Thursday, September 29, 2011

Farewell, My Airborn Cactus Bubbles

Amy Chan's Skydive will be removed this week

The Scottsdale Public Art BelleArt series at the Civic Center always pulls me in to have a look at the latest in the cycles when I am cycling through the area. The current installation, Skydive by Amy Chan, is cactus bubbles on a crazy orange wall. The SPA web site mentions that she spent time at the Petrified Forest, and I'll tell you, the three days I spent camping in the northern wilderness area of the park left a lifetime impression on me. Very few large plants grow on that dry and mineralized ground, with the result that the landscape painted by reds and ochres and browns, and marked with low rolling bumpy hills, gives you almost no visual scale for size, or distance, particularly when the sun is low and you're looking for the next place to set up camp. 


You end up wondering, wandering, how far is that hill over there? A mile? A meter? Then a large black crow lands on its crest, and its size and distance snaps into perspective. And you're wrong, you're always wrong, when you try to estimate. Hopefully you have a friend you can just send over to that hill that you're trying to range, and have her stand on top of it for scale. Or, you can just sit on a crazy rusty brown red bump, listen to the wind, and groove on the fact that you have no idea how far away that hill is, or how tall it might be. Just sit. Ponder. Consider the hill. For that matter, consider the cactus bubbles floating up that crazy orange wall. 

Then do what I did, get down all fours and put your nose a couple of inches above the surface in order to get up close and personal with the cryptobiotic soil, a fragile, magical being living beneath the blasting sun in a seemingly desolate place. Step on it with your boot or even touch it with your finger and you can cause destruction that will last for decades.You can spend an eternity trying to understand which bits are alive and how, which bits are the crystallized minerals and which are dried organic matter, and how it might all fit together, all near Little Lithodendron Wash.

Laying in the tent, after the hours of visual wah-wah you've been through, you listen to the wind and your ears play tricks. You hear things. An ancient forested swamp that's now petrified logs around you, the distant bleating of a lost sheep that cannot possibly be because the shepherds are at least twenty miles away but you think you hear it, just barely. The mind wanders, you think of the odd plants, and of good friends long distant from this dry wash...

These your unusual weeds, to each part of you
Do give a life: no shepherdess, but Flora 

Last time I rode this way, Anthropomorphic Bicyclist was up, and that was one of my favorites, for obvious reasons. After they take down the cactus bubbles, which by the way you can apparently purchase by contacting the artist via her site for very reasonable prices, next up in this space is Why should I be so sad? My strategy for approaching that work will be to enter the tower area toting a copy of Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness, and read a few passages to the art, explaining ways that it could be happier. In other words, I don't think it should be so sad. Depending on why it is so sad. Which I'm not sure if it's going to tell me or not. I'll tell it my favorite cryptobiotic soil tales, which usually cheer people up. We'll see.



  1. Cool bubbles, baby. That was also the most intriguing blog post title I've seen in a long while. Who wouldn't have to stop and read semething entitled so? Who? Nobody, that's who.


  2. Hmm, your civic center has this. My civic center has plastic pigs and pretend bike racks. Got an extra bedroom?

  3. RANTWICK there are two opposing forces at work when I put titles on my posts: I like titles with some originality, but blog posts seem to require search-sexy phrasing to attract page hits. Something like that. "cactus bubbles" is apparently not a big search draw. :)

    Steve, the other thing I noticed about SCC that I don't believe I mentioned is that I think they took down the NO BICYCLES signs at some point. Probably a long time ago. SCC is an enclosed area with only sidewalks inside, and when I'm on my bike going to one of the civic center destinations it sure is more convenient to ride to it thru the center rather than trying to figure out other approaches. I need to try to find out more info about that, it's nice if true.


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