Weird, Wrinkled and Wordy

October 31, 2007

My favourite memories of Halloween

Filed under: Art,Family,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 1:38 pm

Halloween has always been my favourite holiday, and as I’ve tried to come up with reasons that don’t have anything to do with chocolate, I’ve settled on the notion that it must be about creativity. Halloween is one occasion where a greater than normal portion of the population does something creative, from decorating a home or choosing a costume to just indulging in their own imagination. So, as I ponder the vampire I just saw striding along in the financial district of downtown Vancouver, I thought I would reminisce, just a little. Here are some of my favourite memories of Halloween:

  • The black paper silhouettes of flying witches, cats and bats my mother cut out to put on our picture window. Every year we would beg her to let us put them up earlier and earlier. They looked spectacular against the white backing of the curtains.
  • A silver/blue cocktail dress of my mother’s that my sister and I fought over wearing for several years. Eventually, we wore it to shreds.
  • Going to my Grade Five Halloween dance as Princess Leia, wearing one of my mother’s slips and a silver cord belt from one of her dresses. And yes, I had dual buns.
  • So many years of walking through a back alley with my friends, scaring our selves silly by just imagining what kinds of creatures were lurking in the shadows.
  • Being too sick one year to go out with my friends, but my father taking me around the block and stopping at a dark house with a scary old woman sitting on the porch, rocking back and forth in a squeaky chair. Turns out, the “old woman” was one of my father’s male colleagues. He was very kind.
  • Being so proud after the Halloween when I was finally allowed to keep my candy in my own room and trusted to ration it out carefully until the Christmas treats arrived.
  • Dressing up for Halloween at GM Place in 2000, watching the Vancouver Grizzlies beat the Seattle Supersonics and snagging myself a free T-shirt and a ticket to another game.
  • Having friends show up for a party at our place with him dressed as Saint George, and her as the dragon.

Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

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September 26, 2007

Should Art Last Forever?

Filed under: Art,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 5:06 pm

Public ArtThe Seattle Art Museum has something to learn about creating a satisfying artistic experience. I am not an accomplished artist, art critic, or an influential art patron. But I am a member of “the public” and therefore feel quite justified in commenting on Public Art.The Olympic Sculpture park in downtown Seattle is filled with a number of very interesting large-scale pieces of outdoor art. They use a variety of materials, shapes and themes. They are all interesting. And nearly every one of them has a sign nearby that says, “Please do not touch. You could harm the art.”

This is public, outdoor art. It is giant metal structures that get battered by the elements and pooped on by seagulls. Just how long do they expect it to last?

Yes, the oil and dirt on human skin could conceivably shorten the length of time these pieces are enjoyed, but the present enjoyment of these works is dramatically lessened by the “don’t touch” signs, at least one of which is on a hideous blue sandwich board and mars the overall display. A small sign is not going to deter someone intent on vandalizing the piece; it will only discourage someone who wants to get closer to enhance their own experience.

It seems like the SAM is more concerned about amortizing the cost of these pieces over a longer period than of the actual enjoyment the public gets out of them. I would be curious to know if any of the artists who created the pieces ever intended for them not to be touched.

If a piece of art is too fragile or too historically important to risk contamination, put it in a glass case in a controlled environment. If you want to bring art to the masses and therefore increase your audience, don’t put limits on the experience. You will turn more people off that way.

To answer the question — no, I don’t think art should last forever. Nothing else does. Humans age and the earth beneath our feet erodes constantly. The changes we see in us and around us give us wisdom. Knowing something will fade or crumble one day makes it precious and worth the time out of our day to pause and appreciate it. A permanent fixture is easy to ignore.

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