A Week and a Day

Saturday – It’s been eight days since I saw the art installation Transcendence downtown. The ice sculptures have been melting all this time.

First Night

Next Day

The Day After That

A couple days after that

I had to see what has happened in the meantime. Would the ice be completely melted? Would the installation still be there?

I drove down and parked down the street. It was still there, the gravel was still raked, and there was a lot of ice left in the two big blocks. The taller block had fallen over and broken in two, but the large horizontal block was not noticeably smaller.

The two human forms were nothing other than small irregular pieces of ice. The stone from one of them was missing. I remembered the story the woman from the Dallas Center for Architecture had told me.

She said that she had heard that one of the stones in the human forms was from the parents of a childhood friend of the artist. This friend had passed away and after the ice is melted and the artwork is closed the stone will be given back to the parents to be placed in their stone garden on their rural home as a memorial. A nice story.

Maybe that one stone is now in a garden on the Oklahoma border. I’d like to think so.

While I was taking pictures I could hear a lot of noise – a metal grinding sound with a series of loud clacks – coming from behind a wall surrounding an unfinished building next door. I realized that some kids were skateboarding over there. After a few minutes a couple boards came flying over the wall and then their owners scampered through a gap in a fence after.

“What is this?” they asked, “Is that ice?”

I explained that it was an art work, that there had been large sculptures of ice that have been melting for a week. They had never heard of a Zen rock garden, so I explained as best as I could. They seemed to think it was cool.

“I’m glad we didn’t walk around in there,” one of them said.

So am I.

The two human form sculptures, what is left of them

A reminder of what one of these looked like at the unveiling

The large upright block fell over - you can see the light-colored gravel it rested on.

What it looked like at the unveiling

A group of women walked by after leaving the Opera House.

Ice Melts in the Sun

It was cold today… especially cold for Dallas. Barely above freezing with a whipping north wind. I thought about staying in, but I wondered how Transcendence was doing, how the ice sculptures were holding up. I didn’t go see them yesterday and there were a couple other things I wanted to do downtown (like eat some Kimchee Fries from the food trucks in the Arts District) so I went to catch a DART train.

As always, the southbound train was leaving as I climbed the stairs to the platform. It would be twenty minutes before another southbound came along, the platform at the station I had chosen was elevated and the wind was biting and miserable.

So I grabbed a Northbound Train. It was more comfortable sitting in a heated car than knocking about the wind-swept concrete platform. I looked at the schedule, examined the time between stops, did a little hard calculation and was able to exit only two minutes before the next southbound came along.

Back at Transcendence…


First Day

Second Day

I found that the first rock had fallen. The more upright figure had given up his whole torso and his stone had dropped to the gravel alongside what was left of his legs. The other human still had his rocky heart inside his torso – but barely. He had melted through to the stone on both sides and there was a visible gap at the top. It would only be a matter of time before his fell.

The rectangular blocks were holding up better. They were full of faults and cracks now, their once crystal clear complexion now a white tracing of opalescent pearl – beautifully glowing when the sun peeked out. The rock inside the largest block was almost invisible now.

There was a professional photographer down there with a big expensive camera. He had been coming down every day. We talked about how long the big block would last.

“It depends on the temperature,” he said.

“Of course, but that big block might last another week – if it stays this cold.”

“Ah, but the ice melts in the sun, no matter how cold it is.”

Every time the sun would emerge from the clouds he would yell at me, “See! See!” and wave his arms.

He’s right… but I still think that big block will be here for a bit.

Ice Melts in the Rain

Help me, I'm melting!

It was a cold (well, cold for Dallas) wet and miserably gray day. Storms all night and rolling bands of rain driven down from a dark sky all day. A perfect fall day to huddle inside… maybe read a little, eat the last of the leftovers, maybe watch some football on TV, maybe do nothing at all. And that’s what I did.

But there was one burr under my blanket. I wanted to see what the ice sculptures were doing in downtown Dallas. I had seen Transendence at its unveiling, one day later, and now… what was it up to? It had been raining constantly and I knew that fresh water from the sky would melt the ice quickly, so I had no choice but to head out and drive down there.

The roads were wet, the visibility was poor, and, of course, everybody else was driving like bats out of hell – so the drive was stressful enough. I pulled up and parked illegally right next to the installation (there was nobody, and I mean nobody around). Luckily, there was a bit of a break in the weather – only a cold spitting windy miserable drizzle.

The first thing I noticed was that they had put out some hand-lettered signs all around the place that said, “Keep Off Gravel (Art Exhibit).” No shit, Sherlock. If those had been out there that first night, would all the drunken idiots have trampled all over the place? Whatever. For the first time, there were no tracks at all across the raked gravel. Never underestimate the power of a hand-lettered sign. The Sharpie reigns supreme.

The human figures were melted into unrecognizable shapes. Their heads were gone, arms mere suggestions, their stone hearts seemed poised to plunge from their bodies to the gravel below.

I know that is what they are supposed to do, it is their purpose – but it is still a little sad to see the beautiful things come to such an end.

The rectangular blocks, on the other hand, are fairing a lot better. They have shrunk a little, one is tipping a bit, but are still intact. They may last quite a long time.

The flesh is feeble, weak, and transient, while the crystalline inanimate geometric mass resists the heat, the water, the slings and arrows and survives until the bitter end. It is the way of all things.

Here are three pictures of the second human figure on each of the three days. If I had thought about it, I would have carefully taken pictures from identical spots, using identical lenses, on each day… but I’m an idiot. Sorry, that would have been cool.

At the unveiling

One day later.

After a day of melting in the rain