Friday, October 1, 2010

Oct. Art Show at the Gopalan

So today is the First Friday of the month, which means that the shops downtown will be open late, and the restaurants will have specials, and the art galleries and museums will be having openings.  The Swope Art Museum, for example, has a talk/presentation on the Samara House by Frank Lloyd Wright called "Wright around the House." The Halcyon Gallery is opening the works of Andrew McAleese & Anna Lee Chalos-McAleese, and Andrew Maurer.  But the one that I'm going to review today is the opening for the Gopalan Contemporary Art Gallery.  I went early, so that I could type up a post, before you all go out for the evening to enjoy the many delights of a Friday evening.  October's show at the Gopalan has two halves, the paintings and constructions of Stephanie Doty in one room, and a bunch of fiber art by Cathie Laska, Zann Carter, and John Salamone in the other.

Now I can't say much about Doty's work one way or the other.  I quite liked a piece of hers called Glacial Bay, and the piece shown in the top half of the image above was pretty cool, but a lot of it just missed my tastes, and I was there more for the fiber arts anyway.  You see Cathie and Zann are friends of mine, and my wife assures me that I've met John Salamone (ah now that I've found some web images of him, I do know him), but I just haven't seen much of their fiber art before.  And it did impress.  John Salamone had a lot of careful, restrained craft pieces.  Hand woven scarves in many patterns.  Much like the alpaca scarves woven at the White Violet Center, but with far more vibrant colors and patterns, clearly emphasizing color over texture.  Then there is Cathie Laska's work.  Perhaps the most striking were the "fleece paintings," impressionistic images of landscapes or still lifes, or even abstracts, rendered with tufts of colored fleece behind glass rather than with oil paints or weavings.  She had a nice woven piece too, but you can't have it (my wife is driving to buy it for our house while I'm typing).  Actually since we were there shortly after open on the first day of the show, a few issues of labeling and placing were being finalized and I'm not certain who did the fabulous coat in the window.  Then we get to Zann Carter's work.  Airy, chaotic and bizarre.  Light-hearted romps at the edges of plausibility.  There were shawls woven to look like colorful patchworks or tatters even though they were whole and undamaged.  Woven hats with mysterious and playful extrusions.  Magic charms and wands.  Sometimes the lines between yarn and fleece would be intentionally obscured.  In several cases, Zann's fiber art would be displayed together with poetry by Zann (you may recall she is one of the founding poets for the 3rd Thursday Poetry Asylum which I reviewed), as with the following piece, where the shawl and the poem are both entitled "Mangoes for Breakfast by the Startling Bougainvillea" .
I said before that I'll have to tell the story of Sujata Gopalan, tornadoes, and my son one of these days. Certainly her gallery, and the whole idea of an "art corridor" of several galleries and museums near each other trying to co-ordinate events, is a treasure for our community.  And we do have an awful lot of creative fiber arts types hanging about Terre Haute.  When I started this blog, I figured food would be by far the main thing I talked about, I certainly did not guess that fiber arts would be my second most common topic.  So these great local fiber artists, and the gallery that sponsors them, and even the painter in the next room, branching over into mixed media are

Just a few more reasons I'm proud of Terre Haute 

Moggers Restaurant and Pub

Moggers has been a Terre Haute tradition in a beery way for ... , well historical records get sketchy, you can make a case for 1855, and you can make a case for 1837, or 1848.  At any rate, Mogger's is an extremely long-standing local tradition, an old brewery that was 7th largest in the nation in 1893, shut down for prohibition, re-opened, shut down again in 1958, became a local brewpub in 1989, and is now just a pub.  These days Moggers is a classic American pub, a place to eat, drink beer, and on some occasions listen to live music.  Now you might be thinking, "American" - "Pub," isn't there a contradiction in there somewhere?  The more usual 20th century American eating/drinking establishment is the "Bar & Grill," which Terre Haute has several examples of, including my favorite 7th and Elm (which is in fact a Bar & Grille, with an "e").  Pub is short for "public house," often called a "local" or "regular" (even in the old US) a place where locals gathered to drink and socialize.  They were common in pre-industrial Britain, but also in the pre-industrial US.  As travel rates rose, some drinking establishments started catering to travelers, often in hotels or railway stations, or near them.  These started using long "bars" to serve alcohol from, to cope with the sudden rush of patronage when a train was about to arrive or depart, and these establishments became known as "bars" and tended to aim for an ambiance of upper-middle class modernity.  The "bar" format became so popular, that eventually even local drinking establishments not catering to travelers started having bars and calling themselves bars.  The British Isles are old enough to have plenty of drinking establishments from before the days of "bars" which still call themselves pubs, and (even though most have a bar) work to conjure the ambiance of long tradition, as well as the ambiance of cozy friendliness.  In the US, it is usually an affectation to older days or to UK ways to call a place a pub.  Sonka's Irish Pub and Cafe, another fine Terre Haute drinking establishment, is a "pub" not because it is old, but because it is trying to be Irish in style.  But, Mogger's isn't trying to be Irish, or Scottish or English.  It is trying to harken back to the days when Terre Haute was a center of brewing, of great beer, a time when everyday American's drank their beer with their friends and neighbors in a local establishment they called a pub (although Moggers too, does have a bar).

OK, enough history lesson, how is Mogger's today?  Well, its got good traditional pub food, and a selection of beers clearly aimed at beer-nerds.  Mogger's sells a dozen or so beers on tap, and probably over 100 more in bottles.  They almost certainly have a larger selection of beer than any liquor store in town.  If you're not already a beer-nerd, you can try a sampler flight of small doses of 5 different beers for a pretty reasonable amount, I've done that before.  Or just start working on whichever beers they have on tap that you haven't tried yet.  They have an MBA program ("Master of Beer Appreciation") for those who wish to increase their beer-education, and are pretty aggressive about training their staff on beers.  On my most recent trip to Mogger's I ordered an on-tap beer, but it was out, so I ordered something that was on "blow-out" sale, which was out, so I ordered a local beer, Clay Co. Coffee Stout, by the Bee Creek brewery in Brazil, IN.  It was nice, a bright, crisp stout, rather than a thick oatmealy stout, almost a porter really.  And then there is the food.  Mogger's food prices are a bit higher than some of their local competitors, but the quality is quite good.  They had a yummy mixed veggie side for Robyn (as in clearly put together competently rather than just re-heated out of a bag), and my french fries were much better than I expect for a restaurant, in line with good home-made fries.  We had a good Italian Beef, and Mogger's own variation on a Burger Melt, both fine.  When I last saw a band there, a guy at my table ordered the potato skins and got tons of well-made loaded potato skins.  Very much American pub standards rather than being particularly innovative, or achingly local, but high quality and well made.  Then there is the ambiance, which really needs to be divided into two sections, the inside and the outside.  The inside is a very old brewery redone as a pub.  Old but well-restored wood furniture.  The whole place emphasizes open space, old wood, and architectural eccentricities.  It might as well have a sign saying "a local tradition" as that is clearly the effect it is going for, but I like it, relaxed but dignified.  The patio is another story, open to the air, but fenced in, with some trees and trellising.  I've only ever been there when there was a band playing and the ambiance was very much, "let us bring you beers and munchies while you listen to this awesome band, oh and get up and dance if you want."  In fact, I'm still hoping for a guest review of a recent band gig at Mogger's patio that I didn't get to see (cough, cough), and another guest post from someone else involving the history of Terre Haute breweries (cough, cough).  Because of the weird legalities of Indiana, you can have kids present if it is outside.  I've never tried to bring my own, but when I've been on the patio there have been a few kids and they weren't intrusive, if anything they added to the vibe.

Every town with any kind of local spirit at all needs a good place for locals to eat, drink, and socialize, relax, and blow off steam, somewhere than can claim to be "a local tradition."  Many towns, especially college towns can claim several such places.  For Terre Haute, Moggers is clearly such a place, channelling the best of the spirit of our past, while living resolutely in the present.  Moggers is

Just one more reason I'm proud of Terre Haute