Trial Balloon

Field Trip!

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 21, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (28 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

Radio Heartland has tickets to Eliza Gilkyson in concert at the Cedar Cultural Center this Saturday, April 24th at 8pm. We'll take entries until 1pm today and will notify the winners later this afternoon.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good Luck!

Last Saturday an enthusiastic group of Trial Balloon readers met for an outing at The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. Since much of the planning for this trip was conducted in the comments section of this blog, members of the group were kind enough to collect some impressions of the journey to share with those who were unable to attend. Thanks also to Misha Dashevsky at the Museum for sending along some exhibit photos.


Joanne of Big Lake:

The blue and gold of the Northstar Train reflects the spring sunlight, looming large in a small town. Surrounded by a crowd of happy, chatting Twins fans sporting logo-ed wearables (was there a Twins game today?), I find a seat on the upper level of the train.
I am excited to meet up with fellow bloggers from the Radio Heartland Trial Balloon blog on a trip to The Museum of Russian Art.

Photo: Museum of Russian Art

It's a beautiful old Spanish stucco building that served as a church and a funeral home in past incarnations. Dark, polished hardwood floors and woodwork provide a simple contrast to cream walls that accentuate the lovely artwork throughout the building. Well designed alcoves, bench seats and subdued lighting invite lingering over artwork, quiet conversation and contemplation.


thanks to clyde, the suggestion of the russian museum of art was a good one. the art on exhibit was incredible stuff from the 1950's.

Photo: Museum of Russian Art
stalin was dead. when kruschav came in he loosened the reins on the artists vs what stalin had been up to. stalin had done the dictator bit where the only art that was ok was the military the stalin portrait the flag kind of art. kruschav came in and said that the arts could embrace anything russian and that included the landscapes of the russian countryside and the pictures of russian life in the farming life and life in an average russian village. the art on exhibition was like what the impressionists were doing in france, strapping their canvas to their back and painting the scenes in front of them.the scenes were of the farm life in the 50s with horse drawn wagons pulled into the village square to create a farmers market, the farm house that the russian farmers knew where the horses and cows and chickens lived on the first floor and the family lived upstairs. the farmers would live in a community of farmhouses set up like a townhome community and then would go out to the field to work and come home again at night vs the american way where the farm house was on the farm and the neighbor was a half a mile down the road, the community formed was as much a fiber of the russian country life as the log cabin was to the americana we know and love. in the 50s these guys reveled in the freedom and had beautiful bold wild brush strokes where they mixed the paint on the canvas (actually most of them painted on boards) and the stuff that results is fresh vibrant and feels like van gough and cezanne rather than the very stiff military portrait style of the stalin era. the art was breathtaking and the museum wonderful. they had side exhibits on textiles (nice) and enamel lacquer boxes (incredible).

Photo: Museum of Russian Art

Barbara in Robbinsdale:

I spent a lot of time in the Textiles area in the lower level -- the "homemaking section." Ah, here's where the Russians showed their colors! On display were brightly colored, traditional 19th century costumes, worn only on special occasions, and some of the tools used to create them. All but one of the garments were homespun women's dresses [I'm just trying to imagine life without jeans!] . There was just one man's shirt -- men apparently wore out their clothing in their more vigorous outdoor labors, so fewer pieces survive for the museums. The table and bed linens, decorated mainly with intricate bright red embroidery, really were a sort of linen -- made from flax, which grew in abundance; spun into thread [Rumplestiltskin comes to mind]; and hand sewn into garments, bedding, table cloths, etc.


Do you ever meet a group of people and have the sense that you've known these folks for a very long time, even if this is the first time you've met? That's what meeting my fellow Radio Heartland listeners and Trial Balloon bloggers was like; that immediate sense of ease you have when you meet old friends.


Left to Right: Anna, tim, Joanne, Barbara & Sherrilee

I'm sure you all have had the experience of meeting another MPR listener, or finding out that a friend also listens to Radio Heartland, and it is often not too much of a surprise (though sometimes it might be). But with this new added layer of meeting in the virtual space of the Trial Balloon blog, you get to know your fellow listeners and develop a community in a way that hasn't really happened before.
We chatted about kids, what we do, were we remembering the right thing about this or that person (are you the one who...or was that Beth Ann?). We talked about the art (the brushwork on this painting is fabulous! Did you see that in the embroidery? I didn't either...). And then, there in the sunshine with our frozen custard, was that same feeling like these were longtime friends that I hadn't seen in awhile, and we finally had a chance to get together and catch up on what was happening (where's your daughter in school? what project are you working on now?).
Did I look like they thought I might? Did they? Didn't matter. The ebb and flow of conversation, the intellectual curiosity, the wittiness, the thoughtfulness - it was all there, in real time.


One of the exhibits we saw at the Museum of Russian Art covers the art of lacquer. The boxes on display are small and exquisite, but the big surprise is that the boxes begin as sheets of cardboard.

Photo: Museum of Russian Art

They are then covered with paper mâché and layers and layers of lacquer. The impossibly small decorations on the boxes are hand-painted with teeny tiny brushes made from squirrel hair and then lacquered again.
As we sat in the warm sunshine at Liberty Custard we talked about the last day of the Morning Show and how it had eventually led us to a Trial Balloon Blog field trip on a gorgeous Saturday.
And this made me think of other times in my life when something I didn't want to happen led to an unexpected small treasure. My daughter didn't get her first choice of elementary schools but I met a woman who turned out to be a really close friend when I volunteered at the school. I didn't get a job I really wanted and a few weeks later, another job came along that turned out to be wonderful and which I'm still doing 20 years later.

What unexpected small treasures have shown up in your life?

Comments (28)

Good Morning, All - very enjoyable to read descriptions of the field trip last weekend You Five! Thanks for letting us experience the fun.

as for unexpected treasures - my life if full of them - jobs, husband, goats - many more than i can say.

Dale, too late, but do we have the Stones' "Can't Always Get What You Want" in the library? (probably not a big Stones collection, huh?) no matter.

have a great day, All

Posted by toothachey barb in Blackhoof | April 21, 2010 8:57 AM

My apologies, everyone, for the dearth of comments today. When I assembled the entry and added pictures from the Museum, I inadvertently erased a tiny bit of secret coding that upset the whole comment logging system.

Credit goes to Michael Wells of our new media staff. He found the flaw and fixed it.

Posted by Dale Connelly | April 21, 2010 9:08 AM

OK, overslept and just got on, mystified till I read at the end of Dr. Heartlander yesterday. Glad it's working again, but now not sure where to post! Great to see all the extra pictures...

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 21, 2010 9:13 AM

Thanks folks; indeed wish I had been there. Thanks for the pix. Was waiting for tim's description of the art, which was worth the wait. I will download and keep the group pix.
Small treasures in my ife? Unexpected treasures? My wife of course, since our courtship and marriage were so fast. We were not supposed to be able to have children and then suddenly did; so our children (one of whom went to the emergency room yesterday and is in the hospital now--so we are feeling her more as a treasure than ever). Grandkids,too, grand duaghter because there is so much of my wife about her when neither of my chidren look or act like her (our son thinks and feels like her).
Everytime I gfo to see really fine art work like where this group went or the Art Institute of Chicago, I am taken out of myself, I am not standing in a place; I am not in the art but rather in a world inhabited by talent and insight and joy and depression and elegant longing for something free of of of of . . . the things and people who limit others. I feel this feeling the most at the Russian museum because it is the art of people whose art is more dearly formed.

Posted by Clyde | April 21, 2010 9:13 AM

Never mind my email, Dale and Mike. I was trying to post from my old entry. I cut and pasted out into a new entry and it went.

Posted by clyde | April 21, 2010 9:15 AM

Love the reporting of the museum trip! I wish I could have gone, it sounds like it was a lot of fun!

As for little treasures - for me, they're the friends I've made while living here in the UP. They've helped me in countless ways: helping me move (a couple of times haha), letting me bunk at their houses while looking for an apartment or house, buying me groceries when I couldn't walk due to a busted knee, inviting me over for dinner just to enjoy the company. They have made living away from home so much easier :)

Posted by Alanna in MI | April 21, 2010 9:17 AM

Looks like comments are being successfully posted again ~ Yay!

Wonderful comments from the Traveling Trial Ballooners - thanks for sharing the day with us via the blog. Have wanted to see The Museum of Russian Art for a number of years and just haven't done it. Also sounds like the friendship-building that occurred on the field trip was as beautiful as the artifacts on view at the museum; another treasure discovered?

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | April 21, 2010 9:18 AM

barb in blackhooff--how are you doing? Been thinking of you since I will soon have the whole mouth done.

Posted by clyde in kato | April 21, 2010 9:22 AM

I would definitely say that the connections I've made on TB is one of life's treasures - and fun to meet some of the group. We'll have to arrange another field trip somewhere so more folks can join us next time!

I agree, Clyde, with your descriptions of going to an art museum - I can totally be transported. One of the things I like about the Russian Museum is that it does feel like you've traveled to another time and place (and for me it's less than a mile away from home). I can get that way, too, in parts of the MIA here in Mpls.

Besides family and friends, I would count my little stretch of Minnehaha Creek as a small treasure - a place to walk in the woods without leaving the city.

Hope the child in hospital heals quickly, Clyde. Barb in Blackhoof - hope you (and the kids, and the recently "snipped" goat) are also well.

Posted by Anna | April 21, 2010 9:34 AM

Watching the passing pagent of human existence, while it lasts:
The flowering trees on the blvd. outside my window are in full wide bloom, even the dark, tattooed and pierced crowd is admiring them, that is until the city cuts these down too. Up on the hill the MSU-M workers were having fun cutting down and digging up trees Saureman lives!!
My daughter had to go to the emergency room yesterday and is till there, essentially from exhaustion from work, a bug, and the time of year for her work. As she is in the hospital and filtering her calls, she gets people calling who are upset she works so hard and that church people expect so much from her and since she is coming out of the hospital tomorrow could she visit gramma at 10:00 a.m.

Posted by Clyde Downtown Mankato | April 21, 2010 9:39 AM

One of my small treasures is the children in my life. Yesterday Husband and I got to babysit with a... I guess he's a great nephew, 2 months old. I actually smelled like "baby" when we left.

Clyde, I found this passage particularly elegant: "I am not in the art but rather in a world inhabited by talent and insight and joy and depression and elegant longing..." I feel it most at the State Fair Art building, where I can spend hours walking among paintings that I realize are done by the people I pass in the street right here in Minnesota.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 21, 2010 10:02 AM

thanks for asking, Clyde, Catherine, Anna -
Clyde, isn't it amazing how insensitive people can be to their clergy? wow. hope your daughter has some time to rest.
about 24 hours before i can head in to have this pain taken away by the BEST root canal-er in the world. Dr. Lindquist in the Medical Arts bldg. in Duluth. i could have gotten in with other endodontists, but she is the ONE. so, one more day.
Loki is doing much better today. he is a bit of a drama King but i gotta say i wouldn't want anything pinching "down there" either. but this will enable him to go to his next "job" of training Great Pyrenees puppies to live with goats. he and Dancer both will go to Flying Snakes Farm in Bayfield. the puppies are about the same age as D and L are. and when the puppies are trained well, they will move on to their new goat-farm homes. (think the puppies are for sale now for after they are trained.)
good wednesday to All

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 21, 2010 10:14 AM

I felt pretty bereft when I saw that the posts were unavailable-What a great field trip! I have many treasures, large and small and many intangible, for which I am thankful. I would say that family, good food, pets,and music are my most precious treasures. My husband insists we are going to the Minnesota State Fair this year-I haven't been there since 1983, so perhaps I can finally meet some of the Heartlanders.

Posted by Renee | April 21, 2010 10:19 AM

great waxing on about the woneders of art and the human coexistance both on a viewer and creator level.
hope your daughter learns how to relax. tell her you are not supposed to take phone calls while you are recuperating from work related exhaustion. you are supposed to learn to meditate and say uuummmm. to calm your self down. then you think about all you needed to do while you were busy being incapacitated. it is a vicious circle.
little tresure are all around. what else is there. take the time to notice. it is amazing every time i realize how much i am missing by not paying attention.
for an added two cents. the other guys to watch besides the master artists are the early elementary students or preschool where they haven't learned to follow the ruls and paint for others approval yet. the stuff and the style is so pure its better than a lot of the museum quality work.

Posted by tim | April 21, 2010 10:29 AM

Ah, that I could tell me adult children anything more at 39 and 37 than when they were 15. But she was taking calls because she was arranging someone to visit a parishioner who was in the last stages of dying.
I agree about small kids art of all kinds. My daughter has her two chidlrem decorate a blank calendar for me each uear, a pix each month, things for special days. My then four year old drew a windblown tree that is the essence of a windblown trees in one continuous line. But he shows no real aptitude, just exhuberance. Sunday they were riding in the back of our van on the way to church and improvizing their song about maps, which has been going on for months now. He sang about how the map would show him the way to his home, to grandma's home, to church, and then--as he looked to his left out the window--to the grave yard. At which point his sister started singing his words as a dirge.

Posted by Cly de moode bleu | April 21, 2010 11:02 AM

You guys act like the new Jim Ed to Dale I think. He has created a blog and a community grew from it, which is pretty darn cool. I was wondering if you people would be interested in a meet up at the MayDay parade and Festival, probably one of the most organic large celebrations out there. I say organic because its created, produced, directed, and organized by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask theater ( , which is run on a very tight budget, I hope some of you may be able to go Sunday may 2 from 1-6 in South Minneapolis, o, I am in the parade, and the performance after in Powderhorn Park, doing percussion. Its hippie, organic, and all around amazing. If any of you wants to organize a meetup, I suggest you do it along the parade route (map is on the heart of the beast website). Hope this gets read this late in the day.

Posted by Aaron | April 21, 2010 11:12 AM

Have to say this--just heard on "Performance Today" which I listen to every Wednesday to hear the piano puzzler and the amazing talent of the man who plays the puzzler--Mark Twain died 100 years ago today. Like Hemingway. I think that all real American fiction, not all fiction written in America, begins with Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who came in riding Haley's Comet and, as he promised, went out riding it too. Wrote a masters thesis on the rhetoric of Huck Finn. Such a gift, such hard work, and such a messed up life. First person tp type a novel.

Posted by Clyde Fanne de Clemens | April 21, 2010 11:12 AM

Greetings! Very nicely done, Dale. Glad you got pictures from TMORA -- such a lovely place.

The unexpected treasure was just the fun and excitement of the whole trip that day. I am not at ease meeting and talking with new people, but I met and chatted with a delightful woman (also named Joanne) the duration of train ride to downtown -- a kindred spirit in many ways. I even saw her again on the train home.

Meeting the other TB bloggers was also very easy as Anna says. I knew nothing about Russian art, so was delighted by the beauty and depth of the art, as well as the gorgeous museum. The rich colors and intricate details of the lacquered boxes really has to be seen up close and in person. I would like to go there again at some time.

Looking forward to the next TB field trip -- the one Aaron suggests sounds great -- I'm even off that weekend!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 21, 2010 12:34 PM

clyde thanks for the mark twain reference. it is amazing how far into the day i have gotten without hearing that before. it is a true you still have a copy of the thesis?
your grand children are exactly what i am talking about. before they are tainted by thge teacher who tells them cows aren't blue and the like. the graveyard song is a wonderful mind picture for me.
sorry to hear about your trees. progress bah humbug!

heart of the beast is a great gorup aaron. i am available at present but would be willing to bet my daughters fastpitch softball will rear is spring head without notice on many weekends that are not currently on my calander.
renee, see you at the fair, allana how bout them pasties. gotta love the u pers (how do they spell it up there) it is gods country.

Posted by tim | April 21, 2010 2:45 PM

clyde thanks for the mark twain reference. it is amazing how far into the day i have gotten without hearing that before. it is a true you still have a copy of the thesis?
your grand children are exactly what i am talking about. before they are tainted by thge teacher who tells them cows aren't blue and the like. the graveyard song is a wonderful mind picture for me.
sorry to hear about your trees. progress bah humbug!

heart of the beast is a great gorup aaron. i am available at present but would be willing to bet my daughters fastpitch softball will rear is spring head without notice on many weekends that are not currently on my calander.
renee, see you at the fair, allana how bout them pasties. gotta love the u pers (how do they spell it up there) it is gods country.

Posted by tim | April 21, 2010 2:46 PM

jimin it again

Posted by tim | April 21, 2010 2:47 PM

tim--you see Yuppers and Yoopers. Pasties are the food of the North, well, Cornwall. My wife and I are going to make some for our friends next month--with lard because without it they are not pasties.
I love when 5-6 year olds show you their minds at work:
Jonah sitting in McDonalds--grampa, what are the bags for on hot-air balloons?
Grampa explains about filling the bag with hot air.
Jonah a bit disgusted: No, that's the balloon. What are the BAGS for?
Grampa explains about the basket to hold people.
Jonnah a bit more disgusted: I know what the basket is. What are the bags for ON the basket?
Grampa getting it and thinking fast: Oh they hold weight such as sand to stabilze the basket.
Jonah thinks a bit: Oh so it does not tip over. And now I know what THAT word means?

Posted by Clyde of the North | April 21, 2010 3:58 PM

Aaron, you're right. I'll bet we could get a group together, and this is one of the last vestiges of hippiedom from the 70s. There's a pageant/ceremony (for which you sit on the hillside overlooking Powderhorn Lake) where the forces of light prevail... There's folk dancing, food vendors and a carnival atmosphere - it feels like you're part of something ancient (and you are). Last time I saw the parade I was in tears, very moving. I'll check the calendar, and if we're in town, I'll help organize something. Pray for good weather, there's no rain date.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 21, 2010 3:59 PM

p.s. Aaron - what do you get to be in the parade? In maybe 1978 I was underneath a segment of a dragon. :)
Renee, hope you can get to the Fair.
tim, yes about the taking time to notice...

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 21, 2010 4:09 PM

all--today's Composers' Datebook would be of interest to your theater and movie buffs, such as me:
Soooo, I a look at this pix of five fine folks and say to myself, so she is an Abby, a name I love and suggested for our daughter and which our grand daughter almost got. But now she's back to barbara.
tim--who has the song about kids and blue grass etc. Harry Chapin? If it is him, we should ask for it tomorrow, if it's in Dale and Mike's stash. I think I may have the thesis digitally. I will try to remember to look tomorrow.
Aaron and ABBY--would love to go to your parade etc. But tis one on of those environments I have to avoid for pain's sake. HEAVY Sigh!!!

Posted by Cly des Detailes | April 21, 2010 4:45 PM

Barb, I am in the very last section entitled "ROAR" with a band dressed in red. I will be wearing a red crown and will be in a wheelchair. Clyde we will miss u!

Posted by Aaron | April 21, 2010 7:25 PM

White Crown I mean

Posted by Aaron | April 21, 2010 7:31 PM

Clyde - I'll answer to Abby anytime, and I also like that name. But when the group on Saturday asked me which name I like better, and I found myself saying Barbara, so I've reverted.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 22, 2010 8:00 AM

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