The Magic of Mary Blair

One of the things I was most excited about doing when we were at Disney World was stopping at the Contemporary Resort so we could see the Mary Blair Grand Canyon mural:

The mural is 90 feet tall (!!!), consists of 1,800 hand-painted tiles, and took 18 months to create. It is really hard to comprehend just how massive and detailed it is without seeing it for yourself!

Here’s a zoomed-in (and therefore slightly blurry), look at one of the most famous parts of the mural…the five-legged goat. Mary Blair included it reflect a Southwest Native American belief that nothing made by man can be perfect because man is imperfect. This reminded me a lot of the way quilters will often turn a block in their design, and I think it’s a really cool way to acknowledge the beliefs of the original inhabitants of the area the mural represents!

The scenes representing daily life in the Grand Canyon are whimsical and beautiful:

My only sadness (ok, two sadnesses) is that A.) I didn’t have someone take my picture in front of it; and 2.) That I didn’t photograph the signature tile with Mary Blair’s signature on it. I guess I’ll just have to go back and see it again someday!

Tasty Tuesday–Ben’s Chili Bowl

We only ate one meal out in Washington D.C. (the first time I had eaten in a restaurant since before the beginning of the pandemic!), and Ryan found a really cool local place for us to try…Ben’s Chili Bowl:

Before I get to the food, let’s start outdoors. In 2004, D.C. had a public art project, “PandaMania” and one of the remaining statues is located at Ben’s. Seeing it brought back fond memories of our STL250 cake hunting experience!

Ben’s is over 60 years old, and inside, it looks exactly like you would expect a restaurant of its age to…an old-school diner, which I loved!

Virginia Ali and her husband Ben started the restaurant together in 1958, the same year they got married. The big picture over the diner counter is like seeing a family photo in someone’s house!

I tried the Original Chili Half-Smoke (I wasn’t brave enough to try the spicy variety!). Normally, I can kind of take or leave hot dogs…usually they’re just ok. But the half-smoke at Ben’s was really good. There was a definite snap when I bit into it, and the flavor was fantastic. Chili, mustard, and onions are also the perfect hot dog topping…almost good as a Chicago-style dog!

The art on the building is so cool (and yes, President Obama has eaten there)…it really establishes the character of the place, and visually summarizes what Ben’s website says: “Our Black community is front and center in this story and Ben’s is a perfect case study – a study in our quest of freedom and its ongoing re-definition. Ben’s Chili Bowl is proudly Black-owned, and a historic landmark in Washington, DC’s culture.”

I love finding cool local places to visit when we travel!

Chickadee Thursday

Yesterday before catechesis, Chickadee and I stopped in downtown Belleville to check out one of the new art installations that was recently painted on a building as part of the Belleville Mural Project. It is lovely and vibrant, and Chickadee was excited that she got to be part of the scene…an interactive design is such a fun idea! I can’t wait to see what murals pop up on Main Street next!