Tuesday, August 7

Serendipity Art

Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it, according to Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity

Serendipity Art is art that you find when you were not looking for art. It is like finding a gem glistening in a damp cave or along a shallow river bank.  One is at once elated, excited and quietly looking around to see if anyone else noticed it as well. 

One such place of Serendipity Art is at the Atkinson Library (location: 1960 W. Atkinson Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53209 (414) 286-3000 ). It opened in January 1961 as the first in a 10-year program to provide large regional libraries spread throughout the City of Milwaukee. The beauty of the building's unique architecture, highlighted by a beamed, cathedral vaulted ceiling, woodwork and modern stained glass windows, was enhanced by a renovation project in the spring of 1994. 

The branch manager of the library was quoted at the library's 50th anniversary:  "Atkinson Library has a strong African-American collection, excellent career and small business materials, engaging programs for all ages and 26 computers with Internet access. The vaulted ceilings, many windows and woodwork make the library an inviting place to gather." (Brian Williams-VanKlooster in a celebratory hand-out at the library.)

But this is only the ambience that allows one to find Seredipity Art. Two stunning sculptures - one inside, the other outside - capture the essence of serendipity art. Both were done by local Milwaukee artists according to library staff, but preliminary research did not reveal names either. Perhaps, it is art of local angels.

The first piece is called "Four Frredoms" and the library staff had a handout that described the symbolism of the piece.

(written anonymously for the library semi-centennial to explain the sculpture)

An abstract sculpture. Each metal represents a different kind of freedom.

FREEDOM FROM WANT includes ornaments of the sun, half hidden by a rain cloud, the germinating seed, sheaf of grain, open book, flash of energy and five loaves and two fishes.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION consists of basic symbols of the six major religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Confucianism)>

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION is ornamented with a flying unicorn, a pajam-clad child with a book flying carpet, a ship at sea, a tree, and a flame of light.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR includes a brutalized figure of a man, armed with a club and rock emerging from an atomic explosion mushroom cloud.

Also depicted is a broken heart, finger of scorn, the prying eye, the lying tongue, fist and shackle, a listening ear and skull of death.

* * *
The second piece is a beautiful contemporary ethnic sculptured head that has no name. It stands in the middle of the library as a wondrous sentinel.

I was told that an anonymous neighborhood sculptor donated this piece to guard the library's extensive collection of African-American history - and so it does.

Serendipity Art can bring us into a location where we can be blessed with beauty and opportunity to know more about our fellow humans.

Look for Serendipity Art to lead you by your heart to places you will find insight and blessing. Sometimes, it will be found in the most unlikely of places.