Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Museum Day

So the Lovely Bride and I got out of the house (and away from too many games of Lego Indiana Jones) and visited two art museums today, along with Pike Place market for shopping and lunch.

I took the LB to the Frye this morning. I've raved about the Frye before, as Seattle's best free art museum, and this was the first time I took the LB there, not knowing about what the contents were. Three exhibitions running: One on the Frye founding collection (cue the appearance of Franz von Stuck'sSin, a couple rooms on American Modernism (admitting that Modernism is a loaded, controversial term), and a large exhibit called Old, Weird America, on folk art.

Now I know that most people view post-mod art with the words "I could to this" forming in the back of their brains. I'm that way with folk art. There is always a trippy Addams Family vibe to it, and harnessing that power to deeper meanings about Americana just pushes it to 11 for me. Still, the LB loved the venue, so I probably will be able to drag her to other shows.

Anyway, lunch at Pike Place and a walk down the two blocks to the SAM, for two exhibitions that are also closing soon. The Michelangelo exhibit of the artist's sketchwork is the more popularized of the two, but it feels like an attempt to make more of what was present. A dozen sketches by the Master showing his skill, a sculpture rough by a student, a letter, and several examples "After Michelangelo), It all felt kind of, well, sketchy. My takeaway was the church censorship of the Last Judgment to clean up some of the more irritating bits.

More delightful to me was the Alexander Calder mobiles and stabiles. I didn't expect to get into it as much as I did. But Calder's work is one of the first art pieces I remember, from the mobile Pittsburgh which hung in the rotunda of the old Pittsburgh International Airport (and still shows up in Pittsburgh when its not elsewhere on display). The piece apparently has its own checkered past but when I first saw it, the color "Calder Orange" was imprinted on my brain, so I expected a lot of that shade in the exhibit.

And Calder Orange is present, along with Calder dots, Calder floor-mounted mobiles, Calder jewelry, and Calder toys. In fact, there is a playfulness in the Calder's work that functions better in a mix of different sizes than in one monolithic installation (I'm looking at YOU Olympic Sculpture Park). There are tiny jewel box models and large mobiles with "rings of death" etched in the floor to keep the observers from interacting TOO much with the art.

And to be honest, I really wanted to shove my hands in my jacket pocket, extend them out so the jacket becomes a huge sail, and the then run around the exhibit, kicking up a breeze. Because while the minimalist white wall presentation created cool shadows that added to the art itself, the very lack of breath in the halls kinda kills the importance of a mobile in the first place.

So all in all, a good day, but I think the Lovely B and I have both had enough pressing through crowds for a little while. I think it is back to nesting and having friends over for a while.

More later,