A Short Trip South

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The snow blizzard has come and gone. Early morning, gray skies on a snow-drenched landscape. The dreary brown winter coat of early February, covered. Mounds of snow piled high by the snowplow, snow-dunes sculpted by the wind. Eighteen inches of beautiful powder on the ground for two days, now crusty from a day of rain and sleet showers. New England neighbors to the east and south hit with three feet of snow, many without electricity, in states of emergency.

Last week, a work-related trip south, plans for a few days in NYC and Brooklyn. Cut short by a winter storm. A long list, many possibilities tossed to the winds, but with time enough for a few. Visits with friends and family. A garden slide-lecture and tea, and a short walk on the raised wooden board-walks curving through brambly marsh and woodlands at the New Canaan Nature Center. An unexpected visit to the Brooklyn Museum, a cozy dinner at the Purple Yam, a taste of Philippine food, fresh and delicious. Early morning tea and toast at Lark. All well worth the long drive home on slippery roads.

The majestic Brooklyn Museum, with its graceful, sweeping entry plaza of curved stairs and bridges, drew us first up and then down again to an entrance pavilion. Inside, ancient brick support piers, excavated and exposed, showcase the foundations of the building, and give visitors a preview of the treasures hidden inside the galleries. Dusk was descending on the gritty street-scape outside, and a just-opened exhibit – Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui – lured us further in for a longer visit.

Enormous shimmery tapestries, hanging on walls, suspended from the ceiling, draped on floors, an immersion into another culture, another world. Sharp edges of shiny and colorful pieces of metal detritus, liquor bottle tops and milk can lids – hammered, twisted, and linked together – creating soft and fluid abstract draperies and walls. Pieces of metal waste, transformed by many studio hands into panels that the artist assembles. Echoes of nomadic history, traditions and place, up close, sharp and brutal, from a distance, golden mosaics. Wooden relief sculptures, vertical strips of wood woven together on the walls. Discarded metal printing plates turned into giant paper bags, fading text and images visible. Tactile works of metal and wood, foldable and transportable, chameleon works that can be hung according to space and curators. A walk through gallery spaces, a sense of freedom of movement, and transience, and throughout – excerpts from the film Fold Crumple Crush: the Art of El Anatsui, the voice of the artist, talking about his works.

This trip, only a small taste of all that the Brooklyn’s Prospect Park area has to offer. But, being home in Vermont, tending to the wood-stove, keeping the pipes in our little county house from freezing, preferable to being buried in a snow-storm in the city. 

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