Moonbird and Sax

“What I am looking for… is an immobile movement, something which would be the equivalent of what is called the eloquence of silence, or what St. John of the Cross, I think it was, described with the term ‘mute music’.”
—-Joan Miró

Moonbird (Oiseau lunaire), Joan Miró, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas

In a picture, it should be possible to discover new things every time you see it. But you can look at a picture for a week together and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.
—-Joan Miró

Moonbird, Nasher Sculpture Center

Moonbird, Nasher Sculpture Center
(click to enlarge)

“Don’t play the saxophone, let the saxophone play you.”
― Charlie Parker, Parker, Charlie E-Flat Alto Saxaphone

“I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song and he will be cured; when he’d be broke, I’d bring out a different song and immediately he’d receive all the money he needed.”
― John Coltrane

Fourteen and a Bonus

Now that the bicycle photo scavenger hunt for October that Bike Friendly Richardson did is over I wanted to do an entry with my photos and write about the riding. The idea was to ride a bike around the city and take photos of sculptures or fountains with your bike in the picture. There were fourteen sculptures and a map to help you out.

I did all fourteen sculptures (and a bonus) in three rides. It would not have been too hard to ride them all at once – but I didn’t have a whole day. As it was – it was a lot of fun. Quite a few folks did the hunt and posted their photos – pretty cool.

The photos are in the order I took them – the numbers on each description are the ones given on the original scavenger hunt list. These are all hosted on Flickr – click on an image to open up the flickr page.


I had a little time one Saturday Afternoon so I decided to take a quick loop and grab a few sculptures that weren’t too far away. The day was overcast – terrible light for photography… but nice, cool, and windless for bike riding.

14.2 mile loop

4) The Block Cylinder Sculpture

4) The Block Cylinder Sculpture – This one is the closest to my house, though it is more isolated from the rest of the sculptures. I rode over there, realized I had forgotten my tripod, then rode home and picked it up. This is an HDR photo made from three shots at different exposures. The day was overcast, the light was terrible.

7) City Hall Fountain

7) City Hall Fountain – I rode across Highway 75 on Arapaho and was almost hit by someone making a left turn – rushing to avoid an oncoming truck, they didn’t see me. Another HDR image. I tried to take some shots by riding by and hitting the remote release… but that didn’t work very well. Need to work on that technique with a model on a bike and me behind the lens.

1) Humpty FOL Sculpture

1) Humpty FOL Sculpture – Nearby, next to the library – this is the smallest sculpture on the list. It’s a nice peaceful reading area on the north side of the library.

12) Horse Sculpture

12) Horse Sculpture – Rode down to Beltline to get this photo. The light was bad (still overcast) and the parking lot full of cars… didn’t work too hard – took the photo and took off.

11) Asian Sculptures

11) Asian Sculptures – After crossing 75 on Beltline into Downtown Richardson, I popped up a couple blocks to get this shot. The DFW ChinaTown center is an old strip shopping area now dedicated to a wonderful selection of Asian Dining Establishments. Everything from Vietnamese Pho, to Ramen, to bargain Sushi, to Dim Sum, to Korean Bar-B-Que and everything in between. They have a whole collection of concrete statuary littering the parking lot. I chose to pose my bike, helmet, and glasses with this guy. I should have gone back with an extra tire and tube and had him pose with a pump in his hand… call it “Fixing a Flat.” I know that sounds disrespectful – but it’s only concrete decorations.


A couple weeks later I took the DART train downtown for a Bonnie and Clyde historical bicycle tour – but the event was rained out. I had my camera, so I rode back to the Galatyn station and rode around, trying to get as many as I could. I would have finished, but the sun set before I grabbed the last three. It was another overcast day, with spitting rain – again, terrible light – but it is what it is.

20.4 mile route (plus another ten miles or so on my trip to downtown)

14) Galatyn Park Fountain

14) Galatyn Park Fountain – Right off of the DART train is this fountain. Everybody likes this thing. If you look in the background, you can see a train pulling into the station.

9) Critter Garden

9) Critter Garden – Only a little ways north is this familiar group of sculptures – a childrens’ playground along the nature trails that loop through the creek bottom.

6) Palisades Sculpture

6) Palisades Sculpture – I crossed 75 on the trail by the Heights Church, then made my way down to this one. The Palisades Tower piece is one of the sculptures on the list I was not familiar with. I had to lie down in the wet, muddy grass to get this shot – I need to re-do it in brighter light so I can get a little bit better depth of field. Another shot.

5) UTD Sculpture

5) UTD Sculpture – This sculpture, informally titled “Love Jack” was really hard for me to find. I thought I knew my way around the UTD campus… and I thought that I knew where it was… but I was wrong on both counts. It was fun circling around and around, up and down sidewalks, past all the student and cool buildings – all over the campus for a total of a few miles and well over an hour – but I was getting pretty frustrated and was going to give up when I finally spotted the thing.

3) Heights Rocket Sculpture

3) Heights Rocket Sculpture – this is the only sculpture on the list that I don’t like. It’s fine, as it is, but I don’t like what it represents. See, for a couple of generations, there was a famous rocket slide piece of playground equipment. It was removed due to “safety concerns and federal ADA regulations.” Instead of a cool retro playground they got this monstrocity. I am not happy.

10) Silver Tower Sculpture

10) Silver Tower Sculpture – This was another one I was not familiar with, though I have driven through the nearby intersection hundreds of times. It is set off behind a drug store and a parking lot – hard to see from the road. Cool, though. After I left – even though it had been a long day, it was starting to rain, and I was tired…- I wanted to get the last three sculptures, but the sun was setting so I clicked on my lights and headed home.


Another overcast day, not much light – but not much time left. So I headed out for one last ride to catch the last three sculptures. Ironically, these are the three that I am most familiar with – the ones I ride past the most – and the easiest ones for me to get. Also, I wanted to get one bonus sculpture – one that nobody else had bagged.

12.6 mile loop

scavenge2

13) DART Spring Valley Station Sculpture – I go by this one on my commute to work, but never really looked at it. It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

scavenge4

8) Box Sculpture – I found this sculpture a while back and wrote a blog entry about it. I didn’t notice the name “Egri” welded into the steel until now – that confirms that the sculpture is called “Strange Romance” by a late sculptor named Ted Egri from Taos, New Mexico.

scavenge5

2) DART Arapaho Station Sculpture – This sculpture is as familiar to me as any – I ride out of that station a lot. I have used some photos of it in a blog entry before. The sculpture is called Gateway by Hans Van de Bovenkamp. There is a bigger version in Oklahoma City.

scavenge6

Bonus Sculpture – I stumbled across this bronze a while back. It’s hard to find – you will never spot it from the road. But it is definitely in Richardson – but I don’t think I’m ready to say where.

Carmen at the Winspear

Lobby of the Winspear Opera House

Lobby of the Winspear Opera House – taken during the opening festivities three years ago.

Winspear

The interior of the Winspear, taken when it first opened.

Ever since we stumbled into the unexpected awesomeness that was Turandot at the Death Star – I have been jonesin’ for some more opera. I managed to take in a couple of Met Simulcasts at local movie theaters – which was extra cool – but there is no substitute for the real thing.

Despite our poverty at the moment, I splurged and bought tickets to the Dallas Opera’s production of Carmen at the Winspear. Wanting to enjoy the show with the minimum of folderol I chose the Sunday matinee. The tickets have been magneted on the refrigerator for months… finally, today was the day. I was psyched.

I have always loved the music of Carmen – I have had an album of the orchesteral suite on my own personal heavy rotation for thirty years. It is a treat to hear the familiar melodies on their home turf, so to speak.

The only problem I have with Carmen is one of those stubborn stray childhood memories. Implanted like an intractable splinter is the remembrance of a particular episode of Gilligan’s Island… where the castaways produce a homegrown play of their own device. It is a musical version of Hamlet, set to well known opera themes – in particular a couple of the more famous melodies from Carmen.

The combination of the serious genius of Shakespeare and the classic musical stylings of Bizet mixed with the silly sitcom technique caused a rift in the time-space continuum and a permanent spot of damage in my young brain. The corruption persists to this day. Unfortunately, I can’t listen to The Toreador Song without hearing the Skipper singing, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be….”

And then, Gilligan singing “To be or not to be,” to the tune of Habanera… Oh, man, I wish I had never heard that….

But, other than that, I love the music.

And hearing it live was especially special. So much of the music we hear today (all of it, really) is electronically amplified. Even live music is miked and boomed out over speakers. To hear the complexity and delicacy of the orchestra and the voices within the exquisite acoustics of a place like the Winspear with no intermediary between the instruments and performers and your eardrums is a pure treat… something to be treasured and remembered, experienced whenever possible.

Now, because I am poor, we could only afford nosebleed seats – way up in the top, only three rows down from the ceiling (though, since I bought them on the first day, they were in the center). It wasn’t bad at all. The sound was still perfect and, although we couldn’t make out the emotion in the faces of the performers, the staring-down-on the relatively narrow staging gave the production a three-dimensional look that staring straight through the proscenium from a floor seat doesn’t boast.

As we went to the elevator before the performance the attending woman said, “Sixth Floor – Now at the intermission, go down to the fifth floor if you want to buy something. That’s actually a great place because there is a balcony outside.” So that’s what we did. I really enjoyed the few minutes out on the balcony, looking down onto the familiar reflecting pool and across the arts district… you could even see past the highways on to Fair Park – a beautiful view. The massive aluminum grid of the sunscreen was only a few feet over our heads.

Trammell Crow Center and the Winspear Sunscreen

Trammell Crow Center and the Winspear Sunscreen

The aluminum grid of the Winspear Opera House sunshade - very high overhead, reflected in the pool.

The aluminum grid of the Winspear Opera House sunshade – very high overhead, reflected in the pool.

The opera is not a quick thing – it takes up the whole day (though for me, the actual performance goes by all too quickly). But it is an experience that I have come to treasure – a special form of entertainment. The history of it, the people watching at the performance, and especially the industry and expertise of everyone associated with the show makes is so worth the effort and expense.

Now I have to look ahead… what to see next? Maybe Death and the Powers? It looks like it will be simulcast all over the world, maybe you can join me?

Sunday Snippet – A Thousand Unnatural Shocks

Here’s a little thing I wrote the other day. It’s not very good – I know I won’t use it in my book. So I’ll put it up here for your amusement and ridicule.

The germ of the idea for this came from two places. One, a piece of fiction I read more than thirty years ago – One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts, by Shirley Jackson. The story left an impression on me and I always wanted to write something in a similar vein.

The other inspiration came from a book I stumbled across. I won’t mention the name – but it was a popular new-agey book of spirituality and such. I found it stumbling upon a blog written by a person that lived by its tenets. One chapter of the book recommended an experiment. It said that you should give the world forty eight hours to do something wonderful for you. It said that if you opened your mind, within two days the universe would prove to you that it was dominated by a beneficent force that would give you a sign, some unexpected positive event, to prove that it existed.

Well, this isn’t my usual cup of tea – but I was attracted to the scientific aspect. Also, forty eight hours is such a short period of time. I decided to give it a shot. And I did it right, I wrote down a commitment on a piece of paper, I was positive about the whole thing, I was optimistic. I can say I was even excited and curious about what boon the universe was going to deliver to me in the next couple of days.

I think you know what happened next. Almost immediately I had such bad luck – nothing I couldn’t deal with – but again and again unexpected disasters – frustrating, expensive, uncomfortable stuff kept coming at me from every direction. The few good things that occurred over those two days were the inevitable, expected result of hard work that I had done previously – not the unexpected wonder the book promised.

So the book failed for me. You could say that nothing happened that I couldn’t deal with – that things could have been worse… but that’s not what the book promised.

I guess the only good thing that came out of this disastrous two days is the idea for a story… even if it isn’t a very good one.

A Thousand Unnatural Shocks

by Bill Chance

Buford knew it was going to be a bad day but he didn’t think it would be this bad.

When he woke up it was cloudy and he couldn’t tell what time it was. His wife was nowhere to be found and the alarm clock was flashing twelves. By the time he dressed, the thunderstorm that had cut the power while he slept kicked in again and he ran through the rain to find his front left tire flat. Buford had to stretch out in the dirty cold water in the gutter to slip the jack underneath and was soaked by the time he had the tire changed.

At work, his badge didn’t operate the rotary door and he had to stand in the cold drizzle while the security guard called human resources. He knew something especially awful was happening when the HR woman had the guard escort him to an obscure conference room after letting him in. On the table was a cardboard box with all the personal stuff from his cubicle.

Apparently, they had found the irregularities in his petty cash account.

On the way home, someone turned left in front of him and made him swerve. He hit a light pole with his right fender. Buford was able to back out and continue on, but a cop gave him a ticket a block farther for his broken headlight and expired inspection sticker.

Back home, he discovered that the dog had pulled over the trash can and spread garbage throughout the house. The dog also fished out and ate last night’s leftovers and vomited them up on the couch. After cleaning the mess as best he could he put his dirty, wet clothes into the washing machine. On the rinse cycle, the hot water hose burst, flooding the utility room and kitchen and scalding Buford as he had to use a big wrench and wedge his foot against the wall to get the leverage he needed to shut off the balky valve.

Deciding he had better not try and do anything else for the rest of the day, Buford turned on the television and settled in his easy chair to watch television. He was admiring the vase of fresh flowers his wife had placed above the set when the dog chased the cat into the living room. The cat leaped on top of the television, knocking the vase over. The water spilled and trickled into the circuitry. With a sharp spark and a bang, it went dark. A column of rancid smoke rose from the back, a breaker tripped and the room went dark.

Buford did not dare budge; he sat there in the gloom, motionless, until Camille, his wife, came home.

————————————

He heard the keys jangling merrily in the lock.

“Why is it so dark in here?” Camille asked as she walked briskly through the room.

“Blown breaker.”

“Well, I’ll reset it then.” Buford cringed and he heard the click and the lights came on, expecting a fire or explosion. But it was his wife, after all, that threw the switch, so nothing bad happened.

“How was your day, dear?” she asked. “Not too horrible, I hope?”

“Worse than ever,” he replied. “For one thing, I lost my job.”

“No worries.” Camille answered. “I bought a lottery ticket on the way out this morning. Ten grand scratch-off winner.” She tossed a thick envelope on the coffee table. “If we need more, I’ll buy another.”

“So your day was good?” asked Buford.

“Of course it was; you know the drill.”

Camille reached into her pocket and removed a small object. It was a crude statue, made from some mottled mudstone, of a distorted human figure of extreme ugliness. The troll-like character was leering into space and holding a large, crimson, translucent jewel – clutching it with both arms wrapped around the gleaming gem like its life depended on it. Camille carefully placed the sculpture onto a sturdy wooden stand on the mantelpiece. Though diminutive and unattractive, it had a quality about it that commanded attention. Both Buford and Camille, husband and wife, stood for a minute or two, as they did most days when the charm was replaced back in its place, and thought about the day they had acquired it.

They were on the Mayan Coast of Mexico, on a bargain package vacation Camille had won at a company bingo game. Their cut-rate guide had been drinking and became lost; then his rattle-trap jeep broke down in an isolated village. The pair ventured out through the thick air – sweating so much in the tropical heat that it was painful.

“I can’t believe you got us into this,” Buford said to Camille, his voice thick with reproach and misery.

“Hey, all I did was win a contest. You are the one that jumped on it. You’re too cheap to pay for a trip on your own.Don’t blame this on me.”

They continued to snipe at each other as they walked down the muddy street between ragged huts made of crude sticks, reeds, and rusty corrugated steel. The village was strangely devoid of the usual beggars and con-men and they kept walking hoping to find some establishment that looked like it might have clean ice. They were ready to give up anything for something cold to drink when a strange old man approached them and spoke in almost perfect English.

“Ah, we don’t get so many tourists in our little town.”

“Well, you’re a long way off the beaten track,” Buford said to the man as his wife glared.

“That’s true, not so many are as lucky as you.”

“I wouldn’t say we were lucky. Not at all.”

The old man stared at them for a minute, and then continued.

“Well, I have something here for you, and I guarantee that your luck is going to change.”

Now that he thought about it, Buford realized that the old man didn’t say their luck would change for the better, only that it would change. And he had not been lying.

The old man offered up the little statue, the strange charm. Buford wanted to walk away, but Camille took the charm in her hand and stared into its jewel. From that point, they had no choice, she had to have it. The price was not too high and Buford peeled some bills off the roll he kept hidden in a pocket sewn into his waistband.

But the old man wasn’t finished. He talked about the charm and how it would bring good luck to whoever carried it.

“But, there’s a catch,” he said.

“Isn’t there always,” replied Buford. He was doubtful, but there was something about that ugly little statue that commanded interest. “This isn’t some sort of Monkey’s Paw or anything, is it?”

“No not at all.” Buford was surprised the old man knew the reference. “It works, but you have to remember that the amount of luck in the world is finite. The charm gives out good luck, but it takes it from other places, usually nearby.”

And that is how it worked. It didn’t take long to figure out that whichever one of them would carry the charm would have fantastic things happen to them. But it would always be at the expense of the second. The better that one did, the worse the other.

They tried switching every day, but that was too ragged… the bad luck would overtake the good. They had settled on three days. Camille would get it for three days, placing it in the stand on the mantle every night (they were afraid what the charm might do while they slept) and then Buford would get it for the same length of time.

It worked out for a while, but now everything seemed to be spinning out of control. The charm was working better and better, but the downsides were getting worse and worse.

————————————

“Why do you get the charm tomorrow?” asked Buford. “It isn’t fair. It was horrible today.”

“You need to do what I do, dear. When you have the charm, I stay in bed all day. Not too much bad can happen that way.”

“You know I can’t do that. I can’t lie still all day; I have to do something… anything. I’ll go crazy otherwise… what’s the use of the thing if you have to spend half your life in bed…. I think I should have it…. I really need it tomorrow.”

“Now, you know that’s not what we agreed on.”

“But it’s not fair!”

“Come on dear, “ Camille said, ending the discussion, “It’s time for bed. Don’t be so upset, tomorrow’s another day.”

————————————

At three in the morning, after hours of tossing and turning and being awakened from a restless half-sleep by Camille’s incessant snoring, Buford gave up, climbed out of bed and walked into the living room. There he looked at the charm on the mantelpiece and how it seemed to glow with a faint unearthly aura in the moonlight.

“There is no way I can get through another day like today,” Buford said to himself.

He knew he needed all the advantages he could get so he took the charm down and slipped it into his pocket. Then he opened the small metal safe at the bottom of the hall closet and carefully loaded the handgun. Holding it out in front, he returned to the bedroom and the uneven drone of Camille’s snores.

“I’m sorry dear, but this is not going to be your lucky day,” he said to his wife’s sleeping form as he raised the weapon.

Bending Compressed Wood

In the same building complex that I visited Bowman Hot Glass we found another sculptor, Rick Maxwell that works mainly in wood.

He had some beautiful bent wood work in progress – large pieces that had been bent around forms and were in the process of being finished. I took a close look, expecting to see laminations and was surprised to see that the wood was solid. I asked the sculptor about his technique and he explained that these were done with a special product, compressed wood.

A process takes wood and compresses it lengthwise under extreme force. This will reduce a ten foot board down to about eight feet – but more importantly, disturb the fibers in such a way as to make the wood extremely flexible.

It can be used for extreme wood bending.

Sources:
Pure Timber LLC
Compwood Products

He said it comes wrapped in plastic and that once the wrapping is removed the piece is bent using forms and clamps. Then it is allowed to dry and the wood takes the shape in a permanent basis.

I was fascinated by this process and impressed by his sculptures – it was really cool to visit his studio and talk with him.

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Clark Maxwell. (click to enlarge)

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Clark Maxwell.
(click to enlarge)

He uses large pieces to make the big sculptures and then makes small ones out of the leftover trimmings (you can see those hanging on the wall behind the bent wood). Scrap left over from the small sculptures is burned to charcoal and he uses those for drawings, like the one on the left. He said, “I used to be cheap, but now I’m sustainable.”

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Rick Maxwell.  (click to enlarge)

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Rick Maxwell.
(click to enlarge)

This piece has been dyed and coated with polyurethane – almost ready to go. The artist said he has a recent piece hanging in the Omni – I need to stop by and see it.

Bowman Hot Glass

Bowman Hot Glass

Bowman Hot Glass

After leaving the bicycle swap meet at Community Beer, a friend and I rode our bikes up out of the Dallas Design District, along Lamar through Downtown, and into The Cedars. It was an artists open gallery tour for some of the artists in the Cedars – an event I had been looking forward to.

The showroom at Bowman Hot Glass. A lot of beautiful work here. (click to enlarge)

The showroom at Bowman Hot Glass. A lot of beautiful work here.
(click to enlarge)

Our first stop was at Bowman Hot Glass – a glass studio, showroom, and workshop. The place has a very artistic… almost Santa Fe feel to it. But it is obviously a hard working studio – dedicated to the art of blowing glass. While we visited a two man team were making glass pumpkins.

Bowman Hot Glass offers glass blowing classes – which looks more than a little interesting… more hard work than fun. But that’s a good thing.

Drawing fresh glass. (click to enlarge)

Drawing fresh glass.
(click to enlarge)

Bowman Hot Glass

Bowman Hot Glass

Blowing Glass (click to enlarge)

Blowing Glass
(click to enlarge)

Making a pumpkin at Bowman Hot Glass

Making a pumpkin at Bowman Hot Glass

Putting the stem on the pumpkin. Bowman Hot Glass

Putting the stem on the pumpkin. Bowman Hot Glass