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dave digs one layer further – month nine

October 25, 2010

Waiting for The Stars to Align

The Biblical account of Christmas tells of astrologers who’d watched the skies for signs of a coming deliverer. The stars aligned in such away 2000 years ago that these eastern sages travelled a great distance to see what all the fuss was about. Because they were waiting, and watching, they saw something they would have otherwise missed. Their role in the story was not to align the stars or control the heavens, but rather to wait and watch. And then the stars aligned.

It’s a little early for Christmas and too sunny for stars, but my meandering to and through Edmonton’s downtown this blessedly balmy September Saturday has brought me signs and sights nonetheless. My eyes (and camera) pounced upon the type of images I have always hoped such awareness would bring. Today I captured two images for The Art of Waiting project, each a moment in time that may well be gone by the time I head home today. My shutter clicked while the stars were aligned. I’m glad I was watching and waiting.

The first image documents the ever-changing outer wall of Edmonton’s LRT tunnel. As the wall welcomes trains into the downtown underground, it also welcomes artists to decorate. As far as I know it is an official public art space, and my frequent walks and cycles past its face reveal a new surface each time. Over the course of a few days the wall can transform, though usually it happens bit by bit as one artist covers the work of another to create space for her own unique spray painted vision. Sometimes the work augments existing pieces, adding text, embellishment or context to existing visuals. I find these interplays the most interesting. Sometimes (rarely, but sometimes), existing work takes on a sacred quality. It becomes more hallowed the longer it stays. It achieves a proximation of permanence, and stays on the wall for weeks, or in the case of “space woman”, months. “Space Woman”, as I will call her, has graced the upper left corner of the wall for a long time, outlasting many institutional gallery installations. Who will be the ballsy rogue to cover her over and start fresh. It’s only a matter of time, as paint has already encroached upon her lower half. She now blasts upwards as if trying to escape the coming oblivion. She won’t, of course, but today I capture her fleeting presence on film. As I clicked the shutter a train passed through the far left of the frame beneath a rare sunny September sky. The stars aligned.

Later, within the walls of a much more controlled art environment, the stars aligned amid the architecture of the Art Gallery of Alberta. I have always been interested in how the jutted arabesques and harsh diagonal grids frame our downtown anew for those within her walls. A glass building across the street holds the refracted reflection of another. This three-part harmony of image gained a fourth strand as I watched from the third floor. I was there at just the right time of day for the angled windows behind me to mirror onto the angled windows in front of me, creating a criss-cross frame for the reflection across the street. A layered world of windows awaited my shutter. The stars aligned.

Beyond hoping that these images turn out at year’s end, this has all got me to thinking about my relationship to the world around me, and how it changes with the passing of time. Just as I know my wife today in a richer and more complex way than I knew her when we married ten years ago, though I loved her then, too, my relationship to the world’s beauty transforms. I will know my back yard apple tree for its endless dropping leaves today, and it’s endless dropping apples tomorrow. But come spring, for one short week or so, I will know it for it’s crowning glory – it’s ephemeral white and pink apple blossoms. And I’d never know those unless I waited and watched.

Images change with waiting. We become comfortable with the surface of things and ready to dig one layer further. New meaning is formed. New appreciation befalls us. New beauty blossoms.

Perhaps as we enter yet another winter and we plan new visits to old places, eyes wide open, we can go forth with the same type of hope the stargazers of Scripture found millennia ago, waiting for the stars to align.

In hope,

Dave

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