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Friday, August 9, 2013

Random Adventures About Town


The Traverse City State Hospital was built in 1911... or established in 1911. The history is almost irrelevant today as I am mainly enthralled by today's adventure. A friend of mine and I went up today to toddle around and take pictures of the patina and decay before the reclamation process makes it all shiny and new again. The place has character in any state of existence, it has a story for almost every resident of our fair city. But today was about the design  and the patterns of life etched across those designs. If anything could stand as a symbol for change this is the place. Since my friend is moving on to other things in her young life it seemed the right way to celebrate her changes.
After traveling the exterior footprints of the remaining buildings we arrived back where we started and finished the adventure with a wonderful Italian meal made by authentic Italian transplants here. The various stages of construction flowed from one design aesthetic to the other. Some places bore an Italianate design as is fitting since the developers are Italian. Others had a decidedly Dutch/German/Scandanavian face. In several spots I thought that we were on the grounds of a glorious European castle.... or at least could fake it well for a while.
My thoughts kept returning to the Gothic architecture and the things in my art history class that are fading without constant use, my heart kept turning back to the idea that I need to get to Germany. Drawn almost inexplicably, the desire to go does not diminish. And this façade did nothing to ease the desires....

For whatever reason this octagonal bay protruding into an almost enclosed courtyard seemed to me the most German face on any of the building. Simple, strong design, clean lines and honestly, one of the best looking of the older buildings and stark in its contrasts just seemed to say Middle Germany. Maybe not middle ages Europe. But Middle Germany. The only thing that is missing here is a couple of swans swimming in a moat or a pond with Willow trees framing the picture. Matthias' Schwanenkönig played in my head while Sarah and I blithely snapped picture after picture.
Coming around one corner at the right of this picture we found gables in dire need of restoration but still beautiful in its state of decay...

This reminded me of the canal houses along the rivers and in the ports of just about every country touching the North Sea. I t needs so much care and attention. With its great bones still in tact, and amazingly, with its gingerbread still held aloft, the character and rich tradition of craftsman ship that was once part of our American heritage is evident still. With the weathered textures and crumbling blocks that heritage's European roots show. And knowing that Europe protects and honors its cultural heritage far better than we do here, I think is what made me think of Europe, Germany all night.
As we left we heard parts of an open air concert on the lawn behind Building 50, the State Hospital's most recognized sector. How wonderfully weird it would have been to have had the power to blend all my interests in that moment and have Matthias here on the grounds or put Building 50 in Europe at one of his up coming venues. I would love a time when all of my weird interests could collide in a spectacular revel.
Alas... that will have to wait for the dreamscape.
I learned a few things about me and my ambitions tonight while talking with Sarah.
I learned about my shortcomings in the skills department. The panoramic setting still escapes me and the composite image about shows me I need to work on those skills.
I have plenty of Summer sunlight left to practice.
And plenty of Life to work those ambitions out.
But for now I must go to bed. Its' been a long three days and I am overly tired. If I do not dream of dragons, unicorns and rampant lions tonight I will be surprised.

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