Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dodging the Rain

To avoid the rain on our first full day on Dallas, we chose an indoor destination, NorthPark Center. For some, malls are travel destinations, but usually not for me. But besides duty as a rain shelter, I wanted to see the property and its artwork, sculptures and paintings that I'd read about and had mentioned in an article I wrote not too long ago.

The original parts of NorthPark date from the mid- to late ’60s, and though well-maintained and generally still tenanted by expensive stores, it still has that moon-landing era vibe in the way the hallways are shaped and in the building-material choices (such as white brick) and in the lighting and so on. Nothing jarringly dated, just a subtle example of a cutting-edge style whose edge long ago moved somewhere else. Some of the art, which includes pieces by Andy Warhol and Jim Dine, add to that impression.

Several enormous metal sculptures occupy certain parts of the mall. The most recently acquired one, I read, is called “Ad Astra,” a complex of orange steel by Mark di Suvero about 50 feet tall and weighing in at 12 tons. Another monumental sculpture was formed by a ring of black metal figures, maybe 20 feet tall, swinging hammers smoothly up and down. Each hammer is moved by a small electric engine visible on the side of the sculpture. Jay later told me that my nephew Sam was terribly afraid of these figures when he was very small (some time ago, as he is 24 now).

On our last full day in Dallas, threatened rain was again a factor in our sightseeing. We’d considered the Dallas Zoo, where we’d taken Lilly about five years ago, but the sky looked dark enough to opt for Old City Park instead. Formally known as Dallas Heritage Village, it’s one of those open-air museums that offer a collection of old structures to see. In this case, old buildings from all over North Texas.

Both Yuriko and I are fond of such places, and while not exactly aimed at children, they’re usually places where kids can run around. Also, there’s some chance, however small, that something from the past will actually impress itself on an older child, the better the cultivate the idea that the world didn’t spring into existence around the time the child was born. These kinds of museums also tend to be under-appreciated by the public, and so not so crowded. Such was the case at Old City Park last week. It wasn’t Disneyland, so it would have been next to impossible to lose track of someone else in your party for very long.

And unlike the zoo, it offered places to duck into in case of heavy rain. So we went. More about it tomorrow.


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