Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sound, sunlight, and Serra

School starts Monday, and so my two grandsons and I are doing our best to enjoy this last week of freedom.

This afternoon we went to the Kimbell Museum to see Butchers, Dragons, Gods and Skeletons, film installations by Phillip Haas inspired by works in the collection. I don't know if the exhibit's title was specifically designed to attract little boys, but it worked. They were enthralled by the installations.

We viewed one [inspired by James Ensor's Skeletons Warming Themselves]while sitting on the floor inside a room-sized skull; another [inspired by Apollo and the Continents] while stretched out flat on the floor while amazing images floated across the ceiling overhead, and another [inspired by Annibale Carracci's The Butcher Shop] seated on a bench in a room where we watched the artist on one wall and his subjects on another. At times, images moved from one side of the room to another, a process that fascinated all three of us.

We didn't see all the installations, leaving some for another day. It was time to let off some energy so we crossed the street to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, my grandsons' favorite museum in a city full of museums.

One reason they love it is Richard Serra's Vortex, a 67 feet, 10-inch high sculpture of Cor-ten steel.

When you walk inside this amazing piece of art, sound changes. The sculpture is a giant sounding board, turning steps into soft booms, taps into sharp little darts of sounds, sighs into breezes, and giggles into full blown laughter.

Gavin, 5, thinks it is just about the best place in the whole city. What's more, the openings in the bottom of the sculpture create a nice little wind tunnel, making its shaded interior about ten degrees cooler than outside.

Looking up at the opening at the top is not unlike being inside a cathedral.

Curran, 7, likes leaning on the walls in various places, seeing how the sound changes as he moves.

And if you hop and leap about, your feet make wonderful musical sounds.

Rubbing your hands on the walls, raising your voice, tapping your toes -- all make interesting and varied noises.

And of course, yelling makes great BIG echoes.

Gavin wraps himself in sound and sunlight inside the Serra.

Then we head home where popsicles, cool tile floors, and happy dogs await us.


Joanna Depue said...

What an amazing piece of sculpture and audio texture! Thank you for sharing this.

David Hoster said...

My wife and I love the Serra and visit it every time we come up from Austin

Katherine E. said...

Oh, what an utterly beautiful post. Thank you.

Alice said...

This has nothing to do with your museum visit but I wanted to let you know that I was cleaning today and found this column of yours that I had saved years ago from when your daughter went to college... "When the chicks have flown the coop, the silence can grow too loud"..about empty nest. My two children have already graduated from college so I am helping a relative get through the pain of dropping her only son off at actually. I just read the column again and it is so fitting that I will make sure she gets this. I googled your name and found this blog. I always loved reading your columns in the Star Telegram. Sorry this is so long..just wanted to share this with you. Your grandchildren are adorable by the way!

Leonard said...

Adventureous and joyful (even before the leaping dogs and any fudgesicles to make my day?)