Since the opening for H2Oh! I have been even busier than before. My responsibilities for the kunstkreis have been mostly opening and closing the galleries, handing out flyers at events and businesses, and welcoming guests during the open hours. The work has been very relaxing, which has given me a lot of time to get to know the various volunteers of Kunstkreis Gräfelfing. Everyone here has been incredibly kind and generous with me, I am very blesssed to have been awarded this fellowship that has given me such a memorable summer.
So, as most of the world knows, Germany had a pretty memorable summer. Normally I'm not a huge soccer fan, but it was hard not to get swept up in the excitement of the World Cup. After each game that came and went, I saw the nation collectively struggle with a mix of emotions including pride behind a flag, doubt so as to not be too confident, hope for greatness, and frustration with a overly commercialized sport. Nonetheless, when Germany won in the final against Argentina it was a scene to experience and remember. The local professional team here is Bayern Munich, the best team in Germany and easily one of the best in the world (half the national team plays for them). The culture for the sport is strong in Munich, and they showed their support for the German team just as strong. Leopoldstraße, a main street that runs directly to downtown, is regularly closed after wins so the public can celebrate in their own way. I decided to go out with friends after the finale because I knew that it would be a celebration that I couldn't experience anywhere or anytime in the states. It was something to behold.
A little over a week ago I was interviewed by a reporter for Süddeutsche Zeitung. She was unable to attend my short presentation of my work, but we scheduled a time to meet the following day. I assumed it would be a short write up about the Kunstkreis and my involvement with it, maybe a little about my work in particular. The paper is quite large and I guessed it would only be a small article in the local section. When the reporter learned that I was a veteran, our conversation quickly turned to that subject and how it relates to my work. It's pretty normal for people to have questions about that, but not as much in Germany. I could tell that it interested her, but wasn't sure exactly how it would be worked into the article. When the paper came out, I was very surprised. It was published in the "Leute" section, which profiles people with interesting stories. Apparently the top story, published in every copy of Süddeutsche Zeitung, my article and picture took up nearly 2/3 of the page and focused much on my experience in the army. I'm working on a good translation of it, but from everything I can understand and the impression it has had on my friends here it is well written and complimentary. I did not expect to get this much attention here, but I'm so happy for the opportunity.
Still exploring all the art I can, I'll share some thoughts on my favorite two shows I've seen in the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from Dasmaximum, a private gallery near the Chimsee, 2 hours east of Munich. The names of the artists in their current show are impressive - Warhol, Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, and more - but their space was possibly even more so. In a former car manufacturing facility, it has been remodeled into a magnificent multi-building gallery space that can easily display the massive works currently on display. Our private tour was given in German, so I was mostly left to wander among the work alone and allowed to experience it without any background except for the basic didactic information. I found out halfway through the tour that this is actually the way the director of Dasmaximum prefers his exhibitions to be explored, without explanation, forcing a the viewers to make a cold-read of the work. Like anyone, I get automatic reactions when viewing artwork, but I enjoy disassembling those reactions to understand why. Whether positive or negative, I like pinpointing aspects of work and the impressions they give me. This was a perfect opportunity for this.
The second show that made a big impression on me was the student show at the Kunstakademie. I gave myself about 4 hours to see the show and it was nearly not enough. Simply put, there is just a ton of quality work being churned out there. It spans all mediums, which is probably the most impressive to me. For how much I saw and was moved by, I can't contain my thoughts about it to a single paragraph. I think my photographs could probably show it more easily.
In the first few weeks after arriving in Gräfelfing, I was told about the music festival that happens every summer called Tollwood. I kept it in mind and when I found information on the event I looked at the artist playing, recognizing about half of them and wanting to see about 1/3 of them. The ticket prices kept me from jumping at the opportunity, but because of some strategic questions from Henny of KKG, they decided to gift me a ticket to see the show I wanted to see most, Fat Freddy's Drop. It was an amazing concert, including their opener Yarah Bravo, and the festival atmosphere was really great as well between the food, booths, and music. A big thank you goes to my friends at Kunstkreis Gräfelfing for being so considerate in thinking of me and making sure I have a fantastic, fulfilling time here in Europe.
For my last weekend in Germany I was invited by Marcus to go hiking in the Alps. Seeing them is something I've wanted to do since before I arrived, and it was the perfect opportunity to wave goodbye to the land which has hosted me for the past 2 months. The perfect weather, exercise, and wonderful conversation made for a great morning and afternoon. We had lunch on the top of Wallberg, overlooking the Tegernsee and nearby towns and villages. Philipp and Marcus have become fast friends. While it is sad to leave while we're still getting to know each other well, I am sure it won't be a final goodbye. There are so many great people I have met here that a return trip with Krista is surely in the future, and they know that they will always have a place to stay in America if they ever find themselves there.
The last couple of days have been mostly about tying up loose ends. Packing is much easier for a return trip. I completed my drawing goal yesterday and am very excited to see what turns they take once I get back into a working studio. I will always feel like the drawings started here will have some connection to this land. Some intrinsically do, and perhaps the others only in my memory. Regardless, the time I have spent here has been educational and inspirational in many ways. I'm no stranger to long stretches of work and focus, and it is transitional times like this where I can put into perspective the goals I set for myself and measure my progress. Now returning to Minnesota, I'm sure by the time I've set foot back on American soil I will have fresh goals in mind that will keep me busy through the next year. Even with a grand European adventure in my rear-view, I can't help but be excited for every day of the future.