El Palacio de Bellas Artes

It is a concert hall built around the turn of the century–XIX to XX, that is. It is domed and splendid, white marble and black metal windows and lamps. There’s a small park in front of it with four interesting statues at its four corners. These statues are each composed of three figures. The highest figure is male and is aspiring higher with sight and gesture. He rides a leaping pegasus and beside them is the female figure, somehow caught up in the rising action. They’re wildly romantic statues, it seems to me, allegorical of art and soaring beyond. Beauty mediates transcendence, they suggest, in raptures. They are detailed too: you can see the wrinkles on the sole of the female figure’s arched foot.

Speaking of romanticism, the adjacent central park with shady walks and many elaborate fountains has all kinds of statuary, but the one nearest the palace of fine arts is to Beethoven. Nothing cold-souled or miserably calculating about the approach to great music here; none of this be not too wildly enamored of the far! The motto seems to be further up and further in with din and puissance.

The rectangular palace culminates at the front with an oval dome high above stairs, entryways, columns, balconies, the triangular part crowning the facade the name of which eludes me, and which has two semi domes flanking it below. The dome is culminated in black metal with standing figures, a ball above them, and the top surmounted by the eagle and serpent of the lore of the city’s founding. The domes have coppery tiles, deep orange near the top and fading to pale yellow at the bottom, a striking thing. They had to set this dome apart, I guess, because there are so many church domes with their cupolas and the twin bell towers poking up all around. Though the palace could swallow three of the nearby churches.

I remember its interior from of old. A fitting place where artistic endeavor has been valid.


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