which way to the giant braid?

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Thursday, March 05, 2009
Time and space as I experience them have once again become stretchy and unpredictable -- this happens every so often. The entirety of today felt like it took place in underwater slow motion, but the previous four days were a zipperquick blur. It's just weird! I think this is why I like stories about time travel -- regular time already doesn't make any sense to me, so why not make it interesting? You might as well throw in a paradox and some bad hair and no penicillin!

Speaking of hair (dig my groovy segue), this past weekend my sister and I went down to the Portland Art Museum to see the giant braid. Or the room full of hair, as she calls it. Oddly enough, they do not recognize either of these names when you are picking up a ticket! "Are you here for the exhibition?" (Meaning the Madame de Pompadour painting exhibit, but I was too distracted/cold medicined out to twig that, so I said "uh, I don't know? I'm here to see the giant braid." "We have one of those?" (finally the coat check girl came to my rescue and said "we have the MK Guth exhibit," which prompted me to point and say "yes!" like the confused but enthusiastic person I am.) We picked up our tickets and headed to the stairs.

(braid photo taken from the internet. This is what it looked like in New York, not what it looked like at PAM.)

I really wanted to see this braid, and this was the last day. (I thought it would be there one more week, but the 1st was IT, so I'm glad we drug ourselves down there since I'd already put it off for 4 months.) Anyway, this project, officially called "Ties of Protection and Safekeeping" captured my imagination when I first heard about it back in 2007. It started at the Portland Armory, where she was braiding this crazy long braid, and weaving bits of red flannel into it -- but that's not all! It was participatory at the beginning. People were invited to write what they think is worth protecting on the flannel, which was then incorporated into the braid. The piece went from the Portland Armory, and then traveled to several cities before ending up at the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Whitney Biennial. I'm so glad I got to see it -- it's very fairy tale Rapunzel weird, just as I'd imagined it would be, but I really wish I'd gone to see it when it was still being created. The exhibit at PAM seemed a little sterile, set as it was within an all white space. The Armory would have lent a castle-like ambiance.

It was fun to walk around and read what people had written, what they felt was worth protecting. OPTIMISM (in all caps) showed up more than once. People's families and cats. The environment. Civil liberties. Freedom to fail. Some were laundry list long, some were incredibly simple. There were many New York centric ones, which I thought was great and interesting -- of all the cities this project went to, I only saw New York mentioned specifically on the flannel. ("new york city cobblestones!" etc.) Of course maybe the way it was hung meant the nyc ones were most accessible and the people of Boise had their say closer to the ceiling.

After we saw the braid, we wandered around to see a bit of this and that. (this is my favorite way in a museum. too much of anything is overwhelming.) My favorite things (beyond the braid) included: a Van Dyck portrait of Cardinal Dominico Rivarola (he looks smart and funny and like someone who would be fun to talk to, but don't ever get on the wrong side of him -- a Rahm Emanuel type of supersmart hothead with a lot of political savvy and influence); the northwest coast section of the Native American collection (sea lion whiskers and abalone on masks!), and the little display for the new Ganesha statue the museum just acquired.

I was dragging because of my stupid cold (stupid cold!), so we didn't stay too long. I renewed my membership and my PLAN is to go to the museum at least once a month. We didn't even make it over to the new wing at all, and there's some really interesting stuff over there. (including the photography and the Rothko that makes me dizzy!) (although I can't find Rothko on pam's irritating, frustrating website, so maybe they don't have it anymore! I will be sad if that's true.) ANYWAY, we wandered around without much plan and stumbled into many beautiful things, including a Cornell box I don't remember seeing there before. Any day with an unexpected Cornell box is a good day, I would say. (unless one fell on you from a great height, or you sat on one and busted it up.)

here are some photos from museum day:

a little love graffiti two blocks from the museum, that I at first assumed was a misspelled FEMUR, because that's the kind of romantic I am. (isn't it natural to assume someone would want to write FEMUR on a billboard? I mean, TIBIA might be just down the street!! They are made for each other!)

this picture is just a block down from the AMOR. I like how the old church is tucked in there, holding its ground, beset by condos on every side.

museum tree
they've just finished up a lot of construction around the museum -- not only the expansion of the museum itself, but some fancy condos (or something) across the street. I was extremely grateful that they left a couple of really fine trees in place. The line on the left is the roofline of the museum.
4 comments on "which way to the giant braid?"
  1. The last time I visited PAM was three years ago, and I can't remember what the exhibit was. I always seem to forget that we have a museum in this town. I never suggest going when there are out of town people around. I should work on that.

  2. they have some great stuff in their regular collections! Let me know if you want to meet up down there. I think we would have fun.

  3. I think that sounds like a delightful idea! A day at the museum with a lovely lady? It could be a movie. Just not a musical if I have to sing, please.

  4. sounds good! We can have a musical movie day, minus the singing and dancing. (we just have to look busy when the music swells let someone else do the singing and dancing about paintings. It would be like the buffy musical! vaguely!)


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