Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sunspots in OC

And it was off to Orange County Museum of Art today to see the last day of the Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art Exhibition, Form, Balance, Joy.

bird alexander calder

OCMA is in central OC,  near Fashion Island, so driving around there entails spotting Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Ferraris. If you only have a Porsche, you're non-U. My Hyundai (Hyundai Hyundai's his name) doesn't even register. Inside the museum we toured the Calder exhibition and then went to the closing day artist's talk, which didn't feature Calder of course (that would be table tapping) but a young artist called Jason Middlebrook and an itinerant astronomer called Bob Noss.  (STB called him a street astronomer, which is a great name and possibly the official title for this kind of guy - he had set up a telescope outside for us all to look at eruptions on the sun.) Middlebrook told us about his Calder-influenced art - he does a lot of mobiles, though unlike Calder's thin-sprung sheet iron, Middlebrook tends to go for organic pendulums, driftwood or dumpster wood. Bob gave a gosh-wow tour of the solar system which did indeed wow most of the audience, who had presumably come here for the art but stayed for the science. They then all asked Difficult Questions like "What is gravity?" and "If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?" Bob fielded them without difficulty, tempting me to ask, "If light travels one light year a year, and that galaxy you talked about is a million light years away, how come we can see it since the Creation is only 6,000 years old and the light hasn't gotten here yet?" I didn't, though. Orange County is only 1/3 fundie and so the audience might have spotted me as a troll. I expect Bob can answer that pretty smoothly, anyway. Astronomers all over the world learn to deal with lunatics early on, as an infallible sign of lunacy is discovering the Secret of the Universe, such as Einstein Was Wrong, and the walls of observatories are literally papered with the letters people write.

Eventually someone asked about gravity, and after Bob had explained it, this presented a chance for Middlebrook to leap in and actually talk about his art, as after all, mobiles are all about gravity. And his other pieces are boards - raw wood boards, painted - that leaned against walls, taking the characteristics, as he explained, of both mobiles, which are subject to gravity, and paintings, which are confined to flat walls.  Afterwards we finished touring the exhibition. I think most people are familiar with Alexander Calder, and the show didn't exactly shatter one's expectations, although there was more recycling of used materials in the pieces (both Calder and modern) than I'd expected and the cards that explain things pointed this out repeatedly. I noticed that those perforated-leaf steaming trivets came up a lot in the modern pieces and broken tail-lights came up in Calder's - and many people are familiar with the tin can Bird, 1952, one of the most joyful of all pieces of art (pictured above).


2 comments:

Mike said...

Never heard of Calder, but, as a child, I was tutored by his disciple Oliver Postgate.

In common with other avant-garde artists of the late sixties, the writing contains a lot of profanity. At 1:00, the line is: "Oh, sod it. The bloody thing’s stuck again." Supposedly, this phrase made it all the way into the merchandise. Heh.

Peromyscus said...

I can usually hear the things the Clangers are whistling, but I'm not convinced they used profanity. I mean, these are the Clangers you're talking about.

It does appear that Robot Chickens have appeared at various times and places, which probably means someone from outside our universe is trying to tell us something metal-chicken related about our culture.

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