It would be poetic, I think, if I were to effuse that Iâ€™ve been fascinated with mobiles since I was an infant gazing at one dangling above my crib. But in reality, my introduction to mobiles came in grade school, thanks to a hippie art teacher who smelled of patchouli and patiently taught her ham-handed students how to make dancing (if lopsided) sculptures from twigs, painted acorns, and twine. I thought of her this morning when I read about the Nasher Sculpture Centerâ€™s exhibition of the works of Alexander Calder (1898-1976), whose first kinetic sculptures were dubbed â€œmobilesâ€ by colleague and friend Marcel Duchamp. (Interestingly, fellow experimental artist Jean Arp called Calderâ€™s stationary artworks â€œstabiles.â€)
The Nasherâ€™s show, Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, runs through March 6. Along with more than 30 of Calderâ€™s works, the exhibition also highlights seven contemporary artists who were influenced by Calderâ€™s creative reuse of materials, hands-on production methods, and explorations of form, balance, color, and movement.
I canâ€™t think of a more pleasant place to experience Calderâ€™s graceful sculptures. With its spare and light-filled interior galleries and al fresco sculpture garden filled with beautiful and thought-provoking installations, the Nasher makes artworks accessible and relevant to lifeâ€™s experiences. So I know that when I next make it to Dallas, and when I walk amongst the mobiles as they rotate on gossamer threads, Iâ€™ll be back in art class, surrounded by classmates with braces and awkward hairdos, assembling sculptures from garden flotsam. The weight of one acorn could throw the whole thing off-balance. Alter one variable, and the whole project shifts. Could I have known back then that a mobile could be a metaphor for life itself? For more on the Nasher, see www.nashersculpturecenter.org.