Storm King Art Center

Alexander Calder, The Arch, 1975
Andy Goldsworthy, Storm King Wall, 1997-98
Maya Lin, Storm King Wavefield, 2007-08

Storm King on October 22, 2010

Storm King Art Center, located on the Hudson Valley just 60 miles from New York City, is a magnificent museum set in 500 acres of fields, meadows, and woodlands. The museum holds a large collection of sculptures set against the expansive landscape that changes with the seasons, celebrating the relationship between art and nature. The ever changing earth and sky define the background for these large scale pieces, allowing visitors to view them differently each time. Among the most popular site-specific installations are Andy Goldsworthy's Wall and Maya Lin's Wavefield. I particularly love Storm King in the autumn, when the foliage on the site and the surrounding hills explodes in fiery colors.


Fragments of Loss

Roland Barthes at 9 with his mother

Roland Barthes' diary entries chronicling his grief for his mother, with whom he lived most of his life. The entries are published in Mourning Diaries.

Here is Barthes at his most lucid and moving:

November 5th
Sad afternoon. Shopping. Purchase (frivolity) of a tea cake at the bakery. Taking care of the customer ahead of me, the girl behind the counter says Voilà. The expression I used when I brought maman something, when I was taking care of her. Once, toward the end, half-conscious, she repeated, faintly, Voilà ("I'm here," a word we used with each other all our lives).

The word spoken by the girl at the bakery brought tears to my eyes. I kept on crying quite a while back in the silent apartment.

That's how I can grasp my mourning. Not directly in solitude, empirically, etc.; I seem to have a kind of ease, of control that makes people think I'm suffering less than they would have imagined. But it comes over me when our love for each other is torn apart once again. The most painful point at the most abstract moment...

Translated from the French by Richard Howard



We've been having resplendent October days with a seamless blue sky and brilliant sunshine. The plantings on the High Line are looking achingly beautiful in their autumnal hues, turning into shades of gold, red and brown. Kinglets are back in town. Everyday I listen to unfamiliar birdsongs signaling the presence of migrating birds stopping on their way south. Mornings at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are my favorite time; just a few moment of solitary wandering around its ground will fill my heart for days.

October 10

Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than air,
of the leaves falling

Under their loosening bright
gold, the sycamore limbs
bleach whiter.

Now the only flowers
are beeweed and asters spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.

The calling of a crow sounds
loud - a landmark - now
that the life of summer falls
silent, and the night grows.

Wendell Berry



After days of heavy rain, we woke up to a brilliantly cloudless sky. We spent most of this magnificent day at MoMA, where there is an abundance of amazing exhibitions at the moment. Just to name a few: New Photography 2010, Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, Rising Currents: Projects for New York's Waterfront, and Dinh Q. Lê's installation entitled The Farmers and The Helicopters, all of which were interesting, thought-provoking and visually arresting. In the new photography, Alex Prager's work was the most engaging. There are so many great photos in the Pictures by Women show, which runs the gamut of works from Julia Margaret Cameron to Cindy Sherman. The models of New York with the rising sea level projected in 50 years are amazing to behold and contemplate. Dinh Q. Lê's work is an insightful exploration of the complex relationships between the Vietnamese people and helicopters, and their struggle to reshape this symbol of terror and destruction into one of peace and pride. The large three-channel video, weaving together the Vietnamese personal recollections of the war and clips depicting the war from Western films, was both moving and unsettling at the same time.
Outside, the Philip Johnson-designed sculpture garden, looking impeccably beautiful, is the site of a lovely piece by Yoko Ono, The Wish Tree. In the tradition of the Buddhist wish tree, visitors are invited to write their wish onto a tag, which they can tie to a tree. At the end of the day, the tags are collected into a large glass ball that is exhibited inside. Lily wrote a lovely wish list. Another Yoko Ono piece which she also enjoyed was called Voice Piece for Soprano in the museum grand Marron Atrium, where a microphone was set up with a pair of loudspeakers and visitors are invited to scream 1. against the wind, 2. against the wall, 3. against the sky. After much hesitation, Lily went up to the microphone and did an impressive bit of screaming. I wonder in which other museum can one do such a thing?