Field Trip

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Last week I had an afternoon to head down to Denver for an “artist’s date”. Even though the new Hamilton building (part of the Denver Art Museum), designed by Daniel Libeskind, has gotten a tremendous amount of international attention and acclaim, I find it annoying. The outside is amazing, as you can see from the above NY Times photo. I just couldn’t capture it with my camera so decided to conveniently (thank you world wide web) use someone else’s. The interior is cold and gloomy. The galleries are all at such odd angles, it’s hard to view the art that is there. And where is all the art? One of the reasons for the new building was to be able to have more space for the both the permanent collection and traveling exhibits. Where’s the art? That’s all I can think about every time I enter this building. Off my soap box now, thank you very much.

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I do love this giant monolithic sculpture that graces the entrance to the new building with the lovely Michael Graves public library in the background. Don’t know the name of this sculpture or what it’s made of. I just know I like it’s majesty and gentle stoney curves. What else is there really that one needs to know about a piece of art? It speaks to you or it doesn’t. I’m reminded of a part of the Mary Oliver poem, “Wild Geese”,

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred milles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

So often I feel this pressure going to an art museum that I have to know something and be smart about the art I’m seeing. When really all I want to do is just look and be inspired or not. Love what it loves.

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Myself and I vectored first to the “old” Denver Art Museum to see the Gee’s Bend quilts. They have come to town along with a play of the same name that Stephanie and Lisa and I saw a couple of weeks ago. The one act (4 actor) play was amazing. The quilt makers came alive for us and the set, while small, included a small “creek” with real water.

This is the 2nd second major exhibition of the quilts and they are in Denver until July 6. I have loved these since I first read about them in the 90’s. But this was my first up close viewing.

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What I loved about them was how organic they are. Certainly they’ve been designed and thought out, some more than others, but there is this immediacy about them that speaks to me. Not over planned. They were made from what we in 2008 would call “recycled” materials. But really these quilters just used whatever was at hand. Out of necessity. They aren’t perfectly square and perfectly executed. And to me that’s what makes them so wonderful. Beautiful and imperfect.

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I especially loved the older ones from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. All the tiny stitching and the wear and tear. They are literally the fabric of someone’s life. They sheltered dreams and love making and snuggling and tears. Very touching and real. The art of life. If they come your way, make time for them. I think you’ll find them very inspiring. Read more about the quilts of Gee’s Bend here.

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The second stop on my Denver field trip was the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. My other Front Range compadres have covered this on their blogs, but I wanted to add my 2 cents. See Lisa Hoffman’s much more thorough debriefing of DMOCA here. I loved this outstanding sculptural piece that graces this very contemporary building. Unlike the Hamilton building, I found this contemporary building inviting and interesting. A good home and holding container for a variety of contemporary art.

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But I have to say my favorite part of the building was, of course, the cafe. I stopped for a cup of tea and had a chance to read the loose binder describing the building and it’s contents. They also have a cool iPod tour, which I saw someone else with, but did not try. Next time.

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I liked the inside and outside of the cafe. A quiet space perched on top of the building.

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For the time being, you have a spectacular view of lower downtown Denver. Soon tall buildings will block the view, but on the day of my excursion I was able to enjoy my Earl Grey with an unobstructed view.

Where have you been lately?

Ok, Ok Mary Ann Moss gets 1st prize for best field trip EVER! Go here to have a look.

One Response to Field Trip

  1. stephanie says:

    Fran,
    Thank you for the field trip..I CAN’T WAIT to go see the quilts, the lines, color and form are so unique…ahh so stunning!

    I guess I enjoyed the crazy angles and feelings of the new Musuem although you are so right in the awkward space for art…the New Contemporary Art Museum on the other hand is perfect!!! Next time I must sit and have a cuppa in the cafe.

    AND, Mary Ann’s trip, well yes, hard to compete!!!

    x…x
    steph

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