Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Land Down Under: Brisbane, Part I

Interesting State Motto
Before I actually came to Brisbane, I was expecting a sort of Australian version of Dallas: a city with flash but with little substance. What I found was a city with a dash of Florida temperature, a sprinkling of New York City culture, a fair amount of Texas attitude, and a bit of Las Vegas glitz. I like it! In fact, Brisbane is referred to by Australians as Brizvegas.

Art Work outside Museum of Modern Art
Brisbane has money. You can tell by the infrastructure: new roads, gleaming art museums, and a modern public transit system. One of the first things I did in Brisbane was take the inexpensive CityCat catamaran. The CityCat, along with the City Ferry, connects Brisbane along the river. This isn't a tourist ride like the cable cars in San Francisco but a real transportation system. Because Brisbane is built along a river, you can visit a lot of places by using its marine transit. It's a lot of fun. Check out my video below. 

High Point of the Day: A personal guided tour of the Brisbane Museum of Modern Art by two museum docents and the curator of the museum herself. What an incredible stroke of luck!

Like many museums, the Museum of Modern Art has a free tour everyday at 11:00 AM. It turns out that the day I took the tour, I was the only person present and the curator wanted to go over a new exhibit with her two assistants. I was the "guinea pig museum participant." The tour lasted one hour, and taking it was like having a crash course on Australian Modern Art: everything from Tracey Moffatt to Scott Redford and Reinhardt Dammn. All along the tour, I was free to ask any question I wanted, including questions about art, the changes happening to Brisbane and Queensland, and where to go for a "Brisbane experience." (It's always a good idea to find out what the locals have to say about their town.) At the conclusion of the tour, I was invited to have coffee with them at the posh Members Lounge. I felt like a real insider.

BTW: A few days later, I met the curator again following a lecture concerning the Queensland artist Scott Redford and his alter ego Reinhardt Dammn. But that's another story. 

One of the Brisbane Catamarans
Fictional Alter Ego: Reinhardt Dammn
(In case you can't tell, this is a statute and not a real person.)