14 June 2009

do not cut bait, fairies in the garden

A couple weeks ago, a woman stopped to talk to me as I stood in front of Trader Joe's on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. I was waiting for Diana Mitrano, the woman was amused by my site-specific installation t-shirt that I got at the Whitney some years ago. She (Maitreya Levanchild) was to be in a performance of "What we can see from here" on the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge on June 14th. Today. The day started gloomy but brightened considerably. The performance was pleasant, colorful, appropriate.

I've been reading The language of landscape by Anne Whiston Spirn and it keeps reverberating. After the performance, I continued walking through the waterfront parks of Bay Ridge and came upon the rose garden. My third rose garden in a week! It is the season. Yesterday, Mac and I went to Jackson Heights for the annual Garden Tour. The gardens were mostly on the inside of blocks, surrounded by apartment buildings, mostly built in the decade before the Great Depression. We saw four of them and the gardens were quite different: one was quite overgrown and very pleasant on a summer afternoon, another quite formal with a baldaquino supported by Doric columns, another a simple center lawn with great trees (only one Dutch elm left). And of course there were some roses.

I had only just gotten back from Boston and the Summer Educational Institute for Visual Resources and Image Management on Friday night. When I was in Boston, Bill Connor and I went to lunch on Thursday with Darin Murphy (School of the MFA) and Rachel Resnik (MassArt). On the way through the Fens to Thaitation, we stopped in the ... ta da ... Rose Garden! It was extraordinarily beautiful. The scent of the garden today in Brooklyn was stronger however; it must have been the breeze off the bay, blowing the rosy scent right at me. The Fens Rose Garden takes us back to the Spirn book wherein she talked about how one Boston neighborhood was asked for favorite places as they were planning their community garden. Yup, the Fens Rose Garden was at the top of everybody's list and became the inspiration for a public space within the neighborhood garden.

SEI went pretty well. I presented thrice on Tuesday and Wednesday, along with several others. I thought the flow was quite fine. On Thursday, Bill and I went to see the "Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese" show at the Museum of Fine Arts. It was extraordinary. The room of "Mythological Nudes" was dumb-striking, jaw-dropping, almost too overdressed but lovely. The Tintoretto "Baptism" was amazing and was installed next to a Baptism by Veronese, just one of the good comparisons in the exhibition. The comparisons were perhaps obvious but the installation really worked. After the Venice show, Fens walk, and lunch, Bill and I went home to make vegetarian chili for supper. It came out very nicely. Bill was the haut chef, I the sous.

Before catching a late afternoon bus on Friday, I went to see the Shepard Fairey show at the Institute of Contemporary Art. I really enjoyed the images and the words included therein. I was also very taken by the "Acting out: social experiments in video" show which included the wonderful Javier Téllez video of six blind people touching an elephant in McCarren Pool which I'd seen at the Whitney Biennial, along with four other interesting videos. After the ICA, I walked over to the gallery district on Harrison Avenue to see the Joe Fig show at Carroll and Sons.

So it all comes back to plants, e.g., figs. Part of the interest in all of these rose gardens has been that I have been thinking a good deal about what I'm going to do with the yard in Alfred. And if I were to win the lottery right now, I'd want to appropriate Ross Bleckner's studio building as created in miniature form by Joe Fig.

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