Saturday, November 20, 2010

Diego Rivera, Murals, the Detroit Art Institute, and a Friday Night Concert

Hi folks -- last night I went with friends Susan and Bill Leslie to the DAI to view the Diego Rivera murals, painted during the early 1930s at the request of Edsel Ford. I have seen photos of these murals many times (only sections of!), and I must say there is NOTHING like visiting the place and meditating in front of this art in person. It is the Sistine Chapel of Industrial America, stunning in terms of scale, color, and detail. The power of this is not in the machines, which form a necessary backdrop, but the people -- their faces, expressions, muscles, angularity, clothing. And of course there is much more than the factory in sections of the mural both above and below scenes from the Rouge. There are images of war, science, medicine, primitive men and women, and raw materials. There are workers at the dies, in casting engine blocks, in assembling rear axles, and lines of workers, entering the plant in the morning and leaving at the end of shift. It is a story of human aspirations and frustrations, of birth, death, modern technology and science, and a world in transition.

There was a musical group in this hall on Friday night, a group playing folk music from the 1930s -- most appropriate given the setting. The harmonica and kazoo, along with an odd assortment of unusual instruments, took me back to a time that on one level was happy, yet on another note filled with challengers not dissimilar from those of 2010.

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