Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm coming to you live from warm, sunny San Diego. Down here visiting/helping my son and DIL as dear son decided to jump out of an airplane and break his back. They flew in late last night from a hospital in Georgia, and this morning they both look exhausted from a week of trying to sleep in a hospital and a long day of travel yesterday.

Yesterday, William and I had the day to ourselves, so we went to Balboa Park to walk around and snoop in the museums. William and I both had nothing for breakfast, we complained of either a sore ankle or hip, and unfortunately that combined with a teenager's view of art (you've seen one museum, you've seen'em all) meant we gave up after a few hours.

For those of you not familiar with, nor ever had the pleasure of, Balboa Park is a huge complex of museums, gardens, open air, exhibits, architecture, playgrounds, paths, wooded areas, auditoreums.... and let's not forget the home of the world famous San Diego Zoo. It's a city unto itself in some ways. There's no way to do it all in one full swoop.

Yet, despite dealing with a less then enthusiastic kid (he's usually a good sport, or even quasi-interested, so I wasn't too annoyed at him) and my own flagging energy, I really enjoyed the afternoon. They have this marvelous system where every Tuesday of the month several different museums are free to the public. This Tuesday the Museum of Natural History was one of them, and that's where we started off, and it was the museum William enjoyed most. Along with the dinosaur bones and exhibit on DNA and another on wildfires, the whole top floor held three art exhibitions - one was photography of rocks and minerals, another a nature photographer, and the third an artist who works in glass. The rock photography (it wasn't just photography - they didn't give any information on how it was done, but it looked like photography that had been turned into watercolor or acrylic, but not - hard to tell) was particularly cool as there were many agate images. I love rocks, particularly agates.

We also hit another art museum, not the big one unfortunately, and the beautiful botanical gardens full of orchards and other tropical and semi-tropical plants. Even just walking around the grounds and through the open courtyards and sculptures and plazas and fountains was inspiring.

I've discovered that William is not a good photography companion. When he walks, he likes to keep walking. At a steady pace. He does not like to stop every ten or twenty feet to take photos of bas relief or interesting root systems or the way the light is playing on a particular wall or the repeating pattern of light and dark down a tunnel of archways. Sigh. He'll only put up with if for so long before I end up getting a crabby kid.

Later we ended up down along the water to see boats and walk around a bit in Seaport Village, enjoying a bit of tourist shopping and the harbor, seagulls, kites, etc. Both there and back took us through different parts of downtown San Diego. I adore architecture viewing in big cities. Old buildings, new buildings. Especially the old buildings, if truth be told, and yet there's something about the new buildings as well. What I like about new buildings is that someone took the time to make a sculpture on that scale and oh, it just so happens it's also a building.

I like the sidewalks and the street signs and the murals and the way the sun and shadows creep from side to side through the city canyons and the people and the sidewalk cafes and the.... the... the ENERGY. While part of me was busy dodging buses and pedestrians another part of me was still thinking about how I'd seen more art that day, intentional and unintentional, then I usually see in months. And I was pondering why is that, because certainly one can make art anywhere. People go to the country to make art. Georgia O'Keefe for example.

But although you can make art in the country, can you sell it? Can you share it? Can you intermingle with other artists? Un poco. But it's difficult. You really have to make an effort at it. In the city, it's just a constant, it's a palpable zing in the air, part of the quality of life that makes up for the negatives like garbage and traffic and noise. It's the ENERGY of the place. The country renews and refreshes you, but a city recharges you like a battery. Fills you up with the need to create.

So, despite a disgruntled teen and despite feeling as if I only got to see the teensiest bit of what there was out there to see, I feel overflowing with ideas and the desire to actually MAKE something. I told William, excitedly, I wanted to go home and "make art"! He asked me why? Strangely, sadly, William currently doesn't really "get" the need to create.

I told him "Because I've seen all this art today and I can't afford to buy it. But I know I have the ability to make it. And at this moment, the awareness that I can make it, makes it feels necessary to make it." He was quiet while he pondered that.

I just hope, knock on wood, that I can hold on to this sense of urgency by the time I get back to my studio.

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