Thursday, September 20, 2007

Art

This short story, "Art," is a blending of a couple perceptions. The first came from watching a pair of young artists conceptualize a show they were holding in an upscale lounge in Milwaukee. They were popular guys, and their trendy events were well received in the hip, smart community. They volleyed lame ideas over cans of Schlitz, and their artist lives seemed very satisfying to them, even if their ideas were just okay -- or in this instance, bad. Despite any mockish self-validation I perceived, however, they were serious guys, talented and hardworking. Most importantly, they were genuinely interested in art, and willing to make themselves vulnerable to it, even if during the conversation they made a defense of silly pretentiousness.

The second inspiration (as will be clear) was Dan Steinhilber's installation piece at the Baltimore Museum of Art's "Front Room" series, which consisted of packing peanuts being pushed around a room by some household devices like vacuum cleaners. Of course, this is just the kind of show that can be really irritating to people who lack a conceptual framework for it, but all the same it can be a moving piece for anyone, regardless of their critical vocabulary. Even though his girlfriend pokes fun at the highfalutin museum curator when she jokes, "Lay meaning before me," the artist insists that he has, in fact, affected her in a way that the piece was intended to work.

Hopefully I'm right that providing this background will enhance reading "Art." If you ask me, I've included enough to make it more compelling, but left plenty of angles to find more (and more interesting) nuggets.

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