My brain ruts were flattened and smoothed by a handsel from Chinati on Saturday, April 23, 2011, the forty-third birthday of my daughter. She was on the Gulf Coast celebrating and I was in the Chihuahan Desert of South-Southwest Texas, receiving subtle jarring grace. Charred by the recent wildfires, one major fire still covering the sky with clouds of smoke, we drove into Marfa, Texas to visit Chinati, the art compound of the late, famous, controversial minimal artist Donald Judd.
This phrase by David Raskin about the scale of Judd’s work rings true for me as I weigh Judd’s hypnotic, serene, laconic style: “the immaterial becoming dense and the material ethereal.”
The connection between “Untitled Works In Mill Aluminum ” (100 mill aluminum “boxes” of the same external dimensions, with varied internal elements, exhibited in two parallel rows, in two converted artillery sheds) and the stark, seared, spiny desert beyond the huge glass windows established an altered state in my spirit, a state of questioning the reality of what my eyes beheld. Moving through the exhibit with others on tour and my friend, Janice, kept me grounded in the present.
Donald Judd’s presence was palpable in his works. Careful consideration of detail, moved beyond careful all the way to consuming meticulous concentration, with a silent, still rhythm immanently marking both placement and presentation, each as vital as the physical images. What is there to say? my intuitive response borders on a profound spirit of silence, a wordless respectful acknowledgment of precise, stark, creative power.