Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Modern Art Still Sucks

If there's one thing the government shutdown has taught me it is this: MODERN ART STILL SUCKS!  The connection isn't intuitively obvious so let me lay this thing out.

As I often do when I'm in Marin County, I made a point to drive up Conzelman road in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) known as the Marin Headlands.  This road is about a 3 mile climb that allows various overlook points of the golden gate bridge.  It's a gorgeous drive and it never gets old.  As I approached the bottom of the road I could see steel barriers blocking the route.  This isn't uncommon because the road has been under construction for about a year and it's been closed at different times during that period, but I was suspicious because I couldn't see the tell-tale signs of bright orange construction vests milling about.  I drove up to the barriers and sure as shit there was a sign taped to the barrier telling me it was closed due to the government shutdown.  "This is a PAIN IN THE ASS!! (PITA),  I screamed in my head and symbolically shook my fist like an 80 year old. And a bunch of bullshit too....I later added meekly, because it seemed appropriate. 

 By the way, in addition to learning that MODERN ART STILL SUCKS (more on that later), I also learned this about the government shutdown:  It was nothing more than a bunch of meat helmets finding various petty ways to show each other their middle finger after not getting what they wanted.  I'm not sure who the culprits are in the Conzelman road case, but somebody was giving the double bird business to somebody else.  Here's how I know it's true:

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes vast amounts of lands located around the San Francisco and Marin County area and includes the Marin Headlands (Conzelman Road) and Point Bonita Lighthouse.  Miles and miles of road run through the area, but only the  2-3 mile stretch of road that gives access to the most breathtaking views of one of the most treasured architectural creations in the world was closed.  This road isn't manned, there is no ranger station, and there is absolutely no employee required for this section to operate.   I drove around the backside to check on things and I had access to the lighthouse and the beach.  There was no other road closed.  Cue the middle finger.

"When viewed from either side, the sculpture frames the landscape almost like an oversized picture frame. When viewed from either end, however, the work is a study in formal complexity..."

Now that I was good and pissed, I decided to cross the bridge and check on Crissy Field (part of the GGNRA) on the San Francisco side and see if access to the grounds were also blocked.  Much to my relief the entire area was open.  I pulled out my camera to snap some shots of the bridge and.......... WHY THE HELL ARE THERE D-DAY TANK OBSTACLES BLOCKING MY VIEW OF THE BRIDGE??  Maybe these abominations are twisted metal used from the 911 rubble to honor the victims, I thought.  They're blocking my view, but I'm alright with it in this scenario.  I hurried my way over to the placards to read about the inspiration for and the haunting history of these beasts.

The first one I walked up to was "Magma".   I knew it would be a tough to read so I steeled myself and began.

"Magma, a recently completed work that has never been shown publicly, continues di suvero's exploration of motion and counterbalance. Its composition is dominated by a horizontal I-beam that is balanced between two X-like steel forms. The cut steel rings that encircle the beam are movable rather than structural, and respond to shifts in the wind. When viewed from either side, the sculpture frames the landscape almost like an oversized picture frame.  When viewed from either end, however, the work is a study in formal complexity, its angles, discs, and lines resemble intricate, interlocking layers."

I didn't make that up, I promise.  No honor or meaning to the structure, just another jumbled mass of nothingness passed off as modern art, blocking my view of the golden gate bridge.  

Just in case  I wasn't giving the "art" its due, I decided to use Magma "like an oversized picture frame" for the truly beautiful golden gate bridge.  What do you think?

"This exuberant gesture, which echoes the expressive possibility suggested in much of di Suvero's art, is here reinforced by the work's title: Huru is anAustralian aboriginal word that means both 'hello' and 'goodbye'".

"When the sculpture was  exhibited outside the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland in 1974 it was highly controversial, and was ultimately removed".

"In the context of the work's delicately balanced asymmetry, the buoy reads as a nautical reference and as a guide..."

I tried to use some of the other sculptures to frame the bridge.  Alas, they all sucked, confirming my belief that the descriptions are pure crap.  I have to admit I enjoy reading the descriptions of the artwork because they are so disengaged from the actual art as to be ridiculous.  Surely these things are written after the fact to justify the time and effort. There's no way the artist started with the description and then created the structure.  To be fair to Mark Di Suvero, these sculptures would probably look great displayed in front of some modern buildings in downtown San Francisco.  The curator, however, decided to create a scrap metal recycling yard in front of one of the most recognizable and beautiful structures in the world and pass it off as art.  I can't prove it, but my theory is this:  The curator is a federal employee working in D.C. (senator?) who coordinated his "middle finger" gesture with the dude from Conzelman road by putting these heaps in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.  "Delicately balanced symmetry", as it were. 

  I crossed back over the bridge I stopped again on the Marin side to eat my lunch and was relieved to come across the site below.  Real modern art needs no description.

Taken from the other side of the water immediately after.

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