On Beauty: “Sunset” Parable

I (Liz) just wrote a piece about watching a sunset that may help us to meditate on the beauty of our lives. This piece is also a part of a larger project that Jeremy and I are working on: we’re writing (and illustrating) a book of parables! But more on that later perhaps.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts after reading this piece.

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I have been driving on the highway for some time before I notice the yellow glow behind the mountains. Once I see it, I cannot take my eyes from it. I steal glances from behind the wheel, and when the off-ramp turned my car East, I strain to see the colors in the rear-view mirror.

The clouds are streaked with yellows and purples when I pull into the driveway. I open the car door and hurry inside, where I find Jeremy at work in his studio.

“Babe,” I say, “You have to come with me. I want to show you something.” He wipes his hands on his pants and I grab his hands in mine.

“Quick!” I say. Jeremy lets go of my hands to slip on some sandals, and as soon as one of his hands is free, I hold it and take off, bringing us out the back door and into the yard, leaving the back door ajar.

“Look at the sky,” I say. “Do you see it just beyond the trees?”

“Ooo,” says Jeremy.

“Come on,” I say, “Let’s try to get a better view.”

We walk beyond our garden into the alley behind our house and out onto the nearest street corner. Now we can see that the sky has changed again, throwing pink, purple, and yellow clouds across the expanse before us.

We stop short, staring at the beauty that lies before us. Jeremy stands behind me, holding me with both arms. “Wow,” he finally says, slow and quiet. We stay still for several minutes watching the light change, as color fills up our eyes to overflowing.

Then Jeremy says, “I’ll be right back,” and he goes inside the house. He comes back two minutes later with folding chairs. We sit down to watch the finale.

Meanwhile, cars pass on the street. Several drivers wonder at us, staring and pointing, while others drive past without even noticing us.

“Strange that they don’t turn to see what we’re looking at,” I say to Jeremy.

The sky has now turned to an orange, the same color as the light from the street lamps that have begun to illuminate the neighborhood. Highlights of purples and pinks begin to fade behind the bulge of the Rocky Mountains.

I put my arm around Jeremy and his metal chair, and rest my head on his shoulder in the quiet.

“We don’t normally have sunsets like this, do we?” I say.

“Well, I don’t know. Usually we’re inside the house at this time of night,” says Jeremy.

I wonder how many sunsets we’ve missed over the past nine months living on our block. But just as I begin chiding myself, Jeremy begins to hum, and then to sing. It’s one of my favorites, and I find myself smiling, forgetting my thoughts. I listen and then join in at the chorus: “Let’s sing, let’s sing, for joy, for joy. Let’s sing, let’s sing, for joy, for joy…” The song ends, and we sit still.

Finally Jeremy says, “You ready to go back inside?” I look around and see that the sky has just  turned an ash grey. Night is on the horizon.

I sigh and say, “Let’s go,” and we carry our chairs in our arms and sing our way home.

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A New Sculpture on Every Corner: Downtown Colorado Springs Gets a Makeover

For those who have walked through downtown Colorado Springs wondering about the sculptures planted on street corners and in medians, perhaps this will be a helpful post for you.

Art on the Streets

For thirteen years, “Art on the Streets” has made art a part of the ordinary Colorado Springs resident’s life, putting large sculptures on street corners and medians throughout the downtown area. Downtown’s “Art on the Streets” program was started by the many wealthy corporate donors as a yearlong showcase of local and national sculptors’ work in downtown Colorado Springs.

And in the past few weeks, we have noticed a changing of the guard, as new sculptures are erected almost daily. This year, there are eleven new pieces and thus eleven featured artists, most of whom live in Colorado. Notably, three of the featured artists live in Colorado Springs (Sean O’Meallie, Dan Romano, and Doyle Svenby).

Notables

The sculptures that have stood out to me (Liz) this year are:

1) Maureen Hearty’s “Music Inside,” on the corner of Tejon and Platte:

Maureen Hearty has built an abstract working glockenspiel, complete with built in mallets, to enable anyone to fill Acacia Park with their own discordant musical stylings. This piece can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

2) Doyle Svenby’s “A Hole Lot of Love,” at the corner of Colorado and Nevada (above photo):

Local sculptor Doyle Svenby built a towering steel heart out of recycled and painted steel. Other than the fact that I love that it is a visually pleasing and approachable piece for the non-artist, I also love that, when viewed from the correct angle, you can see a section of downtown through the heart shaped hole in the middle of the piece.

3) Rollin Karg’s “Mongo,” on Pikes Peak Avenue, between Nevada and Tejon:

Rollin Karg, a sculptor from Kechi, Kansas, likes to play with glass, which is evident by the artist’s piece entited “Mongo.” To be honest, I cannot figure out this abstract sculpture, but I enjoy the mottled glass throughout and it gives the vague impression of a dragon. In any case, it is a whimsical addition to Colorado Springs’ downtown.

4) Sean O’Meallie’s “Tree Ring Circus,” all along Tejon (above photo):

I first mistook Sean O’Meallie’s work as a form of graffiti street art before I realized it was part of “Art on the Streets.” O’Meallie has built a series of black and white steel rings to rest o the trunks of trees up and down Tejon (there are 22 installations on all). It is a curious and happy addition to other recent street art trends the downtown has experienced lately (such as yarn bombing).

To do the art walk yourself…

download and print this brochure. (The brochure includes artist statements, a map pinpointing the location of new sculptures as well as other sculptures that have graced our streets for years, and additional information about the “Art on the Streets” project.)

We love that Colorado Springs values art in public places, so we love this “Art on the Streets” program (though it has received some flack in the past few years of economic downturn). Plus, it’s a great free date! We highly recommend it. 🙂

Yarn Bombing Alert!

As I was walking in downtown Colorado Springs today to meet Jeremy for lunch, I came upon this lovely piece of local art:

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Yes, my friends, I had stumbled upon a yarn bomb. This recent addition to all our favorite methods of graffiti has a special place in my (Liz’s) heart, as I am a (very) amateur knitter myself. This recent phenomena, however, includes all those who play with yarn, calling all crocheters and knitters to “improve the urban landscape one stitch at a time.”

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(Image borrowed from YarnBombing.com)

So how does it work? These yarn bombers pick a target to bomb, taking the measurements home with them and knitting the cover (though leaving room for it to be attached later). Then, like traditional graffiti artists, they bomb at night, stitching the cover around the target for people to find in the morning. Sometimes, the yarn sticks around for hours; other times, authorities or business owners will remove the yarn before anyone else can see it.

In Denver, a group called the Ladies Fancywork Society has created various yarn bombs, including shackling the famous Blue Bear sculpture that looks into the Denver Convention Center with a huge yarn ball and chain. (the ladies used over 15 miles of knitted yarn for the bear bombing!)

Magda Sayeg from Houston, Texas is said to have started the movement when she spontaneously knitted a blue and pink cozy for the door handle of her shop, and then found that she couldn’t stop. She recruited volunteers to help her cloak Houston in yarn, and somehow yarn bombing caught. Now it has become a full-on movement, even crossing oceans, as yarn bombing has been reported everywhere from Paris to Morocco and Iran. Who knew that this soft art would have such international appeal?

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(Image borrowed from this Denver Post article)

When these “grandma graffiti” artists are asked what they love most about bombing, they say it’s the chance they get to make something cold and urban (like a bus, a light pole, a copper statue, or a fire hydrant) warm, to give it that maternal touch. It’s urban decorating at its finest. And truly, graffiti is no longer only a male art; the women are taking back the streets.

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(Image borrowed from BlackStitch.wordpress.com)

…And I just love it! There’s nothing quite like running into a purple crocheted cozy on a metal light pol while you’re on your way to work? You can’t help but smile.

So take out your needles, ladies (and crafting gents) of Colorado Springs, and bomb away! You have at least two fans. 🙂

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For more information on this city-warming trend, read this NY Times article.

Also, be on the lookout for more bombs, especially ’cause International Yarn Bombing day is coming up on June 11!

Surprisingly Irreverent: CommonWheel’s “Altared Show”

Surprisingly irreverent. It kept flitting through my mind as I browsed CommonWheel Co-op’s Altared show (on display through Feb 21).  As a rule, I try to see every show at CommonWheel. Typically, these shows are fantastic.

I was thus disappointed to observe a number of pieces appeared slapped-together, little or no effort put into composition. Others however, though well executed and beautifully done, were irreverent, finger-pointing or overly preachy.

An altar is a place to pray, worship or meditate. It is a revered, meaningful or even sacred place. “A bit of spiritual hope in commonplace items” is how the show was billed. I would have liked to see more pieces that expressed deep-felt beliefs and offered a space to consider them as well.

Art is a cultural touchpoint and inspires valuable dialogue, so don’t get me wrong here. Yes, there is a place for the statue of Jesus covered in dollar bills titled “Give Until it Hurts.” A critique on the commercialization of Christianity is valuable and can spark important conversations. What I’m saying is that an altared show seems an odd place to criticize the traditions that gave us altars.

On the positive side, I discovered the work of Jeff Brown, Robert LeDunne and Lynn Lee. These artists seemed to have real conviction guiding their respective alters, and while they undoubtedly hold different beliefs, they met harmoniously and respectfully.

I still resonate with the idea behind this show. My found-object art tends to be a collection of important objects, meditated on and arranged meaningfully—little altars. Everyone has objects that are important, almost sacred, in their daily life. It might be a chair, a bookmark or a room in their house that gives them space to think, pray and meditate. What’s your altar?

Troy DeRose Plays Nice in Colorado Springs

Playing Nice by Troy DeRose

Troy DeRose is a local Colorado Springs painter and graphic designer. Liz and I LOVE his work and are thrilled to feature an interview with Troy.

Definitely check out what Troy says about “limits” in question 3, and see some more great photos of his work after the break.

-J

Playing Nice by Troy DeRose
Playing Nice by Troy DeRose

1.) Tell us something about your process of creating your paintings:

My process is typically the first thing people ask me about when they first encounter my work. I will attempt to describe it as best I can without getting into all the intricate steps that are involved. Basically my art begins on the computer where I manipulate found photos and design the piece in Photoshop. Once the piece is designed I create templates for the colored underpainting (shapes and text) and a full size print out of the black and white images. I use the templates as a guide to do the underpainting portion and once that is dry I overlay the black and white images to the canvas using a photo transfer technique. After the photo transfer is complete I go back in with charcoal and paint to fill in the images until I feel happy with it.

The Closers by Troy DeRose
The Closers by Troy DeRose
Troy DeRose
Artist and part-time model; Troy DeRose

2.) Who is an inspiration to you? Who influences your work?

I am influenced from two different sides of art, fine art/art history and graphic design/illustration. On the fine art side, when I was studying painting in college I was really inspired by both the Dada and surrealist movements in art. I loved the ways that Dali and Magritte used transparency in their work to let one image turn into another. I am also really Continue reading “Troy DeRose Plays Nice in Colorado Springs”