NYC dream: A bit of NYC elsewhere – a luminous evening at Duncanville

When I heard about the art show located at Cedar Hill, I had no idea that not only I would be able to travel to Cedar Hill from Dallas, but also, at 9 PM of a chilly night, I would be in a Tundra truck with a friend I made on the previous night at the train station, and would be visiting my artist friend and her filmmaker husband’s house at Duncanville that connects with the main road with a narrow track completely surrounded by dark, large trees, in front of a creek full of raccoons, to make up for the time before going to watch the late night show of a sci-fi film that I have never heard of!
In the above sentence, I wanted to bring in two things that are absent from an average scientist’s life – spontaneity and long sentences! In general, scientists enjoy extensive planning and following their plans. I even have some scientist friends who get pretty uncomfortable and sometime, even upset, if things don’t go according to their thoroughly thought-about plans. As a result, they miss the fun of unplanned adventures. Secondly, scientists are forbidden from the creative freedom of writing any sentence that has more than 17 words. The reasoning behind this is that most fellow scientist readers, even if they are native English speakers, don’t have the patience to read long sentences. As unfortunate as this situation could be, I don’t have to stick with any of these two eccentricities while writing my blog (or living my life)!
Now coming back to how this luminous experience came into being for me. I first met Dr. Anne Gordon Perry and her husband Tim Perry at the “Literary night” at AT&T performing arts center. From the very first day, Anne and I became friends. After hearing about my art-science interests, she invited me to audit her humanities class at the Art Institute at Dallas. This was an evening class and was perfect for me as it didn’t clash with my day work schedule in the lab. As part of the class, we learnt various movements of art throughout the history, important terminologies for all forms of art ranging from drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, architecture, music, literature, cinema, theatre and dance! We took field trips to Dallas museum of art, Nasher sculpture center and the Pocket sandwich theatre. We read interesting poetry and fictions, and watched and discussed very unique documentary and fiction films. I have never been to a class of 40 students each one with good handwriting! One day, in the humanities class, Anne told us about an art show where she was taking part by displaying some of her fused glass works. Unfortunately, this show was in Cedar Hill where I could not commute via public transport from Dallas. But something interesting happened that night, which not only allowed me to travel to Cedar Hill but also have a great experience. 

That night, after the class I was waiting for the light rail at the station. I saw another student from the humanities class. I didn’t remember his name. He was a tall, white man, with long brown hair and a smiling face. I went ahead and started a conversation. His name was Brad. I found out that we were waiting for the same train. We spoke about my work at the lab and his work at the studio. During the small chat, my portrait painter identity kicked in and I noticed he had a sharp, long, Caucasian nose, dreamy eyes and thin lips. He said that he was going to the art show next day and would be able to give me a ride as my apartment was on his way. So, there was my new friend and my ride to the art show.

We reached the art show in Brad’s Tundra truck at around 8 PM. Anne was surprised and delighted to see us. We met with Tim, Anne’s glass work teacher, her friends, fellow artists and enjoyed a variety of artworks at the show. Then suddenly, Anne came up with the plan of inviting us to join her and Tim to watch “Interstellar”. I had no idea what it was – another art show, a sculpture, a musical or dance performance, or a film! But, I figured if two world traveler filmmakers and artists like Tim and Anne are interested in watching something, it must be something good. Fortunately, Brad was excited to watch it too. We were also joined by another student from the art institute – Mike. As this “Interstellar” started late at night we had some time to spare at Anne and Tim’s house at Duncanville. On our way to their house, Brad filled me in that Interstellar was a sci-fi film. Following Tim and Anne’s car we reached their house.

We were greeted by two very stranger-friendly cats. The house showed that Tim and Anne have traveled to so many places around the world. The whole house was full with souvenirs and relics and artworks from many countries, religions and cultures! Tim showed us his drone that he used to take the overhead shots in his films. We watched a short silent documentary film that was shot outside the Bahai temple at Chicago with four segments depicting four seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall.

In the end, fed with crackers and hummus, warmed with almond tea, having taken a tour in Anne’s chaotic and creative studio, holding three stories written by Anne and a dvd of the Bahai film made by Tim and Anne called “Luminous journey”, I left with Brad to follow Anne, Tim and Mike to the theater playing Interstellar.

The film was good. But for me the interesting experience was something else. After the last scene of the film ended, the screen started showing the credits. Generally, everyone starts to get up and leaves during this time. But, Tim, Anne, Brad and Mike, all of them sat through the whole credit very respectfully and religiously. I realized people who are connected with the filmmaking process, have interests in understanding and knowing the process of making of the film as well as the end product. Anne and Tim kept pointing at the names of the people in the crew that were known to them. Brad and Mike were silent, but I could see that they were paying attention to the names of those people. After the film, we came outside, said bye to everyone. I hopped into Brad’s car. He dropped me at my apartment at 2:30 AM.
It was truly an illuminating experience!

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