Alexander Calder's Aspen on display at the Whitney Museum

A Visit with Alexander Calder!

Ok.. well... kinda sorta. More like a visit with his sculptures and mobiles. If he were actually there I think I would have taken myself right to the nearest psych ward.
As it seems to happen with most exhibits, I find out about them a day or two before they close. So when I found out on June 29th that Calder's 'Constellations' exhibit at the Pace Gallery on 57th was closing on June 30th, I cleared my schedule for Friday and made plans to hop into the city. I could hear the little piles of half-done pieces of metal on my workshop breathing sighs of relief that they wouldn't be tortured with endless heat and brutal hammering that day. They had the day off and could do whatever they wanted...haaha! On Saturday when I went into my studio, I found a couple beer caps on the bench and was like... 'what the... no... they didn't... they couldn't possibly have...'. Oh yeah that's right, nope, they were mine from the other night. Whew, thought this was going to turn out to be a bad version of Toy Story.
The timing of all this ended up to be perfect though, because it meant I could also swing by the Whitney Museum and catch Calder's 'Hypermobility' exhibit, a collection of sculptures and mobiles which reveal the inherent kinetic nature of his work.  This exhibit runs through October 23 (wow... one that I knew about beforehand!), which I obviously HIGHLY recommend!
Alexander Calder Sculpture Hypermobility at Whitney Museum
I decided my first stop would be the Hypermobility exhibit at the Whitney and I would make sure to stay until 12 noon to see  the live activations of several of his works. Up on the 8th Floor I was greeted by about three dozen colorful sculptures and mobiles, just beckoning me to touch them (which I thought better of since I didn't want to be kicked out on my fanny). Since I love anything-and-everything-Calder, I was in awe... wide-eyed and terribly excited like a kid entering Magic Kingdom for the first time, except I held back the jumping up and down part.
Alexander Calder Mobile at The Whitney Museum
I had never seen any of these particular kinetic works of art, so all the shapes, colors, and materials were mesmerizing, especially the rare motor equipped mobiles he began to make after 1930.  I was trying to visually dissect all these pieces to see if I could figure out how they were constructed... as I am now incredibly inspired to make mobiles of my own!!
I took a ton of pictures, which, unfortunately didn't come out so great. The lighting at that time of the day, the hoards of people, and the fact that some of these sculptures were so big made it too difficult for my camera phone and I to pull off any spectacular shots. But I sure did try. ALOT. To the point where a museum guard came over to me (I thought I was going to get ejected for staying too long or taking too many pictures), and showed me a secret place outside just past the cafeteria where I could plug my phone in if I needed to charge it. HAHA! Now, THAT was funny.
Alexander Calder Sculpture at Whitney Museum
Alexander Calder Sculpture at the Whitney Museum in NYC
Aspen by Alexander Calder at the Hypermobility exhibit at Whitney Museum
Alexander Calder mobile at Hypermobility exhibit at Whitney Museum NYC
Alexander Calder sculpture at Hypermobility exhibit at the Whitney Museum
After soaking in all of the colorful kinetic grandeur and desperately trying to absorb some of Calder's creative energy, it was time for the noontime activation of several of the works. The first one activated was at the opposite end from where I was in the exhibit, so I  couldn't really see through all the towering tourists (why are tourists so tall?). Then the three others that were activated were down by the end where I was, so I got a few amateur videos. The whole activation process for the 4 works was only about 3 or 4 minutes, and quite honestly, I was a little underwhelmed. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting... but I figured maybe some commentary on the pieces, and a play by play of what was going to happen would have been enjoyable. Or, at the very least, one of the motorized ones could have been set off. Oh well, nevertheless, an AMAZING exhibit. I'm sure I will go again before it ends.
Next stop was the Pace Gallery on 57th Street where it was the last day of Calder's 'Constellations' exhibit. I was incredibly excited for this one since I had never seen any of these works in person either. Once the elevator doors opened and I stepped into the gallery for the exhibit, I was crushed to see a "NO PICTURES" sign plastered on the wall. Noooooooo!!!!! Figuring the signs were some kind of practical joke, I asked one of the guards if it was ok to take pictures, and he said, NO. Alrighty then. At that point one of the tour guides turned to me and said 'but the book is coming out soon'. Drool. I love me some exhibit books. But I did want to say 'Dude, if you let me take pictures, I'll still buy the book.' 
Anyway, this was an equally breathtaking exhibit of 36 smaller scale works created mostly in 1943. This was a time when sheet metal was scarce due to the war, so he used wood as a primary material. These works were mainly wall sculptures with a few standing or suspended works made from carved wood biomorphic forms, some of which were brightly painted, and connected with steel wires. Truly mesmerizing... but, as you can probably tell, I am mesmerized by anything Calder. I really was disappointed though that pictures were not allowed... but I did absorb as much Calder vibes and juju from all these pieces as humanly possible. (Shhh... don't tell the guards!!).
The double dose of Calder that Friday was incredibly inspiring and my mind is brimming with ideas of how to incorporate kinetic energy into some of my mid century modern inspired jewelry.  I am over the moon excited to start the planning and design phases of creating mobiles/metal art, and adding those to the mix. Maybe I'll start out with some cheesy beer cap mobiles... ya know... as practice. Will be fun supplying the caps for those! 
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