Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Rant: What's in a name?
I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for a rant. Getting the word or words right and proper, when at all possible, is a good idea. I'm in D.C. at the moment, and yesterday I took a break over at the F.D.R. Memorial which, along with the Korean War Memorial, are (I think) among the most overlooked destinations. Both are spectacular.
Ummm, where was I? Words. Look at that inscription of the F.D.R. quote. Wouldn't it just drive you nuts if the sculptor had always thought that the word "fear" was "fears" and added the "s"? OK, so we never would have seen it, but I'm just saying. I mention this because I was looking through some auction archives last night and there were 3 sellers who wrote and persistently used "Dave Sims." I don't know about you, but it makes me batshit crazy when I see someone do that. Is it just me, or does it also trigger your pride-and-protect gene about Dave when you see that? Show of hands? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?
Words. Did you ever notice how we have taken the historical animal references and added "shit" to them for emphasis? Batshit crazy, Bullshit, Chickenshit, Horseshit, Going apeshit... Surely we can run with this and find some other animal references where this works. Loonshit crazy. Foxshit clever. Muleshit stubborn. Gazelleshit graceful. Elephantshit recall. Oxshit dumb. Owlshit smart. You heard it hear first.
D.C. is my favorite city in the U.S. because it exhausts me with all the things to see and do... and there is always something new, and there is lots and lots and lots of art.
“Die Backunst ist eine erstarrte Musik.”
Goethe’s comment (“Architecture is frozen music”) extends, in my mind, to all things in art and design, particularly for those who manipulate form and surface to create objects and then consider their relation to surrounding space.
To me, art represents a seamless contradiction – the construction or representation is never the object (“Ceci n’est-ce pas une pipe... ou la musique!”), yet it is itself an object of reflection and intent. I seek the artist’s intent when I experience art. I seek to understand the sensations and ideas that inspired the mind of the artist who has then expressed it (an attempt to teach it) through her or his manipulation of form, space, color, body movement, voice, and other modes of expression.
While I adore Dave's notion of "writing with pictures, drawing with words," my personal art magnets include nearly any carved, pounded, shaped, poured, cast, cut, or otherwise sculpted object.
Envy is involved, here: my only real pent-up desire is to sculpt portraits in clean white marble. And given that I indulge myself anything, this particular act of self-control must mean something deeply interesting.
Is there art that you revisit?
One of the sculptures I always make time to visit again and again is “Ghost Clock” (USA; 1985; Wendell Castle, b. 1932), which is installed at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery (due north of the Executive Office Building, and just northwest of the White House). Usually, this single piece of carved and stained mahogany sits in the center of the small octagonal gallery room on the second floor (its impact is significantly more pronounced in dim light). I go to see it repeatedly because I like to watch its effect on its observers as they realize (did you?) that this is not a lovely carved clock with a canvas drawn over it.
It is fun to be there when you see a person realize this.
Once, at the Renwick, sitting on one of the benches in the octagonal room, I watched a delightful exchange between a Smithsonian guard and a short, elderly woman of some Eastern European lineage who was literally angry for minutes in her misunderstanding about why the clock was covered up. He would tell her, quite directly, but she could not get it. Then she got it; a seamless contradiction. And the guard nearly had to body-block her as she reached out to confirm her new understanding. I just love it that when that happens.