“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“Here, are the stiffening hills, here, the rich cargo
Congealed in the dark arteries,
That hold Glamorgan’s blood.
The midnight miner in the secret seams,
Limb, life, and bread.
– Rhondda Valley”
― Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems
One of my favorite things in Dallas are the little-known Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. Half-restored, few people see them, although millions visit during the state fair. They are hidden by the porticoes along the row of buildings – you have to get up underneath to see them.
And you should.
“Losing faith is a complicated business and takes time. There are no epiphanies, no “moments of truth.” It takes much thought and concentration in the later phases, which thenselves come about through an accumulation of small accidents: examples of general injustice, misfortune falling upon the godly, prayers of one’s own unanswered.”
― Thomas Pynchon, V.
“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
I have always loved the Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. I think they are among the many unappreciated public artworks in the city. The ones along the southern side have been beautifully restored.
However, the murals on the North Side – exposed to the southern sun – are very faded and in need of loving care (and very hard to photograph). I hope they get some, they are just as gorgeous as the others.
I have seen it in the daylight many times and took some photos of it. But I had never had a good look at it at night. It glows with a preternatural beauty – worth a gander, for sure.
I made it a point on the Stop and Photograph the Roses bike ride to swing by Fair Park. I love the Art Deco architecture, sculpture, and murals there. Plus, there is Leonhardt Lagoon, with the incredible 1986 walk-on sculpture by Patricia Johanson, Saggitaria Platyphylla (Delta Duckpotato).
“The lagoon was in the middle of Dallas’ largest park with four major museums along the shore, and it seemed a wonderful opportunity to convert it into a home for native wildlife—ducks, turtles, fish, shrimp, insects—by cleaning up the water and conceiving of landscaping as food. The “sculpture” was thought of as not just aesthetic, but rather a means of bringing people into contact with the plants and animals and the water.”
It’s interesting, but there really is a Sagittaria Platyphylla (Delta Duckpotato) – it’s a water weed. The only thing is, the real thing is spelled slightly differently than the title of the sculpture (one G, two T’s). I’m sure she did this on purpose – for something of this size, you want to get it right.
The idea is that on so many bike rides you see something that you want to stop and look at – or take a photograph of – but the ride goes on. We wanted to do a ride that was purposefully slow, more or less dedicated to photography, and that would go and stop whenever the fancy took us. The ride was called Stop and Photograph the Roses.
I took on the task of designing the route. We wanted to start in the Dallas Arts District, visit downtown and some photogenic spots in the area. My first routes were too long with too many stops. Thinking about it, there were simply too many places that I thought people would want to see and take pictures of.
So I whittled it down. And whittled it down some more. And finally took a last couple out. Out were Klyde Warren Park, the original Belo Park, the Bowler Hat and the rest of the Cedars….
What was left was a route that started at One Main Place, went through the Arts District, then on to the new Belo Garden Park by way of the Dallas Eye. Then Commerce Street to The Farmer’s Market – with a stop there for rest and lunch. Finally, a short ride past some favorite murals of mine to Fair Park and then a return through Deep Ellum.
We had a surprisingly good turnout – maybe thirty folks. As the day went along, it began to get hot and we lost some folks along the route – there is so much going on this time of year, but more than a handful stuck it out the whole way.
I think everyone had a good time. It will be cool to see the photos that everybody else took as they filter across the internet. The one disadvantage of planning the route is that I was familiar with almost everything along the way – and already have taken (and placed on this blog) shots of most of what we saw.
Still, that let me enjoy the ride more than the photography – and I still collected enough for a few blog entries to fill in some upcoming days.
And now I think of the places we didn’t go. Maybe we can do another….
A Facebook Video from Andrew Pearson – an interview with Chris Curnutt on how the ride came about.