Same location as #6. Another year and a half of shooting there.
Category Archives: gallery
My son had a random midweek day off in November so we took a day trip to New York. The main draw was the Pixar show at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. I was hoping it would be something like the huge show at the Oakland Museum but even if it wasn’t, I was looking forward to both comparing and seeing new items from the 5 years of movies released since the Oakland show.
It wasn’t as good. But it was still fun. Whereas the Oakland show was about the artifacts and explaining the whole process of making the movie, the Cooper Hewitt show was much more interested in being interactive and getting visitors involved in the process of designing the movie. I actually prefer the Cooper Hewitt approach except the room was very small and relied on a lot of digital artifacts rather than letting us see all the sketches and maquettes and things.
My son though loved doing the sketch activities and playing with the giant interactive tables. And he enjoyed seeing the few artifacts they did have on display. A little bit of wonder goes an amazingly long way with kids and he was very happy to see is “friends” in a museum.
We also wandered—sorta quickly—through the rest of the museum. There was a fantastic exhibition on Heatherwick Studio which, even if I didn’t have a hungry first grader in tow, I probably wouldn’t have as much time as I wanted to really study everything. A lot of the things here looked like crazy pipe-dream architectural concepts* except that low and behold many of them have actually been built.
*Similar in wonder and the apparent impossibility of execution as Lebbeus Woods’s mind-blowing stuff.
I particularly like the experiments into expandable furniture as well as the way they use multiple repeated small structures to create a cohesive object. But everything feels like playing with materials, manufacturing, and space in ways that aren’t just “hey look what I can do” but are really thinking and exploring how these materials and methods can inform the way we interact with buildings.
There was also a poster exhibition which worked as a great primer on graphic design fundamentals. The print nerd in me really liked it too since it went into some of the nitty gritty of manufacturing in addition to covering a number of the basic design principles that designers return to.
After the museum we wandered back to the subway through Central Park. It was a wonderfully nice fall day so it was good to just be outside in the last of the fall color.
For my birthday I got to take the behind-the-scenes tour at AT&T Park. It’s a good tour that goes through the stands, press box, clubhouse, and on to the field. I’m very much glad I went.
It’s also sort of a weird tour. We were there during a Visa corporate event and the tour definitely felt like it had been built along those lines—hit the good photo spots and keep moving. I couldn’t help but compare it to the Camp Nou tour I took in 2006. It felt like a pilgrimage for half of the adults on it and all the kids were treating it like Disneyland.
I think that part of the difference is that there’s no San Francisco Giants museum where fans can see the history of the franchise. A lot of the allure of visiting a stadium is to walk through the history of the place. This is why I’d love to visit Fenway or Wrigley and why, despite the Giants not playing there for a decade, I felt a pang of loss when Candlestick went down. AT&T is still very new and, while the Giants have done well there, it’s not the same sort of historical presence.
Still, the park is a beaut and we had a wonderfully clear day for the tour.
While I finally made it out to Grounds for Sculpture last fall, I’ve put off writing about it until now because I’ve been working out my feelings about it. Not in a good way. I don’t want to blast it because it’s a nice place with nice grounds to walk through and some nice artwork—a perfectly pleasant place to spend the day and one I’m looking forward to bringing my kids to see. At the same time, I really didn’t like it. At all.
The feature attractions are all Seward Johnson sculptural versions of famous* paintings. Basically kitsch. Fun for the moment you recognize what it is but after that brief moment there’s not much there. Part of my problem is that I don’t particularly like the original pieces—I recognize their importance but it’s never been the kind of art I like. In addition to their cliché value, they also anchor the “art that people are comfortable praising”** wing of the museum. Remaking them needs to add a level of commentary or coöpt the work into something new. We’re a much smarter visual culture than what these works give us credit for.
*For a very narrow definition of famous in terms of the Western Art History pictorial canon.
**Something I touch on in the Caille Millner section here.
It is kind of fun to watch other people interact with them* but even there the interactions are almost all the same kind of posing/mimicking the presented tableau. The whole thing is just too obvious for me. This is especially a shame because Seward Johnson’s work can be wonderfully subtle when it’s just dropped in an urban setting where people don’t realize immediately that it’s a sculpture. Here though everything is called out.
**One nice thing is that you actually can touch many of the works here.
The other sculptures are often nice but, as with Johnson’s work, displayed in a manner that destroys a lot of what I like about sculpture. Many of these pieces need more room to breathe or at least a setting where they can be discovered rather than being right on the prescribed route through the grounds. There’s also very rarely any sense of how pieces should interact with each other.
Also, too many of the sculptures feel like civic art—in a bad way—to the point that much of the grounds feels like a holding pen for pieces that are slated for distribution to municipal suburbs across the US. One or two of these pieces might make me homesick for my own suburb. Seeing so many of them together emphasizes a certain genericness in the type.
Still, the grounds themselves are very nice and I can see kids enjoying running all along the paths and over the bridges and getting their introduction to art canon/cliché here. It’s just that I have to remind myself not to think of it as a museum.