Art and Eat

Today’s guest blog is a group entry by Barbara in Robbinsdale, Sherrilee, Plain Jane, tim, and a bystander who took a picture of the group with Sherrilee’s cell phone.

This is a two part story:

The Exhibit

Six of our “baboons” – Sherrilee, Margaret (PJ), Lisa, Linda, tim, and Barbara (BiR) – showed up at the American Swedish Institute last Friday to see the exhibit In Our Nature: Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck. ASI’s brochure describes them as “monumental works [that] immerse the viewer in the best of nature: lush blooms, rich green forest scenes, and sunny poppy pastures…” They’re not kidding about “monumental” – many of these tapestries took up an entire wall, and some of the walls of ASI’s new addition are massive. You have to be far away to see the “picture” in these tapestries; when you’re up close you see how color happens in nature, the shading and layering, as well as “on the loom.”

Sherrilee describes it this way:

Most of the tapestries were woven and hung in the same vertical direction – up and down as it were. But there were a few tapestries with horizontal weave and it completely changed the look of those works. The horizontal pieces seemed almost like photos with amazingly clear details. One of these pieces was called “Mossklyftan” done in 2007. Mossklyftan translates literally as “Moss Gap” and is a perfect name, as a clear brook runs down the gap between moss-covered stones. Standing back in the room, it looked like a lovely photo of a forest scene. Up close you could see all the individual bits of wool and linen that make up the whole. The warp, which showed through occasionally, was a beautiful shade of pink that you wouldn’t think would be a good color in a forest scene, but it was perfect.

Here is Mossklyftan from Helena’s website, photo taken by Lars Dahlstrom.

Helena’s motto was displayed in two languages on a wall at the beginning of the exhibit:

“My interest lies in capturing the image of a fleeting moment in the sustained and time-honored process of tapestry weaving.”

To our delight, PJ was able to read it to us in the Swedish – hard to describe how beautiful it sounds in the native tongue:

“Min önskan är att fånga det flyktiga ögonblicket och bevara det i bildvävnadens tidsprövande process.”

l to r: Sherrilee, tim, Linda in St. Paul, Lisa in Mpls., Barbara in Robbinsdale, and Margaret (PlainJane)

A bystander was kind enough to tag us in front of one of the poppy tapestries.

For more tapestry images, there is a slide show at Helena Hernmarck’s own website, along with an article written by one of the weavers who was in this summer’s weaving workshop at the ASI, which shows the tapestries that are here at ASI through October 14.

And if those aren’t enough links, PJ found a video showing how she does it!

The Food

Margaret describes the post exhibit activity: I’ll not focus on the exhibit but rather on the FIKA restaurant and its exquisite food. Possibly because of my Scandinavian background, I feel very at home at FIKA which is located in the stunning new, modern addition to the American Swedish Institute.

Tim and Linda had eaten at the cafe prior to viewing the tapestries, and Lisa and Sherrilee each had to get back to work. Barb and I were hungry, and Linda and tim kept us company.

BiR’s Quiche
PJ’s Salmon
tim’s Watermelon Radish Salad
Linda’s Roasted Beet Salad

(Food photos taken by tim on cell phone.)

Barb ordered the Kale Quiche with fresh baby arugula and a delicate pea sauce, and Cardamom Bread Pudding.

I had an open faced sandwich on dense, dark rye bread layered with watercress, a generous chunk of pan seared salmon drizzled with a scrumptious mustard sauce, and a dollop of quenelle of roasted red beets.

tim reported that he had the watermelon radish open-faced sandwich, and if memory serves, Linda had a roasted beet salad.

All reported that their food was excellent. Each entree cost in the neighborhood of $7.00 – $7.50, really a bargain in terms of quality and presentation. FIKA is well worth a visit, and if you time it right (after the lunch hour rush), there’s ample free parking in the Institute’s parking lot adjacent to the new addition. BiR wants to add that the coffee is also excellent.

Imagine you get to see your favorite kind of art, followed by a sumptuous meal of some kind. Design your own “art and eat” experience.

81 thoughts on “Art and Eat”

  1. Sandy and I were there, and ate there, about a month ago with a couple who are friends, much more her friends than mine. The man in that couple is near death from complications from surgery. In his 80’s. Going there would be a fitting memorial to him because his first wife, whom he cared for for many years, was also an artistic weaver. Not that talented; but who is? But very good in her own way. A fine man.


  2. Good morning. A top choice for art would be The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I think there is a very good food service at that museum and I might eat there. Of course there is a big selection of good restaurants in Chicago. I like The Handlebar and there is an Italian one that I also like or I would pick a top rated one to try out. The Swedish Institute sounds great. I haven’t been there and I am sure I will visit it before long. The Walker is always very good and the food there is also very good.


  3. Although my taste is closer to the Creative Activities Building at the Fair followed by a chocolate malt, I have to admit that the restaurant at the Louvre was sublime after hours of classical art.


    1. Well, it would be hard to top Paris for art and food. The Louvre, of course, and another is the Rodin meusum which has a good food service or I think almost any place you would pick to eat in Paris would probably be great.


    2. The drawback to being a tourist somewhere with a great art museum is that you want to see it all in one or two visits; you don’t want to miss anything. Personally, I can only absorb so much in one visit, preferably no more than two, maximum three, hours at a crack, and that usually doesn’t get the job done. I much prefer perusing a great art museum at a leisurely pace when there are few people around. Then you have the luxury of being able to linger in front of pieces that really speak to you; a much more satisfying experience to me.

      I agree with tim, the visit to the ASI described above, was very satisfying: wonderful art, good company, no huge crowds, and wonderful food to boot; what’s not to love about that? Thanks, tim for the food shots, they have me salivating all over again.


  4. the company the art and the food was wonderful. the weaving was interesting in that the artist was abe to turn wool into yarn and vary the colors even within the thread and the groups of threads grourped together and by doing it this way have control while leaving it with a loose free feeling similar to oil on a canvas. it was dynamic and quite an introduction to the swedish institute for me. the new digs were wonderful and the old ones were very nice too. it was a good trip and the the best art food experience i can remember for quite some time.


  5. I hadn’t been to the Swedish Institute for a couple of years — and it was always for the Christmas in Scandinavia exhibit in the old mansion — so I was blown away by the new addition when I saw it this summer. Some friends and I visited this weaving exhibit and it was amazIng. The field of poppies was a favorite of mine; it reminded me of Italy — if you happen to be riding a train at just the right time in late April or May, the orange/red poppies are everywhere, transforming the entire landscape. They come and go in a matter of days. Stunning! Whenever I see an exquisite knitted garment or weaving, I think “It all starts with one sheep…” Oh, and yes, the food at the Institute is exquisite 🙂 It’s great that you all got to go together. Food and art are best when shared.


        1. oh i used to go crazy with my ugly american travel companions who wanted burger king in italy. i had soooooo many wonderful meals in italy. being vegetarian in italy means you only salivate over 400 items on the menu not all 800. art . they have that in italy. everywhere. churches , museums, murals, architecture . italy is the place i realized there are cultures where life is beautiful is the mantra. yes you work hard, you try to get ahead in life but it must be done with good shoes andgood shirt and good food and good wine or whats the use. so art and food is like beer and sports in the usa. italy is wonderful but… it is a whole different thing than usa and you must get used to your person in the conversation isnt lying they just have a different perception of what was intended by the response they gave. italy is very interesting


  6. Thus far my favorite food and museum experience has been the British Museum and a little pub across the way. It was typical pub grub: fish and chips with mushy peas, bangers and mash, few drink options that weren’t from a tap or tea. Someone famous (who I have clearly now forgotten) hung out at the pub after going to the museum a lot…writer or scientist, I don’t remember which. Pubs are like that around London, I think – if they’ve been around awhile, inevitably Someone Famous ate there regularly. But the museum – I could spend a whole week exploring there: the Viking stuff, the weapons, ancient Greek sculpture…then another couple of days for the National Portrait Gallery, a couple of days at the Victoria & Albert (amazing collection of textiles and clothing/costume history) – there was a good tea spot near the V&A, too. When Husband and I were in London, the British Museum also had a lovely archaeology exhibit based on one of the digs Agatha Christie’s husband had been on – lots of neat old archaeology equipment, historical information, A.C. memorabilia, a smattering of things they found. Pretty cool.


    1. Yes, London, Paris, Chicago, and let’s not forget New York with many outstanding museum and food combinations. Minneapolis does well by not being too far behind those great cities.


  7. “American Pickers” and a TV dinner.

    Last week my wife and I attended a family reunion at Jax for her Swedish/Norwegian relatives. I was talking to a one of my wife’s cousins. and her husband. They both were interested in the Trail because of Dale and how I described it. Diane says she is checking out the blog, sort of reading through it from way back. I am hoping she will start posting. She is a multi-dimensional, instantly-interesting person. I think she is my wife’s youngest Swedish cousin, a dozen or so years younger than Sandy and I. She has done a few things in an interesting life, but this is the one that will make you all salivate: she just retired as a book store owner. Her husband, a reluctantly unemployed IT worker, would also be an fine addition. I am going to urge Diane to start talking.


    1. Now a more serious answer:
      Art Institute of Chicago will always be THE museum for me because it is the first place I met grand art and because their permanent collection just hits me right. Where would eat? Don’t know downtown Chicago that well, but there are one or two choices.

      KC has a nice museum and then we could walk over to the Country Club Plaza and eat at several places but first choice is the Irish pub there, Murphy’s I suppose. Or go the other direction to Gates and Sons BBQ.

      Grand Marais: Siverstsen Gallery and then eat at Cascade Lodge.


        1. I’m going to KC (Missouri) this week, Clyde. Any recommendations for activities? – besides playing with my (almost 1 1/2 year old) granddaughter, that is. Is Gates & Sons BBQ a good one? – I do want to have some barbeque while I’m there.


        2. KC BBQ is all a matter of taste. I like Gates and Son, prefer the one west of the Country Club Plaza. Don’t be intimidated when they shout at you when you enter the door. Then there is the Country Club Plaza, a shopping mall, but well, not like others. We like the Irish Pub there. We like the children’s museum without having any children with us. The art museum. Have not been to the Zoo. Head an hour west to Lawrence and walk Massachusetts Avenue. Fun feel to it. Maybe not Sat if KU is home for football. I’ll think of more.
          I was about to send you an email. Will send some links.


        3. arthur bryants at this location is the grandad of kc bar b que
          calvin trilan turned me on to the art of getting into local foods and he referenced bar b q served on butcher paper . this is form his kc roots. this is the place. during the week at lunch the line wraps around the building. go in and sit family style at formica tables in an 50’s 60’s presentation.

          1727 Brooklyn Avenue
          Kansas City, MO
          (816) 231-1123


        4. Them’s fighting words, tim. We’ll have to meet out back the computer and settle this with our fists.


        5. “I’m going to Kansas City.
          Kansas City, here I come.
          I’m going to Kansas City.
          Kansas City, here I come.
          They’ve got crazy little women there
          And I’m going to get me one.

          I’m going to be standing on the corner–Twelfth Street and Vine.
          I’m going to be standing on the corner–Twelfth Street and Vine.
          With my Kansas City baby
          and a bottle of Kansas City wine.

          Well, I might take a train,
          I might take a plane,
          But if I have to walk I’m going just the same–
          Going to Kansas City.
          Kansas City, here I come.
          They’ve got crazy little women there
          And I’m going to get me one.”

          I always liked this song even if I’m not up going after those crazy little women.


  8. Morning–

    I had a really good Chicken Pot Pie at ‘Pedal Pushers Cafe’ in Lanesboro on Saturday night. And our waiter was great fun. PLUS– they had grape soda!
    And then we saw a play.


  9. Not feeling like an art experience today, so I would go to the source of a lot of art: nature.

    Depending on how energetic I’m feeling: if energetic, a hike up Kadunce River with picnic food somewhere along the way. If not energetic, sit by The Lake somewhere between GMM and Grand Portage, look for agates, and stare at the lake. Smoked fish and fruit are required for a picnic by the lake – unless it’s cold, then maybe soup in a thermos or a sandwich. And fruit.


  10. By the way, pretty amazing tapestries there. I had no idea they could be made to look like photographs.
    And the food looks yummy! Nice work all of you. And thanks to the Stranger for taking your picture!


  11. Hey all – stopping along the trail quickly today because I’m a little overloaded here.

    Most of my museum then eating experiences have to do with the company I’m keeping… probably because if I’m doing museums on my own, then I don’t always stop to eat.

    I still remember our first Trail Field Trip fondly – Museum of Russian Art followed by a stop at Liberty Custard nearby. It was a gorgeous day and had been amazing to not only see the artwork but to meet some of the baboons in person.

    This past summer Teenager and I went to the fabulous Lantern Festival exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. It was spectacular and on the way back to my mom’s, we stopped at Ted Drewes. The best custard anywhere and they make “concretes”, which are similar to Blizzards but much better. It was a beautiful night and we sat on the curb to eat our treats (although my mother thought it would be better to sit in the car).


  12. Hi gang! I just got back from the cabin. I have nothing useful to say about museums and fine food, but I can pass along a tidbit from a BBC broadcast in the wee hours of the morn. Two BBC commentators were discussing Michael Baumgartners fantastic plunge from outer space back to this planet. The female commentator said, “Yes, and I heard him interviewed the other day. He is a real down to earth sort of guy!”


    1. Glad to hear it, Steve. It was fantastic to watch, but I sincerely hope that he quits these death-defying stunts while he’s ahead.


  13. We’ve all heard of, and perhaps even seen, works by many of the well known European and American painters. I was totally taken aback during my year in Moscow to discover painters I had never even heard of before. (Of course, there are those who would say that you can write thick books about all the stuff I’ve never heard about!) I was familiar with Repin and a couple of others, but had never heard of painters like Valentin Serov, Ivan Kramskoy, Vasily Perov, and Ivan Shishkin. Helena Hernmarck’s weaving Mossklyftan brought Shishkin’s paintings to mind; such lush, realistic scenes with vibrant yet subdued colors. But Valentin Serov is my absolute favorite Russian painter. I could sit for hours in the Tretyakov Gallery just staring at his magnificent works, and I did. Just couldn’t get enough of them. Here are my two favorites:
    This is an extremely large painting, and I found it absolutely spellbinding. This smaller, but no less compelling, painting is representative of the sensitivity he brought to his work. Just love it.
    The detail of the peach is almost good enough to eat.


  14. OT
    My son, his wife, and their dog are in the middle of a three day drive from San Jose to Seattle, a permanent move for his job. Quite a drive they are taking. After four hours in Oregon they had this conversation:
    Nate: That was a weird town.
    Hannah: Why?
    Nate: Hippies and gun nuts coexisting.
    Hannah: that’s the Oregon state motto.


  15. Thanks Clyde I feel like I just got caught passing a note in high school English class. But I am enjoying catching up on all of the past posts!


    1. Welcome, Diane. Please be sure to read the glossary, otherwise you’ll feel out of the loop a good deal of the time. As you’ve probably already discovered, we have a lot of fun here. Looking forward to getting to know you.


    2. diane, if you can put up with clyde, anything the rest of us will come up with will be nothing. i gather you have a love of language, as long as you dont have a passon for typing and spellchecking you and i will get along fine


  16. The trip up to Steve’s Cabin (Steve, Linda in St. Paul, and I) over the weekend was a sort of art and eat – stunning views with plenty of color as we drove to first to Bayfield on Hwy. 2, followed by lunch at a fine/fun place called Maggie’s.


  17. It’s not really art, or not Fine Art anyway, but I like to go see the annual Christmas show at Dayton’s 8th floor auditorium and have lunch in the Oak Grill Room afterwards.

    Since Macy’s took over, the show has been on the decline, but it’s a tradition still. And the restaurant still makes delicious popovers.


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