Fireside Chat: Squaw's 1960 Olympics

I am excitedly wearing yet another hat and that is the programming person for the Lake Tahoe Historical Society's monthly Fireside Chats.

Tonight's speaker was one I have heard before and yet I still was on the edge of my seat. Award-winning author, David Antonucci, shared with us the exciting story of how in 1960, the eyes of the world focused on Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe as the Winter Olympics played out on a world stage. Athletes from a world locked in the epic Cold War converged to compete and share the spirit and ideals of the Olympic movement.
We heard about and saw various vignettes that described the individual stories of enigma and invention, written off underdogs that ultimately came out on top, and a promise to win a gold gold medal made to a terminally ill loved one. He showed incredible photos and videos of the history making events, keeping the entire audience focused on every detail.
The presentation was based on David Antonucci’s book, Snowball’s Chance: The Story of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, a must-read and the only book written about this monumental event. Wow.
Side note: I will never tire of hearing about Walt Disney's invaluable contribution to these Olympics. What a timely presentation. Go Team USA!

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IKEA with a First-Timer...

One of my favorite shopping experiences is visiting this massive building which is not only a store, but a restaurant, inspiration, envy inducer and all around good time. Did you know that it was ‘invented’ in 1943?
When Ingvar Kamprad was 17, his father gave him money as a reward for succeeding in his studies. He used it to establish his own business. The name IKEA is formed from the founder's initials (I.K.) plus the first letters of Elmtaryd (E) and Agunnaryd (A), the farm and village where he grew up. IKEA originally sells pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewelry and nylon stockings - meeting needs with products at reduced prices.  And the rest, shall we say, is shopping history.
The first restaurant opened in 1960. No trip here is complete without a plate of KÖTTBULLAR (meatballs), made with only natural ingredients: meat (84%), onion, bread crumbs, egg, water, salt and pepper.

Our younger son's mother-in-law had never experienced the delights of any IKEA so we spent a couple of hours exploring all it had to offer. I wonder if that 17 year old Ingvar could have foreseen what his little enterprise would become 75 years later. What a great shopping experience and afternoon with a friend.

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Davis Days Part 2: the Manetti Shrem Museum & Cirque Éloize’s Saloon

Our timing for this explore of Davis was not random. Stuff was happening and we weren't about to miss it.

A must was a visit to an amazing (and free) art museum. Grounded in the legacy of UC Davis’ world-renowned first generation art faculty, the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is a hub of creative practice for today’s thinkers, makers and innovators, now and for generations to come (opened in November, 2016).
We were actually here for the exhibit called Wayne Thiebaud | 1958–1968 (with whom Jan took Art 101 with... in the day). At an extraordinary historical moment, Mr. Thiebaud proposed a radical new take on painting, and he did so with a slice of pie. This exhibition invites viewers to trace Thiebaud’s emergence as a mature artist with a singular style. The first exhibition to explore this formative period, it brings together more than 60 early paintings gathered from private collections and museums throughout the United States. WOW.
Steve liked this work best (he's not a big whimsy kind of guy). Landscape Figures, 1959, was created during a time when the artist began a body of work across media in which he covered parts of an existing image to create a single point of focus. He applied a top coat of paint or ink to mask out everything in the painting or print except for a figure or a store—whatever it was he deemed to be the subject. This was an approach to clarity through concealment. For me, bring on the pies!

 Or the deviled eggs.
I loved this write up by Jennifer Tucker about Three Machines, "This piece brings me back to childhood... any piece of art that can evoke the joys of yesteryear and excessive sugar consumption is okay by me. Thiebaud has a real knack for invoking feelings of happiness and he does it using such simple imagery. The artist explained that he likes to paint gumball machines because they are 'a gadget for stimulating the greatest series of associations and responses.' Essentially, he feels that life is like a gumball machine, you put things into it but you never really know what is going to come out."
Thiebaud’s best-known works, colloquial paintings of food and consumer goods, had emerged in mature form by the early 1960s. Depictions of everyday items in American life: sandwiches, gumball machines, jukeboxes, toys, cafeteria-type foods, cakes, and pies, reflected a turn toward representational painting. These deadpan still life subjects are set against light backgrounds, often white, with the objects rendered in lush, shiny oil paints. The thick, insistent textures and the playful colors Thiebaud uses for his commonplace objects, and their enframing shadows, challenge our perceptions of art subjects and meaning. They are still life paintings, but with a difference. Although his works are often classified as part of the American pop art movement, Thiebaud also painted portraits, but even these retained his signature broad treatment of light and shadow, thick paint, and bright Kool-Aid colors. I love that imagery... Kool-Aid colors.

This museum demands frequent visits, quite possibly again before this exhibit leaves in May.
The next stop was our intended reason for being here… our first outing to the spectacular Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
How could we miss this “Theater and circus rambunctiously collide in Saloon, the newest acrobatic creation from contemporary circus troupe Cirque Éloize. Set to live folk and fiddle music, the story starts with a piano tuner setting his sights on the saloon’s beautiful Belle and ends with a chase worthy of the greatest action-packed Westerns of our time. Combining tall tales and original acrobatic choreography, Cirque Éloize expresses its innovative style in a show for the whole family. Hold on to your 10-gallon hats!"
By the way, we four were the only people who Cowboyed Up. When we entered, several ushers asked if we were part of the show. Yeehaw!
This was the most entertaining 80 minutes we think we've ever experienced. It was an incredible production of amazing physical feats, exceptional talent and the coolest stunts we have ever seen. Wow. This was way beyond what we were expecting and it was a celebration of their 250th show!

I'd party in this Saloon anytime!
Afterward, as the set was being broken down, I rushed the stage for a photo. How sweet for some of the characters to jump in. This was a rootin tootin good time and we all agreed!

The town of Davis is going to be one of those places we escape to, often, when we need to get off the hill.

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Davis Days...

For two days, we are hanging out with Chris and Jan, UC Davis alumni, in the very quaint and happening town of Davisville.

This town is infused with art. It is EVERYWHERE. It is a treasure hunt just waiting to happen. There are 30 public murals, 37 sculptures, 14 galleries and one art garage (we'll look for that on our next visit).
Davis has been home to some of he nations’ most distinguished artists including Manuel Neri, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud, and Robert Arneson. As early as the 1950s, Davis was a hub for the California art scene. What is incredible is how much of it is free for all to view!
This mural, on the side of the art supply store called The Paint Chip, covers the full extent of the building. This photo focuses on the far side of the mural because the squatting person is the artist and if you note the man walking is still being finished. I loved this!

Davis today has the participation of the community and the university to create one of the largest public art collections per square mile of any city in the county. And many of the murals depict the history that is so rich here.
Trains have been coming through Davisville since 1868 and the 'new' 1913 depot was a step back in time, for us, to almost the beginning.
Around the station are these interesting trees, the Paulownia. In China, an old custom is to plant this tree when a baby girl is born. The fast-growing tree matures when she does. When she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. They are planted here, in Davis, according to a sign in the Depot, as a tribute to the Chinese Laborers who lost their lives building the railroad over Donnor Summit. Interesting, right?

We even learned a little about the IOOF. On April 12, 1870, “Yolo Lodge #169” Independent Order of Odd Fellows was instituted at “Davisville”, Yolo County. Zoltar is in the lodge to tell us our fortunes and the raise some money for their charities. Cool stuff is around every corner in Davis.

Okay, there were several "only in Davis" sightings. I especially love this pizza box recycling center. So clever!

I would so participate in this if I lived here, "Davis Downtown has teamed up with the Varsity Theatre and other downtown businesses to treat you on Valentine’s Day…Davis Downtown’s Sweet on You Movie Night. When you purchase two tickets at the Varsity Theatre, Davis Downtown and our sponsor businesses will treat you to the popcorn, drinks, and a special goodie bag."
Next stop was a saunter through the college campus, which is celebrating its 110 year. We were thoroughly entranced by it all. Jan & Chris were good collegiate guides.

We were intrigued by this trio of pretty aggressive fowl. In 2011, some of Davis's turkeys found themselves homeless when the old barn they used as a base was torn down to make way for a new development of homes. These guys seemed pretty content to rule the roost. What a crack up.

Robert Arneson, a UC Davis faculty member for four decades, created these Egghead sculptures. Mr. Arneson was also at the forefront of a movement that took ceramic art in a new direction.
When he came to campus in 1962, ceramic art forms were mainly "art" versions of traditional pottery shapes — pots, vases, plates and tiles. But starting in the 1960s, Arneson and several other California artists abandoned the manufacture of functional wares in favor of using everyday objects to make confrontational — and to some, offensive — statements. The new movement was dubbed "Funk Art," and Arneson is considered the "father of the ceramic Funk movement." The Eggheads were among the last works he completed before his death. The last of the Eggheads were installed on campus in 1994. This 'nose in the book' is in front of the library. Perfect placement!
Dinner was at the exceptionally tasty De Vere's Irish Pub. There was so much to do and see, and this was just part of Day #1. We 💗 Davis.

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Home Means Nevada for our Friends

Laura and Steve are my Steve's pre-Denise friends. We spent Saturday afternoon visiting their lovely new home in Minden. The move is a gradual one, as both are still working in SoCal. We can't wait to have new neighbors "off the hill".

𝅘𝅥𝅯 Home, means Nevada, Home, means the hills,
Home, means the sage and the pines.
Out by the Truckee's silvery rills,
Out where the sun always shines.
There is the land that I love the best,
Fairer than all I can see,
Deep in the heart of the golden west
Home, means Nevada to me.𝅘𝅥𝅯
-Nevada's State Song

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Tahoe Transportation District Discussed

This morning was our AAUW General Meeting. The presenter was Carl Hasty, District Manager for the Tahoe Transportation District (TTD). Since I knew very little about this entity, I came to learn more.

So what exactly is the TTD? In 1969, California and Nevada legislators agreed to a unique Compact for sharing Lake Tahoe resources/responsibilities. The two states and the U.S. Congress amended the Compact in 1980, which also established the TTD. The agency is responsible for facilitating and implementing safe, environmentally positive, multi-modal transportation plans, programs and projects for the Lake Tahoe Basin, including transit operations.
Mr. Hasty shared with us a survey conducted in 2014 studying Tahoe's recreation travel uses. He didn't use the term tourism usage due to the fact that many more people come here as 'day use' visitors only.
It was a rather cool study. Using people's cell phones, they were able to track the comings and goings of millions of people during the winter (February) and summer (July).
It even showed the percentage of flyers and from which airport.

The sad conclusion was of the 80 million person trips, to Tahoe, only 1.4% used public transportation. The goal of the TTD is to get people out of their individual cars. Anyone who has ever tried to leave town on a Sunday during ski season or attempted to head to Emerald Bay on a summer weekend knows this is a very admirable goal.
In 10+ years, the goal is to lower auto trips by 7.03 million by integrating transportation choices like transit and walking/biking trails which will reduce traffic, thus enhancing the visitor (and resident) experience. Here's hoping TTD is a huge success.

What Paris has done right is to make it awful to get around by car
and awfully easy to get around by public transportation or by bike.
-Serge Schmemann

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