Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blizzard in Beacon

I made a rather unexpected trip to Dia:Beacon today. This was with my aunt & her two friends, all of whom are from Michigan & aren't easily intimidated by a little snow. I'd decided to join them when they invited me at dinner last night - I actually hemmed & hawed a bit while listening to the forecast this morning (had been at 1-3 inches of snow last I'd looked but overnight turned a LOT more, to the point I start to worry about getting home at the end of the day)- but decided to go in the end. This is one of those things I like the idea of doing probably wouldn't ever actually get around to doing when living my day-to-day routine, decided it was best to latch onto the moment of momentum offered by the appearance of some culturally aware out-of-towners (who also happen to be some really pleasant & fun-to-be-with ladies) to hop out of my rut for a day. Worse came to worse, they said I could sleep in the bathtub where they are.

Well, I was glad I did. We only got to stay an hour before they closed - travel conditions got nasty very quickly & the staff needed to get to their homes. But what an absolutely beautiful - gloriously subdued - hour. The gallery is in an old factory with tall, tall windows and a roof consisting of tilted rows of glass skylights. It's very open, lots of white, concrete gray, wood floors & metal factory fittings. Much of the art is uncolored too - it's the color of whatever it's made from, gray felt, metal (some mirror-shiny, some rust-red), stone, plywood - rooms full of neutrals. The light coming in was soft gray - the world outside gray and white and black - lines either very clean & simple, or not even attempted (as in heaps of gravel or glass) - and I got such a sense of being lifted from my ordinary setting and placed into one that was almost monastically pure.

It was funny - as we walked out into the gray to go back to the train station, the Michigonians were all commenting about how beautiful it would be in the spring - and it would - but somehow I just don't think I'd have quite the same visceral reaction, can the art critic stuff, the same reaction of "wow, this is amazing". I think that what made it so remarkable for me was the simple contrast between what was in front of me, versus the day-to-day visual onslaught offered/inflicted by life in NYC.

Every now & then I will try to imagine what the city would look like if I had no ability to filter things out (which is it, autism or schizophrenia, that is like that?) conciously removing mental blinders and instead of only really looking at that which is relevant to myself at that moment, letting extraneous stimuli recede to the background - I try to take in everything.

It's dizzying, in a fun way - fun because I can stop anytime I want to, guess it's sort of the mental equivalent of how little kids spin themselves around just for the feeling the world going spinning off around them when they stop - and it's interesting to do it & really think about just how much work the average urban person's brain does just screening out irrelevancies all the time. You don't think about it - you just do it, natural as timing your breathing when you swim.

But then to suddenly be in a place where the surroundings are so much cleaner...maybe that "wow, this is amazing" was whatever little piece of the brain is responsible for doing the sorting just giving a huge sigh of relief at suddenly being given a break from the onslaught.

Did make it home in the end & am looking forward to a nice quiet outer-borough day tomorrow.

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