Dream Catchers in Vienna

Greta Chapin McGill - May 28, 2013

"There they were, hanging happily in the wind in the Stephensplatz. Dream catchers of all sizes and colors."

I am strolling the streets of Vienna -- poking my head in and out of ornately decorated churches and gazing up at buildings adored with statuary of unbelievable beauty. I am taking taking in the fabulously appointed apartments of the Austrian Emperors, staring at the fashion of the time. Palaces filled with acres of gold and silver and paintings of the aristocratic families of Austria commissioned and executed by artists like Gustav Klimt have become part of my repertoire.

Vienna is lovely. The culture is relaxed and elegant. There are sidewalk cafés everywhere, you can order a cappuccino and hover over it for hours. It is what is expected. Waiters know you will be there for a while and there is no rush.

So much here has inspired me. Everywhere I turn there is a new sensation to challenge my eyes. Each day has been more completely satisfying then the next.

Just when I think it cannot get any more beautiful it does. It is the city of my dreams? You can hear the voices of artists and writers in cafés in Vienna, discussing the virtues of cubism, fauvism, reality and dreams. A few glasses of wine and I am beginning to understand all things German.

This is the city of Sigmund Freud and his years spent in the interpretation of dreams. On a very small side street you will find Dr. Freud’s house. Take in his office and apartments and put yourself in his waiting room. The good doctor is always in.

At the MUMOK, the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation, I was inspired by Franz West and Johannes Itten. There is an entire exhibition on the formation of dreams in clouds at the Leopold Museum. Dreams are everywhere in this city. The river Danube, the dream and inspiration of musicians and artists worldwide winds through the city.

On the Stephansplatz, the square at the center of Vienna, a lively carnival goes on daily. The center of the Stephansplatz is the Cathedral of St. Stephens. The tall lacy spires of St. Stephens dominate the Vienna skyline. This never-ending dream has been under constant renovation and repair since 1145. The air around St. Stephens is heavy with smell of sweet cotton candy, chocolate and wieners. A band plays Austrian music all day and the throngs of people are nonstop.

Walking through this maze of Viennese flavor I see something very familiar to me. Everyone in Santa Fe seems to have a dream catcher hanging from their window, in the car, in the house or over the bed. If you don’t have one you certainly know what they are and know that dream catchers are a souvenir of Santa Fe, the Southwest and Native American cultures recognizable to you.

There they were, hanging happily in the wind in the Stephansplatz, dream catchers of all sizes and colors. When I asked Herr Biro, the shop keeper, where they came from, he told me they were a Native American way of catching good dreams. He said, ”here in Austria we need good dreams...Everyone needs good dreams.” The City Different never ceases to amaze me. It seems Santa Fe is always in my pocket.