ISSUE #24 UNEXPECTED PORTALS IN THE PARK

It’s been such an incredibly tense moment for our country and for ourselves the past few weeks, months and years for many. Amid the collective anxiety, I find respite in nerdy places that just say it like it is and say it succinctly without the snarky banter. In this case I’m talking about Jon Meacham’s work on the Soul of America.

I came across Jon Meacham on Brené Brown’s podcast, which has become a staple in my listening, and he knocked the zeitgeist of the moment out of the park. He’s a beast of a historian and if you’re feeling any type of uncertainty about our nation’s future that you’d like more resolution, I definitely recommend a listen. Here’s a link. Art making and more outright feelings below.

With care,
Sean


WHO WE’RE WATCHING

Stone and concrete are not materials that I have experience, at least not in a sculpture. On the other hand I do have experience using dynamite to excavate bluestone for concrete foundations in Manhattan. Exploding bedrock is not necessarily an artform, but we can quickly challenge that thankfully with Cai Guo Qiang’s awesomely explosive installations using gunpowder to paint canvas.

Moyer designed and constructed portal gates at the south east corner of Central Park that are made from monoliths of bluestone and embedded marbles. Titled Doors for Doris after Public Art Fund founder Doris C. Freedman and who the site is also named, the sculpture appears to be conceived as three doors held partly ajar. You encounter them at a site in Manhattan where the skyline immediately and abruptly meets the park. Their form and the siting is all by design of course, Moyer is a master!

They at once appear to be teleportation devices to Narnia at the same time they’re reminiscent of heavy remnants from an ancient time now past. I walked past, through and in between them while feeling gracious to have the opportunity to touch them. One of the best parts of public art is being able to engage it and Moyer graciously invites just that.

I’m looking at our buildings, park and reused materials in a new color, thanks to Moyer. Deep and light blues that is. Wondering only if there could be an element of sky brought down into the sculpture to tie us down and weave another dimension together. A reflective material or angled element may remind us of Phillip K. Smith’s latest large scale installation in Los Angeles where sky interrupts land. Then again, may we stay grounded in our own and New York’s bedrock as long as we can stand here.

You can check out Moyer speak about Doors for Doris first hand in a short video on Public Art Fund’s website. There’s also a great interview with the artist here.


WHAT WE’RE MAKING

Today is the first calm work day I’ve had in a long time. I can’t yet share the project at Moynihan Train Hall that’s been consuming my days and evenings, but I  can share an update. The 40′ x 20′ custom chandelier is making progress with major panels hoisted up to the ceiling on site. It’s a supremely technical construction where 1/32″ tolerances must be checked at each seam across the boards.

Pictured below, client and fabricator review millimeter differences in one of the over 50 custom aluminum mirror panels.

I’ve traveled to site again today for my major installation with UAP Company at Moynihan Train Hall. At the same time I’ve been introduced by friends to begin contributing to join their Burning Man camp in the middle of the Nevada desert. And found this week that a friend of mine is going off on their own to start their own interior design firm upstate in the Berkshires. Lastly, my partner Amrita Raja and I have been named one of seven finalists to design a monument to marginalized groups on Virginia Tech’s campus.

From city, to desert, to countryside and college campuses, this country and we here at Neon Fab aren’t stopping. But should we? Can we?

We certainly can’t go at the pace we’ve always gone, but that’s what we’re all being asked. And in some cases, like my installation at Moynihan Train Hall, asking for delivery much much faster than usual with changes being made along the way. Makes me still wonder in my daily daydreams; In a different world on a different planet or at a different time, could we collectively, gently hold in place and simply take care of our peers, colleagues, friends, family and ourselves amid a global tragedy. What does that take collectively and personally.


HOW WE’RE FEELING

It can be overwhelming to keep up with all the shows and news plus our own personal worlds to add. My close friends often jab at me for my not keeping up with pop culture. It can be exhausting if not in moderation, and each of our definitions of moderation here are different. Admittedly my threshold in this case is not especially high.

While I’m improving my news and social media consumption with easily digestible short morning podcast updates, I also came across this entry from Maria Popova in her latest issue of Brain Pickings that rung true:

“Learning this difference between binging on stimulation and savoring enjoyment in small doses, Hesse argues, is what sets (a)part those who live with a sense of fulfillment from those who romp through life perpetually dissatisfied.”

I then came across Adam Phillips words who gave me some solace:

‘In certain circles [moderation] requires courage to miss a première. In wider circles it takes courage not to have read a new publication several weeks after its appearance. In the widest circles of all, one is an object of ridicule if one has not read the daily paper. But I know people who feel no regret at exercising this courage.

Let not the man* who subscribes to a weekly theater series feel that he is losing something if he makes use of it only every other week. I guarantee: he will gain.

Let anyone who is accustomed to looking at a great many pictures in an exhibition try just once, if he is still capable of it, spending an hour or more in front of a single masterpiece and content himself with that for the day. He will be the gainer by it.

Let the omnivorous reader try the same sort of thing. Sometimes he will be annoyed at not being able to join in conversation about some publication; occasionally he will cause smiles. But soon he will know better and do the smiling himself. And let any man who cannot bring himself to use any other kind of restraint try to make a habit of going to bed at ten o’clock at least once a week. He will be amazed at how richly this small sacrifice of time and pleasure will be rewarded.”

If you’ve read just one issuance of my newsletter, Thank You. If you’ve not ready any but haven’t unsubscribed, Thank You. Even if you just stop for second during your online scrolling through Instagram, Thank You. I’m very aware of all the things vying for our attention and am grateful if you’re gotten to the end of even today’s issue. Sending my warmth and care to you.


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