…in the Garden, #1

Double click to see the image in a larger size
Double click to see the image in a larger size

Of all the different types of art, perhaps the one that moves me the most is that of sculpture.  I’m not talking about the modern art sculptures which typically don’t do a thing for me, but about the more classical style of sculpture as practiced by Michelangelo (for example).  In fact, I believe that Michelangelo was perhaps the greatest sculptor who has ever lived.  Think of it for a minute: what kind of talent does it take to take a hammer and chisel to a cold, hard block of marble and create a David, Pieta, Moses or any of his other incredible works of art?  The detail is incredible: blood vessels, musculature, hair…the smoothness of the skin – and he did it all without high speed drills, lasers, electronic buffers, etc.  It blows me away.  I’ve never seen his work in person…only in pictures or replicas.  How I’d love to go to Italy and see them first hand!

I remember reading once about a conversation Michelangelo had with someone who asked him how he came up with the ideas for his sculptures, and his response was something like this: “I don’t.  I see what is capture inside the stone and all I do is carve away the excess and set it free.”  Wow….

In the garden at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, CA, there are numerous sculptures.  Some are rather crudely done, but one really captured my attention and you’ll see photos of it today and tomorrow.  Today is a detail of the heads of two people: Adam and Eve.  The sculpture sits in a garden, rather forlorn.  What is happening in this sculpture?  Well, you’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out!  But I’ll tell you this: whoever created it presented the concept of Adam and Eve, and this particular moment in their story – in a way that I’d never seen before.  I could have stayed and studied this sculpture for several hours, I believe.

For today, however, simply look at their faces and study them.  Try to imagine what each is thinking, how they’re feeling and what is happening in this piece of art.

Come back tomorrow to see what captured my attention!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  On January 5, 1933, construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers started excavating 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages.

Following the Gold Rush boom that began in 1849, speculators realized the land north of San Francisco Bay would increase in value in direct proportion to its accessibility to the city (they were right – it is some extremely expensive real estate today!) Soon, a plan was hatched to build a bridge that would span the Golden Gate, a narrow, 400-foot deep strait that serves as the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, connecting the San Francisco Peninsula with the southern end of Marin County.

Although the idea went back as far as 1869, the proposal took root in 1916. A former engineering student, James Wilkins, working as a journalist with the San Francisco Bulletin, called for a suspension bridge with a center span of 3,000 feet, nearly twice the length of any in existence. Wilkins’ idea was estimated to cost an astounding $100 million. So, San Francisco’s city engineer, Michael M. O’Shaughnessy (he’s also credited with coming up with the name Golden Gate Bridge), began asking bridge engineers whether they could do it for less.

Engineer and poet Joseph Strauss, a 5-foot tall Cincinnati-born Chicagoan, said he could.

Eventually, O’Shaughnessy and Strauss concluded they could build a pure suspension bridge within a practical range of $25-30 million with a main span at least 4,000 feet. The construction plan still faced opposition, including litigation, from many sources. By the time most of the obstacles were cleared, the Great Depression of 1929 had begun, limiting financing options, so officials convinced voters to support $35 million in bonded indebtedness, citing the jobs that would be created for the project. However, the bonds couldn’t be sold until 1932, when San-Francisco based Bank of America agreed to buy the entire project in order to help the local economy.

The Golden Gate Bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937, the longest bridge span in the world at the time. The first public crossing had taken place the day before, when 200,000 people walked, ran and even roller skated over the new bridge.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  On Valentine’s Day 2010, 39,897 people in Mexico City broke the record for the world’s largest group kiss.

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