A (Fun and Full) Day in Pennsylvania

The Carnegie Museum of Art, Jessica Cuevas

With snow having had fallen the night before, the grounds of the Carnegie Museum of Art were covered in a white blanket. But this did not deter us, as we made our way to the entrance and noticed a few memorable outdoor sculptures, such as George Rickey and Henry Moore.  

We were greeted in the gallery by a staircase with a beautiful, grand, and colorful Sol LeWitt art piece along the wall. The highly pigmented colors set the tone for the rest of the museum.

As we made our way through the “Working Thought” exhibit, Millicent, a docent, pointed out a few central art pieces to us. Millicent educated us on how all the art pieces in this exhibit came together by expressing the social inequities of labor and the economy, both past and present, between the museum, Andrew Carnegie, and Pittsburgh. 

The first of the four was The Band Played the Night of the Johnstown an intricate art piece carved out of basswood by Aaron Spangler. Following was the Space in Between, made out of decommissioned patrol uniforms that were embroidered to tell the stories of immigrants and labor, by Margarita Cabrera and The Triumph of Labor by Andrea Bowers. The Triumph of Labor was a play on Walter Crane’s art piece since it was made from cardboard boxes and black marker to tie together labor movements and protests. 

The next room we were led into, was filled with statement art pieces. Greek gods and goddesses overlooked the main chamber where people could congregate. However, we became quickly distracted by a single statue that did not fit the mold. It was much larger, was a bit blobby without defining features, and had enormous hands, which were holding a cell phone. The contrast between classic and modern was unsettling, and a little too close to the truth.

Morgan discovered a new favorite artist: Gustave Doré, a nineteenth French printmaker and artist…  

…while also seeing some of her old favorites, such as Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt.

Our favorite section of the gallery would most likely be their regular exhibit with all the artists we are familiar with such as Claude Monet, Pissarro, and more. 

On show was a famous waterlily painting by Monet of his flower garden in his home in Giverny. Monet is one of my favorite impressionists and his water lilies are one of his most famous collections even though they were made later in his artistic career. 

Professor Yawn commented that this might have been the most expensive exhibit in the gallery, because of all the notable names such as Pissarro, Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir amongst others. These famous impressionists were revolutionary, since they painted landscapes and people as they saw them. They also changed the way art could be made through different variations of colors and how exposure to light affects them. 

Erin had a chance to see her favorite artist, “her girl,” as she calls Georgia Okeeffe.

We got to see a different type of Piet Mondrian painting…

…having previously only been familiar with his geometric paintings.

We also saw a Pollock, which Professor Yawn likes, but we haven’t warmed to his work.

And echoing back to the night before, we saw a Warhol…

…and taking us back to Austin, we saw an Ellsworth Kelly.

We also had a chance to see an artist we have trouble remembering: Edward Hopper. Professor Yawn tells us he is famous, and he tries to explain some of the distinctive features of his work (green and blue tints; a theme of loneliness), but it has not yet sunk in.

On behalf of the LEAP Ambassadors, we would like to thank Millicent for the “tour.” This was our first time at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and we enjoyed our time visiting.

Cathedral of Learning and Pittsburgh Glass Center

Yvette Mendoza

As we drove through the frosty, white-covered Pittsburgh, it was impossible to miss the beautiful Cathedral of Learning. We braved the slight flurries of snow and made our way along the path to the Cathedral entrance, we got an even better view of the intricate details of the skyscraper. The height of the cathedral was amazing!

Not being able to pass the inside entrance was indeed a teaser as we looked inside from the door. To our right in the distance is colorful stain glass. We were fortunate enough to at least catch a glimpse of the enormously high ceilings. Although we got only to see a tiny part of the Cathedral of Learning, we enjoyed seeing the bit we saw.

While we didn’t get to see the Cathedral as fully as we would have liked, we did have another quick stop, but this time at Pittsburgh’s very own blowing glass center.

We encountered a small exhibit through the Pittsburgh Glass Center that incorporated different, fascinating glass-blowing techniques! One has applied a tryptic method, and others used the finest techniques to create thin glass that interconnects.

In addition to seeing a small glass gallery, we had the opportunity to attend a glass blowing workshop. Our glasssmith, Sam, left us mind blown at how he managed to go from what looked like a small bowl to a flat glass cheese plate! Each of us grew a great appreciation for glassblowers.

Each detailed step used to create glass artwork is very intricate and later leads to the breathtaking final product.

We were able to finish off our snowy day in Pittsburgh, by driving to a local theatre, which had commission a mural by Richard Haas.

Haas is of particular interest to us because he has done 15 murals in Huntsville. We’ve all seen his Fort Worth piece, but for the Ambassadors, this was the first we’ve seen of his outside of Texas.


Yvette Mendoza

As the art of Pennsylvania flowed into our hearts, our last stop may be considered the best work of art we saw: Fallingwater, by Frank Lloyd Wright. This piece of architecture is not solely a home but a piece of art within the breathtaking natural surroundings. As we walked through the snow alongside a natural spring water stream, we were eager to see the notable home. As we approached, we heard the rushing water, and the closer we got, the more it was like a gift that couldn’t yet be opened. Then, at last, we were in complete amazement to see the light reflecting off the snow shining on the crystal-clear waterfall that flowed out of the home.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a renowned American architect who created Fallingwater for the Kauffman’s, a wealthy family with the largest department store in Pittsburgh. Edgar Kauffman wanted a home for his family that would act as a a getaway from the hustle and bustle of life. Kauffman selected the family’s favorite picnic spot, and it turned out to be not a bad “summer home.”

Wright achieved not only the vision of Kauffman, but also of what he thought would best reflect the nature. He planned for every rock and tree, how they were placed and how they grew. Through this knowledge and talent, he constructed a home that incorporated every bit of nature, creating an organic composition. Wright used a technique called compression and release, by which the narrow hallways lead to grand, open spaces.

Walking to the hidden entrance, you could see how Wright incorporates cantilevers from the outside into each room. With the primary goal of creating a space of comfort and gathering, he emphasized that the heart of a room is the fireplace. There would be Japanese-style seats around the fire closer to the ground and nature. Wright incorporated other parts of the furniture that were created to open out to have a larger seating space or more oversized buffet table.

Each room had exciting features, including the outside rocks being exposed inside the house. We were amazed by the interior and exterior design of the house, but we also encountered notable artwork from Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Tiffany glass!

Diego Rivera art work in Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright’s art work

Any homeowner might notice the lack of gutters on Falling Water. The circular edges of the roof allow for water to cascade from the roof, through drains in the balcony and into the river below.

The concept of falling water was incorporated within every part of the home. Specifically, the rolling sound of the water can be heard upon entering the family room, at the main house. At the third level, what would have been servant lodging, the water is almost impossible to hear. The staircases leading up to the top of the home replicated the cascading water movement. The design of the water flowing out of the home is seamless and left each one of us in shock of its beauty of connectedness. Wright created a house of unity and tranquility, and with that, the LEAP Ambassadors were beyond grateful to have been in the heart of Falling Water.

Dinner at Tsunami

Erin Juarez

We stopped for dinner at Tsunami, a ramen restaurant, after being on the road for nearly four hours. Nestled in downtown Frederick, MD, Tsunami was next to well-lit buildings with a nice view of their central shopping area. 

We went over the menu after being seated by their polite staff to see what piqued our interest. We had shrimp and scallop pot stickers, spring rolls, and spinach and goat cheese dumplings to start.

Which were, of course, delightful. Our supper had everything from miso to chicken ramen, although one outlier order fried chicken–at a Japanese restaurant!

We still had room for dessert after finishing our meal! We had a croissant pudding and a crepe cake for dessert.

Our desserts weren’t our only treats: Victoria shared with us about law school, the LSAT, and just life away from home, a trove of information for us as spiring law-school students. It was a pleasant dinner, and we very much enjoy hearing and taking in advice from someone who has walked in our shoes.

After dinner we headed back to the car. Since the car was parked a few houses down, we were able to walk through part of downtown Frederick by the and admire the structure of the colonial buildings. As the night got colder, and everyone was so eager to get to Washington DC, we once again set our sights towards D.C.!

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: