My previous post was about the camera obscura which for one thing is a plot device in my art caper mystery novel Artists&Thieves. For another, the camera obscura is an effect of light traveling into a dark room from a small hole.
This post, in contrast, is about blazing light bouncing off the mirrored tiles of large outdoor sculptures on a very hot morning in Escondido, California.
Niki de Saint Phalle worked in San Diego and many of her unique outdoor art structures are placed around San Diego. The Escondido piece, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, is in Kit Carson Park.
There are many things to say about the Queen Califia installation. It is imposing in size and imagination; it is made on large frames with tiny bits of broken tiles, quartz, river stones, shells, each small area becoming a distinct work of collage art.
A 400 foot long snake wall encloses the Circle
but its “windows” allow a peek inside.
A black and white mirrored maze is the entry to the Magical Circle.
In addition to Queen Califia, who stands atop a very strange eagle in the center,
there are nine other creatures and eight totems. Under the Queen and the eagle is an egg and a starry sky mosaic
and a tile with “Niki” on it. The egg of the universe? the beginning of creation? and the creator of this particular universe. I think so.
In other words, the Magical Circle contains a lot to see.
But I was interested most in the blazing light and dim shadows in every area of the Magical Circle, probably because I had just been thinking about the camera obscura and also about the yin/yang dichotomy of light and shadow. Outdoor art always involves the interplay of the art and the environment.
So we stop, look, maybe feel one or more emotional responses to the art, and walk on by, as the vendor in Central Park said about Christo’s The Gates. At least, I think that’s what he said.