Both of these pieces are hanging in the atrium just beyond the Gates Planetarium in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.. I'm guessing that this artist and Tyler Aiello from my previous post may be husband and wife.
Sphere V, 2005 hand-forged and welded steel by Tyler Aiello
Now that the weather is more predictable, I can once again go on camera expeditions searching out art in public places. I have been in the new atrium of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science many times but I have not stopped to enjoy the art hanging and installed in this space. Usually it is the magnificent view through the floor-to-ceiling windows that commands my attention. On this day I concentrated on the beauty inside the building and was pleased with what I found.
The young adult jingle dancers at the Denver Pow Wow
We missed the Grand Entry as it occurred just at the time that we were putting Clio down for her nap. We arrived at the Pow Wow just as the older teen and early twenty aged women were dancing. This group wears regalia (a kind reader last year told me they are not called costumes) with metal "jingles" sown to their skirts. It is a lively dance with intricate steps and twirls. This contest ended in a tie. After the dance-off produced a winner, the next category was called: A group of male dancers and I cannot remember the particular region and style they represented (perhaps someone reading this and viewing the photo below can help me be more specific.)
After several more contests the announcer called for an "All Nations" dance. During this dance people of all ages, all backgrounds--in regalia or not--danced together within the oval of drums. What a great parenting/grand-parenting opportunity to teach cultural diversity. We took Clio onto the dancing surface and she watched the other young girls and tried to copy their steps. Many of the young girls played with Clio. One young girl, dressed in shawl-dancing regalia, really loved Clio and danced around with us the entire 15 or 20 minutes we were on the floor. At the end we asked if we could take a photo of her with Clio. The anwer was yes..
During this past week I when I visited the Denver Art Museum, I was drawn, as I often am, to the hall of American Indians. A new section on modern art has been opened. Among some amazing paintings and sculptures was this hanging feather piece. I really loved the way the lights played in and out of the feathers.
A Manificent mult-strand fetish necklance given to the Museum
As I continued through the hall I saw the most complex animal fetish necklace I've seen anywhere. I have one of 5 strands which my husband gave me years ago and I cannot imagine the weight of so many carved stone fetishes in one piece of jewelry, though its beauty is exquisite.
Our life this week has coincidentally followed an Indian theme as this afternoon we will be taking our granddaughter to the final day of "dance with the Indians" at the annual Denver March Pow Wow. Around 2000 Indians in their customary regalia, representing tribes from both North and South America, will join the Grand Entry and then participate individually in the various dance categories. We look forward to it every year but this will be the first year we've taken any of our grandchildren. Photos tomorrow.
Sand Painting from the Denver Museum of Art and the sign beside it.
Like most people I want to protect and share what I love, but some things were meant to be ephemeral, just a taste of beauty not something to be put in a jar and preserved. I have very mixed feelings about this. I have brought home my share of seed pods, feathers and water-polished stones only to find that they lose some of their essence without the sunshine, the bird calls or the river sounds.
This sand painting is beautiful as it sits in the museum and I am grateful that the Navajo made it possible for us to view. I can also understand why they typically destroy them after completing them: In the ceremonies. It is the process rather than the product that is important.
I once trusted that the beauty in nature would be there when I returned with my children or grandchildren. Now I have my doubts. So much is being sacrificed to corporate greed--not only the beauty but our children's health and well-being. I recently bought a cookbook which contained a page listing types of fish and categorizing them as "Safe to eat, safe to eat once a month or less, unsafe for children under 12, and fish to avoid eating." How tragic that we must limit our food choices because manufacturing companies have lobbied for--and received--the right to dump more mercury, which causes brain damage prenatally and up to five years of age, and other contaminants into our waterways and oceans. I can celebrate the ephemeral as a process but our food sources are necessary live-sustaining products and should be safe to eat.
Recently I visited the zoo on a very cold day and the rhinos, hippos and elephants were all inside the building where they share night quarters. I walked through and saw once again the display of Mshindi's art so I took photos of the photos on the display wall. to share here.
In the wild, black rhinos spend most of their time browsing for food. They strip leaves off branches with their strong and versatile prehensile upper lips. In order to keep Mshindi from getting listless, one of his keepers at the Denver Zoo taught him to paint with tempera on a board that she held for him. In addition to being an "enrichment exercise," it also taught him to trust his keepers and allow them to approach and touch him. Mshindi's paintings have become so popular that each year at the annual zoo fundraiser one or more of his paintings are either sold or raffled off.
This is only one example of animal enrichment activities: The orangutans are given PVC pipe with cheerios stuck inside with honey so they must use a stick and work to get them out. The zoo has a standing committee of volunteers whose job it is to make or purchase tools to keep the animals occupied and challenged in captivity.
My favorite of Mshindi's paintings is his self-portrait. I think it actually looks a bit like him.
This sign is posted in many places at the Denver Zoo.
Today, zoos save most of their space to house endangered animals. Since animals are no longer routinely captured in the wild, animals in accredited zoos are either zoo-born, rescued because of illness or injury or confiscated from poachers. To keep certain animals from being over-represented in the captive gene pool, DNA records are kept on all endangered animals and genetically appropriate partners are "loaned" to other zoos for breeding purposes. Our zoo used to have a sign, posted below the one above, which read, "Your zoo or mine?" but some parents complained so it was removed. In some cases, such as elephants, artificial insemination may be used rather than try to transport an elephant cross country.
This is just one bit of interesting information I picked up while volunteering as a docent at the Denver Zoo. Zoos have come a long way from the private menageries of animals " collected for display" in the middle 1900s. Today's zoos are very involved in conservation and protection of the animals. All training is done either for intellectual stimulation or to teach behaviors and trust that would allow keepers to take blood, check temperatures, treat hooves or do general health maintenance.
I will write tomorrow about one example of "Enrichment Training" to keep animals from getting bored in an environment where they don't spend time, energy and resources in foraging for food.
A deep black-burgundy flower in the arid plant house at DBR.
On my recent visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens I went into an area I almost never visit--the plant house for succulents and other plants normally found in dry and warm places. I found this beautiful many-petaled flower and a small clump of tiny blue ground-hugging flowers. No names were listed for either but I loved them both anyway. No matter how cold the weather and how sparse the plantings, I always find beauty there in some form. This day was no different.
Walking is my principal exercise. When I tire of walking the neighborhood, I drive to favorite places and walk there. The Denver Botanic Gardens, City Park and Denver Zoo are three favorites. Today I chose the DBG and spent over an hour there. The plant beds were turned over and ready. Some showed tips of perennials peeking through the soil. The pots were ready, just waiting the signal that it's warm enough to transfer plants from the greenhouse to pots and beds.
Koi had been put in the one aerated pond until the Japanese garden ponds are filled for the spring and summer. When we stepped onto a boardwalk platform near the edge of the pond, many of the koi came over to see if we had food. We didn't. (I don't feed wild animals people food.) The photo below shows the reflection of clouds and trees, the aeration bubbles and some debris.
Even without the abundance of flowers, the water canals or fountains, it is a favorite place.
Advertisements on the DMNS regarding present exhibits
Two days ago Bob worked his first shift volunteering at the Bodyworlds 2 Exhibit, explaining the plastination process invented by Dr. Gunter von Hagens of Germany. This pioneering technology makes possible contemporary anatomical exhibits like the three Bodyworlds now touring and the many medical school exhibits which are using his patented process.
Bob had been told that thus far the first session of the day had not sold out so yesterday we were there buying tickets when the Museum opened and spent two hours with this amazing combination of science and art. It is an awe-inspiring, artistic and respectful presentation of the wonders of the human body. Thousands of people have donated their bodies to be used for this process. Museum hours for this exhibit have been extended until 9 p.m. and, if past exhibits are any indication, they will have to open it 24-hours a day for the last month. Because 150 timed tickets have been sold for each 20 minutes, and most people spend between one and two hours in the exhibit, no photography or sketching is allowed inside the exhibit. They do, however, have a plastinated camel and baby outside the hall and I was able to photograph it. (Below)
Go to Bodyworlds and see if any of the exhibits will be near you in the future. If so, do not miss it.
Plastinated Camel and baby with sagital-cut sections of the head and an open abdomen.
It's been a while since I posted. Something always seemed to happen just when I might have had blogging time. I've been in a mini-whirlwind of mostly non-creative, energy-sucking "stuff." Some of the stuff:
Just 10 days after having our 22-year-old water heater spring a leak and need replacement on a really cold and snowy day, we had to replace our 20-something year old furnace. Of course, it turned out that we could save more than $800 if we added air-conditioning at the same time. (A friend commented that it's about time we brought our house into the 21st Century.) We have been wanting AC so we swallowed hard and wrote the check from our "contingency" fund to have it done. The furnace and the AC housing are completely installed but the final installation of the AC component outdoors cannot be installed until the weather is warmer as they can't charge the freon in current temperatures. The installers suggested that now is an opportune time to get our ducts cleaned so that the new 92% efficiency furnace can function optimally. We have an appointment next Saturday to have a duct-cleaning company bring its super-powerful truck-mounted suction machine to extract the undesirable particles from our 65-year-old ducts.
Stuff, round 2: Since all the junk we've been storing in the furnace room for 20 years is now piled in the family room until this project is complete, my husband decided that the timing is perfect for repairing some efflorescence on the exterior walls of the furnace room and repainting it to look like a "real" room. We have opened the "Pandora's box" of projects that are prerequisites to other projects.
Stuff, round 3: The house is not the only item having deferred maintenance. We have also deferred dental cleaning and yearly physicals for both of us. Now is catch-up time. The good news is that we are ahead of schedule on our taxes.
While all this is going on we are trying to spend time with our Argentine house guest who is delightful and wants to see as much of Denver and Colorado as he can while he is here. He encourages both of us to speak Spanish whenever we are driving somewhere or just hanging around the house. He really doesn't need to practice English as he has been speaking it since he was a small child.
I am not taking a watercolor class this coming session but have signed up for a drawing class at the DMNS (Denver Museum of Nature and Science) called "Drawing Skulls." The class is limited to 20 and we get draw animal skulls from the zoology collection: bear, moose, elk, mountain lion etc. It is also a chance to return to basics on drawing, values and gray scale. I need a break from watercolor. I love it but is sometimes SO frustrating.
We having a standing 3-hour play-date on Mondays with granddaughter Clio. We pick her up at her day school on the days her Mom must attend City Council until 9:30 at night and enjoy her until her dad gets off work. We are also happily anticipating our two new grandchildren, due May 26 and May 27.
I hope to post more regularly but then baseball season begins April 2 and that's another impediment to regular blogging--though it does provide a lot of interesting stories and photos.