Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Muse: Taking a Different Approach to the Ordinary

I think I noticed the sculptures in mid-May. It was oppressively, bone-draggingly hot out, and my coworker and I were walking (which we already regretted) to a food truck several blocks from our office. We cut across Madison Square Park and I pointed out the gravel walkway that seemed to have been created recently. It was dotted with benches and picnic tables, and bordered with brightly colored fences and, well, these slug-like, amorphous blobs of colored metal.

"I'll never get this side of modern art," I said to Laura, and then we kept walking.

Because honestly, it was hot.

It was only last week that Laura and I finally walked up that new gravel walkway and sat down on the benches encircled by the installation. I rested my hand on one of the sculptures and, to my surprise, it sang. Not the echoing tone of metal struck just the right way, but loud, discordant, electric music.

And then suddenly both Laura and I were on our feet, flitting from sculpture to sculpture and calling back and forth to each other about what we heard. There was a purple sculpture full of sound so faint we had to kneel on the ground, press our chests to it, and parse the vibrations for sound. The yellow sculpture we could barely keep from singing; the slightest breath seemed to set it off. The gray sculpture, its toppling heap of a shape already suggesting over-abundance, was alive with sound that swelled and rose the longer your hand rested on it.

And suddenly I'd found whimsy in that which I had nearly overlooked, reminding myself once again that sometimes when you think you need a new concept, all you need is a new approach. And, perhaps even more so, that discovering something magical where you expected only the mundane can be more delightful than magic itself.

Charles Long's Pet Sounds will remain on view in Manhattan's Madison Square Park until September 9, 2012.


  1. Wow, that's crazy! Thanks for the reminder to see and experience instead of merely look.

  2. I loved this! Thanks for posting it. When finances are tight and even the weather seems posed against you, finding that joy is like finding buried treasure.