Recently I experienced Richard Serra’s Sequence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I loved it. What an amazing and wonderful thing it is to be able to walk inside -- to be inside -- this work of art.
Best explained by the wall text at SFMOMA:
“Serra was raised in the Sunset District of San Francisco and worked in East Bay steel mills as a teenager. Throughout his career he has investigated both the physical impact of sculpture on the surrounding space and its psychological impact on viewers. Of his large-scale works, Serra has noted: ‘I found very important the idea of the body passing through space, and the body’s movement not being predicated totally on image or sight or optical awareness, but on physical awareness in relation to space, place, time, movement.’
Sequence consists of two vast, torqued steel ellipses connected by an S-shape to create a winding path through which we experience the sculptures’ massive leaning walls and graceful curves. It was made in a German steel fabrication plant that has worked closely with Serra for nearly twenty years to develop machinery and manufacturing spaces capable of achieving his complex forms. The first artwork to be placed in the new SFMOMA, Sequence was installed here in spring 2015, and the unfinished gallery’s exterior walls were built around it.“
A few weeks ago, we packed up on very short notice, game for an adventure in California. We dropped in from the sky with just carry-on bags and landed in a house in Shasta Hanchett Park, San Jose. All a little surreal.
The neighbourhood - separated from downtown by train tracks and the elevated 101 - has a storybook feel about it. The houses seem cozy and well loved. Some a little prim, some more relaxed. All are built on a human scale - not ostentatious, but clearly not inexpensive. There are lots of big trees, as well as lemon, orange, lime, and yes, palm trees. People were warm and friendly, everyone said hello - even teenagers (!). Altogether very nice.
And yet I felt a sense of unreality about it. Was it almost too perfect? Or maybe it was just me, in a strange state of disconnection.
Divided into seven themes -- extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental and transformative – it is a thought provoking feast. Three standouts for me:
PolyThread Knitted Textile Pavilion by Jenny Sabin. Polythread yarn can absorb and collect light during the day and deliver it at night. It is a stunning structure, wonderful to walk in and around, to look at up close and far away. Exciting and uplifting to think of where this could go. Transformative indeed.
Also in the ‘transformative’ section of the exhibition were 3D-printed glass vessels with lights suspended above on pendulums. When the lights move, the light patterns change. These were ethereal, exquisite, transfixing. As it was put to me that day, what is the art: the vessels or the light patterns they create? by Neri Oxman + MIT Media Lab Mediated Matter Group.
And last, Tuomas Markunpoika’s powerful piece ‘Cabinet’, part of the ‘ethereal’ section. From the wall label: "In honor of his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, Markunpoika created his Engineering Temporality (2012) series by welding hand-cut rings of tubular steel over a traditional wooden cabinet. He burned away the cabinet, leaving behind a shell of blackened metal rings, a ghost or shadow of the original form." Intensely moving.
The exhibition is on until February 19, 2017. I highly recommend it.
I have a soft spot for this station. It feels at once nostalgic and of today. The central passenger rail depot for San Jose and a major transit hub for the South Bay area, it is still somehow mellow and friendly: both the place and the people. Maybe it's the sunshine. Or maybe it's the fact that people taking the train are NOT stuck on the freeways.
Ah the gesso stage, happy, wide open, all potential. Love being on the edge of new.
This past winter, as I walked around my downtown Ottawa neighbourhood in the cold, I found myself stopping time and time again to take photos of the manhole covers in the sidewalk. The first time I was struck, so to speak, by this fish with snow and ice on it – frozen fish! How amusing. But then I kept on shooting these images and they started to feel like sidewalk portraits: each a cover with a fish design, but looking a little different because of the light or weather, or with different paint or marks or dirt smudges, perhaps set a little differently in its frame, or with different sidewalk cracks around it. Now it’s May and still the urge to photograph and document these cast iron fish. All good as I long as I remember to look up now and then.
Last week, I brought my bicycle to Ottawa City Hall where there is a free bike tune up clinic each May. (link) I watched as the mechanic checked over and tuned up my old, much loved, indestructible bike and was struck by the fact that the entire thing is mechanical. I love this. And I learned because my “cheap” (who knew?) bike is well engineered, it can always be repaired. I love this too.Read More