This is a repost of a blog from March 2007 – Fear not, new material for Brainpan Leakage is on the horizon. I’m just waiting for UPS to drop it off on my porch…
Until then, here’s a classic rerun:
For medical reasons I am not going to disclose I have been off solid food since Thursday, therefore I’ve been a bit cranky. Generic Ensure ™ just doesn’t fill the empty space, if you know what I mean. Why am I telling you this? Well, it may have something to do with the events of the day…read on.
Fast forward to today, which was our designated “family” day for the week. That being the day where we do something “fun” as a family. On today’s agenda was “Art in Bloom“…This is where floral arrangers compete to create arrangements out of plant matter that look similar to various given pieces of art hanging in the Saint Louis Art Museum. (For purposes of this blog, I am using the term “art” very loosely…in fact, that is what this blog is really all about.)
Now… Since I have offended folks with my opinions in the past, understand that I am neither poking fun at anyone (other than, perhaps, myself), nor am I making light of floral arrangers, pedantic intellectuals, artists, or docents. My grandmother was a floral arranger and believe me she could have shown these folks a thing or two.
No…What I am about to go on about is the Art Museum. Again, I am using this term “ART” rather loosely (in my estimation.)
Really, what it comes down to is that I think I am about to go on about what a completely uncultured redneck I really and truly am.
Again, hit the fast forward button, and we arrive at the Art Museum in Forest Park, midtown Saint Louis, MO. For those who are familiar with the area, this is, of course, where “Art Hill” is…For those UNfamiliar with the area, Art Hill is a big undulating slope in front of the museum where people flock to in the winter in order to go sledding. I point this out because just about anyone in Saint Louis can tell you stories about Art Hill, even if they have never set foot inside the Art Museum. As you read on, you will discover that the folks who know about Art Hill and NOT the inside of the museum are the normal people (in my opinion).
Anyway, this is also where a major icon of Saint Louis resides. No, not the Arch (aka Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. That is down on the riverfront with such things as Lacledes Landing (a four odd block or thereabouts, cobblestone paved section that houses a ton of bars and eateries) and the Riverboat Casinos.
Nope, what I am talking about is the big ass statue of the dude on the horse. (King Louis IX of France, actually…but, I like the name, “dude on the horse” better.)
But, I’m digressing, as I usually do…
So, we go into the Museum. Now, understand that an ART Museum is one of the last places on earth I would take myself if I was the one making the choice. However, since this was family day, this expo was going on, and there was a kid activity (AKA “Arrange some wilted flowers in a block of green crap 101, on your own, have fun, hurry up, move along, see ya’ later, sir you can’t use the flash to take a picture of your daughter with her arrangement, even out here in the lobby where there is no art”) this is where we went.
Hang on…it gets better…But let me start with a question…
Have you ever seen one of those movies where people are languidly strolling around an art museum, nodding thoughtfully, and making overly pedantic comments about the use of color, shape, shadow, etc, all while wearing turtleneck sweaters and blazers that have been out of style for two years? Not to mention that the item they are making these pretentious remarks about, as if they are world renowned experts, is usually something so hideous that a velvet paint-by-numbers portrait of Elvis, “the girdle years”, would look good by comparison?
Well, if you have, then you already witnessed my morning and early afternoon. (other than the flower and green crap thing…and getting yelled at by a docent for taking a picture of my kid and having the gall to use the built in flash on the camera so that she actually showed up in the photograph.)
Basically, I spent two hours wandering around this huge building, dodging horribly rude people, looking at the following things:
REALLY OLD Furniture. I mean REALLY OLD. Like antiques from France and stuff. Kinda nice if you like that sort of thing, (I don’t, personally) but none of it looked actually comfortable enough to sit in, on, or even around, so I’m not so sure what was that great about it.
REALLY ODD (not old) Furniture: There was this chair made out of leftover 2×4′s. I kid you not. Pieces of 2×4′s and a slab of a 2×12. Put together with wood screws, and then whitewashed. Only one coat, too. And it didn’t even have a cushion. I actually have enough scrap lumber in my basement to make about ten of them. I’m thinking of going around to art museums and offering them the knock-offs at a reduced rate. Even at a discount I’ll still be a millionaire for an initial investment of $27.32 plus about 3 hours of work.
REALLY OLD Place settings that looked pretty much like the Courier and Ives that we have in our china cabinet downstairs, only the designs on the old stuff weren’t nearly as cool as the ones on the C&I.
NOT SO MUCH OLD Furniture. I mean furniture that is EXACTLY like the furniture my parents had in our living room when I was growing up. Hell, it might have actually been the furniture that was in our living room that someone rescued from the dump and wiped off for all I know. (Yeah, I know I’m old, but not THAT old. Besides, I thought this was supposed to be an ART museum, not a history museum…)
Some small GLASS “SCULPTURES” that looked exactly like some candle holders I bet you could get at Pier 1 for 5 bucks a pair.
Other than that, the rest of what I saw appeared to be a bunch of UNFORTUNATE MISTAKES.
These mistakes were supposed to be paintings. And sculptures. I think. I’m not entirely certain. You see, they didn’t really have any subject matter. Any that I could readily identify, anyway. Several of them looked like someone vomited and instead of cleaning it up they just smeared it around and then sprayed lacquer on it before hanging it on the wall and giving it a bizarre name like “Oxidized Metal Wires on a Paper Plate” or some such.
Others– one’s that actually HAD recognizable subject matter, looked horribly disproportionate and discolored. If they weren’t completely out of whack colorwise and proportionwise, then they were so horribly drawn as to look like someone simply doodled (poorly) while on the phone then colored it in.
(Note: My daughter, while in Kindergarten, did a self-portrait that ended up hanging in the board of education offices in Jefferson City (the MO state capital) for 30 days. And, yeah, while I am certainly prejudiced where my daughter is concerned, I would put that self portrait by a 5 year old up against just about anything I saw today…)
Believe it or not, there was this huge painting that was apparently worth some inordinate amount of money, and it was nothing but a stick figure (I kid you not) along with some VERY RANDOM splashes of paint, and some word scrawled across it (I can’t remember the particular word, as it was in a foreign language.)
What’s more…ALL of this stuff was protected not only by wandering docents and guards, but by alarm systems that detected such slight movements that my daughter set a couple of them off just because she was so short.
And, remember those people in turtlenecks? They were everywhere. One of them was even nice enough to attempt engaging me in conversation. Unfortunately, being the uncultured individual that I am, when she finished her unsolicited commentary about the particular artist’s use of color and shape, I looked back at her and literally said, “Really? What’s it supposed to be? It looks like an unfortunate accident to me.” (No…I really did. I’m not kidding…And I wasn’t saying it to be mean. I was hoping that she would actually explain to me what it was supposed to be and not just give me a lecture on color and some obtuse shape described only by her waving her hand in a wild gyration.)
Unfortunately, she wasn’t particularly interested in speaking to me after that. Guess I made her nervous.
Now, I did try to go into this with an open mind. And I DID actually see some wonderful photo’s of glaciers done by an artist who uses photography as his medium. I also liked the antique guns and swords. Those were pretty interesting.
Maybe the rest of it wasn’t all that enjoyable because I hadn’t had solid food in several days and I was just crabby. But, I don’t think so. Even if I’d just had a prime rib dinner with all the trimmings I’m pretty sure I would have still considered most of what I saw today a series of horrible mistakes being witnessed by a mess of pedantic folks with nothing better to do than get together and be pedantic with one another.
No. I’m not making fun of them or putting them down. If they think that stuff is art and they enjoy debating the subtleties of this shadow or that shadow on a canvas that is covered with random words and smears of ink, more power to them. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and hey, if what they saw was beautiful to them I’m all for it.
It’s just that…well…to me…Well, let’s just say that I don’t get it.
Must be one of those redneck, guy things…
More to come…