//Ad libs: Giant worms, 'Hella Puppies' and something in a cage

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Giant worms, 'Hella Puppies' and something in a cage

Friday we had a Weekly editorial retreat at the Palo Alto Art Center. For me, the setting was perfect. It reminded me why I do what I do.

On the way in, we snatched a quick look at one of the current exhibits, "Tales From An Imaginary Menagerie," contemporary art filled with animal imagery. You got your lovely peacocks; your giant worm in bed with a pretty girl; your female artist cross-dressing with live caterpillars for a mustache. I like it when the art center chooses art that grabs you with its quirkiness and keeps you there until you have a deeper thought (or walk away in disgust).

Weekly calendar queen Karla Kane and I had to titter at "Unnatural Selection (Hella Puppies)" (pictured above), a freaky cast of aqua resin characters by Walter Robinson. Cute pugs, I thought. No, hippos. No, the Olsen twins and a subtle damnation of cloning and of Botox -- or any "medical" procedure that makes us all look the same.

In a corner, a video installation (watch my snippet of it below) called "Caged." Artist John Slepian says his work can inspire "empathy, disgust, and fascination." It made me think of that literary fear we all have from time to time: that we'll be falsely accused of a crime and locked up.

As we repaired to a conference room for our meeting, we could hear pianists practicing in the nearby auditorium, as well as the delightful soprano Yolanda Rhodes, whose lush voice rippled through the wall like a spring waterfall. The music added a certain drama to our talk of lead-writing, blogging, and video-shooting for dummies (i.e., reporters and editors).

All in all, not a bad staff meeting, with the art contributing color, quirkiness and beauty to our world. It almost made up for the fact that the only Internet connection we could get at the art center was dial-up.

(In Palo Alto? Really?)