Last week Mary and I attended a member’s reception for a new exhibit at the Orange County Museum of Art. We usually go to one or more of these informal gatherings a year, choosing our selection principally for the exhibit itself. Last week’s was a display of major pieces from Alexander Calder.
Calder is generally credited as inventing the mobile in the 1950’s. Our first experience with the art form, as for many couples, was choosing the correct one for our first child’s crib. Not that we were totally unaware of the kinetic art scene. We had read Tom Wolfe’s "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers" and were closely following my sister’s life on the art-Beat scene of North Beach, San Francisco, which I chronicle in my book “Harnessing a Heritage”. (You can read the first chapter at my website: www.deefitzgerald.com.)
I asked my older son if he had any memory of mobiles. He answered that he did: a memory of the one they bought for his son, now thirteen. It was based on Winnie the Pooh characters, which could be detached for Ryan to play with in his crib. I don’t remember what we chose for Sean. I'm sure it was less practical. When I asked his brother about mobiles, his response was, “Isn’t that a city in Alabama?”
Probably one of the most interesting artists in the kinetic art field was Christo Javacheff, who made the cover of Time magazine with his outdoor colorful banners that stretched through Northern California. Mary and I saw some of these in Marin County. That project was called “Running Fence” and he and his companion Jeanne-Claude had a companion piece called “The Gates” in New York’s Central Park. Both of those demonstrated one of the common characteristics of the medium. Size!
The exhibit we saw at OCMA had some huge pieces. Several of the rooms housed three or fewer pieces. In addition to size, I was struck by the utility of the materials used in the constructions. It was as if Calder and the seven contemporary artists displayed, were at the cutting edge of “green”. One project in particular used a lunch box and old cans to make a bird. The whimsy almost makes one laugh out loud. Some examples are displayed on the OCMA website: http://www.ocma.net/index.html?page=current.
We shared a glass of wine with a young couple who were there to support their friend, Kristi Lippire, who lives in Los Angeles. It was interesting to hear about her art career and how little money she makes from her craft. It certainly emphasizes that the artist must have a passion for what they do, because no one would do it for the money.
And that, of course, provides inspiration for me to pursue my passions, without regard for financial gain. And that’s what life is really all about.