I had a chance to see some great museum shows this summer, starting with an exhibit of the artist El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum. He makes these monumental pieces that, as you get closer, you realize are stitched together from hundreds beer caps and flattened bottle tops. I particularly enjoyed the amount of draping he was able to achieve depending on how they are hung on the walls. The colors and textures were wonderful, with this fascinating shimmer as you walk around them.

Interesting that this past weekend I saw another fascinating exhibit, also using found materials. The show was of the artist Xu Bing and the work is called “Phoenix”. It consists of two 100-foot long birds put together from cast off pieces from construction sites in Beijing. Hung from the ceiling and weighing over 20 tons, they are overwhelming! Beautiful compositions throughout, everything delicately laced with tiny lights that sparkle.

I saw them at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. This former factory was converted to an art space in 1999. As you can imagine, the rooms are massive. The next stop for the “Phoenix” later this fall will be in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I can’t wait to see how the birds look installed in the church’s nave, which reaches 124 feet in height.

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