Sunday, July 20, 2014

Houston Museum District

I'll start this post by showing a few more photos of the water wall, which isn't in the museum district at all.  It is how I started my Sunday last week though.

At one point, there was a different "scene" in each of the three arches.  The right is a dance troupe and the center is an engagement photo shoot.  I should have walked over a bit more to get a centered photo.  Sorry, not sorry.

 Incredible cascading water.

This is the Matisse back series.  

I think back 3 and back 4 are really interesting.  This is back 3--it is very Picasso-esque.

This is back 4.  You can see that Matise "devolved" into more geometric African carving style sculptures.  I took art humanities in college, but I can't think up these technical terms to save my life at the moment.

Even Matisse's signature changed over time.  This is the 9th of 10 for back 2.  (Matisse liked to do the same thing over and over, so you will often find 8-10 iterations of the same thing.)  I would date this bronze in the mid-late 20s.

This was the signature on back 1.  I can't tell what number it is, but I think the plaque said 1908-1909.

This is the Houston Triptych.  Yes, I'm missing the sphere on the other side.  Couldn't quite get the range to take a wider photo.

Decanter by Frank Stella  It looks like pasta to me.  Or maybe I'm hungry.

I was quite taken by this one.  It's not just art.  

It's a triangle with mirrors set inside.

I have no words to describe how I feel about this piece.  It's incredible.

Dewitt Godfrey, Untitled.  This is a rebar mushroom.  Pretty cool, huh?  

Aristide Maillol, Flora, Nude.

This looks like beehives on an old lamp post to me.  It's called Exhaling Pearls.

I love this one.  This is Adam by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle.  The facepalm expression is like, "Eve, why did you eat the forbidden fruit?"

Not a detail is missing.

Auguste Rodin, The Walking Man I doubt this one is the original.  Rodin encouraged reproductions of his works.  Consider The Thinker.  There are a few dozen copies of that one all over the world.

After I walked through the sculpture garden, I drove a few blocks over to the Houston Holocaust Museum.  This museum used to be free, but now it charges $12 a person.  I'm sure locals are not thrilled with having to pay, but I think it helps the mission and that's a win.  I got to the museum at 1pm.  A guided tour was just underway.  It was led by a Holocaust survivor--Dr.  Anna Steinberg.  From what I gathered from her talk, she and her family fled to Russia from Poland.  She was in a Russian labor camp, where she met her husband.  Her parents were sent to a different camp in Poland (I believe) closer towards the liberation.  Anna said that her parents were stuck in the camp for about 3 years after the liberation (remember that scene in Band of Brothers where they wanted to free everyone in the camps but were told they had to lock everyone back up for safety--that resettlement period.)  Anna and her boyfriend (turned husband) went to Frankfurt to study medicine while her parents were hanging out in the camp.  Anna was just as lighthearted about this time as I'm being now, just so you know. 

This represents the family names of people lost in the Holocaust.  Perhaps a brother or parent of someone who emigrated to Texas before the (a proper word escapes me--the Holocaust didn't happen in a day and I don't know how to call it) incident?  Tragedy? Massive loss of nearly an entire population was known to the public at large?

Though there is anguish
deep in my soul
What if I must search for you forever?
I must not lose faith.
I must not lose hope.

"I was lucky because I jumped into a snow bank."

An example of one such German railcar.

This is a Danish fishing boat.  Because of the Danish king's quick thinking, about 99% of the Danish Jews were saved by being sailed from Denmark to Sweden in fishing boats just like this one.  Anna said that when the Danish Jews came home, they came home to houses BETTER than when they left.  Their houses were freshly painted.  The community planted flowers and a vegetable garden for them.  In contrast, when the Jews from everywhere else came home, the people said, "Oh.  We thought you were dead.  We thought you weren't coming home.  We have been profiting off your inventory and your business.  We've been living in your house.  You want us to leave now?  This is our home now.  You need to go somewhere else."

In the center is a camp uniform.  The man who wore this was a political prisoner.  He was someone who was trying to protect the Jews or was otherwise dissenting against the government.  I can tell this because of the red tab.  Jews wore purple tabs with a yellow Star of David.  Jehovah's Witnesses wore only purple.  Hitler didn't like them either.

This is a preconstruction map of the Dachau camp.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

I'm glad you can't see much detail in these old pictures.  One of the "pastimes" of the SS Army was to kick the laborers back down into the quarry.  This photo in the right corner shows a victim of that assault.  He was made to carry heavy stones from the quarry to the top and was kicked down and killed when he reached the top.  Like Anna said during the tour, more people were killed by bullets during this time we now call the Halocaust than were killed in the concentration camps.  Bullets were becoming too slow and they left too much evidence behind.  They came up with the Zyclon B/Crematory combo as the fast answer to the "final solution."

I absolutely adore this sculpture.

I was talking to one of my friends (who happens to be Jewish) about how captivated I was with this museum and the 3 hours I spent there.  Knowing that she had family affected, she said she just couldn't.  Couldn't go there. Couldn't see that stuff.  Couldn't hear about it.  The biggest lesson for me is that humans are terrible students.  We don't learn.  Since the Holocaust, there has been attempted genocide in former Yugoslavia (1991-1995), Rowanda (1994), Darfur (2004), Cambodia (~1975-1978), and now we have this nonsense going on in Syria.  Why do some people have to think they are better than others?  Why can't we all just get along?

So as to not end on a somber tone, have some photos of my food!

This is The American taco from Torchy's Tacos in Houston.  It's fried chicken, pineapple cole slaw, cilantro, and bacon!  It was delicious.

I actually liked this taco better.  This is The Democrat:  barbacoa, queso, cilantro, onions, and a slice of avocado.

The moon had a really cool orange glow on my way home and it had a cloud cover like Saturn's rings!

Houston was really really great.  I'm happy with how I spent my time and I only wish I had a few more days to venture out a bit further.

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