Abstract 1: Barnet Newman’s “Achilles” – National Gallery of Art
Abstract 2: National Gallery of Art – East Wing, Exterior
Abstract 3: Volcanic Cliff
Simple lines of abstract art are intriguing. They can be found everywhere. Some are works created in art mediums (paintings, sculptures, etc.). Others are created by architectural forms. Still others are found in nature.
Abstract 1 is an oil painting created by Barnet Newman titled “Achilles”. I stood and looked at this piece for quite a long time. Rather than try to figure out “what it is meant to be”, I tried to focus on what feeling it brought out in me. The red made me feel a little anxious. I did not resonate with this piece.
Abstract 2 is a photograph of the exterior of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art. I was walking along, looked up and saw these contrasting shapes of shadows and light. It just grabbed me.
Abstract 3 is a photograph of the sheer basalt cliffs cut by the Palouse River during the Ice Age Floods. Nature’s artwork stops me in my tracks. Sometimes I just do not want to leave. It instills me to think about how our would was formed and just enjoy the beauty of nature surrounding me.
Spending time in the National Gallery of Art stimulates me to see abstractions from different perspectives. Abstract A is from an unknown artist on a piece I saw at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. Abstract B is an extract from Lyonel Feininger’s “Street of Dreams” in the National Gallery of Art. By the way, Abstract A in an excerpt from an apron.
I gave myself a photographic assignment to search out contrasts. The contrast could be in relation to many different aspects/perspectives: color, shapes, patterns, light/dark, old/new, etc., or simply an item that does not belong in a specific setting. I decided to walk the streets in downtown Yakima, WA for my search.
My first stop was the A.E. Larson Building. The Larson Building is itself a contrast to its surroundings. With its eleven stories, it towers above adjacent structures. Its Art Deco design stands out from the simpler buildings of downtown Yakima. The interior first floor lobby is heavily decorated with stone and elaborate bronze in the Art Deco style; pretty fancy for a farming-based community.
The above image is from the main lobby entryway. What caught my eye is the contrasting adjacent design. One is horizontal, the other is vertical. One is light, the other dark. The simple spirals tie the designs together.
Relief Carving – Glenn Anthon Hall, Yakima Valley College
I first saw this relief carving standing straight back about 50 feet away. I thought the full mural was interesting, but it looked flat and lacked energy. What caught my interest was the woman’s eyes. I walked closer and to the side to get a better perspective. As I looked into her eyes, the image came alive. I could feel her sadness.
When my friend saw this perspective, she had a much deeper insightful feeling. These were her thoughts: “The edge of the photo features her hand pushing against the wood, like a wall. Her pushing against it is more poignant because she does seem to be pushing against a wall that closes her in. On her face is the look of resignation yet acceptance that she will spend her life picking from the fields, so her children will not have to. It is a story I have heard from the children in families like that so many times. Sometimes when I think about something that makes me sad, I remember that not feeling sad would mean not feeling at all, and not feeling at all would mean not feeling joy either. When we look at something that pulls at our heartstrings, we are alive and thinking and affected. This is good.”
WWI Soldier Grotesque – Smith Hall, Univ. of Washington
This WWI soldier grotesque has intrigued me since I first attended the University of Washington in 1968. It is located on Smith Hall in the University of Washington Quadrangle. The figure commemorates WWI complete with the gas mask.
Over the years, I have photographed this grotesque multiple times. For some reason, my images have not turned out: out of focus, too light, too dark, or branches/leaves cluttering the image. During my last visit, I was determined to get an acceptable image. I was lucky that it was an overcast day. The soft light on the soldier was relatively even without deep shadows. I walked around to get a perspective that gave me the most eerie mood.
This image was taken from below the Gynko Petrified Forest Visitor’s Center near Vantage Washington. Seeing these brought back many happy memories of my youth.
As a young Boy Scout, I can remember hiking along the Columbia River north of Vantage, Washington. Huge basalt cliffs rose above the free flowing river. We could climb up along the rocks and see these funny drawings made by ancient Indians. We did not think much of it back then. When the Wanapum Dam was built, the backwaters flooded the area where many of these artifacts were located. Luckily, someone had the foresight to carefully remove these petroglyphs before the water covered them up. Today several of the saved petroglyphs are displayed below the Gynko Petrified Forest Visitors Center.
Note: Notice the initials and heart above the man and woman. Why would anyone deface such a piece of our history????