Two DC Must Sees
Sarah is coming up for Shannon and Will’s engagement party in September. I told her that she had to go see two exhibits or I could no longer be her friend. Then I changed my mind and told her that I would not check her blog six times a day even though they generally only update it once a week. I was just trying to emphasize how amazing and moving these exhibits are. And of course, we are so lucky that they are both free while on tour here in DC.
The first is Martin Puryear, a DC native and master woodworker on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art through September 28th. I have been to the exhibit twice now. Each time I go, I immediately want to run home and pull out this sheet of doll house wood plank flooring and start making something on a very small scale. Really these are just wood veneer stickers, but if I could somehow replicate the coolness of his work as my own souvenior and the feeling I get when I see it, it would be worth the futile effort. Lucky for us, he and his work has been featured on the PBS Series Art 21, so there is lots of great information online. Plus, check out the MOMA online exhibit, specifically where the exhibit was not free.
My favorite piece is Desire, seen above. It is simply massive and incorporates his use of weaving in the stable base. I am amazed at how the piece is held together. I am guessing that he staples the wood into the forms while it is soft and later removes the staples from the piece. I simply don’t know. I will have to watch the Art 21 video to learn more.
Plus, I love the fact that the artist is a local. I secretly believe that the security guards were acting a little more protective. And I was excited to see a group of construction workers walking around the exhibit when Eris and Robert were here. Did they give up their lunch break to check out their old friend’s work? I like to romanticize that I am observing these little scenarios first hand.
For me, I see everything through the lens of my grad work, which was an exploration of an artist’s evolution. This exhibit once again proved that a lot of artists start out doing the same kind of things – lots of different creative activities, almost always including some type of graphic design work. There are several small seeds planted with one or two really taking off. And then the evolution begins. The work continues to grow and the focus continues to narrow, until you reach a huge body of work at the end of a crazy journey that took you there. Hind sight is always 20/20. Right? But no one could ever plan a path like this.
I have tried to get Henry to go with me to this exhibit on several occasions. I was so happy when Jason said he wanted to go and we had a little date one Saturday morning. My mom always likes to tell the story that I watched Sesame Street twice a day everyday of my childhood. Henry’s dad loves to point out the TV, which he had converted into a china cabinet. Sesame Street, and the help of his big brother Tony, taught him English. To say that Jim Henson has not had an impact on your life if you are in my age group is just dead wrong. And to this day, his work lives with expanded meaning like the non-profit Sesame Workshop, which helps spread forward-thinking ideas to kids all around the world. We lost a great man when he died suddenly in 1990. And to think it was just all about pursuing a vivid imagination and never putting down a little puppet who looked like Kermit.