There are times when this city, stiff and indifferent with winter’s chill, unrobes herself and reveals the electric warmth pulsing inside. I experienced it last week. With my family. During, though sparse, daylight hours. Christmas had gladly come and gone and with a few extra days off, I thought we’d see her, this city of ours, in the flesh.
21c Museum Hotel was our first stop, and admittedly I hadn’t been since the summer, but this artistic nectar was exactly the what our sleepy, dark minds craved. As we entered the posh hotel doors, we were greeted with smiling faces despite the must-touch-everything-I-see gremlins I had in tow. Several multi-media exhibits were displayed upstairs: one, by a Lebanese artist that featured over 600 hand-carved glycerine jets that cast shadows like a flurry of birds on the adjacent wall and another, entitled “Woman on the Run” by artist Tracy Snelling that features film, sculpture, and sets of 50-60‘s era women running away from something (although I didn’t exactly discover what), and lastly, a room full of stuffed animals turned inside out. My kids, 3 and 6, were actually speechless and awed.
Downstairs, hands in pockets, the kids marveled over photography, asked poignant questions about Haiti, Palestine, and Isreal. They tried to figure out a projected water leak and fake puddle on the floor. All in all, we were satiated with mind-candy, elated to be away from the television. Thank you, 21c, for providing provocative art, for free, without all pretension; you make this city feel alive.
After the art, we poured out on the gray streets and decided to warm up with a quaff at Hillbilly Tea. Located at 120 South 1st Street, this inviting location immediately thawed our chilled bones. The extensive tea menu offered a fruity, floral herbal tea for the kiddos, a naturally sweet green for my husband, and I sipped a delightfully minty green. An appetizer of sage and white bean fritters rounded out our lovely experience.
The menu was interesting--a gourmet fusion of traditional Kentucky hill food: corn-pone, succotash, BBQ, trout--I will definitely be back for more. The breakfast menu seemed even more enticing.
As I looked out onto the setting, 5:00 so-called-sun on that day in the city, I realized I was in love again with her beauty and spice. Thank you, Louisville, the city I love.