Friday, September 22, 2006

Public Art Wasted on Public

Virginia Groark reported in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday of a low level foofaraw of the most banal nature brooding around a piece of public art. Apparently some abstracted forms by artist Josh Garber intended for installation at the renovated Kimball El train station remind neighborhood residents of … wee wees. Oh no! Someone protect the children. Because something that reminds someone of a wiener can only be pornography. Which is exactly how the artwork/s in question are referred to in a flurry of complaining phone calls placed to Alderman Richard (Dick) Mell.

This is why it is stupid to have public art. It invariably will offend someone and in order to make it acceptable to a large number of the people you have to make it about some empty bullshit like, “community and growth, love and togetherness” or “Hope and Renewal” as his piece is called. Garber’s structure is reminiscent of a phallus, a cock, a snake, a one-eyed-monster, a twig-n-berries, a member, a bishop-in-a-turle-neck... a , a dirty, filthy evil penis! In the way any vertical form is. It isn’t even pure abstraction, it is modeled off of flora. But then again, that is all about sex, what with the pistils and stamens and all. This all of course is based on IMAGES of MODELS, not even completed works. The fuss turned into a small-scale uproar when images were emailed around. That is disgusting. Emailing pictures of genitalia, I mean art.

Kimball's original "bungaloid" station

I was familiar with the proposed works before reading this article. They looked to me like the modern-contemporary structures that those hot architect stars are using today. They also looked a lot like dog bones. But I was smart enough to know that they may resemble the dog bone shape, but most likely aren’t based on that form. It doesn’t take a whole lot of art education to make such a conclusion, but apparently Lakeview residents don’t have those sorts of reasoning skills. There is a term for this sort of thing--“fugitive imagery”--it is when people see representational things in abstract forms. Like looking at the clouds. Looking at abstract art is different, because a human did make it. But assuming just because a few lines or shapes make you think of Dick Tracy, doesn’t mean that is what the artist was thinking about. It is like Rorschach gone horribly wrong.

And so what if it is an erection of a penis? You know who has penises? Every male on the planet who has ever lived. Boys have penises, girls have vaginas, they covered that in Kindergarten Cop, people. Jesus had a penis, for christ’s sake. Every human, animal and plant on earth has genitals, some even more than one, some less. That is how everyone got here. Its called fucking, and its how the world works. Everyone is so uptight about this. Our culture is so afraid of sex, yet obsessed with it. Everyone is clueless too. We are freaked out by our bodies and horribly insecure. So much so that one someone sees something that reminds someone of a male organ, they immediately spiral into a whirlpool of reactionary, fearful and aggressive thoughts. The quotes of Garber eluded to this point: That response, seeing it as a wang, and then calling up the Alderman, says a lot more about the viewer than the work. And so maybe public art is good for something. The article left it at Josh Garber has decided to stand his ground, instead of altering his work (thumbs up) and that calls to the Alderman have decreased. So maybe it was just a slow day for the "Metro" section. And even slower for Art or Idiocy.

There were no images of the proposed piece on the internet, but you can vist

-Erik Wenzel, Sr. Exec. in Charge of Telling it Like it is and Blah Blah Blahing

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