We’re still here!

Wow, the last time I posted was in June, 2016! One of our family members became ill in June, so our focus has been on their well-being and return to good health. Things are almost back to normal now, so I have time to blog again-yes! Where to begin? Even though there was a health-crisis, we still found time to venture to new and exciting places, most of the time with our children. Since last June the Silver Chariot has visited the Great Swamp NWR in central New Jersey, Forsythe NWR in southern New Jersey and finally Enchanted Rock, in central Texas. This event has given me time to reflect on the circle of friends and family in our lives and to better keep in touch.

circle-of-friends

Since we were in New Jersey for so long, we ventured out to Pennsylvania and New York states as well as exploring the Garden State. Our daughter lives in Highland Park, New Jersey, where she and her boyfriend opened a new art supply store; Tiger Art Supply. Happily the store is doing well, especially thanks to the community of artists in New Jersey and proximity to several art schools, one of which is the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Exposure to the Arts is very important to us since we are architects and have an artist daughter. We made a couple of trips to art facilities in the Hudson Valley while we were in New Jersey. I even made a day trip to NYC to meet my sister at MOMA and walk the High Line. For her, visiting art museums tops the list of things she loves to do! My favorite museum that we visited as a family was Dia:Beacon in the little town of Beacon, New York, right on the Hudson and a short train ride for New Yorkers. I have struggled my whole life with contemporary art. My favorite period is the Impressionists, but I try to understand all of the art I come in contact with. Dia:Beacon is housed in a former Nabisco Box Printing factory, which is larger than almost any museum I’ve been to, except for the MET. From Dia’s website:

Dia was founded in New York City in 1974 by Philippa de Menil, Heiner Friedrich, and Helen Winkler to help artists achieve visionary projects that might not otherwise be realized because of scale or scope. To suggest the institution’s role in enabling such ambitions, they selected the name “Dia,” taken from the Greek word meaning “through.”

Mission: Dia Art Foundation is committed to advancing, realizing, and preserving the vision of artists. Dia fulfills its mission by commissioning single artist projects, organizing exhibitions, realizing site-specific installations, and collecting in-depth the work of a focused group of artists of the 1960s and 1970s

Natural light is an essential element of the museum. The entire space is crossed by countless huge clerestories, helping to eliminate the need for artificial lighting. The building itself is cast-in-place concrete, so it gives a very solid-feeling foundation to the art installations. Images of the current art on show can be found here: Dia:Beacon collection.

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I loved Robert Erwin’s installation of white translucent scrim walls, titled “Excursus: Homage to the Square3”, which is visible in the above photograph, below the giant clerestory windows. The thing about many of the installations at Dia is that the installation is so large that the viewer becomes part of the art. Homage to the Square is 16 rooms, 4 by 4 square. Depending on the time of day and weather the walls are constantly, almost imperceptibly changing. On the middle of each wall is a flourescent light fixture, which heightens the effect of light on the piece. The doorways from room to room are lined up in such a way that they create an optical illusion.

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Another one of my favorite large pieces was Richard Serra’s “Torqued Elipses.” I first encountered their models or “maquettes” in one room, before walking into the elipses in another huge room. They are made of solid steel and truly invite exploration. They are often maze-like or spiral inward. I first encountered a piece by Serra at the Ft. Worth Museum of Modern art. It was a tall exterior torque of steel. A woman was singing “Ave Maria” inside and the sound was incredible. I wonder if the artist ever dreamed that they would be the perfect acoustic vessel for signing.

The museum abounds with Dan Flavin’s flourescent light artworks:

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Finally, I really liked Michael Heizer’s “North South East West.” You don’t necessarily interact with these holes in the floor, but the dark voids or “sculptural negatives” cause you to contemplate their meaning.img_0385

Another fantastic museum we visited was The Storm King Art Center in Cornwall, NY. This is primarily an outdoor sculpture garden set amongst rolling hills, forests and lakes. It is quite a hike going from one installation to the other. Everybody loved Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall. The first impression is that the wall is a left-over fence dividing property in an area where fieldstone is abundant. Looking closer, one begins to admire the construction and to notice the serpentine form of the wall as it disappears into the lake and emerges on the other side.

From the Storm King website:

While Goldsworthy conceived Storm King Wall and supervised its construction, the roughhewn structure was built by a team of British wallers, who explained to Storm King staff exactly what kinds of stone to harvest and sort in preparation for their work: chunky foundation stones, a smaller, rounder variety for the wall’s midsection, large “through stones,” and flat cap stones for the top layer. The British team built the wall by placing one stone on top of another while chipping and shaping each one to fit snugly; no concrete was used in stacking the wall’s 1,579 tons of fieldstone. The stones can be as captivating as the wall itself.

Another captivating piece we happened upon was Isamu Noguchi’s “Momo Taro.” Momo Taro was a Japanese folkhero who emerged from a peach pit to become an elderly couple’s son. Noguchi is known for his furniture designs, and this piece is very much like an outdoor furniture installation. It invites visitors to interact, touch, and sit upon the work.

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There are scores of installations in stone, steel, bronze and other materials. I don’t remember the artists’ names, but in closing here are two works that I found appealing.

conlan smith

so much to say, so much to see

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