Friday, July 2, 2010

Die Die Die

Sculptor Carl Andre's family plot in Quincy MA; John Powers, Rampart Division (2002)

Just posted a photo essay Die Die Die: A Survey on Hyperallergic's site. 
Until recently I hadn't given much thought to how morbid my imagination is. I think it is the nature of my profession. Sculpture is ALL about death. My studio is next to the rear entrance of the Greenwood Cemetery and in nice weather I like to walk to the grounds. For anyone who has never visited Greenwood, it was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the same landscape designer that designed Central Park. One of the artist Robert Smithson best essays is on Olmsted's theories of the picturesque. I believe the cemetery is hands down New York's most beautiful green space, it is also one of its largest (its HUGE) and least visited, which it too bad. 
The grounds are peppered with a labyrinth of mortuary cul-de-sacs. Instead of McMansions on hills however, these are dug out fjord-like turn-arounds with hilariously grand stone entrances built in to steep hillsides. They are like a mash up of the Acropolis and a Hobbit village. 
The trails through the cemetery feel like a wilderness, not at all a part of New York City. They are covered in years of accumulated pine needles and miniscule pinecones. Best of all, the place is a dogpatch of weird 19th century architecture and statuary. There are at least a half dozen pyramids - in Brooklyn. They are not Great Pyramid big, but they are big. One is at least two stories tall (belonging to the Hoyts or the Schermerhorns, I can't remember which) and made of black polished stone - CRAZY. There are little cathedrals, fully realized in the round, the way a full size cathedral never could be. The the Civil War dead are buried there - there is a strange monument to them on top of a hill. Even if I didn't have a soft spot for a clean quiet place, this place is has some of New York's best architecture and art rotting away for all to see.

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