Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dynamite art

I'm not sure whether that's actually the name for it, though that's certainly what it is. When the side of a mountain gets turned into a sculpture, the only tool big enough is TNT.

When we arrived at the Crazy Horse monument, the fog was thick -- enough so that our vehicle (by this time we'd joined up with pals who had a car) -- was granted half-price admission and a note stating we could come back for free, provided we could do so within the next three days.

Hoping to wait out the weather, we visited the treasure-laden museum. Of the exhibits, the art that most fascinated me were works by Denise Lajimodiere. She's skilled at a technique called birchbark biting. It's a traditional method I'd never seen or heard of before. My only regret is not buying one of her pieces.

After we'd wandered through the museum, we entered the auditorium for a very informative DVD presentation, So, even though we still hadn't been able to glimpse the mountain, we felt reasonably satisfied with all that we'd learned. But then, when a hoop dancer's performance was about to start, we decided to stay a while longer.

When the dancer (and the children he'd invited to join in) was nearly finished, a beam of sunlight struck through, burning off the fog and revealing the magnificent representation of the warrior Crazy Horse.

So far, only his head is complete, but the plan for the sculpture is ambitious and will show him on his horse, pointing to his lands. There's a certain amount of irony in this monument as, by all accounts, Crazy Horse never permitted any photos of himself -- apparently owing to the belief that one's soul could be stolen by the camera.

The biggest stumbling block to completion of the monument is the fact that the project is funded only by private donations.

The sculptor who began the project, Korczak Ziolkowski, determined that no public monies would ever be used. While this may seem pig-headed, especially in light of a large amount having been offered by government (and turned down), it's an imperative that his descendants seem to be honouring.

So, when we went down the road (less than 20 miles) to Mount Rushmore, I have to admit that it seemed a bit of a letdown. Maybe because I'd already been up the noses of some of those presidents (thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest) or maybe because I'd just seen a similar sculpture that dwarfs the art on Rushmore, the place was less than I'd expected. And who knows, maybe it's just a lack of rah-rah US patriotism in me. That might well be what you need to be blown away by this particular example of dynamite art. But our next stop represents another kind of art -- one created strictly by nature.

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