Thursday, January 31, 2013

Garden in Winter

A couple weeks ago, I took pictures as I was leaving the grounds 
of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I returned Wednesday,
making certain I visited the grounds first because, oddly, I found
the gardens, dormant in the middle of  this Midwestern
winter, to be full of curious beauties.

I don't know what they were -- hosta? -- but these
blue-gray leaves, lying among the sienna-colored pine needles,
created a striking arrangement in a garden bed
just outside the museum's restaurant. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keep Your Nuts Warm

The past couple days have been a respite from cold temperatures, 
but they will not last. Thunderstorms are expected overnight 
bringing temperatures below freezing. If you did not take the opportunity, 
like this squirrel, to gather additional provisions when we idled around, 
luxuriating in springlike breezes, then you will need to make certain 
to keep your nuts warm during the new onslaught

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Textured Tuesday: Detritis

We've gotten a short reprieve from winter's torture; 
the forecast was for freezing rain, but we got rain instead. 
With temperatures in the mid-50s, the Speedway alps 
have melted away, leaving no more than 
small hillocks of snow in the parking lots, if that.
I found these images in the parking area of
a vacant restaurant, a place where, in the past, I've seen killdeer, 
screaming away from me, doing their "broken wing" act, 
to draw my attention from their eggs, 
laying in nests among the rocks.

These images were found in one of the "islands" in the parking lot.
The plants and rocks have been neglected, with milkweed
growing into another plant, and the remains of a broken concrete
parking barrier have been thrown among the rocks.
While they provided attractive color and composition, 
they speak to the attention needed to maintain the neighborhood,
to keep it from becoming rundown, and inviting vandalism.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Thought I'd Killed It

I found this amaryllis several years ago, not long after Christmas. 
It was in a mark-down bin at the grocery, thrown in 
among other holiday themed items.
I picked up the box, paid for it, and brought it home.
It's been sitting in its pot in the window ever since. Leaves begin
to appear about the middle of each January,
with a trio of blooms showing, well, just about now.
Once the leaves appear, the stalk grows rather quickly, along
with the buds.  Sometimes there's a second stalk, but not often.
Usually there are three blooms at a time, 
but I just noticed a fourth.  

I love their grace, and the way the light
shines through, adding depth and lines that hold my
eyes' attention every time I look their way.
Their color and shapes wither away all to soon.
I regard the bright red flowers are a gift,
one made to me by the flowers themselves.
Last winter, however, there were no flowers;
I thought I'd neglected it so that there would be
no more little red celebrations, but I persisted in watering it,
refusing to throw away the bulb and its pot.
This week, they returned and I gaze at them
every so often, even as I type.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Tell When It's Cold

On Friday afternoon, I was looking for some sculpture or other shapes 
with snow on them, to see whether each brought out
 any qualities of the other. Maybe the snow gave a little extra
emphasis to all the curves of the tree. The limestone flower on the 
Monument made the winter seem a bit colder with the
snow layered on its petals 

And for no reason other than a giggle, here's a photo from 
the Rabid Feminist. It was definitely winter when these men posed.
The caption read: "There is no more beautiful time in a man's life than
when he is carrying a beer baby. Nurture yours this 
Australia Day with some good Aussie beer."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Snowy Minimalism

A couple inches of snow fell the other night, 
once again covering the city in a stark blanket that provides
no warmth. Scooped aside, the snow serves to
delineate the steps of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, 
and provides discrete shading to the steel grid
radiating from the bases of the trees. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Bit of Gold

The warmth of last week was illusory, but welcome. 
As I walked the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 
I saw plants that had definitely succumbed to earlier cold temperatures
and frost. One in particular lay, flattened on a granite wall,
revealing another sort of peculiar beauty, its white ribs and fur lying 
in flattened swirls against the background of the dark green leaf.
 However, in response to the warmer temperatures,
daffodils had bloomed in some of the more sheltered coves
of the gardens. I'm certain they didn't last because
a cold front came in overnight, that essentially killed
my will to shop, so the daffodils surely lowered their golden heads
to wait for a better day to shine.

These images were taken very near to each other. 
Just behind them was the patch of daffodils.
Somehow, I don't think it is a coincidence that every thing
was golden, because they created the perfect contrast
to the gray surrounding them. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A LOVE Like Steel

Artist Robert Indiana's "LOVE" sculpture has been a part of the 
collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1975.
Fabricated from Cor-Ten steel in 1970, the piece is part of 
a series of drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures the artist began
in the mid-1960s. The paintings became a watershed in Indiana's career,
and his exploration of the theme has been one he's returned to
many times in the years since.
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana
in 1928. He changed his name upon his move to New York City
in 1954. The IMA has several pieces of Indiana's work in its collection, including
a series of aluminum numerals as well as screenprints and paintings.

I made the trip to the IMA with a specific mission in mind, 
which was to photograph the LOVE sculpture. I took
a lot of pictures while inside the museum and taking pictures 
on the museum's grounds became a struggle as the batteries' 
power began to wane - click the shutter, wait a few minutes, repeat.
The streaks across the sky turned into a marvelous sunset;
streaked and formed by the air currents, the oranges, pinks and 
mauves turned into the sort of composition one sees in the
end papers of old books, where color is poured over liquid then
a feather dragged through to make the design. Oh, my.
I saw several posts over the following days of that sunset, 
taken by people all over the country. 
I just wasn't one of them. Damn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stacked and Tipped

In the cold weather, many of the outdoor chairs 
at the IMA Restaurant stacked together to retain body heat, 
while others remained by themselves, 
crouched over the tables, shivering in the arctic air.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cold Beauty

Today, the chromed display racks, lined up inside a store
 at the shopping center, looked warmer than I felt. The day started out
with only a blue swash of sky showing through cold gray clouds.
A stiff breeze pushed the cloud cover away, and the late afternoon
was left with streaks of pink and purple against the blue.
Beautiful, just beautiful, but bone-chilling cold. Frost bite cold.
I dragged my groceries and new tea kettle home, then promptly planted
myself on the couch with a blanket over my feet; it's now
midnight and my feet are still cold. I am going to bed to read
and get warm. Some time in March.

What I was watching tonight.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Beauty of Diversity

This helmet was the first object I saw as I entered the Eiteljorg Suite 
of African and Oceanic Art. In addition to his renowned 
collection of Western and Native American Art, Eiteljorg and his
wife also developed one of the "most celebrated collections of African
art in America." A portion of this wing at the IMA has been devoted
to his collection. 

It had been many years since I saw the collection and I was
 stunned by its variety, beauty, and craftsmanship.
I first became aware of African art when I learned in my art history
classes that Picasso was influenced by tribal masks in
his development of his own artwork. I think it was one of the first
instances that I began to consider how wonderful it is
to have such diversity of expression in the world.
Seeing this collection again reinforced that impression.

I noticed that both the top mask and the one above are topped by birds. 
The information I could find about birds in ceremonial pieces 
stated that they are often used as a transitional beings, one that can travel 
between both the spiritual and earthly worlds.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Artist's Light

In 2008, the Indianapolis Museum of Art commissioned artist 
Robert Irwin, to create Light and Space III for the Pulliam Great Hall.
The combination of fluorescent light tubes and translucent scrim
tranforms the entire hall into an installation, allowing visitors the opportunity
to experience a piece that both illuminates the area in an arrangement 
of irregular rectangles, and provides a transition 
to the many galleries surrounding the hall.

With Irwin's minimalist conception, he gives the viewer 
the opportunity to experience art in a functional way, 
one that also allows them to see that a mundane object can also 
perform a transformative role in the way they see their surroundings.
On my last visit, Light and Space III gave me a different 
view of the escalators, both in the soft shine 
of the stainless steel railings and in the perspective, 
as the stairs moved from one level to the next.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sublime: "Timeless Beauty"

One of the small galleries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is hosting 
an exhibition of Japanese color woodblock prints. They are of a genre
called bijinga, depictions of female beauties from the last three
decades of the 18th century into the 20th century.
Called "Long Undergarment," the above print was made in 1929
by Torii Kotondo (1900-1976), the fourth year of the Showa period,
and is the latest work in the exhibition. 

"Snow and a Quiet House," made in 1898 by Ogata Gekko, 
is one of 36 prints from Customs and Manners of Ladies.
The prints depicted women engaged in artistic pursuits.
I particularly enjoyed this print because of the delicately drawn
background depicting the snow falling on a house in the distance.

The late 18th century saw an increase in popularity of abana-e prints, 
called "dangerous" or "risque", because they featured glimpses 
of nude or semi-nude women caught in everyday activities. In 1772, the 
government banned erotic prints, which led to the popularity of scenes 
such as this one, produced circa 1765-1767 by Torii Kiyomitsu.
 Titled, "Girl Walking in the Wind,"  the scene depicts 
a young woman attempting to shield her face from the wind, 
even as her kimono is blown around her, revealing her leg.

Friday, January 18, 2013


During my walk on Wednesday around the downtown area, 
I stopped at a shop for a cup of coffee. While there, I set my camera 
on the table and clicked the shutter every once-in-a-while 
if an interesting grouping presented itself. 
Unfortunately, it was just after the lunch hour so the Circle
 was pretty bare and the results were nil to meh,
except for this man walking his English Bulldog in its
special pram. Bulldogs' shapes are deformed, 
they have breathing problems, and a fairly short
lifespan. This man was taking his buddy for a bit of air
on a cold day, wrapped in its sweater.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Making Art at the IMA

The main entrance to the Indianapolis Museum of Art was closed today 
to allow workers to install colored film on the lobby's windows. 
It is a component of a piece by contemporary artist Spencer Finch
who lives and works in Brooklyn. I was told that, once the
windows are complete, the artist will hang colored
Plexiglas panels from the ceiling. The overlapping panels,
tinted windows, and ambient light should provide
an involving, ever-changing experience for the viewers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Autumn's Ghosts

With the winter days, we get a lot of gray skies, 
with very little contrast and shadows to define shapes 
and brighten color. On many days, I could just as well 
have my camera set for black and white and get
much the same results. As I walked through the park
this afternoon, I saw bits of ice on what had been shallow pools
of rain and melting snow. They had the look of leaves
that had fallen from the surrounding oak and maple trees,
ashen ghosts of what had been flaming color.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Textured Tuesday: Crystal Screen

On my way to the grocery Sunday afternoon, 
I spotted a screen that had been blown out of a window 
during the overnight storms. Its beauty stopped me in my tracks.
Droplets of water clung to the underside of the screen, creating a pattern
of clear circles against its black grid. Then, as the weight of the accumulated
water caused the screen to sag, the puddle below acquired a pattern
of dashed lines. The best bit, though, was when I bent down
to see the shadows the screen had cast on the puddle:
there they were, the beads of water, both reflected and reflecting 
upward, revealing the gray sky and the grid that held them,
that kept them from joining the pooled water just below.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Navel Gazing: Icy Confusion

As an ambulance drove by my home this evening, 
I noticed its lights reflected off an icy glaze developing 
on the rain puddles. The temperatures were in the fifties yesterday,
and one could see clouds, blue-black with moisture, approaching
from the southwest. It began raining during the late
afternoon and kept up for twenty-four hours. I walked to the
store, took some pictures, noting that the forsythia bush near
my door had developed some buds. Poor thing, I thought.
Along with the rain, the temperatures began to drop, 
so the buds are for naught. How many times can a plant
do this before it does not bloom at all? 

The City Daily Photo portal chose to not have a Theme Day 
for January, opting instead to host a day of exploration 
into how our work has changed since we began blogging.
Me? I'm still trying to figure out how to get my camera 
to focus on my subject rather than its background.
No change, I'm afraid. I'm trying to become braver about
including human subjects in my photography.
Again, only marginal improvement.
I began this blog in order to get into the habit
discipline of sticking words together
in some coherent fashion. Perhaps my editing
has improved, my vocabulary more varied.
Maybe my images are a bit more refined because
I am looking more for the art in every day things
than I am seeking just to record them. I dunno.
Click on the link above to view the CDP participants.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Quiet Place

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church is a place for contemplation, 
peace and quiet. Surrounded by the more profane symbols 
of daily life - bars, restaurants, hotels, the Convention center, 
and, a bit farther south, the local cathedral of sport, Lucas Oil Stadium,
the church is a shelter from that noise. 

St. John's has seen the city grow up around it for the past 140 years.
It has served a diverse range of parishioners since it was completed in 1871, 
which ranges from the members of the local community, 
people attending conventions across the street at the Indiana Convention Center, 
and to the homeless who will find welcome shelter and assistance.

The church's twin spires stick up from the surrounding buildings,
reminding you of its presence in the heart of the city.
Over the years, I've paid it a few visits, but I am always
surprised by the silence at the core of its beauty.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter in Red and Grays

So far, most of our winter days have been composed of flat grays, 
with little contrast and minimal color. One of my challenges was to find 
bits of color, both to add some contrast to my pictures 
and to brighten my mood. I loved the dark red of the berries, 
splashed among the varied widths of the trees' branches.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Rainy Winter Day

I walked to the grocery Thursday afternoon, thinking I would return home 
before the rain started. Wrong. I could have walked home, 
but decided to catch the bus because I had a package 
I didn't want to get wet. The rain will wash away the remains of 
snow that had fallen since Christmas.
For those who think that snow in the Midwest looks
like those prettified pictures of happy people riding in a horse-drawn
sleigh, the picture below shows a mound of snow at our local
shopping center. Created by a snow plough to clear the parking lot,
such mounds form the highest elevations throughout 
the Midwest, until finally melted by the sun sometime in April.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter's Curtain

It was just past eight o'clock Tuesday morning 
when I took this picture. Far beyond the lacy winter treeline 
and well past the blue gray curtain of clouds,
a patch of sunlit blue sky could be seen, marked by a jet's
contrail, tracing the plane's path above the winter's
cold and snow that swaddled us here below.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stalking the American Robin

People who live near the Coke Field have told me about watching coyotes 
trotting across the field and of foxes pouncing on field mice.
Hawks can sometimes be seen circling overhead, coolly awaiting
an unsuspecting rabbit to enter its line of sight.  
While I've startled up the occasional heron, the only bit of wildlife
I see regularly is the ubiquitous American Robin.
Today, I found myself on-line looking for illustrations showing
the differences between coyote and dog tracks
(the general shape of a coyote paw seems more oval
than a dog's foot) because I think I've gotten
excited over a track that's turned out to be the poodle
belonging to Harry, who lives down the street.

Watch as Sara, the Great White Hunter stalks puppies and kitties 
in her quest to photograph Speedway's urban wildlife.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Textured Tuesday: When Snowballs Bleed

I just loved the way the bands of color and texture interacted with each other. 
The colors reminded me of Morris Lewis's paintings, which are huge. 
The first one I saw was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art 
in Chicago. The bands of poured color flowed down the sides
 of the canvas, defining the "blank" middle area as negative space.
It was a surprise to me because one would think that such a large expanse
of white would have overwhelmed the color along its ends.
It served as a big lesson to me - to never ignore the interaction
between negative and positive space.

The picture above has that same effect for me. 
It also serves to illustrate the horrible fate that befalls 
a snowball when it is thrown without regard for its fate. 
They bleed blue. Who knew?

Morris Louis.  Tet.  1958.  Synthetic polymer on canvas, 7 feet, 11 inches x 12 feet, 9 inches.