Thursday, July 03, 2008

Here's to Populism

I always feel awkward at museums. I mean, I've got the slow motion museum mosey down, but beyond that? Nothing. I'm one of those rubes who looks at sculptures worth more than my house and says things like "The 'Fountain,' huh? Looks like a fucking toilet." I can understand the theories and reasonings that form the foundation of some modern art but that doesn't mean it makes me feel happy or awed or give me any other emotion that good art is supposed to. It just makes me think "Piss Christ" would be a kick ass band name.

I'm okay with this. I'm not proud of it per se, but I'm not not proud of it. I just know what I like: original Kincaids and Wylands. I mean, get a load of the brush technique, bro:

Far out.

Which brings us to the first Tuesday of every month. On these glorious days, a whole slew of San Franciscan museums are free to the public, a courageous move that puts pleebs like me right next to black turtleneckers who use a word like "ephemeral" while staring at an installation piece composed of expired subway tokens and the plush, severed head of Donald Duck. It's a day that invites that's supposed to foster appreciation of the fine arts, unite the community, and to gather the largest amount of shameful goatees under one roof since the Philosophy Majors and Major League First Basemen Convention of 1998.

This past Tuesday, I ventured out to the de Young and tried the idea on for size. I went to see the visiting Chihuly exhibit (which costs five dollars and is an affront to all things Free-First-Tuesday) and, I must say, it was worth every penny that I did and didn't spend. He's ostensibly a glass blower, so the whole exhibit is a series of massively colorful glass sculptures which should win several lesser-known awards, among them "Worst Place To Be In a Massive Earthquake," "Best Place to See a Confused Stoner," and "Best Exhibit In Which To Dribble A Basketball and Give a Docent Heart Murmurs."

The real beauty of the whole exhibit though was it's sheer likabilitynessness, with those aforementioned connoisseurs mixing seamlessly with casual rubes, old ladies in dangerous hats, and summer school field trips. It's the only art exhibit I've ever seen a baby enjoying, though said baby may have just been relieving herself with euphoric abandon. It's, in other words, the reason for museums. It's art that anyone can enjoy without the necessity of historical context or having to peruse those infuriating mission statements that read like sycophantic knob-slobbing. It, like most of my favorite art, is for everyone. It's the difference between something like John Cage's "4:33" and the Beatles' "Two of Us." You can certainly enjoy them both, but one requires context, intellectual detachment, and a scholarly bent, while the other awes by merit of its supreme kick assitude alone.

And, not to go all Simon Cowell on you here, but isn't that the whole point?


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