Monday, August 29, 2011

Back on the Mainland

When I was a kid, movie travelogues always ended with "...and so as the sun sinks gently in the west, we leave lovely_____."  And so we left Hawaii and moved to Oakland for the last week of our stay in California.

I used to work in Oakland for many years many years ago, and the Oakland Museum used to be one of my favorite places there.  A striking building set in terraced gardens, this oasis in downtown Oakland fell off my radar in recent years.  During that time it was remodeled, the collections re-curated, and recently re-opened to some local acclaim.

Yesterday we had lunch on the terrace and wandered through the gardens, admiring the pollarded trees and the outdoor sculpture.

The collections are divided into history, art and natural science.  On one wall I came across this quote:

Sort of shuts down the ongoing discussion, doesn't it?

Another wall in one of the courtyards has a vast blackboard with hooks on it and lots of chalk around.  You can choose to make art, sit, hang chairs, rearrange the furniture, or just loll in the sun.  We did some of each.

The art galleries are subdivided, with a large collection of Bay Area figurative art as well as landscapes, California Impressionism, and other "categories".

Tucked away in one sub-gallery is an old faded red screen door with this sign above it:

When you pass through the doorway you find yourself looking through a chain link fence at a desert diorama at dollhouse scale, every detail painstakingly finished.  This is the end of the trail for some desert rat who has spent many years collecting the items littering the yard outside the battered old Airstream trailer, the window of which is emitting a lonely light against the last minutes of the blood red sunset.  Amazing.

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