August 20, 2009


A very special exhibit for Spy Vibers and Modernism enthusiasts in the Bay area: The San Jose Museum of Art is currently showing work by Alexander Calder through December 13th. Calder (trained as an engineer) challenged the long-held notion that sculpture was static and monumental. His inventive, colorful, animated “mobiles” epitomize the innovative, optimistic spirit of early-twentieth century modernism. In all of Calder’s mobiles, his objective was not to represent or refer to nature, but to capture its dynamic actions and unpredictable, living systems. This exhibition will include mobiles, jewelry, and works on paper drawn from Bay Area collections, including the holdings of several of the Museum’s founders and longtime supporters.

On a personal note and shout to my Putney School tribe out there, I enjoyed meals and working under a fabulous Calder mobile for years in the school's dining hall (the "KDU"). The Putney School, located in southern Vermont, has had a long relationship with the Calder family, including two of my schoolmates who are well-remembered for dry wit as much as for their upper-classman inspiration to me as a young photographer. A generation later, I had the joy of having one of their sons as my student. The Calder mobile was donated to the school and, after a long stint in the KDU, is now spinning beautifully in the school's recently completed performing arts center. I can't wait to see the exhibit in San Jose. Hopefully, I can even bring some of my students from San Francisco. The red shapes on the Calder piece below suddenly take on new meaning when I think about the passing of time and of the many relationships and bonds one experiences as a student, and eventually, as a teacher.

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