You say: I don’t care that they don’t consider it art.
But I do: I see the children running, arms open
Embracing this glittering lizard, seeing themselves
in her mirrored scales.
– Marcy Erb
Last week I started attending a sketchbook class. We meet in various places in San Diego and draw outside: so it is the perfect combination of things I enjoy! Our first meeting was in Balboa Park and after a brief official “class” session, we were set loose in the park to draw pretty much whatever we wanted. I wound up doing multiple studies of the large outdoor mosaic sculpture called Nikigator by Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). It is one of the few sculptures in the park you are allowed to touch and it is literally a child magnet, with kids running, squealing, towards it, arms out to climb and scramble and play. I know of no official study, but just by the level of interaction I observed and the number family photos taken with Nikigator, I would guess it is one of the most visited pieces of art in the park (here’s a color picture!). Niki de Saint Phalle lived an exceedingly colorful and interesting life (The New Yorker published an interesting article about her life last year, I recommend it if you have a few minutes – found here). She is quoted as saying “Whether or not people think it’s art – whether or not it is art – doesn’t matter to me,” in response to critics who were scandalized she merchandized her art in the 1960s to fund her outdoor sculptures. It is interesting to see how much attitudes have changed about that and about how artists are paid and artwork funded. I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend!
Noah Purifoy (1917 – 2004) was an American assemblage artist who tackled issues of race and society. He spent the last 15 years of his life working on 10 acres in Joshua Tree, California. That space is now the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum (click here for the website). It is, without a doubt, worth the bumpy off-road trip (navigable by regular car). His assemblages will stay with you long after you leave.
I missed Silent Sunday because of travel – so it became a Monochrome Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend.
It is slowly eroding, between a public restroom and a playground, shaded by shaggy trees. I have run by it a hundred times and never stopped, the long low form is the color of sand and earth and blends in well. But this one day it was hot and so we veered off and panted in the same shade as this mysterious sculpture. I had to laugh when I bent down to examine it and found the invitation above – Poems here.
It took a fair bit of googling to discover its identity – use the word “sculpture” as a search term and the much more famous works of art in Balboa Park crowd it out of the results. It is the Poetry Bench. Built in 2006 by 20 women out of cob – a natural building material made of clay, sand, and water and in use for thousands of years – it was meant to last a year. But a decade on, although a little worse for wear, it still invites us to sit a while in the shade and perhaps give it a poem. Patiently waiting and letting us hurry by.
(You can see more pictures of the bench and read more about its construction and subsequent lifespan extension here)
I took the photo above inside Fallen Star, a site specific sculpture by Do Ho Suh located on the University of California, San Diego, campus. A visit to the “house” is a disorienting experience – and it is meant to be. It is a meditation on Mr. Suh’s experience emigrating from South Korea, leaving behind everything he had ever known. The house is mounted hanging over the ledge of a tall building, tipped at a 5% grade inside and a 10% grade outside. For reference, the chandelier hangs perfectly perpendicular.
It has been a little while since I shared some of my favorite illustrated poetry links from my travels around the internet and WordPress, in particular.
1. Artpoems by Ms. Jacqueline Davis – her whole blog, Driftless Page, really, is a breathtaking (and inspiring) exploration of calligraphy, word art, and book arts. It’s probably good she doesn’t have the “like” button enabled on her posts, because I would push it many many times!
2. Two illustrated poems by Ro? Comic – Ro? Comics are not usually poetry based, but the artist, Stay Square, has illustrated two poems, Momentos, 1 by W.D. Snodgrass and In the Desert by Stephen Crane. In the Desert is one of my favorite short poems, so it is awesome to see it made into a poetic comic strip.
3. Bustin Garin makes mixed media collages that often feature words, text, and script. His blog is in French, but his work needs no translation. The sheer variety of his art inspires me to recycle everything into a collage! If only mine would come out as good as his…
Enjoy the links and may your house be always level!