Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cardboard is beautiful...simply exquisite!

Hey K!
Heard the author of Bird by Bird on "This American Life" earlier today and thought of you. Thanks for the tip on that book---it's good stuff! The theme of the show this week, music, was perfectly timed, as I seem to be falling into a music-centered season. You know how I always sort of trade off?---arty conquests vs. musical ventures. If only I knew how to combine the two. Anyway. You wrote about my new rules of art judgment: "Structure, familiarity, character, drama and heart - all things that we crave in our lives and in our creations." I love the idea of applying OUR rules of music/art-making and viewing/experiencing to larger understanding of others, situations, life. We're curating our preferred world, wouldn't you say? Appreciating the details, whether high or low.

I know that word-feud that you speak of quite well. I'm always in this conversation with my students, and with myself (with the critical voices in my head that were planted in art school). Too many vague words to define: art, craft, beauty. "To whom?" is always the circular issue.

Well, to me--someone who still laughs at poo jokes, listens to sentimental love songs and appreciates childlike wonder--using whatever material you can get your hands on to do your thing = beauty! Monet, Rothko, Brancusi techniques = tired. I think Jeff Koons proves a point about "high art" material. And I've seen an amazingly crafted oil painting that had nothing to say. It had structure, and that's about all. K, let's face it, we're suckers for heart. We like the sappy truth, in whatever form it comes.Yesterday, it came in the form of cardboard, yet again. The Viaduct Theatre hosted The Exquisite City. Around 40 artists made Chicago city blocks and windows almost entirely out of cardboard, organized together to make a collective city including all the banal (although cute-ified!) aspects of city life: street lights, speed bumps, sewer hole covers (which btw, immediately reminded me of the teenage mutant ninja turtles), parking lots, corner bars, churches, run down buildings, and power lines--even the cardboard covered entrance way had pigeons perched in the cracks with corresponding white cardboard bird poop on the ground. Totally tubular, man!And winding things up nicely, C and I agreed that the best works in Exquisite were the off-kilter blocks. The perfectly scored and assembled satellite dish was a quick pass to the trash-made sideways tilting brownstone. I mean, I have to appreciate the great skill and effort that goes into attempting the look and texture of faux-stone on a miniature art deco movie theater, but it's character I'm looking for.

Quarrel on, my sweet! It's worth it, if only to fuel your passion.

Go visit the Exquisite City! It's awesome!
Read more about it: Chicago Journal article

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