On our walk around Schiller Park this morning, Betty and I discovered that an outdoor art exhibition has been installed at various points in the park. I think it’s the first outdoor art display at Schiller in the time we’ve been living in German Village, and it makes me hope that others will be following it.
The exhibition is called Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature, and Culture and it features life-sized sculptures by Jerzy Jotka Kedziora suspended at various points in the park.
As Betty and I walked the perimeter of the park, we caught glimpses of the sculptures in the interior of the park. The pieces had the effect of pulling us into the park, and made a cool, rainy day a lot more interactive and interesting. And now is a pretty good time to see the exhibition — which runs until March 2020 — with the sculptures framed against the remaining colorful fall foliage.
Many of the sculptures have a circus-type theme, but my favorites were the hard-working rower floating above the pond and a headless angelic figure drifting above the Third Street entrance to the park, with the tassels of its dress jostling in the breeze. Kudos to the Friends of Schiller Park for sponsoring a very cool bit of outdoor art.
Our place in Stonington has rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. More rocks, in fact, than the mortal mind can imagine in its wildest, rock-filled dreams.
So what do you do with so many rocks? I’ve decided to get in touch with my inner wa and am trying to develop an ersatz Japanese rock garden along the edge of the creek, in the weedy waste area between the big boulders and the water’s edge. There’s lots of different shapes and colors of rocks and stones, large and small, some smooth and some rugged, in the down yard. I dig up and pick up the stones and then place them cheek by jowl, trying to fit them snugly together like a granite jigsaw puzzle.
No doubt expert rock garden developers would chuckle at this weak effort, but it’s been a fun way of addressing the rock issue that allows for some creativity, too.
Among the art pieces in one of the rooms of Nellieville, at Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies, are two doll heads on a table. I suppose you could admire the craftsmanship of the dolls’ creators, or consider the different artistic messages that might be conveyed by making doll heads part of the composition — but not me.
Doll heads give me the creeps, and I’m not sure exactly why. Is it the wide, staring, unblinking eyes? Is it the fact that they’ve been dismembered? Is it the placid, vacant, painted-on expression?
I’m not sure, exactly, but I know that the presence of doll heads interferes with my full appreciation of art.
Yesterday we took the New Grandparents to Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies, to show off the uniques sculptures displayed there. The sculptures are the work of Peter Beerits, who has mastered the process of turning ordinary old stuff — some might say “junk” — into interesting artwork. An old metal object, a few prices of wood for legs and a head, and a curlicue metal tail, for example, and you’ve got a pretty convincing pig.
Beerits has used the flotsam and jetsam of America from days gone by to construct Nellieville, a town that combines elements of the Old West, the early 20th century, and rural scenes and random animals. Banjo players, Wild Bill Hickok, outhouse users, lawyers, and barkeepers exist cheek by jowl in structures that are packed with all kinds of interesting old stuff. The rest is a bizarre and fascinating vision where there is a surprise around every corner.
Oh, yeah — Nervous Nellie’s jams and jellies are very good, too.
When you walk to work, moving to and from the office at a deliberate pace, you notice things that speeding drivers simply don’t see — like this curious, colorful monkey head that has recently appeared on the Third Street bridge over I-70. It looks to be made of carefully painted clay, and it is affixed directly to the concrete on walkway side of the bridge overpass.
What’s the significance of the purple monkey head? I freely admit that I gave that issue some thought as I walked by, but my analysis hasn’t gotten very far. The head has the telltale xs on its eyes that have long been a cartoon artists’ way of indicating death, drunkenness, or unconsciousness, but other than that, I found nothing to tell me the backstory of the monkey head, or why it was placed on the bridge. Google searches for drunken monkey, dead monkey, and unconscious monkey didn’t turn up anything particularly helpful, either — although the searches did cause me to become aware of the scientific theory that the human taste for alcohol has deep evolutionary roots that go all the way back to our primate ancestors consuming overripe, fermented fruit as a primary food source and the fact that the Caribbean island of St. Kitts is also known as the Island of Drunk Monkeys because of the alcoholic likings of the green vervets that were brought to the island in the 1700s. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be any connection between these stories and the purple monkey head on Columbus’ Third Street bridge.
Perhaps the monkey head is the start of some artist’s project, a la Christo, or some clever marketing campaign, where similar heads have been positioned in other parts of town and, after some kind of buzz is generated by curious people like me, we’ll learn that the monkey heads are advertising the introduction of some new restaurant or bar or rock band in the Columbus area? Or maybe the monkey head is a tribute to someone who met his maker on the bridge.
Whatever the backstory is, I’m intrigued by the monkey head on the Third Street bridge. I’d be interested in any theories about what the monkey head means, and why it is there.
Our snowfall yesterday has blanketed our tiny back yard in white — and incidentally given a new perspective to the abstract sculpture that Russell made for us. The snow has softened the edges. When I look at the sculpture now, I see a human face where I didn’t see one before.
On our way back from Boston we made a stop in Portland, Maine to pick up some supplies. Portland has a pretty cool and pedestrian-friendly downtown filled with interesting buildings, and businesses. Our destination was a quirky art supply shop across from the Maine College of Art.