Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Upper Crust; Colour Amour

The Upper CrustI walked through Civic Center Plaza around noon this afternoon & saw Patrick Dougherty's art installation called The Upper Crust. The Civic Center has been following its construction. It consists of several huge nest-like structures made of willow branches woven into the bare trees in the plaza. The tops remind me of minarets & mimic the spire on the City Hall dome. It could be the abandoned nest of some prehistoric bird. Only a small portion of trees are covered, so it seems unfinished. It looks like the kind of thing that Andy Goldsworthy would do.

At the same time I was in the plaza, a demonstration in support of Tibetan independence was occurring on the steps of City Hall. A small crowd politely listened to the speeches.

I was really on my way to the main branch of the library to return some CDs. On the 4th floor, I discovered a small but broadly-conceived exhibit on colors. I actually absorbed a lot in the 10 minutes I spent scanning the displays. I saw a very cool set of silk screens from a Joseph Albers study of color comparisons. I learned that way before Winamp's music visualization or Laserium, wacky inventors were hard at work on different iterations of color-music instruments. Unsurprisingly, Messiaen experienced harmony --> color synesthesia. Some of the explanatory texts are strangely poetic. I read that "Green was once the color worn by the insane." Another label reveals that "Violet is the last color of the rainbow spectrum, symbolizing both the end of the known & the beginning of the unknown."


sfmike said...

Our paths keep overlapping in interesting ways. I love the wood sculpture on the Civic Center trees and they look different every time I walk through there. Can't wait to see them when the trees bloom back into greenery and the "alien birds nests" will really look strange and wonderful.

Thanks for the pointer about the color exhibit on the fourth floor. I'll go take some pics because I need to go to the fourth floor soon anyway.

Axel Feldheim said...

I hadn't realized that the sculptures accommodate the trees when their leaves come back. I wish that they could have extended it to more trees.

Apart for the Albers album, I'm not sure I would give the color exhibit high marks for visual interest. But at least someone is trying to be creative. The origami models they had a while back were what really blew me away.

sfmike said...

Dear Axel: You're right. The color exhibit was visually boring as hell, like something in a junior high school hallway, but not as fun. And I don't give an "E" for effort. The librarians/curators are getting paid good money to come up with this crap.

I wish the tree sculptures were more extensive too, but they worked with the time (three weeks) and materials (I forget how many thousand pounds of willow strands) that were given to them and improvised from there. I corresponded last year with the sculptor Patrick Dougherty because I had taken pictures of an earlier exhibit he created in the Palm Springs Art Museum, so in a way the piece feels like it was made just for me. It's too cool.

Axel Feldheim said...

sfmike: oh dear, sorry to send you to the library on such a lame errand! it was just so odd & what-the-hell-is-this, that i had to mention it. at least you are getting your money's worth out of Patrick Dougherty's willow branches. i hadn't thought about it, but those things must indeed be damn heavy!