Friday, January 8, 2010

Elephants at Cavallo Point

Since we live in Sausalito, we have often gone to the nearby Cavallo Point Resort in Ft. Baker to attend their cooking school or just to hang out at their very nice Farley Bar. I had seen on those visits the following four large sepia images of interactions between humans and elephants on the walls of the main building.

Those photos certainly do not do the pictures justice – it is necessary to see them in person. Among other things I am afraid the scale of those works is hard to appreciate from those photos – they range from ten to fifteen feet in width.

The otherworldly quality of those pictures had always made an impression on me. However, I had never really focused on them until a few days ago when I ran across a reference to
Gregory Colbert, the artist who created them. Mr. Colbert has put together a massive traveling exhibition of his work called "Ashes and Snow" which has appeared in several cities around the world, including New York and Santa Monica here in the US. Apart from the photos themselves, which depict intimate interactions between humans and a variety of large and potentially dangerous animals – including elephants, whales and cheetahs - the exhibit is noteworthy since it travels with a sustainable structure – the Nomadic Museum - which houses the exhibit and which is assembled and disassembled at each location.

I urge you to take a look at the very interesting interactive website for the exhibit, including the time lapse video footage that shows the assembly of the structure.

When our children were young one of my favorite books to read to them was The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (perhaps better known for his book The Polar Express).

The book contained a series of full page drawings – often suggesting something amiss - with a single sentence that allowed the reader’s imagination to run wild. The following was one of my favorites:

Van Allsburg once said, "It's not the thing that's important to me so much as the feeling the pictures give after you've drawn it. I have a favorite mood I like in my art. I like things to be mysterious."

Gregory Colbert’s work has a similar quality and appeal for me.

No comments: