Archive for April, 2008

Everybody’s Gonna Go Sometime

April 19, 2008

At that last moment

Her eyes were blue as the sky

As deep as the sea

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Nirvana

April 10, 2008

  Ok, Julie Andrews is out with a new autobiography.  Sounds like her whole life was not just one big supercalifragilisticum.  Imagine that.  But, still, I’ll wager that the image of her resting in most minds is the one of her wonderful pirouette in that alpine meadow above Salzburg.  Only the blackhearts among us are not moved by the recollection. 

  News here is that there is scientific rationale behind her exuberance.  Know how your brain is but a bit more than a sodium ion pump?  (Oh, maybe a bit more…) 

  Well, “increasing negative ionization of the air (the kind of ‘charged’ air found on mountaintops, near waterfalls, or at the sea) produces changes in brain growth… The ions can also change the chemical composition of the neurotransmitters, and can elevate or suppress mood, something almost everyone knows (except couch potatoes) who has noted the exhilaration of the mountains, or the depression with a Santa Ana wind.”  – Robert Ornstein 

  Shunryu Suzuki takes the longer view:  “It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall.  And it seems to me that our human life may be like this.  We have many difficult experiences in our life.  But at the same time… the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river.  When you do not realize that you are one with the river, one with the universe, you have fear.  When you realize this fact…You will find the true meaning of life, and even though you have difficulty falling upright from the top of the waterfall to the bottom of the mountain, you will enjoy your life.”

 Ya.

Spiritual Fecundity in Chicago

April 4, 2008

  Be interesting to know what were like the childhoods of architect Tadao Ando and ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu.  The installation of a selection from the oeuvre of the latter in a gallery designed by the former together create an experience far beyond corporeal beauty. 

  If there can be a soul of a building, one such numinous sanctuary is Ando’s space in Chicago’s Art Institute. Commissioned in 1989 to exhibit from the Institute’s Japanese screens, the small room is unforgettable.

  Upon entering, through the center of the short end of the dimly lit rectangular room, one looks through four rows of one foot square oak columns.  The vitrine is arranged along the long wall on the right and continues across the back wall straight ahead.  It is illuminated.  The view through the oak and cast shadows is to be as if, upon the porch of a traditional Japanese house, one looks inside.

  Ando says: “Not everything can be accounted for reasonably…there are things in society that cannot be explained just in functional terms. I have provided functionless columns and walls…I feel this irrational quality is important. The modernism of the past became insipid because it rejected such irrationalism”.

  Takaezu’s pots draw from the range of her career and are interspersed with several from important mentors and contemporaries.  Well represented in the twenty or so are examples of her vertical closed vessels.  She says of these: “The most important part of a piece is the dark, black air space that you can’t see.  Just as what’s inside each person is also the key to humanity”.

  Some of her pieces are indeed human scale and elsewhere stand outside in fields or gardens.  Some, holding small ceramic balls, sound when gently shaken.  Visitors here might be disappointed at their inability to move around and touch her work.

  Like a compassionate abbess, Takaezu must be fine with it.  “When I was a small girl in Hawaii, I was fascinated by my shadow because it was taller than I.”  Here her pots are stroked by even taller shadows.  Her fertile dark spaces are clearly manifest behind the glass, but reserved.

  She knows that if, on the opposite benches perhaps, you linger long enough with an open heart, with her invitation, and with Ando’s generosity, you just might get a glimpse inside.

  An audience with the screens too is very fine, but different – for the historicity.  Come back in a few months and see them if you have yet not.  But don’t miss this.     

  At the Art Institute of Chicago through June 8, 2008.