Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about art. Not so much about framed art hanging on the wall in a museum, but art in my surroundings—on a t-shirt, in a hotel, on the side of a bus--art that I pass by and don’t even consciously notice. When art is outside the confines of a traditional setting, a formality is lifted. What was silent and still, suddenly comes alive in a new environment.
When I started thinking about art that’s not in a museum, one of the first places that popped into my head was Barcelona, but specifically Park Güell. If you’ve been, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, just imagine an oasis of wild color that is surrounded with terraces that appear to bend and sway in the breeze and whimsical houses topped with white ice-cream-like swirls. Are they buildings? Is it art? Is it a fairytale? It’s the architect Antoni Gaudí’s antidote to the urban surroundings of Barcelona!
I thought back to that visit, the splashes of color, the curling walls and the stucco quilted spires. I smiled, remembering the playfully long serpentine bench that trimmed the main terrace of the park, twisting and meandering high above the ground, putting Barcelona’s buildings at eye level. The seat and back of the winding bench served as a canvas with hundreds of mosaics made from shards of pottery. I loved the vibrant reds, blues, yellows and oranges washing over the terrace.
What strikes me is how I saw it then and how I see it now as a memory. It’s not the incredible color palate, but the scene on that long meandering bench. I see all the various people sitting on the smooth, but puzzle-piece tiles, thinking, chatting on the phone, laughing, napping, sipping coffee. All those once broken shards coming together to create a complete picture in my mind. There is a sense of hope when I think back to that bench at Park Güell. Broken pieces, whole lives—not a museum in sight and no frame required.
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