Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Favorite Spot

Do you have a favorite spot in a museum you visit frequently? In the Smithsonian's American Art Museum, one of my favorite spots is on the top floor. Deborah Butterfield's "Monekana" becomes almost a silhouette, backlit by Nam June Paik's "Continental U.S, Alaska, Hawaii." Children love both of these artworks. They run to the dinosaur-horse then, caught in the thrall of the many TV screens, slowly walk towards the visual cacophony of Paik's video map of the U.S. They stand mesmerized until their parents pull them away. I remain, watching the subtler bonus show of changing colors dancing across the polished marble floor.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Not Found In Nature

In the Sculpture Garden across from the National Gallery, I stopped near Alexander Calder's "Cheval Rouge." Although he saw it as a red horse, on this overcast afternoon it looked closer to orange. The striped barriers and cone beyond the sculpture kept claiming my attention. They echoed the orange of the sculpture but raised the intensity up to the florescent level, to the color we know as Safety Orange. We think of this color as one not found in nature, unless you are snorkeling among tropical fish in the Caribbean. Safety Orange may strike us as unnatural, but it is an integral part of our environment. How many times a day do we see this color? The next time you ride along a highway or walk through a city, try counting the orange.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rose Chocolates

We are in the midst of the Chocolate Season: Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter. These little beauties are truffles filled with rose-flavored chocolate ganache. Neatly lined up, snuggled within their pleated paper cups, they are alike and yet all different. The orderly arrangement emphasizes the individuality of each rose-petal-topped truffle. This box of chocolates has a lot in common with a traditional quilt. Arranged in squares, the quilt, like the chocolates, might start with one set of ingredients, the fabrics, but the arrangement of the fabrics may vary from block to block. Proximity emphasizes subtle variations.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

O'Hare Airport

So many people hate airports. They rush through, focusing only on making their flight. A delay means time wasted and the necessity of being the first to find an outlet for charging ones phone or laptop. Most airports have some sort of art in them. My favorite is the neon tubes and glowing walls surrounding the walkway that connects the B and C concourses at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Surely I am not the only person who has nearly missed a connecting flight because I was mesmerized by the changing rainbow of lights. If you have to run along the moving sidewalk, dragging a bag behind you, isn't the race a little happier for taking place while surrounded by yellow-orange-red-green-blue-violet?