The Candor of Love

The Candor of Love (3)

Though our hues manifest
variant colors of heaven’s prisms
lit by stars and moons
and dusted by the Artist’s brush

Though our souls wax and wane
on life’s journey paths, wide and narrow,
mapped by celestial destiny
drawn in ancient times

You, my sister, I stand with
You, my brother, I protect
You, my children, I nurture
You, my friend, I love

The Liquid Canvas of the Fort Worth Water Gardens

Amid a major convention center, hotels, office buildings and parking garages is an anomalous yet fitting contrast to concrete and asphalt.  The Fort Worth Water Gardens is indeed an oasis. sited to intersperse business and art, active and passive, work and play.

This 4.3-acre urban park was dedicated to the City of Fort Worth by the Amon G. Carter Foundation in 1974.  Architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee juxtaposed three contrasting water canvasses woven together by tree-lined pathways. open grassy interludes and dramatic sculptures.  Collectively, the three water features engage our senses, challenge our boundaries and delight our souls.

The Active Pool is certainly no pool.  It is a series of angled waterfalls that form dizzying peaks and valleys.  Compounding this visual overload is the incessant roar of cascading water, rhythmic in tune to uneven steps and echoing in deep crevices. Brave visitors, like my husband Richard, take a broken path just a few inches above the flowing water.

Chasm!

Chasm!

City waterfall

Urban Waterfall

Brave Richard!

Brave Richard!

Just a few steps away is the contrasting Meditation Pool.  Its still blue waters beckon you to calm your soul and reflect on the peaceful stillness.  Whispering water gently pours over pebbled walls fronted by bald cypress trees.

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Meditation Pool

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Reflections in Many Dimensions

Water Wall

Water Wall

The Aerating Pool is a delightful display of small water drops sprayed out of rows of illuminated fountains.  This hissing pool is liquid pointillism in constant motion – glimmering, dancing.

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Aerating Pool

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Hissing Waters

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Liquid Pointillism

The non-water features are equally creative and fun.

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Buttress Roots, or Knees, of Bald Cypress Trees Around Meditation Pool

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Liquid Perspective

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If you’re anywhere near the southern portion of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Water Gardens is definitely a worthwhile day trip!

Shingles and the Art of Mocking

In early July, I spent five straight days of self-quarantine due to my first outbreak of shingles. The blisters broke out on the first morning of a Hawaii business trip.  While I appreciated prescribed painkillers, the comfort of my hotel room and the convenience of room service, my gills desperately sought fresh air and I craved contact with people other than hotel staff, kind though they were.

On Saturday, I proclaimed, “ENOUGH!” and roamed Kapiolani Park across my Waikiki hotel.  A bit self -conscious about my bandaged blister-covered forehead, I nevertheless felt smugly anonymous in my wide brim hat and Jackie O shades.

My reward was instant.  The park was a rich tapestry of relaxing picnickers, the cadence of drums accompanying young Tahitian dancers, colorful inflated birthday party bouncies, and the enticing aroma of charcoal barbeques.

The big event that day was a Korean Cultural Festival, and the smell of kalbi, barbequed chicken, and sweet baked goods infused the still hot air.  Festival booths offered information about culture, health, politics, and sports.  Grandmothers and teenage girls giggled and blushed as their I-photos were taken with Korean soap opera stars roaming the crowd.

But the best attraction was a display of traditional Korean masks.  The docent proudly explained that the masks at this festival are all antique.  The displayed masks were made from wood and gourd.

Korean masks depict exaggerated human expressions designed to elicit fear, humor,  respect, awe.  They were used in war, on both soldiers and their horses.  Shamanistic ceremonies used these masks to drive away evil spirts, but I suspect some of the masks resemble the targeted bad spirits!

Some masks were used to remember the faces of great historical figures in death masks; and often masks were used in the arts, particularly in ritual dances, courtly, and theatrical plays.

But the use I most appreciated was that described by the docent. He seemed quite fond of explaining that masks were often used by common villagers to mock political and military leaders in a way had no repercussions .

In other words, the masks were tools of democracy.  Rather than totally submit one’s being and spirit to powerful figures, Korean villagers chose to channel their subsersive opinions in plays and childish enactments.  It was an ancient Korean version of Saturday Night Live . . . a spoof, but none the wiser because it’s all in fun. 

If these masks were today’s American political tools, I could mock eloquent. Mr. President, did you really change your position on fundamental social issues like marriage, or was your initial position merely political expedience? Mr. Romney, how could you outright lie about your position on vital economic issues like the automobile industry?

Mr. Romney, how could you take credit for things that happened to fall in your lap as governor, like your state’s education?  Mr. President, why didn’t you do everything you promised within your four years of leadership?

But on the eve of our 2012 presidential election, my political masks are meaningless.  The one political tool I possess on this day is my vote.  And so I wield my vote with hope, and echew the fear preached by purse guards and dream killers.

I do have one more mask, though, and I use it to mock.  It’s been over three months  since my shingles outbreak.  I have had scar-potential facial blisters, followed by tearful and debilitating pain, altering medication that I would not normally ingest, embarrassing medicinal side effects and months of a general spirit of discouragement.  Today, the scarring seems minimal, I no longer take anti-viral meds and rarely take Advil.  But, while I can no longer bask in the sun because I do not want scars, and I’m told I rub by forehead when I am stressed, I am confident that the shingles have passed.

So, this is for you, Shingles.  You have nothing on me!

The Canvas of Sky and Walls: 2 Incredible Artists

God gives us the arts and sciences so that we can have a mere glimpse of how he thinks.  Paintings, sculpture, prose, poetry, melodies, the universe, healing – God calls us to manifest his qualities through these human expressions regardless of national, political and religious boundaries.

Two artists recently featured on TED.com give me a bit of that glimpse.  While both do beautiful work, I am most impressed by the persistence of their creativity DNA. The art they create today is not what they started off with earlier in their careers. Both used different media and both heeded inner urgings to journey beyond their familiar media.  Their obedience to these urges bring beauty and dignity to our world.

Their art is very different.  One creates airy sculptures in the sky. The other transforms building surfaces into human faces.

JANET ECHELMAN: SKY BREATHING

When my son was a baby, I used to watch him breathe as he slept.  I was content just to watch his chest move in cadence while his eyelids fluttered.  I felt I was watching life itself breathe.

Janet Echelman lets us watch the sky breathe with her billowing sculptures.  Her public sculptures are not static courtyard statues of famous people, but seemingly freeform rainbows yearning to glide across the sky. 

She originally used paint as her medium.  Many years ago, she was invited to Malaysia to paint, and on the day of her event, her paints had yet to arrive.  She took a walk along the beach and watched some fishers working on their nets.  The seed of her vision was planted.  Her materials have evolved from fishing nets to lace to a high-tech tensile support matrix of Spectra® fiber, a material 15 times stronger than steel by weight.

The above photograph is of “1.26,” her creation that floats between the Denver Art Museum and Greet Theater.  It was so named when she learned that the February 2010 Chile earthquake shortened the length of the earth’s day by 1.26 microseconds by slightly redistributing the earth’s mass.

This is “Her Secret is Patience” floating above the Downtown Civic Space Park in Phoenix, Arizona.  She was inspired, in part, by the forceful presence of weather, and its effects on coloring the region’s sky.  The title is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”

In her biography, she says, “I make living, breathing pieces that respond to the forces of nature — wind, light, water.”  I think she provides us a delightfully kaleidoscopic foreground when we view the heavens.  You can see more of her work at echelman.com.

JR: THE WALLS HAVE EYES

I appreciate graffiti, though I realize that I am in the minority.  I don’t care for tagging simply to ward off competing gangs.  But I do know the need to say, “I exist!” to annoyed or apathetic passersby.  And while I have never done graffiti (I can’t even litter), I can understand the thrill of marking territory while the city sleeps, and the tingling satisfaction of getting away with breaking rules.

At 15, JR did graffiti to announce “I am here” on rooftops and walls to fellow Parisiennes.  At 17, he found a cheap camera in the subway.  He took pictures of his graffiti and gave them to his friends.  These photos of graffiti were pasted onto walls. 

He began using his camera to capture the heights and depths of the human soul.  These photos were enlarged beyond life and pasted clandestinely along walls that line the streets.   When the 2005 riots in Paris occurred, JR’s larger than life photo of a young black man holding a menacing gun was the background of video clippings of the riot. 

In 2007, JR managed the biggest illegal photo exhibition ever. He posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on the both sides of the Security fence / Separation wall.

His project “Women” is my favorite.  Recognizing that women are often the targets of conflict, he portrays their dignity in inescapable ways – like in a town in Rio

and in a Kenyan village.  Note the train at the top of the photo.  When it passes the village, it delivers eyes to the photos along the hillside.

JR continues his graffiti persona.  He remains relatively anonymous; I’ve not seen photos or videos where he is not hiding behind sunglasses.

As a recipient of the 2011 TED award, he uses his $100,000 prize for his “One Wish to Change the World.”  His project INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. People upload portraits on his website (insideoutproject.net) and they can receive a poster to be pasted for the world to see.  You can learn more about JR at jr-art.net.

 

Note: The contents of this posting are purely for my pleasure. Information and photographs are from the aforementioned websites and TED.com. I encourage you to visit these websites.  Many thanks to TED for spreading ideas worth spreading!