July in San Francisco is typically a cold month, the fog and wind keeps us in the 60’s. As pleasant as that might sound if you’re sweltering in the rest of the country, we start to miss the warm weather. But just a quick trip down to Palo Alto and it was 84° and sunny yesterday. The destination was the Cantor Arts Center down at Stanford.
When I previewed Josiah McElheny’s Island Universe on the website, I was not particular excited. At quick glance I saw photos of what looked to me like bunch of retro chandeliers. Maybe it is the damage of working in the world of interior design for 10+ years. Well, McElheny is doing something far more amazing than pretty baubles to dangle over dining tables. It is art, it is astronomy and photos can’t do it justice. And once again I am reminded why, given the opportunity, you always need to see art in person.
I always enjoy the juxtaposition of old and new at the Cantor and after wandering past the Rodin horde, I encountered Do Ho Suh’s The Spaces in Between– this alone is worth a trip. Now this is a chandelier! When you enter the room, you don’t realize it is made up of plastic action figures. The same for the colorful screen. I didn’t immediately realize the wallpaper was part of the installation. It appears to be some sort of 1970s grass cloth pattern until you step closer and realize it is a grid of teensy yearbook portraits (magnifying glasses provided). Art that is not what it appears, color, grids and color. I was in heaven and reminded once again that one day I must visit Korea, if just to see contemporary art.
To finish off the visit one has to get lost in the Richard Serra and imagine they are in some canyon in the Desert Southwest.