooked meal by Prof. Hemley's wife, Margie. Their daughters are beautiful through and through. The older one, Shoshie, will be bringing us around tomorrow!

At dinnertime, the younger one, Naomi, handed me the aluminium foil wrapper that covered the lasagna and said "Can you make this into a swan?". I was very pleasantly taken aback, and I thought, wow, would a kid in Singapore have even thought of doing something with the foil wrapper? I wouldn't have. (Shoshie: "I mean, she has the creativity of a person her age.") Naomi proceeded to play with the swan for a couple of hours. I mean, it was a piece of aluminium.

I love this place.

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