Beginning when I was nine-years-old, we would drive many times a year from Hartford to Southbury, Connecticut to visit my grandmother after her move to a Lutheran home there.
In Waterbury, easily visible from the road, there were a number of large, orange/red designs sitting outside an industrial building. They were very modern in appearance, and I was enthralled with them. My family couldn’t understand how I could like anything so ugly.
Years later I learned that the industrial building was an iron works shop and that they had created the orange/red “stabiles” designed by Alexander Calder.
His were the first designs with which I fell in love.
The above sculpture or stabile by Alexander Calder is called Le Halebardier (image by Jim Champion from Southampton, UK)
Though probably not one of the ones I saw and fell in love with as a child, and though no picture can do Calder’s work justice, it does evoke a memory of being up close and personal with several of his pieces displayed at Storm King Art Center, an open-air museum located in Mountainville, New York .
When you get to stand next to his larger pieces, they are somehow both overpowering in their size and strength, yet not threatening. You’re dwarfed by them, but they’re still accessible in the same way large trees are accessible because they are rooted so firmly to the earth.
Yet, the experience is different than standing next to a tree because you feel both grounded yet still able to move, and depending on the piece, even soar.
But then again, I’ve only experienced Calder’s works up close and personal at Storm King. Who knows how they’re experienced in an area such as the one pictured above.
To an engineer, good enough means perfect. With an artist, there’s no such thing as perfect.