On This Day in 1964, the Unisphere Was Unveiled

On April 22, 1964, New York opened its most space age World’s Fair. The centerpiece was a 120-foot diameter sculpture called The Unisphere, the largest globe-style sculpture in the world. Made from stainless steel and standing twelve stories tall, the Unisphere was meant to evoke the fair’s theme of “Peace through Understanding.” It still stands today in Queens.

The three rings surrounding the Unisphere symbolize the orbits of three great firsts in space: Yuri Gagarin, the first human in orbit; John Glenn, the first American in orbit; and Telstar, the first communications satellite.

Oddly, the Unisphere is actually the second World’s Fair-related sphere to be built in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In 1939, the Perisphere was built in the park for that…

The Sand Museum

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Buckingham Palace sandcastle in 2012
Sand Shakespeare in 2012 Mti/CC BY SA 3.0 (Creative Commons)
Queen Elizabeth I and her court in 2012 Mti/CC BY SA 3.0 (Creative Commons)
The Sand Museum exhibition floor Mti/CC BY SA 3.0 (Creative Commons)
The Sand Museum’s permanent home KASEI/CC BY SA 3.0 (Creative Commons)

There are not many places in the world where giant sand sculptures last for three quarters of the year, and then only come down deliberately. The Sand Museum in Tottori, Japan, was the first.

Hakone, Japan

Sculpted from 3,000 tons of sand, the incredibly unique exhibits at the Sand Museum are prepared yearly for a mid-April opening and destroyed in early January of the following year to make way for the next exhibit. The impermanence of each exhibit is part of the draw.

Tottori was already famous…

Intoxicated with Freedom: Pioneering Sculptor Anne Truitt on the Epiphany That Revealed to Her the Purpose of Art

Artist have different ways of arriving at their life’s purpose. Some, like Van Gogh, illuminate it with a slow-burning fire. Others awaken to it with the jolt of an epiphany in a single moment: Virginia Woolf found hers in the garden, James Baldwin in a puddle, Patti Smith at the park pond, and Pablo Neruda by reaching his hand through the fence.

For the pioneering sculptor Anne Truitt (March 16, 1921–December 23, 2004), the revelation arrived one November day in 1961, midway through her fortieth year, when she was visiting New York with a friend for a weekend of art.

Anne Truitt in Vogue, 1968

In Daybook: The Journal of an Artist (public library) — the trove of insight that gave us Truitt on compassion, the parallels between being an artist and being a parent, and the vital difference between doing art and being an artist — she recounts a formative epiphany she had at the Guggenheim Museum:

When we rounded into the lowest semi-circular gallery, I saw my first Barnett Newman, a universe of blue paint by which I was immediately ravished. My whole self lifted into it. “Enough” was my radiant feeling — for once in my life enough space, enough color. It seemed to me that I had never before been free. Even running in a field had not given me the same airy beautitude. I would not have believed it possible had I not seen it with my own eyes. Such openness wiped out with one swoop all my puny ideas. I staggered out into the street, intoxicated with freedom, lifted into a realm I had not dreamed could be caught into existence. I was completely taken…