Brunch today at Rocket to Venus, a hipster dive off the strip, or rather, off The Avenue, as it's called in Hampden. For the eyes, tiny white hexagonal tiles on the floor and old silent Popeye cartoons projected on a screen as prelude to the football game that fortunately wasn't on til after I left. For the ears, a diverse in the extreme mix ranging from Kiss to Blind Willie Johnson. For the tastebuds and belly, two sunny-side-up eggs with scrapple and sausage gravy over white rice, washed down with pineapple juice and a maraschino cherry. And down the street, some of Hampden's famous Christmas decorations. This is Baltimore.
A few weeks earlier, I cruised up Howard Street to get to the BMA and stopped on one particular block to snap some seriously eye-catching street art (or graffiti, if you prefer).
Drove by today and found that the skull and the serial killer posters have been completely black-washed. Can only hope that the gramophone & boombox guys across the street don't meet the same fate.
The Baltimore Museum of Art recently re-opened their contemporary wing after months of closure. Supposedly there were extensive renovations, but the layout of the rooms seems the same to me. There's some new art, but much of it was there before. They have, though, changed all of the interpretive/informative signage that accompanies the artwork, disappointingly so in most cases. Information that was previously enlightening is now mostly just dry detail. Some is interesting, but there doesn't seem to be as much insight into the artworks offered now. Which certainly doesn't detract from the art itself, though it does leave some of it less accessible. One exception is a piece by Mark Rothko, the plaque for which includes a very instructional quote from the artist--
"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions... the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."
I unfortunately missed the point. Though damned if those colors didn't move me. As did these below by another artist, Clyfford Still, who said that "[if a] spectator... finds in [my pictures] an imagery unkind or unpleasant or evil, let him look to the state of his own soul". --
But the piece that moves me most of all, the one I waited through the months of renovation to see again, is one that I've mentioned here before. The Three Rings, by Henry Moore--
I took shot after shot of it this time, exploring it from as many angles as possible.
I am potentially a museum guard's worst nightmare. It takes an immense amount of will-power to not only not touch this piece, but also to not crawl in and nestle inside it.
The first time I saw it, I was convinced that it was some highly polished, exotic, possibly petrified, wood. The texture and graining had to be wood. I was and am still amazed that the Rings are red soraya marble, found in Iran.
The exhibit in the yellow room beyond the Rings is titled Words Are Pictures Are Words. It's an interactive display intended to make viewers think about how the way that words are presented visually can affect how they're interpreted. A table with paper, stamps, and colored pencils provides the opportunity to add one's own word pictures on the wall. A few minutes of scribbling and I summed up the day thusly-- "Colors on the wall left me thoughtless. Words on the wall left me speechless".