Inspiration or Nonsense. You be the judge!

Today I’m taking a little departure from gardens, or California history, or sharing adventures with my family.

I subscribe to a variety of arts and museum-related email alerts and other on-line information sources. These cyber- notices, along with an avid scouring of the newspaper, provide an informed basis for me to decide if I’d like to follow with a visit.

I realized this week that by nature of my choices I could say that I make judgements all the time about what art installations or exhibits are  “worthy” of my time.

My interest is in how we communicate around our choices. I so often hear criticism coming from corners where one person’s individual artistic style conflicts with another’s sensibilities. Individual choice is important to me, and I wonder why we feel the need to turn up our noses at what we don’t personally enjoy.

I recently came across a quote from Indonesian author, Toba Beta, “If you hate difference, you’ll be bored to death.”

I like this quote.

It came to mind when I read a short article about George Lucas and his private collection of fine art, illustrations, comic art, as well as Star Wars production artwork and costumes he is hoping to showcase when he opens a personal art gallery in the San Francisco area.

The author of the article couldn’t wait to include a line or two of disclaimer.

Perhaps it’s important to prepare oneself for the idea the collection may not be quite edgy enough for a sophisticated San Francisco crowd. The collection was described as sentimental and romanticized.

What does that mean?

I don’t know that much about the particulars , but Lucas shared he hoped to bring families together to experience everything from Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish to fashion, cinematic and digital art.

Sounds good to me!

Lucas also said, “You either look at the world through cynical eyes or through idealistic eyes.” He mentioned “fun” as a component of what he wants to offer. Family-friendly and “edgy” don’t always mix.

In the past year I’ve enjoyed several examples of large-scale installation art.

Last March we followed the trail of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass on its route to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Levitated Mass in Transit

The shrink-wrapped boulder was followed by thousands of enthusiastic supporters as it took about a week to move through busy Los Angeles streets.

While some cheered, others scoffed and generally made fun of the entire project.

Artist Heizer was touted as either visionary contemporary artist specializing in large-scale earth art, OR, to those who don’t enjoy the concept, “not a real artist.” What do you think?

Philanthropist and Los Angeles arts supporter, Eli Broad, is opening his own art museum soon, and LACMA has made a formal proposal to acquire the Museum of Contemporary Art, also in Los Angeles. There are so many opportunities to broaden one’s exposure to creative influence.

The question seems to be what is creative, and what is just a curiosity? Is that an important distinction? Maybe not.

Is there a place between I like it or WHAT?

What do you think?

Nancy Rubins' Airplane Parts

This is titled “Chas’ Stainless Steel, Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts, About 1000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire, Gagosian’s Beverly Hills Space.”  The title alone should tell you it’s not an ordinary work of art.

UCLA Professor and artist Nancy Rubins’ 54 foot tall assemblage of airplane parts sits outside the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

So back to the quote, “If you hate difference, you’ll be bored to death.”

Do you enjoy art that leaves you wondering why?  Are you curious about what inspires an artist to move boulders or collect airplane parts? Does it need to fit your personal style in order to be enjoyed?

If you’re wondering where I stand on any of these questions I can answer best by stating that I am never bored.

But before I am lauded for my open-minded approach, I do wonder if I have an outer limit on my curiosity and tolerance.

Is there a point where I’m no longer interested? Am I ever completely turned off?

Tell me–Do YOU have any curiosity about a 28-foot sculpture of a urinating dog? To see a picture you’ll need to  click HERE.

Then you can let me know if you think I should take a field trip to this exhibit.

So far I’m not feeling it! Maybe airplane parts is my outer edge.

It’s a beautiful rainy day and I’ll be home with my thoughts. I hope you’ll let me know what you think! We can be art critics together.

Happy weekend…be sure to exhale!

62 thoughts on “Inspiration or Nonsense. You be the judge!

  1. Hm, a giant pissing dog isn’t within my taste either, Debra, but I have to admit it’s funny, and I do like funny. That airplane tower is amazing. It makes me smile because 1) I don’t understand how it hasn’t fallen over, and 2) with all those wires it reminds me of a giant bunch of balloons ala the movie “Up.”

    1. I love your comment, Janine. I can now see the connection to “Up,” also! How fun! I am really interested in seeing how it is installed. I’m more interested in the engineering feat than the subject itself. But my blogging friend, Natalie, mentioned if she wanted to see a urinating dog she’d go outdoors and watch a live one. I laughed so hard I wish I could have shared that in the post! So to that end, I agree with you, too…I also like funny! 🙂

  2. Modern post-photography art should always challenge our understanding and ideas – before the camera it was usually a recording medium, though we can enthuse at the beauty of the works created by the Dutch artists, for example. Photography (an art form in itself) removed the requirement for painters, and sculptors, to give accurate representations of their subject. Cue the opportunity for imagination to flourish and some fantastic ‘interpretations’.

    We should look. We should be prepared to be critics. But we should accept that being in the position to criticise doesn’t give us the right to destroy via our comments (there are too many who think they have that right). Art is such a subjective thing (including photographic art) that we all get different feelings from each work that we see. Why should I condemn something because I don’t like it? Comment yes, but condemn as rubbish – I don’t have the right to do that even if certain persons on TV think they do.

    As for your aeroplane sculpture… I recognise many of the parts and it makes me wonder about the stories behind them… So, it works for me 😉

    1. Your response is just perfect, Martin, because so many others are not “feeling it” with the airplane sculpture, but as you share, recognizing the individual parts gives you an appreciation for the whole. You’ve helped illustrate my point about perspective being so individual and sharing my concern that we are becoming so overtly critical and quick to share judgments about artistic expression, we may also be losing out on some of the pleasure that could come from attempting to better understand. I must say that I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about how photography served as a bridge to opening more imaginative and creative interpretations of other artistic mediums. I never considered that before and it’s really an interesting thought. I’m so glad you shared today. I knew if I left it open to others I’d learn some more myself, and I really do find this topic interesting. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  3. I am never bored either — there’s always something just around the corner to make me either laugh, be thankful or just wonder. If a piece of art fits into one of those categories, I’m onboard. However, if I’m in the mood to see a dog urinating, I will probably just step out of my front door and observe the folks walking their pooches in our neighborhood…

    1. You have give me my “laugh du jour” Natalie! That’s just the funniest thing I could ever have read today! I kept thinking of how I would explain this to my granddaughters if we were to see it together. They would just love it, I think. To them it would be humorous, and I am fairly certain the artist was in tune with the absurdity of it. I am quite curious about how it is actually installed. It isn’t permanent, so I suppose more than that subject itself, I’m curious about the engineering involved. But you still get my first prize in responses, Natalie. I’m actually still chuckling!

    1. What a perfect poem for the day, Nancy! I love that. You’ve obviously given this much thought yourself, which doesn’t surprise me! 🙂 I like the reminder that “art is as infinite and indefinable as we are”–that is the perfect summary of it all. Through the years my perspective has changed on so many things, and as well I presume it will change again and again. I’d rather not be on record as having been too critical of what others enjoy…I may have to publicly eat my words! Thanks for your poem–it’s one I will keep handy!

      1. It seemed to fit with your theme today.

        That said, when someone tries to convince me that a pile of garbage is “art” . . . I am tempted to reply, “Rubbish!” 😉

  4. I was an art major in college and one of my courses was abstract painting. When a painting was critiqued by the professor, I aways wondered what made him right and me wrong if I was happy with what was going to go on one of my walls. If it was going in his home, then of course he could judge. 🙂

    1. I am so right there with you on this, Karen. I often wish I had more of an in-depth background in art history, but I gain some knowledge along the way with frequent viewing. And I never fail to leave a museum or exhibit without having my mind opened to something, or a perspective that slightly shifts. Much like seeing the Kubrick exhibit at LACMA last month–my taste in movies won’t probably change enough to include enjoyment in his particular subject or style, but I understand him better now and appreciate him as a true artist. Just different tastes! I really enjoy being with people who think differently than I do, so I suppose that translates into art and other areas, too. To your comment about abstract art, there’s an example of how I’ve changed over the years. For much of my life I wasn’t very open to abstract, and now, I seem to gravitate to it. It makes it fun to see we don’t have to be stuck! THanks for sharing, Karen. I also enjoyed learning more about your art background. 🙂

  5. Hmm the jury is still out on this one as far as I’m concerned… to be honest, certain artistic work leaves me completely cold.. as much as I try to fathom out what the artist is depicting, I’m lost.. now that doesn’t mean I think he or she is not a good artist, it is simply something that has no appeal to me… I have trouble with art, as it is fairly aimed at those that like or dislike and of cause that understand or not… but then those that do say they understand the meaning, are they actually getting what the artist meant.??

    Unlike poetry, where everyone will of some sort, capture the essence of the poem.. a dog peeing against the wall, has for me no artistic meaning at all, I see it happening in life everyday, does that make it art?? Not sure I think so.. a good joke maybe but not art. The airplane parts all piled on top each other, with wire everywhere, again has no artistic meaning to me.. as does the boulder suspended above a walk way… but because this is not appealing to me, is not a critique of the artists meaning..

    I have many paintings we have bought over the years, from almost abstract to bush scenes, landscapes etc.. not always appealing to those that visit.. the point I’m trying, in one long round-about way is, should art be critiqued by anyone.?? Is anyone in the position to claim an expert opinion on all art in all it’s forms??

    I think one should go to exhibits that have some semblance of enjoyment for the observer, yet to view others that are not of your choice is also good.. it broadens the mind and teaches one to think and exclaim WHAT IS THAT? hopefully loud enough for someone to try and explain…

    1. I think you’ve expressed yourself very well, Rob, and I’m glad you did. I am very interested in learning more about the artists themselves, often more so than the piece of art itself. But what I’m really most curious about is the idea that people are so critical to the point of sharing disdain. I find that really interesting. I can often spend quite a bit of time studying these large-scale installations from multiple perspectives and I enjoy thinking about the components that were brought together. It isn’t necessarily soothing or something I’d visit again and again, but I can enjoy thinking about it. There’s nothing much more to be said about that really. And I tend to think of myself as a little more “open” than many of my friends…then I saw the dog and realized I was being critical. Thus the internal conversation. LOL! I do think it’s good to think about. It reminds me a little of the intergenerational conversations about music. What WE like is always GOOD music! Hahaha! Thank you so much for sharing. I was hoping to get a variety of perspectives to add to my own understanding.

  6. First of all, nada on the collage of airplane parts. As for the dog, if its not more than “well, I can say that I saw it” then it’s not worth the time … and being that I’m in Cincinnati, I haven’t added the dog to my must-see list for whenever I make it LA.

    1. Well,the good news is the dog is in Orange County. It’s in Newport Beach, and we vacation there, so whether I care or not I’m probably going to see “him” at some point! 🙂 I’m glad you shared your opinion, Frank. It’s great fun for me to hear how others interpret the installations, and whether or not they resonate. I’m fascinated with the artists themselves, and wish I could know more about their personal inspiration. There are some fine things to see here I know you’d like, so don’t let this scare you off. LOL! We are a little odd out here, I’ve heard told, but very friendly! All that sunshine, you know!

      1. LOL … but my quirky side likes oddities, but there is a line between quirky odd & weird. 😉 Inside any artist’s mind would be a fascinating trip … especially the ones delivering abstract. But I know this … don’t ask them what they see because they are more interested in what you see and think.

  7. When I think of art I usually think of something I can hang on a wall in my home or something I can put on display on a mantlepiece or shelf. But these large items of art do seem to be gaining in popularity although I do wonder about the difficulty in transporting and displaying these pieces. The good news is, no one’s going to steal them – who’s going to run off with a giant boulder? xx

    1. You’re right, Charlie, that boulder is going nowhere. I think if you could see it “in person” you’d be quite impressed with how it looks in the afternoon light. It’s beautiful. Installation art is gaining in popularity and I think once I recognized it wasn’t going intended to be in competition with classical art, it just became fun and for the most part whimsy. So if I do go see the dog, are you telling me you don’t want me to take a photo so you can blow it up and frame it? LOL! Maybe not–I don’t want it either. 🙂

  8. I’m afraid my open-mindedness doesn’t stretch as far as it perhaps should where modern art is concerned, Debra, and i’m quite sure I wouldn’t even cross the street to see some items, let alone drive miles. On the other hand I can spend hours and hours in a museum of mediaeval or Renaissance art and only see a fraction of what’s on show as I get totally absorbed by the exquisite detail of just a few of the paintings.

    It’s a good thing we’re all so different. 😉

    1. I don’t even begin to put modern or contemporary art in the same league as classical or Renaissance art, Perpetua. I think sometimes that is where the greatest conflict arises. It is like comparing cuisine. Taste is part of it, but also timing and mood contribute to the experience. We have hundreds of art museums within easy proximity so “feasting” is relatively easy. I will admit I don’t love just everything. LOL! I have many boundaries I won’t cross, in particular anything suggesting violence or profanity. I think the giant dog is more of a curiosity to me than anything else! 🙂 Thank you so much for weighing in, Perpetua. I really have enjoyed listening to what others have shared today. Just as I was quite sure, art is a very personal experience and I’m very glad to have your thoughts–and I won’t be sending you any photographs of airplane parts! 🙂

  9. Ah, the LACMA. I love that place. I really love installation art, too.

    I try (and usually fail) not to turn up my nose at the things other people like. Art came to me as an adult, and my art education was self-taught. Still, I know I fail to be broad minded much of the time.

    When I fail, I try to remember a trip with my mother to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. I wanted to go for years, and I was determined to see it before they moved it out of the house in the suburbs. I planned the whole day, researched trains to get out there, reserved our time, and twittered with glee as we walked up to the gate and were admitted.

    Mom hated every bit of the experience, though she would tell you she didn’t. She harrumphed and sighed and frowned her way through it. Finally, she walked up behind me while I was taking in a nude painting and said, “Well. At least he painted hair down there.” I went into the next room and left her there.

    I try to remember that trip every time I act like that over art, to recall how deflated I felt about an experience I’d been looking forward to for a decade. I still sometimes mess up, but hopefully not as much as I once did.

    1. What a wonderful illustration to my point, Andra. The trip with your mother to the Barnes Foundation made an indelible impression that although painful, probably served to really teach you something about tolerance and support to others. You’ve completely captured what I was feeling when I tried to share some thoughts today! I don’t just LOVE everything out there labeled art. I know of some artists that would probably deeply offend me. Mapplethorpe, for instance, pushes the envelope way beyond what I’m either interested in, or frankly, understand. But I find a lot of people don’t realize that contemporary or folk art isn’t to be compared with classical art. They’re very different and the response should be quite different! And the criticisms are often based much more on impressions than real exposure. Los Angeles is starting to just explode with new art experiences, so the conversation I’m overhearing is vert current and the “everybody is a critic syndrome” sometimes wears on me! I just like to be around art and I feel energized when I can learn something new. I am sure I can be as critical as the next person, but I’m working on that! 🙂

  10. i enjoy seeing unusual creative art works … it seems the artist is able to show me new ways of looking at things, ways that often don’t become clear until much later … when something resonates with a sculpture or installation and a light goes on … aaahhh! i really like the dog sculpture, and the airplane parts … although they speak to me of plane wrecks and recycling … but i wonder if all those opening might provide homes for birds or small animals?

    1. I am so pleased with the way you expressed yourself regarding the art installations I shared today. You really added some insight that wasn’t previously mentioned. I think suggesting that with spending enough time studying the features of the work the observer may change and develop new insights. It really is about being open to possibility, I think. I never once thought about whether the openings in the airplane parts provided homes for birds. Because of where it’s placed I find small animals unlikely, but birds, why not? Thank you so much for sharing. I really look forward to what you have to say. 🙂

  11. I enjoy creativity but admit I am very sensitive to the visual, perhaps because I use my eyes more than the average person (due to hearing problem), so if an art form is harsh, in depressing colors or cluttered I don’t respond well. Enjoyed reading this, encourages one to think out of the box. 🙂

    1. You make a good point about sensitivity, Marie. I have thought about this topic a lot today, really interested in how others have shared. I haven’t had much, if any, exposure to violent or profane images. I wouldn’t be comfortable with that at all. I don’t think every piece “out there” has equal merit, but I do think too many people dismiss art objects that don’t resonate with them as inconsequential, and maybe we could all benefit from the exercise of expanding just a little bit! I tend to think you’re a very open person, Marie. I can’t see you in a box! 🙂 oxo

  12. I suppose there is a really fine line between inspirational and nonsense – I would like to think I am open to art, especially all those new minimalistic pieces of blank cardboard with one dot hanging in the gallery… it can be hard to stretch the imagination sometimes though!


    1. I agree with you about the fine line! I am not sure where my outer reaches might be, but as long as the subject isn’t profane or violent, I’m usually at least interested in seeing what speaks to me! 🙂 I value your opinion, so thank you so much for sharing, CCU.

    1. I really love your response, Jim. Challenging, yes, and in many cases, artists are very daring in their vision and then their approach. I think that is what resonates with me, too, and whether or not the result is thrilling to me, isn’t the point at all. I really defend another person’s creative vision and it makes me sad, and sometimes angry, when critics, patrons or professional, decide that something they don’t care for isn’t art at all. I could go on and on…and you said it perfectly in just a few words. I really appreciate you leaving such a thoughtful comment.

  13. I am perhaps a little bit too conservative as far as art is concerned. I can’t explain it, but the very modern just doesn’t seem to appeal to me.I think it’s different with photography. Any pictures which show real life situations, be they in war-zones or absolutely peaceful, enjoyable, pleasant surroundings are worth having a look at. I like precious modern sculptures to be done in a way that they can last over centuries. I doubt the sculpture with the airplane parts is going to last for very long. I appreciate that the artist spend many, many hours creating this work of art. But is it going to last for very long? I don’t think so. Why not create something that future generations will be able to appreciate?
    Thanks, Debra, for making me think a bit about the value of this kind of art.

    1. I am so glad you added your voice to the art conversation, Uta. You aren’t at all alone in not enjoying most modern art. I don’t like everything, believe me, and simply feel that it isn’t useful for others to be so critical of art they don’t personally appreciate. I’ve received so many different responses today. Some really love the dog and the airplane parts, others, not at all! 🙂 That’s probably my point, if I had one. LOL! Different tastes. I do feel that sometimes we tend to forget that most cities house their contemporary or folk art in museums separate and apart from where the classical art is housed. They aren’t intended to be valued side-by-side. Very different experiences and sometimes that changes the way it’s viewed. I think of it like food. Sometimes I want a hamburger, and other times an expensive and rich banquet. Both are cuisine, but not with the same value in my experience. For me, this has been a very interesting conversation. Thank you for adding to it, Uta! 🙂

  14. Tom was an art major. One of his classes involved what was then called “concept art”. It stretched most of the students, especially my cute boyfriend, who was much more conservative in his tastes, however, the class proved to provide lessons in construction, perspective, breaking through one’s comfort zone. He never did any “concept art” again, but, both of us gained an appreciation for things like airplane parts. Would I go see it? Probably not.

    I remember the day the Picasso was unveiled in Chicago’s Loop. I was about sixteen and Downtown getting my first pair of contact lenses. Back then, it was a big deal to wear contacts. The technician said all the to-do was about the unveiling, but, he couldn’t figure out what people were so excited about. Lenses in, Penny feeling a bit more confident about herself, off I went. I stopped and looked at the Picasso with my new “eyes”, thought “eh?”, and went on home, via subway and bus, more interested in whether or not boys would start noticing me. Decades later, we all walk by the Picasso with nary a second thought. High school kids slide down it on their solo adventures into the big city, tourists stare, and it occurs to me that some of these objects of art eventually blend into our daily lives.

    There was a tower of cars *yes, cars) at a shopping mall around these parts. It was pretty ugly, but, everyone knew where the shopping plaza was. A few years ago, it was dismantled. Debra, you should have heard the outcry!

    1. I love your story about the contacts, Penny! I can remember being about that age when any time I thought I was just a little bit more attractive I hoped every boy was noticing. LOL! The Picasso in the Loop becomes identified with the city and although maybe not appreciated artistically, it becomes beloved because over time it is yours! I felt that way about the Disney Concert Hall. It was such an odd building that didn’t fit in with any of the other surrounding music center facilities. Yet after a time, it grew on me and I started truly seeing the “odd” shapes as tremendously interesting. Now, I really love the building and do believe it is architectural art. The “airplane” parts are right across the street, and I only wish I knew more about the artist and what she thinks. I am fascinated with how it was engineered! I don’t care for it all that much, but it is still unique, and that’s sometimes enough for me. I’m tremendously interested in what inspires an artist and how their innate creativity is expressed. I tend to enjoy artists–right brained people in a very left brained society. Through their creativity they add a counter-balance to all the mundane and often distressing aspects of our lives. I’d love to know more about what mediums Tom enjoys. Typically a person is not an art major unless they have some talent–interest isn’t enough. I have really enjoyed hearing what others have added to this discussion, and I am so glad that you shared, Penny. I love the picture you gave me of high schoolers sliding down the Picasso! Even that says something nice, I think!

  15. Very interesting set of questions raised here today, Debra. I love the dog, and the airplane sculpture but the rock leaves me cold. The ‘But is it art?’ question always seemed , to me, to sidestep the fact that art has always been about communication, even from those first early cave paintings. Some pieces speak universally – the Mona Lisa seems to be one of those, and Van Gough’s sunflowers – others have something to say to some, who have a similar set of experiences and mindset to the artist. It may speak to a smaller audience, but the need to communicate it is just as imperative, for to a few it will speak loud and clear, and maybe what it says will contain an answer. If everything spoke to everyone in the same way, would we really be as human?

    1. You have said so beautifully what I have been trying to put to words, Kate. Thank you! Yes, communication! There are pieces that at least the majority of us really respond to. I, who never took a dance lesson in my life, almost get weepy when I see the Degas “ballerinas.” I don’t even know why they speak to me. I went to the Caravaggio exhibit last month and desperately wanted to love it, and didn’t. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading responses to the post and learning what each of you thinks about the pieces. Your positive response to the dog and airplane, but not the rock, is precisely what we are talking about in addressing individuality. And I will tell you that I really do love the rock. I don’t know if it would be more appealing to you in its setting. Perhaps not. It’s a great “talking piece” since it seems to inspire polarized responses and no one is particularly neutral. The first time I saw it was late afternoon with the blazing sunset behind it and the palm trees in the foreground and I thought is was beautiful. Still, in the end, it is just a boulder. LOL! I could talk about this topic for days, so thanks for indulging me.

  16. I go to a museum or gallery opening to see the works that each houses. I’d go to an exhibit like Lucas’s to learn what a man whose talent and vision I admire would collect. I believe would walk away feeling like I knew him better. On the other hand, I couldn’t care less what hangs on the Kardashians’ walls. And whenever that rock is mentioned, I cannot help but think, “The emperor has no clothes.”

    1. What? You’re not interested in the Kardashian’s? LOL! I’m with you on that. I never fail to come away from an exhibit without at least having my curiosity increased so that I will want to learn more, or satisfied so that I feel I understand and artist better. Then the art itself may speak to me in a new way. That, to me, is what increases my appreciation of the piece itself. I am not particularly “sophisticated” in my understanding or appreciation of art. I fall into the category of so many–I know what I like when I see it. I was so annoyed at the article about the Lucas collection and the comments about it being too sentimental. I guess Rockwell has been relegated to the simplistic, and that certainly doesn’t speak to the way most Americans think, I’m quite sure. I must say that I really like “the rock.” I was skeptical in the beginning, but when it was installed and I saw it with a sunset blazing behind it, palm trees in the foreground, it really was quite striking. If I didn’t think I’d bore everyone on the topic I’d go into the story behind it…but so far I think I’m one of its only fans. LOL! Thanks so much for sharing, John. I have really enjoyed learning what others think of the pieces I shared, and there have been a few surprises. 🙂

  17. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Sorry but I sort of really like that urinating dog, leg over the fence. As long as it’s not urinating on a church, grave site or (sigh, I suppose I have to say) politicians like GW Bush, I think it’s a funny depiction exaggerated in a day’s stroll.

    However, Chas’ monstrosity is simply junk. I cannot believe he placed one item with artistic care or inspiration. And by the way – is this supposed to inspire anything? And if merely as curiosity, that is not enough.

    1. Well, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure, I suppose! LOL! To me, the difference in how these installations are viewed, valued or dismissed, is what makes a very interesting conversation. I’m glad you’ve shared your thoughts. In my informal poll, you aren’t the only to like the dog. I have discovered that often just seeing a photo doesn’t pull me in. Perhaps if I see it at the museum, and I probably will at some point, I may come away with greater appreciation. So far, I’m most partial to the boulder. 🙂 I’m really glad you came by for a visit. I was hoping for a variety of impressions and thoughts, and I haven’t been disappointed.

  18. Dawnriser

    Debra, your posts are always interesting and often whimsical but this one is really challenging! I think art is fundamentally about beauty/ reality – the truth aspect that Keats was always so committed to. So it’s hard to say if all these pieces are really art, I think we sometimes only see the value of the thing with the passage of time. But I wouldn’t not go just because it’s not immediately aesthetically appealing. And I, for one, enjoyed the urinating dog. Made me smile!

    1. I have really loved to hear how many of the comments are in support of the urinating dog! LOL! I have been surprised by that. Of the three pieces and the Lucas gallery I think the dog was my least favorite. But I love the whimsy of it and the positive response to it does support my thought that there is room for a wide variety of artful offerings supporting wide swings in response. Sometimes the discussion about the pieces is as delightful as the viewing itself. I have often wondered about calling every creative piece “art,” but I think I’ve made peace with it for myself. If we simply recognize that modern or conceptual art isn’t the same as classical or impressionistic art, in the same way that photography isn’t compared to a Monet, then I can relax about terms. I really doubt the issue will ever be settled, but I have really enjoyed the dialogue. And you’re so right. I rarely write about anything that is going to even slightly veer me away from “breathing lighter”–but this was so interesting to me I decided to risk it! I am happy with the sharing. So thank you so much for adding your voice to the mix. I may yet tally all the responses and share the results. It has been so interesting. 🙂

  19. Oh I’ve enjoye dthe responses as much as the post itself !
    I adore installations, especially outdoor ones, they are made to b etouched, played with, wondered at. And yes I’d go to see the dog…. They take art to the people, you don’t have to go to a stuffy gallery, pay any money or make a special trip/effort – the works are there for everyone to see – playful, thought provoking, silly, weird, and wonderful. Bring ’em on!
    I’m not sure I’d bother with the Lucas exhibition – maybe if it was on my doorstep and I had kids then it would be different, I’m not being a snob here I just don’t quite see what he has collected, but I like the idea that he wants to share his art, to share what has inspired him or given him pleasure. I like sharing 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you mentioned enjoying the comments,Claire. I have, too! I was genuinely interested in what others feel about the subject, and I wasn’t disappointed in the responses. I think if I made a little graph of the comments I’d find that almost every possible combination of “likes” and “dislikes” is represented, which truly pleases me. It also supports my thinking that there is room for all kinds of art. I have chuckled to myself about the dog. I do think it’s playful, and that in itself is fun, but I wouldn’t go very far to see. Yet, I can still be genuinely happy for those who find delight in it. My concern with the Lucas gallery was that before he even opens doors, in fact it’s still in the planning stages, someone would write about the prospect and feel it necessary to criticize the collection as weak. I’m annoyed at a snobbish approach to art coming from any direction! I have family in the Bay Area so when that gallery opens I’ll probably “need” to attend so that I can share with you what is in the collection! :-)Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I have really enjoyed this discussion!

  20. All of us living in LA heard about the enormous challenge of transporting Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass to LACMA but I still haven’t seen it. (Its hard to go to a museum on my day off 😀 ) I can’t say I’d call a boulder balanced on a walkway art, but to be fair I really should see it before I give my opinion!
    I think I’d call the pissing dog a joke rather than a sculpture – something a five year old boy would find funny along with words like bum and fart – but perhaps it too should be seen to be fair.
    The airplane parts? Nope. No.

    Have you seen the Vermeer painting “Woman Reading a Letter” that the Rijksmuseum loaned the Getty?

    1. No, I haven’t yet seen the Vermeer…I have plans to continue making my rounds. 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed hearing what others think of the installations. Each person has very clear ideas about what works for them and what does NOT! Thanks for adding in your thoughts, too, Rosie.

  21. I like them. I like the boulder and think the airplane tower is great. If it wasn’t in a tower, it would be in a landfill. These types of expression always force me beyond my current thinking and I appreciate that a lot. Of course, I have seen things that caused me to question the “artisticness” but that’s not for me to judge.

  22. The dog made me laugh. I can’t imagine that I’d travel to see it, but I’m glad it’s there. The rock looks amazing, and I could be persuaded by the aeroplane parts.
    I was at a Warhol exhibition last week- and will go back- some of the challenges are there too 🙂

    1. I’m glad you saw the amusement in the urinating dog, Fiona! It is probably even more intriguing in person. I haven’t yet seen it, but I more than likely will at some point. 🙂 I do love the rock, aptly named Levitated Mass, and I’m glad it appeals to you. It seems that many of our friends don’t find it all that interesting. Or maybe that’s not really their comment as much as not connecting to it as “art.” I have had a wonderful time hearing what others think on this topic and my questions, and I’ so glad you shared your thoughts, too!

  23. What a great quote. I can understand that sometimes you reach the “What Am I Doing Here?” level and I often do, but if you never go, you never know. At times you have to be there in the moment to understand. I love the rock and can imagine being in the space would make it even more impressive.

    1. I am so glad to have your comments to our “is it art?” dialogue. I love the rock, too, which according to my informal poll, puts us in a bit of a minority group. It is more appealing in its new home than my photography can capture! 🙂 It is always a pleasure to get out and at least investigate, and then formulating opinions is still going to be about personal taste. Thank you very much for stopping by and giving your impressions. I am so glad you did!

  24. That pile of junk fits firmly into my classification of pretentious poppycock. If the artist wasn’t motivated by sardonic cynicism, then the poor lad has a few screws loose. It reminds me of the random splodges of paint which were done by chimpanzees and presented at an exhibition of modern art as being work of actual artists, to universal acclaim from the art critics. Later the latter tried to justify their opinions by saying that the chimps had revealed genius talent.
    On the other hand, if art is representing something which gives rise to emotions, then I suppose dilike and disgust are also emotions? I prefer the type which speaks to the finer senses.

    1. I really enjoyed your comments about the contemporary and installation art found her at the local museums, Col. I have enjoyed each comment, which has confirmed my suspicions that it speaks differently to each person. I sometimes question my own responses, hoping that when I positively react to either very abstract or maybe even shocking pieces, that I’m not just responding from a desire to stay relevant and contemporary. I don’t always understand what it is I’m interested in, but I am currently thinking the best approach is just to enjoy what I do, and maybe to try to learn a little more about the artist when I don’t appreciate the art itself. I wish it were possible for those of us interested in the topic to go to an art gallery as a group and to share more openly. Wouldn’t that be fun and enlightening! 🙂

      1. I enjoy things like that canis minxit, but as whimsies rather than art. Otherwise, I mean, next we might have somebody regarding my Really Awful Rhyme as actual poetry!
        Of course, the aircraft scrapheap and the rock lack even that redeeming feature.

  25. Pingback: Summer started with a field trip…back to the bubbling methane. | breathelighter

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