Saturday, November 7, 2009

Butterfield at the Airport

If you ever get a deja vu feeling when you see the horse in the sculpture court it could be that you are remembering, faintly, the ones you saw near the airport. In 1995 the Portland International Airport commissioned some of Butterfield's horses to graze the drive as one leaves the airport. They have names. These two are Lyon and Princess Pine.
Made to look like wood, the wood pieces are each cast into molds, she burns out the stick and pours in molten bronze. She has to assemble them in wood first and take numerous photographs so when she has all the bronze pieces she will know how they go back together. Having made horses in wood that deteriorated over time she decided she needed a permanent fix to her wooden horses, and as creatives do, she made it happen.
My latest horse story is something I picked up from watching Philip Glass speak at the museum last week. He was talking about his work setting Jean Cocteau's film Beauty and the Beast to opera. Glass explained how Cocteau's hidden message of magic and power was a metaphor for the life of the artist, or for anyone whether she calls herself an artist or not.
The Beast tells Beauty that she can have all his magic powers, the horse, the mirror, the rose, the key and the glove.
As Glass pondered the meaning of the five powers he quickly concluded that Cocteau's horse stood for strength and determination. The rose stood for the goal, which is beauty. The mirror stood for the path that the artist, or person, must take. The key is the technique that the artist employs. But he couldn't figure out what Cocteau meant by the glove. He showed the audience the scene in the film where the beast removes the glove and gives it to Beauty.
It is a velvet and gold threaded bejeweled thing. Glass says it was when he realized the detail in the glove that the fifth magic power made sense. The glove stands for nobility and pride, it means the artist must know she is noble and worthy of the path and the goal and that she has the right technique to ride the horse of strength and determination.
Philip Glass and Jean Cocteau are in good company with Deborah Butterfield and her noble horses.

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