The rock in the air
Last week when I was walking toward a crosswalk in North Adams, Massachusetts, on my way to work for the day, I thought of my friend Richard Cabe.1 Richard does nifty things with very large rocks. Exactly eight days earlier, he'd given me a tour of his workshop, in an old industrial building in Salida, Colorado.
Richard is very fond of granite. He loves rocks and likes to change our views and experiences of them.
Now here in an old mill town in Massachusetts, about two thousand miles east, a massive granite boulder was suspended from cables.
I could even see sky through the rock.
Many of Richard's rocks interact with water. Washing up at one of the sinks he has installed in the home he shares with writer Susan Tweit is like dipping water out of a clear-running stream. One of the neatest things about the basins Richard shapes is the surprisingly familiar but initially out-of-place smell of the rock when it gets wet. Another is the contrast between the rough and polished surfaces.
There's a similar element of surprise in the rock in North Adams. It interacts with air. It's actually not immediately evident that you can see the sky through it, because you have to be at the right angle to discover that aspect of the installation.
It's a little easier to discover the correlation between this piece and what's across the street:
More big suspended things.
A press release from the Marlborough Gallery in New York has this to say about the piece:
"Gummer's most recent large project, Primary Separation, was installed
at MASS MoCA in 2005. Based on a model developed by the artist in 1969,
the sculpture consists of a 24-ton granite boulder, sliced in half and
suspended ten feet above the ground by steel cables and columns over a
verdant rectangle. As remarked in a recent profile in Art in America
(January 2005), this sculpture 'anticipated Gummer's recurring concern
with the integration of the manmade and the natural, the geometric and
the organic—and more generally, the fusion of opposites, most notably
in his constructions of the last two decades.' "
Indiana Parley, a blog listed as "a place for public policy, politics, the history, and the future of Indiana," posted a notice about an exhibition of Gummer's work at MASS MoCA in 2007 (he was born in Indiana) and noted, "Mr. Gummer's wife is also someone of some note in the performing arts. He is married to Meryl Streep."
During the two days that I walked along the street by the sculpture while going about my business, an abandoned credit-union building nearby was being razed to make room for an associated park, apparently part of the long-term vision for the area. I didn't see the building, but was told what it had been. On the first day, the space it had occupied contained a pile of rubble and a hole. When I walked by on the second day, there was cleared dirt and unobstructed sightlines.
Another curious note
MASS MoCA is located in a 19th-century factory building formerly occupied by the Sprague Electric Works, and also formerly a superfund clean-up site.
Richard and Susan live on an industrial site that they have reclaimed (and turned back into a garden-plus-park) in Salida.
So many nice correlations.
Such wonderful visions for rocks.
1 Richard's web site talks mostly about his functional sculptures; he also does wonderfully expressive work that doesn't have a functional component.