Monday, April 30, 2012

Type A

Type A, a sculpture by Team Building (Align), 2010
This sculpture, comprised of two metal rings, is meant to cast 
one shadow on the day of the Summer Solstice.
This year, that will be June 20 at 23:09 GMT, 
which will be 7:09 p.m. DST, I think. 
I took these pictures at 1:26 p.m. and 1:27 p.m., 
respectively, and they look pretty well aligned to me.
What will be magically different just 
after 7 p.m. about seven weeks from now? 

Next year, the Solstice is to
be at 05:04 GMT on June 21.  Well, that translates 
to just after one o'clock in the morning here, 
so not much chance of the two rings casting 
an aligned shadow then, either.
Unless it's star or moon shadows.

Here, a man is walking his dog just outside
Aliens Plotting a Crop Circle.
If I were to lie in the circle naked at the appointed,
important time, will I find my self joyously
impregnated by Darryl the One-Eyed Monster
from the Planet Trojan? That's an event
that'd scare the magic out of all the 
woods faeries for miles around.
Makes their wings droop just thinking on it.

Another of the Bench Around the Lake
series by Jeppe Hein, 2010
These photos are among those I took last week 
during my visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art 
and to the IMA's adjacent art park, 100 Acres.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Glorious Color

Angel of the Resurrection, 1904
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Stained Glass, Lead

The lights in the gallery are lowered so one can better appreciate 
this stained glass window, Angel of the Resurrection, which 
was commissioned by the widow of former 
President Benjamin Harrison after his death in 1901. 
The window was originally installed as a memorial to him in the
First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church, which donated
the window to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1972. 

Wing Detail, Angel of the Resurrection
Tiffany Studios produced the glass used in their remarkable 
windows and lamps. In this window the opalescent colors
give depth and definition to the shapes of the figure, while rippled
glass adds detail to the feathers of the wings.

Detail, Angel of the Resurrection
In recent years, research has revealed 
that many of the artists in Tiffany's glass studios 
were women, headed by Clara Driscoll,
who was director of Tiffany Studios'
Women's Glass Cutting Department.

Ten-Light Lily Lamp, 1902-1915
Design Credited to Mrs. Curtis Freshel.
Produced by Tiffany Studios.
Glass and Bronze

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yellow Bench

Bench Around the Lake by Jeppe Hein
One of 15 undulating yellow-painted steel benches placed around
the park's lake.
 This one is located on the east side of the Lake,
with a view of  
Indianapolis Igloo, by Andrea Zittel

A few years ago, I was visiting one of the contemporary galleries 
at the Indianapolis Museum of Art when I turned a corner
and started laughing. What had caught my eye was one of those
creations about which one might hear, "That ain't art.
Shit, my kid could do better than that." 
Yeh, well, say what you want but the damn thing worked.
It was (and remains) a length of red cord, anchored with a thumb tack
at a point on the floor of the gallery and stretched to a
point on the window at just about the horizon line of where the 
trees in the distance meet the sky. That damn red line
defines the space in which it exists and carries your eye outside,
to the trees beyond. It's a thing of dumbfounding beauty.

The other thing that amazed me was that the IMA had
somehow managed to maintain a view outside
the west side windows of the building,
one without the visual corruption of cheap-ass
housing developments, apartments and strip malls;
I knew what was on the other side of the trees and it 
was nothing like the idyll that the red cord
pointed towards.   

A couple enjoys a spring afternoon picnic lunch
on The Meadow near the lake. 
As it turned out, what I had seen was a 100-acre parcel of land 
consisting of woods, wetlands, a meadow and a 35-acre lake 
which was developed and opened in 2010 as 
It is one of the largest museum art parks in the country and, so far,
the grounds contains ten site-specific works designed by
artists from around the world.

View of a portion of Stratum Pier by Kendall Buster,
2010. Steel and fiberglass viewing platform
overlooking the lake. The stacked layers
suggest a topographical map.

The Museum grounds consists of three distinct areas, 
all of them beautiful and lovingly tended by landscape designers 
and gardeners: the Museum grounds; Oldfields, the country mansion 
and estate that belonged to Josiah K. Lilly, Jr.;  and the 100 Acre Park. 
During the day, I explored some part of all three areas, 
concentrating my time in the Park. Of course,
I took an awful lot of pictures, so you can expect related
posts over the coming days. Unfortunately, however, 
it was not permitted to take pictures of the
red string that pointed me towards
my "hunnert acre wood" a few years back.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Someone tried to kill this tree. 
The tree disagreed with this decision and has
has taken a stand, eloquently stating 
its intent to continue life where it was planted
so many years ago. These beautiful 
dark red shoots accentuate the gray bark,
emphasizing the frayed edges of the trunk
where the chain saw ripped it through.

The tree reveals its life story and,
punctuated by the new leaves, tells of its
determination to go on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yellow and Green, Lacy and Rough

There is a short time in Spring, when the new leaves 
catch the light in a way that shows off their lacy delicacy,
contrasting its bright coloring with the dark
roughness of the tree's trunk.
The best time to catch this coloring is in
the morning or late afternoon, otherwise the sun
flattens out both the beautiful color
and fine detail of the leaflets.

The top picture was taken at around 5 in the afternoon,
while the bottom one was taken somewhere
between 8 or 9 on the morning. At those times, 
the tree just seems to glow with color. 
Of course, since most people drive by, it's likely they will 
never look up from the intersection to notice. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Start With Art

The Deer Fountain, on the northwest corner of Washington 
and Senate, marks the entrance to the Eiteljorg Museum
of American Indians and Western Art. The fountain has not yet been
turned on for the season, but even so, the deer are forever
running through a stream, their hooves splashing the unseen water.

The Eiteljorg, opened in 1989, was the inspiration of Harrison Eiteljorg
who had developed an interest and love for the Native American peoples, 
their culture and artwork when he began traveling West on coal 
mining ventures in the 1940s. When the museum was being planned, 
he traveled with the architect, Jonathan Hess, to visit the Southwest.  
They studied the land and its architecture for inspiration 
for the look of the museum.

A large panoramic tryptic of the Grand Canyon greets visitors
at the front entrance of the Grand Hall, which is paved with the same
plum-colored German sandstone that forms the base of the 
building. Warm, honey-colored Minnesota dolomite gives
the building's exterior an appearance reminiscent of Southwestern Pueblos.

On the west side of the Museum is the Discovery Garden and 
Kincannon Learning Circle, where one can see native Indiana plant species
as well as monumental sculptures interspersed throughout the grounds. 

Wisdom Keepers, 1998 by Bruce LaFountain
Turtle Mountain Chippewa
Cast Bronze
The other side of the Wisdom Keepers sculpture shows 
a falcon's head, but the image was too underexposed to use, 
even with the help of Photoshop.

Sculpture by Doug Hyde
The grounds of the Eiteljorg abut those of the 
Indiana State Museum, the landscaping of one blending
seamlessly into the other, divided by immense blocks
of rough limestone. The overall effect is to provide
a place of calm, of natural beauty in the
midst of a bustling city.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Cake Therapy

Last week, on my way to visit the Eiteljorg Museum, 
I stopped for a snack at Cafe Patachou. 
It had been years since I had had coconut cake and, 
along with a mocha latte, I savored the smooth
creaminess of the icing with the flaky coconut.
And what of the textures of the latte?
Well, there was a grittiness to the cocoa flavor
that was beautifully set off by the foamy bubbles
of the froth. Yes, it was therapy which 
I balanced that evening by having a salad for dinner,
equally good in its own way, but not nearly
as therapeutic.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Steel Ponies"

Art Attack, 2005, by Russ Hess of Cowboy Customs. Detail
I opened with a detail of the motorcycle which is the finale of 
"Steel Ponies," an exhibition exploring the art and history that have 
sprung out of the subcultures associated with the motorcycle.
Art Attack was designed and constructed in 2005
by Russ Hess of Cowboy Customs. The motorcycle took 
Hess 800 hours to build and consists of a tooled leather seat, 
saguaro wheel spokes, forty-seven pieces of engraved 
silver overlay, and 115 gold flowers and rubies.
Art Attack, 2005, by Russ Hess
The show opens with a shining red and black 1948 
Indian Chief Roadmasterwith its trademark large-skirted fenders. 
The Roadmaster debuted in 1922 and was Harley-Davidson's 
main competitor in the V-twin heavyweight class.

1948 Indian Chief  Roadmaster

Visitors are then shown various examples of early motorcycles, 
beginning with a 1902 Indian Camelback
which is virtually a bicycle with a motor attached. 

1902 Indian Camelback, on loan from
the Smithsonian Institution, Museum of American History,
Kenneth E. Behring Center

The 1998 Harley-Davidson Road King shown below is owned by
United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who in 1992
became the first Native American to serve Congress
in more than 60 years.

1998 Harley-Davidson Road King
on loan from Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Detail of the Road King showing
the eagle's talon kick stand.
To people "of a certain age," there are three movies which
described the feelings of alienation from society felt by many
young people, the motorcyclists depicted in The Wild Ones
the 1953 movie starring Marlon Brando; The Wild Angels,
which came out in 1966 with Peter Fonda; and the
iconic 1966 film Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda 
and Dennis Hopper as Captain America and Wyatt.
Detail of Captain America Bike from Easy Rider
While I don't remember the first two movies, I do recall
seeing Easy Rider and remember the dread and
revulsion I felt over the movie's conclusion. I haven't
been able to watch it since. Four used cop bikes,
Harley-Davidson Hydraglides were converted by
builders Cliff Vaughns and Ben Hardy to create the 
motorcycles for the main characters, played by
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Of the four,
three were stolen towards the end of production 
on the movie. The fourth, the Captain America destroyed
at the end of the movie, was rebuilt from the remaining 
parts by Dan Haggerty.

Foreground, Captain America bike from Easy Rider,
1969; background left, 1953 
Chino Bobber from The Wild One
and right, Dragon Bike
from 1966 movie 
The Wild Angels.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More ...

Left-Handed Katsinas, 1999 (Detail). Aaron Fredericks (Hopi)
Carved and painted cottonwood root.

When I was photographing these Katsina figures, 
I felt as though two pair of dark eyes were watching me 
from behind their masks. It wasn't so much that I found the figures
to be "realistic," but more that the spirits portrayed seemed to have 
merely paused in their work while I walked through the room.
In fact, when I looked around and saw so many 
of the carved figures, I knew I would have to return 
another day, just to explore and to take their pictures. 
And to let the Katsina continue their work.

Left-Handed Katsinas

All of the work shown here is contemporary, done by craftsmen
who have carefully studied the artistic traditions of their ancestors 
in effort to carry on the heritage left to them. They are also seeking to
add to those traditions by exploring new forms and designs. 
This will keep the craft new and avoid their work becoming 
merely stale repetition of past successes. 

Haida Thunderbird Headdress, 1998
Robert Davidson (Haida, born 1946)
Red cedar, shell, and raffia
The two examples below are example of pottery traditions
that have survived because of study and respect for 
traditions and forms of the past, and of the courage to explore 
and develop new forms. Both potters are decendants
of Nampeyo, a Hopi artist who studied ancient potshards 
she found on the Hopi reservation where she lived,
developing her own style based on the traditional designs.
Within her lifetime, she was recognized as one of the
finest Hopi potters.

Seed Pot by Les Namingha
(Hopi-Tewa/Zumi, born 1968

Les Namingha is the grandson of Rachel Namingha Nampeyo,
who was the granddaughter of Nampeyo. The artist learned
his pottery making skills from his aunt, Dextra Quotskuyva,
herself a granddaughter of Nampeyo. Les is known as an innovator, 
always experimenting with new forms and designs.

Seed Pot, detail

Pot, 1990s, by Jacob Koopee (Hopi-Tewa, born 1970)
Jacob Koopee is the son of potters, Jacob Koopee, Sr. (Tiwa)
 and Georgia Dewakuku Koopee (Hopi). Among his teachers 
was his aunt, Dextra Quotskyva and his grandmother, Marie Koopee.
Jacob's great-great-grandmother, Nampeyo, derived much
of her design style from imagery found in the ancient Hopi village
of Sityaki. Much of Koopee's work is based on this design style.

Pot, Detail

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Art Therapy

Greeter, sculpture by George Carlson, meets visitors
at the Museum's main entrance.

My original plan was to go to the Fire Department Instructors' Congress 
at the Indiana Convention Center. It was, that is, until I found out 
it was going to cost $45 to browse the Convention Center floor to check out 
displays  of the latest fire fighting apparatus and equipment.
Instead, I walked over to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians 
and Western Art, where I spent the entire afternoon surrounded 
by beautiful things. Of course, I took so many pictures 
I can't possibly show them all.
I will begin with a few of the beautiful paintings
and carvings, then dole out the remainder on other days.

I visited with one of the Museum's volunteers who was explaining
and demonstrating how Native Americans used materials
found in the natural world to create items for every day use
as well as for ceremonies, utilizing as much of the animal
as possible, so as not to waste a valuable resource.
 Of course, this included the American Buffalo, 
as well as bear, rabbits, beaver and porcupine.
One of her most interesting items was a blanket woven from
strips of rabbit fur. Its loose weave was warmer than one might think, 
the wearer's body heat retained among the loose strands of fur.

The mask above was created using the bone marrow from
the spine of a whale, surrounded by polar bear fur.
Carrying that bit of information helped me to appreciate
the carving below, also made from bone marrow ... 

Bear, by Wilson Oozean (Inuit, Gambell),
Bone Marrow
... was one among many examples of items carved from
parts of the animal most of us might think expendable.

Old Woman Singing Traditional Song, 1998
by Mattiusie Iyoituk (Inuit, Ioujivik, Born 1950).
Serpentine with caribou antler
These beautiful creations are the work of contemporary artists 
using materials and traditions of their forefathers.

Fisherman, by Stanley Seegaman (Inuit, King Island)
Ivory, thread, and baleen.
In addition to the Native American art and artifacts, 
the Museum has a beautiful collection of Western American art, 
containing examples of the visions of the first explorers to 
contemporary artwork, particularly that done by
artists of Native American heritage.

Snake Indians, by Alfred Jacob Miller, 1840
(American, 1810 - 1874). Oil on paper
The artwork spans the past two centuries. I prefer the smaller works.
Somehow, when the ambition of size is not present, the artist
nevertheless gives one a sense of both the grandeur of the people 
and the landscape, at the same time creating an experience
that is more intimate and personal.

Morning Drink at the Foot of Mt. Hood,
by Albert Bierstadt
(American, born in Germany, 1830 - 1902)
Oil on paper.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sky's the Limit ...

... Whether one is doing medical research 
to find cures for various diseases affecting mankind
or holding out the hope that someday, somewhere
people will treat people all people, everywhere
with kindness and consideration.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pink Clouds and Soccer Goals

The week began with gray skies and overnight rains.
Pushed through the area by strong winds, most of the clouds
had gone by yesterday evening, leaving wisps
of sunlit pink and lavender.

I went to the west end of the property,
 where I knew I could get a clear view of the sunset,
and found the lot full of neighborhood men
playing soccer. The parking area was full of cars
and a lot of the men's families were present.
The little boys in the foreground were practicing with their
own ball, dribbling and kicking the ball into the net, as well. 
(The little guy in red was wearing one of Dad's shirts
against the chilly night air.) I learned this group 
of men are all members of one team,
who gather frequently at this site to practice
for community tournaments.

A quarter mile away, little kids play soccer
at the park, while their fathers tend more toward
softball, the sound of a grapefruit-sized ball
making a metallic Ping! as it ricochets
off an aluminum bat, its path through the air
tracked by men running across the new spring 
grass to catch it in leather mitts, Smack!

While it's different, it has the same purpose -
the men play, the women and their families
talk and visit. Friendships are formed and
a community is in the process of being built.