Las Vegas is one of the top tourist spots in the world – and offers visitors a chance to visit “papier-mâché” versions of Venice, Paris, Rome, and Egypt without leaving the USA. It is also the quintessential edifice to wealth disparity.
The drive from Boston to NYC is endless and difficult – and I’m just the passenger! It may take fewer hours than other trips I’ve been known to take, but it’s more daunting what with the bridges and construction detours. Our only real gridlock is in Brooklyn. For amusement, I stare at the license of the car in front of us: KICK AXE.
Whether or not you know it, you are familiar with the work of Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), one of the most acclaimed of America’s sculptors of monuments. His staggeringly successful career spanned two centuries and lasted his lifetime. Have you ever seen the Minuteman statue in Concord, MA? It was French’s first full-sized figure, done when he was 22 years old in 1875. Have you run into the Angel of Peace sculpture in Jamaica Plain’s Forest Hills Cemetery? French did that in 1898 at age 48.
The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) is a Baltimore treasure housing the art of self-taught artists – many of them working class, some with histories of mental health breakdowns, of exile and genocide, of poverty and exclusion. This is outsider art that leaves you gasping with awe at the dazzling work people can create out of matchsticks or crocheted yarn remnants or broken dishes. Many of the exhibited pieces are sparkly and intricate and wrenching and extreme.
In the posh 19th century neighborhood of Nook Farm in what was then the most affluent town in eastern United States, Hartford, Connecticut, both Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain built their dream homes – literally next door to each other. The two houses have been restored and serve as magical museums of their literary times. Each house offers frequent tours, but on weekends it is possible to enjoy a 90-minute joint tour of the beautiful homes.
The lovely Berkshires town of Stockbridge is home to the Norman Rockwell Museum as well as his work studio, moved from Main Street after his death in compliance with a stipulation in his will. I checked out the studio first, where it had been planted on a hill with an amazing pastoral view.