Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sorry for the lack of updates. It's been a fun, but busy month.

I spent the first weekend of October in Denver. Kim and I checked out the Francoise Gilot exhibit at Gallery M. Francoise was Picasso's companion for ten years, and one of my favorite books is her autobiography detailing this time entitled, Life With Picasso. Viewing Francoise's artwork, it's interesting to see her strong personality emanate, juxtaposed with Picasso's influence. The gallery owner approached us and asked if we were familiar with Francoise's work. I told her that I had read Life With Picasso. The owner inquired how I became aware of this book. Kim relayed how each member of her book club brought their favorite book during one meeting. Her friend brought Life With Picasso. The owner asked the name of this friend. Kim said her name. The owner waved at the paintings behind her. "This is her collection," she said. Small world.

Kim and I proceeded to the Colorado History Museum to see their current exhibit of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs. It was amazing. At times humbling. At other times empowering. Accompanying each photograph was a placard detailing the photo's context, information about the photographer and how the image was captured. I found it fascinating how many of the photos were taken almost by accident -- due to an odd set of random circumstances lining up in a peculiar way at a particular instance. If you only knew about the world through these photos, you'd think the whole world had gone to hell -- pure chaos... the evil that men do to one another.... But every once in a while you encounter a photo that makes you smile when you see the wonderful humanity within people.

On Sunday, Kim and I ventured over to Boulder to attend Open Studios -- one of the coolest art experiences out there. Over 130 artists participate in this event that spans two weekends. Each artist selects a single piece of artwork to be displayed in the Boulder Public Library. You go to the library, check out the artwork, and buy a map listing the address of each artist's studio. From there, you travel all over the town checking out each artist's locale and artwork. For me, the enjoyment is largely based on chatting with the artist and seeing his or her studio set-up. Sometimes the studio is an actual studio, sometimes a detached garage, and sometimes simply a room in their house. I bought a beautiful woodcut print of the Flatirons from Theresa Haberkorn. Kim and I both loved the artwork of Stephanie von Reckers and Gigi Lambert.

The following weekend my sister and nephew flew out from Phoenix to visit. We packed a lot of stuff into a few days. My nephew has a fascination with Egyptian stuff, so we hit the Museum of Man. We traversed the Coronado Bridge and set up temporary camp on the beach in front of the hotel Del. My sister rolled up my nephew's pants legs so that he could wade into the ocean water. In a little over ten minutes, he was completely soaked. That evening we headed down to Pacific Beach to enjoy some sushi. The next day we did a tremendous amount of walking. We started off in Little Italy to watch the artists fill the sidewalk at the Chalk la Strada festival. Vanessa did a beautiful chalk drawing. After grabbing an Italian lunch from a vendor, we made our way to a San Diego institution -- the Zoo. The weather was very conducive to animal wanderings because we saw a lot of typically dormant animals actively exercising.

The weekend after, my parents came to visit. It was an uncle and aunt reunion in San Diego so I saw a lot of relatives I hadn't seen in a long time. I introduced my parents to San Diego by taking them to Old Town for lunch and then ascending Mt. Soledad to see the spectacular 360 degree view of San Diego. My parents stayed in Del Mar, which was neat for me because I've never really spent a lot of time over there. Near their hotel, we crossed the railroad tracks hovering on the cliffs' edge, and found a relatively accessible point along the sheer cliff where we could descend down to the water. It was a perfectly serene evening watching the sun set. Before they flew out, I took them out for lunch at Point Loma Seafood Company -- one of my fave seafood places in the city -- and then up to Cabrillo National Monument -- which offers another amazing view of the city. It was the first time my mom had been to San Diego so I had fun showing her around so she could put a place to a name.

The weekend my parents visited, San Diego had set a record of consecutive days without rain at 182. Then it rained. And it's been pouring rain over the past few weeks. We've set a record for most rainfall during the month of October. The thing about rain in San Diego is that it has the same impact on traffic that a blizzard has in Colorado. Perhaps worse. It completely stifles it.

I spent this past week in Dallas on business. My rental car was a Pontiac Aztek. A submerged submarine has more visibility. A thick horizontal bar dissects the rear window. Accompanied by high seats that block a blind-spot check, you realize that you're in a moving bomb shelter. But as time went on I grew to like the Aztek. It's quite agile for a large vehicle. It was also nice sitting up so high instead of the Docker's commercial crotch view I get in the Mustang. Driving around a new city, one of the toughest obstacles is finding a good radio station. I stumbled into one that I kept on the dial the entire time. The music was great but the DJs were annoying. I have a simple test to determine the quality of DJ's. The more DJ's spontaneously laugh after each thing they say, the worse they are. If something is funny, it's funny. I'll laugh. You don't have to convince me by being amused by your voice. "You know what, Dan? I went to the grocery store and had to pull into the third row." "Ha, ha, ha, ha." "That's so funny, Dave." "Ha, ha, ha, ha. The third row? You kill me."

Leaving from the airport, I headed straight to the Dallas Museum of Art. Perused their collection for an hour, and then located my hotel.

The taste of Dallas water has definitely improved since my last visit. I'm guessing that the algae level has decreased. I'm not a big fan of Dallas, but throughly enjoyed visiting its neighboring sister city of Ft. Worth. The city has a section of town called the Cultural District, with three fantastic art museums clustered together, across the street from the beautiful Will Rogers Memorial Center.

I started at the Kimbell Art Museum. There were a lot of kids throughout the museum, each armed with a canvas and a pencil. The child sat patiently in front of a painting he or she selected, and tried to replicate the painting onto the canvas. Feeling content with the drawing, the child brought it over to an extended table where brushes and acrylic paints awaited them. Then the kid went after it. It was fun to watch the process, although it kept the guards on edge. I always like it when children are engaged with art. The museum itself had a nice collection, including a few of my faves like C├ęzanne and Munch.

I walked across the street to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, one of the most stunning art buildings I've ever seen. A man-made pond runs to the very edge of the museum, creating a fantastic visual effect. There is a concrete hallway that runs along the outer glass wall, bordering the pond, creating interesting nooks where more sculptural pieces sit. The galleries are spacious and arranged well. And the collection is fantastic. There are some artists that I'm familiar with peripherally, and their art starts to resonate powerfully as I become more aware of their ouvre. Every few months an artist is added to this list. Currently, my latest fascination is with Gerhard Richter. They had three of his pieces there (I also saw two at the Dallas Museum of Art). I'm astounded not only by the sheer visual impact of his artwork, but also by his versatility and proficiency. A couple of my other faves include Edward Ruscha and Chuck Close. How the latter accomplishes what he does with seemingly random circles, lines, and dots fascinates me.

I took a lunch break and did a drive-by of the Fort Worth Stockyards. They were fun to drive through, but the immediate area surrounding it looked like the land that time forgot. You could conduct an atom bomb test there and not notice a difference. Abandoned and desolate buildings everywhere. But looking eastward, it's beautiful. Everything was green and trees were full. A river wound it's way gracefully towards downtown which was modest but stood proud. A Portland of the plains. The city has a painterly charm to it, and I'd love to lug my easel and brushes around the place. Great skyline. Nostalgic railway scenes. Peaceful yet lively fields. Barns and silos that seem to be disappearing from everywhere else.

I returned to the Cultural District to finish off my museum triumvirate at the Amon Carter Museum. Growing up in Colorado Springs, I went to Charles M. Russell Junior High school. Despite my three years there, the name never had an association. It was just a label. It's only been in the last few years that I've developed an understanding of the person behind the name. My first exposure to Charles M. Russell's artwork was a few years ago when I visited the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (an underappreciated treasure in C/S -- they have some great stuff). The Amon Carter Museum had an astounding collection of C.M. Russell's artwork. It was a treat for me to gain a further appreciation of my junior high school's namesake.

Perhaps it's due to the name of the airport being DFW (Dallas/Ft Worth). Perhaps it's because on a map it looks like a Rorschach blob. But I always thought that Dallas and Ft. Worth were a large contiguous entity. There's actually a lot of land separating the two (at least from my naive perspective).

Thursday, October 07, 2004

My calendar didn’t list it as a holiday, but I’m guessing today was Dumbass Driver Day. Is it me, or are drivers becoming progressively worse? Let me discuss a few people who annoyed me on my journey home.
  • If your car is so impaired that you need to drive with your hazards flashing, stay off the highway. Back roads only. Tow truck preferred.
  • If you're driving 45 mph in the left lane, you may as well build a blockade, because that’s what you’re doing.
  • People who apply their brakes with the frequency of a hummingbird’s beating wings… stop it. You need therapy. Electro-shock therapy. Connected directly to your brakes.
  • I won’t delve into people who simultaneously smoke and talk on their cell phone while driving. Let me just say that if I’m Dante, you’re in my ninth circle of hell. Along with all pigeons.
  • There is an enormous difference between being lost and acting lost. Being lost allows you to discover new places. Acting lost will get you mugged. Possibly shot.

In the time it took to read this, a woman driving on Balboa Avenue just applied her brakes one hundred and seventy three times.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I got a new car stereo installed this afternoon so my aforementioned car silence has ended. My car stereo is pretty cool. It comes with a remote control so if I'm ever in a horrific accident and thrown thirty feet from the car, I can still adjust the volume. Woo hoo!