Monday, July 18, 2011

the nelson

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, lovingly referred to by locals as simply "the Nelson," reigns over the Kansas City art scene.  Yes, there are other wonderful museums here, but the Nelson is the most well known and (I believe) the biggest.  Simply driving past the Museum would be enough to peak your interest about its contents.  Owing much to the brilliance of the Bloch Building and the unexpected Shuttlecock sculptures in the Kansas City Sculpture Park (which lies just outside the museum), the architecture and grounds of the Nelson are stunning.

The Bloch Building by Steven Holl Architects
Shuttlecock by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Of course, once inside the Nelson, the beauty of the curated collections is almost enough to make you forget the drive in.  Collections of art from all over the world, spanning centuries upon centuries, and in many forms of media are displayed throughout the Bloch Building and the older Nelson-Atkins Building.  Currently, Monet's Water Lillies is exhibited in an interesting setting that allows you to learn more about Monet's creative process. X-rays, photographs, and side-cuts expose the many layers and alterations of Monet's paintings to visitors.  The other exhibition gracing the halls and grounds of the Nelson is by Roxy Paine.  Inside, visitors contemplate the purpose of the artist in a computerized, modern age while viewing, Scumaks, sculptures made assembly-line style by machines, which are ultimately controlled by Paine himself.   Outside, Paine's 56 foot tall stainless steel sculpture, Ferment, sits atop a hill in the Kansas City Scuplture Park.

Scumaks by Roxy Paine
Perhaps my favorite piece of the visit (I don't want to say of all time, because I'm sure this will change the next time I go to the Nelson), was Neil Welliver's, Late Squall.  Upon entering the room in which it is exhibited, I was immediately drawn to the serene mood of the painting.  I love pointillism and the way Welliver conveys the snow squall has a pointillist quality about it.  I pointed it out to Dan even before I'd read the information plaque, which only proved to deepen my love for this piece.

Late Squall by Neil Welliver

In case Mount Megunticook doesn't ring any bells, it is located in Camden, where Dan and I lived last summer.  Anyway, the Nelson is a great (and free!) way to spend a day in Kansas City.  Dan and I didn't have enough time to make it through all of the permanent collections, but the best part is it's only a short drive away, so we can go back again soon.