The Art of Seeing a Gallery Curated by No One

“An alchemist puts the phenomena of the world in another context” – Anselm Kiefer in an interview with art critic Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times

Rust Petals

Perhaps the greatest gallery of all is the one in a city’s abandoned spaces, outdoors, left to chance, curated by no one and left to evolve by the hands of strangers and the elements of nature – all rust and chipping away layers – creations where permanence and impermanence entwine nonchalantly – and through the alchemy of these forces something new evolves.

These collaborative art works with egoless, anonymous creators and no monetary value, made by everyone and no one, change subtly over the seasons. Sometimes flowers and plants interject their presence into the compositions, sometimes they appear barren, sometimes spray paint is applied to their acts of rebellion.

Tall Grass Tails Meet Steel

What might be called “graffiti” is painted over, but even that is done unintentionally in a way that resembles or becomes “contemporary art.” The pieces are abstract and complete, whole finished works in themselves, without effort or ambition.

Geometric LayerEach time I walk to the café where I write and pass through this gallery, I see something new as if the art gives my eyes greater acuity. I have to stop and look – I am drawn toward them like a Lepidoptera to light and I want to get that close to see their every layer and contour.

I must look like a peculiar woman as I stare scrupulously at what might appear to someone else as nothing, a woman photographing nothing, but I can’t help myself. In the detritus and rust and brokenness of these pieces, I see something sublime and illuminating that I must frame; compositions worthy of greatness, a place where art, alchemy, the natural landscape, the city’s history, and randomness meet, like a mushroom blooming out a rotting log, a place where the cycle of creation and death reveal there is really no end to anything and that art is everywhere and in every thing.IMG_2194 - Copy




Advertisements

Walk, Dance, like an Egyptian Walking Onion

Though a perennial tour de force, I had never paused long enough to fully appreciate Egyptian walking onions until this summer when I noticed them performing modern dance at Butoh speed throughout the garden.

P1120669

They caress the air with their long tentacles and curve and contort like the silky flesh of a snake weaving through labyrinths under the earth. They swirl and circle upward until their weight causes them to topple back down, or they stretch like a yogi, extend to new soil where the baby onions, that are birthed from the tippy top of the strongest stock, root themselves back down into the earth in an endless cycle.

P1120622With the artistry and innovation of Martha Graham they perform, in the open air, outside on their experimental stage. We can be a part of the audience or take part in the performance, separate the baby onion bulbs from their mother stock and plant them in open spaces . . . and later watch the dance begin again, each time a little different, each onion with a different story to tell and a different way of interpreting the dance.

Martha Graham Onion