Monday, December 01, 2008

Beautiful light

Lo, many, many a year ago, when I was a high schooler who found a book or two in the local library about great artists I became interested in their miracles of perception and representation. But educating myself was difficult; there were very few books and no art museums to go to, and SOOO much to learn. Gradually I began to learn. I was about 20 when I first was able to spend an afternoon in the museum in Chicago. But even later when I had seen many of the great museums of Europe in a kind of whirlwind honeymoon/grand tour, I found I did not understand why artists seemed to make such a fuss about "light." Not just enough light but certain light. I couldn't see a difference.

Not until I went to Greece 15 or so years later did I realize you don't see light until you really SEE it. The light in Greece was different. I saw for the first time what happens when the sky reflects the blue of the sea. I was astonished. Ever since I've been looking at light. Here in NYC we have a very special and wonderful light in the autumn and winter which is especially beautiful about 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. I think the word for it is "lambent." It turns gray and beige stone facings on building various shapes of pink. The above photo is not a wonderful skyline -- it's just what was visible from the third floor of the Apple Store at 9th Ave. and 14th St. It IS that afternoon light and when I see it I am enchanted.

This is a different kind of ocean light. It is early morning on Cape Cod facing the ocean. The grand house, one of many along that stretch probably from the early 20th century when there were big families with lots of servants, faces a channel or inlet and then the spit of beach on which I was walking and behind me, not very far, is the ocean. It was a calm morning, the sun had a new, just risen feeling, the light seemed to have some of the crisp air's coolness but there was a clarity that was astonishing. I truly hope the people who live in those big old houses and the one who live in a batch of much newer McMansions appreciate that they not only own prime real estate but are treated every sunny day to light many an artist has come to Cape Cod to revel in.

And, not to do with this light in particular, but the day before when Rachel and I went to the Cape Cod Cinema in Dennis where she had not yet been, we discovered that the barrel ceiling had been painted with sun, moon, stars and many Greek gods by Rockwell Kent [and apprentices]. A landmark that the Town of Dennis surely appreciates and that all theatre goer can also appreciate for while waiting for the movie to start. What a nice discovery!

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