How lucky was I for this one? Recently, I was in Orchard Park, NY, to watch my oldest grandson play in a baseball tournament. While I love watching Aiden and his friends on the field, it's also refreshing to have a little break from all that activity in the hot sun. Fortunately for me, the Cougars didn't play until afternoon on Saturday, so I had the morning free to explore on my own. A quick trip through the entertainment guide provided in my hotel room landed me at Buffalo's Albright Knox Gallery and this fabulous exhibit!
Usually I don't bother with the audio guides when I visit an art museum because I just like to view the art and read the labels at my leisure. However, the woman at the reception desk assured me that the audio guide would provide a fascinating backstory to the artwork, so I let her hold my precious Ohio driver's license hostage and took the audio guide. Good decision! I learned so much more than I would have just reading along.
My favorite room in the exhibit also proved to be the most difficult to photograph. Nine of Indiana's "LOVE" sculptures, each from a different type of marble formed a circle facing his iconic "HUG...EAT...DIE...ERR" mantra, which was lit up with hundreds of bright bulbs that flashed in a variety of different patterns. The final piece in the room, a gleaming metal rendition of "Ahava", the Hebrew version of these famous LOVE sculptures, stood alone in the middle of the circle. The room was so large, the lighting was constantly changing, and other museum visitors (and a very diligent museum guard!) were constantly in my viewfinder. Not a single one of my panoramic photos did this room justice, so the one above is the best one I have to share.
Having the audio guide was truly a gift since understanding the story behind Indiana's work added so much to the experience. The repetition of the words "eat", "die", "hug", and "err" are references to the artist's mother and the phrases he remembered her saying. Some works are direct references to literature, such as Moby Dick, and others, such as the one below, connect to the work of other artists. Before viewing this exhibit, I had no idea that Robert Indiana had created pieces inspired by the work of Charles Demuth. I was a bit startled when I walked into one of the exhibit rooms to find myself in front of the painting pictured below!
Demuth's painting "I Saw the Figure Five in Gold" was inspired by a William
Carlos Williams poem "The Great Figure", which describes the sight and sound of a fire engine racing to the scene of a fire. This may be the first time since my retirement from teaching art that I wished I had a classroom to return to in the fall! I had been using the poem to inspire art by my fourth graders, which we then compared to my large print of Charles Demuth's painting. Robert Indiana's work was also part of my fourth grade curriculum, so what a connection this would have made!
Two hours later, it was back to the Orchard Park Little League Fields to cheer for my favorite 8U Cougar and his teammates. For the record, the Cougars ended their tournament run that weekend with a second place trophy!
If you happen to be near Buffalo, NY, or have plans to visit the area soon, the Robert Indiana exhibit will be on display at the Albright Knox Gallery until September 23, 2018. I highly recommend a visit!
Serendipity! Shortly after my field trip to make concrete sculptures with my middle school art students, I got a call from an artist friend asking me to come over to make hypertufa. I'd heard about these concrete garden planters, but knew nothing about how to make them, so of course I said yes to that idea! Cathy Jeffers is known mostly for her fiber arts, especially her art quilts, but she has no fears or reservations when it comes to trying something new.
Cathy had already figured out a good mix...concrete, perlite (or vermiculite), and peat moss, with enough water to make a clay-like modeling consistency. I had some ceramic tiles and faux sea glass to add a little subtle bling, which is something I personally cannot resist! Although my intended garden stepping stone was a complete failure because it got stuck in the cookie tin mold and broke into pieces, I'm quite pleased with my other two hypertufa, especially the square one.
My interest was first piqued when I took my Muse Machine arts club students to a cement sculpture workshop at K12 Gallery in Dayton. Since the group was small, just sixteen middle school students, my co-advisor and I were able to do a little sculpting of our own. Finally...a lesson planned and carried out by someone else...with time for me to just play along!
Now I need to figure out what to do to complete my piece! My inspiration was a painting that hangs in my mother's home, part of my father's collection of Native American art. "Butterfly Woman" shows a woman dancing in a swirl of colors during a festival celebration. I've always loved the painting and decided to create a cement sculpture that is part woman and part butterfly. All she needs now is some colorful beadwork in the turquoise, orange, and other colors of the American Southwest.
For now, Butterfly Woman remains unadorned, as I am off visiting my grandchildren for the next week.