Public art to make you feel Lilliputian

Industrial sized public sculptureCOLORADO SPRINGS- I confess to being reminded regularly of a clip from Michael Moore’s movie Capitalism a Love Story. It’s the mock tourism video ad selling Cleveland: We’re not Detroit. The punch line accompanying this shot is “we think this is art.” Of course I’m reminded because our city too has a collection of these big little things dropped on lawns where you might expect a sculpture. Giant paperclips, marble engagement rings, are feats of logistic craftsmanship certainly, but where in the Parks & Rec shopping catalogs do they warrant a listing in the index under art?

I’m thinking these objects keep us company as we navigate between buildings and structures which dwarf human beings. Maybe they calm our sense of foreboding, or give us the false sense that the city’s oppressive scale is every bit as whimsical as everyday items removed of their functional context, rendered inanimate by being made giant.

But imagine the money to cast that much bronze, to lift that much steel, cement and resin, if it were spent on real works of creative impulse. We wouldn’t do it. For one, it would underwriting artists, not engineers, and two, uplift the spirits of people commuting to work and they’ll all go off truant.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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3 Responses to Public art to make you feel Lilliputian

  1. Avatar Brother Jonah says:

    That scrap iron buffalo downtown would be better if there were a couple of (hundred) (Thousand) (hundred thousand) of them keeping it company. That would involve real grass, as in, about 20 species of grass and a couple hundred species of wild herbs, cacti and shrubs to keep the balance going. And to maintain it properly, maybe a couple thousand square miles of it in a contiguous patch.

    There wouldn’t be any room to do Important Business like buying up prairie land and marginal land for Oil and Coal Exploitation though. The Corporate Suit-and-tie Army would have to find some other home, where the buffalo don’t roam. Oh well.

    I don’t see a downside to that.

  2. Avatar pcm says:

    Cleveland has a museum at the headquarters of Progressive Insurance that carries millions of dollars worth of contemporary art. They display it at their call centers and tours to art museums around the country. Now I admit art is subjective to taste, but what I have seen of their collection depresses me. It appeared to me as a feeling of smallness and helplessness that the artists were conveying.

  3. Avatar Brother Jonah says:

    Kind of like the Pharaohs making statues of themselves 50 feet tall. And statues of “their” subjects smaller than life.

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