This week's Field Trip was actually on Wednesday. Parker had the day off for parent teacher conferences and we had time to slip down to Denver for a little art action. I love that he still wants to do this with me. It was the first warm day (55) that we've had in a very, very long time. I ditched the heavy jeans for a pair of linen pants and slip on shoes, sans socks. Woo Hoo! Giving thanks for the small joys of warmer air and melting snow.
Our destination was the Denver Art Museum with it's very mod angles and controversial interior. Many, many people and organizations in Denver worked very hard to make the Daniel Libeskind addition become a reality in October 2006. From the outside it's "prow" crosses 13th street to connect to the plaza between the old DAM building and the Michael Graves designed Denver Public Library. And while I find the exterior of this amazing modern wonder truly beautiful and innovative, I find the interior spaces disorienting, cold and cavernous. So I was intrigued at the latest exhibit, "Embrace!", organized by the museum to allow 17 artists to have their way with the huge, cavernous spaces that make up the disorienting interior. I was really inspired by how they used the space and what they created.
Twighlights Compendium by artist Shenique Smith is a huge embrace of the corner walls and hanging space. It explodes with blue motion and energy. Shenique used her own body and clothes to create this piece giving it a heart and liveliness that I found intriguing.
This gigantic installation by Jessica Stockholder took me a while to warm up to. The caverness space still dwarfed this large installation.
But upon closer inspection, Eyes Wide Smeared Here My Dear, got my attention with it's plastic object color wave. Of this collection Jessica said, "I'm not using things and thinking about what they mean. I care about the relationship between the thing that I make and how it intersects with things that I didn't make, the things that are already in the world. Each one of these things that I buy is designed by somebody, but the kind of making that goes into those things is very distinct from the kind of making I'm involved in. There's a kind of uselessness in the kind of making that I'm involved in. I'm not trying to make a chair or a bowl. I'm really interested in the plastic surface. And there's something about how those surfaces feel. How they are both cheap and extremely gorgeous. The colors of all that cheap plastic is just so seductive and beautiful but none of us value it and none of us plan on having those objects for very long. They make their way to the dump pretty quickly." Interesting how Jessica singles them out, objectifies them, makes us look at and appreciate them in a new way.
This amazing, huge "fabric" wall hanging, upon closer inspection in the African Art gallery, is not fabric at all but a sculptural piece made from liquor bottle caps.
Ghana artist El Anatsui created this in his studio and shipped it in an amazingly small crate. It folds up! It's all I could do to keep my hands off of it, it's tactile/fiber nature just called out for caressing. He says, "Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up." In this case a bag of bottle caps in the road that he picked up one day on a whim, turned into this magnificent piece, Rain Has No Father?
This piece Mirage, by Chinese artist Zhong Biao took my breath away. Enormous, it fills an entire gallery. There is a mirror on the far right hand side which echoes the large paintings that run the full wall, so you begin to see the repeating and mirroring of the paintings as a continuation.
"I don't want to force my own understanding or interpretation of my paintings on the audience. The mixture of images within each of my paintings is like a combination of elements in life. We don't have to understand everything we see in each painting. Like life, we cannot understand everything that we have seen or experienced. In my paintings, Eastern and Western, historical and modern opposites coexist, reflecting the reality of today's lifestyle."
If you are in the Denver area, I highly recommend a stop at the Denver Art Museum to see these 17 contemporary installations that truly embrace the museum spaces.