I am having heart palpitations tonight, y’all, actual fluttering and butterflies in my stomach, and it’s not because I just saw Handsome Cowboy across a crowded music hall again (tragically, a day too late to be my unrequited Valentine, but love is still in the air, right? Requited or otherwise?)
Tonight’s skipping of heartbeats was due entirely to the gala opening of the Calder exhibit at the Nasher. I knew the Calder exhibit was going to make me giddy. I did not know there would be actual swooning.
Go see it, soon, and be prepared to stand still and stare at those mobiles while your vision goes blurry around the edges and you try to get your mind around how these pieces come together and balance, fluttering at a whisper of a wind current, while taking up vast amounts of mass and space.
I stood in front of one of the smallish pieces, “Snow Flakes and Red Stop,” and that was the first time in the exhibit I felt the earth underneath me gently rise, fall again, and set me back down in a slightly different place. Or maybe the earth stood still, but the sculpture itself swooned, subtle and delicate, and made everything around it reconsider its perspective.
Standing in front of “The Spider,” it happened again. I thought I had taken it all in, and then I circled it, and stood still and felt a wave of pleasant dizziness. This piece is half hurricane, half yoga pose, and if it doesn’t cause your brain to struggle with the paradox of all of that, then I am suspicious of your spatial perception.
I went back to “Snow Flakes and Red Stop,” trying to figure out why it caused a lump in my throat and made me want to sing it a love song. My default mode, when something baffles me, is list-maker, analyst, left-brain note taker. I stood there, counting the floating circles, ranging in size from smaller than my little fingernail up to just one red grapefruit-sized disc. There were 34 in total; 33 of them white. I tried sorting them into armatures, and parsing out the physics of the thing, and then I gave up and enjoyed the flurries. The movement was barely there, the slightest bob and eddy when the currents in the room shifted. It’s mesmerizing.
This won’t be my last trip to the Calder exhibit. I’m curious to see whether the two pieces that stopped me in my tracks today will still be my favorites at the end of it all, or whether love-at-first-sight will give way to a deeper commitment, maybe with a sculpture standing shyly in a corner which didn’t reveal all its charm at once.
Next time: my fantasy is to go claim a spot on the floor, lie down underneath one of the mobiles, and see how much of it I can take in before security comes to get me. I won’t really do it. But y’all be prepared to bail me out, just in case.