The Other Side Of Light !

[Guided Tour @ Danforth on 01/23/2010 - With HRCA group]

Sometimes experience turns out to be a far better teacher than theoretical reading (books, journals, white papers, news or voluminous technical manuals). I learned sometime back that at Danforth Museum Of Art, new docents are encouraged to "shadow" few tours before venturing out to lead real tours at the museum. With no prior experience of so-called "shadowing", the term conjured up vivid visuals in my mind-images of high-school optics classes, physics experiments with light sources & concave/convex lenses, esoteric definitions of diffraction/dispersion/interference etc. and of course the Greek symbol λ. I loved filling in my U-CLIPS notebooks with Greek symbols in various forms-rotated 30°or 45° wrt horizontal plane, within ultra thin left hand margins, or inside hexagonal benzene rings! Unfortunately back then our physics teacher gave more importance to how quickly we could solve cool optics numericals than how nicely we could draw λ and thus my fondness with Greek symbols didn't last long :D

Back to present time, this "shadowing" exercise turned out to be yet another enriching learning experience for me. In short this is how it works:
  • Shadow Docents report to the Lead Docent around 30 mins prior to a tour.
  • Lead Docent explains the tour strategy / guidelines to the new docents.
  • A quick discussion on background of viewers is done prior to the tour.
  • Following a strict time-line before and during the tour is very essential.
  • Shadow Docent is supposed to pay close attention to tour, viewers' responses, touring style of lead docent and identify any specific areas of improvements (if any).
As I followed Doreen (Lead Docent) into the galleries, she gave a quick refresher on Jewish Culture and History, described evolution of art & religion in Jewish community across the globe. When I analyzed my notes this morning, I was amazed to learn that there are so many striking similarities between Jewish and Indian Cultures! Some common traits I found cool are: Utmost respect for elders, cohesive bonding with family, appreciation of Visual Arts & Music, logical interpretations for religious rituals and communal problem solving etc.

Our visitors from HRCA (Hebrew Rehabilitation Center For Aged) arrived at 13:30 hrs EST. After exchanging quick pleasantries with the group, Doreen took us all into David Aronson's Gallery and commenced the tour with Aronson's "Adam" & "Eve" artworks. Next we moved on to see "The Judges" and "The Paradox". Fast Forward 30 Doreen sailed our group towards the 8-foot tall ace masterpiece titled "Resurrection, 1944", all viewers seemed pleasantly engaged within moments of viewing this gigantic artwork. It was fascinating to see everyone in the group participating actively, asking specific questions, appreciating orange, blues & greens in the artwork, deriving quick analogies with biblical charcaters and finding figurative meanings etc.

[Guided Tour @ Danforth - Marriage at Cana by David Aronson]

Next we moved on to see Aronson's "Marriage at Cana" artwork and this time Doreen began the tour with our museum's VTS Style and connection with audience was almost immediate. Together with enthusiatic Doreen, all of us truly enjoyed hunting down interesting objects in the artwork. Impromptu doses of light humor by Janis & Ellie (fellow shadow docents) as we stood before this artwork made the exercise even more fun!During the last 30 mins of the tour, we walked through gallieries exhbits by Garry Bergstein and Morgan Bulkley.

Like all other good things, our tour ended around 1500 EST. As we bid good-bye to amazing team from HRCA, we thanked them for visiting Danforth and for being a group passionate in thinking and youthful at heart! We hope to see more people from HRCA at Danforth in the days to come.

If you like works by Boston Expressionists, check out this video by Metrowest featuring Katherine French, who talks about David Aronson's artworks.

"It takes a very long time to become young." Pablo Picasso


2009 Redux...

Today at Michael's I observed two teenagers quite invested in a heated conversation as they waited for their turn in the checkout line. The discussion was about LIMITS and CONSTRAINTS that prevent budding artists, cartoonists or sculptors to pursue ART as a full-time career. Thanks to the journal I was carrying in my backpack, I listened attentively, took some notes & thought about doing a rational analysis later. Here are salient points of the conversation I heard:

  • In kindergarten we always spot few kids who exhibit creative abilities and would make great artists if given the right education. But as these artistic kids leave kindergarten and start chasing the usual goals of getting a job, means of road transport and may be a house or two, that childhood passion for ART usually eventually takes a backseat.
  • ART Concepts can be applied almost everywhere-but society doesn't give much weightage to it since immediate returns (tangible and monetary) are not visible.
  • And then there are always so many constraints (Lack of concrete goals, supportive environment and guidance) that it just doesn't seem logical to even think about investing time in studying and understanding art!

and so on.....

The conversation sure wasn't of the type that would give you positive vibes; but it reminded of a similar kind of chit-chat I had with one of the members of Fablevision team during their Open House event in Oct 2009. In retrospect, I was amazed to see Fablevision Studios, meet Peter's energetic team and I was 100% convinced of the fact that limitations actually drive (and not impede) creative thinking. In short here's what I learned after talking to Peter and Bob that day (What a splendid evening it was!):

  • Given fewer resources, we are forced to focus and thus make quick and better decisions.
  • Given limited time, we learn to distinguish between what is important and what is not.
  • Given the limits, we perceive the fine line between applying ourselves to ONE key task sincerely instead of overworking ourselves with dozens of tasks.
  • Given the right team/environment, we tend to think out-of-the-box, come up with radical ideas, visualize happy endings and attain seemingly impossible goals in no time.

But yes like everything else in life, the key is to START! As you set out to finally write those tough resolutions/goals down in your journals, blogs, diaries or sketchbooks, take a quick look at Peter's 5Bs poster-you might find it helpful and outright cool!

A L E R T -Extend your helping hand towards HAITI natives; some avenues are-a, b, c and d

“Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”~Charles M Schulz
[Image Courtesy-© Peter H Reynolds]


To Every Action...

there is an equal and opposite reaction" - said Sir Isaac Newton several years ago. In simple terms this translates to saying that forces always act in pairs. (If an object X exerts a force say F on an object Y, then the object Y exerts an equal and opposite force -F on X provided both X and Y are involved). Some practical examples are:
  • Swimming - While swimming you push water backwards (Action) and water in turns pushes you fwd (Reaction).
  • Jet Engine - Burning fuel produces hot exhaust gases which are made to flow out from back of the jet (Action). A resulting thrust is produced in opposite direction and pushes it forwards (Reaction).

Newton's Third Law was a stunning insight that eventually led to significant scientific research pertaining to universal law of gravitation and astronomy. Genuine artlovers have said time and again that the best artworks seem to exert a compelling force (Action) on the viewers. What's interesting to watch is how these artlovers respond (Reaction) to this force in accordance with Newton's 3rd Law! Some pursue art as a career, some try to relate art concepts in their jobs/lives and some even become artists (after years of diligent practice though) themselves. That quick science refresher was for my acquaintances who strongly believe that-crude logic, scientific facts and technology govern our lives and drive this world as against creative thinking and imagination :D

I visited Danforth yesterday evening and I ended up filing my journal with 3-4 ideas yet again. I've observed that the more I allow myself to interact with artworks, the more interesting ART gets. Here's I think why:

  • Focus: When you walk into an art gallery, you zone out all noise sources (internet, phone, news, road traffic, verbal interactions etc) and give your 100% attention to analyzing artwork.
  • Transformation: A painting or a sculpture or a portrait transforms an otherwise void gallery space into something important, meaningful and sometimes influential too.
  • Visual Energy: Like 3-5 aged kindergarten kids (Their inquisitiveness, candidness and willingness to learn is just amazing), some artworks invite your attention right away.
  • Emotions: Artworks evoke both logical (This artist's earlier work was far better!, This looks pricy!, Why is this painting here?, It is irregular or it is quite unsymmetric!) as well as emotional responses (Woooow!, Ahaaa!, I see!, Ewwwww!, Mindblowing!, Oh my God!, Hummmm!) in the viewer.
  • Rhythm: There's always a mystical compositional rhythm in artworks. It could mean variance in thickness or thinness of the brushstrokes for some, strong straight lines or delicate curved lines for others, excessive use of warm or cool colors and so on.
  • Impressions: Colors in artworks register deep impressions in our minds and usually have an immediate effect on viewer's mood and energy levels.
  • Taste: Art also offers viewers an amazing opportunity to find "alone-time" to nurture their brains, to build critical thinking skills and to develop fine taste in human inventiveness.

Here's a quick exercise (esp. for my friends in software/business world)...

Next time when you spot a majestic sculpture centred in your favorite shopping mall, library or casino or you see this beautiful glass painting as you walk from Terminal A to Terminal B (or C/D/E -choice is entirely yours ;)) to catch your connecting flight-pause for a minute-see if you find something appealing or stimulating or mysterious, ask yourself "What's going on here?", "What could be the underlying message painter is trying to convey?", "How do you feel when you this artwork?" etc. Trust me it feels better than analyzing those stock prices, server response time graphs on Monday mornings or reading those news alerts with not-so-good statistics about terrorism, global warming, unemployment etc

In case you do feel amazed and wish to relive the experience on a larger scale in a climate controlled and conducive environment-you know who to call or where to go next :) By the way-my best wishes to Uncle Newton on his 367th birthday :D

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known”~Oscar Wilde

[Image Courtesy-© Vladimir]


Make a Wish...

There something innocently magical about Fireworks especially the ones that light up the sky on New Year's Eve! Apart from inducing a near instant hope, cheer and happiness, they instantly push people into a "Wish Making Mode". For few seconds one's mind seems to shift into a fluid like state that invokes one's deep rooted ambitions, goals and desires. As the time goes by, some of these wishes come true (Woo-Hoo!), some stay as wishes (tougher goals) and the rest just fade away (That's ok too!) but almost all of them provoke an inward reflection. It's hard to describe the wish-making experience in words but in the long run it can do wonders indeed!

In everyday life, most of us formulate complex plans with hundreds of sub-tasks for our respective projects/goals, use cool software tools to organize our tasks and this seems to work just fine. But I have serious doubts whether artists, photographers, sculptors do the same? As 2010 sets in, I hope (Or should I say I wish ;)) to connect to many more dwellers of ART community, try to map out their goal-setting and creative-thinking process and share the same right here...

Oh and yes, next time you see someone (kids are great examples) doing any of the following...
  • About to close eyes before the first star in a clear night sky.
  • About to toss a coin in a river, fountain, pond or well.
  • About to blow a stray eyelash off one's fingertip.
  • Standing before a birthday cake ready to blow the lit candles.
  • Ready to blow all seeds from a white puffy dandelion in one breath.

.....take a moment to see and understand "What's going on?', concentrate on your deepest desires, close your eyes, visualize the end result & go make that wish. Believe me - sometimes this spellbinding exercise turns out to be a memorable experience in itself. And when your wishes come true, do this drill again :D

"The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity'~Alberto Giacometti

[Image Courtesy-© Tiqatequila]