Sunday, November 29, 2009

Iwo Jima Memorial

The Iwo Jima Memorial is an iconic American image. In actuality, it's a copy of a copy. The bronze and stone memorial is a three-dimensional interpretation of the photograph that was "re-enacted" to replicate the Marines raising the flag on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II. The photograph quickly became a symbol of heroism under fire. Late one afternoon, I walked around the memorial. Was it possible to find a new way to look at this icon? This view, backlit by the setting sun, is my favorite. From this angle, I keep going back to look at the outstretched fingers of the Marines as they struggle together to raise the flag. With a slight breeze blowing, the flag was as brilliant as stained glass. What better image can I find for Thanksgiving weekend? It is a reminder of the many freedoms for which we are so grateful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rusty Fence

This old metal fence sitting atop a low stone-capped brick wall illustrates of the power of diagonal lines. They move across the picture plane from one end to the other, in counterpoint to the verticals of the fence posts. But it's the color that really made me stop and look. On a drizzly dull day, the row of nearly florescent orange drips came as a real shock. In some ways, this image is a meditation on the nature of rust, starting with the fence itself and the contrast between the last vestiges of cool gray paint clinging to the rough rusty posts. How much time did it take for those lovely drips to form and spread out into such brilliant orange ovals?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blue Fence and YellowTree

Our neighborhood is neither fashionable nor quaint. When the roses drape themselves across almost every other fence or the cherry blossoms fall like snow, it is easy to see beauty everywhere. Other times, I search hungrily for a little bit of beauty among the humdrum and mundane. The sun came out as I was walking from the post office. Suddenly, the blue metal fence that had originally struck me only as needing repainting, seemed the perfect complement to the row of adolescent trees glowing gold in the light. Bold shadows! Backlit weeds! A path of beauty lay before me as I walked home, thankful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

View Through the Dubuffet

Across from the convention center in downtown Houston, what used to be a parking lot is now a green space with a playground, a small lake and many artworks. Jean Dubuffet's "Monument Au Fantone." originally stood in front of a high-rise office tower in another part of downtown. Somehow, it has found its way to this new location, in which it seems to be more appreciated. Small children play hide and seek inside it. Teenagers climb up to sit in the crook of its colorful fiberglass legs This makes me cringe, but at least the sculpture has become a true part of its new neighborhood. In the late afternoon, I crossed the street to explore the sculpture, marveling at how well its shapes and colors relate to those of the convention center. Perhaps they really were meant all along to live near each other.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vintage Trims

In the hour or two before the Preview Night at the Houston Quilt Festival, groups of friends sit at tables or on benches up on the second and third floors of the convention center. They pore over the show catalog as intently as if cramming for a final exam. They are studying the lists of vendors, plotting a course that will get them to the most desirable goods before everyone else finds them. The quilts will be there till Sunday evening, but new 60's-style prints, overdyed fragments of old kimono or wine-red beads in the right size may not. It's the old stuff, with a sense of a past life that gets me in trouble every time. I head to Jennifer Zanetti's booth, to examine French passementeries and Belle Epoque metallic lace. Who knew that pompoms came in so many beautiful colors? Can I live in your booth Jennifer? No? Well, this carefully-chosen bag of treasures will get me through till next year.