Thursday, December 10, 2009

Roxy + orange and some red

"graft" is the title of this new stainless steel sculpture by Roxy Paine in the NGA sculpture garden
one part is upright and very vertical
the other part is more gnarled and winding thus the title is illustrated by grafting two types of growth to the same trunk
oak leaf hydrangea showed off it's autumn colors at dusk under the hard flash lighting.
unknown garden shrub had purple, red, and orange leaves
topiary azaleas leaves orange up as winter approaches

bright orange Alexander Calder sculpture stands near the new Roxy Paine stainless steel "GRAFT" (tree?)
red roses in concrete pots still blooming

Sunday afternoon Keith and I went down to National Gallery with our cameras and took photos in the garden. We found NGA's garden surprisingly colorful the day after a snow storm with flowers and changing leaves of shrubs and bushes. We went to photograph holiday trees inside and the newly installed sculpture by Roxy Paine which is very big and very shinny outside. It sits in the sculpture garden near the restaurant and just beyond the great Alexander Calder orange installation from the 1970's. "Graft's" creator Roxy Paine, a Virginian who lives in New York, was only about 10 years old when Calder built his orange stay-bill. Paine's massive creations are in museum collections around the world now and they are such a surprise to discover. At first one wants to see it as a tree. I thought to myself, "who is this guy doing copies of nature in stainless steel and why the heck did he make such an awkward looking almost ugly tree? It doesn't look right at all with one half being this and the other half looking like that." Once I did a little research I discovered he was a very accomplished creative fellow. This isn't a tree, it is a system. It reminds us of a tree but also other things and the manipulation of nature by doing purely human things like grafting one tree part to another and I think that is his point. We are part of nature and we impact it all the time. We have systems inside our bodies that look like these branches in the veins and arteries or millions of nerve fiber connections. Art needs to be studied to really understand the layers of meaning are more than what meets the eye on first impression. Being a tree lover I was drawn to look and then repelled by his steel tree, then drawn deeper again. Imagine if we killed all the trees with global warming, I thought and this is all we had left. Only man made copies of trees in non perishable metals. If trees were to die away it is likely we would go too Oh how this sculpture speaks to me. I wonder what other people see and read it's hidden messages?

There were lots of beautiful colorful autumn leaves and late flowers outside the gallery which made Roxy Paine's work all the more stark.
We went inside and saw a photographic process history show and had a nice lunch then enjoyed some gift shop browsing and then an attempt to photograph the Holiday trees in the gallery. These are all live trees that smell so sweetly of fir or some evergreen that has a heavy association with Christmas. I hope if you are in town you make it down to see the beautiful installation in the West wing rotunda. I will be posting more of the pictures on my flickr. page and they are already in an album on my facebook page. Happy holidays to you all.

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