DC Destinations: Presidential Inauguration Tour, Day One

Junior Fellows: Inaugural Tour

Junior Fellows: Inaugural Tour

Today the Junior Fellows began our week long journey to the presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. The trip, although planned around the annual swearing-in ceremony, promises many historic and intriguing stops along the way. After a 3 a.m. start, we stopped first in Dallas at the site of President Kennedy’s assassination. As we walked along Elm Street we took note of two white X’s designating the locations of both fatal gunshot wounds. It was surreal standing before them with the grassy knoll to our right and the infamous six story building of death looming behind us.

Sixth Floor Museum and Elm Street

Sixth Floor Museum and Elm Street

This was where JFK was actually shot, and we six were standing in the once chaotic vicinity in silence. Being able to stand in a historic crime scene was unsettling, even for students born almost thirty years after the assassination.

Our next stop took us to Denison, Texas: the birthplace of Dwight Eisenhower. Ike’s home resembled a small dollhouse of sorts, all white and perfect. The quaint house sat atop a hill, complete with a small garden in the back and the perfect climbing tree stretching out above roof. This was a childhood dream come true. It was an overall simple setup, representing President Ike’s humble origins. This was his home only for a short time, though; his family moved to Kansas shortly after Ike’s first birthday.

Eisenhower House: Denison, TX

Eisenhower House: Denison, TX

Some fifty yards from the house stands a statue of Eisenhower to commemorate such a historic site.
General Eisenhower

General Eisenhower

It’s also worth noting that Denison pays more visible homage to Ike by showcasing a large bust of Eisenhower on the highway running near the City.  The bust was done by David Addickes, who is well know to Huntsvillians for his large statue of Sam Houston on I-45.  It’s pretty nice to travel and make connections to your adopted hometown.

Eisenhower Bust

Eisenhower Bust by David Addickes

Speaking of connections, we visited the University of Arkansas‘s Law School in Fayetteville, where we saw some very nice art work by Jesus Moroles–the same artist who did the CHSS Outdoor Classroom on SHSU’s Campus.  On the outside of the Law school, you are greeted with 3 pillar granite structures, although this is only an appetizer.

Moroles's Sculptures, U of Ark Law School

Moroles’s Sculptures, U of Ark Law School

If you go inside the law school and walk into the Court yard, you will see where Moroles really left his mark….

Moroles Sculptures, U of Ark Courtyard

Moroles Sculptures, U of Ark Courtyard

In fact, in the commemoration of his work, President Bill Clinton was on hand to celebrate the new art work for the Law School. President Clinton was actually a Law Professor at the Law School in the 1970s, and there is a “Clinton House Museum” nearby.

UA has that quintessential college town look, the kind of look everyone thinks a college campus should look like. And though no college campus could ever come to that idealized image of the Greek columned design, it comes awfully close.  Each building has a look that almost suggests costs were an afterthought. The end result? Buildings that individually have a unique identity yet complement the community of other University buildings along with open green spaces. And though each building holds its own amongst the others, there is one that is the pride and glory of UA, and that building was the Old Main.  Built in 1875, it evokes the look and feel of prestige for an accomplished university.

Old Main and the Moon, University of Arkansas, FayettevilleOld Main and the Moon, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

After spending a lot of time looking at art and architecture at the University of Arkansas, we headed to Bentonville, where we would see a lot more.  But first, we stopped for delicious  burgers at The Station Cafe in downtown Bentonville, AR.  The City’s downtown square is beautiful, and they even boast the first store of Sam Walton, who would go on to build the Wal-Mart empire.

But the City’s true centerpiece is the Crystal Bridges Art Museum.  Upon first seeing it I was I was very impressed at the size and beautiful architectural design. The architecture resembles that of the iconic opera house of Sydney, Australia. The master mind behind its interesting design is architect Moshe Safdie. The Art Museum sits on approximately 120 acres hosting and visitors are greeted with an intriguing tree sculpture at the entrance.

Tree Sculpture--Entrance to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Tree Sculpture–Entrance to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The museum has five permanent galleries that house more than 400 pieces of art that unfold in roughly chronological order.  In the first gallery, for example, we saw Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington portrait, a perfect starter for our presidential-themed trip.

Gilbert Stuart's George Washington

Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington

We then walked over to the Art Under Pressure exhibit. This exhibit included lithograph, etching, and woodcut works. The interesting part about many of these master pieces, like Samuel L. Margolie’s Men of Steel, is that most of these works are very controversial and spoke about political issues of their time period.


Toward the end of the tour, we found ourselves surrounded by colorful abstract paintings, which I found interesting and enjoyed questioning everyone on what they saw in the pictures. One of my favorites was Au Cafe by Stanton Macdonald-Wright.

Eventually, we were surrounded by Mobil installations, bright colors, and odd shapes, and that was because we have reached the pop art section. We were surrounded by works ranging from Andy Warhol to Jackson Pollock. I was mesmerized but I must admit that the one piece that just blew my mind was Deborah Sperber’s “After Grant Wood,” which allows visitors to peer through a small crystal sphere and see what resembles Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting.

A Crystal, Through Which Spools of Threat Resemble "American Gothic"

A Crystal, Through Which Spools of Threat Resemble “American Gothic”

It is, however, simply an illusion made by 986 spools of thread.


We concluded our visit by walking through the Light exhibition, which co reminded me of Carlos Cruz-Diez’s installations on the Museum Of Fine Arts Houston, and then we all walked the Crystal Bridges trail.

JFs_Crystal_Bridges_WebAfter a long and beautiful day…


..we headed back to the car for a long drive to St. Louis.  Tomorrow, we visit sites associated with the Gateway Arch, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Lincoln Presidential Library, among other things!


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