Sidewalk art

Always there, underfoot.

Richard Serra's 'Sequence'

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.“

The houses of Shasta Hanchett Park

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.

Corner stores

I like these old-school corner stores in San Jose - so much more personal and interesting than Mac's or 7-Eleven.

Beauty

Last week I saw ‘Beauty’, the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial at the San Jose Museum of Art.  

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.

Diridon Station

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. 

Gesso

Ah the gesso stage, happy, wide open, all potential. Love being on the edge of new.