Monday, October 31, 2016

Nov 2016

Watching the evolution
proceeding in my viewfinder..

         and pondering...
         with help from this:

The leaves of the oaks are like the leather of bookbinding. How to speak otherwise of them, when in October they take on a brown hue and are as if leathery, ready to be set with gold. Why this excessive poverty of language any time we deal with colours? What do we have at our disposal when we try to name the splendor of colours? Some leaves are yellow, some red, and is that all? But there are also yellow-red, and flame-red, and bull’s blood-red (why this recourse to comparisons?). And birches. Their leaves are like small, pale-yellow coins, sparsely attached to twigs which are of what hue? Lilac, from the lilacs, and violet, from the violet (again, these unwieldy comparisons). How does the yellow of birch leaves differ from the yellow of aspens, underlaid with copper, stronger and stronger, till copper wins. A copper colour? Again a thing, copper. And probably only green and yellow are deeply rooted in the language, for blue the etymologists associate with flavus, yellow, while red again, in its old Norse forms, goes back to trees, the rowan or reynir, the mountain ash, or perhaps to rust. Is the language so resistant because our eyes are not very attentive to details of nature unless they serve a practical purpose? In October, pumpkins ripen in the fields and their colour is orange. Why this recourse to orange, how many eyes saw oranges in a northern country?

I put all this down, for I have encountered difficulty in describing autumn in the valley of the Connecticut River in a precise and simple manner, without the props of comparison and metaphor.
                      ~ A Little Treatise on Colours by Czeslaw Milosz

If this isn't nice, I don't know what is. 
             ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course, whose birthday is November 11th...
                and who always reminds us to remember to remember.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Oct 2016

Wonders in Basalt... via the Olmecs and Isamu Noguchi

I had reason recently to share some of my images from the Noguchi Museum in Queens. This detail makes me wonder about the star-filled galaxy in the circle... is it convex or concave??? Sort of like the wonderments of our own universe. I show you Noghchi's whole wonder-full basalt piece to the left. He worked a lot in basalt and with my long-dormant sculptor's curiosity I wondered how it feels to work this stone. Basalt is mostly a result of lava flow and often is marked with rough air pockets but can be compressed into a solid mass... both with various specs of different minerals.

Then TVO brought me a doc about the Olmec civilization near the east coast of Mexico. Ancient Olmec sculptors found a basalt quarry quite a distance from their main city, San Lorenzo. About 1500 BC those guys started their colossal portraits while still in the quarry, probably to reduce their weight (to a mere 20-40 tons each) for transport via barges and brute force to San Lorenzo, high upon a hill. Once in place, they carved the details.
Archaeologists found over 10 of them formally arranged in San Lorenzo, and others in the other Olmec cities. Their quarry still holds some barely begun heads, so we know that part (see left). How they accomplished the actual transport remains a wonderment, sort of like Easter Island on the other side of the world.

I watched the scenes in the quarry with some more wondering about the feel of working basalt. I turned to Wikipedia, of course, to learn more and through that search realized that the staple Mexican mortar and pestle, called a molcajete, probably came from the same era and is traditionally made from this same basalt! I still haven't carved basalt, but I am from Texas and I have used such implements for grinding as well as for serving vessels. Now I wonder about what it would feel like carve into one and then to polish part of its surface. I might be letting you know some day.

If this isn't nice, what is?

           ~Kurt Vonnegut, of course.


More about Noguchi at Artsy's Noguchi page.

"Everything is sculpture...any material,
      any idea without hindrance born into space, 

         I consider sculpture."
-Isamu Noguchi