BIDDINGTON'S ART GALLERY--Contemporary Paintings, Sculpture & Prints. BIDDINGTON'S Content INDEX.

The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road

I-80 Park City to New York City

Summer is prime season for a cross-country roadtrip. Rather than the usual east to west route, this drive began in the brilliant light of the high Rockies and ended with the lights flickering on in post-blackout Manhattan. The old convertible was accompanied on much of the 2300 mile drive by legions of weary bikers wending their long way home from the gathering at Sturgis and imparting a happy sense of community by their presence.
John Clem Clarke Western Service Station

Park City, Utah

In the 7000 foot altitude of Park City, the sun is intense and visitors are slightly breathless, so The Annual Park City Arts Festival proceeds at a leisurely pace with music and food accompaniment. Like arts festivals the world over, this one combines art, wannabe art and craft. All in all, the quality is quite acceptable, though the quest for a painter who can truly capture high country light remains unfulfilled. Many of the galleries lining Main Street remain open on the festival days even though, in general, they offer more expensive and higher quality works than that shown in the booths. Curiously, in addition to regional and western art, Park City is something of a hotbed of Russian Impressionism. Besides art, aficionados of Native American jewelry will find a treat in the dealers in Park City who are exceptionally knowledgeable. True to its status as a chichi resort town, the thriving Park City restaurant scene offers a sophisticated diversity in its cuisine from steaks, to European, to ethnic fare. Deciphering Utah's arcane liquor laws is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that so long as food is ordered, alcohol can be served. Given the impact of booze at high altitudes, this is not a bad rule.

Laramie, Wyoming

A perfect cow-town set in a landscape of sprawling ranches and scattered drilling rigs, Laramie sports a crystalline sky and wiry locals in sagging Levis and scuffed Acme boots. The refurbished old town--along 1st and 2nd Street--sports 2 or 3 square blocks renewed as java joints, antique shops and art galleries. The mix includes reasonably good, reasonably priced works by local artists and artisans as well as antiques with a western focus: saddles, quilts and Native American goods. The tone of the re-vitalized neighborhood is 1950s to 1970s--part retro, part counter-culture. For art with a more cosmopolitan view, University of Wyoming Art Museum shows installations of contemporary works .

University of Wyoming Centennial Center

Alas, the dazzling sky show that is Wyoming ends on the road from Cheyenne into western Nebraska.

Ogallala, Nebraska

The transition to the more moist plains begins in earnest just west of Ogallala. The Ogallala Antiques Mall (Nebraska I-80 Exit 126) sells a few western goods but merchandise becomes more typical of mid-western antique mall staples: carnival and depression glass, pottery, kitchen items and coins. The Chinese restaurant offering a lunchtime buffet just a few steps away makes it a nice two-fer stop on the long Nebraska trek.

Cozad, Nebraska

Cozad, Nebraska was home to Ashcan School artist and respected art teacher Robert Henri. (Henri dropped the last name "Cozad" when his father was charged with murder in a long-running case that was eventually decided to have been self-defense). Name change notwithstanding, a modest museum is devoted to Cozad's favorite son.

Robert Henri "Portrait of Eulabee Dix in Her Wedding Gown", 1910
Museum of Nebraskan Art, University of Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska

A few miles west of Omaha sprawls one of the gigantic antiques malls that dots the I-80 route. It is rife with mid-western antiques mall staples. If you've gone through frugal Great-aunt Minnie's attic lately, the material will be familiar.

After a day of driving the Nebraska flats, the desire for a serious meal looms large. On the western edge of Omaha (Exit L Street East at 108th and L Street) Nebraska Beef Company offers quality steaks as well as game and even some fish selections AND an acceptable wine list--all for about half the cost of an equivalent meal in Manhattan. Caveat: The business crowd is a little jarring after hours spent in the open plains.

Walnut, Iowa

East 50 miles from Omaha (I 80 Exit 46), the storybook town of Walnut, Iowa is home to a large number of antique shops. The brick-paved streets of this village are flanked by antique shops and small antique malls. Reflecting the buttoned-up nature of the inhabitants, most of the shops are well-organized and inviting with merchandise several cuts above standard antique mall merchandise. A series of charming, well-kept old houses with lovely porches and one fine example of the Greek Revival style line the main street off this Norman Rockwell-like mid-western hamlet.

It's for good reason that the benchmark for prime farmland is an acre in Iowa. For those who take visceral pleasure in fecund agricultural land, rural Iowa is as thrilling as the Beaune to Autun drive in greater Burgundy.

By contrast, a chaotic drive through Des Moines is necessary to reach another airplane-hangar scale antique mall. In theory, the many humongous antique malls along I-80 should be amusing respites for stretching the legs and for picking up some interesting finds. In practice, one man's trash is this man's garbage: 60% of the goods for sale belongs in a dumpster. The dealers staffing these malls are extremely accommodating, but the lack of quality control spoils the fun.

Amana Colonies, Ohio

Just west of Iowa City, the utopian Amana Colonies are vestiges of the religious ferment of the 1840s in upstate New York. In 1854, a group of German Inspirationists transported their experiment in communal living from New York to 18,000 acres of pristine Iowa farmland. While their closed, communal way of life was discontinued in 1932, the tradition of hard work and fine craft carries on in this group of small villages. Contemporary Amana artisans focus especially on woodworking and clockmaking and also less familiar crafts such as broom-making.

Joshua Shaw "Landscape with Cattle", 1818
Butler Institute of American Art

Youngstown, Ohio

A high point in the cross-country trek is Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. Time allowed for only one museum stop in Ohio. The Butler, a museum that has frequent shows of mid-career artists, squeezed out the prestigious Cleveland Museum with its fine Old Masters. The Butler is housed in an elegant old building with a spiffy new expansion wing. In our Walter Mitty moments at Biddington's, we fantasize about morphing from our virtual, cyberspace existence into a museum like the Butler: an art venue that includes enough historical works to place the contemporary art in an understandable context, but that features living artists letting their work speak for itself without a lot of hype and nonsense. Sigh.

Adding to the pleasure of the Butler visit, in the upper gallery, a large impressive Jim Dine painting "Bathrobes" is balanced by a large impressive John Clem Clarke painting "Morse: The Old House of Representatives" on loan from the Akron Museum.

State College, Pennsylvania

Set in the rolling farmland of central Pennsylvania, the utra-modern campus of Penn State is home to The Palmer Art Museum. The museum covers many eras, but it is particularly strong in the work of the Bay Area figurative painters, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, and Elmer Bischoff--interesting because a traveling show at the Butler had featured the Pilot Hill Collection from John and Jane Fitz Gibbon's California home which had been a retreat, salon and setting for these artists. Also, the Palmer Art Museum permanent collection includes several fine examples of art from the Ashcan School: Sloan, Shinn and Henri.

Richard Diebenkorn "Man and Woman, Seated" 1958
Palmer Art Museum at Penn State University

New York, New York

Manhattan offered greetings with her gently bedraggled populace just stirring from their outdoor perches to explore the great indoors and the novelty of electricity in the urban wilderness.

Chen Chi "High Noon, New York, 1986"
Butler Institute of American Art

More Art & Antiques Destinations with Jake Biddington:
Art Tourism New York City 2005: Christo's Gates
Art Museums, Neighborhoods & Dining in Buenos Aires
Art and Touring along Italy's Amalfi Coast
Art Museums & Restaurants in Amsterdam
Cultural Touring along Spain's Costa del Sol
Art Touring in Lisbon
Art Touring in Milan
Art Touring in Antwerp
Art Touring in Barcelona
I-80 Park City to New York City Art & Antiques
Art Tourism New York City 2003 (Archive)
Art Tourism New York City 2002 (Archive)
Art & Antiques in Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Art & Restaurants in Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey

Jake Biddington's 2005 Art Collecting Series:
Art Appraisals and Valautions
Investment Grade Contempory Art

Jake Biddington Art Investing (Archives):
PPP Test: Judging Quality in Contemporary Art
Art, Time and Technology
American vs. European Paintings
Jake Biddington's Art as Entertainment
Jake Biddington's Vetted Antiques & Art Shows
Jake Biddington's Patent Numbers as a Dating Tool
Jake Biddington's Hard Assets as Portfolio Diversification
Jake Biddington's Buying Fine Jewelry at Auction
Jake Biddington's Long Term Investing
Jake Biddington's Short-Term Investing
Jake Biddington's The Craft of Art


Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art & antiques online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums all over the world.

In this article, Jake Biddington offers suggestions and descriptions of interesting art tourism destinations. Some of these venues are always in open; others revolve around special or seasonal events. These are art travel excursions we at BIDDINGTON'S--upmarket, online art & antiques auctions and Contemporary Art Gallery--have enjoyed making. We hope you'll like them, too.

Contact Jake Biddington about His Travels

COPYRIGHT: Images and information within are Copyright Biddington's, Inc. 1997-2005--except where superceded by individual copyrights of the artists.
Downloading or printing for online or print reproduction of any materials without specific written permission from Biddington's, Inc. is prohibited.

PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--art words & terms defined. CREATIVE PROCESS--artists' studio visits.
JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--financial advice on art & antiques collecting. MY ART--art for kids.