Saturday, October 29, 2016

La Crosse Visit: Dark Radio Show, CommuniClaytion, and an Astronaut

With my feet well protected by rain boots, I caught a bus up to La Crosse on Wednesday (thanks to T.J.) to visit the younger brother for a few days. Grandma joined us there on Friday, as she and I both attended the Dark La Crosse Radio Show that night.

Artistic Inspiration

While Luke took a nap that afternoon, post-Indian buffet, I accompanied Grandma on her hunt for a very specific type of potato masher and "the perfect purse." (The hunt is still on.) On our way to an antique store to look for the masher, we popped into the La Crosse Gallery, where a few pieces caught my eye:

I liked the bright colors in both of these

I liked the recognizable style that this local artist used, with the criss-crossed black lines in the backgrounds
And at the antique store, this dish/pot caught my eye:
I was drawn to the color and designs of this Danish piece. Fitting, as I was in the middle of the "Denmark" section of my latest read: "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia."

Dark La Crosse Radio Show

The first floor of The Pump House is currently featuring "CommuniClaytion," an exhibit by artist Eva Marie Restel, which the three of us visited as we waited for the doors to open. 

Here's how the site summarizes the sculptures:
In a time of cultural divide which creates stress among people, ceramic artist Eva Marie Restel connects people through her art, which demonstrates that people are similar than different. CommuniClaytion is a show of ceramic “Flower People” sharing stories that highlight the similarities people share. This exhibit strives to open conversation across cultures, and create a sense of connection and belonging, so that there may be a greater understanding and kindness among people.
"Reaching Your Goal" by Eva Marie Restel

"Making Trouble with Friends" by Eva Marie Restel

"First Day" by Eva Marie Restel

"Feeling Like a Superhero" by Eva Marie Restel

"Hidden Treasures" by Eva Marie Restel
And here are the three of us in the gallery:

What is this "Dark La Crosse" business anyway? It's a performance put on by the La Crosse Public Library Archives, who have researched "spooky" (read: corrupt, crime-ridden) stories from La Crosse's past. Ten stories are presented in this year's show, all new from last year's premiere.

Dark La Crosse Radio Show 2016

Stories are told through a variety of narration, character monologues, singing, newspaper clippings/images, and live piano music to set the scene. It's my brother Luke who plays the piano in these performances, and more notably, who composed said music for the show.

Dark La Crosse Radio Show - Luke Thering

Here's the La Crosse Tribune's article about the show, for more information. (Note: The final 2016 performances of this show are November 4, 5, and 6.)

Breakfast at Perkins

The next morning we all had a great (and deep) breakfast together at Perkins, before Grandma and I headed back towards Madison.

On our way back (in addition to two more thrift stores) we stopped at the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum in Sparta, Wisconsin.

Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum

Deke Slayton—who grew up on a farm near Sparta—was selected as one of America's first seven astronauts in 1959. And his sister, Marie Madsen, just happened to be neighbors and friends with my grandparents. I think she babysat for my dad and his siblings way back when, too.

In my Grandma's house there have always been (well, since I can remember) two "old" autographed pictures of astronauts hanging on the wall. But I never learned the full story until this weekend. Turns out my dad's younger brother had liked astronauts, so when he got sick (with an illness that took his life young), Marie contacted her brother Deke, who then sent the autographed pictures and patches from his space suits to him and my dad.

So anyway, in Sparta there's a small Deke Slayton Memorial museum featuring bikes along the outer walls (I'm not sure the relation to Deke, but just that bikes are for some reason meaningful in Sparta...), and exhibits about Deke's life (and NASA work) in the middle of the room.

Deke Slayton Memorial Museum Sparta WI

Deke Slayton astronaut suit Sparta WI
"Decide what you want to do, then never give up until you've done it." -Deke Slayton
Thank you Luke, Grandma, and everyone else who made my stay great. (That includes you, Pierre!)
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