More Jeez, Please
ITEM: Mysterious Couple Unveils New York City Public Art Piece.
Well, who did you think I was talking about?
Okay, them too.
Most people who know me... er, that would be all people who know me... have no idea that I, too, am an artist of the public space. Not just an artist, I should add. I am a spectacle artist, like the Christos. I have been for quite some time now, as a matter of fact. Herewith, insofar as I can recall it, a summary of my proposal for my first piece:
When I was a wee breath of a lad growing up in Seattle, my family would journey to Idaho almost every summer to visit the grandparents. Gramma & Granpa had a house in the Lewiston Orchards. Across the street from their house was a field of wheat. The field receded into the distance for what seemed like forever, eventually sloping downward to give the impression that the field stretched so far so as to disappear behind the curve of the Earth. Way, way, way further on, there was a silhouette of a mountain range against the base of the wide and bright Idaho sky.
I used to sit in Gramma & Granpa's front yard and study those mountains, imagining that dinosaurs lived beyond them. I used to watch the serrated top edge of the mountains, waiting for a gigantic T-Rex to poke its head up. One time I even made myself feel as if I'd actually seen the creature.
The End. (Appreciative, if somewhat polite, applause.)
Yeah, see, that's the only real difference between the Christos and me: They make what they make up and I don't. But what can I say? I couldn't figure out where to get the dinosaur.
Okay, but my piece (tentatively entitled "Look!") gripped me with the power of its daring visual imagery. Which, you know, didn't exactly exist anywhere except in my own head, but that's not really the point. It made me look, you see. It was a very exciting piece. Very exciting. Well, obviously, since I remember to this day what it felt like.
I heartily agree with what my fellow artists (the Christos) have to say when reporters pester them about what their piece means:
Jeanne-Claude told the assembled reporters that people should not read too much into the work but should just relax and enjoy it. 'It is only a work of art,' the flame-haired artist said. 'It has no purpose. It provides no symbol.'
Christo explained the reason behind the pair's refusal to analyse their own work by saying that it was just intended for people to walk through and enjoy the experience. 'You ask us to talk. This project is not involving talk. It's a real physical space. It is about seeing. You spend time. You experience the project,' he said as he grew visibly irritated at journalists' queries about the inner meaning of 'The Gates'. 'If you are young you should walk all 23 miles. If you are old, two is good,' he snapped.
In the same way, I would not have expected my piece to have conveyed any more meaning to those who viewed it beyond: "Jesus Christ! A dinosaur!" (If I'd, you know, ever done the piece.)
See, because just looking at the thing, just experiencing it is the whole point of a project like this. I have never personally experienced a Christo piece, but I have always admired and been excited by the pictures I've seen of them. They are dream landscapes. They are like something from the mind of an eight-year old boy sitting in his grandparent's front yard in Idaho. They are like: "Jeez!"
And in my view, there isn't anywhere near enough "Jeez!" in this world. And so later this week I'll hop a train and go up to the park to walk around some, and just go "Jeez".
I am psyched, even if they left out the part about the dinosaur.