Thursday, February 7, 2008

Midwest Eye Conference

(click on image to enlarge)

Last weekend's Midwest Eye Conference in lovely Oklahoma City was a big success. It started with a reception Friday night, then we wandered about downtown to look for a place to eat.
I was pleased that on Saturday morning, when the presentations began, I was the second speaker following my esteemed colleague from Wisconsin, Dr Simon Pot, who was talking about a cataract operation in a penguin who resided at the Milwaukee Zoo. I gave my chat about a weird, rare eye tumor of dogs. I was glad people were paying attention enough to ask some questions. I thought it went well and it was a relief to get it over with, frankly. The rest of the morning was filled with additional talks.
That afternoon, we received a tour of the Cowboy Museum. I had been looking forward to this. I thought, mistakenly, that Trigger, Roy Roger's horse, resided there, stuffed and mounted. I was sad to hear that Trigger resides at possibly three other places. None of the docents were sure. The museum is huge, with lots of money being donated by...........John Wayne. I have to admit that some of the museum was interesting. I enjoyed the section on movie cowboys of old, the part about cowboy humorist Will Rogers, and the Native American art. As we entered the room of Native American art, the docent said: "These things are more like artifacts than art". The room was filled with beauty. Beaded moccasins, jewlery, blankets, sculpture. Seemed like art for me. The way the "interaction" between whites and Native people was described, was so far from the truth, I had to laugh to keep from crying. A couple of my European colleagues were particularly upset. I knew it would be quite a bit of cowboy mythology, but wasn't prepared for the magnitude of the distortions. Plus the life-size statues of Charleton Heston,John Wayne, and Ronnie Reagan were a bit much. I thought it was interesting to see John Wayne's kachina (sp?) doll collection. Was it that he understood that this dolls had spiritual import? Did he think they were beautiful? The docents didn't know. The silly part of me wondered that it would have "tarnished" Wayne's "image" if the information got out that he collected "dolls". The Native American depicted above sums up how I felt as I left the museum.
That evening, we had a really nice dinner, with a one man cowboy play/standup comic. It wasn't very funny but the food was exceptional. Talks continued Sunday morning. They were generaly quite good and I learned a lot.
Lastly, we left and tried to fly home. Due to a series of flight delatys, cancellations and snow, we didn't arrive in Madison until 9:30. Aside from that, the weekend was a success and I enjoyed getting to know my colleagues better.

(click on image to enlarge)

From left to right: Dr Simon Pot, Dr Christiane Kafarnik, Dr Patricia Mundy


Suzy said...

Wow, I don't know where to begin ...
Cataract surgery on a penguin? I know there's a joke lurking in there, but I just can't tease it out. Artifacts, not art ... sheesh. I thought we were all a little more enlightened these days. I do like the idea of John Wayne playing with dolls. Too bad you couldn't find Trigger. Didn't your esteemed boss go along?

It reminds me of my trip to Texas a couple of years ago. As we drove through Oklahoma, I read about the Guthrie Museum, which I assumed to be Woody Guthrie memorabilia. Gosh, maybe we'd even see the "this guitar kills fascists" guitar! Luckily, before we had driven the 100 or so miles out of the way to go there, we discovered that it had nothing at all to do with Woody Guthrie. But I was so disappointed.

poodledoc said...

Apparently, this was a Rock Hopper Penguin from the Milwaukee Zoo. He was quite old for a penguin and is doing well after cataract removal. Simon, who gave the presentation, received an award for "Best Talk". I could tell that most of us in the audience were trying to think up something clever. However, as Simon's talk was the first one of the morning, perhaps no one was awake and witty.

Enlightened? I wonder. I am amused about John Wayne and his dolls. "Git outta town, I wanna play with my dolls!"

The esteemed boss was much missed by his colleagues, who obviously like him a great deal. He was back home reading hundreds of vet school student applications, a task he loves.

Ed said...

If I'm ever in Oklahoma City, I'm definitely going to the Cowboy Museum! And I'll ask them where Trigger is.

poodledoc said...

Yes, be sure to ask about Trigger. You can tell they feel pissed that "they" don't have Trigger. And you'll find the model of the "Buffalo soldier" interesting. I found it interesting that the rodeo world was integrated in 1932, while baseball took until 1947. but the cavalry was earlier than that. I'm not sure that's good. Anway, they had two additional docents-in-training who I enjoyed peppering with questions. They were up to the challenges and started asking me questions like: "Why are you such a smart ass?" and "Do you know Ed Fenny?"

Anyway, there's not much to do in Oklahoma City. You can visit the memorial of the federal building. That's scary. And sad. It felt haunted to me.

Suzy said...

I was thinking some more about the art vs. artifacts question, actually mentioned your post in passing to Crayons, who has worked in museums. She said that in her old job they had that discussion a lot, and that one of the definitions of art is that it is created to be "purely decorative" not utilitarian. But then I started thinking about how much that has been created by women through the ages has been utilitarian items made beautiful, because women frequently haven't had time to create "pure art" busy as they have been rearing children, etc. so I find that definition woefully chauvenistic at best.

(Uh-oh, now I'm off on a favorite rant!)

There is a documentary about the work of sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, and while I truly admire his artwork, what really stuck with me was the fact that his wife stayed home to care for the 5 or so children he'd fathered and probably laundered his muddy kneed corduroys as well ... But what recognition will history accord her? "Andy Goldsworthy's wife?" IF she's even remembered.

Anyway ... it just sticks in my craw.