Dead Blogging the Sculpture Park at DeCordova Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Lincoln on a beautiful Saturday afternoon last weekend to wander among the outdoor sculptures at the DeCordova Museum (reservations required) and say, it was swell – especially since we hadn’t been in the presence of artworks other than our own for 13 long months.

As we perambulated the grounds of the DeCordova’s ever-inviting Sculpture Park, we encountered 1) a plethora of families happily freed from their pandemic purgatories (the kids were a total hoot and were all over Paul Matisse’s The Musical Fence), and 2) familiar favorites like Nam June Paik’s Requiem for the 20th Century, which combines a silver-painted 1936 Chrysler Airstream sedan with video clips from 1990s television performances and audio of Mozart’s final, unfinished work, Requiem Mass in D minor, K.626.

We also revisited Joseph Wheelwright’s Listening Stone.

We’d met the artist several times at the Boston Sculptors Gallery (I wrote about one of his exhibits here) and were saddened by his death four years ago at the too-young age of 68. His sculpture seems to be as well.

Elsewhere we encountered works that were new to us, such as Carlos Dorrien’s Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories, which we totally didn’t get.

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair,  the DeCordova’s website did its best to help us understand Dorrien’s artwork.

To design an environment that invites viewers to play the part of Little Red Riding Hood, Dorrien brings together three elements: a door, a flying carpet, and a granite floor. For Dorrien, doors and flying carpets are symbolic vehicles for accessing the creative imagination. The door, specifically, appears in Dorrien’s work as a metaphor for embarking on a journey. At the other end of the installation is the flying carpet, a single, thin granite slab that bends up towards the door as if posed to take the viewer on said journey. The elevated granite pathway then functions as a liminal space between the two.

Your liminal space may vary.

On a more accessible note, Jim Dine’s Two Big Black Hearts – peppered with bas relief faces, hands, hand tools, and everyday objects like shoes and a small metal coffeepot – did get some love from us.

Dine leaves his personal mark on Two Big Black Hearts both symbolically, by the choice of objects, and physically, by his hand imprints on the sculpture’s surface. Cast from the same mold, these 3,200-pound sculptures serve as nearly identical versions of the same heart, differentiated only by subtle details that resulted from the casting process. Like Dine’s other multimedia work, Two Big Black Hearts are bronze casts of commonplace items, such as hands, faces, seashells, hammers, and other tools. The repetition of these items transforms them into vehicles of personal expression that evoke emotion. For Dine, the tools reflect childhood memories of the hardware store owned by his grandparents; the heart functions as “a sign that one can care, that there is a constant presence of feeling.”

The “presence of feeling” for the Missus and me was an overwhelming gratitude to be back in the world, to be doing something previously as ordinary as visiting a museum without worrying we might accidentally endanger our lives.

Here’s to much more of that in the days ahead.

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