West of Amarillo lies one of the most iconic of American art works, the Cadillac Ranch. It is exactly what it appears to be : 10 vintage, deeply graffitied, Cadillacs, buried in the west Texas plains.
On a recent Texas sojourn, I took up the suggestion of a friend of mine and paid a visit to the campus of the Menil Collection in Houston. It is a series of buildings, most notably the Rothko Chapel and Renzo Piano's Main Building that hold the most interest for an architect and they make for an interesting contrast.
The exhibit "It's Electric", has a number of works, all of which beg for interaction from the public. The largest, poorly photographed by myself above, is a large field of plastic lily pads that have various arrays of lighting colors and patterns. Walking across the pads, they respond by changing colors and patterns, sometimes simply reacting to your movement, sometimes prompting you, Twister-like, to make the next move.
Another piece looks like a set of fancy pendant lights over a chaise lounge. The lights dim in a tight pattern as you move around the piece, making your movement cast a kind of reverse shadow on the lights. The chaise is ironically placed directly below the lights, a icon of placidity and the lack of movement.
There are a few other works that surprise and are at once whimsical and poetic so I won't play the spoiler and describe them.
The CU campus is fairly sleepy as it is summer, but hopefully your visit will be accompanied by enough other visitors that you can see their interactions with the works from a distance. These works are pleasurable in the most basic, sensory ways that you you can't help but be in wonder at the simple joy of color, light and shadow. I highly recommend a visit and take a crowd, especially kids, and have fun at the museum.
Currently at the Denver Art Museum is an exhibit of the photographic work of Robert Adams. Robert Adams grew up in Colorado and is best known for his photographs of the New West - the human impacts on the landscape. Unlike Ansel Adam's stunningly beautiful images of western landscapes, Robert Adam's images are a combination of the joy and beauty of the west alongside its degradation and exploitation.
Many of Adam's most arresting images are those of the new housing encroachments on the landscape throughout the 1960' and 70's. The stark, high-altitude light of the Front Range puts into sharp focus the stark isolation of the suburban dream contrasted against the expansive emptiness of the western sky.
I first ran into Adam's work through the many books of photography that he produced. The New West, Summer Nights and West from the Columbia are but a few of the more than twenty books of thoughtful, sometimes disturbing, but always beautiful images.
I strongly recommend the exhibit. It is simply presented and the images are arresting and intriguing in a way that the books can only hint at.
The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs
Sept 25 - Jan 1, Denver Art Museum
(all photos by Robert Adams, from What Can We Believe Where? )
last Friday evening, I attended the Mixed Taste event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. http://www.mcadenver.org/index.php/programs/Mixed_Taste_Summer_Series
The idea of this is to attempt to ferret out the strange and serendipitous connections between two disparate topics. Two short talks are presented on two completely different topics. Last Friday that was Chef Jorel Pierce discussing his passion for the making of blood sausage, and Geoff Manaugh, of BldgBlog fame, talking about urban spelunking.
And what comes of this? After the two presentations, a number of audience members asked questions, some specific to each talk, others trying to form connections between the topics. As each presenter tried to address the questions, they were often a bit stretched to make parallels between the talks, but they were game to give it a shot in front of the approximately 60 folks in the audience.
I quite like this kind of event - a kind of intellectual and funny exquisite corpse project. I certainly will not make it to all of the summer's offerings, but you can bet "Suburbia and American Gin" will be on my list.
Oh, and they have cocktails available as well.