Yet for all his agonizing all Pointsman will score, presently, is an octopus – yes a gigantic, horror-movie devilfish name of Grigori: gray, slimy, never still, shivering slow-motion in his makeshift pen down by the Ick Regis jetty … a terrible wind that day off the Channel, Pointsman in his Balaclava helmet, eyes freezing, Dr. Porkyevitch with greatcoat collar up and fur hat down around his ears, their breaths foul with hours-old fish, and what the hell can Pointsman do with this animal?
Already, by itself, the answer is growing, one moment a featureless blastulablob, the next folding, beginning to differentiate….
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”
― Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall
This is a tough time of year for me. I suffer terribly from allergies from the evil Mountain Cedar Trees in South Texas – the clouds of pollen destroy me. The worst is the inability to get an effective night’s sleep. I go into awful hacking coughing fits every fifteen minutes or so.
That makes for long and unprofitable nights.
It was cold today, cold enough that I didn’t want to go outside. But as the day went on, the sun peeped out a little, and I decided to git. I wanted to go take some photographs somewhere, and after a bit of web searching, I found a candidate. There’s a place in West Dallas, near Trinity Groves, called The Fabrication Yard. It’s some old abandoned warehouses that the city lets taggers spray graffiti all over.
I packed my camera and drove down there. The highway had a big cluster of fire trucks and miles of traffic – luckily for me going the other way – but I made a note for the trip home.
When I pulled up I could smell the telltale tang of scorched soybean oil alkyd and solvent left by fresh aerosol paint. There were obvious drug deals in the street, pulsing music from one shed where someone was shooting a rap video and one guy painting a wall – otherwise pretty deserted – while I wandered and shot some pictures.
At least I was out of the house.
“It is almost startling to hear this warning of departed time sounding among the tombs, and telling the lapse of the hour, which, like a billow, has rolled us onward towards the grave.”
― Washington Irving, The Sketch Book
From the Crow Museum Website:
Large bells such as this were common in the Edo period to mark time for communities. They were often paid for by collecting coins from parishes and locales, and then melted down for the metal. These bells are clapper-less and were struck with a large wooden beam. With the introduction of Western clocks into Japan, fewer large bells, like this one, were needed. Modernity also called for replacing the traditional calendar based on the zodiac with a January to December year. Bells continued to be made, but their use was more commemorative and ceremonial than practical.
I like to use light as a material, but my medium is actually perception. I want you to sense yourself sensing – to see yourself seeing.
A long time ago(2004) , in a previous incarnation of a blog, I wrote about a trip Lee and I took to the newly opened Nasher Sculpture Center. The blog entry was eventually published in a local magazine. A highlight of the visit was my discovery of James Turrell’s work, Tending (blue).
From the blog (I have quoted this twice before):
My favorite piece might have been the installation Tending (Blue) by James Turrell. We walked into a little opening lit by odd, shifting colors into the wall at the north end of the garden. The passage made a right turn and opened into a small room lined with dark stone benches. The walls on the upper half were featureless and smooth. A gray skylight lighted the whole chamber. The effect was strange and very peaceful. I liked it a lot.
Lee and I left the chamber and walked back up the garden and inside the building. We wandered downstairs and into the auditorium where a film was showing. It told the story of Raymond Nasher and his late wife, how they started out building Northpark Mall, acquired a fortune, and then became premiere collectors of modern sculpture. Mr. Nasher talked about his life, his wife, and his passion for the new sculpture center. The film then showed the construction of the center, how a handful of visionary architects and a few thousand men in hard hats converted a grimy downtown parking lot (I’ve parked there many times, put my quarters or dollar bills into a rusty numbered slot) into a thing of great value and beauty. They talked a lot of how it will be there forever. The film was fun and interesting – it really helped me appreciate the place.
On opening day Raymond Nasher said, “I put Patsy (his wife, the collector, who had passed away a couple years before) in charge of the weather today, and, as you can see, it’s beautiful.
One thing was odd, though. On the part of the film that covered opening day, Nasher and Turrell themselves went into the Tending (Blue) chamber that Lee and I had walked out of only minutes before. The benefactor and the artist sat on the benches and looked around. The skylight rectangle in the ceiling wasn’t gray like we saw it, but a deep cerulean blue.
“What’s up with that?” I asked.
“Let’s go back and check it out,” Lee said.
We hiked back down and entered the chamber again. The skylight was still gray. Something didn’t look right, though. I stood under it, looking up, trying to figure out what I was seeing and how it could change colors so dramatically. I was halfway convinced that it was a rectangle of light projected on the ceiling by some hidden apparatus (the upper walls are washed in subtle changing color from hidden computer controlled LED’s) when I was suddenly struck between the eyes with a big, cold drop of water. I wiped my face in surprise and looked down at some small pools of water at my feet.
“That’s weird, Lee,” I said, “I can’t believe it, but this roof is leaking.”
I looked back up, trying to find the telltale discoloration of a water leak, when, with a sudden shock, I realized what the hell I was actually looking at. That wasn’t a skylight, that wasn’t a projected rectangle at all, it was simply a big hole in the ceiling. I was looking directly at the sky. Once my eyes and my brain were in sync I could see the subtle variation of the clouds passing by overhead. The edges of the hole must have been cut back like razors – there was no visible frame around the opening, simply a featureless rectangle of light. It was amazing.
That’s why the rectangle looked blue in the film – it was a cloudless day. Now I want to go back. I want to go at sunset… I want to figure out how to go at dawn. The city sky at night… will it be brown? I want to sit in there during a rainstorm. I especially want to go there on that rarest of Texas days, a snowstorm.
I returned to the piece many times. It became my favorite place. Then… horrors.
It was destroyed by the construction of an uber-expensive condominium tower. The controversy still rages today.
But I remained a fan of James Turrell. Especially when I found out about Roden Crater.
Imagine a hollowed out dead volcano in the desolation of Arizona filled with Turrell’s work with light. Amazing.
It is one of the things I want to visit before I die. I was losing hope, however. The idiosyncratic artist was taking forever and only a handful of people (each making tens of thousands of dollars worth of donations) were being allowed to visit. That doesn’t… and never will… include me.
But I kept watching… digitally. And today an article came across my screen. Turrell has partnered with Arizona State University to finish the project and open it up to the public. I’m stoked.
As much as I dislike the image of the isolated volcano surrounded by ugly parking lots – gift shop selling doodads and geegaws and rubber tomahawks – crowds of gawking tourists griping about the heat – tour buses idling to keep their air conditioning running disgorging their cargo wearing “I’M WITH STUPID” T-shirts into snaking queues of people staring at their phones…. All of that would be worth it if it allows one person (me) to actually visit Roden Crater.
Faster, please, I’m not going to live forever.
Now that I think about it there are three artistic creations I’ve know about for a long time and hope to live long enough to see finished.
1. When I was a little kid I read about the Crazy Horse Memorial Monument and fantasized about seeing the gigantic sculpture, probably as an old man.
Well, I don’t think I’m going to make that one – it doesn’t look like it has changed much since I was a kid. The other two, though:
2. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona… they have picked up the pace the last couple of decades… I might make that one.
3. An now there is hope for Roden Crater. This is truly the best of all possible worlds.
I think whenever we think of our hometowns, we tend to think of very specific people: with whom you rode on the school bus, who was your next door neighbor you were playing with, who your girlfriend was. It’s always something very specific.
—-Joyce Carol Oates
I find myself using my phone for photographs more and more, displacing my DSLR.
It was too cold and too late to ride my bike to work today, so I drove. Stopped, waiting for the light, at Plano and Beltline in the gritty cold and cloudy morning, I saw this scene right outside my driver’s window – the bus was making a left onto Plano. I fumbled in my pocket for my phone, got the password in on the second try, clicked the “I’m Not Driving” button (safety first) and snapped this out my window right as the light changed.
Writer’s block results from too much head. Cut off your head. Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa when her head was cut off. You have to be reckless when writing. Be as crazy as your conscience allows.
There is amazing art all around you, where you least expect it. All you have to do is look.
It was cold and raining tonight as I left the DART train line at Union Station to walk over to the Bishop Arts Streetcar… but I stopped and took a photo of an amazing bas-relief… it looked like aluminum over a concrete wall over a stairwell leading to the underground tunnel under the station platform. It’s an obvious reference to Pegasus – one symbol Dallas uses to refer to itself. I don’t know the history or the artist – will have to do some research.
A single rocket explosion comes thudding across the city, from far east of here, east by southeast. The light along her shoes flows and checks like afternoon traffic. She pauses, reminded of something: the military frock trembling, silk filling-yarns shivering by crowded thousands as the chilly light slides over and off and touching again their unprotected backs. The smells of burning musk and sandalwood, of leather and spilled whisky, thicken in the room.
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow