While you won't typically find me watching Monday Night Football or the NBA finals, you will find me glued to the TV when it comes to the Olympics.  Seriously, I love them.  As I type, Michael Phelps is getting ready to start the 200 m freestyle - oh wait, here comes the personal interest story, gotta love those.  And now we're back, and they're in the water... going for the world record... this guy is ridiculous...  
I bring all this up because I always make a point to watch the opening ceremonies.  Some are good, some are bad, but either way, I'm a big sucker for the opening introduction - you know, before the ceremony starts and you hear the olympics anthem playing, see sweeping shots of mountain tops and the narrator gives his dramatic monologue... 
So, I was bummed that I was in an airplane when they were going on this year.  AND, even MORE bummed when I found out that one of my favorite artists, Cai Guo-Ciang, directed all the pirotechnics.  I've looked for footage online, but have only managed to come up with short snippets, and not the whole ceremony.  In any case, it's an opportunity to recommend you take a look at his website.
I first learned about Cai Guo-Ciang through an Art 21 episode.    The first thing I saw him do was create a drawing out of gunpowder, and then light it.   I was captivated by how dynamic his work became when he paired his gentle, confident line with the explosive, rebellious nature of the gunpowder.  I like how this created an element of the artwork that was beyond the his control.  Cai Guo-Ciang steps out of bounds, chooses materials and subjects that are rich with metaphor, and creates work that is really beautiful.  
Last May, Guo-Ciang had a mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim which is now traveling to the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, and will be participating in Prospect. 1 New Orleans November 1 - January 18.  Road trip anyone?

Below: igniting gunpowder and the resulting drawing, Descending Wolves.

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