Some may say that the happiest place on earth is found in South Florida. I’d argue that it is wherever you happen to be standing when you see your child fall in love with art. We are a family of museum nerds. From the MoMA to roadside attractions, we’re game. When the Smithsonian American Art Museum recently reopened the Renwick Gallery we were more than willing to stand in the line stretching around the block to see the Wonder exhibit — and WOW!
Large crowds didn’t take away one iota of the amazement on the faces of my kids as they strolled through the Wonder exhibit. Truth be told, they were even in awe of the Renwick Gallery building itself.
Built in 1859, Renwick Gallery was the first purpose-built art museum in America. Over the front door the words, “Dedicated to Art,” are carved in stone. Which gives you some idea of what’s in store when you walk through the doors.
1.8 by Janet Echelman
On March 11, 2011 the earth moved, quite literally. The Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami were so powerful that the earth shifted on its axis. This resulted in a day shortened by 1.8 millionths of a second.
At first blush 1.8 looks like an artfully hung net with some really cool undulating lights. Then you look down at the floor, and – as my nine-year old daughter pointed out – even the carpet looks like art. We grabbed a spot on the floor, laying down with dozens of other gallery-goers, and watched the lights. It was nice, but pretty much just that.
In a near frenzy the sixteen year old drug me over to a small plaque on the wall that changed everything. The sculpture corresponds to a map of the energy released across the Pacific Ocean during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Talk about being moved by art. It was breath-taking. In a rush all the memories of the sights after the disaster came rolling back.
She was sure this was some natural formation, rather than the man-made work of artist Tara Donovan. These towers are made of everyday objects we tend to miss or toss out… index cards, scotch tape. Here they become a forest for the imagination.
Touch the Rainbow
Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to find the end of a rainbow. When in Ireland this past spring these refracted sunlight wonders were so vibrate you could almost convince me they were solid. Standing in front of Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe the illusion is nearly as complete. The difference being that this piece is an architecturally scaled weaving rather than light dancing on particles of water.