This weekend I made a quick trip to Fort Worth, Texas to see my favorite group, Pink Martini, perform with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at the Bass Performance Hall, repeating a trip I made for the same purpose a few years ago. I dislike most crowds, but I absolutely love seeing Pink Martini perform live.
I left Bartlesville early Saturday morning, but this time took the unanimous advice from Google Maps, my V7 GPS, and my iPhone TomTom GPS application to not follow US 75 all the way down to the Dallas area. Instead I stuck with the interstates, taking I-44 and I-35. I was hungry by 11 am and had reached Ardmore. There, as I’ve seen in other small towns, more hotels and restaurants have built up along the interstate frontage road. So I grabbed a burger at the local Interurban franchise and then, after zipping by the big WinStar casino on the Oklahoma side of the border, I dropped in at the Texas Travel Information Center at Gainesville to grab a new state map and with my iPhone take a snap of an Asian tourist at the state’s granite marker.
I was disappointed to see that Fort Worth still hasn’t dealt with its highway congestion, as I-35W was backed up as usual and it took awhile to navigate over to the Cultural District. This area of Fort Worth has some great architecture, including Philip Johnson’s Amon Carter Museum, Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum, Wyatt C. Hedrick’s Will Rogers Memorial Center in the Moderne style, and Tadeo Ando’s Modern Art Museum.
I found the big parking lots at the Will Rogers Memorial Center were packed because of a Showstopper regional dance competition and a DeafNation Expo. So I parked south of Harley Street and trekked several blocks north, past the National Cowgirls Hall of Fame and its great wall mural, towards the Amon Carter Museum on Camp Bowie Boulevard. It was 80 degrees and full sun, so I was grateful for some air conditioning when I arrived.
For me the highlights at the Carter Museum were several watercolors by Edward Hopper and the beautiful bronze bookends Paul Manship cast in 1914, Indian Hunter and Pronghorn Antelope, in which he utilized the archaic Greek style. I also liked some of the 1930s-era photography on display and Edward Curtis’s photography of Native Americans. The museum also has some Remington and Russell western artworks, but I’ve seen oodles of them at Tulsa’s Gilcrease and Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (still the Cowboy Hall of Fame to me).
Exiting the museum, I strode past the impressive tower of the Will Rogers Memorial Center along the shady sidewalk past the Kimbell Art Museum. I’ve seen great shows at the Kimbell before, including a memorable one of Egyptian art, but since they were between special exhibitions at the moment I strode onward to the Modern Art Museum. I’d already seen the museum’s permanent collection on a previous visit, and the Andy Warhol special exhibit left me cold, but the building’s exterior architecture and sculptures were delightful on this sunny afternoon.
The museum’s front is dominated by the immense steel Vortex by Richard Serra. I find many of his giant-steel-plate artworks cold and intimidating, but Vortex is fun. Its 2-inch-thick Cor-Ten steel slabs are each ten feet wide and sixty-seven feet tall, being twisted into a 230-ton sculpture with a 10-foot-wide oculis at the top. Adults and children delight in its sonic effects. I used my iPhone to record a pair of little girls who were having fun in there clapping their hands and howling. Thankfully the recording ended before one put her hands up to her mouth and made a farting sound that truly reverberated! Later, as I left the museum, I was photographing inside Vortex when a family with three youngsters quietly entered. So I stomped one of my cowboy boots (always wear your boots in Ft. Worth!) so they would hear the incredible echo and start their own sonic fun-and-games.
The last time I was at the Modern Art Museum the exterior pool across its north side was drained. So I was happy to find it filled this time, providing the striking illusion of a building floating on water. Looking out in the bright afternoon sun I spied a couple near Roxy Paine’s Conjoined, two stainless steel trees intertwining on the north edge of the grounds. That inspired me to troop over there later for shots from a distance and closer in, including an angle where the trees reminded me of two wizards engaged in a lightning battle.
By then it was getting late in the afternoon, so I strode over to the grassy shaded oasis west of the Kimbell to shoot one strolling sculpture and then hoofed it over to the Will Rogers Center where I found Electra Waggoner Bigg’s life-size sculpture of Will riding Soapsuds, Into the Sunset. She did a great job capturing them both.
I returned to my car and drove to the Microtel, impressed that my TomTom GPS app on the iPhone recognized a traffic jam on I-820 and automatically rerouted me on a frontage road detour that saved me a lot of time. (Later that night I travelled the same route and the TomTom app took me along the interstate since the traffic jam had evaporated.) That convinced me to rely solely on the TomTom app on the drive home the next day – I packed away the V7 GPS unit and probably won’t use it much on trips anymore. The TomTom app is far better at quickly locating points of interest, uses real-time traffic data, and has a nice lane guidance system. I just wish TomTom would let me flick the map around with my finger to explore off to the sides, rather than only allowing me to zoom or shrink the map while keeping my location locked in at the same point on the screen.
Downtown I parked near Bass Hall and followed a smartly dressed group to Ferré for dinner. I had a delicious halibut and tasty dessert, although the meal cost almost as much as my concert ticket! I killed some time reading a magazine at the nearby Barnes and Noble, which features a two-story bronco rider sculpture. Then I harked the heralds at the Bass Performing Hall and found my fourth-row seat offering a great view of the stage for another splendid Pink Martini performance.
They treated me to a live performance of my favorite new song of theirs, Splendor in the Grass, and I was delighted to hear their live rendition of The Flying Squirrel as well. The encore closed the show with Brazil and this time I was sure to join the conga line. We danced right out of the hall, so I was one of the first to make it to the parking garage, where I encountered members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra I’d heard moments earlier, now rushing with their instruments to their cars before the parking garage jammed up.
It was a great short stay in Fort Worth and a welcome break from the stress of school budgets and the like for this teetotaler who loves his Pink Martini.