Sunday, March 27, 2016

Baptistry Ceiling, Florence

While the bronze doors of Florence's Baptistry get the attention from art historians, it's the mosaics inside that wow most visitors. Step into the cool dimness and look up. A gigantic Jesus passes judgement, while stories from the Old and New Testaments play out in rows. Starting in the 13th century, a hundred years' worth of lifetimes passed while unknown numbers of craftsmen worked on the ground and then up inside the dome to create this glittering masterpiece. In our present-day world of color and distraction it's rare to find something truly glorious and awe inspiring.  This still holds all of its power and glory. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

An Art Lesson In a Crocus

Spring has been off to an indecisive start, gracing us with a few sunny days then running off, leaving the last gray, chilly dregs of winter. The crocuses don't seem to care. They know it is their time. They are a basic lesson in art, painted in lavender and yellow, a color scheme that we associate with spring. Mother Nature knows how to pair complementary colors, showing off her handiwork in the most pleasing hues.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Rainbow At the Renwick

I can’t resist posting another image from the "Wonder" exhibit at the Renwick, the venerable museum near the White House. Gabriele Dawe's "Plexus A1" conjures a rainbow out of colored threads that have been stretched like the warp of a rug Standing in a corner, I watched visitors half disappear into the rainbow, as if they have become submerged in it. This installation first calls forth all those cliches about chasing rainbows or  never finding the end of the rainbow, even tasting that Skittles-flavored rainbow. But then, if you spend some time really looking, this artwork replaces those cliches with the possibility of actually being part of the rainbow. Try it yourself, any time between now and July 10, 2016.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Door, Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle has guarded the border between Wales and England since the time of William the Conqueror. On a drizzly day, I stood in  the roofless great hall, climbed stone stairs worn down by 900 years of footsteps, and looked over the parapets down to the Wye River far below. I tried to find a way to put myself back into the time when this castle was full of life and purpose. It wasn't easy. Then I saw the door. Although it was cracked, warped and patched, the lattice crisscrossing spoke of our need to adorn, to beautify even the sturdiest and most utilitarian of objects. I ran my hand along its silvery no-color surface and somehow the door led me back in time. Later, I read that this door has been scientifically dated to no later than 1190. That door is a genuine link to the past.