Recently, and perhaps it’s just me being a little slow on the uptake, I have noticed that my beloved city is overrun with sculptures both abstract and realistic or whatever other term you care to use to describe a giant pink suit made out of aluminum.
The pink suit aside, I have a special term I use. I call it Crap-That-My-City-Paid-Way-Too-Much-For. Another term I apply to said sculptures is Crap-a-two-year-old-mentally-challenged-blind-monkey-could-make.
It’s big. It’s ugly and in St. Louis, it’s everywhere.
You can’t go downtown without running into some giant orange-red sculptures made out of what looks like leftover beams from a construction site. The worst part about all of this “art” is that I am somehow supposed to believe that the artist had a true emotional connection to the “Piece” (I can call it a “piece” but please note that I didn’t say what kind of “Piece” it was) And in turn, I am somehow supposed to have an emotional reaction to it.
And I guess I do. It makes me feel like I am being hoodwinked into believing the descriptions of it. For example, let’s say there are several of those orange-red beams that are piled one on top of the other, in sort of a teepee shape but not really. The plaque at the base of the piece might read as follows:
“Love in Orange And Steel: 1999, artist Hans Smuggenhassel. This piece, made of steel beams that the artist found amongst the rubble of the torn down bowling alley that he would frequent with his father, clearly shows the love that the artist never got from his father and also depicts the mental anguish suffered by the artist at the paws of his neighbor’s shih tzu. “
Or maybe there is a giant teapot made out of cement with embedded shards of pretty glass:
“A Kick to the Teabags: 2003, artist Hyllaree von Pootenbooger. This teapot, made of cement and shards of broken glass and ceramics, was commissioned by the city of St. Louis in 2001. The artist, who only has one arm and half of a leg, worked without help, for two years, up to twenty hours a day, to complete the work. In order to bring a humanistic aspect to the piece, Hyllaree used her own urine to mix up the concrete. The shards of glass and broken ceramics were from a period in her life when she experienced extreme depression and in fits of anger, broke her grandmother’s heirloom china. While working on the teapot, Hyllaree suffered yet another loss when her husband of fourteen years decided that he was gay and left her for their local Teavana manager.”
Or maybe there is a pile of baseballs stacked neatly in a pyramid, with bits of broken acoustic guitars placed haphazardly all over the whole thing:
“Anger in G Minor, DON’T YOU DARE TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME!, 2011, Michael St. Hoogleheimer. This piece was, according to the artist, “art therapy” for him in 2009. At the time, the artist was struggling to pay his bills, working concessions at Busch Stadium. His wife was also working concessions at the ballpark when she happened to serve a bass player from a local band. The two fell in love and she left Michael for the “wannabe rock star.” This was too much for St. Hoogleheimer to take and he temporarily went insane, declaring he would make it as an artist to disprove her description of him as a “no-good, lazy beer jockey.” Diligently, and sometimes violently, Michael began to come to the ballpark earlier than usual and would be in the bleachers for batting practice. Over a period of two years, he was able to collect, through his own good catching skills and by knocking small chidren over should they get in his way, a massive amount of batting practice baseballs. Then he purchased, at great personal expense, a high-end bass guitar, specifically to smash, representing the emotional pain the breakup had caused him. Currently, the artist is suffering quietly in a mental institution where he firmly believes that he is Amelia Earhart.”
And people believe this crap! So I have decided to start sculpting. I’ve figured out the process: First you find materials that will withstand time. Then you close your eyes and throw it into a pile, or if you’re going for the more realistic approach, you take every day items and form them into some kind of shape. After you feel like you’ve made something that someone could quite possibly be tricked into buying for hundreds of thousands of dollars, you make up a back story. The more painful, the better.
I’ve already got my first sculpture planned out in my head. It’s going to be the beer cans that the upstairs neighbors throw in my bushes every weekend. I’m going to get a baby pool, fill it with dirt, plant some kind of bush in it and then throw the cans under it randomly. Here is the plaque:
“Irritation Caused by Neighbors, 2012, artist Jenn Murphysnoggle (because every artist has an unusual name) This sculpture, made of plastic, dirt, aluminum and bush, represents the irritation the artist endures every day by stepping out on her front porch and looking over into the bushes, where she sees the remnants of the party that went on the night before. Finally, after many years of emotional and hygienically-barren anguish, Jenn finally lost it and had a complete and utter meltdown. This sculpture was her first and last piece before she was hauled off to jail for the public disturbance she caused upon finding a dirty diaper on her front stoop on a warm July afternoon. Currently she is serving a six month term in the St. Louis City jail.”
So…who will start the bidding on this piece? Do I hear fifty grand?