Caitlin Dashiell: Dream the Combine, Menil Park, and Cy Twombly
By Caitlin Dashiell
City: Barcelona. The first time I visited, I traveled with my mother on a work trip. I spent most of the day walking around the Gothic Quarter and La Ribera, with stops to Gaudi’s works and many of the museums and churches while she worked. On her time off, we walked almost everywhere; Olympic grounds, Park Güell, Torre Agbar, the list goes on.
Building: Luis Barragan’s Chapel and Convent of the Capuchinas Sacramentarias. I’m someone who is driven by gut instinct and visceral reactions to architecture, and I was instantly emotional as I walked into the main chapel space.
Book: The Opposite of Loneliness. It’s a collection of nine essays and nine stories by Marina Keegan, a 2012 Yale graduate, whose work comes to terms with vulnerability, uncertainty, and hope. A line of the essay that titles the book, an essay which Keegan wrote as her final essay for the Yale Daily News , reads “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life...It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team.”
Film: The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson is an otherworldly piece of film. It plays on nine screens as a museum exhibition, with each screen featuring a different musician sitting in Rokeby Farm House in Hudson Valley, New York. Each musician hears the other eight, but they play in visually separate areas of this historically designated house. I first saw this piece in 2014 at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and it finally came to the Houston MFA in June of this year. I can’t get over how the room instantly becomes a piece of choreography, and each visitor to the exhibit moves between screens to capture as much of the 46-minute film as possible. It’s overwhelming.
Public Space: Menil Park, in Houston. It’s fairly ordinary, as parks go, but it’s surrounded by homes and museums in Houston’s Museum District, and on the weekends it takes on this ethereal atmosphere where people bring their pets, hula hoops, practice meditation, all so freely. I grew up on a farm, and if I had to guess, I would say my affinity for public space without much hardscape comes from that.
Architect: Dream the Combine. They’re artists and architects passionate about public space. They love to do work that reorders space and investigates how materiality and mobility encourages interaction. I met Jennifer and Tom after the lecture they gave at UPenn last year, and they’re two of the most raw and humble individuals I’ve met in this profession. I believe strongly in a designer’s work being tied to who they are as a person and who they choose to surround themselves with, and Jennifer and Tom are two individuals who don’t squander any opportunity to collaborate and connect layers of society together through transforming space accessible to all.
Restaurant: Bluebeard in Indianapolis! Hearth-baked bread and the best brussel sprouts you’ll ever have, among every other inventive dish. As I was growing up in Indiana, the selection of farm-to-table restaurants was slim, and Bluebeard is responsible for getting me interested in learning how my food is cultivated and where it comes from.
Artist: I want to talk about three women who have been powerhouse changemakers in the Broadway community this year. Anais Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin won Tony awards for their creation and direction, respectively, of the musical Hadestown, a folk opera about the Greek myth of Orphesus and Eurydice. Ali Stroker of Oklahoma! accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical as first performer in a wheelchair to win a Tony. Each of these women accepted their award and, in doing so, spoke about the need for change in theatre to promote inclusivity. They communicated the importance of future generations feeling represented, and highlighted how storytelling has the power to advance the way society interacts. I’m hopeful that the waves these women are making in theatre arts will find resonance in larger circles of society to inspire inclusion.
Memory: My fiance, Gabe, and I enjoy going to art museums, and Houston has an entire museum dedicated to one of our favorite artists/ sculptors, Cy Twombly. August 4th of 2018, he accomplished the feat of all feats, surprising me by proposing in front of our favorite painting “Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor”. It’s a quiet space and during that moment everything was completely silent, which made it beautiful. Afterwards, an Australian guy came up to us to offer congratulations and shared that the Twombly Museum was his favorite in the world. I am, in general, a more critical person than I’m proud of, but I can’t imagine how this moment could have been any better. I’m still impressed.
Object: Sticky notes! I make lists constantly, write small notes to my fiance, and there’s something about the mobility and impermanent nature of them that I dig. They’re not an object by conventional standards, but they’re what helps calm the chaos in my mind on a daily basis. I have little stacks of them in most bags and at my desk at home and at work. Also, they make projects like Subway Therapy (http://www.subwaytherapy.com/) possible!