June 2nd, 2007

Dream of Bingo

Better In Person

This morning Greg & I went to the Denver Art Museum to celebrate Rhonda's birthday. (It's free for Colorado citizens on the first Saturday of every month. Must remember that!) Carpooled down with Bryree, met Neal & Rhonda (& Z.) & Matt K. there. Glenn & Cara showed up later.

The new building (the Liebeskind addition) is not bad. The main stairwell area is seriously vertigo-inducing, but otherwise, well, it's an art museum. The shape of the space is usually not especially noticeable. From outside, it's very sculptural, and interesting from a lot of different angles. That's my take, anyway; Greg felt more disoriented by the interior spaces than I was. I will say that I think it would a miserable building for anything but an art museum, and even then, there were a few pieces that had not been properly installed in the new space.

I learned things about my taste in art today. After poking around the Japanese art exhibit, we went through the modern art galleries. There's not a whole lot of modern art that does much for me, but there were a few sculptures I really enjoyed. I realized that the ones I liked were generally ones that either played with light, or played with pattern and repetition. So I like that one with the hemispheres of plastic that make shadows on the wall. And there was a line of lenses hanging in front of a chalk line from monofilament wire that I also liked. There's a Sol LeWitt sculpture -- a big pile of stacked cubes -- that I didn't think much of in photos, but that I adore in person, because as you walk around it you can see all the different ways that things line up.

Paintings are different, and I realized that what I want in a painting is either for it to do something beautiful with color, or to have a very strong sense of capturing light. Well, or to be conceptually cool -- the two paintings in the modern section that I really liked were intellectually nifty. One was a landscape kinda thing made out of words, lots of blocks of text about the death of the artist's father and the birth of his son and about being an artist. (It reminded me of thetarnishedowl's piece about his father; very similar in some ways, very different in others, both quite good.) The other was a pair of paintings of a balcony from very slightly different perspectives. The thing that made that one cool was that I realized if you stand a ways back, tilt your head, and cross your eyes, it's in stereo. It's not pointed out or anything, it's just there for the viewer to discover.

Anyway, paintings: I did much better in the western art (historic and contemporary) gallery. There are a whole bunch of paintings there that do wonderful things with light. Mostly landscapes. Two of my favorites are a big landscape that's mostly sky with just a tiny strip of land down at the bottom , and a set of 20 small square paintings of different kinds of grass. Some of the old Remington kinds of paintings were almost okay, but they were more playing tricks with color and light in the Thomas-Kinkade-painter-of-light fashion. That can be pretty, but it's also cheesy and not at all the same thing as capturing light.

I also enjoyed the sculpture walkway on the outside of the new building, because it has cutouts in the wall that lead you to look out at the city as if it were a painting. And that's very cool. Plus, out on the "prow" of the building, there are a couple vistas that almost make it like a gallery for architecture, giving you a view of a bunch of buildings will all the distractions down at street level cut off.

It was a good way to spend the morning.