Detroit Art City!

Nick Cave Costume Heard Herd
Nick Cave Costume Heard Herd
Nick Cave Costume, with happy young dancer!

Saturday was an outdoor performance extravaganza of Nick Cave’s costumes from his residency at Cranbrook.

Starting first with the lovely afternoon, and the sense of community that manifested in crowds of people on the hill ready to watch the dancers in anthropomorphic costumes dance and move to the beat of a small marching band.

I went with a friend who lives in Detroit, and the first thing that happened was that we decided to park far away and walk rather than pay $10 to go in the structure. It is in a very pretty part of the city, so we got to walk through a beautiful (if poorly maintained) park, and then down the hill to the park, which has another hill in it.

Grazing horses in front of the Renaissance Center
As they played L’après Midi d’un Faun, Horses grazed

Then, once we found a spot, we ran into the first person that we know, who had brought her mother, in from out of town. They shared our sheet and watched the show, chatting about the world, the community etc.

But the young woman wanted ice cream, so I went down the hill to get ice cream with her. And who should follow us back up the hill, but 2 of my students from FLY! I vaguely knew that one of them might be there since I had been talking to her mother earlier in the day. Even so, it was very random to be chased up the hill by 2 kids under 12.

Then the show, and afterwards, another FLY teacher was there with her kids, who were in our camps this summer too.

It is amazing how small the big scary world is, when it comes down to it!

Then someone said there were installations in the Dequindre Cut, so we walked down there and saw several installations: swings on an overpass, crazy steel-wire lightning erupting out of a hill, some weird constructions made out of gator board, and lots of beautiful murals/graffiti.

Having walked down the Dequindre Cut required a decision: to walk back to where we parked a few blocks from Milliken State Park, or to walk towards downtown and back up the river. I always love a good walk.

So off we went, down Gratiot, past a church with an Oktoberfest and a live pretty good live (high school) jazz band. Past the Fail Jail. Past several pieces of public art including some I’d never noticed before. Then into Campus Martius, and walking down Woodward to Hart Plaza we found some of those wacky merry-go-round chairs and some neat gazing balls.

The Ren Cen ever present with us on our journey, and Canada within sight for the last angle of the triangle.

In the photo of me, although the new landscaping in the park is more interesting than the statue, it is of one of the Stroh’s who loved bird-watching. We did see and hear some birds (and freighters and steamboats, oh my!).

Detroit Art City!!!

Cathedrals and Time

Buttresses of the Cathedral of M-14. Nice long walk in Bandemer towards Argo

A photo posted by Allida (@hemoracallis) on

Over the years I have always loved bridges. They have great acoustics. They are beautiful in their way, even the ones that are very boring infrastructure have their moments of numinous beauty. Over the last few years, I’ve been taking pictures of the bridges that cross over the parks in Ann Arbor. Watching for that difference of the light, much as Monet painted quotidian haystacks over and over. In a way, it is even more impressionist than the Impressionists, this photographic documentation. But it misses something of the feeling that I get from the bridges. From the human-made space as it interacts with the natural world. The most beautiful of the bridges have not only the organ music of the freeway traffic, but the rose windows of the sunlight reflected up onto their latticework from the reflected light on the water.

Cathedral of M-14 A video posted by Allida (@hemoracallis) on

But even that sound misses the numinous nature of my meditation under bridges. There is a moment when the bridge turns from being dark to being light that makes it mysterious and beautiful. The transformation from shaded cavern to glowing life and light is a numinous experience, and so I’ve started to take time-lapse videos to document this metamorphosis.

 

Time lapse with less frames. Watch the bridge light up

 

A video posted by Allida (@hemoracallis) on

We Build grand structures these days, but they are not always built for their beauty as the cathedrals and basilicas of old. They are build for practical purposes, their architects and builders are nearly invisible to us, but this does not mean that they cannot be beautiful.

090:365 White & Purple Crocus

090:365 White & Purple Crocus

When I was a kid, I loved oil pastels. I’d draw bright flowers, beautiful hillsides, and starry nights. There were drawings I’d do over and over, never exactly the same, but following the same formal constraints. Hill just so, sun or moon with these pastel-marks.

As a grown artist, I look back on those drawings with both fondness and chagrin.

Inspiration White & Purple Crocus

On the one hand, they were familiar forms that helped me perfect my technique. Drafts, as it were, that developed into skill with mark-making, composition, and iconography.

On the other, they like banal over-studied forms that stopped investigating new meaning.

We artists must constantly balance the need to investigate new horizons with the desire to connect with our audience. Many of the wild drawings I did in Madrid, which to me are emotional investigative storms on A3 paper, seem like decorative art to the viewer, while my repeated drawings of Gracie, with different techniques and stories, seem like developed work to the viewer.

It is necessary to repeat. It is necessary to connect. It is necessary to delve.

These necessities are why there are multiple strains of work that show up as I continue through this project.

None of this is really about the crocus drawing above. It represents another investigation into macro perspective beauty through the medium of paper and pastel instead of camera and pixels. It is not the end of developing technique.

One reason I like doing macro-photography is because it satisfies my need to delve and look at abstract form while still remaining approachable to the viewer, and it is fun to repeat the technique and change the angle to fit in with my body of work because it involves looking so close that there are always new things to see.

Spring flowers are so pretty. Took a bunch of photos today of what’s sprouting in the yard. Expect more flowers, banal though they may be.

089:365 Reaching for Light

089:365 Reaching for Light

Awhile ago, I bought a book about Georgia O’Keeffe. It is the catalog from a show that coincided with the publication of some of her letters.

I’m struck by how much I can identify with her thoughts, and how it helps me identify more deeply with the artwork that she created. She seems to have had as much desire and as much awkwardness putting things into words as I, though she had much more prowess with a brush.

She puts in tangents about making a dress or repairing her stockings. Skills that were once universal.

On the other hand, I make notes about these drawings as though they were my side work.

This drawing is based on the photo and the remembered observations of my hand as the sun set yesterday. In part it is blurred because I wanted it to be. Right now the works of my hands are unclear to me. There are splashes of generosity and goodness emanating both to and from my endeavors, but it is hard for me to discern where the present actions are going or if they are leading me in the right direction.

Where-ever you go, there you are. There are moments of beauty, and feelings of pain during any epoch of a life. It is a matter of finding purpose in each of them, growing, and learning. Even at some of the worst moments in the last epoch, there have been beautiful things to observe. The smell of eucalyptus, the crunch of cold snow.

May you [I? we?] find the grace to breathe in those moments and breathe out the pain and confusion. May each step lead to finding more beauty.

086:365 Gracie as the Cadbury Bunny

086:365 Gracie as the Cadbury Bunny

Gracie examines my costume design for him. He is not amused.

When I was a kid, the Cadbury Creme Eggs were my favorite! I would wait patiently for Easter, hunt for my baskets, and promptly devour as many of them as I was allowed.  It should be noted that I would also wait patiently for Passover so I could eat charoset, and my birthday to eat cake,  Purim so I could eat hamantaschen, and Christmas so I could eat gingerbread.

The ads for the Cadbury Bunny Auditions were so cute. I can just picture Gracie plodding on screen and crying, “Maaaah!” as they try to coach him to cluck like a chicken.

What sorts of sweets and sweet-centered traditions did you grow up with?