Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Local Breakfast at HomeGrown
Our early rise in Wichita, KS was accompanied by a nice and cool breeze! This morning we had a hankering for a more local taste for breakfast, and we were excited to try the homemade pop tarts from the local restaurant, HomeGrown. Sure enough, upon arrival, we had three of their brown sugar pop tarts, which were very tasty!
This time around, Morgan and Yvette ordered zesty yet sweet lemon dishes, Limoncello French Toast and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.
Ashlyn ordered one of their specialties, the Croissant French Toast.
The seasonal flavors were a nice contrast to my savory Chilaquiles Verde Bowl, which was delicious. It was a great breakfast filled with an assortment of flavors!
If you are ever in Wichita, HomeGrown is a must-try especially if you want a taste of something local!
Frank Lloyd Wright’s: Allen House
Our next stop was also a local gem, one specifically designed for the prairies of the interior plains of Kansas: the Allen House. Completed in 1918 by Frank Lloyd Wright, the home was stunning! Not only does the home provide a glance back to an earlier time, but the intricate detail and expert craftsmanship are excellent examples of Wright’s works.
While we could listen to facts and history about the house itself for hours on end, it is important to know about the family who commissioned it. Our tour guide, Mary, wove the history of the Allens with facts about the home during our tour. Henry J. Allen was a Wichita native, newspaper editor and publisher, U.S. Senator, and two-term governor of Kansas. When the Allens decided to build a new home, they remembered hearing about a certain architect with quite the reputation. By word of mouth, he and his wife Elise, knew that they must have a Wright home of their own in the city of Wichita!
Since Wright took on designing the Allen’s dream home soon after working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, there is a beautiful incorporation of Japanese techniques within the home.
Wright is known for bringing the exterior and the interior together; the effect of the outside meeting the inside is truly captivating.
The Allen House employs the use of horizontal lines, examples of this can be found in the cantilevers, etched designs, light fixtures, and even the grout between the bricks!
Instead of aligning the bricks with the grout, Wright deeply ranked the grout in and created more horizontal lines in and out of the house. With each home we have seen, it is easy to fall in love with the personality Wright gives the home.
Wright loved to add a poetic nature to everyday items, and with crystalized frozen air (windows) lining the home, it truly does make the home a work of art.
The home is filled with Wrights’ iconic built-in bookshelves, five fireplaces, and a Japanese-style pond, making for quite the property. The living room and dining room are adorned with crystalized frozen air (windows) that contain colors found in nature. The lamps around the home show the Japanese influence and are crafted with mulberry paper to create a softer light (photos were not allowed inside).
Wright implements a technique called compression and release in the living room in which you transition through a small door and low ceiling to a grand living room.
Elise Allen was an art collector herself and had several pieces around the home. Some reflected religious motifs, while others were done in a Japanese fashion; but most interesting to us was the Birger Sandzén lithograph!
We were in awe of the beautiful home and were not ready to leave, but we didn’t leave without snapping a picture in the beautiful garden maintained by seven master gardeners who donate their time to maintain the home’s landscape.
This tour couldn’t have been possible without the excellent staff and our tour guide, Mary, at the Allen West Home.
As a result, we learned more about Frank Lloyd Wright and the Kansans who cared about educating others regarding the legend and art of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Larkspur Bistro & Bar
Not only was the Frank Lloyd Wright Allen Home an amazing tour but it also helped us pick our lunch destination! Before touring this beautiful home, we had two options in mind that we were struggling to choose between. However, after we saw a Larkspur flower in the garden, we took it as a sign to eat at the local Larkspur Bistro & Bar! How could we not?
Mary, our guide for the Allen Home tour, recommended that we try their Kansas Wedge Salad and, sure enough, that is what Ashlyn and I ordered.
For our appetizers, we had delicious, crafted bread with oil, hummus, and crab cakes. Yvette ordered the Salmon Fettuccini and Morgan the Air Capitol Burger.
Larkspur Bistro & Bar was yet another great local stop on our trip and we love getting the recommendations from locals!
Wichita Art Museum
After lunch, we headed to the Wichita Art Museum. To our surprise, upon entering the museum, we were met by a Dale Chihuly Persian Ceiling!
We thought that we would experience the Persian Ceiling, also known as the Chihuly Bridge, from one viewpoint, but the surprise continued as we made our way to the second floor and were able to walk across the glass work! In the atrium of the museum, another Chihuly piece, titled Confetti Chandelier, is featured with the typical swirls and orbs illuminating the space.
This museum offered many different styles of art including one exhibit that was strategically lit to display the pieces of contemporary artist, Beth Lipman. Her work is most famous for her use of glass still-life compositions. One piece, in particular the Laid Table, uses common pieces of glass such as a bowls, vases, or plates in a unique way beautifully placed around a tabletop. This piece used about 500 separate pieces of glass to create and lots of glue. The glass in her work represents the fragility of human lives and how delicate they really are.
We came across works by artists we have seen in other museums on our trip. There was an Andy Warhol lithograph depicting scenes of Jackie Kennedy as a remembrance of her husband John F. Kennedy after he was shot. The painting is in typical Warhol fashion as it is divided into four squares, with the image in each square exemplifying a different emotion.
The Carlene and Lee Banks Rotunda Gallery contained 19th-century oil paintings, and everyone tried their hand at guessing the artists. Morgan probably did the best of all of us, an outcome that might have been helped by the fact that Thomas Moran was among the artists in the mix.
But we all saw works by familiar names: Frederic Remington, Roy Lichtenstein, and Louise Nevelson, for examples.
We also saw two artists we weren’t fully familiar with, but which we would become familiar with over the course of the trip: John Steuart Currey…
…and Birger Sandzen.
We enjoyed getting to see a variety of different themes, styles of paintings, and sculptures throughout this museum.
It never ceases to amaze me what these talented people can do with a paintbrush or glass.
Mental Health Courts
Across the nation, new and more specialized methods of trying cases are arising. Today, there are 150 mental health courts in the United States that are completely independent of drug courts, municipal courts, and other courts to which nonviolent offenders with mental health illnesses are assigned.
Leading this cause in her home state of Ohio is former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton.
Sworn into the Ohio Supreme Court in 1996, Justice Stratton made great strides advocating for mental illness. Justice Stratton helped form the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mental Illness and the Courts, and is a co-founder of the Judges’ Leadership Initiative.
Joining Justice Stratton on the panel were mental health professionals: Kimberly Nelson, the Regional Administrator for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration serving Region 7, which includes Kansas, Megan Quattlebaum, Director for the CSG Justice Center, Wenhan “Chris” Cheok, the Mental Health Program Manager for Sedgwick County COMCARE, and Flor Alvarado, a Mental Health Court Clinician/ Sedgwick County Offender Assessment Program (SCOAP) & TT Team lead for Sedgwick County COMCARE. Kansan State Senator Pat Pettey led the discussion and prompted some interesting questions.
The Stepping Up Initiative, which we had previously heard about in an earlier sessions, is one of the leading efforts addressing the public health crisis in county jails across Ohio. “Stepping Up is a national effort to break the cycle of jail being the de facto mental health hospital,” are the words of the Ohioans who are working on the Ohio Project.
Ms. Quattlebaum explained how offenders with mental health illnesses are currently prosecuted and processed through the system. Offenders are either tried like any other case in the court that follows the offense, or they are placed in a hospital for forensic treatments. Conversely, mental health courts will use competency restoration for offenders who are not fit for court after three, six, or twelve months of restoration. Depending on the individual, they will either be released or processed through the system and tried at the Mental Health Court.
The need for mental health courts is more prevalent than ever. These courts with their justices and treatment facilities will further help everyone involved, providing the defendants/accused with the help and resources they require.
After the panel discussion was over, Jessica spoke with Justice Stratton about her work and her career, and we were all fortunate to snap a quick selfie with her!
State Dinner at the Midwest Council of State Governments Annual Conference
At many of the Council of State Government regional conferences, the organizations host a “State Dinner” on the final evening, and this was true for the Midwest. This is a big event for LEAP Ambassadors–often their first such experience–and it was made even more fortunate by the presence of two CSG staff members at our table and some entertaining musical performers with the Aerotones Big Band, featuring Jaslyn Alexander on lead vocals.
Throughout the evening, Aerotunes played songs through the decades, often jumping 50+ years in the process. We soon grew to love the range of the music styles and genres and despite the variety in sounds, dancers kept on dancing!
We were first greeted by Senator McGinn, who not only introduced the posting of the color guard…
…and the invocation…
…but also introduced some humor into the proceedings, setting a light tone to a lively evening!
At first, there weren’t a lot of takers on the dance scene.
But when the Ambassadors got on the floor, they soon had the opportunity to learn new dances (or just be led through the dances in some cases). Kansas Representative Mark Schreiber was a particularly generous dance instructor…
…and with some real dancing going on, the dance floor soon came alive!
We hate to say who is the best dancer in the group, but we are really glad we brought Ashlyn.
We were pleased with how nice everyone was, and we were grateful for the new friends we made.