Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Not to Handle an Art Controversy

Earlier this month, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, removed a small oak tree from its sculpture garden—a story of little to no note, right? But just as the mighty oak grows from a tiny acorn, from that oak sapling springs a tale of art controversy of massive consequences. The tree, the physical residue of The Art Guys’ 2009 performance piece titled The Art Guys Marry A Plant (shown above), in which the two tuxedoed artists “married” the plant, drew complaints of anti-homosexuality nearly from the beginning. After receiving critical heat and withstanding physical vandalism to the tree itself, the Menil Collection decided to uproot the oak in question in hopes that making the tree disappear would make the controversy itself disappear. But in their attempt to appease the work’s critics, a new wave of criticism is washing over the Menil. The twisted two-year tale of The Art Guys Marry A Plant might take new root as a textbook case of how not to handle an art controversy. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Not to Handle an Art Controversy."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Praise of the Small Art Museum

Waiting in line to pay admission late last month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in a sea of heavy-winter-coated humanity, I asked myself why this has become the standard art museum experience—big building, big collection, big name exhibits, big crowds, and big admission prices. I began to think about all the smaller, quieter, more intimate museum experiences I’ve had. And then I came across Susan JaquesA Love for the Beautiful: Discovering America’s Hidden Art Museums, an extended love letter to as well as coast-to-coast tour of the forgotten art museums across America doing important work away from the maddening crowd. Following Jaques’ lead, here’s my own paean in praise of the small art museum. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "In Praise of the Small Art Museum."

[Image: Frank Gehry's exterior design for Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum on campus of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Image source.]