When horses fly

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Yesterday, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago, where they were placing a new sculpture somewhere requiring a crane for the transfer. A huge skeleton of a horse, the artwork was headless, the head already placed in its destination.

In the cab of the crane, the operator waited to start the move, his foot casually propped up against the door frame. Like this was nothing. Like operating that enormous piece of equipment–and it was enormous–was nothing.

The other workers grabbed the heavy chains and tightened straps to hoist the sculpture. And then, finally, when it seemed they would never lift it, there it floated into the air with a grace unexpected from metal. And the crane operator vindicated his nonchalance.

It wasn’t a sight I expected to see yesterday. In fact the whole visit was full of new things and surprises: a textiles exhibit; a collection of Islamic art; the work of Hairy Who?, an art collective from the 60s.

Did it change what’s happening in the world?

UH, no.

Did it make me not think about it for a while?

Definitely.

There’s a little bit of escape in finding the new within the old. Fresh eyes. Fresh perspective?

Not this time.

But I can say I’ve seen a horse skeleton hoisted high against the Chicago skyline. And that’s something.

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Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

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Heston Blumenthal and the Nature of Art

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A friend sent me some YouTube clips of British chef Heston Blumenthal, and I can’t get the man out of my head. The first was of Blumenthal making look-alike tableware out of food, and the second, his tricking the guests with it. Here’s that second video:

Time could disappear and stomachs can churn as you go through the videos, one clip at a time, watching this man and his unique relationship with food. Not so much with the dessert, I’d be with him for the dessert; I mean things like the dormouse lollipops covered in white chocolate. No, really.

But it brings up the question that arises time and time again: what makes art?

No matter what you think of Heston Blumenthal as a preparer of food for consumption, he is, without question, an artist. He transforms his diners’ ideas of what constitutes food. He pushes the boundaries of what food can look like, how it can behave, what the experience of eating it can be.

Even from a distance of thousands of miles, without a hint of a taste or smell, he’s created an experience for me, the viewer, in watching his diners confront and interpret his food. Above all else, I think Blumenthal is a performance artist, using a process to provoke the emotions of his audience, which isn’t limited to those people eating his creations.

Is his style all flash and mirrors? Perhaps, but if it is, both the flash and mirror are completely edible.

Have a minute? Watch this video.

Rather read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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T Holds the Truth

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Truth is a funny thing. We each have our own version of it, the one that plays from behind our own eyes. Even so, there are some things that objectively, fundamentally true: the Earth revolves around the sun; the tides come in and the tides go out; and gravity will always pull you down.

But there are universal truths beyond the physical world, universal human truths, and when we find them in the arts, they hit something in us, set off some kind of vibration, and we know. They come in any genre, they can strike us from the most unusual places, and discovering them is a revelation.

Yesterday I talked about the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” based on the novella by Stephen King. Within it, it carries a truth about real human connection, about friendship. “Orange is the New Black,” the hit Netflix series, reveals the truth of humanity in everyone, including the people we never much think about.

Literature hoards truths, whispers them to us as we turn the pages, real or virtual. We see not only who we are, but who others are as we cloak ourselves in their lives. Visual arts make us stop, make us consider, as they freeze the truth in a moment in time. It’s the truth in the isolation, the loneliness of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”  that has inspired so many parodies.

No matter what you write, or how you create, you must be honest at the core of your work. It’s that truth that resonates.

Have you found an unexpected truth in a book, a film or TV show, or art?

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