May 22, 2012

Walking on


Cloud City
54 ft. long x 29 ft. high
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rooftop - Until November 2012
It's a geodesic dome, it's a space pod... 
It's the new installation on the roof of the MET.

 It's might be true that every time you look at a landscape, you see something different.  If you think you've seen the skyline of NYC, think again.  Tomas Saraceno's Cloud City is a exuberant burst of joy that makes us experience the lightness of being.
"What inspired me was the geometry of the soap bubbles or the foam, of how they connect one sphere to the other, or they could be the bubbles that form when you drink chocolate milk from a bottle." Tomas Saraceno
"It's a multi-reality, it's like a walk in the sky."
Tomas Saraceno

When I look at Georgia O'Keefe's Sky Above The Clouds IV (1965), I feel like I am walking on clouds.  I am not sure I can say that about Tomas Saraceno's sculpture.

But in order to experience  Cloud City climb* into the sculpture. That changes everything.
The walk to the top is a challenge.  You can get off the stairway at a different levels.  Even though the sculpture is only 29 ft. tall,  it's hard to maintain your equilibrium.  The body wants to go forward, but your mind keeps telling you that the next step may not "exist." I don't know if it's the transparent acrylic floor  and "walls" or the different size and shape of each pod, but your perception of stability is flummoxed.

I always assumed that walking on clouds would feel like floating. The structure of Cloud City may relate to the geometry of bubbles, but being inside this sculpture is the unease of seemingly walking on a weightless surface. Maybe that is what walking on clouds is like. 

I descended slowly, unsure of my next step.  As my foot touched the roof deck,  I was happy to be back on terra firma. 

*The tickets to climb into Cloud City are free.  They can be obtained on the 4th Floor near the roof elevator.  The tickets are a timed entry.  I advise going to get your tickets first and then going up to the roof.  Sneakers are required to climb the sculpture and all belongings, including your cell phone and camera are required to be locked up on the 4th floor as well. 

Artist as Innovator: 
Visions of a Floating City

A 2012 World Science Festival Event
Thursday, May 31, 6pm, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Met
Featuring: Tomas Saraceno, Peter Jager, Mario Livio, Chris McKay, Mark Wigley

May 16, 2012

A History of Self

 Definition of GLASS:
a brittle transparent solid with irregular atomic structure 
from Free Online Thesaurus 

The shattering of  glass is as loud as a domino being slapped down by a player with a winning hand.  I didn't cry when I heard the sound.  I realized that the glass represented a part of the history of myself.

In an episode from NCIS, a recurring villain hands a glass of Napoleonic brandy to one of the main characters and says "History in a glass."  I am not interested in what's inside the glass or the history of the glass itself.  Although, I am sure both are equally fascinating.  I collect tiny, antique, hand-blown glasses for aesthetic reasons only.

I can date my collection from the time I started visiting my sister in southern France.  In a small shop near her home in Le Bez, a rather grumpy man runs a 50 year old antique shop covered with dust.  Spitting on a plate to see the pattern is not unheard of, at least in my family.  This is where my collection began.

Every glass I own has a story.  It is the story of where it was purchased, who I was with, what mood I was in, what cafe my husband waited for me in, and what aspect of that particular vessel prompted me to buy it.  These glasses are a  barometer of my aesthetic decisions at a specific time.  Better than a scrapbook or digital catalog of photos, these vintage containers are a warning sign;  reminding me of my obsessions and the lengths I will go to, to satisfy them.

Last weekend, my husband added a shelf to my glass cabinet.  This meant removing all the glasses with great care.  In re-arranging the glasses back on the shelves, I left the best for last: my collection.  And that is when it happened.  A deafening crash.  One small vessel was no more.

 In some circles a digestif may be an ordinary occurrence.  In my circle, even my facebook circle, imbibing a digestif is still a rarefied experience, but after the destruction of one of my prized glasses, 11 am was not too early to pour myself a drop of grappa in a glass from Bassano Del Grappa.

May 9, 2012

The Good, The Bad
and The ArtFULL

Randall's Island
Some people said the tent was amazing, some the art.  I found the mix of people most arresting.  Instead of bumping arms with hermes bags, converse sneakers outnumbered anything designer .  Sipping coffee, drinking wine, munching on croissants, eating pizza, guzzling beer, pushing baby carriages, chatting with friends and talking about art was the Frieze vibe.

I  watched the tent go up.  I knew it was 3 football fields long, still I could not feel the vastness of it until inside.  Walking to the end of one aisle was a work out in itself and then it was time to turnaround and head back down in the another endless direction.

Even though I think the whole book thing is dead, not at Frieze.   Art books of popular and little known publishers, plus limited editions were selling.
And of course there was the people watching
At Frieze, no one spoke in a a hushed tone.  More state fair than art fair, Frieze was a New York moment; as vibrant as a city sidewalk at rush hour.  Maybe this is the way ART is meant to be experienced.

May 5, 2012

Mabel in Wonderland

Mabel's Adventures
Chateau de Lacaze
May 6 - 30, 2012
Lacaze is in the Southeast Tarn department of France. 

Shameless commerce division:
DISCLAIMER FIRST:  Mabel Odessey is my sister.

I look for any reason to go to France and visit my sister, who lives in a remote village in the southwestern part of the country.  Even though Mabel lives in an isolated location,  this has not affected her ability to constantly create new cutting-edge work.  Mabel's shows are not just photographs on a wall.  They are installations.   In her current show, Mabel is giving each guest a chance to go down the rabbit hole.

From the Lewis Carroll Society of North America:  "Before there was Instagram, people used chemical emulsifying processes to make their photographs look cool. An American artist named Mabel Odessey will have a site-specific installation at France’s Ch√Ęteau de Lacaze from May 6 thru 30th, using the distinctly retro technique of pinhole photography.

" I was immediately captivated by the many levels on which the narrative functions.  The challenge
of photographing a dream world was very exciting.  Perception, time and identity are at the core of both the books and my photographic work.  My objective was to evoke the atmosphere rather than to illustrate particular scenes."
Mabel Odessey 
This is part of an article by Mabel Odessey that will be featured in the Spring 2012 Knight Letter number 88, available to LCSNA members.  

Not a member of the Lewis Carroll society, I have to ask my sister to send me a copy. 

All photographs are copyright Mabel Odessey 2012.
No usage without permission.

May 2, 2012

This is NEW YORK!

TIME:  10.38 AM
CALL OVER LOUDSPEAKER:  Package for Phyllis.  Making noise.

I consider myself lucky, some of the time.  We took a page out of an old playbook and made a bed for our new babies in my file cabinet. It's a bit crowded as a temporary home, but as Fred, one of crew members said, "after all it's New York.  Everybody lives in a small space".

I am sure after awhile the sound of chirping might drive me crazy, but right now, it's the sound of life that puts a smile on my face.
The chickens are will soon find their home on our Urban Farm, called The Learning Garden, Randall's Island.  We feel the same mild anxiety about naming our chickens as one might feel about naming a baby.  Yes, it seems just as momentous.  Some of suggestions have run to the retro:  WALTER, some to rock'n roll: YOKO: some to a possible Hispanic origin:  SOBACO and lastly, one of the crew likes a simple name like TONY.  His own name, James is one syllable word.

I love all our baby chicks, no matter their name.  This might change as they grow.  Today, it's a pleasure to have them next to me.

May 1, 2012

FYI: My name is CABOT

a Great Perfection
A Garden Conservancy
Tribute to FRANK CABOT
 April 30, 2012 - New York Botanical Garden

"It would be heartening if at least one member of each generation came to know and love plants in their infinite variety so that the garden's growing element was perpetually refreshed and reinvigorated by an enthusiast's hand."

A young woman puts change in a public phone booth in London and calls Frank Cabot.  She asks to speak to Mr. CABEAU.  After a brief conversation, he offers her a plane ticket, place to stay and a position as a gardener.  Before hanging up: "FYI, it's CABOT. "
recounted by Caroline Burgess, Director of Stonecrop

After two hours of tributes, it was clear that Caroline Burgess' story was apocryphal. Frank Cabot's generosity to gardeners was legendary.  He came from a patrician American family, but did not follow the expected path. His life as an investment banker, was overtaken by his passion for plants.

I was lucky to  meet Frank Cabot at his home, Les Quatre Vents (The Four Winds) in La Malbaie, Canada.  I knew who Cabot was:  knew how to pronounce his name:  knew he had founded The Garden Conservancy and given his home, Stonecrop to it,  he had saved the Ruth Bancroft Garden in California: knew he was a passionate plant collector. 

What I didn't know was that Frank Cabot would be on his knees in the garden with trowel in his hand. This was the Frank Cabot everyone remembered.

His son, Colin gave the most personal view of Frank Cabot.  With good humor, Colin gave an example of his father's autocratic nature. Camping trips were de rigeur, but they were not ordinary.  The making of biscuits, drinking of good wine and baking the occasional birthday cake were standard.  

Colin informed us that every family celebration ended with Frank Cabot reciting these verses from Candide.

Let dreamers dream
What worlds they please
Those Edens can't be found.
The sweetest flowers,
The fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.

ENSEMBLE (a cappella)
We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We'll do the best we know.
We'll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow!


Frank Cabot made all our gardens grow.