Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Symphonic Week With Many Notes

Dave Ramirez & Sarah Sze. Photo by Joshua Lutz

It's been a great week, being social naturally leads to funny interactions and fun surprises (I guess that's why we long for social lives). As often, this week's stories are mostly through the Courtney-Adkins social network

Monday, after my final, I blew off some steam at 13P's Triskaidekaphiliac benefit (Erin Courtney is a P, which stands for playwright, not pool). Scott & Erin's friend Scooter showed up, where reveled in our mutual dislike of phone talking. The two of us basically use the phone to get off of it. We feel that cell phones lead to poor planning (he was stood up, mobile-less that night), and that unthoughtful cell phone use further encroaches on the otherwise ambient serenity of public spaces.

Tuesday we had our program-wide capstone end event, where I gave our presentation at least ten times, but early on I got totally zapped on the generalized methods of moments (an economic modeling term). Bill & Fredrica came by, as did Joe and Jason, which was great to explain to them what I've been doing all year. Overall it was fun, and I developed a greater understanding of our study by presenting it so often.

Last night was full of fun and surprises. After work, I went up to Freedman Plaza at the Southeast corner of Central Park for the Public Art Fund's "opening of Sarah Sze's installation "Corner Plot." Sarah is another Courtney-Adkins friend, as is her installer, Dave Ramirez, with whom I'm more familiar, and invited to the opening. There was a bonus fun of pictures in the New Yorker, New York Magazine and the NYTimes.

As with her other work, there is a visceral playful reaction of entering Sze's universe. But in my talks with Dave, I've realized a certain irony of her work. On the surface, her work is composed of familiar every day objects, often disposable or cheap, or seemingly so (Styrofoam, #2 pencils, painter's masking tape, and so on). Further, elements of her work seem fragile, creating a "lightness" in the overall composition. But when Dave tells me about the installations, there is a huge juxtaposition with the intense labor, problem solving and very foreign processes to execute the pieces. At SFMoMA, she cut up a truck, hanging and stretching around the atrium. Here, they had to dig a huge hole to encase the world you spy in the windows. Furthermore, the top casing was dropped in by a crane. If you didn't know, a crane costs around $350 an hour. In this way, much of Sarah's magic lies masking the sweat so we can focus on the sweet.

Afterwards, I went over to Scott & Erin's for dinner with the kids and their friend Sibyl. Sibyl made a spaghetti squash dish that rocked my socks off. Instead of pasta, the strands are squash... which really made it look like Sibyl is an incredibly accurate and meticulous vegetable chopper. She then revealed that it's just the nature of the squash, leading to my most profound food revelation since Mark Schofield introduced me to quinoa.

Then (yes there's more!), Erin, Charlie, Sibyl and I played Blockus, a game that Scott had only finally read the directions to the day before though they had the game for months. Especially since I started at BBBS three years ago, my interests in game play has skyrocketed, and this game was great in so many ways. First, it's simple, second it's challenging, third it's colourful. Towards the end, the grown ups were getting a bit absorbed in the game, which was bit too much Charlie's 5-year old psyche to handle, so there was a bit of a melt down... but man, that kid is wicked clever.

I read him a couple books to help him get to sleep. I've got to admit, reading a child to sleep has got to be one of the most therapeutic activities one can do.

In closing, in my last week of school I've seen old friends, met some choice new folks, explored the city, seen art, and started a book for fun (see the "Lately" section). These are the things I was pining for in my earlier post complaining of little new.


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