GLEAM: Art in a New Light @ Olbrich Gardens, Madison, WI

I don't know what to say for this one, except - "GO!"

It costs a modest amount of money for entry, but that money goes to the gardens, which are normally free (outdoors) all year round. The amount of interesting things done with lights, some not even showing up on "film" well and some not captured below, is pretty incredible to see in person. I would absolutely recommend this event, they have evening hours through much of the fall.

Right from the get-go, it draws you in. I'll bring you through as I walked it, though they hand you a well-done map for the whole event as you enter, suggest a route, and have guides posted all over.

This is also above a pond, so if viewed at the correct angle, you see the reflection of the lights as well.

Not sure I snagged the description of this one... I liked it...

This one was easily the hardest to capture in film or video as most of the light is red (I presume), but it was pretty special and interesting to see with the naked eye...

More lights as you walk through, though I may have missed the descriptions...

These are the Orbs...

This was on the way to the next installation, pretty neat...

And finally was, as I went through it at least, a large walkway filled with disco balls in the trees, with a large light source behind the "viewer". As you walked through (don't look behind you!) the lights changed colors and reflected all along the path. It was very interesting. Kind of like snowing light...

Don't look into this light...

That was pretty much it for my trip, I found the Gleam exhibit well-done, plenty to see and walk to, and well-worth my money. I did miss one or two installations in the arboretum, but I was done for the night. I can also go back if I'd like to.

Again, if you're in the area, make a plan to see this this fall. Here's the Olbrich link:



Quinton's Bar & Deli, Iowa City, IA

I've been coming through or driving near Iowa City for about 12 months now, since a job change, and have been told many times that I should stop on the drive here at Quinton's for lunch. They are known for their sandwiches, local brews, and close-to-campus location. I was able to stop in recently for lunch and found just that - the place does seem to be a perfect campus dive-bar, with great food and plenty of beers on tap.

They have a pretty big menu of classic bar apps, burgers and sandwiches (it is right next to the University of Iowa afterall - known your customer)... but they also have curated a selection of sandwiches I can't say I've seen anywhere else. Unique combinations of meats, sauces and toppings keep it interesting, very interesting. Plus, you can get all kinds of different sides with any of the sandwiches (sometimes with a little upcharge).

I was trying to feed a cold, so I went all-in with their Spicy Chicken Philly. It's their normal Chicken Philly (diced chicken breast with grilled onions and peppers), then loaded with jalapenos, and tossed/topped with Buffalo Wing Cream Cheese and Chipotle Mayo. I chose their marble rye to hold it all too.

It was great. Awesome flavors, not too much heat, but enough kick by the end of the sandwich. The sweet potato fries were also worth the $2 upcharge, imo. I washed my selection down with a Left Hand Milk Stout on nitro, which I almost always defer to if I see it on nitro. It didn't disappoint either.

My only knock, and it's minor or more of a pet-peeve, is that I was called "Sir" at least a dozen times by the bartender/waiter. Sure, I get it, I'm not a spring-chicken anymore... but I don't have to be reminded of it every time you speak to me. In fact, I think he was dressed better/older than I was too.

In any event, if you happen to be stuck on the long drive across Iowa on I-80, I think it makes perfect sense to stop at Quinton's for lunch or dinner. I'm not sure I could handle their late-night student crowd anymore, Sir, but maybe one should try that too.


Cycropia (Orton Park Festival), Madison, WI

I have been in Madison long enough to have heard about this event once before. But, having heard and been invited this season, I knew it was time to check it out.

For those that don't know, it's an aerial acrobatics show performed suspended below a large old-growth tree in a local Madison park, Orton Park. It seems as though it's been going on for a number of years, and they have it down pat. The shows are free to attend, though the do pass around baskets to accept donations. It can't be a cheap show to produce each year, and frankly, I think it's easily worth a donation.

It's become popular for families to attend the "dress rehearsal" on Thursday evening at 7:30PM. Kids are usually able to stay up to see it. The other shows on Friday and Saturday begin at 8:30PM, which is great for the lit trees and other production elements, but not so good for little kids. I attended the former edition. 

People know about this family-friendly dress rehearsal now, so you probably had to get there and place a blanket down around 5-5:30PM to get a prime spot. I wound up standing for the show near the periphery, but was able to see almost everything and grab some pics and video.

After you cordon off a spot, head over and get some eats, like ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe... 

Before the sun goes down, the show starts and it starts right off the bat with some cool stuff.

As the sun goes down, the light come up and the show even seems to get a bit more daring and entertaining...

It was a pretty well-run event, very entertaining, a great night weather-wise, and it just felt right. I'd be back for the next two nights if I wasn't heading out of town for the weekend. I'd like to be back next year for sure.


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