The Road To Being Amazed

Go past the moon and turn left down the hallway,” were the directions I was given.

I looked into the face of the nice lady who spoke those words to me and replied, “And you are probably the only person on the planet who can give directions like that.”

I was at the Houston Museum of Natural Science for “The Art of the Brick” exhibit by artist Nathan Sawaya. This is the picture that is shown in most advertisements for the exhibit. I wasn’t sure where the exhibit was in the museum so I was told to go past the “Moon” exhibit by Luke Jerram. As you may have guessed there is a giant Moon hanging from the ceiling. I first saw this exhibit several weeks ago, but it was still impressive to walk past just the same.

Then my Dear Friend and I arrived at “The Art of the Brick” which is essentially art work created with Legos. Yes, you read that correctly, Legos. I must admit, my expectations were warm at best. Dear Friend is an engineer and has had a life long excitement for anything that you can use to build and create. I thought I would be amused at all of the bright colors.

Was I ever wrong! Before you get to enter the exhibit you watch a short video with the artist explaining himself. I won’t give you any spoilers, but I found Sawaya’s motivations and inspirations for his work quite interesting. Then we entered the exhibit.

It begins mildly enough with some Lego representations of famous works of art. Of course my favorite is The Scream. Some of the works are 2‑D, some are 3‑D, and some are life size. This is almost the look I had on my face as I began to let the artistry around me sink in, but my look was from amazement rather than from distress.

After touring the first room, then you get to see the pieces that fascinated me the most. What absolutely amazed me was the fact that the artist was able to evoke such emotions. Here are three examples:

These are just a few examples. If you have not taken the time to go see this exhibit, then please stop reading now and go.

At the end of the exhibit is a room where the kiddos can play with the Legos themselves. Be careful walking through this room, because there may be a few Legos pieces on the floor.

Of course what is a visit to the Museum of Natural Science without strolling through Hermann Park? My Dear Friend and I decided to stroll around the duck pond. We were serenaded by this friendly and vocal group of water birds that included several geese and one duck. A variation on the theme of “duck, duck, goose” maybe? If you have never been serenaded by a group of geese, then your life is still missing something. Apparently this group has received much positive attention from the humans strolling through the park and they are not shy about showing off.

If you have not stopped reading by now, I will again strongly suggest that you get yourself to Hermann Park now. Go now while the weather is cool and sunny.

You’re welcome.

Until next week.….

My First Year On The Road

What a year!

Has it been a year already?

Has it only been a year?

A year ago on May 23, 2018, I wrote and published my first blog as a RoadBroad! Actually it was my first blog post ever. Thanks to Melanie for having the wonderful idea to start a blog. I became an official RoadBroad and have been writing about my journey ever since. The first picture I ever included on a blog was a picture of one of my cats. I bought a new suitcase to make a road trip to Boulder, Colorado for one of Max Regan’s writing retreats and Hannah (the cat) was trying to figure out how to pack herself into the trip.

I still hold fond memories of meeting with other writers, having writing meetings at the Dushanbe Tea House and gazing at the Flatiron Mountains. I am including some of my favorite photos from that first road trip in this blog post. This was my first trip to Colorado and can’t wait to return.

May 2018 was also notable because that was when I retired from a 25 year career of being a Social Services Administrator for local government. I had been either working, going to school, being a part-time adjunct faculty member, going to school some more, etc., since the age of 15. I completed all requirements to secure a pension and health care into my senior years. It was time for a change.

Now my entire life revolves around creativity. Either I am engaging in creative activities or I am appreciating the creative work of others. The Vincent Van Gogh exhibition is still going on at the Museum of Fine Arts. I have to go at least one more time before it ends.

Since May 2018 I have been a full-time writer. Sometimes I submit a piece of writing and it gets accepted. Sometimes it doesn’t. I keep reminding myself that I am not personally being rejected. I merely wrote a story or essay that was not accepted for a particular journal. I continue to work on a book about Memphis, Tennessee in the 1960s and 1970s.

I am also a visual artist. I’m a photographer and I work with collage. In my spare time I take art classes at the Glassell and this summer I will add a class at the Art League of Houston to my list of visual studies.

There was one not so fun part to this past year; I discovered I had arthritis. Then I had physical therapy, bariatric gastric sleeve surgery, got to where I could walk a lot again and enjoyed many classes in water aerobics at the local YMCA.

I’ve read a lot of books and attended many lectures by other writers and authors. I love hearing other writers talk about how they write and what their creative process looks like. I heard Annie Lamott who was absolutely inspirational. Getting to hear Annie Lebovitz talk about her life as a photographer was fascinating.

My Dear Friend and I have walked many miles through the Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Natural Science, Bayou Bend, Rienzi and various other art galleries. We have attended performances at the Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, etc. We have traveled to the beach over the winter holidays and Austin for a sister writer’s book launch.

As a RoadBroad, I have enjoyed my creative journey and love this new phase of my life. I am going to continue my journey as a RoadBroad and look forward to sharing everything I see and learn with you. Here’s to another RoadBroad Year!

Until next week.….

Rainy Days and Color

The weather in Houston can be so mixed. Except for the summer. During the summer temperatures are hot and the humidity is high. The only variation involves hurricanes and tropical disturbances. Those are no fun.

Yet, this time of year the weather can be cold or warm or rainy or beautifully sunny. Just the other day I posted on Facebook about how beautiful the day was with full sunshine and comfortably cool temperatures. The rest of the country was experiencing snow, ice, more snow and then blizzards.

This week here in Houston it is rainy. It was rainy yesterday and it is still rainy today. It will be rainy for a couple of more days. Sometimes it might just be cloudy, but then it will rain again. Not tropical disturbance rainy or hurricane rainy. No flooding. No worries. Just rain.

The days become gray. Dull, gray, dreary, rainy days. It is almost as if gray is the only color in the world. Is it just my imagination or has all the color been sucked out of the cars in the parking lot? Do you see any color there?

Really?

That is why my Dear Friend (DF) and I went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science this week and caught the exhibition called Biophilia.

What is Biophilia? I am so glad you asked.

The artist Christopher Marley has made a career of going out into nature all over the world and finding animals, bugs, water creatures, land creatures, flying creatures and snakes. Then, by capturing the innate beauty and color that naturally exists in nature, he makes beautiful art.

In the exhibition Marley defines Biophilia as, “.….an abiding reverence and appreciation for the creations with which we share our planet.”

I didn’t take enough pictures to do justice to the colorful array of art pieces that are shown in this exhibition. You will see bright blues, yellows, greens. Then you will see some water creatures and snakes that form some of the most fascinating geometric shapes. There are birds with bright feathers and sometimes feathers without the birds.

I was reminded in the middle of this very gray day that there really is a lot of color in nature. As I study art history classes at the Glassell School of Art, I am reminded that mere mortals can only strive to reproduce the magnificent colors that we see around us in nature.

Sometimes we get close. Sometimes, if you pay attention to the details, you will see that humans can make some very interesting objects. I took this last picture when visiting at a friend’s house. The house was built in 1938 and it still has some of the original glass door knobs. With the play of light and shadows this could look like some of the creatures that I saw in Biophilia or maybe it is just a pretty picture all to itself. Humans and nature can make very good artistic partners when they try.

By the way, just in case you were wondering.….Even though the animals in Marley’s artwork are no longer living, no animals were harmed in order to create this body of work. Here’s a quote from a recent NPR story:

Marley built a network of breeders, zoos, aquariums and importers who all send him their dead. He’s very clear that he only uses reclaimed specimens that have died from natural causes or been caught as fishing bycatch, and doesn’t buy from hunters.”

Likewise I assure you that no doorknobs were harmed while I was taking pictures of them. Just in case you were wondering.

Until next week.….

Creativity as Process

Today I had the good fortune to have lunch with two electrical engineers. I mean PhD’s from Rice University genius mentalities that are much smarter than the average bear kind of engineers. One of them was my Dear Friend (DF) and the other one was a friend/business associate of DF.

They are busy creating a company called Northworks Digital Factory, that is all about 3‑D printing. If I were smarter in the ways of engineering, I could explain this better. However, all I can say is they make 3‑D printers and they make things with 3‑D printers. They make art objects for artists and they also make medical devices for various biomedical engineering companies.

SONY DSC

This is one of their 3‑D printers. Don’t ask me how this works. For all I know it runs on Fairy Dust. The important thing is that they know how it works and how to build it. I just look at it all and say something along the lines of, “Oh cool.”

We didn’t spend a lot of time today talking about engineering. What we discussed was creativity and the creative process. How do we look at something or a situation and come up with a solution or a process for making things work.

NASA and the process of working on the Apollo mission to the moon was one segment of discussion. What was attempted could not be done in the time frame that they had. Yet, it was done and we went to the moon several times.

We also talked about story building. What works as a good idea and how to bring that idea to fruition. Have an idea, think about it from all different perspectives, try things out, make some mistakes and learn, and keep moving forward.

Engineering, science, art, writing all involve this creative process. Keep thinking and keep developing ideas. I heard the author Neil Gaiman lecture once. He said that if you want to be a writer, then write. Finish what you are writing. You will learn more from completing a process than looking at something, deciding it sucks, and then start on something else. Once you are done, maybe your project doesn’t suck after all. Gaiman even has a new book out called, Art Matters: Because Imagination Can Change The World. 

A couple of weeks ago I found a perfect example of the creative process at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I was amazed at a collection of pieces made out of gem stones called, Life In Stone. Gerd Dreher made animal carvings from all types of stone. For example, here is an orangutan that was made from one piece of obsidian. I was awed by the intricate lapidary work in this piece with incredible detail of the physical form.

Another animal carving I admired was this peacock. This one animal was made up of 350 pieces of stones such as quartz, tiger eye, agate, and others. Nothing on these animals involves paint. All of the colors come from the stones themselves.

Since I am neither an engineer nor a lapidist, I will continue with my writing. Story ideas are my creative and artistic work. Words are my tools.

Until next week.….….