Sunday, August 8, 2010

And the skies are not cloudy all day...

Don't those swirling, dark clouds impend doom and gloom? (And no doubt some farmer out near Limon may have gotten hailed out later that afternoon). But the Moore bronze sculpture ("Oval with Points") in the Schlessman Plaza at Denver Botanic Gardens is unfazed, as were the blazing Kniphofias last June when I took this picture.

This picture captures so much for me: where else are so many rainy, cloudy days interspersed with so much glorious sun? It reminds me that sky is a perpetual and endless artistic element of our every day lives in Continental climates....OK OK, I know those who live in coastal regions do have skies as well. But they are so often gray or leaden, whereas we in the middle of continents are positively blase about our giant cumuloninbi, our ethereal stratus, our cirrus and alto cirrus, and pileus...and every imaginable permutation thereof....I am a sky worshiper and wonder that no one is out there with me gawking, glorying and agog (instead they are indoors watching "Days of our lives" or something similarly edifying: SHEEEESH! America! Get a LIFE!!!).
That said, I exempt from my exasperation the extraordinarily generous, wonderful people of the Rocky Mountain region (who pony up more money through mil levy, bond and sales tax per capita to support museums and scientific endeavors like Denver Botanic Gardens than any other place on Planet Earth) have turned out in droves. Our visitation is up astronomically from previous years. Our brand new parking structure routinely fills and visitors park at Congress park next door and who knows where else in order to visit. Denver: have I told you before how much I love you?

The dance of monumental sculpture, sky and garden is the great draw of the Henry Moore exhibit this year... undoubtedly a large part of our increase in visitorship. We are almost a month past the midway point of the exhibit, and I am finally getting off my high horse and confess that although abstract sculpture emphatically is not my thing, I really enjoy this exhibit. There! I said it...Even a diehard plant nerd such as your's truly (for whom botanic gardens are about plants, plants, and more plants) has to wisen up and sniff the sculptures, so to speak.
Of course, it does help if the sculptor is someone of the caliber of Mr. Moore. And it helps immeasurably that the curatorial staff of his foundation were inspired (along with our exhibits staff) to find and site the spot where these behemoths would show to maximum advantage...and that they coordinated with our horticultural staff to minimize damage to plants.
And it helps as well that each garden has its own genius, some are wild and naturalistic, others far more formal in design so that as you walk through the gardens each sculpture (so distinct from the next), often in a different color and medium is playing against the ultimate in superlative garden design and horticultural execution. And that it changes from day to day, and from the soft, lemon morning light to the brash technicolor of mid day, and finally the mellow Italianate ochres and russets of dusk.
And even those of us lucky enough to work in an edenic setting like this (despite the diurnal routine and the way one can become inured to anything--no matter how dismal or dazzling) are slapped it seems almost daily with the Zen koan of art sky garden. Amen.


  1. Terrific photographs, PK. The contrasts between the shiny bronze in the sun and the ominous background make for really fine pics! And I must say your commentary is pretty damn likable too! (Not to mention.....I absolutely love someone who starts sentences with the word "And" b/c I've been told so many times in the past that it is not grammatically "correct"!)
    All best-

  2. Too many of us are addicted to regularity and orderliness and where there is none, wish that we had more. Irregularity and abstraction even as it occurs in Moore’s sculptures is actually more the norm in our lives. To me, they are evocative of natural abstractness. To wit: leaf shadows, clouds, pebbles in a stream, the bark of Eucalyptus deglupta, the languid slitherings of pahoehoe, the fruit of Citrus medica, the aeolian sculpted basalt of Death Valley, the fluvial glyphs in the arroyos appending the upper reaches of the Rio Grande, and the ice sculptures of icebergs and ice tunnels to mention only a few.

    Your image is an example of why Moore’s sculptures are well-suited for outdoor viewing. Well done!

  3. Anonymous,
    You have outdone me with your tropes and turns of phrase. Thanks for doing so! (Life is too short to be too simple).


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