Friday, November 25, 2016

Soft Landings

The opportunities to get the band together are fewer and farther between. So when Rowdy proposed a round at the Landings at Spirit on Black Friday it seemed like just what the doctor ordered. Yesterday, Allison, my daughter-in-law hosted a spectacular Thanksgiving as she approaches a due-date just about a month away. That gathering included along with my incredible daughter-in-law, my son, my wife and her brother and mom in from Memphis. My daughter Lindsey surprised us with a visit to St. Louis with her newborn in tow last week. I’m feeling like I have much for which to be thankful.

Dave Cox has three remarkable girls, the oldest of which is a Creighton University Blue Jay who plans to study in Florence, Italy next year. Tom Shaughnessy’s daughter is a proud Notre Dame Lawyer and Rowdy Jones daughter is a recently married Dartmouth grad and her little brother is a soccer star at Wisconsin. But we are stoic golfers who only share those moments about family between tee shots.

Time marches on and we are still men of a certain age consumed by ourselves and measuring our self-worth in the context of competition – with ourselves and our comrades in arms. The beauty of golf partners you have had for almost two decades is that you can measure up in some twisted statistically significant way if you look at data over time, in real time or in your own augmented reality. It doesn’t really matter. You always win.

Rowdy shared slices of his own home-made cherry pie over a cold beer in the clubhouse. And the scorecard review reveals, not surprisingly, the shot of the day is a 40 foot putt for a birdie two on hole #5 by Shaughnessy. But we all leave the course with a memory of something that happened because we showed up. We are alive and well. We are blessed beyond all of our own expectations.

We did not gush about those things for which we are thankful, but we are all indeed most grateful for each and every one of our accounts of A Wonderful Life.    

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mohau Modisakeng

Mohau Modisakeng was born in Soweto in 1986. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 2009.  He lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He was just 8 years old when Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. “I am a visual artist,”  proclaims Mohau but he is very articulate about the context in which his work emerges. Large photographic prints and video are part of this show. 
We are in the Midwestern U.S. and he is speaking at the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center on the first Saturday in November 2016. Temperatures are moderate and turnout for this gallery talk is modest. The exhibition of Mohau Modisakeng is supported by Adrienne D. Davis, Alison and John Ferring, Patricia Smith-Thurman and the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with assistance from a gallery in Cape Town.

Marilu Knode, the museum executive director, kicks off the discussion and opens up to those in attendance. Mohau confesses that he is nervous. He is a soft-spoken young man, but in spite of less than optimal acoustics in this remarkable space, he shares a bit about his inspiration. “My mother was a dreamer. She was a healer in our culture,” he offers, “I  was able to travel to London and visit the Tate museum.”  He added that he was able to meet Johannesburg, South Africa born artist Jane Alexander. The artist helped convinced Mohau that artists must overcome obstacles and difficulties to be successful.

Afterwords, Mohau relaxed on a bench near Judith Shea’s Heartland Garden near the estate house at Laumeier Sculpture Park, chatting with a new friend (a contemporary woman of color) who wanted to know more about what it was like to study in an Eurocentric environment such as the university in Cape Town, Maybe she also wanted to know what the artist thought about living in a place in time in after Apartheid (that system of racial discrimination that was in place from 1948-1994 in South Africa).

This is a beautiful day to also view the installation of local artists Alison Ouellette-Kirby and Noah Kirby. The piece, Arena, made possible by Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, is on view adjacent to the South Lawn in the park.