Thursday, June 30, 2011

Local Travels: National Gallery of Art: Lewis Baltz Prototypes/Ronde de Nuit

Washington, DC
The National Gallery of Art is a place that I take in as parts whether than as a whole. I don’t know if I have actually seen every gallery and corner of the two building complex. When I go, I decide on one or two galleries or a specific exhibit and focus on enjoying those pieces in depth, instead of trying to do a quick overview of a lot different thing.  There are other cultural attractions that I do breeze through, but art galleries and (most) museums I like to take my time. I believe that art is not just to be looked at or listened too, but also felt, a connection between the creator and the viewer. I love how our different experiences and backgrounds, not just simple tastes, draw us to certain art.
This week I went and saw the Lewis Baltz exhibit at the NGA.  Lewis Baltz is a Californian born photographer and visual artist, whose work focuses on the changing and desolation of the American landscape.  This is the America that we don’t put on postcards; parking lots, construction sites, warehouses, etc.  It is an interesting study on how we as humans, treat our environment, our landscape in pursuit of success, and what is left behind when we move on to the next thing.  

During my visit, I had the gallery all to myself. People often get sucked into the Chester Dale Collection, which is amazing, and never quite make it through. With this almost private showing I could really look at and spend time with each black and white photograph. The pieces in this particular collection were all taken in California, in the late 1960s-the 1970s. When I look at photographs, really any photograph, I try to understand why the artist shoot and that capture that precise moment?  Was it the angle, or the lighting, did he/she feel sometime type of connection, what story are they sharing with us?
I really liked this exhibit. A lot of great art is of the ideal, the most beautiful landscape, or the prettiest girl. Don’t get me wrong, the ideal definitely has its place, but oldness, brokenness, abandonment and decay are all important parts of this little story that we call life. A yin for a yang to see the greater picture.

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