Browsing in Art

Two weeks ago Colleen and I flew down to Phoenix to visit with my parents for my Dad’s birthday.  We had a great time that included going to the Desert Botanical Gardens to view their Dale Chihuly show “The Nature of Glass.”

I’ve been to other Chihuly shows before and they’re always amazing (like last summer’s Chihuly at the de Young here in SF).  He and his team are somehow able to create the brilliant and lively shapes and colors in glass in ways I never expect and put them together in ways that defy logic.

But what struck me about this show was how the glass pieces were presented in the natural landscape of the Botanical Gardens.  For the most part the glass forms were planted in the ground in a way that made it look as though they grew up naturally and made everything feel alien, as though we were visiting an alien world.  It was a tremendous show in both the afternoon and night when the glass pieces were lit inside and out.

The show stayed with me for several more days as I thought about what an artist can accomplish if given the free reign and opportunity to do so.

Just the other day I discovered the Monona Terrace in Madison, WI.  This building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 and that he tried to have built until his death in 1959.  It was finally approved in 1992, and opened in 1997.  What confuses and frustrates me so is that here was a design by greatest American architect of all time and it took nearly 60 years to be produced.

Four years ago at WonderCon there was a panel memorializing Will Eisner just after he passed away.  And the conversation turned to the various inventions and different stories Eisner produced being in part to his lack of restrictions.  And a comparison was made to Jack Kirby (perhaps by Mark Evanier?) and how “no one ever said to Kirby, ‘Go create what you want!’ it was always ‘Make us a new Fantastic Four’ or ‘Make a new Captain America!’”  And while he made some great creations just think of what he would have done with absolute freedom.

There has to be a certain point when an artist or creator can become great enough that people will say “here is some money, create what you want.”  Because I think more often than not, a great artist will produce something that is more honest and more astounding that way.

…or if no will give them the freedom they need, I hope they are rich like Mike Judge and his “Fuck you money.”