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Plop Sculptures

Jeanne talks innovative art, reviews successful outdoor installations, and recounts Erik's "t-shirtable" lines.


A general comment about last week's sponsored Audi challenge, which triggered thoughts, and a few comments, about innovation. Innovation is a buzz word of our administration and companies alike. All have mandates to introduce new products into the marketplace by 'stimulating innovation and competitiveness.' Companies are redefining innovation by taking old products and making them better through technology, and so on. Perhaps Audi wanted to equate artists with innovation and inspiration. Even if these artists offered no new ideas about product adaptation, they represented the possibility.

To Chris, Michael and others: Does it matter if the men were looking at the cars, Jaclyn or even possibly themselves? All are on view, and implied in the work, yet she maintained control of the artwork by placing herself in it through her camera lens. She completed the picture from the outside - the viewer being aware of the artist without actually seeing her. The work won for its narcissism.

On new outdoor public art - it's hard to compete with nature, and it's hard to compete with the proportions of architectural monolithic building sites. Many works are reduced to existing as "plop sculptures," to use Richard Serra's term. The most satisfying public art work to me remains the floral topiary extravaganza "Puppy" by Jeff Koons. And how about the Twin Tower light beams - this absent space which rightly set the artists in a tailspin during our critiques....

This episode showed young people working together in two teams, and thus it became the "personality" episode. Overall their group camaraderie and collaboration was light, sweet and non-aggressive, like watching a three-legged race. I was a bit disappointed that both teams went for the first ideas that came to them via Miles and Nicole, respectively. I would have rather seen them approach the project in a less reactive and more reflective way. But the clock is always ticking in the Bravo studios.



The person going home also had to come from the losing team, and Erik was getting the boot for behaving badly. This formula seems oddly contradictory to the art making practice, but nonetheless, this is the game's format. Erik, the dissenter, certainly directed a few 't-shirtable' lines at Miles, commenting that he is a "stuck-up art pussy" who "just built another homeless shelter." But Erik also had a few very poignant moments, noting, "I rather go home for the painting of a clown on a palette, displayed on an easel, than for someone else's work." And finally it was slightly disheartening when he implied that this was his last-ditch effort at making art. I would hope that this is just a chapter.

So, either work could have lost. "Scales" was an uncomfortable love seat. (Its bees wax/woodsy scent was a slight aphrodisiac.) It wanted to be a tree house, but the artists would not let it. Peregrine and Jaclyn together rejected the possibility of greenery or a club house. What would have been wrong with a tree house in this treeless park? Interactive public art can be cool - just had a blast walking through the Doug and Mike Starn's "Big Bambu" installation at the MET.

My initial comment when I approached the cube "Neumaton" was that it was a perfect target for graffiti, and its small surrounding element certain for further vandalism and theft. My proceeding comment on it being a bad 70s minimalist public sculpture had this in mind. For a fleeting moment, as I sat against it thinking about public art and looking up at the sky, I was transported back to my teenage days sitting under Saarinen's Arch in St. Louis. His Gateway to the Midwest is a true monument of strength, grandeur and innovation. One day soon, John Fetterman will commission something as enduring in Braddock, PA....

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