Culture vulture

Photo Illustration by C. Owsley Rain

A garden of light, wind and sound
A few years back, while daydreaming about what the perfect job might consist of, Culture Vulture imagined himself as the curator of a sculpture garden set somewhere in the country. Preferably in an area of rolling hills cut with a few steep ravines and including some creek front and perhaps some standing water, but also with some broad meadows. Trees could be sparsely dotted about the place but would not be essential.

The idea would be to create a vast collection of sound-producing kinetic sculptures powered by the wind, the sun and the water. Solar-generated electricity could, for instance, power a tone generator that produced notes derived from the play of the breeze through an intricate network of differently shaped elements, the movements of which would trigger musical tones. Windmills could power pump organs and dancing sculptures while chimes ranging from tiny to gargantuan resonated to every current of passing air.

The possibilities are endless for the combinations of technology and elemental energy that could be brought into play, and as curator Culture Vulture’s job would be to coordinate the craftspeople capable of creating the sculptures with people who heard about the project and were inspired to contribute an idea for how yet another unique way of creating music directly from nature.

That would be a sweet and challenging job.

Lunch walk
There are few things as pleasant as a nice stroll around downtown Chico on an early autumn afternoon. The streets are bustling with youthful exuberance, and the air is alive with pleasant aromas wafting out of coffee shops and restaurants. So it’s easy to just follow your whims and enjoy the sights, which is what I was doing Monday when my feet guided me into the University Art Gallery in Taylor Hall, a place that’s been a favorite of mine since the first time I set foot on campus.

The current exhibition is about art in the service of dissent, and it’s worth stopping by. Probably the image that struck me most powerfully was Ed Kashi’s photo of a bunch of burned-out school buses in front of the missile-damaged Ministry of Education building in Baghdad. What really got to me about the photo, besides the hideously revolting idea of directing weapons of war at school children, is that the school buses look exactly like the ones you see here in the good ole USA. Same yellow-orange color, same ridged side panels, same big lights on the top corners, except these buses have their windows blown out and their tires burned off and are streaked with smoke stains.

I think it was a sense of the dualism of standing comfortably in a bastion of educational privilege while looking at the devastation of another culture’s kids’ potential education that left me with a sort of queasy feeling as I walked back through the loveliness of our downtown to get back to work.